Breathe-in experience, breathe-out poetry.
Muriel Rukeyser

Poetry, in  a sense, is the art of making nothing mean something. Famed French poet and playwright, Jean Cocteau once said that, “A true poet does not bother to be poetical. Much in the way a gardener does not scent his roses.” True poetry is often regarded as having no meaning but the one the reader ascribes to it. Much the way the smell of flowers may stir emotions or invoke memories in someone.  That is not to say that poetry can’t also have a structure or a specific theme, it is still usually full of metaphor and embellishment.

The history of poetry is as long as the history of modern man.  Many scholars  believe poetry predates literacy. The oldest written works on Earth are all presented in some poetic form. The style is believed to have aided memorization and oral transmission. The Ancient Sumerian poem, Epic of Gilgamesh , is one of the earliest pieces of literature in existence.  An epic poem,it tells of the adventures of a King who spurned the advances of a goddess and embarks on a quest for immortality.

Gilgamesh: History's first action hero.


Ancient Greeks were fond of relaying historical events in the form of poetry. Homer’s Odyssey and  Iliad being the most well known examples. Epic poems were the way to transfer your great story to the masses. It was understandable to a wide range of citizenry. It was also around this time that short form poetry such as hymns, psalms, suras, and hadiths were becoming widespread. Many of them took on a rhythmic structure approaching a form of music. Most notably hymns which were written to be sung. This branch of poetry sprung from the more pleasant side of religion as worshipers looked to exalt their GOD or GOds in song.  It was inevitable that poetry and music would mix. From the Ancient Greek “orchestras” to the bards of the Renaissance, poetry and music were a match made in heaven. The first “song lyrics”. Other examples of rhythmic poetry include limericks, riddles, and many jokes.

Not all poetry is rhythmic though. Poetry in prose is poetry written almost as a novel. Using grammatical structure and natural flow of speech rather than rhythmic structure. Prose poetry is debatable as poetry though. Many argue that it’s focus on narrative and objective truths negate it from being true poetry. It is merely prose. The other side argues that it’s use of metaphor and heightened attention to language, make it real poetry. There is yet another group who believe it’s subversive nature does not fit into either genre. Oscar Wilde picked up prose poetry simply for it’s subversive nature. Poetry nerds are not about to let the debate go either.



Here is a link that further elaborates on the many forms of poetry. Far too much to put into  one article:

Let’s take a moment now  to discuss some of the great poets throughout history. And please forgive me if I fail to mention your favorite.  There are just so many. I briefly mentioned Homer before and his great works the Odyssey and the Iliad. Believed to have lived between the 8th and 11th centuries B.C., he had a distinct style to his poetry known simply as the “Homeric Style”. A structured concept pushed rapidly through a singular narrative in hexameter form. A style that has become one of the most common in poetry.


Nor any other wold like Cotswold ever sped,
So rich and fair a vale in fortuning to wed

In the far east, the works of Lao Tzu/Laozi formed the concepts that would lead to the establishment of Taoism. There is much debate as to whether or not Lao Tzu ever actually existed or, if he did, whether his works are all his. His influence on Chinese culture and poetry is beyond debate. Lao Tzu’s works are notable for the time as some are highly political.

Gotta mention Chaucer. As his Wikipedia page points out, he is considered the “father of English literature” and the greatest English poet of the Middle  Ages. Canterbury Tales is  a collection of some of his greatest works, presented as “stories” told by travelers. A must read for anyone. Some of the finest examples of rhythmic verse poetry in existence. He invented the rhyme royal. A method of presenting rhythmic stanzas. A form used by many poets since, including  Shakespeare.

William Bryant was the first great American poet. Born in 1794, barely a decade after the end of the Revolutionary War,  his poetry,at first,was an afterthought to his pursuit of  a legal career. His most famous poem, “Thanatopsis” was said to have been found on his desk by his father and submitted by him to the North American Review. After some confusion over whether it was his work or his father’s, he began writing for them on a consistent basis. Receiving much critical acclaim. In his later years he served as  a mentor to another famed poet, Walt Whitman.

