“Drink” — William Carlos Williams

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“The Modest Achievement” — William Carlos Williams

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“The Itch,” a new Don DeLillo story in The New Yorker

There’s a new DeLillo story in The New Yorker. It’s called “The Itch” and I started itching terribly about halfway through. First three sections (and yeah, the story starts with “But”):

But nobody showed up, so he sat awhile looking at the wall. It was one of those Saturdays that feel like Sunday. He didn’t know how to explain this. It happened intermittently, more often in the warmer months, and it was probably normal, although he’d never discussed it with anyone.

After the divorce he felt an odd numbness, mental and physical. He looked in the mirror, studying the face that looked back. At night he kept to his half of the bed with his back to the other half. Over time a life slithered out. He talked to people, took long walks. He bought a pair of shoes but only after testing them rigorously, both shoes, not just one. He walked from one end of the shoe store to the other, four times at various speeds, then sat and looked down at the shoes. He took one shoe off and handled it, pressing the instep, placing his hand inside the shoe, nodding at it, tapping with the fingers of his free hand on the rigid sole and heel.

The salesman stood in the near distance, watching and waiting, whoever he was, whatever he said and did when he wasn’t there.

In the office his desk was set alongside a window and he spent time looking at a building across the street, where nothing was visible inside the rows of windows. There were times when he could not stop looking.

He looks and scratches, semi-surreptitiously. Certain days it’s the left wrist. Upper arms at home in the evening. Thighs and shins most likely at night. When he’s out walking, it happens now and then, mostly forearms.

He was forty-four years old, trapped in his body. Arms, legs, torso. Face did not itch. Scalp developed something that a doctor gave a name to, but it itched only rarely, then not at all, so the name didn’t matter.

His eyes swept the windows across the street horizontally, never vertically. He did not try to imagine the lives inside.

“No Good Too” — William Carlos Williams

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“The Silver Plough-Boy” — Wallace Stevens

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The basses of their beings throb in witching chords (Wallace Stevens)

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From “Peter Quince at the Clavier” by Wallace Stevens

She sighed for so much melody (Wallace Stevens)

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From “Peter Quince at the Clavier” by Wallace Stevens

“On Homo Sapiens” — Anne Carson

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“The Unexplorer” — Edna St. Vincent Millay

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“Hey!” — William Carlos Williams

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“Tree Talk” — Tom Clark

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“Time does not bring relief; you all have lied” — Edna St. Vincent Millay

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“Of Mere Being” — Wallace Stevens

“A Poem About Baseballs” by Denis Johnson

“A Poem About Baseballs” by Denis Johnson–
 
for years the scenes bustled
through him as he dreamed he was
alive. then he felt real, and slammed
awake in the wet sheets screaming
too fast, everything moves
too fast, and the edges of things
are gone. four blocks away
a baseball was a dot against
the sky, and he thought, my
glove is too big, i will
drop the ball and it will be
a home run. the snow falls
too fast from the clouds,
and night is dropped and
snatched back like a huge
joke. is that the ball, or is
it just a bird, and the ball is
somewhere else, and i will
miss it? and the edges are gone, my
hands melt into the walls, my
hands do not end where the wall
begins. should i move
forward, or back, or will the ball
come right to me? i know i will
miss, because i always miss when it
takes so long. the wall has no
surface, no edge, the wall
fades into the air and the air is
my hand, and i am the wall. my
arm is the syringe and thus i
become the nurse, i am you,
nurse. if he gets
around the bases before the
ball comes down, is it a home
run, even if i catch it? if we could
slow down, and stop, we
would be one fused mass careening
at too great a speed through
the emptiness. if i catch
the ball, our side will
be up, and i will have to bat,
and i might strike out.

“Quickly Aging Here,” a poem by Denis Johnson

“Quickly Aging Here,” a poem by Denis Johnson—

1
nothing to drink in
the refrigerator but juice from
the pickles come back
long dead, or thin
catsup. i feel i am old
now, though surely i
am young enough? i feel that i have had
winters, too many heaped cold
and dry as reptiles into my slack skin.
i am not the kind to win
and win.
no i am not that kind, i can hear
my wife yelling, “goddamnit, quit
running over,” talking to
the stove, yelling, “i
mean it, just stop,” and i am old and
2
i wonder about everything: birds
clamber south, your car
kaputs in a blazing, dusty
nowhere, things happen, and constantly you
wish for your slight home, for
your wife’s rusted
voice slamming around the kitchen. so few
of us wonder why
we crowded, as strange,
monstrous bodies, blindly into one
another till the bed
choked, and our range
of impossible maneuvers was gone,
but isn’t it because by dissolving like so
much dust into the sheets we are crowding
south, into the kitchen, into
nowhere?

“The Ritualists” — William Carlos Williams

ritualists

With rage and contempt

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