--- Pink Floyd

Get away
You get a good job with more pay and you're okay
It's a gas
Grab that cash with both hands and make a stash
New car, caviar, four star, daydream
Think I'll buy me a football team
Get back
I'm alright, Jack, keep your hands off of my stack
It's a hit
Don't give me that do goody good bullshit
I'm in the high-fidelity first-class traveling set
And I think I need a Lear jet
It's a crime
Share it fairly, but don't take a slice of my pie
So they say
Is the root of all evil today
But if you ask for a rise
It's no surprise that they're giving none away
Away, away, away
Away, away, away
I was in the right
Yes, absolutely in the right
I certainly was in the right
Yeah, I was definitely in the right, that geezer was cruisin' for a bruisin'
Why does anyone do anything?
I don't know, I was really drunk at the time
Just telling him it was in, he could get it in number two
He was asking why it wasn't coming up on freight eleven
And after, I was yelling and screaming and telling him why
It wasn't coming up on freight eleven

Why does anyone do anything?

In that country where men broke stones
for pennies each day, building mansions
over gleaming streets, Pink Floyd's "Money," 
echoed against the bathroom's flesh tiles, 
inch squares marching from floor to walls to 
ceiling, the box room entirely open, no 
curtains, no stalls, as water from the big roof tank 
splashed over her naked body, over 
late afternoon rainbow sheets 
draining soot and dust and sweat, 
soap and fret and unrequited desires, 
fear and fairytales and Herbal Essence --
all the ingredients of 70s 
teenage angst -- 
into a hole in the floor and 
out to the dry world. 

"Money," she sang, "get away," as if 
her family didn't have any, as if 
she wasn't a white princess 
up in her glittering, wet tower, 
flushing precious water 
to the hungry streets,
letting it roll over her untouched body 
like a thousand peso coins, like
invented grief.

Suggested soundtrack: Pink Floyd’s Dark Side of the Moon.


The Snow Man  
        -- Wallace Stevens

One must have a mind of winter
To regard the frost and the boughs
Of the pine-trees crusted with snow;

And have been cold a long time
To behold the junipers shagged with ice,
The spruces rough in the distant glitter

Of the January sun; and not to think
Of any misery in the sound of the wind,
In the sound of a few leaves,

Which is the sound of the land
Full of the same wind
That is blowing in the same bare place

For the listener, who listens in the snow,
And, nothing himself, beholds
Nothing that is not there and the nothing that is.

The Neighborhood Watch

We must put on a mind of spring
to behold the damp bark and the still
arms of tulip-trees iced with cold rain;

and have been waiting through raw April days
anticipating maples stippled with bloody buds,
cedars greening in soggy-bottomed yards

under weak sun; and not imagine any
bitter snicker in the rush of freezing breeze,
the rattle of gutters and rotten leaves,

which is the muted scream of lowering clouds
still pregnant with winter's dry heaves,
retching up the last hailstone coughs over

the battered neighborhood -- which waits inside 
its thawing houses, and, nodding, imagines
everything underground, everything about to

explode --

Suggested soundtrack: Freezing rain on parked cars.


Mock Orange
                  -- LOUISE GLÜCK

It is not the moon, I tell you.
It is these flowers
lighting the yard.

I hate them.
I hate them as I hate sex,
the man’s mouth
sealing my mouth, the man’s
paralyzing body—

and the cry that always escapes,
the low, humiliating
premise of union—

In my mind tonight
I hear the question and pursuing answer
fused in one sound
that mounts and mounts and then
is split into the old selves,
the tired antagonisms. Do you see?
We were made fools of.
And the scent of mock orange
drifts through the window.

How can I rest?
How can I be content
when there is still
that odor in the world?

Oh Louise

I agree. How can we 

How can we be 
happy when 

always that 
question and

answer, that 
one terrible sound

mounts and
mounts (but 

never actually 
arrives, at least

into words)
in us, 

before fading 
into an un-

breaking, our 

tired old selves
returned to us


washed up

in the sheets 
of that 

dream, that 

desire for 


How can we 
ever be 

still, or even


when that 
salty promise lingers

in the air 


Suggested soundtrack: Meatloaf, “Paradise by the Dashboard Light”


Bored in the USA
        -- Father John Misty

How many people rise and say
"My brain's so awfully glad to be here
For yet another mindless day"?

