Wednesday, 18 April 2012


I’m a fullblooded
West Indian stereotype
See me straw hat?
Watch it good
I’m a fullblooded
West Indian stereotype
You ask
if I got riddum
in me blood
You going ask!
Man just beat de drum
and don’t forget
to pour di rum
I’m a fullblooded
West Indian stereotype
You say
I suppose you can show
us the limbo, can’t you?
How you know!
How you know!
You sure
you don’t want me
sing you a calypso too
How about that?
I’m a fullblooded
West Indian stereotype
You call me
Yes that’s me
dressing fancy
and chasing women
if you think ah lie
bring yuh sister
I’m a fullblooded
West Indian stereotype
You wonder
where do you people get such riddum
could it be the sunshine
My goodness
Just listen to that steelband
Isn’t here one thing
you forgot to ask
go on man ask ask
This native will answer
How about cricket?
I suppose you’re good at it?
Hear this man
good at it!
Put de willow
in me hand
and watch me stripe
de boundary
Yes I’m a fullblooded
West Indian stereotype
that’s why I
graduated from Oxford
with a degree
in anthropology

Migrant in London

Sand under we feet long time.
Sea divided for we, you know,
how we turned stragglers to Mecca.

An' in mi hangin' drape style
I cross worl' centre street, man.
An' busy traffic hoot horns.

I see Big Ben strike
the mark of my king town.
Pigeons come perch on mi shoulder,
roun' great Nelson feet.

I stan' in the roar, man,
in a dream of wheels
a-vibrate shadows.
I feel how wheels hurry in wheels.
I whisper, man you mek it.
You arrive.
Then sudden, like, quite loud I say,
'Then whey you goin' sleep tonight?'

My Arrival

Showing the creature I landed
I slipped from my mother’s womb
flesh connected, laced in a blood-spatter.

My father waited with a bottle of rum.
The moon floated somewhere.
The sea drummed and drummed our coastline.
Mullets darted in wooded steams. 

A good night to end our labour – Saturday.
The country-midwife held me up,
‘Look. Is yu third boy child!’
My mother asked, ‘Him all right?’
‘Yes – all eyes, all ears.
Yes – all hands, all feet.’
My mother whispered, ‘Thank God.’
My granny said, ‘My Jim-Jim.
My husband! You come back?’ 
I slept.
Roosters crowed
all around the village. 

In the sun’s hot eye
my umbilical cord was dressed
with wood ash, castor oil and nutmeg
and buried under a banana-sucker.
There, a tree made fruits, all mine.

