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20 th Century American Poetry . Mrs. D’Amour Mrs. Allison. “Who Understands Me but Me” They turn the water off, so I live without water, they build walls higher, so I live without treetops, they paint the windows black, so I live without sunshine,
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20th Century American Poetry Mrs. D’Amour Mrs. Allison
“Who Understands Me but Me” They turn the water off, so I live without water, they build walls higher, so I live without treetops, they paint the windows black, so I live without sunshine, they lock my cage, so I live without going anywhere, they take each last tear I have, I live without tears, they take my heart and rip it open, I live without heart, they tike my life and crush it, so I live without a future, they say I am beastly and fiendish, so I have no friends, they stop up each hope, so I have no passage out of hell, they give me pain, so I live with pain, they give me hate, so I live with my hate, they have changed me, and I am not the same man, they give me no shower, so I live with my smell, they separate me from my brothers, so I live without brother, who understands me when I say this is beautiful? who understands me when I say I have found other freedoms? . Jimmy Santiago Baca(1952- )
“Who Understands Me but Me”, cont. I cannot fly or make something appear in my hand, I cannot make the heavens open or the earth tremble, I can live with myself, and I am amazed at myself, my love, my beauty, I am taken by my failures, astounded by my fears, I am stubborn and childish, In the midst of this wreckage of life they incurred, I practice being myself, and I have found parts of myself never dreamed of by me, they were goaded out from under rocks in my heart when the walls were built higher, when the water was turned off and the windows painted black. I followed the signs like and old tracker and followed the tracks deep into myself, followed the blood-spotted path, deeper into dangerous regions, and found so many parts of myself, who taught me water is not everything, and gave me new eyes to see through walls, and when they spoke, sunlight came out of their mouths, and I was laughing at me with them, we laughed like children and made pacts to always be loyal, who understands me when I say this is beautiful?
Arna Bontemps(1902-1973) “God Give to Men” God give the yellow manan easy breeze at blossom time.Grant his eager, slanting eyes to coverevery land and dreamof afterwhile. Give blue-eyed men their swivel chairsto whirl in tall buildings.Allow them many ships at sea,and on land, soldiersand policemen.For black man, God,no need to bother morebut only fill afresh his meedof laughter,his cup of tears.God suffer little menthe taste of soul's desire.
Gwendolyn Brooks(1917-2000) “We Real Cool” THE POOL PLAYERS. SEVEN AT THE GOLDEN SHOVEL We real cool. WeLeft school. WeLurk late. WeStrike straight. WeSing sin. WeThin gin. WeJazz June. WeDie soon.
“Old Maids” My cousins and I, we don't marry. We're too oldby Mexican standards. And the relatives have long suspected we can't anymore in white. My cousins and I, we're all old maids at thirty. Who won't dress children, and never saints-- though we undress them. The aunts, they've given up on us. No longer nudge--You're next. Instead-- What happened in your childhood? What left you all mean teens? Who hurt you, honey? But we've studied marriages too long-- Aunt Ariadne, Tia Vashti, Comadre Penelope, querida Malintzin, Senora Pumpkin Shell-- lessons that served us well. Sandra Cisneros(1954- )
Countee Cullen(1903-1946) “Incident” Once riding in old Baltimore, Heart-filled, head-filled with glee,I saw a Baltimorean Keep looking straight at me. Now I was eight and very small, And he was no whit bigger,And so I smiled, but he poked out His tongue, and called me, "Nigger." I saw the whole of Baltimore From May until December;Of all the things that happened there That's all that I remember.
e.e. cummings(1894-1962) “maggie and millie and molly and may”maggie and millie and molly and maywent down to the beach (to play one day)and maggie discovered a shell that sangso sweetly she couldn't remember her troubles, andmillie befriended a stranded starwho's rays five languid fingers were;and molly was chased by a horrible thingwhich raced sideways while blowing bubbles: andmay came home with a smooth round stoneas small as a world and as large as alone.For whatever we lose (like a you or a me)it's always ourselves we find in the sea.