I've got all morning to obsessively accrue
A small nation of meaningful objects
And they've got to represent me too

By this afternoon, I'll live in debt
By tomorrow, be replaced by children

How many people rise and think
"Oh good, the stranger's body's still here
Our arrangement hasn't changed?"

Now I've got a lifetime to consider all the ways
I've grown more disappointing to you
As my beauty warps and fades
I suspect you feel the same
When I was young, I dreamt of a passionate obligation to a roommate

Is this the part where I get all I ever wanted?
Who said that?
Can I get my money back?

Just a little bored in the USA
Oh, just a little bored in the USA
Save me, white Jesus
Bored in the USA
Oh, they gave me a useless education
And a subprime loan
On a craftsman home
Keep my prescriptions filled
And now I can't get off
But I can kind of deal
Oh, with being bored in the USA
Oh, just a little bored in the USA
Save me, President Jesus
I'm bored in the USA
How did it happen?
Bored in the USA

Dear Father John,

You got me through the pandemic. 
Locked in my burning attic,
breathing years of dust, treading water
on Zoom, feeling black squares

leak their silence into me like squid
ink into a freeze-dried bloodstream, 
I prayed for someone, anyone, to break 
into a primal scream, pull their hair out, 

dissolve into a rant or at the very least 
a disquisition on the nature of contagion,
human contamination, the fucking nation
exploding under the Unreal Country's

unbelievable "leaders," bands of savages
spewing viral hate into the ether and 
calling it "fact" ... Oh, your songs, your 
dark god and words, your bitter pills and

dreamy soundtrack, 
did it for me : gave form to 
that inner wildfire : poured gasoline 
over despair.

Go listen to Father John Misty. “Bored in the USA” is on I Love You, Honeybear.


“The Hill We Climb,” a performance poem by Amanda Gorman

If Only

... there is always light, if only we’re brave enough to see it.
                                                 -- Amanda Gordon

If only we could eliminate pessimism 
patriotism patriarchy power 

that perverts justice and breaks
morality empathy and thrives on

despair if only we could punish
these pusillanimous pricks self-

appointed arbiters of fate apex 
predators devouring the poor who

fill prisons with slaves stuff 
ballots with poison politics if 

only we could redraw the fucked up
districts and make them whole 

again if only we could learn to stop 
using terror to stop terror to stop 

waving whiteness as a flag to force 
everyone "other" to surrender if only 

our bodies were our bodies and not 
the new frontier waiting for manifest

destiny holy invasion if only we didn't
worship money if only the default 

greeting on the street was hello
I love you instead of die die die

Suggested soundtrack: the wind through an American flag.


       -- James Taylor

Way down here you need a reason to move
Feel a fool running your stateside games
Lose your load, leave your mind behind Baby James

Oh, Mexico
It sounds so simple, I just got to go
The sun's so hot I forgot to go home
Guess I'll have to go now

Americano got the sleepy eye
But his body's still shaking like a live wire
Sleepy señorita with the eyes on fire

Oh, Mexico
It sounds so sweet with the sun sinking low
The moon's so bright like to light up the night
Make everything all right

Baby's hungry and the money's all gone
The folks back home don't want to talk on the phone
She gets a long letter, sends back a postcard
Times are hard

Oh, down in Mexico
I've never really been so I don't really know
Oh, Mexico
I guess I'll have to go
Oh, Mexico
I've never really been but I'd sure like to go
Oh, Mexico
I guess I'll have to go now

Talking 'bout in Mexico (Mexico)
In a honky tonk down in Mexico
Oh, Mexico
Mexico, Mexico
Oh, Mexico
Mexico, Mexico
Oh, Mexico
Mexico, Mexico

oh mexico

those first nights 
in the rented house
built into the barranca
at the top of 

a steep hill
a dead end
mexico city

i tried to fall
asleep while 
the radio played 
"boogie nights" and

"you've got a friend"
imagining a thousand
wordless connections and

"the future"
paused at the edge 
of my real life as
bone-white moonlight

poured over
the house above us
down the sheer yard wall
into my room

spilled over my bed 
my half formed 
slid into me with

each breath 
cold sharp 

Suggested soundtrack: Pop radio from your 13th year.


