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My House Of Gold

I have a house _ a house of Gold. It’s ever-o-ever so fine.
It’s furnished with cushions of flesh, you see, with labours of love for wine.
I longed to find my house of Gold _ for twenty some years and more.
Yet searching did not bring my house to me _ engulfed as I was in war.
'Twas war in my soul that held it back, though longing I was to see.
I never did ever suspect at all, that it would exist __ without me.

My house it sits by a Waterfall that’s crystal and never stands still.
In splashes and swirls dashing purposely fast, ignoring completely my will,
It flows round the back o-so-deep that I fear I never would dare to go,
For I cannot see into passages dark where I know not friend, fool or foe.
It moves past the brambles to clear out the stones, designing _ conforming a few.
Thrusts up to the surface those undreamed of jewels __ for grinding to polish anew.

I wish it were so - you could see-too my house, my beautiful house of Gold.
For you are the furnishing __ filling it so, warming _ enlarging our fold.
In walls low ‘n rambling, when left free to flow __ no cords for to stifle the soul.
Aye, clearly, what’s mine - fully comes as a prize, a gift I can hold in it’s bowl.
Upholding the nobleness __ each has in full __ floods full to compassion that’s real.
Magnificent Gold that is given to me __ for labours of love that can heal.
Yolanda Erickson

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Maintenance, Not Rent

Maintenance, not rent, is what you pay
once you have bought a co-op. It’s ordained
that you can’t rent a wife, and must obey
her rules and keep her well maintained.
I’d rather have a co-op than a wife,
since if I want I can sublet,
if there’s a crisis in my life,
a co-op and won’t need a get.

Get is Hebrew for divorce.

Susan Dominus writes about an aspiring noveslist Matthew Thomas, towhom the City of New York awarded a Mitchell Lama co-op in the Upper East Side (“An Upper East Side Co-op for a Pittance, ” NY Times, February 14,2008) :
Like so many other single New Yorkers who stubbornly persist in pursuing fulfilling but decidedly nonlucrative careers, Matthew Thomas, a 32-year-old aspiring novelist, endured a housing history defined by transience and tests of endurance. It’s a familiar loop to the New York-based artist, the restless move from the share to the sublet to the house-sit to the disastrous rental, always in the hope of making that incremental step up into something approaching livability. The closest thing Mr. Thomas had to something he’d call home was his mother’s house in Bronxville, where his 50 boxes of books stayed in his high school bedroom, along with him, when he wasn’t out of town in graduate school or crashing at a girlfriend’s place or sleeping on a cot someplace or shelling out more money than he could afford for a rental in Inwood. He went so far as to redecorate his old bedroom, tossing the Mickey Mantle poster in favor of artwork from friends. “That’s a purification, ” he said. If you’re just starting to feel a little sorry for Mr. Thomas, don’t. You will surely regret it once the story of the flimsy envelope from Maxwell-Kates unfolds. Fortunately for Mr. Thomas, his mother was flipping through his mail last August and noticed the envelope, which could easily have been mistaken for junk. It contained an equally flimsy letter, possibly mimeographed, informing Mr. Thomas that he was the proud winner of a relatively obscure government-subsidized housing lottery to which he had applied four years earlier. The letter from Maxwell-Kates, which manages the building, didn’t exactly sound like Ed McMahon celebrating the sweepstakes — it warned him he’d have to be approved, file forms and so on — but Mr. Thomas knew he was on the brink of victory. Sure enough, by December, he was the proud owner of a studio apartment on the Upper East Side of Manhattan. With a little help from family, Mr. Thomas, who’s been working as a teacher in a Manhattan private school, had saved just enough to buy it outright: $14,000 cash. His monthly maintenance is a whopping $295.For Virginia Woolf, creative freedom arrived when her aunt, out for some fresh air in Bombay, fell off a horse and left her niece an annual income “forever, ” as Woolf writes with gratitude in “A Room of One’s Own.” For Matthew Thomas, that precious freedom arrived when the faceless bureaucracy of New York’s Mitchell-Lama Housing Program churned out his name, guaranteeing him not just any room of his own, but a miraculously inexpensive room he could have, if he liked, forever. What some of his Upper East Side neighbors might pay for a two-week rental in Southampton, he paid for a lifetime’s worth of liberation. “I feel less whipped by the demon of fear that I have to get my novel done overnight in order to make life possible, ” said Mr. Thomas, surrounded by the last of the boxes of the books he’d brought to the studio on 88th Street between Second and Third Avenues. His new building — institutional brown brick, but around the corner from Elaine’s — is one of the 24 Mitchell-Lama co-op buildings in Manhattan, rare commodities every one, throwbacks to a time when aspiring writers (and teachers and young women who worked at Lord & Taylor) could still afford to settle into a small, cozy place on a Manhattan street with a Laundromat nearby. Now that crowd could wait a long time for a boon like the one Mr. Thomas currently enjoys — a typical wait in Manhattan for co-ops in Mitchell-Lama lasts 10 years, according to the Department of Housing Preservation and Development. Mr. Thomas, a superstitious Irish-Catholic by his own description, refrained from broadcasting his good fortune until he actually owned the apartment, having christened it with a celebratory plastic foam cup of wine. “I’m persisting in this weird feeling that this will all be taken away from me by some Kafkaesque bureaucratic oversight, ” he said, sitting at the desk in the 350-square-foot studio, which came with a full bath but no stove. IT’S easy to feel a touch of nagging resentment toward the neighbors upstairs who netted $30,000 more for their apartment simply because they installed that bewitching Wolf stove, or the friend who brags about the steal in Cobble Hill that her real estate agent, her mom’s roommate at Smith, threw her way. Mr. Thomas’s good fortune, however, seems wholly outside the zero sum game that is the New York City housing market. Yes, his bargain is the ultimate swag, but it’s not the kind that goes to the people who could probably afford it on their own, the usual recipients. It’s the kind that goes to people whose income falls below $49,625, as the program requires, the kind of people increasingly fleeing Manhattan, taking with them the workaday concerns and artistic ambitions that bear less and less on the island’s cultural temperament. Mr. Thomas reports that his writing has been going exceptionally well. “Definitely inspiration comes from peace of mind, ” he said. (Or, as Woolf put it, it’s remarkable “what a change of temper a fixed income will bring about.”) “I find the rent really inspiring, ” Mr. Thomas said. A homeowner now, he caught himself with a slow, sweet smile. “I mean, the maintenance.”
E-mail: susan.dominus@nytimes.com