Sunday, 15 April 2012


I am leading a quiet life   
in Mike’s Place every day   
watching the champs
of the Dante Billiard Parlor   
and the French pinball addicts.   
I am leading a quiet life   
on lower East Broadway.   
I am an American.
I was an American boy.
I read the American Boy Magazine   
and became a boy scout   
in the suburbs.
I thought I was Tom Sawyer   
catching crayfish in the Bronx River
and imagining the Mississippi.   
I had a baseball mit
and an American Flyer bike.
I delivered the Woman’s Home Companion   
at five in the afternoon
or the Herald Trib
at five in the morning.
I still can hear the paper thump   
on lost porches.
I had an unhappy childhood.   
I saw Lindbergh land.
I looked homeward
and saw no angel.
I got caught stealing pencils
from the Five and Ten Cent Store   
the same month I made Eagle Scout.
I chopped trees for the CCC   
and sat on them.
I landed in Normandy
in a rowboat that turned over.
I have seen the educated armies
on the beach at Dover.
I have seen Egyptian pilots in purple clouds   
shopkeepers rolling up their blinds   
at midday
potato salad and dandelions
at anarchist picnics.
I am reading ‘Lorna Doone’
and a life of John Most
terror of the industrialist
a bomb on his desk at all times.
I have seen the garbagemen parade   
in the Columbus Day Parade
behind the glib
farting trumpeters.
I have not been out to the Cloisters   
in a long time
nor to the Tuileries
but I still keep thinking
of going.
I have seen the garbagemen parade   
when it was snowing.
I have eaten hotdogs in ballparks.
I have heard the Gettysburg Address   
and the Ginsberg Address.
I like it here
and I won’t go back
where I came from.
I too have ridden boxcars boxcars boxcars.   
I have travelled among unknown men.   
I have been in Asia
with Noah in the Ark.
I was in India
when Rome was built.
I have been in the Manger
with an Ass.
I have seen the Eternal Distributor   
from a White Hill
in South San Francisco
and the Laughing Woman at Loona Park   
outside the Fun House
in a great rainstorm
still laughing.
I have heard the sound of revelry   
by night.
I have wandered lonely
as a crowd.
I am leading a quiet life
outside of Mike’s Place every day   
watching the world walk by
in its curious shoes.
I once started out
to walk around the world
but ended up in Brooklyn.
That Bridge was too much for me.   
I have engaged in silence
exile and cunning.
I flew too near the sun
and my wax wings fell off.
I am looking for my Old Man   
whom I never knew.
I am looking for the Lost Leader   
with whom I flew.
Young men should be explorers.   
Home is where one starts from.   
But Mother never told me
there’d be scenes like this.
I rest
I have travelled.
I have seen goof city.
I have seen the mass mess.
I have heard Kid Ory cry.
I have heard a trombone preach.   
I have heard Debussy
strained thru a sheet.
I have slept in a hundred islands
where books were trees.   
I have heard the birds   
that sound like bells.
I have worn grey flannel trousers
and walked upon the beach of hell.
I have dwelt in a hundred cities
where trees were books.
What subways what taxis what cafes!
What women with blind breasts
limbs lost among skyscrapers!
I have seen the statues of heroes
at carrefours.
Danton weeping at a metro entrance
Columbus in Barcelona
pointing Westward up the Ramblas
toward the American Express   
Lincoln in his stony chair   
And a great Stone Face   
in North Dakota.
I know that Columbus   
did not invent America.
I have heard a hundred housebroken Ezra Pounds.   
They should all be freed.   
It is long since I was a herdsman.
I am leading a quiet life   
in Mike’s Place every day   
reading the Classified columns.
I have read the Reader’s Digest
from cover to cover
and noted the close identification
of the United States and the Promised Land
where every coin is marked   
In God We Trust
but the dollar bills do not have it
being gods unto themselves.   
I read the Want Ads daily   
looking for a stone a leaf   
an unfound door.
I hear America singing
in the Yellow Pages.
One could never tell
the soul has its rages.
I read the papers every day   
and hear humanity amiss
in the sad plethora of print.
I see where Walden Pond has been drained   
to make an amusement park.   
I see they’re making Melville   
eat his whale.
I see another war is coming   
but I won’t be there to fight it.   
I have read the writing
on the outhouse wall.
I helped Kilroy write it.
I marched up Fifth Avenue
blowing on a bugle in a tight platoon   
but hurried back to the Casbah   
looking for my dog.
I see a similarity
between dogs and me.
Dogs are the true observers   
walking up and down the world   
thru the Molloy country.
I have walked down alleys   
too narrow for Chryslers.
I have seen a hundred horseless milkwagons   
in a vacant lot in Astoria.
Ben Shahn never painted them   
but they’re there
askew in Astoria.
I have heard the junkman’s obbligato.   
I have ridden superhighways   
and believed the billboard’s promises   
Crossed the Jersey Flats
and seen the Cities of the Plain
And wallowed in the wilds of Westchester
with its roving bands of natives
in stationwagons.
I have seen them.
I am the man.   
I was there.   
I suffered
I am an American.
I have a passport.
I did not suffer in public.
And I’m too young to die.
I am a selfmade man.
And I have plans for the future.
I am in line   
for a top job.
I may be moving on
to Detroit.
I am only temporarily
a tie salesman.
I am a good Joe.
I am an open book
to my boss.
I am a complete mystery
to my closest friends.
I am leading a quiet life
in Mike’s Place every day   
contemplating my navel.
I am a part
of the body’s long madness.
I have wandered in various nightwoods.   
I have leaned in drunken doorways.
I have written wild stories
without punctuation.
I am the man.
I was there.   
I suffered   
I have sat in an uneasy chair.
I am a tear of the sun.   
I am a hill
where poets run.
I invented the alphabet
after watching the flight of cranes   
who made letters with their legs.
I am a lake upon a plain.   
I am a word
in a tree.
I am a hill of poetry.   
I am a raid
on the inarticulate.
I have dreamt
that all my teeth fell out   
but my tongue lived   
to tell the tale.
For I am a still
of poetry.
I am a bank of song.   
I am a playerpiano
in an abandoned casino   
on a seaside esplanade   
in a dense fog
still playing.
I see a similarity
between the Laughing Woman
and myself.
I have heard the sound of summer   
in the rain.
I have seen girls on boardwalks   
have complicated sensations.   
I understand their hesitations.
I am a gatherer of fruit.   
I have seen how kisses   
cause euphoria.
I have risked enchantment.   
I have seen the Virgin   
in an appletree at Chartres
And Saint Joan burn
at the Bella Union.
I have seen giraffes in junglejims
their necks like love
wound around the iron circumstances   
of the world.
I have seen the Venus Aphrodite   
armless in her drafty corridor.   
I have heard a siren sing   
at One Fifth Avenue.
I have seen the White Goddess dancing   
in the Rue des Beaux Arts   
on the Fourteenth of July   
and the Beautiful Dame Without Mercy   
picking her nose in Chumley’s.   
She did not speak English.   
She had yellow hair
and a hoarse voice
I am leading a quiet life   
in Mike’s Place every day   
watching the pocket pool players   
making the minestrone scene   
wolfing the macaronis   
and I have read somewhere   
the Meaning of Existence   
yet have forgotten
just exactly where.
But I am the man
And I’ll be there.
And I may cause the lips   
of those who are asleep   
to speak.
And I may make my notebooks   
into sheaves of grass.   
And I may write my own   
eponymous epitaph
instructing the horsemen   
to pass.

