Poetry

July 15, 2013      

Three Poems by Wiley Birkhofer

The Cecil H. Green Library

I knew when she yawned that I could have her.
That I could have stolen from her.
I walked in on two souls.
In our souls, incomplete poems.
People want to read completed poems.

She pokes at her keyboard like a wife cutting snow
flakes from the skin of a trampoline.
She eats her way off her chair onto my lap
where I wrap her in scissors.
She purrs like a fucking walnut.
I nurture her.

I knew when she yawned that I could steal from her.
I knew from her face that I could give her a name
and she would believe me.
She knew from my smile
that I was desperate for a book that would lift my spirit.

Boots of prayer

I pretended to be too tired to have sex
for three months.
I left you alone in Oakland.

Boots of prayer

Climb two mountains a day and then talk to me about prayer.
Then talk to me about defense wins championships.

Boots of prayer

The poems I write are not epic.
They are usually sad like animals
eating other animals.

Address the ocean

If there is a woman cupping your breasts, you are dreaming.
If there is a woman charging you one dollar, you are dreaming.
If you are eating something, it was dreamt for a different purpose.

While there are cars, there is walking.
While there is walking, there is time.
While you walk, a crowd gathers around a woman feeding a rat.
While it hovers on her breast, there are those watching.

In Stinson, few people read the news.
In Bolinas, no people watch the news.
In Santa Cruz, enormous trees seem smaller among so many.
In Marin, birds trace the ocean every day with their flying flingers.

It will suck you down to its powder room.
It does not prefer couples. Hide your clothes from it.
If there are several obstacles, drown past them.

    5 comments to Three Poems by Wiley Birkhofer

    • Lili

      Wiley Birkhofer’s poem are intriguing, dream-like, wild and free, with a balanced palette of sweet and salty and a tad of sad. bravo.

    • Lili

      grand mere would have particularly loved the idea of your wonderful work being published on “word riot.” one of her favored expressions I remember most fondly was, “What a Riot!!”

    • Wendell

      I have a whole new image of Green, after reading this thought-provoking, surreal poem.

    • N/A

      Ode to a Nightingale
      By John Keats

      My heart aches, and a drowsy numbness pains
      My sense, as though of hemlock I had drunk,
      Or emptied some dull opiate to the drains
      One minute past, and Lethe-wards had sunk:
      ‘Tis not through envy of thy happy lot,
      But being too happy in thine happiness,—
      That thou, light-winged Dryad of the trees
      In some melodious plot
      Of beechen green, and shadows numberless,
      Singest of summer in full-throated ease.

      O, for a draught of vintage! that hath been
      Cool’d a long age in the deep-delved earth,
      Tasting of Flora and the country green,
      Dance, and Provençal song, and sunburnt mirth!
      O for a beaker full of the warm South,
      Full of the true, the blushful Hippocrene,
      With beaded bubbles winking at the brim,
      And purple-stained mouth;
      That I might drink, and leave the world unseen,
      And with thee fade away into the forest dim:

      Fade far away, dissolve, and quite forget
      What thou among the leaves hast never known,
      The weariness, the fever, and the fret
      Here, where men sit and hear each other groan;
      Where palsy shakes a few, sad, last gray hairs,
      Where youth grows pale, and spectre-thin, and dies;
      Where but to think is to be full of sorrow
      And leaden-eyed despairs,
      Where Beauty cannot keep her lustrous eyes,
      Or new Love pine at them beyond to-morrow.

      Away! away! for I will fly to thee,
      Not charioted by Bacchus and his pards,
      But on the viewless wings of Poesy,
      Though the dull brain perplexes and retards:
      Already with thee! tender is the night,
      And haply the Queen-Moon is on her throne,
      Cluster’d around by all her starry Fays;
      But here there is no light,
      Save what from heaven is with the breezes blown
      Through verdurous glooms and winding mossy ways.

      I cannot see what flowers are at my feet,
      Nor what soft incense hangs upon the boughs,
      But, in embalmed darkness, guess each sweet
      Wherewith the seasonable month endows
      The grass, the thicket, and the fruit-tree wild;
      White hawthorn, and the pastoral eglantine;
      Fast fading violets cover’d up in leaves;
      And mid-May’s eldest child,
      The coming musk-rose, full of dewy wine,
      The murmurous haunt of flies on summer eves.

      Darkling I listen; and, for many a time
      I have been half in love with easeful Death,
      Call’d him soft names in many a mused rhyme,
      To take into the air my quiet breath;
      Now more than ever seems it rich to die,
      To cease upon the midnight with no pain,
      While thou art pouring forth thy soul abroad
      In such an ecstasy!
      Still wouldst thou sing, and I have ears in vain—
      To thy high requiem become a sod.

      Thou wast not born for death, immortal Bird!
      No hungry generations tread thee down;
      The voice I hear this passing night was heard
      In ancient days by emperor and clown:
      Perhaps the self-same song that found a path
      Through the sad heart of Ruth, when, sick for home,
      She stood in tears amid the alien corn;
      The same that oft-times hath
      Charm’d magic casements, opening on the foam
      Of perilous seas, in faery lands forlorn.

      Forlorn! the very word is like a bell
      To toll me back from thee to my sole self!
      Adieu! the fancy cannot cheat so well
      As she is fam’d to do, deceiving elf.
      Adieu! adieu! thy plaintive anthem fades
      Past the near meadows, over the still stream,
      Up the hill-side; and now ’tis buried deep
      In the next valley-glades:
      Was it a vision, or a waking dream?
      Fled is that music:—Do I wake or sleep?

    • lisa darling

      the keats poem is lovely, am curious who shared it. it was posted here one real day after a surreal day. wtb rip. we love you and thank you for all the word riots we still share with you.

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