Today's poets, today's poems. Share yours, send to firstname.lastname@example.org
Down a Green PlainThen down a green plain, leaping, laughing, they runwith cobblestones falling down the riverbankwhen the willow's roots exposed from the dirtUriah lifts a vase full of river waterwith cobblestones falling down the riverbanktumbling through the lightshow vortexUriah lifts the vase full of river wateras Janis Joplin ascends the stagetumbling through the lightshow vortexPatti Smith's Blake death mask print sitsas Janis Joplin ascends the stageso does Timothy Leary's psychotropic sermonWhen Patti Smith's Blake death mask print sitsupon the Peace Eye Bookstore cash registers clickso does Timothy Leary's psychotropic sermontell Tuli Kupferberg a verse after his Brooklyn Bridge plungeupon the Peace Eye Bookstore cash register Chuck Berry albumso Ed sanders swims to the nuclear submarinetell Tuli Kupferberg a verse after his Brooklyn Bridge plungewhen Diane Arbus' camera aperture blinksSo Ed Sanders swims to the nuclear submarinethen down a green plain, leaping, laughingthe Harpy face behind the rosewhen the willow's roots exposed from dirt
Uriah was one of the "mighty men" whom king David of Israel relied upon. David impregnated his wife and then arranged for Uriah to be killed in battle. Uriah Heep, however, was a British rock band formed in 1969, named after a villainous character in Charles Dickens' 1850 novel "The Personal History, Adventures, Experience and Observation of David Copperfield the Younger of Blunderstone Rookery (Which He Never Meant to Publish on Any Account)." One of the band's songs "The River" by Mick Box/Ken Hensley/ Trevor Bolder / Lee Kerslake / John Lawton:River, rising to hideAcross the midnightWanderin' westward by daylightTake us and lead us to tomorrowAs fast as you come and can flowRiver, you're windin'An unending rhythmThe sooner keepMovin' to warn himThe spirit that keepsUs from sinkingGuide us from going astrayPoint us a wayTo a shoreline aheadThrough the mist and the fogOf this valley of deathToo many years we haveWalked in a sleepNow we're awaken and ready to flee
Janis Joplin was a legendary blues singer of the 1960s who died of a heroine overdose in 1970. Jerry Garcia and Robert Hunter wrote "Bird Song" as a tribute to her:All I know is something like a bird within her sangAll I know, she sang a little while and then flew onTell me all that you know, I'll show you snow and rainAnd you hear that same sweet song again, will you know why?Anyone who sings a tune so sweet is passing byLaugh in the sunshine, sing, cry in the dark, fly through the nightDon't cry now, don't you cryDon't you cry anymoreSleep in the stars, don't you cryDry your eyes on the wind
Patti Smith, the "punk poet laureate," fused rock music and poetry in her work, as in "my blakean year." In my Blakean yearI was so disposedToward a mission yet unclearAdvancing pole by poleFortune breathed into my earMouthed a simple odeOne road is paved in goldOne road is just a roadIn my Blakean yearSuch a woeful schismThe pain of our existenceWas not as I envisionedBoots that trudged from track to trackWorn down to the soleOne road is paved in goldOne road is just a roadBoots that tread from track to trackWorn down to the soleOne road is paved in goldOne road is just a roadIn my Blakean yearTemptation but a hissJust a shallow spearRobed in cowardiceBrace yourself for bitter flackFor a life sublimeA labyrinth of richesNever shall unwindThe threads that bind the pilgrim's sackAre stitched into the Blakean backSo throw off your stupid cloakEmbrace all that you fearFor joy will conquer all despairIn my Blakean yearBefore William Blake died in 1827 he suffered from "that sickness to which there is no name." In 1819 he began a series of deathmask-like sketches called "visionary" heads" based on historical figures who modeled for him.