Arguably the greatest modern English language poet is T.S. Eliot. He is responsible for several of the most well known poems in the English language. Ash Wednesday, Four Quartets, and Murder in a Cathedral among them.  Though some of his works have encountered controversy with accusations of anti-Semitism, his impact on modern poetry is far reaching. He is one of the most, if not the most, honored poets in American history.


That concludes our look at some of the great poets through history. Again, I apologize if your favorite was not mentioned. Whitman, Thoreau, and Frost, among others, were just SO obvious and could be discussed at length for HOURS. I don’t blame you if you rage quit the article, though.


Seriously? I wrote fucking Ozymandias! Not one mention?

I’ve been thinking of  away to end this article, so I thought I’d do it this way:

“Do not go gentle into that good night,
Old age should burn and rave at close of day;
Rage, rage against the dying of the light.”

~Dylan Thomas


Thank you for reading and let the discussions begin.



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As the morning breaks I hear the sun.

Lean out of the window ~ James Joyce

Lean out of the window,
I hear you singing
A merry air.

My book was closed,
I read no more,
Watching the fire dance
On the floor.

I have left my book,
I have left my room,
For I heard you singing
Through the gloom.

Singing and singing
A merry air,
Lean out of the window,

Goldenhair ~ Syd Barrett


Under One Small Star

My apologies to chance for calling it necessity.
My apologies to necessity if I’m mistaken, after all.
Please, don’t be angry, happiness, that I take you as my due.
May my dead be patient with the way my memories fade.
My apologies to time for all the world I overlook each second.
My apologies to past loves for thinking that the latest is the first.
Forgive me, open wounds, for pricking my finger.
I apologize for my record of minutes to those who cry from
the depths.
I apologize to those who wait in railway stations for being asleep
today at five a.m.
Pardon me, hounded hope, for laughing from time to time.
Pardon me, deserts, that I don’t rush to you bearing a spoonful
of water.
And you, falcon, unchanging year after year, always in the
same cage,
your gaze always fixed on the same point in space,
forgive me, even if it turns out you were stuffed.
My apologies to the felled tree for the table’s four legs.
My apologies to great questions for small answers.
Truth, please don’t pay me much attention.
Dignity, please be magnanimous.
Bear with me, O mystery of existence, as I pluck the occasional
thread from your train.
Soul, don’t take offense that I’ve only got you now and then.
My apologies to everything that I can’t be everywhere at once.
My apologies to everyone that I can’t be each woman and
each man.
I know I won’t be justified as long as I live,
since I myself stand in my own way.
Don’t bear me ill will, speech, that I borrow weighty words,
then labor heavily so that they may seem light.

– Wisława Szymborska


The Fortune Teller’s Gift

I have not the fortune teller’s gift.

All that I own is unseen,

but my heart still beats.

It moves my shirt from within,

For you more than me;

like this near blank page

That dares to be filled

with words to befriend

you, my world.

Orcas Island
Orcas Island

Kilgore – working on a hunch that you may have been familiar with some of Richard Brautigan’s poetry and writings. One strange dude.

Adonai – enjoyed your article.

Orcas Island
Orcas Island

whoops, Richard Brautigan.


Hey Orca. No I haven’t read any of his work.


(Dedicated to All of You)

I believe in God because of my writing class.
I read our stories and I see visions.
If you saw us, individually or as a group,
you might not be inspired. We are ordinary
and that is the miracle. Faceless and nameless,
so ordinary. We live plain lives in squat squares,
on flat plots or in complexes, without lushness,
little luxury, no opulence. Not impoverished,
not at all deprived, just ordinary.

