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On the Street of Divine Love

New and Selected Poems

by Barbara Hamby

Publication Year: 2014

Perhaps Paul Kareem Taylor said it best in his piece called On the Road Again: Barbara Hamby's American Odyssey: "Reading Barbara Hamby's poetry is like going on a road trip, one where the woman behind the wheel lets you ride shotgun as she speeds across the open highways of an America where drive-in movie theaters still show Janet Leigh films on Friday nights, hardware stores have not been driven out of business by soulless corporate titans, and where long poetic lines first introduced by Walt Whitman and resurrected by Ginsberg are pregnant with a thousand reasons to marvel at the world we inhabit."

Published by: University of Pittsburgh Press

Series: Pitt Poetry Series

Title Page, Copyright, Dedication

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pp. 1-8


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pp. ix-xii

New Poems

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pp. 1-2

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Ode to Forgetting the Year

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pp. 3-4

...you wore and the tangle of Scotch tape you used to keep it in place,but then you?d have to forget spring with its clouds of jasmine, nine kinds of peppers, okra, and that disappointing row of corn. Forget the corn, its stunted ears and brown oozing tips. Forgive and forgive the bee that stung your arm, then stung your face, too. ...

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How to Pray

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pp. 5-6

...for his odes, and Neruda for his. But this wasn?t meant to be a prayerand too many of them to count on the fingers pressed to your lips,...

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Ode to Knots, Noise, Waking Up at Three, and Falling Asleep Reading to My Id

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pp. 7-8

...of all my mistakes as they line up like the bloody crucifixions though the sky has been a glorious Leonardo blue, and the names not to believe in other people since there are so many of them, with the everyday scarring, the laundry, the dust, so I might as well be asleep and dreaming of the tomb of Galla Placidia in Ravenna, ...

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Ode to Skimpy Clothes and August in the Deep South

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p. 9-9

...underpants, and this is the way I dressed in my early twenties, thick novels until three or four, and one morning waking at noonand when I release the bird she falls on the grass as if dead, and flies off with her mate, and seeing that girl?s black panties that I might as well be lost in the outskirts of Rome, a little girl ...

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Ode to Lil’ Kim in Florence

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p. 10-10

We?re in a taxi on the way to see Andrea del Sarto?s Last Supper, but now in the suburbs beyond the old city wall in an ex-convent,the lyrics penetrate the armor of the city, the fresco, the tagliata and I?ve never lived on the streets, and your life, Kim, is like an opera,Lucia di Lammermoor maybe, but you?re not taking Enrico?s shit, ...

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Reading Can Kill You

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pp. 11-12

...but it soon becomes apparent his wife and my husband are stewing, and instead of No, she said Nyet, which sounds like a sexier Yes, but with a twinge of Nyet, and it was winter, a freezing Siberian so when Satan showed up with his entourage, we were borne along flinging roubles into paradise, cuddling at night with his giant cat, ...

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17 Dollars

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pp. 13-14

...frilly dresses, give her piano lessons, send her to fancy schools. where I learned to drink wine, eat escargots and bitter greens. ...

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Ode to Red and Speedy

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pp. 15-16

...of him looking like Rasputin, and here?s a panorama of Bernice?s...

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Ode to the Messiah, Thai Horror Movies, and Everything I Can’t Believe

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pp. 17-18

...of olives and fried goat brains, but here I am sitting in the pew and the president of the Handel Society explains that in England we Yanks do, too, and I think of the last time I heard this musicthe chorus is only 20 voices, like a group of friends whispering about the Thai movie, because I?m often wrong about almost everything, ...

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Ode to the Triple

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pp. 19-20

...as in It sounds like you need a Triple or That calls for a Triple.legislative bills commending beauty queens and putting potheads representative from Palatka, say, or Steinhatchee or Miami Lakesstaying at a job so long they could retire, but Velma retired, stiff flower arrangements, and a bowl of orange juice and ginger ale ...

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Ode to Wasting Time and Drawing Donatello’s David

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pp. 21-22

...told me to do. ?People are going to look, so just get used to it.? his name is David or, as they pronounce it in Italy, DAH-vee-day, ...

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On the Street of Divine Love

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pp. 23-24

...clogging my curio cabinet brain, and no strategy to clear the clutter. as when watching an infomercial at three in the morning, and a woman has cured herself of a horrible disease with a ten-point program: who has ever done me wrong, which I know is right but so very hard to do,but that?s not the same as forgiving them, because wishing them well ...