Bay Leaves  
 --- Nikki Giovanni

I watched Mommy
Though I cooked
With Grandmother

With Grandmother I learned
To pluck chickens
Peel carrots
Turn chittlins inside out
Scrub pig feet

With Mommy I watched
leftovers for stew
Or vegetable soup
Great northern beans
Mixed collards turnips and mustard greens
Garlic cloves Bay Leaves
Very beautifully green
Stiff   so fresh
With just a pinch of salt
Not everything together
All the time but all the time
Keeping everything

I make my own
Frontier soup in a crock pot
I make my own ice cream with a pinch of salt
And everything else
With garlic
But fresh Bay Leaves
Are only for very special
Ox Tails

I Watched Mommy Cook

in the Elmer Street kitchen, 
at the gas stove, stirring 
a steaming pot

of grits, 
pulling crackling rib roasts 
from the oven, 
bent down 
to slip the broiler pan 
from underneath, 
flip sizzling lamb chops
with metal tongs, 

face glowing 
with thin sweat,
black hair 
falling free 
from its clip 
to tickle 
her fair neck, tired 

I thought 
every mother 
four course meals
during the week, 
covered all four 
food groups,
satisfied her husband's 
eclectic taste,
European schedule,
his stern rule 
for pre-dinner 
silence, his
demand for obedience
at the table.

I thought every mother
her intelligence,
curiosity, and
quick wit
into a brick house
filled with
a man's precious

She taught me
to bake. At 8,
I made a cake, cherry
from a box, red
bits bright
as blood,
then the icing
from scratch,
thick butter
laced with boiled
sugar, that sat 
on our tongues like
sweet oily

Suggested soundtrack: The Talking Heads, “Burning Down the House”


Adam's Curse
        --- William Butler Yeats

We sat together at one summer’s end,
That beautiful mild woman, your close friend,   
And you and I, and talked of poetry.
I said, ‘A line will take us hours maybe;
Yet if it does not seem a moment’s thought,   
Our stitching and unstitching has been naught.   
Better go down upon your marrow-bones   
And scrub a kitchen pavement, or break stones   
Like an old pauper, in all kinds of weather;   
For to articulate sweet sounds together
Is to work harder than all these, and yet   
Be thought an idler by the noisy set
Of bankers, schoolmasters, and clergymen   
The martyrs call the world.’
                                          And thereupon
That beautiful mild woman for whose sake   
There’s many a one shall find out all heartache   
On finding that her voice is sweet and low   
Replied, ‘To be born woman is to know—
Although they do not talk of it at school—
That we must labour to be beautiful.’
I said, ‘It’s certain there is no fine thing   
Since Adam’s fall but needs much labouring.
There have been lovers who thought love should be   
So much compounded of high courtesy   
That they would sigh and quote with learned looks   
Precedents out of beautiful old books;   
Yet now it seems an idle trade enough.’

We sat grown quiet at the name of love;   
We saw the last embers of daylight die,   
And in the trembling blue-green of the sky   
A moon, worn as if it had been a shell   
Washed by time’s waters as they rose and fell   
About the stars and broke in days and years.

I had a thought for no one’s but your ears:   
That you were beautiful, and that I strove   
To love you in the old high way of love;
That it had all seemed happy, and yet we’d grown   
As weary-hearted as that hollow moon.