gershon hepner

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The Death Of Parson Caldwell's Wife

THE outrage of innocence in instances too numerous to be recorded, of the wanton barbarity of the soldiers of the King of England, as they patrolled the defenceless villages of America, was evinced nowhere more remarkably than in the burnings and massacres every that, marked the footsteps of the British troops as they from time to time ravaged the State of New Jersey. In their late excursion they had trod their deleterious path through a part of the country called the Connecticut Farms. It is needless to particularize many instances of their wanton rage and unprovoked devastation in and near Elizabethtown. The places dedicated to public worship did not escape their fury; these were destroyed more from licentious folly than any religious frenzy or bigotry, to which their nation had at times been liable. Yet through the barbarous transactions of this summer nothing excited more general resentment and compassion than the murder of the amiable and virtuous wife of a Presbyterian clergyman, attended with too many circumstances of grief on the one side and barbarism on the other to pass over in silence. This lady was sitting in her own house with her little domestic circle around her and her infant in her arms, unapprehensive of danger, shrouded by the consciousness of her own innocence and virtue, when a British barbarian pointed his musket into the window of her room, and instantly shot the her through the lungs. A hole was dug, the body thrown in, and the house of this excellent lady set on fire and consumed with all the property it contained. Mr. Caldwell, her affectionate husband, was absent; nothing had ever been alleged against his character, even by his enemies, but his zeal for the rights, and his attachment to his native land. For this he had been persecuted, and for this he was robbed of all that he held dear in life, by bloody hands of men in whose benevolence and politeness he had had much confidence until the fated day when this mistaken opinion led him to leave his beloved family, fearless of danger and certain of their security, from their innocence, virtue, and unoffending amiability. Mr. Caldwell afterward published the proofs of this cruel affair, attested on oath before magistrates by sundry persons who were in the house with Mrs. Caldwell and saw her fall back and expire immediately after the report of the gun. 'This was,' as observed by Mr. Caldwell, 'a violation of tender feeling; without provocation, deliberately committed in open day; nor was it ever frowned on by the commander.' The catastrophe of this unhappy family was completed within two years by the murder of Mr. Caldwell himself by some ruffian hands. His conscious integrity of heart had never suffered him to apprehend any personal danger, and the melancholy that pervaded all on the tragical death of his lady, who was distinguished for the excellence and respectability of her character, wrought up the resentment of that part of the country to so high a pitch that the most timid were aroused to deeds of desperate heroism. They were ready to swear, like Hannibal against the Romans, and to bind their sons to the oath of everlasting enmity to the name of Britain.
Mercy Warren

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Read more: innocence poems, murder poems, family poems, house poems, america poems, husband poems, grief poems, silence poems, summer poems, fire poems, death poems, soldier poems, son poems



Z213: Exit (Extract 5)

'Z213: Exit' is the first book of the 'Poena Damni' trilogy by Dimitris Lyacos followed by 'Nyct v 'and 'The First Death'.


A few hours more, station, deserted, a dirt road for inside the town, mud, mud, blankets outside, mouldering houses of tin, the shattered pylon further behind, not even a car, rubbish, two children setting fire to a heap, two or three other fires on the horizon, houses, the acid smell stronger, pieces and pieces of asphalt, houses of cement blocks, few people, half-open doors, half-light, the mattress as if it were soaked, that milk, the cramp in the stomach and dizziness, when I awoke, I hurried to make it before it got dark, a bit by chance and from what I remembered, asked questions, the other side back to the bridge, the murmur of water, the trees blackening but I could still see, it was in front of me almost as soon as I entered. What are you doing here, sit for a while beside you, if you could also back then, if someone bent down, heard you while still you could be heard, your eyes that were gleaming the eyes growing dim, the pain growing dim, with how many more did they bring you, the bell, silence as they lowered you down, stifled song and a pause, the murmur of water. I am cold, I leave among other names, photos that look at you yet do not see, the sun now again at its end. On the road back, on the plain, a breath, tepid, as a last breath, and a gleam, the river falling behind, the town mute as before, with some wine on the end of a table, the Bible being erased, between its pages the words of a stranger, between him I write wherever I find a no-man’s land.

Translated from Greek by Shorsha Sullivan
Dimitris Lyacos

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Poems On / About HOUSE