Timothy Leary was a Harvard University psychologist who championed the use of psychedelic drugs. At the massive 1967 Human Be-In gathering in San Francisco he exhorted the 30,000 attendees to "turn on, tune in, drop out" (a slogan actually coined by language philosopher Marshall McLuhan); in promotional literature for his League for Spiritual Discovery, a religion with LSD as its holy sacrament, he explicated the phrase: "Drop Out – detach yourself from the external social drama which is as dehydrated and ersatz as TV. Turn On – find a sacrament which returns you to the temple of God, your own body. Go out of your mind. Get high. Tune In – be reborn. Drop back in to express it. Start a new sequence of behavior that reflects your vision." On the day in 1969 that the Supreme Court overturned his 1965 conviction for possession of marijuana he announced his candidacy for governor of California, for which John Lennon composed "Come Together" as a campaign song, which was recorded by the Beatles on "Abbey Road," their final album:Here come old flat-top, he come grooving up slowlyHe got ju-ju eyeballs, he's one holy rollerHe got hair down to his kneesGot to be a joker, he just do what he pleaseShoot me, shoot me, shoot me, shoot meHe wear no shoeshine, he's got toe-jam footballHe got monkey finger, he shoot Coca-ColaHe say, "I know you, you know me"One thing I can tell you is you got to be freeCome together, right nowOver meHe bag production, he got walrus gumbootHe's got Ono sideboard, he one spinal crackerHe got feet down below his kneeHold you in his armchair, you can feel his diseaseCome together, right nowOver meRight!He roller-coaster, he got early warningHe got muddy water, he one mojo filterHe say, "One and one and one is three"Got to be good looking 'cause he's so hard to seeCome together, right nowOver meHowever, in 1970 he was sentenced to 10 years in prison for a 1968 arrest. Based on psychological tests he was given (including the "Leary Interpersonal Behavior Inventory" he had devised a decade earlier) he was assigned to work as a gardener in a low-security prison, from which he escaped with help from the Weather Underground Organization, a leftist terrorist group which took its name from a line in Bob Dylan's song "Subterranean Homesick Blues" (You don't need a weatherman to know which way the wind blows). He was recaptured and sentenced to 95 years but was released in 1976.
Poets Ed Sanders and Tuli Kupferberg founded the Fugs in 1964, named after Norman Mailer's euphemism for "fuck" in his 1948 novel "The Naked and the Dead." An FBI memo called the band the "most vulgar thing the human mind could possibly conceive." In 1944 Kupferberg he was seriously injured after he tried to commit suicide by leaping off the Manhattan Bridge, an act which was memorialized in Allen Ginsberg's 1955 poem "Howl": he was the one "who jumped off the Brooklyn Bridge and walked away unknown and forgotten into the ghostly daze of Chinatown soup alleyways & firetrucks, not even one free beer." Ted Berrigan and Anne Waldman also wrote about the incident in their prose poem "Memorial Day 1971": "I thought that I had lost the ability to love.... So, I figured I might as well be dead. So, I went one night to the top of The Manhattan Bridge, & after a few minutes, I jumped off.... I landed in the water, & I wasn't dead. So I swam ashore, & went home, & took a bath, & went to bed. Nobody even noticed." Sanders opened the Peace Eye Bookstore in New York in 1962; he was arrested on obscenity charges in 1966, leading to his being featured on the cover of "LIFE" magazine as "a leader of New York's Other Culture."Diane Arbus was noted for her photographs of dwarfs, giants, transgender people, nudists, circus performers, and others whose normality was perceived by the general populace as ugly or surreal. In 1971 she took an overdose of barbituates, wrote the words "Last Supper" in her diary, put her appointment book on the stairs leading up to her bathroom and slahed her wrists with a razor in her bathtub. The next year she became the 1st American photographer to have photographs displayed at the Venice Biennale, and the accompanying exhibition book, "Diane Arbus: An Aperture Monograph," is the best-selling photography monograph in history. Her brother Howard Nemerov was the nation's poet laureate in 1963 and 1988, and her sister Renee Nemerov Sparkia Brown was a noted sculptor/painter/designer.Chuck Berry was one of the pioneers of rock and roll music. After serving 3 years as a teenager in a reformatory for armed robbery and carjacking he began performing in 1953 In 1955 his song "Maybelline" sold over a million records but was sent to prison in 1962 for taking a 14-year-old girl across state lines for illicit purposes. In 1979 he was jailed for tax evasion amd in 1990 he paid $1.2 million to 59 women who claimed he had installed a video camera in the bathroom of his restaurant. Although he continued to perform he stopped recording original material in 1979 until 2016 -- "Chuck" was released after his death in 2017.
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