Dead Presidents

Historical facts, thoughts, ramblings and collections on the Presidency and about the Presidents of the United States.

By Anthony Bergen
E-Mail: bergen.anthony@gmail.com
Posts tagged "Poetry"

If you were still around
I’d hold you
Shake you by the knees
Blow hot air in both ears

You, who could write like a Panther Cat
Whatever got into your veins
What kind of green blood
Swam you to your doom

If you were still around
I’d tear into your fear
Leave it hanging off you
In long streamers
Shreds of dread

I’d turn you
Facing the wind
Bend your spine on my knee
Chew the back of your head
Til you opened your mouth to this life

1/31/80
Homestead Valley, Ca.

(From Motel Chronicles by Sam Shepard)

they ooze and call each other “darlings”
they hire fortune tellers who lie
they frame pictures of the kid they’ve sent away
they call the old black bartender by his first name
they hire watered-down R&B bands and make them play acoustic
they frown on nude swimming
they confess to anyone who’ll listen
they each have an “oldest and dearest” friend
he’s usually the one they’ve confessed to the most
they hate being wished “Happy Birthday”
they love having not seen someone for such a long time
then they rush to the next one
their loneliness is covered with grins
their loneliness is smothered in a circle of “friends”

7/25/81
Hollywood, Ca.

(From Motel Chronicles by Sam Shepard)

Insomnia is a chain
Insomnia is a loop
Insomnia is a vicious circle

Right now
Inside my skull
Inside the bones

My neck turns
Cartilage moves
I like the sound of my own bones

In the midst of this emergency
I think of you
And only you

In the midst of all this sleepless blood
Your pink lips
Your arms upstretched

I can’t breathe without you
But this circle of ribs
Keeps working on its own

5/17/82
Lancaster, Ca.

(From Motel Chronicles by Sam Shepard)

This is from my new blog: “PicturesOfPagesFeaturingSomeOfMyFavoritePoemsFromSamShepardBooks.com”. Too wordy?

(This particular poem is from Sam Shepard’s Motel Chronicles.)

You may write me down in history
With your bitter, twisted lies,
You may trod me in the very dirt
But still, like dust, I’ll rise.

Does my sassiness upset you?
Why are you beset with gloom?
‘Cause I walk like I’ve got oil wells
Pumping in my living room.

Just like moons and like suns,
With the certainty of tides,
Just like hopes springing high,
Still I’ll rise.

Did you want to see me broken?
Bowed head and lowered eyes?
Shoulders falling down like teardrops,
Weakened by my soulful cries?

Does my haughtiness offend you?
Don’t you take it awful hard
‘Cause I laugh like I’ve got gold mines
Diggin’ in my own backyard.

You may shoot me with your words,
You may cut me with your eyes,
You may kill me with your hatefulness,
But still, like air, I’ll rise.

Does my sexiness upset you?
Does it come as a surprise
That I dance like I’ve got diamonds
At the meeting of my thighs?

Out of the huts of history’s shame
I rise
Up from a past that’s rooted in pain
I rise
I’m a black ocean, leaping and wide,
Welling and swelling I bear in the tide.

Leaving behind nights of terror and fear
I rise
Into a daybreak that’s wondrously clear
I rise
Bringing the gifts that my ancestors gave,
I am the dream and the hope of the slave.
I rise
I rise
I rise.

Still I Rise
Maya Angelou, 1978 (via doubledaybooks)

Look, the world tempts our eye,
And we would know it all!
We map the starry sky,
We mine this earthen ball,
We measure the seasides, we number the seasands;

We scrutinise the dates
Of long-past human things,
The bounds of effaced states,
The lines of deceased kings;
We search out dead men’s words, and works of dead men’s hands;

We shut our eyes, and muse
How our own minds are made,
What springs of thought they use,
How righten’d, how betray’d
And spend our writ to name what most employ unnamed

But still, as we proceed
The mass swells more and more
Of volumes yet to read,
Of secrets yet to explore
Our hair grows grey, our eyes are dimm’d, our heart is tamed

— Matthew Arnold, “Empedocles On Etna”, 1852

"We do not what we ought;
What we ought not, we do;
And lean upon the thought
That chance will bring us through.”

— Matthew Arnold, Empedocles on Etna

"I dreamed I already…
By Yevgeny Yevtushenko, 1967

I dreamed I already loved you.
I dreamed I already killed you.

But you rose again; another form, but you,
a girl on the little ball of the earth,
naive simplicity, curve-necked
on that early canvas of Picasso,
and prayed to me with your ribs:
“Love me,” as though you said, “Don’t push me off.”

I’m that played-out, grown-up acrobat
hunchbacked with senseless muscles
who knows that advice is a lie,
that sooner or later there’s falling.

I’m too scared to say: “I love you,”
because I’d be saying: “I’ll kill you.”

For in the depths of a face I can see through
I see the faces — can’t count them —
that, right on the spot, or maybe
not right away, I tortured to death.