Our jobs are often meaningless and boring, or
they are exciting and tense, or they are prestigious.
But they don’t change anything, they’re just what
we do to pay the bills, keep the gears turning.
We get stuck in traffic, we order pizza, buy
back-to-school clothes, watch TV, see the
dentist. Take the dog to the vet, take a nap, take
a letter. And we go to the Bowl, or to Yosemite
or to a party, or to a shrink. And we knit or read
mysteries, history, the sport’s page, Nabakov.
Play CD’s or cards or mind games. Do the
crossword, do the dishes, do good deeds, do
whatever it takes to stay even. There is nothing
momentous about our lives, except

When I read your stories, you make me cry and
smile and worry about you. I sigh with relief that
you’re here and we’ve never even met. But we
know each other, don’t we? In the writing class?
Where the stories are our holy books, the poems are scripture,
and they teach us what we know over and over,
in every variety, in every iteration. They are so glorious,
so ordinary, they are the proof of the Divine. Between
us, in the places we don’t show, in those faces I don’t
see, we know and we are known.


Very nice cher, thank you.


Thank you, KT.

Redemption Song
Redemption Song

anyone lived in a pretty how town
(by e. e. cummings)

anyone lived in a pretty how town
(with up so floating many bells down)
spring summer autumn winter
he sang his didn’t he danced his did.

Women and men (both little and small)
cared for anyone not at all
they sowed their isn’t they reaped their same
sun moon stars rain

children guessed (but only a few
and down they forgot as up they grew
autumn winter spring summer)
that noone loved him more by more

when by now and tree by leaf
she laughed his joy she cried his grief
bird by snow and stir by still
anyone’s any was all to her

someones married their everyones
laughed their cryings and did their dance
(sleep wake hope and then)they
said their nevers they slept their dream

stars rain sun moon
(and only the snow can begin to explain
how children are apt to forget to remember
with up so floating many bells down)

one day anyone died i guess
(and noone stooped to kiss his face)
busy folk buried them side by side
little by little and was by was

all by all and deep by deep
and more by more they dream their sleep
noone and anyone earth by april
with by spirit and if by yes.

Women and men (both dong and ding)
summer autumn winter spring
reaped their sowing and went their came
sun moon stars rain

Orcas Island
Orcas Island

One of my favorites by cummings. It even has the rhythm or cadence if you will of a pretty how town.


The Messenger of Death danced through today
Singing songs of emancipation
I held my breath, just blinked an eye
As he took you away from me,


Hopes of finding something lost
The sound of your voice
The warmth of your laughter
The hand to soothe my tears,

Only silence now.

Falling into obscurity, not you, just I
Entry into an uncertain space to fill
But how?

Only silence.

Do the years really heal my friend
There will never be enough years,

Only silence.

This shattering scream rings in my ears
It is my own,

Only silence.

In these dreams you come so near
And I’m afraid to make a sound in case
My pounding heart should take you away again,


And so, the Messenger of Death danced through today
Singing songs of emancipation
I did not believe him

Now only my silence and I prevail.


Für Mutti


Our mothers, Kalima.

“There will never be enough years.”


Blithe and insouciant, the president makes jokes about the deaths that he’s unleashed
surrounded by his paymasters who rub sweaty palms together, gathered round a feast
meanwhile men and women die on foreign fields
war is a commodity, and they but its yields

and it’s all over in time
we lose our bodies first and then we lose our minds
and when we lose our memories we rush to get in line
and rejoin the dance
we spin round and round and round and round
till black is white and up is down

somewhere on Saturn a wise and precocious child stares in disbelief
at a hologram that shows a world not far away where battles rage and hatreds never cease
there and then he vows to heal the suffering he sees
makes his deal with destiny and leaves his life of ease
and it’s all over in time

hearts filled with gratitude the parents gaze with pride
upon their unexpected child
who is wise beyond his years and very clear that he is here
to serve a vision that propels him from inside
magically, it seems, he grows up in the public’s eyes
soon powerful men rush in to chart his stellar rise
and it’s all over in time

he wonders why even now the stars seem to call to him
when he looks at the sky on winter nights
could it be that he is the same child who long ago believed
that he was born to set the world aright?
And it’s all over in time

We lose our bodies first and then we lose our minds
and when we lose our memories we rush to get in line
and rejoin the dance
We have the best of intentions
as we join the dance


Waking into a gathering
I heard words and talk of reading about roses
and naked people.

