By Pablo Neruda

And it was at that age … Poetry arrived
in search of me. I don’t know, I don’t know where
it came from, from winter or a river.
I don’t know how or when,
no, they were not voices, they were not
words, nor silence,
but from a street I was summoned,
from the branches of night,
abruptly from others,
among violent fires
or returning alone,
there I was without a face
and it touched me.

I did not know what to say, my mouth
had no way
with names,
my eyes were blind,
and something started in my soul,
fever or forgotten wings,
and I made my own way,
that fire,
and I wrote the first faint line,
faint, without substance, pure
pure wisdom
of someone who knows nothing,
and suddenly I saw
the heavens
and open,
palpitating plantations,
shadow perforated,
with arrows, fire and flowers,
the winding night, the universe.

And I, infinitesimal being,
drunk with the great starry
likeness, image of
for myself a pure part of the abyss,
I wheeled with the stars,
my heart broke loose on the wind.

(Translated from Spanish by Alastair Reid)

* * * * *

By Frank O’Hara

When I was a child
I played by myself in a
corner of the schoolyard
all alone.

I hated dolls and I
hated games, animals were
not friendly and birds
flew away.

If anyone was looking
for me I hid behind a
tree and cried out “I am
an orphan.”

And here I am, the
center of all beauty!
writing these poems!

* * * * *

By Willa Schneberg

Give me the fake,
the imitation, the simulation, any day
over the real thing.
Give me the bronze garbage
in Haymarket Square
with the inlaid crumpled Boston Globe,
embedded lettuce leaves,
flattened fish scales,
that will never be burned,
bagged or rotted.
Give me the plaster life size cows
black with white spots
shaped like clouds,
in the parking lot outside
the Hilltop Steak House,
who will not experience
the irritation of flies or
the teat sucking machine.
Give me my daughter’s model trains
endlessly circling towns
that have no pollution,
everyone’s welcome and whoever’s
sick goes to the doll hospital.
Give me the poem,
its room not even a page wide,
where one enters as often as one likes
to watch the man place quarters
on his dead wife’s lids,
to feel the grief not your own.