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Ode to Augurs, Ogres, Acorns, and Two or Three Things That Have Been Eating at My Heart Like a Wolverine in a Time of Famine

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pp. 25-26

...conquer Asia Minor, and as geese cut across my sky in a sharp V to help them make their way in the world, so I believe in birds when Italians walk out before dinner arm in arm, boys with boys, all in the dying light. Or think of last fall when the three oak trees our roof all night as if a Nazi panzer division had popped through ...

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I’m Making Walt Whitman Soup

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pp. 27-28

...nick from a knife, the next day a puffy thumb, then blue streaks to mine, and I said, ?No, I think it caused it,? because reading I was reading The Idiot, and I saw that my boyfriend was playing meI realized my next boyfriend was not the incarnation of Krishna so which came first?the chicken or the lightning bolt to the third eye? ...

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Questions for My Body

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pp. 29-30

Why do some days seem like factory work and others like a picnicof the fat boy on the bus, crust of chocolate around his mouth? And where did you get your nasty mouth? In that pile of body partsG?tterd?mmerung, girlfriend, are you speaking in tongues?is that why Si, si se?ora, remember when you were first married, and every time ...

Delirium (1995)

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pp. 31-32

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The Language of Bees

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pp. 33-34

For they have ambition, cunning, and are able to take direct aim....

Betrothal in B minor

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pp. 35-37

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pp. 38-39

...of the discrete parts: the shells?is there a more perfect shape in nature? Certainly not, according to Carl Gustavovich Faberg?, ...

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pp. 40-41

...for such a feeling, for ours is a language of materialism first, though there is the conditionnel ant?rieur, or the tense of regret, The French word ennui is better than boredom but still not quite right. what was it like? Everyone jabbering like crazy, trying to find at the same time, and friends passing each other and remembering...

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St. Anthony of the Floating Larynx

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pp. 42-44

...patched together like a puzzle now, but with most pieces missing. in fact we stand in line to see St. Anthony?s larynx, yes indeed,for cake eating, for three quarters of the multitude in the churchI attended as a twelve-year-old when the great man himself said, for someone like me who finds pardon difficult and unfulfilling, ...

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St. Clare’s Underwear

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pp. 45-46

...hovering over some delectable damsel with skin like fresh pastry.So you can see why St. Clare threw in her lot with St. Francis, But aren?t there always? In Italian, the word for noise is rumore, were making a noise that sounded for all the world like laughter,though one can never be certain. I learned something that night,...

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pp. 47-48

...and the many other indignities gathered like humps on our backs,...


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pp. 49-50

The Alphabet of Desire (1999)

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pp. 51-52

The Word

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pp. 53-55

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Thinking of Galileo

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pp. 56-57

...by Palladio. The door is open for mass, and as I stand in the back, a miracle occurs: after a year of what seems to be futile study, ...

The Dream of the Red Drink

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pp. 58-61

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Achtung, My Princess, Good Night

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pp. 62-63

Yes, all your best friends, all your gorgeous diamonds are cubic...


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pp. 64-65

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So Long, Roy

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pp. 66-67

...looking on as almost everyone aboard died, most of them still boysZeitung, so the whole world can remember your smile and how great...

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Trigger Tries to Explain

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pp. 68-69

...so it couldn?t last forever. Get over it, Trigger, I tell myself,excited, Trigger. Nothing?s the way it was. That?s the truth. Ah,...

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Ode on My Wasted Youth

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pp. 70-71

...which is not firm at all, though come to find out the substance ...

Ode to Untoward Dreams

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pp. 72-73

Ode to the Lost Luggage Warehouse at the Rome Airport

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pp. 74-78

Babel (2004)

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pp. 79-80

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My Translation

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pp. 81-82

...the archaic language of birches, frangipani pidgin of monsoon, into bulls, swans, gold dust, for a god is filled with such power lay down its rocks, roots, rivers, and lie naked in my naked arms, the way, the truth, the light, third empress of the seventh dynasty, Three Quarters of the Left Brain, poster girl of a million GIs, ...

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The Mockingbird on the Buddha

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p. 83-83

...where?s the Hittite princess, Pharaoh?s temple, where?s the rain wind like screams, night like brandy on the dark cut of my heart.with lust, that sweet stepping puffed-up old gray bird o? mine. Montrachet, ma ch?re, for the night is coming, and you need meat on the Buddha says, It?s time for a change, little missy. You?ve ...


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pp. 84-85

O Deceitful Tongue

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p. 86-86

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Vex Me

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p. 87-87

...rip out my larynx like a lazy snake and feed it to the voicelessand when the clock tocks two, I?ll be the belle of the malaria ball....