Rita Dove(1952- ) “Vacation” I love the hour before takeoff, that stretch of no time, no home but the gray vinyl seats linked like unfolding paper dolls. Soon we shall be summoned to the gate, soon enough there’ll be the clumsy procedure of row number sand perforated stubs—but for now I can look at these ragtag nuclear families with their cooing and bickeringor the heeled bachelorette trying to ignore a baby’s wail and the baby’s exhausted mother waiting to be called up early while the athlete, one monstrous hand asleep on his duffel bag, listens, perched like a seal trained for the plunge. Even the lone executive who has wandered this far into summer with his lasered itinerary, briefcase knocking his knees—even he has worked for the pleasure of bearing no more than a scrap of himself into this hall. He’ll dine out, she’ll sleep late ,they’ll let the sun burn them happy all morning—a little hope, a little whimsy before the loudspeaker blurts and we leap up to become Flight 828, now boarding at Gate 17.
Paul Laurence Dunbar(1872-1906) “We Wear the Mask” We wear the mask that grins and lies, It hides our cheeks and shades our eyes,— This debt we pay to human guile; With torn and bleeding hearts we smile, And mouth with myriad subtleties. Why should the world be over-wise, In counting all our tears and sighs? Nay, let them only see us, while We wear the mask. We smile, but, O great Christ, our cries To thee from tortured souls arise. We sing, but oh the clay is vile Beneath our feet, and long the mile; But let the world dream otherwise, We wear the mask!
Allen Ginsberg(1926-1997) “A Supermarket in California” What thoughts I have of you tonight, Walt Whitman, for I walked down the sidestreets under the trees with a headache self-conscious looking at the full moon. In my hungry fatigue, and shopping for images, I went into the neon fruit supermarket, dreaming of your enumerations! What peaches and what penumbras! Whole families shopping at night! Aisles full of husbands! Wives in the avocados, babies in the tomatoes!--and you, Garcia Lorca, what were you doing down by the watermelons? I saw you, Walt Whitman, childless, lonely old grubber, poking among the meats in the refrigerator and eyeing the grocery boys. I heard you asking questions of each: Who killed the pork chops? What price bananas? Are you my Angel? I wandered in and out of the brilliant stacks of cans following you, and followed in my imagination by the store detective.
Supermarket, cont. We strode down the open corridors together in our solitary fancy tasting artichokes, possessing every frozen delicacy, and never passing the cashier. Where are we going, Walt Whitman? The doors close in an hour. Which way does your beard point tonight? (I touch your book and dream of our odyssey in the supermarket and feel absurd.) Will we walk all night through solitary streets? The trees add shade to shade, lights out in the houses, we'll both be lonely. Will we stroll dreaming of the lost America of love past blue automobiles in driveways, home to our silent cottage? Ah, dear father, graybeard, lonely old courage-teacher, what America did you have when Charon quit poling his ferry and you got out on a smoking bank and stood watching the boat disappear on the black waters of Lethe?
Langston Hughes(1901-1967) “The Weary Blues” Droning a drowsy syncopated tune, Rocking back and forth to a mellow croon, I heard a Negro play. Down on Lenox Avenue the other night By the pale dull pallor of an old gas light He did a lazy sway… He did a lazy sway… To the tune o’ those Weary Blues. With his ebony hands on each ivory key He made that poor piano moan with melody. O Blues! Swaying to and fro on his rickety stool He played that sad raggy tune like a musical fool. Sweet Blues!
Denise Levertov (1923-1997) “Losing Track” Long after you have swung backaway from meI think you are still with me:you come in close to the shoreon the tideand nudge me awake the waya boat adrift nudges the pier:am I a pierhalf-in half-out of the water?and in the pleasure of that communionI lose track,the moon I watch goes down, thetide swings you away beforeI know I'malone again long since,mud sucking at gray and blacktimbers of me,a light growth of green dreams drying.
