Thursday, January 10, 2013


Alfred Stieglitz, “Marcel Duchamp’s Fountain,” 1917

                      And in between the marvelous,
call them pieces, call them works, of
this great museum with its sun strengthening
toward February and an unseasonably hot
pleasant day effervescing for miles
and miles of what, in a better world, we
would call surf, stroll the boxers, the
beagles, an Afghan hound and a schipperke,
and a lame man with his cane and mutt.
And the sea’s insatiable ease keeps moaning
its smoky morning-in-a-roundhouse message
of relaxation and contempt, and pain.

        —Frank O’Hara, out of “Southampton Variations”
        (The Collected Poems of Frank O’Hara, 1971)

Over to picaresque puttering,
cut off from channel of dubbed-in choice.
Cut-off point is what I do,
down to amuse through trapdoor,
flea circus in muffin (interior buzz)
to which add chortles at the portholes,
glutted bubble-dancers glaring out,
lip-read answers wearing thin,
folderol about mutt bumblebees
zonked on cold mums,
bone orchard mums cat’s night out.

        —Kenward Elmslie, out of “Communications Equipment”
        (Routine Disruptions: Selected Poems & Lyrics 1960-1998, 1998)

Blasted on the silver root
Chewing numbing passing fluid
Stars and stripes forever eyes

Pinned to your lavish lapels
Starry-eyed Mutt and Jeff
Writing just a shot away

        —Jim Brodey, out of “Samuel Coleridge” (Heart of the Breath: Poems 1979-1992, 1996)

A watchdog performed and they triumphed
The day was bleak—ice had replaced air
The sigh of the children to former music
Supplanting the mutt’s yelps.
This was as far as she would go—
A tavern with plants.

        —John Ashbery, out of “The New Realism” (The Tennis Court Oath, 1962)

Music everywhere bench with Betty
On it.
Paris of ragged sighs! Oh love
The boat. Anchorage. Sweetness. Cordwood. And banana
Sin tree sun tea marrying time
Egypt, interest. As in Havana
It as is as, sweet cigars and swift comment.

“Nary a one can go into the coo
Key clock.” I live, I limp. She
Is has and does.
And there anything knows
Mutt; they whistle
“Science and basketball.” Prey, parcels
When they “have freed” me.
Tonight. Goodbye. A lantern. Straight top hat.

        —Kenneth Koch, out of “In the Ashes of June” (Sun Out: Selected Poems 1952-1954, 2012)

Socrates was a mutt, this is generally not known
But understood at some hilarious fork
For a few years! oh
Then watch the ducks peck at gunpowder on the dental walks
Where we pace so as not to upset the tipping lake

        —Ron Padgett, out of “Tone Arm” (Great Balls of Fire, 1969)

                                        Nineteen sixty-
eight: what a lovely name
to give a year. Even better
than the dogs’: Wert
(“. . . bird thou never . . .”)
and Woofy. Personally
I am going to call
the New Year, Mutt.

        —James Schuyler, out of “Empathy and New Year” (The Crystal Lithium, 1972)

The mutt we got
we called Some Zeitgeist.
You begin every day
with that kind of
knowledge pushing at you
like a mountain with
a fat stripe of
clouds skirting it, or
with a bonus outcropping
shaped like a carbuncle
just where the tree-
line peters out, and
see how quodlibet innocence
itself becomes a grunt

        —John Latta, out of “A Year (CCCVII)” (2009)

. . . good morning young man anger I have been in woods and wild mutt you shoulda seen me big crossed he was Z Nothing socks shirt or underwear Friday namely . . .

        —Ted Berrigan and Ron Padgett, out of “Boils” (Bean Spasms, 1967)

Its accuracy, its comicality, the poet’s democratic identification with a mutt among birds . . .

        —Kenneth Burke, out of a 7 November 1955 letter to William Carlos Williams,
        of Williams’s poem “The Sparrow” (The Humane Particulars: The Collected Letters
        of William Carlos Williams and Kenneth Burke,