Chapter and Verse

Written by

Bwog editor Mariela Quintana tells you about a holiday you might have missed.

There’s been a lot of talk about April being the cruelest month. But what’s everyone got against poor old April? Just look at the facts, April’s got the best holidays – April Fool’s, Earth Day, often Easter, occasionally Passover, always 4/20, and Al Green’s birthday’s on the 13th. But April 17th celebrates the loveliest day of all, Poem in Your Pocket Day.

In honor of National Poetry Month (April), PIYP encourages you, dear Bwog reader, to print out a poem that you enjoy or perhaps that you have even written. As you carry it in your pocket, read your poem to as many or as few people as you so wish – don’t be shy, let the inner poet come out!

The holiday is meant to honor not just Erato – our divine Muse of the Lyric Line – but also to promote poetry, literacy an the arts. Today’s celebration will culminate with an open mic reading in Byrant Park. And there’s even a website, so it’s legit!

After the jump, Bwog offers some pocket-friendly poems.

For those with petite pockets:

“This Is Just To Say”

by William Carlos Williams

For the tentative romantic:

“Spring is like a perhaps hand”

by E. E. Cummings

For the Brooding Senior on a Bulter Break:

“Sonnets 04: Only Until This Cigarette Is Ended”

By Edna St. Vincent Millay

For the Debbie Downer in us all:

“Nothing Gold Can Stay”

By Robert Frost

For the artist in us:

“In My Craft Or Sullen Art”

By Dylan Thomas

For anyone who has waited for a train at 96th street:

“Subway Wind”

By Claude McKay

For the lover of the Lost and Found:

“One Art”

By Elizabeth Bishop

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  1. In my pocket  

By John Updike

    And another regrettable thing about death
is the ceasing of your own brand of magic,

    which took a whole life to develop and market --

    the quips, the witticisms, the slant

    adjusted to a few, those loved ones nearest

    the lip of the stage, their soft faces blanched

    in the footlight glow, their laughter close to tears,

    their tears confused with their diamond earrings,

    their warm pooled breath in and out with your heartbeat,
their response and your performance twinned.

    The jokes over the phone. The memories
packed in the rapid-access file. The whole act.

    Who will do it again? That's it: no one;

    imitators and descendants aren't the same.

  2. In my pocket  

    The Fall of Rome
    W.H. Auden

    The piers are pummelled by the waves;
    In a lonely field the rain
    Lashes and abandoned train;
    Outlaws fill the mountain caves.

    Fantastic grow the evening gowns;
    Agents of the Fisc pursue
    Absconding tax-defaulters through
    The sewers of provincial towns.

    Private rites of magic send
    The temple prostitutes to sleep;
    All the literati keep
    An imaginary friend.

    Cerebrotonic Cato may
    Extol the Ancient Disciplines,
    But the muscle-bound Marines
    Mutiny for food and pay.

    Caesar's double-bed is warm
    As an unimportatnt clerk
    On a pink official form.

    Unendowed with wealth or pity
    Little birds with scarlet legs,
    Sitting on their speckled eggs,
    Eye each flu-infected city.

    Altogether elsewhere, vast
    Herds of reindeer move across
    Miles and miles of golden moss,
    Silently and very fast.

  3. in my pocket,

    because it's perfect for today
    Frank O'Hara

    How funny you are today New York
    like Ginger Rogers in Swingtime
    and St. Bridget's steeple leaning a little to the left

    here I have just jumped out of a bed full of V-days
    (I got tired of D-days) and blue you there still
    accepts me foolish and free
    all I want is a room up there
    and you in it
    and even the traffic halt so thick is a way
    for people to rub up against each other
    and when their surgical appliances lock
    they stay together
    for the rest of the day (what a day)
    I go by to check a slide and I say
    that painting's not so blue