Does it rhyme
not rhyme and what is this
free verse

I thought it quite funny
that they could
read and write
I can’t nor will my children
too dear.

Little bugger
tried to steal my crumbs

I finished my meal
I washed my bowl
and left the
Clever to Wonder

I trimmed the
near the doorway.


I really do like that one b’ito.


Very zen. Very Asian, Sir b’ito. Thumbs up.


The world of poetry is a wonderful place to live.
Thanks, Adonai, for opening the door for others.
A few of my favorites are:
Diane Wakoski
ee cummings
Charles Bukowski
Nikki Giovanni
John Donne
William Wordsworth
Robert Frost–
I shall be telling this with a sigh
Somewhere ages and ages hence:
Two roads diverged in a wood, and I—
I took the one less traveled by,
And that has made all the difference.


A brilliant Russian poet, and often political (very hard to pull off), Anna Ahkmatova:

Terror fingers all things in the dark,
Leads moonlight to the axe.
There’s an ominous knock behind the
A ghost, a thief or a rat…


Excellent, Russians are so hard to work through, that is wonderfully sublime, the holy trinity of fear. Triggers the memories of Milton, paradise regained for some reason:

A third sort doubted all things, though plain sense;
Others in virtue placed felicity


I’ve really enjoyed reading the poetry and discussion tonight. Thank you. Here’s a piece that really affected me when I first read it and led me to search out more like it.

Facing Snow

Battle cry many new ghosts
Worry and grieve alone old man
Disorder cloud low dusk
Rapid snow dance return wind
Gourd ladle discard cup without green
Stove remain fire like red
Many place news broken
Worry sit straight book empty After the battle, many new ghosts cry,
The solitary old man worries and grieves.
Ragged clouds are low amid the dusk,
Snow dances quickly in the whirling wind.
The ladle’s cast aside, the cup not green,
The stove still looks as if a fiery red.
To many places, communications are broken,
I sit, but cannot read my books for grief.

Du Fu – (circa 756)


Freddled Gruntbuggly

Oh freddled gruntbuggly
Thy micturations are to me
As plurdled gabbleblotchits on a lurgid bee.
Groop I implore thee, my foonting turlingdromes
And hooptiously drangle me with crinkly bindlewurdles,
Or I will rend thee in the gobberwarts with my blurglecruncheon,
See if I don’t!

– Prostetnic Vogon Jeltz


Hey what is that? Chaucer?


That stuff will kill you, ya know! At least that’s what Ford Prefect told me.




A Strange Calm

On this night this anynight not unlike the billions of others
a sweet melancholy rises like the circular ballet of smoke
Dancing off the end of my cigarette as Coltrane calls the tune.
It’s warm and snug in my little chrysalis of caring and not caring
Fretting and letting go in the same strain of blue satisfaction.
I have no country to love and no future to find it.
I watch too much news and dive nightly into this ever so micro
soft web.
Looking for argument and finding stupidity on this electronic
men’s room wall that’s there and really nowhere when insults and
labels are thrown out into the ethereal anynight by those injured
and aiming to injure in a blank space held together by pixels of
Caring and not caring, letting go and fretting and letting go
again to wallow in my cocoon of beatitude.
A strange calm at the center of this circle on this anynight
not unlike the billions of others that have cared and not cared.
My body is telling me to sleep, but sleep brings dream unto dream
that I’ll never remember anyway.
I am stuck frozen and smiling at train wrecks that others wisely
turn from.
I keep looking and not caring and caring all over again trying to
let go and grasping tightly, fretting and letting go of this
winged monarch inside me and hiding from me, but the tickle
of it’s wings fluttering softly in my nocturnal need assure me
that beauty and ever elusive virtue is not only for
The light of day.

One from my collection. Written after a night on a not so nice discussion board.


Boy do I know about that inspiration. I wrote a similar one after getting home one night from a dinner with friends and one of my friend’s beyond smug fiancé. God he was a prick. And I probed all the philosophical mysteries of what could make someone that much of an asshole (or how she could see ‘life partner’ in him – I wasn’t jealous, I didn’t think of her like that, I just thought he was an unfeeling jerk).

