Antoine Vollon, “Mound of Butter,” 1875/1885
what’s become of art? here is my chain
do with it as you’d like, ms. hierholzer.
i’m down in the dumps with my germanic ancestors
that guy, uncle george, who used to say
come sit on my lap & aunt eleanor who made
chocolate cake with oranges, jello with fruit
from canned fruit salad, this was not joy
no wonder i feel like a fly, not butter either
erase your personal history
is a good idea
—Bernadette Mayer, out of “Don’t Avoid Disappearance a Sonnet”
(Poetry State Forest, 2008)
. . . The casual intelligence
we are the sensorium of breeds a disparity
so georgic are the bells that fill the skies
burned clear like stubble fields with fireworks.
& if all it takes is for words to turn to perfume,
butter-, fire-, & damsel-flies to move
their hemistiches in tandem round
the cognates whirling in our fiery lobes,
one of these mornings, rising up singing etc.
it is to be sovereign without imprint of
a particular day . . .
—Ange Mlinko, out of “Rusticity” (Starred Wire, 2005)
Jo scribbled her dairy diary accounting
butter and egg men small loss. Toted colonial
nights, taxis, taxes, lilies begetting rain.
“Fagin initiates Oliver to crime-life: me.”
At home, in bed, alone, scrawled, Fagin day.
—James Schuyler, out of “Dreams, Anniversaries” (Other Flowers, 2010)
she turns your head around
like any other man,
and make yourself a sandwich
of toasted bread, & ham
lots of it
& have a diet cola,
& sit down
& write this,
because you can.
—Ted Berrigan, out of “Peace” (In the Early Morning Rain, 1970)
Like statues of milk in the creamery cemetery as a leather skirt
pulls up, we went up in a hill that day and got as if the haul of
the elevator turned cold black beyond us. The butter a mere
likeness, the strawberry denim going sour over the wire of the
lingerie’s forgotten repetitions. But it will boil down to fall later
—Clark Coolidge, out of The Book of During (1991)
. . . the cherry-bark,
and the sticky pine-bark,
and sassafras-bark that we bit on,
and some dusty butter-and-eggs
in a hot lane . . .
—H. D., out of Hermetic Definition (1972)
Words can drop as my hand drops (hawk
to conquer inarticulate love
the actual mountain.
This is the bunch of ranunculus,
rose, butter, orange crowfoot
profuse bouquet in its white china pitcher . . .
—Robert Duncan, out of “Upon Taking Hold” (Letters: Poems 1953-1956, 1958)
. . . the edges of
the wings, ruffling the surface where it seemed
light from another century
beat against those black bars—yellow, yellow, gorgeous, in-
bells, chimes, flutes, strings—wind seized and blown
open—butter yellow, fever yellow,
yellow of acid and flax,
lemon and chrome,
madder, mikado, justic, canary—
yellow the singers exhale that rises, fanged, laughing,
up through the architraves and out (slow) . . .
—Jorie Graham, out of “Subjectivity” (Materialism, 1993)
Butter. Lotions. Cries. A glass of ice. Aldebaran and Mizar,
a guitar of toothpaste tubes and fingernails, trembling spear.
Balustrade, tensile, enclosing the surging waters of my heart
in a laughing collapse where the natives tint urine their hair:
trolley cars find cat-eyes in New Guinea where Mozart died,
on the beach fraught with emotion and rotting elephants,
that elephant of a smile which lingers when I lean over and throw.
—Frank O’Hara, out of “Second Avenue” (The Collected Poems of Frank O’Hara, 1971)
So bring the scenery with you.
Midwife to gargoyles, as if all or something
were appropriate, you circle the time inside you,
plant an asterisk next to a kiss,
and it was going to be okay again, and the love
of which much was made settles closer, is a paw
against a wrist. Hasn’t finished yet,
though the bread-and-butter machine continues to churn out
faxes, each grisette has something different
about her forehead, is as a poinsettia
in the breeze of Rockefeller Center. I don’t like
a glacier telling me to hurry up, the ride down is precipitous.
—John Ashbery, out of “And the Stars Were Shining” (And the Stars Were Shining, 1995)
Boom in boom in, butter. Leave a grain and show it, show it. I spy.
