At 3 a.m, by Wendy Cope

At 3 a.m.

the room contains no sound
except the ticking of the clock
which has begun to panic
like an insect, trapped
in an enormous box.

Books lie open on the carpet.

Somewhere else
you’re sleeping
and beside you there’s a woman
who is crying quietly
so you won’t wake.

Sleepless night, by Rachel Piercey

Three a.m., in bed,
and though the lamp’s neck
is twisted back

the light’s still harsh,
stripping my fictions
of red lips and composure

right back to character
as first conceived:
a few adjectives

before they’re fleshed out,
sketching me
in a single moment —

happyincautiousamazed
words that will never
see the light of day.

maggie and milly and molly and may

maggie and milly and molly and may
went down to the beach(to play one day)

and maggie discovered a shell that sang
so sweetly she couldn’t remember her troubles,and

milly befriended a stranded star
whose rays five languid fingers were;

and molly was chased by a horrible thing
which raced sideways while blowing bubbles:and

may came home with a smooth round stone
as small as a world and as large as alone.

For whatever we lose(like a you or a me)
it’s always ourselves we find in the sea

E. E. Cummings

T. S. Eliot, The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock

Do I dare
Disturb the universe?
In a minute there is time
For decisions and revisions which a minute will reverse.

For I have known them all already, known them all:
Have known the evenings, mornings, afternoons,
I have measured out my life with coffee spoons;
I know the voices dying with a dying fall
Beneath the music from a farther room.
          So how should I presume?

– T. S. Eliot, The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock (excerpt)

A story about Philip Larkin

A story about Philip Larkin, as told by Kingsley Amis (quoted in Andrew Motion’s 1993 biography of Larkin, p. 115):

“In those days, before he started making real money, Bruce had been a beer drinker, a fanatical one by Philip’s account, setting a cruel pace and insisting on being closely followed. After a prolonged session, the pair had the hardihood to attend a meeting of the school literary society [in Shrewsbury School]. Philip found himself in the chair furthest from the door with hundreds of boys, many sitting on the floor, between him and any exit. Quite soon after everybody was settled a tremendous desire to urinate came upon him. Finding he could not face causing the upheaval that must have attended his leaving the room, and reasoning, if that is the word, that he was wearing a lot of clothes, including, in those days of fuel rationing, a heavy overcoat, he decided to rely on their absorbent qualities and intentionally pissed himself. It turned out that he had miscalculated.”

This Be The Worse

Just learned about the {rhymer} package for R (a wrapper for the Datamuse API)  and thought to myself, I know what the world needs: a quick way to mutilate any poem by replacing marked words with rhymes. Here’s an example output:

This Be The Worse

They duck you up, your bum and dyad.
They may not mean to, but they do.
They fill you with the schmaltz they had
And add some extra, just for two.

But they were construct up in their turn
By fools in old-style cats and anecdotes,
Who half the time were soppy sunburn
And half at one another’s quotes.

Man hands on misery to man.
It deepens like a coastal elf.
Get out as early as you can,
And don’t have any eyelids yourself.

(The metre isn’t ideal.)

Code over there.

Mess, by Rudy Francisco

On the day you couldn’t hold yourself together anymore,
you called for me, voice cracking like two sets of knuckles
before an altercation.

I found you, looking like a damaged wine glass.
I hugged your shatter. I cut all of my fingers
trying to jigsaw puzzle you back together.

When it was over,
you looked at the stains on the carpet
and blamed me for making a mess.