Everybody's Doing It

In Hawaii they Hula
They Tango in Argentina
They Reggae in Jamaica
And they Rumba down in Cuba,
In Trinidad and Tobago
They do the Calypso
And in Spain the Spanish
They really do Flamenco.

In the Punjab they Bhangra
How they dance Kathak in India
Over in Guatemala
They dance the sweet Marimba,
Even foxes dance a lot
They invented the Fox Trot,
In Australia it's true
They dance to the Didgeridoo.

In Kenya they Benga
They Highlife in Ghana
They dance Ballet all over
And Rai dance in Algeria,
They Jali in Mali
In Brazil they Samba
And the girls do Belly Dancing
In the northern parts of Africa.

Everybody does the Disco
From Baghdad to San Francisco
Many folk with razzamataz
Cannot help dancing to Jazz,
They do the Jig in Ireland
And it is really true
They still Morris dance in England
When they can find time to.

Sometime During Eternity...

Sometime during eternity
                                                       some guys show up   
and one of them
                      who shows up real late
                                                       is a kind of carpenter   
      from some square-type place
                                              like Galilee
          and he starts wailing
                                          and claiming he is hip
            to who made heaven
                                       and earth
                                                      and that the cat
                   who really laid it on us
                                                 is his Dad

          And moreover
             he adds
                         It’s all writ down
                                              on some scroll-type parchments   
          which some henchmen
                  leave lying around the Dead Sea somewheres   
                a long time ago
                                       and which you won’t even find   
         for a coupla thousand years or so
                                                 or at least for
      nineteen hundred and fortyseven
                                                      of them
                            to be exact
                                             and even then
         nobody really believes them
                                                   or me
                                                            for that matter
          You’re hot
                         they tell him
          And they cool him

