Increment

by A.R. Ammons

Applause is a shower
to the watertable of
self-regard:
in the downpour
the watertable’s irrelevant
but after the shower passes
possibility takes on
an extensive millimeter.

Who’s Who

by W.H. Auden

A shilling life will give you all the facts:
How Father beat him, how he ran away,
What were the struggles of his youth, what acts
Made him the greatest figure of his day:
Of how he fought, fished, hunted, worked all night,
Though giddy, climbed new mountains; named a sea:
Some of the last researchers even write
Love made him weep his pints like you and me.

With all his honours on, he sighed for one
Who, say astonished critics, lived at home;
Did little jobs about the house with skill
And nothing else; could whistle; would sit still
Or potter round the garden; answered some
Of his long marvellous letters but kept none.

Offering and Rebuff

by Carl Sandburg

I could love you
as dry roots love rain.
I could hold you
as branches in the wind 
brandish petals.
Forgive me for speaking
so soon.

     . . .

   Let your heart look
   on white sea spray
   and be lonely.

   Love is a fool star.

You and a ring of stars
may mention my name
and then forget me.

Love is a fool star.

     . . .

You and a Sickle Moon

by Carl Sandburg

The lips of you are with me tonight.
And the arms of you are a circle of white.

The dream of it burns.
And I want you and the stars.
I want you and a sickle moon.

The finger tips of you
Five hundred miles away
Make a wireless crying flash:
I know a search that’s useless,
I know a code I don’t hunt for,
I know a face that’s gone.

Back home the hills talk to me.
Here the hills are strangers.
The lips of you are a ghost.
The arms of you are a ghost.
       The red and white is empty air.

                                         Omaha 1917