The Collected Poems of Ted Berrigan / Edition 1

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This landmark collection brings Ted Berrigan's published and unpublished poetry together in a single authoritative volume for the first time. Edited by the poet Alice Notley, Berrigan's second wife, and their two sons, The Collected Poems demonstrates the remarkable range, power, and importance of Berrigan's work.

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Editorial Reviews

From Barnes & Noble
A true labor of love, this beautiful edition is the definitive collection of the late Ted Berrigan’s poetry. Notable for the inclusion of many poems long out of print, as well as several never before published, the anthology was meticulously edited by Berrigan’s wife, Alice Notley, and their two sons -- all three of them poets in their own right.
Publishers Weekly
More than 20 years in preparation, this is a major volume of 20th-century American poetry, bringing together everything that the Providence, R.I.-born Berrigan (1934-1983) would or could have published. Notley (Disobedience, etc.), Berrigan's second wife, and their two sons (both poets) have meticulously re-edited Berrigan's books-he took the book as a real unit of composition-incorporating late drafts and fixes, and carefully re-formatting his very intentionally spaced open field verse. Just as importantly, they have sifted out the chaff from the super-productive Berrigan's oeuvre. Most poetry readers know The Sonnets (1964), Berrigan's brilliant adaptation of Burroughsian cut-ups; they are as fresh, funny and targeted today as were 40 years ago. Fewer, though, know the 11 other books (and many more chapbooks) he published, each one deepening the addresses to friends, lovers, strangers and places (especially New York) around which he structured some very complex, very beautiful, often very delirious and very funny quarrels with people and language, with time and with space. Berrigan was a notoriously charismatic reader, teacher and participant in the community that developed around the Poetry Project at St. Mark's Church; his persona has been cited as often as his poems. This book closes the gap once and for all. (Nov. 14) Copyright 2005 Reed Business Information.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780520239869
  • Publisher: University of California Press
  • Publication date: 11/14/2005
  • Edition description: New Edition
  • Edition number: 1
  • Pages: 758
  • Product dimensions: 6.00 (w) x 8.00 (h) x 2.00 (d)

Meet the Author

Ted Berrigan (1934-1983) was the author of more than 20 books, including The Sonnets (1964); Bean Spasms, with Ron Padgett and Joe Brainard (1967); Red Wagon (1976); and A Certain Slant of Sunlight (1988). Alice Notley is the editor of two of Ted Berrigan's books, The Sonnets (2000) and A Certain Slant of Sunlight (1988). She is the author of numerous volumes of poetry, including Mysteries of Small Houses (1998) and Disobedience (2001). Anselm Berrigan is the director of the St. Mark's Poetry Project and the author of Zero Star Hotel (2002). Edmund Berrigan is a poet and songwriter and the author of Disarming Matter (1999).

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The Collected Poems of Ted Berrigan

By Alice Notley, Anselm Berrigan, Edmund Berrigan


Copyright © 2005 The Regents of the University of California
All rights reserved.
ISBN: 978-0-520-94082-6


The Sonnets



    His piercing pince-nez. Some dim frieze
    Hands point to a dim frieze, in the dark night.
    In the book of his music the corners have straightened:
    Which owe their presence to our sleeping hands.
    The ox-blood from the hands which play
    For fire for warmth for hands for growth
    Is there room in the room that you room in?
    Upon his structured tomb:
    Still they mean something. For the dance
    And the architecture.
    Weave among incidents
    May be portentous to him
    We are the sleeping fragments of his sky,
    Wind giving presence to fragments.