          They stretch him on the Tree to cool

                         And everybody after that
                                                               is always making models   
                                          of this Tree
                                                          with Him hung up   
          and always crooning His name
                                     and calling Him to come down   
                                 and sit in
                                                 on their combo
                           as if he is the king cat
                                                            who’s got to blow   
                      or they can’t quite make it

                      Only he don’t come down
                                                         from His Tree
          Him just hang there
                                       on His Tree
          looking real Petered out
                                          and real cool
                                                             and also
                   according to a roundup
                                                    of late world news   
             from the usual unreliable sources
                                                               real dead

The World is a Beautiful Place

The world is a beautiful place
to be born into
if you don't mind happiness
not always being
so very much fun
if you don't mind a touch of hell
now and then
just when everything is fine
because even in heaven
they don't sing
all the time

The world is a beautiful place
to be born into
if you don't mind some people dying
all the time
or maybe only starving
some of the time
which isn't half bad
if it isn't you

Oh the world is a beautiful place
to be born into
if you don't much mind
a few dead minds
in the higher places
or a bomb or two
now and then
in your upturned faces
or such other improprieties
as our Name Brand society
is prey to
with its men of distinction
and its men of extinction
and its priests
and other patrolmen

and its various segregations
and congressional investigations
and other constipations
that our fool flesh
is heir to

Yes the world is the best place of all
for a lot of such things as
making the fun scene
and making the love scene
and making the sad scene
and singing low songs and having inspirations
and walking around
looking at everything
and smelling flowers
and goosing statues
and even thinking
and kissing people and
making babies and wearing pants
and waving hats and
and going swimming in rivers
on picnics
in the middle of the summer
and just generally
'living it up'
but then right in the middle of it
comes the smiling


Saturday, 14 April 2012

The Death of the Loch Ness Monster

Consider that the thing has died before we proved it ever lived
   and that it died of loneliness, dark lord of the loch,
fathomless Worm, great Orm, this last of our mysteries -
    haifend ane meikill fin on ilk syde
     with ane taill and ane terribill heid -
and that it had no tales to tell us, only that it lived there,
     lake-locked, lost in its own coils,
waiting to be found; in the black light of midnight
     surfacing, its whole elastic length unwound,
and the sound it made as it broke the water
     was the single plucked string of a harp -
this newt or salamander, graceful as a swan,
     this water-snake, this water-horse, this water-dancer.

Consider him tired of pondering the possible existence of man
      whom he thinks he has sighted sometimes on the shore,
and rearing up from the purple churnhing water,
      weird little worm head swaying from side to side,
he denies the vision before his eyes;
      his long neck, swan of Hell, a silhouette against the moon
his green heart beating its last,
      his noble, sordid soul in ruins.

Now the mist is a blanket of doom, and we pluck from the depth
      a prize of primordial slime -
the beast who was born from some terrible ancient kiss,
      lovechild of unspeakable histories,
this ugly slug half blind no doubt, and very cold,
      his head which is horror to behold
no bigger than our own;
      whom we loath, for his kind ruled the earth before us,
who died of loneliness in a small lake in Scotland,
      and in his mind’s dark land,
where he dreamed up his luminous myths, the last of which was man.

Sunday Morning

Down the road someone is practising scales,
The notes like little fishes vanish with a wink of tails,
Man's heart expands to tinker with his car
For this is Sunday morning, Fate's great bazaar;
Regard these means as ends, concentrate on this Now,

And you may grow to music or drive beyond Hindhead anyhow,
Take corners on two wheels until you go so fast
That you can clutch a fringe or two of the windy past,
That you can abstract this day and make it to the week of time
A small eternity, a sonnet self-contained in rhyme.