You’re pale from the mortal balance. You say:
“I know everything; I was all of them.
I know you’ve already loved me.
I know you’ve already killed me.
But I won’t spin the globe backwards:
Love again, and then kill again.”

Lord, you’re young. Stop your globe.
I’m tired of killing. I’m not a damn thing but old.

You move the earth beneath your little feet,
you fall, “Love me.”
It’s only in those eyes, so similar, you say:
“This time don’t kill me!”

Asker Anonymous Asks:
is your interest in presidents and popes because you find regular people boring or something? like you're drawn to non ordinary people? love this blog btw
deadpresidents deadpresidents Said:

If you don’t mind, I’m just going to let the great poet Yevgeny Yevtushenko answer this question:

No people are uninteresting.
Their destinies are like histories of planets.
Nothing in them is not particular,
and no planet is like another.

And if someone lives in obscurity,
befriending that obscurity,
he is interesting to people
by his very obscurity.

Everyone has his own secret, private world.
In that world is a finest moment.
In that world is a tragic hour,
but it all is unknown to us.

And if someone dies
there dies with him his first snow,
and first kiss, and first fight.
He takes it all with him.

Yes, books and bridges remain,
and painted canvas and machinery,
yes, much is sentenced to remain,
but something really departs all the same!

Such is the law of the pitiless game.
It’s not people who die, but worlds.
We remember people, sinful and earthly.
But what did we know, in essence, about them?

What do we know of brothers, of friends?
What do we know of our one and only?
And about our own fathers,
knowing everything, we know nothing.

They perish. They cannot be brought back.
Their secret worlds are not regenerated.
And every time I want again
to cry out against the unretrievableness.

— Yevgeny Yevtushenko, “No people are…”, 1961

Held captive 4 your politics
They wanted 2 break your soul
They ordered the extermination
Of all minds they couldn’t control
4 u the fate was far worse
Than just a brutal homicide
They caged u like an animal
And watched u slowly die inside
As u Breathe your first air of freedom
On the day u become a free man
Raise your Regal brow in Pride
4 now you R in God’s Hands
The life of many were given
So that the day would one day come
That the devils in Power at Pretoria
Would pay for the evil crimes they’ve done

— Tupac Shakur, “Just a Breath of Freedom: 4 Nelson Mandela”, a poem from “The Rose That Grew From Concrete”

The nature of Abraham Lincoln’s relationship with Ann Rutledge is one of history’s questions that can never be fully answered.  Many historians believe that she was Lincoln’s first love.  Lincoln’s law partner, William H. Herndon, believed that she was his only love.  When Rutledge died from typhoid fever in 1835, Lincoln, who was the postmaster of New Salem, Illinois at the time, was said to be inconsolable, deeply depressed, and — his friends feared — suicidal.

On August 25, 1838, an unsigned poem was published in the Sangamo Journal, a local newspaper in Springfield, Illinois connected with Whig Party politics.  While the poem was submitted anonymously, the writing style, the timing of its publication, and the newspaper of choice leads most historians to believe that it was written by Abraham Lincoln who was now living in Springfield, a Whig member of the Illinois State Legislature, and a contributor to the Sangamo Journal.

The Suicide’s Soliloquy
"The following lines were said to have been found near the bones of a man supposed to have committed suicide in a deep forest on the flat branch of the Sangamon some time ago."

Here, where the lonely hooting owl
Sends forth his midnight moans,
Fierce wolves shall o’er my carcass growl,
Or buzzards pick my bones.

No fellow-man shall learn my fate,
Or where my ashes lie;
Unless by beats drawn round their bait,
Or by the ravens cry.

Yes! I resolved the deed to,
And this place to do it;
This heart I’ll rush a dagger through,
Thou I in hell should rue it!

Hell! What is hell to one like me
Who pleasures never knew
By friends consigned to misery,
By hope deserted too?

To ease me of this power to think,
That through my bosom raves,
I’ll headlong leap from hell’s high brink
And wallow in the waves.

Though devils yell, and burning chains
May waken long regret;
Their frightful screams, and piercing pains,
Will help me to forget.

Yes! I’m prepared, through endless night,
To take this fiery berth!
Think not with tales of hell to fright
Me, who am damn’d on earth!

Sweet steel! Come forth from out of your sheath,
And glist’nin, speak your powers;
Rip up the organs of my breath,
And draw my blood in showers.

I strike! It quivers in that heart
Which drives me to this end;
I draw and kiss the bloody dart,
My last — my only friend! 

The way a shark can’t stop moving or he’ll die
That’s you on the floor
Sleep swimming on your back
Spitting out your teeth
Sliding like a puck
I can’t do nothin’ for you ‘less you stand up
What you need is a pocket full of crickets
To bring you back to earth 

Sam Shepard, “Shark Move”
Hawk Moon: Short Stories, Poems, Monologues

stay
and watch the next set of possibilities
arise
and fall away
what have you got to lose
but everything
piece by piece
everything
day by day

Sam Shepard: “Should He Head North”
Day out of Days (BOOKKINDLE