Claude McKay(1889-1948) “The Tropics of New York” Bananas ripe and green, and ginger root Cocoa in pods and alligator pears, And tangerines and mangoes and grape fruit, Fit for the highest prize at parish fairs, Sat in the window, bringing memories of fruit-trees laden by low-singing rills, And dewy dawns, and mystical skies In benediction over nun-like hills. My eyes grow dim, and I could no more gaze; A wave of longing through my body swept, And, hungry for the old, familiar ways I turned aside and bowed my head and wept
Edna St. Vincent Millay(1892-1950) “Recuerdo” We were very tired, we were very merry- We had gone back and forth all night on the ferry. It was bare and bright, and smelled like a stable- But we looked into a fire, we leaned across a table, We lay on a hill-top underneath the moon; And the whistles kept blowing, and the dawn came soon. We were very tired, we were very merry- We had gone back and forth all night on the ferry; And you ate an apple, and I ate a pear, From a dozen of each we had bought somewhere; And the sky went wan, and the wind came cold, And the sun rose dripping, a bucketful of gold. We were very tired, we were very merry, We had gone back and forth all night on the ferry. We hailed, “Good morrow, mother!” to a shawl-covered head, And bought a morning paper, which neither of us read; And she wept, “God bless you!” for the apples and pears, And we gave her all our money but our subway fares.
Sylvia Plath(1932-1963) “Mirror” I am silver and exact. I have no preconceptions.Whatever I see, I swallow immediately.Just as it is, unmisted by love or dislikeI am not cruel, only truthful –The eye of a little god, four-cornered.Most of the time I meditate on the opposite wall.It is pink, with speckles. I have looked at it so longI think it is a part of my heart. But it flickers.Faces and darkness separate us over and over.Now I am a lake. A woman bends over me.Searching my reaches for what she really is.Then she turns to those liars, the candles or the moon.I see her back, and reflect it faithfullyShe rewards me with tears and an agitation of hands.I am important to her. She comes and goes.Each morning it is her face that replaces the darkness.In me she has drowned a young girl, and in me an old womanRises toward her day after day, like a terrible fish.
Ezra Pound (1884–1972) “In a Station of the Metro” The apparition of these faces in the crowd;Petals on a wet, black bough.
John Crowe Ransom(1888-1974) “Bells for John Whiteside’s Daughter” There was such speed in her little body, And such lightness in her footfall, It is no wonder that her brown study Astonishes us all. Her wars were bruited in our high window. We looked among orchard trees and beyond. Where she took arms against her shadow Or harried unto the pond The lazy geese, like a snow cloud Dripping their snow on the green grass, Tricking and stopping, sleepy and proud, Who cried in goose, Alas, For the tireless heart within the little Lady with rod that made them rise From their noon apple-dreams, and scuttle Goose-fashion under the skies! But now go the bells, and we are ready; In one house we are sternly stopped To say we are vexed at her brown study, Lying so primly propped.
Wallace Stevens(1879-1955) “Anecdote of the Jar” I placed a jar in Tennessee, And round it was, upon a hill. It made the slovenly wilderness Surround that hill. The wilderness rose up to it, and sprawled around, no longer wild. The jar was round upon the ground And tall and of a port in air. It took dominion everywhere. The jar was gray and bare. It did not give of bird or bush, Like nothing else in Tennessee.
Jean Toomer(1894-1967) “Her Lips Are Copper Wire” whisper of yellow globes gleaming on lamp-posts that sway like bootleg licker drinkers in the fog and let your breath be moist against me like bright beads on yellow globes telephone the power-house that the main wires are insulate (her words play softly up and down dewy corridors of billboards) then with your tongue remove the tape and press your lips to mine till they are incandescent
William Carlos Williams(1883-1963) “The Red Wheelbarrow” so much depends upon a red wheel barrow glazed with rain water beside the white chickens.