    Dear Margie, hello. It is 5:15 a.m.
    dear Berrigan. He died
    Back to books. I read
    It's 8:30 p.m. in New York and I've been running around all day
    old come-all-ye's streel into the streets. Yes, it is now,
    How Much Longer Shall I Be Able To Inhabit The Divine
    and the day is bright gray turning green
    feminine marvelous and tough
    watching the sun come up over the Navy Yard
    to write scotch-tape body in a notebook
    had 17 and 1/2 milligrams
    Dear Margie, hello. It is 5:15 a.m.
    fucked til 7 now she's late to work and I'm
    18 so why are my hands shaking I should know better


    Stronger than alcohol, more great than song,
    deep in whose reeds great elephants decay;
    I, an island, sail, and my shores toss
    on a fragrant evening, fraught with sadness
    bristling hate.
    It's true, I weep too much. Dawns break
    slow kisses on the eyelids of the sea,
    what other men sometimes have thought they've seen.
    And since then I've been bathing in the poem
    lifting her shadowy flowers up for me,
    and hurled by hurricanes to a birdless place
    the waving flags, nor pass by prison ships
    O let me burst, and I be lost at sea!
    and fall on my knees then, womanly.


    Lord, it is time. Summer was very great.
    All sweetly spoke to her of me
    about your feet, so delicate, and yet double E!!
    And high upon the Brooklyn Bridge alone,
    to breathe an old woman slop oatmeal,
    loveliness that longs for butterfly! There is no pad
    as you lope across the trails and bosky dells
    I often think sweet and sour pork"
    shoe repair, and scary. In cities,
    I strain to gather my absurdities
    He buckled on his gun, the one
    Poised like Nijinsky
    at every hand, my critic
    and when I stand and clank it gives me shoes


    Squawking a gala occasion, forgetting, and
    'Hawkaaaaaaaaaa!' Once I went scouting
    As stars are, like nightmares, a crucifix.
    Why can't I read French? I don't know why can't you?
    Rather the matter of growth
    My babies parade waving their innocent flags
    Huddled on the structured steps
    Flinging currents into pouring streams
    The "jeunes filles" so rare.
    He wanted to know the names
    He liked boys, never had a mother
    Meanwhile, terrific misnomers went concocted, ayearning,
    The Pure No Nonsense
    And all day: Perceval! Perceval!


    The bulbs burn phosphorescent, white
    Your hair moves slightly,
    Tenseness, but strength, outward
    And the green rug nestled against the furnace
    Dust had covered all the tacks, the hammer
    ... optimism for the jump ...
    The taste of such delicate thoughts
    Never bring the dawn.
    The bulbs burn, phosphorescent, white,
    Melting the billowing snow with wine:
    Could the mind turn jade? everything
    Turning in this light, to stones,
    Ash, bark like cork, a fading dust,
    To cover the tracks of "The Hammer."

    Poem in the Traditional Manner

    Whenever Richard Gallup is dissevered,
    Fathers and teachers, and daemons down under the sea,
    Audenesque Epithalamiums! She
    Sends her driver home and she stays with me.

    Match-Game etcetera! Bootleggers
    Barrel-assing chevrolets grow bold. I summon
    To myself sad silent thoughts,
    Opulent, sinister, and cold.

    Shall it be male or female in the tub?
    And grawk go under, and grackle disappear,
    And high upon the Brooklyn Bridge alone,
    An ugly ogre masturbates by ear:

    Of my darling, my darling, my pipe and my slippers,
    Something there is is benzedrine in bed:
    And so, so Asiatic, Richard Gallup
    Goes home, and gets his gat, and plugs his dad.

    Poem in the Modern Manner

    She comes as in a dream with west wind eggs,
    bringing Huitzilopochtli hot possets:
    Snakeskins! But I am young, just old enough
    to breathe, an old woman, slop oatmeal,
    lemongrass, dewlarks, full draught of, fall thud.

    Lady of the May, thou art fair,
    Lady, thou art truly fair! Children,
    When they see your face,
    Sing in idiom of disgrace.

    Pale like an ancient scarf, she is unadorned,
    bouncing a red rubber ball in the veins.
    The singer sleeps in Cos. Strange juxtaposed
    the phantom sings: Bring me red demented rooms,
    warm and delicate words! Swollen as if new-out-of-bed
    Huitzilopochtli goes his dithyrambic way,
    quick-shot, resuscitate, all roar!