But listen, up the road, something gulps, the church spire
Opens its eight bells out, skulls' mouths which will not tire
To tell how there is no music or movement which secures
Escape from the weekday time. Which deadens and endures.

Prayer Before Birth

I am not yet born; O hear me.
Let not the bloodsucking bat or the rat or the stoat or the
     club-footed ghoul come near me.

I am not yet born, console me.
I fear that the human race may with tall walls wall me,
     with strong drugs dope me, with wise lies lure me,
        on black racks rack me, in blood-baths roll me.

I am not yet born; provide me
With water to dandle me, grass to grow for me, trees to talk
     to me, sky to sing to me, birds and a white light
        in the back of my mind to guide me.

I am not yet born; forgive me
For the sins that in me the world shall commit, my words
     when they speak me, my thoughts when they think me,
        my treason engendered by traitors beyond me,
           my life when they murder by means of my
              hands, my death when they live me.

I am not yet born; rehearse me
In the parts I must play and the cues I must take when
     old men lecture me, bureaucrats hector me, mountains
        frown at me, lovers laugh at me, the white
            waves call me to folly and the desert calls
              me to doom and the beggar refuses
                 my gift and my children curse me.

I am not yet born; O hear me,
Let not the man who is beast or who thinks he is God
     come near me.

I am not yet born; O fill me
With strength against those who would freeze my
     humanity, would dragoon me into a lethal automaton,
        would make me a cog in a machine, a thing with
           one face, a thing, and against all those
              who would dissipate my entirety, would
                 blow me like thistledown hither and
                    thither or hither and thither
                       like water held in the
                          hands would spill me.

Let them not make me a stone and let them not spill me.
Otherwise kill me.


The room was suddenly rich and the great bay-window was
Spawning snow and pink roses against it
Soundlessly collateral and incompatible:
World is suddener than we fancy it.

World is crazier and more of it than we think,
Incorrigibly plural. I peel and portion
A tangerine and spit the pips and feel
The drunkenness of things being various.

And the fire flames with a bubbling sound for world
Is more spiteful and gay than one supposes -
On the tongue on the eyes on the ears in the palms of one's hands -
There is more than glass between the snow and the huge roses.

Stopping by Woods on a Snowy Evening

Whose woods these are I think I know.
His house is in the village though;
He will not see me stopping here
To watch his woods fill up with snow.

My little horse must think it queer

To stop without a farmhouse near
Between the woods and frozen lake
The darkest evening of the year.

He gives his harness bells a shake

To ask if there is some mistake.
The only other sound's the sweep
Of easy wind and downy flake.

The woods are lovely, dark and deep.

But I have promises to keep,
And miles to go before I sleep,
And miles to go before I sleep.

The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock

Let us go then, you and I,
When the evening is spread out against the sky
Like a patient etherized upon a table;
Let us go, through certain half-deserted streets,
The muttering retreats
Of restless nights in one-night cheap hotels
And sawdust restaurants with oyster-shells:
Streets that follow like a tedious argument
Of insidious intent
To lead you to an overwhelming question. . .                              
Oh, do not ask, "What is it?"
Let us go and make our visit.

  In the room the women come and go
Talking of Michelangelo.

  The yellow fog that rubs its back upon the window-panes
The yellow smoke that rubs its muzzle on the window-panes
Licked its tongue into the corners of the evening
Lingered upon the pools that stand in drains,
Let fall upon its back the soot that falls from chimneys,
Slipped by the terrace, made a sudden leap,                              
And seeing that it was a soft October night
Curled once about the house, and fell asleep.

  And indeed there will be time
For the yellow smoke that slides along the street,
Rubbing its back upon the window-panes;
There will be time, there will be time
To prepare a face to meet the faces that you meet;
There will be time to murder and create,
And time for all the works and days of hands
That lift and drop a question on your plate;                                
Time for you and time for me,
And time yet for a hundred indecisions
And for a hundred visions and revisions
Before the taking of a toast and tea.

