All things poetical

The Weed

I dreamed that dead, and meditating,
I lay upon a grave, or bed,
(at least, some cold and close-built bower).
In the cold heart, its final thought
stood frozen, drawn immense and clear,
stiff and idle as I was there;
and we remained unchanged together
for a year, a minute, an hour.
Suddenly there was a motion,
as startling, there, to every sense
as an explosion. Then it dropped
to insistent, cautious creeping
in the region of the heart,
prodding me from desperate sleep.
I raised my head. A slight young weed
had pushed up through the heart and its
green head was nodding on the breast.
(All this was in the dark.)
It grew an inch like a blade of grass;
next, one leaf shot out of its side
a twisting, waving flag, and then
two leaves moved like a semaphore.
The stem grew thick. The nervous roots
reached to each side; the graceful head
changed its position mysteriously,
since there was neither sun nor moon
to catch its young attention.
The rooted heart began to change
(not beat) and then it split apart
and from it broke a flood of water.
Two rivers glanced off from the sides,
one to the right, one to the left,
two rushing, half-clear streams,
(the ribs made of them two cascades)
which assuredly, smooth as glass,
went off through the fine black grains of earth.
The weed was almost swept away;
it struggled with its leaves,
lifting them fringed with heavy drops.
A few drops fell upon my face
and in my eyes, so I could see
(or, in that black place, thought I saw)
that each drop contained a light,
a small, illuminated scene;
the weed-deflected stream was made
itself of racing images.
(As if a river should carry all
the scenes that it had once reflected
shut in its waters, and not floating
on momentary surfaces.)
The weed stood in the severed heart.
"What are you doing there?" I asked.
It lifted its head all dripping wet
(with my own thoughts?)
and answered then: "I grow," it said,
"but to divide your heart again."

Elizabeth Bishop "The Weed"



Trout Fishing in America



In San Francisco around Easter time last year, they had a
trout fishing in America peace parade. They had thousands
of red stickers printed and they pasted them on their small
foreign cars, and on means of national communication like
telephone poles.

ERICA PEACE printed on them.

Then this group of college- and high-school-trained Com-
munists, along with some Communist clergymen and their
Marxist-taught children, marched to San Francisco from
Sunnyvale, a Communist nerve center about forty miles away.

It took them four days to walk to San Francisco. They
stopped overnight at various towns along the way, and slept
on the lawns of fellow travelers.

They carried with them Communist trout fishing in Ameri-
ca peace propaganda posters:




They carried with them many other trout fishing in Amer-
ica peace inducements, all following the Communist world
conquest line: the Gandhian nonviolence Trojan horse.

When these young, hard-core brainwashed members of
the Communist conspiracy reached the "Panhandle, " the
emigre Oklahoma Communist sector of San Francisco, thou-
sands of other Communists were waiting for them. These
were Communists who couldn't walk very far. They barely
had enough strength to make it downtown.

Thousands of Communists, protected by the police, marched
down to Union Square, located in the very heart of San Fran-
cisco. The Communist City Hall riots in 1960 had presented
evidence of it, the police let hundreds of Communists escape,
but the trout fishing in America peace parade was the final
indictment: police protection.

Thousands of Communists marched right into the heart of
San Francisco, and Communist speakers incited them for
hours and the young people wanted to blow up Colt Tower, but
the Communist clergy told them to put away their plastic

"Therefore all things whatsoever ye would that men should
do to you, do ye even so to them . . . There will be no need
for explosives, " they said.

America needs no other proof. The Red shadow of the
Gandhian nonviolence Trojan horse has fallen across Ameri-
ca, and San Francisco is its stable.

Obsolete is the mad rapist's legendary piece of candy. At
this very moment, Communist agents are handing out Witness
for trout fishing in America peace tracts to innocent children
riding the cable cars.

From a really fascinating book of poems called "Trout Fishing in America" by Richard Brautigan. Published in 1967, but opaque to era.




Where the path closed
down and over,
through the scumbled leaves,
fallen branches,
through the knotted catbrier,
I kept going. Finally
I could not
save my arms
from thorns; soon
the mosquitoes
smelled me, hot
and wounded, and came
wheeling and whining.
And that's how I came
to the edge of the pond:
black and empty
except for a spindle
of bleached reeds
at the far shore
which, as I looked,
wrinkled suddenly
into three egrets - - -
a shower
of white fire!
Even half-asleep they had
such faith in the world
that had made them - - -
tilting through the water,
unruffled, sure,
by the laws
of their faith not logic,
they opened their wings
softly and stepped
over every dark thing.

Mary Oliver, "Egrets"



Found in the Bottom of a Cardboard Box

The roots of the gnarly tree run deep.

The untroubled tree
grows straight and smooth,
beautiful and proud
treetops vanishing into the sky,
towering over lessor beings

The gnarly tree rests close
to the earth, and twists about
from knocks and blows,
rough skinned from exposure
and bowed with time.

The untroubled tree commands
respect as you sit hand over eyes
trying to see the upper branches.
Wrapping arms around it your
hands fail to touch and the bark
leaves no impression.

But the gnarly tree invites one
to sit beneath its shade
and nestle among its roots.
To rub your cheek against the rough
texture of the bark
and breath in the rich scent.
To lean back among the branches
letting them wrap about you
in an embrace both green and old.

Shelley Powers



The Fish

I caught a tremendous fish
and held him beside the boat
half out of water, with my hook
fast in a corner of his mouth.
He didn't fight.
He hadn't fought at all.
He hung a grunting weight,
battered and venerable
and homely. Here and there
his brown skin hung in strips
like ancient wallpaper,
and its pattern of darker brown
was like wallpaper:
shapes like full-blown roses
stained and lost through age.
He was speckled with barnacles,
fine rosettes of lime,
and infested
with tiny white sea-lice,
and underneath two or three
rags of green weed hung down.
While his gills were breathing in
the terrible oxygen
–the frightening gills,
fresh and crisp with blood,
that can cut so badly–
I thought of the coarse white flesh
packed in like feathers,
the big bones and the little bones,
the dramatic reds and blacks
of his shiny entrails,
and the pink swim-bladder
like a big peony.
I looked into his eyes
which were far larger than mine
but shallower, and yellowed,
the irises backed and packed
with tarnished tinfoil
seen through the lenses
of old scratched isinglass.
They shifted a little, but not
to return my stare.
–It was more like the tipping
of an object toward the light.
I admired his sullen face,
the mechanism of his jaw,
and then I saw
that from his lower lip
–if you could call it a lip
grim, wet, and weaponlike,
hung five old pieces of fish-line,
or four and a wire leader
with the swivel still attached,
with all their five big hooks
grown firmly in his mouth.
A green line, frayed at the end
where he broke it, two heavier lines,
and a fine black thread
still crimped from the strain and snap
when it broke and he got away.
Like medals with their ribbons
frayed and wavering,
a five-haired beard of wisdom
trailing from his aching jaw.
I stared and stared
and victory filled up
the little rented boat,
from the pool of bilge
where oil had spread a rainbow
around the rusted engine
to the bailer rusted orange,
the sun-cracked thwarts,
the oarlocks on their strings,
the gunnels–until everything
was rainbow, rainbow, rainbow!
And I let the fish go.

Elizabeth Bishop "The Fish"




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