American Culture · American Literature · Classic · Collection · Contemporary · Excerpt · Passage · Poetry

Jack Gilbert

The truth is, goddesses are lousy in bed.They will do anything it’s true.And the skin is beautifully cared for.But they have no sense of it. They areall manner and amazing technique.I lie with them thinking of yourfoolish excess, of you pantingand sweating, and your eyes after. —Jack Gilbert, “Dreaming at the Ballet,” The Dance Most… Continue reading Jack Gilbert

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American Culture · American Literature · Classic · Collection · Contemporary · Excerpt · Fragment · Passage · Poetry

Jack Gilbert

Keats would leave blank places in his drafts to hold onto his passion, spaces for the right words to come.We use them sideways. The way we automaticallyadd bits of shape to hold on to the dissolving dreams.So many of the words are for meanwhile. We say,‘I love you’ while we search for languagethat can be… Continue reading Jack Gilbert

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American Culture · American Literature · Anthology · Classic · Collection · Compilation · Contemporary · Excerpt · Passage · Poetry

Jack Gilbert

Walking home across the plainin the dark.And Linda crying.Again we have come to a placewhere I rail and she suffersand the moon does not rise.but I am shouting inside the rainand she is cryinglike a wounded animal,knowing there is no place to turn.It is hard to understandhow we could be brought hereby love. — Jack… Continue reading Jack Gilbert

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American Culture · American Literature · Classic · Collection · Contemporary · Excerpt · Fragment · Passage · Poetry

Jack Gilbert

All thingsare taken away. Indeed, indeed.But we secretly think of our bodiesin the heart’s storm and just after.And the sound of careless happiness.We touch finally only a little.Like the shy tongue that come fleetinglyin the dark. The acute little that is there. — Jack Gilbert, from “The Abundant Little,” The Dance Most of All: Poems… Continue reading Jack Gilbert

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American Culture · American Literature · Classic · Collection · Contemporary · Excerpt · Passage · Poetry

Jack Gilbert

Rain Suddenly this defeat.This rain.The blues gone grayAnd the browns gone grayAnd yellowA terrible amber.In the cold streetsYour warm body.In whatever roomYour warm body.Among all the peopleYour absenceThe people who are alwaysNot you. I have been easy with treesToo long.Too familiar with mountains.Joy has been a habit.NowSuddenlyThis rain. Jack Gilbert, Collected Poems (Knopf, 2012)

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American Culture · American Literature · Anthology · Classic · Collection · Compilation · Contemporary · Excerpt · Passage · Poetry

Jack Gilbert

We think the fire eats the wood.We are wrong. The wood reaches outto the flame. The fire licks atwhat the wood harbors, and the woodgives itself away to that intimacy,the manner in which we and the worldmeet each new day. Harm and boonin the meetings. As heart meets whatis not heart, the way the spiritencounters… Continue reading Jack Gilbert

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American Culture · American Literature · Classic · Collection · Contemporary · Excerpt · Passage · Poetry

Jack Gilbert

What if the heart does not pale as the body wanes,but is like the sun that blazes hotter each dayon these immense, perishing fields? What then?(Desire is not the problem. This far south,we are careful not to mistake seizures for love.)He sits there bewildered in a clamp of light.In the stillness, the sun grinds him… Continue reading Jack Gilbert

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American Culture · American Literature · Anthology · Classic · Collection · Compilation · Contemporary · Excerpt · Passage · Poetry

Jack Gilbert

One fellow said he was raised in a church that taughtwearing yellow and black together was an important sin.It got me thinking of the failed denominationI was part of: that old false dream of woman.I believed it was a triumph to have access to their mystery.To see the hidden hair, to feel my spirit topple… Continue reading Jack Gilbert

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