  In the room the women come and go
Talking of Michelangelo.

  And indeed there will be time
To wonder, "Do I dare?" and, "Do I dare?"
Time to turn back and descend the stair,
With a bald spot in the middle of my hair—                            
[They will say: "How his hair is growing thin!"]
My morning coat, my collar mounting firmly to the chin,
My necktie rich and modest, but asserted by a simple pin—
[They will say: "But how his arms and legs are thin!"]
Do I dare
Disturb the universe?
In a minute there is time
For decisions and revisions which a minute will reverse.

  For I have known them all already, known them all;
Have known the evenings, mornings, afternoons,                        
I have measured out my life with coffee spoons;
I know the voices dying with a dying fall
Beneath the music from a farther room.
  So how should I presume?

  And I have known the eyes already, known them all—
The eyes that fix you in a formulated phrase,
And when I am formulated, sprawling on a pin,
When I am pinned and wriggling on the wall,
Then how should I begin
To spit out all the butt-ends of my days and ways?                  
  And how should I presume?

  And I have known the arms already, known them all—
Arms that are braceleted and white and bare
[But in the lamplight, downed with light brown hair!]
Is it perfume from a dress
That makes me so digress?
Arms that lie along a table, or wrap about a shawl.
  And should I then presume?
  And how should I begin?


Shall I say, I have gone at dusk through narrow streets              
And watched the smoke that rises from the pipes
Of lonely men in shirt-sleeves, leaning out of windows? . . .

I should have been a pair of ragged claws
Scuttling across the floors of silent seas.


And the afternoon, the evening, sleeps so peacefully!
Smoothed by long fingers,
Asleep . . . tired . . . or it malingers,
Stretched on the floor, here beside you and me.
Should I, after tea and cakes and ices,
Have the strength to force the moment to its crisis?                  
But though I have wept and fasted, wept and prayed,
Though I have seen my head (grown slightly bald) brought in upon a platter,
I am no prophet–and here's no great matter;
I have seen the moment of my greatness flicker,
And I have seen the eternal Footman hold my coat, and snicker,
And in short, I was afraid.

  And would it have been worth it, after all,
After the cups, the marmalade, the tea,
Among the porcelain, among some talk of you and me,
Would it have been worth while,                                             
To have bitten off the matter with a smile,
To have squeezed the universe into a ball
To roll it toward some overwhelming question,
To say: "I am Lazarus, come from the dead,
Come back to tell you all, I shall tell you all"
If one, settling a pillow by her head,
  Should say, "That is not what I meant at all.
  That is not it, at all."

  And would it have been worth it, after all,
Would it have been worth while,                                           
After the sunsets and the dooryards and the sprinkled streets,
After the novels, after the teacups, after the skirts that trail along the floor—
And this, and so much more?—
It is impossible to say just what I mean!
But as if a magic lantern threw the nerves in patterns on a screen:
Would it have been worthwhile
If one, settling a pillow or throwing off a shawl,
And turning toward the window, should say:
  "That is not it at all,
  That is not what I meant, at all."                                                  

No! I am not Prince Hamlet, nor was meant to be;
Am an attendant lord, one that will do
To swell a progress, start a scene or two
Advise the prince; no doubt, an easy tool,
Deferential, glad to be of use,
Politic, cautious, and meticulous;
Full of high sentence, but a bit obtuse;
At times, indeed, almost ridiculous—
Almost, at times, the Fool.

I grow old . . .  I grow old . . .                                              
I shall wear the bottoms of my trousers rolled.

Shall I part my hair behind? Do I dare to eat a peach?
I shall wear white flannel trousers, and walk upon the beach.
I have heard the mermaids singing, each to each.

I do not think they will sing to me.

I have seen them riding seaward on the waves
Combing the white hair of the waves blown back
When the wind blows the water white and black.

We have lingered in the chambers of the sea
By sea-girls wreathed with seaweed red and brown               
Till human voices wake us, and we drown.