THE FROG by James Whitcomb Riley


THE FROG

Who am I but the Frog--the Frog!
    My realm is the dark bayou,
And my throne is the muddy and moss-grown log
    That the poison-vine clings to--
And the blacksnakes slide in the slimy tide
    Where the ghost of the moon looks blue.

What am I but a King--a King!--
    For the royal robes I wear--
A scepter, too, and a signet-ring,
    As vassals and serfs declare:
And a voice, god wot, that is equaled not
    In the wide world anywhere!

I can talk to the Night--the Night!--
    Under her big black wing
She tells me the tale of the world outright,
    And the secret of everything;
For she knows you all, from the time you crawl,
    To the doom that death will bring.

The Storm swoops down, and he blows--and blows,--
    While I drum on his swollen cheek,
And croak in his angered eye that glows
    With the lurid lightning's streak;
While the rushes drown in the watery frown
    That his bursting passions leak.

And I can see through the sky--the sky--
    As clear as a piece of glass;
And I can tell you the how and why
    Of the things that come to pass--
And whether the dead are there instead,
    Or under the graveyard grass.

To your Sovereign lord all hail--all hail!--
    To your Prince on his throne so grim!
Let the moon swing low, and the high stars trail
    Their heads in the dust to him;
And the wide world sing:  Long live the King,
    And grace to his royal whim!

24 from GLARE by A.R. Ammons

I am so ill-stanchioned myself, you
know, just me, that I can’t get on

without like, going to work, getting
away from myself into the affairs

of others, the elevator slowing and
catching still on the remnants of

old floors, plunging easing up: I’m
always hungry for compliments, anything

to bolster me lofty: I consume compliments
like bricks tossed into a black hole

for bottom, a solid floor,
but it all oozes away, undermined

by an oily, massive slip: I
should go in the brick business: I

might help myself out a little: I
should throw chunks of old foundation

in there, the steel rods ciliating
concrete: a few bales of ginned

cotton, absorbencies: a couple of
barrels of sticky-wicky: some jungle

temples: a ridge off the top of the
Rockies: that little peninsula that

reaches out from–oh, well: sub-
continent? where there is no love

nothing will take root: the hollow
will not fill: earth’s walkabout

will not arise: steps leading up
will not surprise: dreams will

not fog off the higher elevations of
ascension: what is left, after love,

to live with? anger, guilt, anxiety:
I speak not just of the loves of

thighs but of the love of another
more, say, than of oneself: there

are those whom to lose soaks direction
out of the tree boughs, prevents

snow from settling in the granite
crevices, makes daylight an odd

visitor: the stanchions give in,
wither like sea oates in a hurricane:

and then all the world cannot fill
the hole which becomes a trillion

miles of nothing

ANECDOTE OF RAIN

by Adam Zagajewski

I was strolling under the tents of trees
and raindrops occasionally reached me
as though asking:
Is your desire to suffer,
to sob?

Soft air,
wet leaves;
–the scent was spring, the scent sorrow

 

translated by Renata Gorczynski, Benjamin Ivry, and C.K. Williams

Glare by Ammons (17)


17.

where do poems come from, you may
want to know: have you ever wondered:

do you care about the baby, not the
fetus: if you're like many people

you don't care about the poem, so why
care where it comes from, when you

mostly do care about babies and still
would just as soon skip the phylogeny:

wonder which comes first, the motion
or the feeling, or the event, perception,

connection: oceanward, you could
say that a rift of motion starts in

the doldrums, forms a progression, 
but you can't derive what it derived

from: what unsettled a bit of air:
was it air's own weight, a change of

temperature and buoyancy, or did a
wing slice through, or a meteor, or 

surely not a neutrino, so tiny: so
what causes anything to start: when

is the beginning of anything, all
beginnings begun: well, that's it: 

there's a currency of feeling and it
flows as unformed, if noticeable, as 

a drive, and describes a form of
itself, or else its energy picks up

some body here or there and marries 
itself to that, creating narrative: 

motion, going from here to there,
describes a swerve or arc or salience

and that is form: that is the seed
of form, born in the very bosom of

its substance, which is motion: next
to that, tell me what you think of

a sonnet or some fucking cookie-cutter:
I mustn't become high-handed: I'm

okay when I'm typing like this, tho: 
I'm in motion and the worm I am

extruding has a long wiggle: it
seems to me as I look about that I

know some things well: but they are
about nothing: there is no seedcorn,

there are no potato eyes in my stuff:
my poems come out of a little tug of

rift in an oceanic doldrum: it's a 
tiny little ship, an airship: fog

could drown it, saturate its jib:
who could get to Mars with that: if

I'm not to have a life, at least let
me tell you about it, that is, that

I'm not having it: that will make
me nearly think I'm having it: imagine

a life! of words: better than
nothing, better, better, bitter-bile

better: for what I meant was love:
now, don't blubber: poor comfort,

such poor comfort: twaddle:   

 


Purchase Glare

A Poem by Christian Wiman

All My Friends Are Finding New Beliefs

All my friends are finding new beliefs.
This one converts to Catholicism and this one to trees.
In a highly literary and hitherto religiously-indifferent Jew
God whomps on like a genetic generator.
Paleo, Keto, Zone, South Beach, Bourbon.
Exercise regimens so extreme she merges with machine.
One man marries a woman twenty years younger
and twice in one brunch uses the word verdant;
another’s brick-fisted belligerence gentles
into dementia, and one, after a decade of finical feints and teases
like a sandpiper at the edge of the sea,
decides to die.
Priesthoods and beasthoods, sombers and glees,
high-styled renunciations and avocations of dirt,
sobrieties, satieties, pilgrimages to the very bowels of  being …
All my friends are finding new beliefs
and I am finding it harder and harder to keep track
of the new gods and the new loves,
and the old gods and the old loves,
and the days have daggers, and the mirrors motives,
and the planet’s turning faster and faster in the blackness,
and my nights, and my doubts, and my friends,
my beautiful, credible friends.