    where's Lana Turner
    she's out eating
    and Garbo's backstage at the Met
    everyone's taking their coat off
    so they can show a rib-cage to the rib-watchers
    and the park's full of dancers with their tights and shoes
    in little bags
    who are often mistaken for worker-outers at the West Side Y
    why not
    the Pittsburgh Pirates shout because they won
    and in a sense we're all winning
    we're alive

    the apartment was vacated by a gay couple
    who moved to the country for fun
    they moved a day too soon
    even the stabbings are helping the population explosion
    though in the wrong country
    and all those liars have left the UN
    the Seagram Building's no longer rivalled in interest
    not that we need liquor (we just like it)

    and the little box is out on the sidewalk
    next to the delicatessen
    so the old man can sit on it and drink beer
    and get knocked off it by his wife later in the day
    while the sun is still shining

    oh god it's wonderful
    to get out of bed
    and drink too much coffee
    and smoke too many cigarettes
    and love you so much

  4. In my pocket

    by Irving Feldman

    The wind tore the sky to tatters
    Above the stone bridges of the Seine,
    That winter day, the driven rain
    Leaned down in long ladders.

    And my eye, suspended between
    The promised power, the murdered form,
    Beheld the luxury of storm,
    The pathos of the sighing scene.

    Wind, through shreds of greyness scream
    And crack the saucers of the stream!
    I could not fall, could not rise.

    The thought of death, the wind's sieve,
    Gathered all I could not live
    And all the rest shook down in cries.

  5. my pocket  

    e.e. cummings i am a little church(no great cathedral)

    i am a little church(no great cathedral)
    far from the splendor and squalor of hurrying cities
    --i do not worry if briefer days grow briefest,
    i am not sorry when sun and rain make april

    my life is the life of the reaper and the sower;
    my prayers are prayers of earth's own clumsily striving
    (finding and losing and laughing and crying)children
    whose any sadness or joy is my grief or my gladness

    around me surges a miracle of unceasing
    birth and glory and death and resurrection:
    over my sleeping self float flaming symbols
    of hope,and i wake to a perfect patience of mountains

    i am a little church(far from the frantic
    world with its rapture and anguish)at peace with nature
    --i do not worry if longer nights grow longest;
    i am not sorry when silence becomes singing

    winter by spring,i lift my diminutive spire to
    merciful Him Whose only now is forever:
    standing erect in the deathless truth of His presence
    (welcoming humbly His light and proudly His darkness)

  6. in my pocket  

    All the new thinking is about loss.
    In this it resembles all the old thinking.
    The idea, for example, that each particular erases
    the luminous clarity of a general idea. That the clown-
    faced woodpecker probing the dead sculpted trunk
    of that black birch is, by his presence,
    some tragic falling off from a first world
    of undivided light. Or the other notion that,
    because there is in this world no one thing
    to which the bramble of blackberry corresponds,
    a word is elegy to what it signifies.
    We talked about it late last night and in the voice
    of my friend, there was a thin wire of grief, a tone
    almost querulous. After a while I understood that,
    talking this way, everything dissolves: justice,
    pine, hair, woman, you and I. There was a woman
    I made love to and I remembered how, holding
    her small shoulders in my hands sometimes,
    I felt a violent wonder at her presence
    like a thirst for salt, for my childhood river
    with its island willows, silly music from the pleasure boat,
    muddy places where we caught the little orange-silver fish
    called pumpkinseed. It hardly had to do with her.
    Longing, we say, because desire is full
    of endless distances. I must have been the same to her.
    But I remember so much, the way her hands dismantled bread,
    the thing her father said that hurt her, what
    she dreamed. There are moments when the body is as numinous
    as words, days that are the good flesh continuing.
    Such tenderness, those afternoons and evenings,
    saying blackberry, blackberry, blackberry.

  7. timely  

    The Pope’s Penis
    Sharon Olds

    It hangs deep in his robes, a delicate
    clapper at the center of a bell.
    It moves when he moves, a ghostly fish in a
    halo of silver seaweed, the hair
    swaying in the dark and the heat—and at night
    while his eyes sleep, it stands up
    in praise of God.

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