    From a Secret Journal

    My babies parade waving their innocent flags
    an unpublished philosopher, a man who must
    column after column down colonnade of rust
    in my paintings, for they are present
    I am wary of the mulctings of the pink promenade,
    went in the other direction to Tulsa,
    glistering, bristling, cozening whatever disguises
    S of Christmas John Wayne will clown with
    Dreams, aspirations of presence! Innocence gleaned,
    annealed! The world in its mysteries are explained,
    and the struggles of babies congeal. A hard core is formed.
    "I wanted to be a cowboy." Doughboy will do.
    Romance of it all was overwhelming
    daylight of itself dissolving and of course it rained.

    Real Life

    1. The Fool

    He eats of the fruits of the great Speckle
    Bird, pissing in the grass! Is it possible
    He is incomplete, bringing you Ginger Ale
    Of the interminably frolicsome gushing summer showers?
    You were a Campfire Girl,
    Only a part-time mother and father; I
    Was large, stern, acrid, and undissuadable!
    Ah, Bernie, we wear complete
    The indexed Webster Unabridged Dictionary.
    And lunch is not lacking, ants and clover
    On the grass. To think of you alone
    Suffering the poem of these states!
    Oh Lord, it is bosky, giggling happy here,
    And you, and me, the juice, at last extinct!

    2. The Fiend

    Red-faced and romping in the wind
    I too am reading the technical journals, but
    Keeping Christmas-safe each city block
    With tail-pin. My angels are losing patience,
    Never win. Except at night. Then
    I would like a silken thread
    Tied round the solid blooming winter.
    Trees stand stark-naked guarding bridal paths;
    The cooling wind keeps blowing, and
    There is a faint chance in geometric boxes!
    It doesn't matter, though, to show he is
    Your champion. Days are nursed on science fiction
    And you tremble at the books upon the earth
    As my strength and I walk out and look for you.

    Penn Station

    On the green a white boy goes
    And he walks. Three ciphers and a faint fakir
    No One Two Three Four Today
    I thought about all those radio waves
    Winds flip down the dark path of breath
    Passage the treasure Gomangani I
    Forget bring the green boy white ways
    And the wind goes there
    Keats was a baiter of bears
    Who died of lust (You lie! You lie!)
    As so we all must in the green jungle
    Under a sky of burnt umber we bumble to
    The mien florist's to buy green nosegays
    For the fey Saint's parade Today
    We may read about all those radio waves


    Mountains of twine and
    Teeth braced against it
    Before gray walls. Feet walk
    Released by night (which is not to imply
    Death) under the murk spell
    Racing down the blue lugubrious rainway
    To the big promise of emptiness
    In air we get our feet wet.... a big rock
    Caresses cloud bellies
    He finds he cannot fake
    Wed to wakefulness, night which is not death
    Fuscous with murderous dampness
    But helpless, as blue roses are helpless.
    Rivers of annoyance undermine the arrangements.


    We remove a hand ...
    In a roomful of smoky man names burnished dull black
    And labelled "blue" the din drifted in ...
    Someone said "Blake-blues" and someone else "pill-head"
    Meaning bloodhounds. Someone shovelled in some
    Cotton-field money brave free beer and finally 'Negroes!'
    They talked ...
    He thought of overshoes looked like mother
    Made him
    Combed his hair
    Put away your hair. Books shall speak of us
    When we are gone, like soft, dark scarves in gay April.
    Let them discard loves in the Spring search! We
    await a grass hand.


    In Joe Brainard's collage its white arrow
    He is not in it, the hungry dead doctor.
    Of Marilyn Monroe, her white teeth white-
    I am truly horribly upset because Marilyn
    and ate King Korn popcorn," he wrote in his
    of glass in Joe Brainard's collage
    Doctor, but they say "I LOVE YOU"
    and the sonnet is not dead.
    takes the eyes away from the gray words,
    Diary. The black heart beside the fifteen pieces
    Monroe died, so I went to a matinee B-movie
    washed by Joe's throbbing hands. "Today
    What is in it is sixteen ripped pictures
    does not point to William Carlos Williams.


