Share your favorite poem. Here's some (bad?) writing advice from Bukowski.
THE MASTER PLAN
starving in a Philadelphia winter
trying to be a writer
I wrote and wrote and drank and drank and
and then stopped writing and concentrated on
It was another
If you can't have any luck with one thing you
of course, I had been practicing on the
since the age of
and there was much competition
in that field
it was a world full of drunks and writers and
I became a starving drunk instead of a starving
the best thing was the instant
and I soon became the biggest and
best drunk in the neighborhood and
maybe the whole
it sure as hell beat sitting around waiting for
those rejection slips from The New Yorker and The
of course, I never really considered quitting the
writing game, I just wanted to give it a
ten year rest
figuring if I got famous too early
I wouldn't have anything left for the stretch run
like I have now, thank
with the drinking still thrown
My go to answer is usually along the lines of My Last Duchess or The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock but here is what is probably the first poem I ever actually liked, and led me down the path towards "poetry is more than roses are red/violets are blue..." and the aforementioned poems.
The Unknown Citizen by W. H. Auden
(To JS/07 M 378
This Marble Monument
Is Erected by the State)
He was found by the Bureau of Statistics to be
One against whom there was no official complaint,
And all the reports on his conduct agree
That, in the modern sense of an old-fashioned word, he was a
For in everything he did he served the Greater Community.
Except for the War till the day he retired
He worked in a factory and never got fired,
But satisfied his employers, Fudge Motors Inc.
Yet he wasn’t a scab or odd in his views,
For his Union reports that he paid his dues,
(Our report on his Union shows it was sound)
And our Social Psychology workers found
That he was popular with his mates and liked a drink.
The Press are convinced that he bought a paper every day
And that his reactions to advertisements were normal in every way.
Policies taken out in his name prove that he was fully insured,
And his Health-card shows he was once in hospital but left it cured.
Both Producers Research and High-Grade Living declare
He was fully sensible to the advantages of the Instalment Plan
And had everything necessary to the Modern Man,
A phonograph, a radio, a car and a frigidaire.
Our researchers into Public Opinion are content
That he held the proper opinions for the time of year;
When there was peace, he was for peace: when there was war, he went.
He was married and added five children to the population,
Which our Eugenist says was the right number for a parent of his
And our teachers report that he never interfered with their
Was he free? Was he happy? The question is absurd:
Had anything been wrong, we should certainly have heard.
Hey Howie, long time!
I don't feel I have read enough poetry to declare a favourite but like Xyzy this was the first poem I read that made me realise poetry could be dark and work so much better when you broke the rules they taught you about poetry as a kid.
Cut by Sylvia Plath
What a thrill -
My thumb instead of an onion.
The top quite gone
Except for a sort of hinge
A flap like a hat,
Then that red plush.
The Indian's axed your scalp.
Your turkey wattle
Straight from the heart.
I step on it,
Clutching my bottle
Of pink fizz. A celebration, this is.
Out of a gap
A million soldiers run,
Redcoats, every one.
Whose side are they on?
Homunculus, I am ill.
I have taken a pill to kill
Kamikaze man -
The stain on your
Gauze Ku Klux Klan
Darkens and tarnishes and when
Pulp of your heart
Confronts its small
Mill of silence
How you jump -
W.H. Auden is so good. I love Refugee Blues and Lullaby.
The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock was what started me reading poetry. Another favorite:
Losing a Language by W.S. Merwin
A breath leaves the sentences and does not come back
yet the old still remember something that they could say
but they know now that such things are no longer believed
and the young have fewer words
many of the things the words were about
no longer exist
the noun for standing in mist by a haunted tree
the verb for I
the children will not repeat
the phrases their parents speak
somebody has persuaded them
that it is better to say everything differently
so that they can be admired somewhere
farther and farther away
where nothing that is here is known
we have little to say to each other
we are wrong and dark
in the eyes of the new owners
the radio is incomprehensible
the day is glass
when there is a voice at the door it is foreign
everywhere instead of a name there is a lie
nobody has seen it happening
this is what the words were made
here are the extinct feathers
here is the rain we saw
"If We Must Die" by Claude McKay
If we must die, let it not be like hogs
Hunted and penned in an inglorious spot,
While round us bark the mad and hungry dogs,
making their mock at our accursed lot.
If we must die, O let us nobly die,
So that our precious blood may not be shed
In vain; then even the monsters we defy
Shall be constrained to honor us though dead!
O kinsmen! we must meet the common foe!
Though far outnumbered let us show us brave,
And for their thousand blows on death-blow!
What though before us lies the open grave?
Like men we'll face the murderous, cowardly pack,
Pressed to the wall, dying, but fighting back!
“I asked you, baby,
If you understood-
You told me that you didn't,
But you thought you would.”
― Langston Hughes