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Homework

by Allen Ginsberg Homage Kenneth Koch

If I were doing my Laundry I'd wash my dirty Iran I'd throw in my United States, and pour on the Ivory Soap, scrub up Africa, put all the birds and elephants back in the jungle, I'd wash the Amazon river and clean the oily Carib & Gulf of Mexico, Rub that smog off the North Pole, wipe up all the pipelines in Alaska, Rub a dub dub for Rocky Flats and Los Alamos, Flush that sparkly Cesium out of Love Canal Rinse down the Acid Rain over the Parthenon & Sphinx, Drain the Sludge out of the Mediterranean basin & make it azure again, Put some blueing back into the sky over the Rhine, bleach the little Clouds so snow return white as snow, Cleanse the Hudson Thames & Neckar, Drain the Suds out of Lake Erie Then I'd throw big Asia in one giant Load & wash out the blood & Agent Orange, Dump the whole mess of Russia and China in the wringer, squeeze out the tattletail Gray of U.S. Central American police state, & put the planet in t…

A Riff on “The Impossible Dream”

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by Ken Ireland
For A.G.
first published St Ignatius Day, 2010
revised December 17th, 2010

I don’t know if it’s possible
but I’ll continue to dream it,
juggling obscure or fine points when I have to
to lend it a kind of reality.

I’m just a guy trying to be real,
glimpsing at men walking down the sidewalk
and wondering.

You showed me where you fit
that flight of stairs with the return into a tight corner.
Now you—anyone really—can climb up under
the rafters and look out from
where you opened the roof to the sun.

I knew that hope wasn’t dead forever,
even though I tried to murder it.
But some kinds of hope are just virtuous dreaming.

The carpenter hasn’t hammered the last nail—
I heard his banging for the first time in many years
when I thought he too had vanished.

I’m just a guy dreaming back to last night,
glimpsing at the men walking down the sidewalk,
wondering what they dream of.

What was it that disappeared before
we noticed something missing?
Was that the dream?
How could I have mis…

...That sinking feeling in the bottom of your stomach

Regret, that sinking feeling in the bottom of your stomach. We’ve all been there, wishing we could have another chance. But, it is in this very feeling in which our return to the One happens. The Divine Essence is always seeking our return to Him, waiting for us to seek reconciliation with Him and wash away the mistake. And we give ourselves plenty of opportunity for returning. Darkness wants you to keep mistakes hidden but once you bring the Light in, the experience fades and leaves the lesson. Turn back to the Essence of the One and rejoice that the mistake opened the door for reconnection.
Rumi

Musée des Beaux Arts

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by W. H. Auden
















About suffering they were never wrong,
The old Masters: how well they understood
Its human position: how it takes place
While someone else is eating or opening a window or just walking dully along;
How, when the aged are reverently, passionately waiting
For the miraculous birth, there always must be
Children who did not specially want it to happen, skating
On a pond at the edge of the wood:
They never forgot
That even the dreadful martyrdom must run its course
Anyhow in a corner, some untidy spot
Where the dogs go on with their doggy life and the torturer's horse
Scratches its innocent behind on a tree.



In Breughel's Icarus, for instance: how everything turns away
Quite leisurely from the disaster; the ploughman may
Have heard the splash, the forsaken cry,
But for him it was not an important failure; the sun shone
As it had to on the white legs disappearing into the green
Water, and the expensive delicate ship that must have seen
Something amazing, a boy fall…

O What Is That Sound

By W. H. Auden

O what is that sound which so thrills the ear
Down in the valley drumming, drumming?
Only the scarlet soldiers, dear,
The soldiers coming.

O what is that light I see flashing so clear
Over the distance brightly, brightly?
Only the sun on their weapons, dear,
As they step lightly.

O what are they doing with all that gear,
What are they doing this morning, morning?
Only their usual manoeuvres, dear,
Or perhaps a warning.

O why have they left the road down there,
Why are they suddenly wheeling, wheeling?
Perhaps a change in their orders, dear,
Why are you kneeling?

O haven't they stopped for the doctor's care,
Haven't they reined their horses, horses?
Why, they are none of them wounded, dear,
None of these forces.

O is it the parson they want, with white hair,
Is it the parson, is it, is it?
No, they are passing his gateway, dear,
Without a visit.

O it must be the farmer that lives so near.
It must be the farmer so cunning, so cunning?
They have passed the farmyard already, dear,
And now …

Refugee Blues

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Say this city has ten million souls,
Some are living in mansions, some are living in holes:
Yet there's no place for us, my dear, yet there's no place for us.

Once we had a country and we thought it fair,
Look in the atlas and you'll find it there:
We cannot go there now, my dear, we cannot go there now.

In the village churchyard there grows an old yew,
Every spring it blossoms anew:
Old passports can't do that, my dear, old passports can't do that.

The consul banged the table and said,
"If you've got no passport you're officially dead":
But we are still alive, my dear, but we are still alive.

Went to a committee; they offered me a chair;
Asked me politely to return next year:
But where shall we go to-day, my dear, but where shall we go to-day?

Came to a public meeting; the speaker got up and said;
"If we let them in, they will steal our daily bread":
He was talking of you and me, my dear, he was talking of you and me.

Thought I heard the thunder rumbling…

The Shield of Achilles

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by W.H. Auden





She looked over his shoulder
For vines and olive trees,
Marble well-governed cities
And ships upon untamed seas,
But there on the shining metal
His hands had put instead
An artificial wilderness
And a sky like lead.

A plain without a feature, bare and brown,
No blade of grass, no sign of neighborhood,
Nothing to eat and nowhere to sit down,
Yet, congregated on its blankness, stood
An unintelligible multitude,
A million eyes, a million boots in line,
Without expression, waiting for a sign.

Out of the air a voice without a face
Proved by statistics that some cause was just
In tones as dry and level as the place:
No one was cheered and nothing was discussed;
Column by column in a cloud of dust
They marched away enduring a belief
Whose logic brought them, somewhere else, to grief.

She looked over his shoulder
For ritual pieties,
White flower-garlanded heifers,
Libation and sacrifice,
But the…