Artist’s Confiteor, by Charles Baudelaire

How poignant the late afternoons of autumn! Ah! poignant to the verge of pain, for there are certain delicious sensations which are no less intense for being vague; and there is no sharper point than that of Infinity.

What bliss to plunge the eyes into the immensity of sky and sea! Solitude, silence, incomparable chastity of the blue! a tiny sail shivering on the horizon, imitating by its littleness and loneliness my irremediable existence, monotonous melody of the waves, all these things think through me or I through them (for in the grandeur of reverie the ego is quickly lost!); I say they think, but musically and picturesquely, without quibblings, without syllogisms, without deductions.

These thoughts, whither they come from me or spring from things, soon, at all events, grow too intense. Energy in voluptuousness creates uneasiness and actual pain. My nerves are strung to such a pitch that they can no longer give out anything but shrill and painful vibrations.

And now the profound depth of the sky dismays me; its purity irritates me. The insensibility of the sea, the immutability of the whole spectacle revolt me… Ah! must one eternally suffer, or else eternally flee beauty? Nature, pitiless sorceress, ever victorious rival, do let me be! Stop tempting my desires and my pride! The study of beauty is a duel in which the artist shrieks with terror before being overcome.

Walk, by Ellen Bass

He carries the child, sweatered and
owl-eyed in the country night.
She pushes the empty stroller, too light
like the dog with the metronome tail.

No one speaks.
They are not going anywhere
in particular.

Ways of Nonsense, by Willis Barnstone

Pissing in the forest under an elm,
Connects you to a cosmic realm.

If you pick your nose,
You’re not a rose.

The locked heart
Of a pal who never lets a word slip
From the soul’s lip
Or never booms a fart
Or even pipes a tiny secret fizz
Leaves no key
Who she or he

After you’re dirty, depressed and demonically
And dance in the shower,
You’re a flower.

Blew Up
by Amiri Baraka

(All thinking people
oppose terrorism
both domestic
& international…
But one should not
be used
To cover the other)

They say its some terrorist, some


A Rab, in


It wasn’t our American terroists
It wasn’t the Klan or the Skin heads
Or the them that blows up nigger
Churches, or reincarnates us on Death Row

It wasn’t Trent Lott
Or David Duke or Giuliani
Or Schundler, Helms retiring

It wasn’t
the gonorrhea in costume
the white sheet diseases
That have murdered black peopple
Terrorized reason and sanity
Most of humanity, as they pleases

They say (who say? Who do the saying)

Who is them paying
Who tell the lies
Who in disguise
Who had the slaves
Who got the bux out of the Bucks

Who got fat from plantations
Who genocided Indians
Tried to waste the Black nation

Who live on Wall Street
The first plantation
Who cut your nuts off
Who rape your ma
Who lynched your pa

Who got the tar, who got the feathers
WHo had the match , who set the fires
Who killed and hired
Who say they God, & still be the Devil

Who the biggest only
Who the most goodest
Who do Jesus resemble

Who created everything
Who the smartest
Who the greatest
Who the richest

Who say you ugly and they the goodlookingest

Who define art
Who define science
Who made the bombs
Who made the guns
Who bought the slaves, who sold them

Who called you them names
Who say Dahmer wasn’t insane

Who / Who / Who/

Who stole Puerto Rico
Who stole the Indies, the Philippines, Manhattan
Australia & The Hebrides
Who forced Opium on the Chinese

Who own them buildings
Who got the money
Who think you funny
Who locked you up

Who own the papers
Who owned the slave ship
Who run the Army

Who the fake president
Who the ruler
Who the banker

Who / Who / Who /

Who own the mine
Who twist your mind
Who got bread
Who need peace

Who you think need war

Who own the oil
Who do no toil
Who own the soil

Who is not a nigger
Who is so great ain’t nobody bigger

Who own this city

Who own the air
Who own the water
Who own your crib
Who rob and steal and cheat and murder
and make lies the truth

Who call you uncouth

Who live in the biggest house
Who do the biggest crime
Who go on vacation anytime

Who killed the most niggers
WHo killed the most Jews
Who killed the most Italians
Who killed the most Irish
Who killed the most Africans
Who killed the most Japanese
Who killed the most Latinos