    Into the closed air of the slow
    Warmth comes, a slow going down of the Morning Land
    She is warm. Into the vast closed air of the slow
    Going down of the Morning Land
    One vast under pinning trembles doom ice
    Spreads beneath the mud troubled ice
    Smother of a sword
    Into her quick weak heat. She
    Is introspection. One vast ice laden
    Vast seas of doom and mud spread across the lake. Quick
    Of her vast ice laden self under introspective heat.
    White lake trembles down to green goings
    On, shades of a Chinese wall, itself "a signal."
    It is a Chinese signal.


    Each tree stands alone in stillness
    After many years still nothing
    The wind's wish is the tree's demand
    The tree stands still
    The wind walks up and down
    Scanning the long selves of the shore
    Her aimlessness is the pulse of the tree
    It beats in tiny blots
    Its patternless pattern of excitement
    Letters birds beggars books
    There is no such thing as a breakdown
    The tree the ground the wind these are
    Dear, be the tree your sleep awaits
    Sensual, solid, still, swaying alone in the wind


    Dear Marge, hello. It is 5:15 a.m.
    Outside my room atonal sounds of rain
    In my head. Dreams of Larry Walker
    Drum in the pre-dawn. In my skull my brain
    Season, cold images glitter brightly
    In his marriage bed: of David Bearden
    Answering. "Deteriorating," you said.
    Say it. And made it hard to write. You know
    Margie, tonight, and every night, in any
    Aches in rhythm to that pounding morning rain.
    Them over and over. And now I dread
    Not a question, really, but you did
    In your letter, many questions. I read
    Paranoid: and of Martin Cochran, dead.


    Harum-scarum haze on the Pollock streets
    Where Snow White sleeps among the silent dwarfs
    The fleet drifts in on an angry tidal wave
    Or on the vast salt deserts of America
    Drifts of Johann Strauss
    A boy first sought in Tucson Arizona
    The withering weathers of
    Melodic signs of Arabic adventure
    Of polytonic breezes gathering in the gathering winds
    Mysterious Billy Smith a fantastic trigger
    Of a plush palace shimmering velvet red
    The cherrywood romances of rainy cobblestones
    A dark trance
    In the trembling afternoon


    On the green a white boy goes
    We may read about all those radio waves
    And he walks. Three ciphers and a faint fakir
    For the fey Saint's parade Today
    No One Two Three Four Today
    Under a sky of burnt umber we bumble to
    Forget Bring the green boy white ways
    As so we all must in the green jungle
    Winds flip down the dark path of breath
    The mien florist's to buy green nosegays
    Passage the treasure Gomangani
    I thought about all those radio waves
    Keats was a baiter of bears
    Who died of lust (You lie! You lie!)
    And the wind goes there


    Go fly a kite he writes
    Who cannot escape his own blue hair
    who storms to the big earth and is not absent-minded
    & Who dumbly begs a key & who cannot pay his way
    Racing down the blue lugubrious rainway
    day brakes and night is a quick pick-me-up
    Rain is a wet high harried face
    To walk is wet hurried high safe and game
    Tiny bugs flit from pool to field and light on every bulb
    Whose backs hide doors down round wind-tunnels
    He is an umbrella....
    Many things are current
    Simple night houses rain
    Standing pat in the breathless blue air.


    On the 15th day of November in the year of the motorcar
    Between Oologah and Pawnee
    A hand is writing these lines
    In a roomful of smoky man names burnished dull black
    Southwest, lost doubloons rest, no comforts drift
    On dream smoke down the sooted fog ravine
    In a terrible Ozark storm the Tundra vine
    Blood ran like muddy inspiration: Walks he in around anyway
    The slight film has gone to gray-green children
    And seeming wide night. Now night
    Is a big drink of waterbugs Then were we so fragile
    Honey scorched our lips
    On the 15th day of November in the year of the motorcar
    Between Oologah and Pawnee


    Mud on the first day (night, rather
    I was thinking of Bernard Shaw, of sweet May Morris
    Do you want me to take off my dress?
    Some Poems!
    the aeroplane waiting to take you on your first
    getting used to using each other
    Cowboys! and banging on my sorrow, with books
    The Asiatics
    believed in tree spirits, a tall oak, swans gone in the rain,
    a postcard of Juan Gris not a word
    Fell on the floor how strange to be gone in a minute
    I came to you by bus to be special for us
    The bellboy letters a key then to hear from an old stranger
    The Gift: they will reside in Houston following the Grand Canyon.


