Monday, November 09, 2009

Happy Birthday Anne Sexton



The Ambition Bird


So it has come to this
insomnia at 3:15 A.M.,
the clock tolling its engine

like a frog following
a sundial yet having an electric
seizure at the quarter hour.

The business of words keeps me awake.
I am drinking cocoa,
that warm brown mama.

I would like a simple life
yet all night I am laying
poems away in a long box.

It is my immortality box,
my lay-away plan,
my coffin.

All night dark wings
flopping in my heart.
Each an ambition bird.

The bird wants to be dropped
from a high place like Tallahatchie Bridge.

He wants to light a kitchen match
and immolate himself.

He wants to fly into the hand of Michelangelo
and come out painted on a ceiling.

He wants to pierce the hornet's nest
and come out with a long godhead.

He wants to take bread and wine
and bring forth a man happily floating in the Caribbean.

He wants to be pressed out like a key
so he can unlock the Magi.

He wants to take leave among strangers
passing out bits of his heart like hors d'oeuvres.

He wants to die changing his clothes
and bolt for the sun like a diamond.

He wants, I want.
Dear God, wouldn't it be
good enough to just drink cocoa?

I must get a new bird
and a new immortality box.
There is folly enough inside this one.



3 comments:

Collin Kelley said...

One of the greatest poems ever. I took the name for my old poetry radio show, The Business of Words, from this poem.

Lyle Daggett said...

Been a while since I've read Anne Sexton. Great poem here.

Found another interesting blogpost about Anne Sexton -- with a YouTube video of her, and an excerpt from a letter she wrote to Jon Stallworthy in 1965, talking about the importance of poetry in her life, in the blog One Poet's Notes, here.

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