It is a need it is a need that a flower a state flower. It is a need that a state rubber. It is a need that a state rubber is sweet and sight and a swelled stretch. It is a need. It is a need that state rubber.
Wood a supply. Clean little keep a strange, estrange on it.
Make a little white, no and not with pit, pit on in within.
—Gertude Stein, out of Tender Buttons (1914)
how does that velocity butter lumens ditty go?—
—Bruce Andrews, out of Tizzy Boost (1993)
No one listens to poetry. The ocean
Does not mean to be listened to. A drop
Or crash of water. It means
Is bread and butter
Pepper and salt. The death
That young men hope for. Aimlessly
It pounds the shore. White and aimless signals. No
One listens to poetry.
—Jack Spicer, out of “Thing Language” (Language, 1965)
And not all birds sing cuck
Sing coo, sing cuck, cuckoo.
Oh! Sal, the butcher’s wife ate clams
And died amid uproarious damns.
And mother nature sick of silk
Shot lightning at the kind cow’s milk.
And father nature, full of butter
Made the maelstrom oceans mutter . . .
—Wallace Stevens, out of “Lulu Morose” (Opus Posthumous: Poems, Plays, Prose, 1957)
. . . one day the weight
whomps down and you jack-spring onto a
different floe or the road you were doing seventy
on rumbles or runs out of road:
meanwhile, baked potatoes are still fine,
split down the middle, buttered up, the two white
cakes steaming, the butter (or sour cream) oozing
down and sex is, if any, good, and there’s that time
between dawn and day when idle birds assert song
whereas a little while later they’re quiet . . .
—A. R. Ammons, out of Garbage (1993)
Up in that gaudy space’s
upper section a buttercup is blooming
(high-class buttercup it is but
rather than butter, from sulphur and honey)
below that, wild parsley and clover
and a dragonfly of worked tinplate.
—Gary Snyder, out of “A Break” (The Back Country, 1968)
Dogs skulk, clouds moil and froth, humans
begin to cook—butter, a blue waver of flame,
chopped onions. A styptic rain stings grit and soot
from the noon air . . .
—William Matthews, out of “April in the Berkshires” (Foreseeable Futures, 1987)
Or, to make altogether evident his femininities, this,
from his Sea-Grammar, 1626:
“For when a man is ill sicke,
or at the point of death, I would know
whether a dish of buttered Rice,
with a little Cinnamon and Sugar,
a can of fresh water brewed of these,
a little minced meate, or roast Beefe,
a few stewed Prunes, a race of greene-ginger,
a flap Jacke,
be not better than a little poore John,
or salt fish
with oil and mustard,
or brisket, butter cheese or oatmeale pottage
on fish days,
salt beefe, porke and pease,
sixe shillings beare.
is your ordinary ships allowance.”
—Charles Olson, out of “Maximus, to Gloucester, Letter II,” (The Maximus Poems, 1960)
Years to sustain
A tone, not butter
—I meant to mention there’s a facsimile of
The First Quarto of Pericles
With a preface by Mr. P. Z. Round.
—Louis Zukofsky, out of “A”-13 (“A” 13-21, 1969)
What you want is an aria from that famous classic “The Longhorns of Poker Flat,” or a yodeler from the oleo lobby. [He yodels.] Oleo lobby! Oleo lobby!
I hope they never get it, just the same.
O.K. Butter fat, fat, fat, fat, fat!
—William Carlos William, out of “Tituba’s Children” (Many Loves, and Other Plays, 1961)
You have lost the original which was perhaps
better but the boys did their best lying on the
Mowed grass whispering butter as a matter of fact
—Barbara Guest, out of “Egypt,” (Moscow Mansions, 1973)
Many major things are not interesting. Things perhaps not interesting
include the drugs that we take, the decade
That we live in, & current political crises—they are X the Boring,
to deal with
Them constantly mentally is to dry-fuck or is it dry-hump?
They have to do with sex. Everyone knows a recipe for something,
A peanut butter sandwich.
—Alice Notley, out of “The Prophet” (How Spring Comes, 1971)
of all this struck a new high in feedback
whine; that tunnel was jammed with in-
sults inside and bardic butter overall.
—J. H. Prynne, out of News of Warring Clans (1977)