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p. 88-88

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Thus Spake the Mockingbird

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p. 89-89

...such a triage of blood and feathers, tongue and bone. O the world breasts full of accidental milk, but I can teach the flowers to grow, take their tight buds, unfurl them like flags in the morning heat, fat banners of scent, flat platters of riot on the emerald scene. of rustling needles through a harp of wind. I am the heart of men, ...

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Ode to American English

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pp. 90-91

...the inability of 90% of the population to get the present perfect: I miss the mongrel plenitude of American English, its fall-guy, the rushing River Jordan backwoods mutability of it, the low-rider, of the swamps and plains. I miss all those guys, their Tweety-bird of utter unhappiness on every channel, the midnight televangelist ...

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Ode to Hardware Stores

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pp. 92-93

...poured concrete painted blood red? Where are Eppes, Terry Rosa, Eighth Avenue, Gaines Street with their scent of paint thinner, like railroad spikes, finish nails, fence staples, cotter pins, he could have had, his blue-black hair slicked back with brilliantine, No night hours here, like physicists their universe mathematical ...

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Ode to Barbecue

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pp. 94-95

...to father to son, sauce that could take the paint off a Buick, ...

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Ode on Satan’s Power

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pp. 96-98

...wrenching weeks. Maybe that?s why the story of the Christ child ...

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Ode to My 1977 Toyota

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pp. 99-100

...together. Now we?re not. College boys stop us at traffic lights How did that pair of men?s white loafers end up in your trunk? are the answers like the animals that dart in front of your headlights but doesn?t know if tomorrow is December or Tuesday or June first....

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Ode on My Mother’s Handwriting

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pp. 101-102

...of her f feel less like the sharpened rapier of a paid assassin, is everlasting. The house of her h is a plain building. It has no and imperial q?s?regular, rigid, redoubtable. For the dark wind You could die of thirst, your throat taut as a tent pole holding up of words, blowing roofs off houses, lavishing water on an arid world, ...

All-Night Lingo Tango (2009)

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pp. 103-104

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Ode to Anglo Saxon, Film Noir, and the Hundred Thousand Anxieties That Plague Me Like Demons in a Medieval Christian Allegory

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pp. 105-106

...marked face? There?s still smallpox in Hell, so you push him backon blood and blondes, and though your husband looks like the Duke...

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Working at Pam-Pam’s

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pp. 107-108

Ava, darling, skin white as mayonnaise, eyes of cat-scratch topaz,Bwana Clark, to you, baby, Grace Kelly tumbling the substitute daddy,x- and y-chromosomes splitting in your deepest beauty, that toxicwhat the years ahead hold?you left with the baby, Sinatra a cad.Enemies or lovers?who?s to say? Does anyone really change? Henry V,...

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from 9 Sonnets from the Psalms

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pp. 109-110

...rises in the east, because there are some things a girl can be sure ...

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Ode to Air Heads, Hairdos, Trains to and from Paris

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pp. 111-112

...high school proms, botched perms, late-night drunken cuts. The Loch Ness...

Mambo Cadillac

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pp. 113-114

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from Lingo Sonnets

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pp. 115-117

...down on these mean streets. Sure, my skirt?s short, but it?s a crime,hot and bothered. I have feelings, cardboard, but bordering on ennui,zany, the cartoonists tell me, and next year you?ll play Cinderella.indigent eyes, no rough Barbary beard when kissing me. Popinjay,keep me in your little chest, nestle me in your cosy love hotel,...

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Ode on Dictionaries

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pp. 118-119

...lady with sixteen cats. Sure, the house stinks, but those damnedruns round the track?brick by brick, step by step, word by word,treasure chest of tongue and teeth, the brain?s roustabout, rough...

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Ode on My 45s, Insomnia, and My Poststructuralist Superego

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pp. 120-121

...that smells like religion, which I can do, especially the hate....

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Ode on the Letter M

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pp. 122-124

...here?s hoping for years of pound cake and hymns. There?s a charm...

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pp. 125-128

I would like to express my most ardent gratitude to the Guggenheim Foun-dation for the time to put this book together and write these new poems. I would also like to thank the Florida State College of Arts and Sciences for support during my Guggenheim year and the editors of the following New Poems: Agni: ?17 Dollars? and ?Ode to Wasting Time and Drawing ...

E-ISBN-13: 9780822979630
E-ISBN-10: 0822979632
Print-ISBN-13: 9780822962885
Print-ISBN-10: 0822962888

Page Count: 144
Publication Year: 2014

Series Title: Pitt Poetry Series

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