Dear W. B. --

For years I've heard the echoes of your speech,
thought of schoolmasters and clergymen bent
on denying sweet sounds, determined to put us
on our marrow-bones, to make us scrub our
poor remarks from their pavements, exiled 
from any academy or church. I hear you 
in that yellow moon, the crackle of daffodil
thrusting up from frozen beds, the creak 
of our maple against the mossing roof. 
Taste you in a swallow of flattening beer, flat acrid 
at the back of my throat.
                                      Now I've grown past 
the middle of my life, bones twisting, poetry holding
my coat and snickering, I still struggle to be good, to 
earn "beautiful" as I fling sweet sounds against these
invisible walls, to find the old highways of "love," 
but only end up tired and heavy-hearted, waiting 
in the dark for some glorious mystery,

your voice the finest sandpaper against my 
fragile skin, mansplaining in the growing gloom, 
pontificating outside my invisible prison. 
And the "mild" woman's voice as it rises to meet you
confesses the weight of your charge: that she
(and I) be "beautiful," working like garden statues
with blank eyes in the twilight, inspiring your
incisive words, and so destined to become yet
another echo of your ancient voice, captured
forever (or until we rot) in one of your dusty books.

Suggested soundtrack: The Pretenders, “Back on the Chain Gang”


Barbie Doll
      -- Marge Piercy

This girlchild was born as usual 
and presented dolls that did pee-pee 
and miniature GE stoves and irons 
and wee lipsticks the color of cherry candy. 
Then in the magic of puberty, a classmate said: 
You have a great big nose and fat legs. 

She was healthy, tested intelligent, 
possessed strong arms and back, 
abundant sexual drive and manual dexterity. 
She went to and fro apologizing. 
Everyone saw a fat nose on thick legs. 

She was advised to play coy, 
exhorted to come on hearty, 
exercise, diet, smile and wheedle. 
Her good nature wore out 
like a fan belt. 
So she cut off her nose and her legs 
and offered them up. 

In the casket displayed on satin she lay 
with the undertaker's cosmetics painted on, 
a turned-up putty nose, 
dressed in a pink and white nightie. 
Doesn't she look pretty? everyone said. 
Consummation at last. 
To every woman a happy ending.

To Every Woman

who craves that 
happy ending, 
good news: 

you can shoot
yourself up now
with a magic elixir

that will burn you 
in no time

to a lovely 
size 0 --

your desire to eat 
more than a 
polite bite --

raise your 6-pack
from the un-
imaginable depths

of post-baby weight --
melt you to a
diamond shadow

of your formerly
"fat" self --
so that when you attend

your 20-year 
high school reunion 
you will shine like 

an anorexic star 
(black hole) 
in the ranks of 

former friends,
burn sharp as a 
bone knife

with your arms around
fleshy daughters,
grin with 

the manic gleam
of adrenaline 
and money,

bikini clad on 
expensive beaches,
immortalized and

nearly divine -- 
blaze forever
thin in

the electronic 
of Facebook.

Suggested soundtrack: Ravel’s “Bolero”


A Blessing
        -- James Wright

Just off the highway to Rochester, Minnesota,
Twilight bounds softly forth on the grass.
And the eyes of those two Indian ponies
Darken with kindness.
They have come gladly out of the willows
To welcome my friend and me.
We step over the barbed wire into the pasture
Where they have been grazing all day, alone.
They ripple tensely, they can hardly contain their happiness   
That we have come.
They bow shyly as wet swans. They love each other.
There is no loneliness like theirs.   
At home once more,
They begin munching the young tufts of spring in the darkness.   
I would like to hold the slenderer one in my arms,
For she has walked over to me   
And nuzzled my left hand.   
She is black and white,
Her mane falls wild on her forehead,
And the light breeze moves me to caress her long ear
That is delicate as the skin over a girl’s wrist.
Suddenly I realize
That if I stepped out of my body I would break
Into blossom.

If I Stepped Out of My Body

I might not break
into blossom

though I am waiting     now
for the tulip tree

outside this window
to burst free 

from its suffocating bark
and scream

petals pink as 
the meat 

inside a woman's 
bound body --

I hope I shatter instead
into mist

heady cumulous clouds
in air fresh 

as salt and

with starlings

as spring

Suggested soundtrack: Walt Whitman’s Leaves of Grass, read by Samuel Jackson