    This excitement to be all of night, Henry!
    Elvis Peering-Eye danced with Carol Clifford, high,
    Contrived whose leaping herb edifies Kant! I'll bust!
    Smile! 'Got rye in this'n"
    Widow Dan sold an eye t'meander an X. Whee! Yum!
    Pedant tore her bed! Tune, hot! Full cat saith why foo?
    "Tune hot full cat?" "No! nexus neck ink!
    All moron (on) while "weighed in fur" pal! "Ah'm Sun!"
    Dayday came to get her daddy. "Daddy,"
    Saith I to Dick in the verge, (In the Verge!)
    And "gee" say I, "Easter" "fur" "few tears" "Dick!"
    My Carol now a Museum! "O, Ma done fart!" "Less full
    Cat," she said, "One's there!" "Now cheese, ey?"
    "Full cat wilted, bought ya a pup!" "So, nose excitement?"


    Andy Butt was drunk in the Parthenon
    Bar. If only the Greeks were a band-Aid,
    he thought. Then my woe would not flow
    O'er the land. He considered his honeydew
    Hand. "O woe, woe!" saith Andrew, "a fruit
    In my hand may suffice to convey me to Greece,
    But I must have envy to live! A grasshopper,
    George, if you please!" The bartender sees
    That our Andrew's awash on the sofa
    Of wide melancholy. His wound he refurbishes
    Stealthily shifty-eyed over the runes. "Your
    Trolleycar, sir," 's said to Andy, "you bloody
    Well emptied the Parthenon!? "A fruitful vista
    This Our South," laughs Andrew to his Pa,
    But his rough woe slithers o'er the Land.


    to gentle, pleasant strains
    just homely enough
    to be beautiful
    in the dark neighborhoods of my own sad youth
    i fall in love. once
    seven thousand feet over one green schoolboy summer
    i dug two hundred graves,
    laughing, "Put away your books! Who shall speak of us
    when we are gone? Let them wear scarves
    in the once a day snow, crying in the kitchen
    of my heart!" O my love, I will weep a less bitter truth,
    till other times, making a minor repair,
    a breath of cool rain in those streets
    clinging together with slightly detached air.


    Now she guards her chalice in a temple of fear
    Calm before a storm. Yet your brooding eyes
    Or acquiescence soon cease to be answers.
    And your soft, dark hair, a means of speaking
    Becomes too much to bear. Sometimes,
    In a rare, unconscious moment,
    Alone this sudden darkness in a toybox
    Christine's classic beauty, Okinawa
    To Laugh (Autumn gone, and Spring a long way
    Off) is loving you
    When need exceeds means,
    I read the Evening World/the sports,
    The funnies, the vital statistics, the news:
    Okinawa was a John Wayne movie to me.


    Into the closed air of the slow
    Now she guards her chalice in a temple of fear
    Each tree stands alone in stillness
    to gentle, pleasant strains
    Dear Marge, hello. It is 5:15 a.m.
    Andy Butt was drunk in the Parthenon
    Harum-scarum haze on the Pollock streets
    This excitement to be all of night, Henry!
    Ah, Bernie, to think of you alone, suffering
    It is such a good thing to be in love with you
    On the green a white boy goes
    He's braver than I, brother
    Many things are current, and of these the least are
     not always children
    On the 15th day of November in the year of the motorcar


Excerpted from The Collected Poems of Ted Berrigan by Alice Notley, Anselm Berrigan, Edmund Berrigan. Copyright © 2005 The Regents of the University of California. Excerpted by permission of UNIVERSITY OF CALIFORNIA PRESS.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.

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Table of Contents



MEMORIAL DAY by Ted Berrigan and Anne Waldman

Glossary of Names

Index of Titles

Index of First Lines

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