Who / Who / Who

Who own the ocean
Who own the airplanes
Who own the malls
Who own television
Who own radio

Who own what ain’t even known to be owned

Who own the owners that ain’t the real owners

Who own the suburbs
Who suck the cities
Who make the laws

Who made Bush president
Who believe the confederate flag need to be flying
Who talk about democracy and be lying

Who the Beast in Revelations
Who 666
Who decide
Jesus get crucified

Who the Devil on the real side
Who got rich from Armenian genocide

Who the biggest terrorist
Who change the bible
Who killed the most people
Who do the most evil
Who don’t worry about survival

Who have the colonies
Who stole the most land
Who rule the world
Who say they good but only do evil
Who the biggest executioner


Who own the oil
Who want more oil

Who told you what you think that later you find out a lie

Who / Who / ???

Who fount Bin Laden, maybe they Satan
Who pay the CIA
Who knew the bomb was gonna blow
WHo know why the terrorists
Learned to fly in Florida, San Diego

Who know why Five Israelis was filming the explosion
And cracking they sides at the notion

Who need fossil fuel when the sun ain’t goin’ nowhere

Who make the credit cards
Who get the biggest tax cut

Who walked out of the Conference
Against Racism

Who killed Malcolm, Kennedy & his Brother
Who killed Dr. King, Who would want such a thing?

Are they linked to the murder of Lincoln?

Who invaded grenada
Who made money from apartheid
Who keep the Irish a colony
Who overthrow Chile and Nicaragua later

Who killed David Sibeko, Chris Hani,
the same ones who killed Biko, Cabral,
Neruda, Allende, Che Guevara, Sandino,

Who killed Kabila, the ones who wasted Lumumba,
Mondlane, Betty Shabazz, Princess Margaret, Ralph
Little Bobby

Locked up Mandella, Dhoruba, Geronimo,

Assata, Mumia, Garvey, Dashiell Hammett, Alphaeus
Hutton, who killed Huey Newton, Fred Hampton,
Medgar Evers, Mikey SMith, Walter Rodney.

Was it the ones who tried to poison Fidel
Who tried to keep the VIetnamese oppressed
Who put a price on Lenin’s head

Who put the Jews in ovens,
and who helped them do it
Who said “America First”

and ok’d the yellow stars

Who killed Rosa Luxembourg, Liebneckt,
Who murdered the Rosenbergs
And all the good people iced,
tortured, assassinated, vanished

Who got rich from Algeria, Libya, Haiti,
Iran, Iraq, Saudi, Kuwait, Lebanon,
Syria, Egypt, Jordan, Palestine,

Who cut off peoples hands in the Congo
Who invented Aids WHo put the germs
In the Indians’ blankets

Who thought up “The Trail of Tears”
Who blew up the Maine
& started the Spanish American War

Who got Sharon back in Power
Who backed Batista, Hitler, Bilbo,
Chiang kai CHek

who WHO W H O

Who decided Affirmative Action had to go
Reconstruction, The New Deal,
The New Frontier, The Great Society

Who do Tom Ass Clarence Work for
Who doo doo come out of the Colon’s mouth
Who know what kind of SKeeza is a Condoleeza
Who pay Connelly to be a wooden negro
Who give Genius Wards to Homo Locus Subsidere

Who overthrew Nkrumah, Bishop,
Who poison Robeson,
Who try to put DuBois in Jail
Who frame Rap Jamil al Amin,
Who frame the Rosenbergs, Garvey, The Scottsboro Boys,
The Hollywood Ten

Who set the Reichstag Fire

Who knew the World Trade Center was gonna get

Who told 4000 Israeli workers at the Twin Towers
To stay home that day

Why did Sharon stay away?

Who, Who, Who/
explosion of Owl the newspaper say
the devil face cd be seen


Who make money from war
Who make dough from fear and lies
WHo want the world like it is

Who want the world to be ruled by imperialism and
national oppression and
violence, and hunger and poverty.

Who is the ruler of Hell?
Who is the most powerful

WHo you know ever

Seen God?

