Bertolt Brecht, “Hollywood Elegies”


Under the long green hair of pepper trees,
The writers and composers work the street.
Bach’s new score is crumpled in his pocket,
Dante sways his ass-cheeks to the beat.


The city is named for the angels,
And its angels are easy to find.
They give off a lubricant odor,
Their eyes are mascara-lined;
At night you can see them inserting
Gold-plated diaphragms;
For breakfast they gather at poolside
Where screenwriters feed and swim.


Every day, I go to earn my bread
In the exchange where lies are marketed,
Hoping my own lies will attract a bid.


It’s Hell, it’s Heaven: the amount you earn
Determines if you play the harp or burn.


Gold in their mountains,
Oil on their coast;
Dreaming in celluloid
Profits them most.

John Beecher, “If I Forget Thee, O Birmingham!


Like Florence from your mountain.
Both cast your poets out
for speaking plain.



You bowl your bombs down aisles
where black folk kneel
to pray for your blacker souls.



Dog-town children bled
A, B, O, AB as you.
Christ’s blood is not more red.



Burning my house to keep
them out, you sowed wind. Hear it blow!
Soon you reap.


Maggie Nelson, “Written Deer”

Why does this written doe bound through these written woods?
                           —Wisława Szymborska

My handwriting is all over these woods. 
No, my handwriting is these woods,

each tree a half-print, half-cursive scrawl, 
each loop a limb. My house is somewhere 
here, & I have scribbled myself inside it.

What is home but a book we write, then 
read again & again, each time dog-earing

different pages. In the morning I wake 
in time to pencil the sun high. How 
fragile it is, the world—I almost wrote

the word but caught myself. Either one 
could be erased. In these written woods,

branches smudge around me whenever 
I take a deep breath. Still, written fawns 
lie in the written sunlight that dapples

their backs. What is home but a passage
I’m writing & underlining every time I read it.