“electronic men’s room wall.”

OMG, you just nailed HP.

I’ll not be sharing mine. 1) I’d have to dig them up. 2) I do a pretty decent job hiding how truly disturbed I am without letting everyone in on the fact!


LOL. I’m used to being thought of as, “disturbed.” It’s the undisturbed that worry me. 😉


Jinx, Kilgore!


One of us owes each other a coke.


Khirad, the people who scare me are the ones who aren’t disturbed.


This could be one of the finest commentaries on the HP experience (assuming it is such) that’s out there. Terrific!


Thanks wts. You assume correctly.



To be able to make poetry of that experience…well, amazing.


Nice poem, Kilgore.


Thank you e’cat.


KT, thats really well done. I’m impressed.


Thanks fs. I hit and miss a good bit.


.300 gets you in the Hall…..


I’m reading these comments this morning because at least these stay relevant for more than a news cycle. Your posting beautifully describes the sucking in of trying to join a community (HP) that is too hard to join and the peace that comes from finding yourself again. And then going back in to find out again that you’re part of the game. But then some of the great ones show up and they make it all worthwhile. The “good days.” It’s nice being here


I would love to read more of your collection. Thanks for sharing this.


Thank you zippitytoo. I need to get to work on publication. It is a rather intimidating process.


I would but mention that the Mahabharata, attributed to Vyasa (though this is more likely a legendary figure), is the national epic of India and ten times longer than the Iliad and Odyssey combined. So, take that Homer.

And like that, I’d like to leave a comment ten times as long as this, but I simply don’t know where I would begin!

But I would add a few while I’m on India. The most famous Sanskrit poets: Valmiki, Panini, Kalidasa…

Other favorites from India of mine: Thiruvalluvar, Akka Mahadevi, Mirabai, Meena Kumari, Kabir, Tagore…

And by god, that’s incomplete and just one country.

I would call Mirabai the Sappho of India. She was the first to really write personally in Hindi.

री म्हाँ बैठयाँ जागाँ।
जगत सब सोवाँ॥
निरहण बैठयाँ रंगमहल माँ।
णेणा लड़या पोवाँ॥
इक बिरहणि हम ऐसी देय्वीं।
अँसुवन की माला पोवै॥
ताराँ गणताँ रैण बिहानाँ।
सुख धड़ियारी जोवाँ॥
मीराँ रे प्रभु गिरधरनागर।
मिल बिछड़या णा होवाँ॥

My eyes,
stretched wide see only

I hear tell
There used to be
a lonely royal girl like me
upon a time.

Gazing from
the palace walls
was all her life until

her eyes lit on
another’s smile,
like beads that make
each other shine.

There is
yet one, her tears
stitch gleaming pearls
all night.

Says Mira,I count the stars, I wait
for one pin

of light.


But what I’m trying to say is that there’s a whole world — literally — of poetry out there! (which yes, could have never been fit in an article.)

Oh, and Iran’s national epic, the Shahnameh, is twice the size of the Iliad and Odyssey combined and can be more reliably attributed to the poet Ferdowsi. But I’ll not be getting into more countries/cultures at this point. Oh no!

Just a quick note on my Egypt article last month (or two?!). For all those that didn’t catch it, its title was totally from Ozymandias. (kudos to Whatsie)


Khirad, to title your article about Egypt from Ozymandias is a stroke of genius.


It was, “Mubarak: Half sunk, a shattered visage lies” (during the revolution, before I could have known he was truly finished).


Well done sir.


It’s been awhile…..

A blind man man sees more then me
He looks into the mind,
the world he does not see

An old man knows more then me,
he has all the experience I am lacking

An ugly man looks better then me,
he never suffers from a vain heart, you see.

A poor man has more then me,
He thrives on the pleasures of the heart
not on money

Is it better to be
Would I,
What I am looking for?


Patsy, is that one of yours? I really like it.


KT you got me I am busted ….. that was way back in the college days.


I think it’s good.


Bravo! Lovely!
(and way better than the one I wrote in college and posted below 🙂 )