But everybody seen

The Devil

Like an Owl exploding
In your life in your brain in yourself
Like an Owl who know the devil
All night, all day if you listen, Like an Owl
Exploding in fire. We hear the questions rise
In terrible flame like the whistle of a crazy dog.

Like the acid vomit of the fire of Hell
WHo and Who and Who (+) who who

Whoooo and WhooooooOOOOOOooooOoooo!

AMIRI B 10/01

A Different Desert, by Rachel Tzvia Back

In a desert
different from those I had imagined
hills glinted with shattered shells
from distant seas, and strange stiff
shrubs grew in dry riverbeds.
No sand dunes shifted with winds:
there was no wandering
in this desert, no
leaving. When at dusk
I thought I was nearing a border,
darkness swept jagged hills
higher into night, black
winds carried voices
I, of uneven breathing
deep within that desert,
pressed body to a cold ground and listened
to the crackle of dry bush
while a late yellow moon
and shivering stars thralled
east in an arc far above my head.
It was earth
with no memory of day.

Beyond the western hill
in that desert I have not imagined
lies a valley pockmarked
by shells, covered with bullet casings.
The silence there is shallow;
the wild ones, wary.

A Thanksgiving, by W. H. Auden

When pre-pubescent I felt
that moorlands and woodlands were sacred:
people seemed rather profane.

Thus, when I started to verse,
I presently sat at the feet of
Hardy and Thomas and Frost.

Falling in love altered that,
now Someone, at least, was important:
Yeats was a help, so was Graves.

Then, without warning, the whole
Economy suddenly crumbled:
there, to instruct me, was Brecht.

Finally, hair-raising things
that Hitler and Stalin were doing
forced me to think about God.

Why was I sure they were wrong?
Wild Kierkegaard, Williams and Lewis
guided me back to belief.

Now, as I mellow in years
and home in a bountiful landscape,
Nature allures me again.

Who are the tutors I need?
Well, Horace, adroitest of makers,
beeking in Tivoli, and

Goethe, devoted to stones,
who guessed that — he never could prove
Newton led science astray.

Fondly I ponder You all:
without You I couldn’t have managed
even my weakest of lines.

? May 1973

The Serious Doll, by John Ashbery

The kinds of thing are more important than the
Individual thing, though the specific is supremely
Interesting. Right? As each particular
Goes over Niagara Falls in a barrel one may
Justifiably ask: Where does this come from?
Whither goes my concern? What you are wearing
Has vanished along with other concepts.
They are lined up by the factory balcony railing
Against the blue sky with some clumsy white paper clouds
Pasted on it. Where does the east meet the west?
At sunset there is a choice of two smiles: discreet or serious.
In this best of all possible worlds, that is enough.

Praise song for the day by Elizabeth Alexander

Each day we go about our business, walking past each other, catching each others’ eyes or not, about to speak or speaking. All about us is noise. All about us is noise and bramble, thorn and din, each one of our ancestors on our tongues. Someone is stitching up a hem, darning a hole in a uniform, patching a tire, repairing the things in need of repair.

Someone is trying to make music somewhere with a pair of wooden spoons on an oil drum with cello, boom box, harmonica, voice.

A woman and her son wait for the bus.

A farmer considers the changing sky; A teacher says, “Take out your pencils. Begin.”

We encounter each other in words, words spiny or smooth, whispered or declaimed; words to consider, reconsider.

We cross dirt roads and highways that mark the will of someone and then others who said, “I need to see what’s on the other side; I know there’s something better down the road.”

We need to find a place where we are safe; We walk into that which we cannot yet see.

Say it plain, that many have died for this day. Sing the names of the dead who brought us here, who laid the train tracks, raised the bridges, picked the cotton and the lettuce, built brick by brick the glittering edifices they would then keep clean and work inside of.

Praise song for struggle; praise song for the day. Praise song for every hand-lettered sign; The figuring it out at kitchen tables.

Some live by “Love thy neighbor as thy self.”

Others by first do no harm, or take no more than you need.

What if the mightiest word is love, love beyond marital, filial, national. Love that casts a widening pool of light. Love with no need to preempt grievance.

In today’s sharp sparkle, this winter air, anything can be made, any sentence begun.

On the brink, on the brim, on the cusp — praise song for walking forward in that light.