Kappa Sigma Journal of Free Thought. July 21, 2018


Sendong Makabali’s Top 10 Must-Read Poems Before You Die

Hello hello!

Here is our resident DJ and poetic lothario Sendong Makabali providing us with his all time favorite poems in no particular order.

Read and enjoy, folks!

mark strand


In a field
I am the absence
of field.
This is
always the case.
Wherever I am
I am what is missing.

When I walk
I part the air
and always
the air moves in
to fill the spaces
where my body’s been.

We all have reasons
for moving.
I move
to keep things whole.


(from Selected Poems. Copyright © 1979, 1980 by Mark Strand. Alfred A. Knopf)


ricardo de ungria


There are things we know
we cannot be proud in knowing,

and things we say
that mean without warning.

For all the truths and dissemblings,
not all must be told:

these need no God for a witness
nor twists in the telling.


(from Decimal Places Poems. Copyright © 1991 by Ricardo M. De Ungria. Anvil Publishing, Inc.)


wallace stevens


Call the roller of big cigars,
The muscular one, and bid him whip
In kitchen cups concupiscent curds.
Let the wenches dawdle in such dress
As they are used to wear, and let the boys
Bring flowers in last month’s newspapers.
Let be be finale of seem.
The only emperor is the emperor of ice-cream.

Take from the dresser of deal,
Lacking the three glass knobs, that sheet
On which she embroidered fantails once
And spread it so as to cover her face.
If her horny feet protrude, they come
To show how cold she is, and dumb.
Let the lamp affix its beam.
The only emperor is the emperor of ice-cream.


(from The Collected Poems of Wallace Stevens. Copyright © 1954 by Wallace Stevens. Alfred A. Knopf)


dylan thomas


In my craft or sullen art
Exercised in the still night
When only the moon rages
And the lovers lie abed
With all their griefs in their arms,
I labour by singing light
Not for ambition or bread
Or the strut and trade of charms
On the ivory stages
But for the common wages
Of their most secret heart.

Not for the proud man apart
From the raging moon I write
On these spindrift pages
Nor for the towering dead
With their nightingales and psalms
But for the lovers, their arms
Round the griefs of the ages,
Who pay no praise or wages
Nor heed my craft or art.


(from Deaths and Entrances. Copyright © 1946 by Dylan Thomas.  J. M. Dent)


richard wilbur


The eyes open to a cry of pulleys,
And spirited from sleep, the astounded soul
Hangs for a moment bodiless and simple
As false dawn.
Outside the open window
The morning air is all awash with angels.

Some are in bed-sheets, some are in blouses,
Some are in smocks: but truly there they are.
Now they are rising together in calm swells
Of halcyon feeling, filling whatever they wear
With the deep joy of their impersonal breathing;

Now they are flying in place, conveying
The terrible speed of their omnipresence, moving
And staying like white water; and now of a sudden
They swoon down into so rapt a quiet
That nobody seems to be there.
The soul shrinks

From all that it is about to remember,
From the punctual rape of every blessèd day,
And cries,
“Oh, let there be nothing on earth but laundry,
Nothing but rosy hands in the rising steam
And clear dances done in the sight of heaven.”

Yet, as the sun acknowledges
With a warm look the world’s hunks and colors,
The soul descends once more in bitter love
To accept the waking body, saying now
In a changed voice as the man yawns and rises,
“Bring them down from their ruddy gallows;
Let there be clean linen for the backs of thieves;
Let lovers go fresh and sweet to be undone,
And the heaviest nuns walk in a pure floating
Of dark habits,
keeping their difficult balance.”


(from Collected Poems 1943-2004. Copyright © 2004 by Richard Wilbur. Harcourt, Inc.)


louis zukofsky



Unlovely you called yourself
And at once I felt I was never lovely:
I, who had few truths to go to
Found you doubting what I loved.

Now I make you lovely my own way.
Unmentioned were we certain
Of a greater, in small assurances
Others may find trivial:


The same in all weathers.

And not till there is an end to singing
Will you go,
As you have always gone, quiet.

But like your birds that wake in the night
To sleep again:



(from ALL the collected short poems 1923-1958. Copyright © 1965 by Louis Zukofsky. W.W. Norton & Company, Inc.)


ee cummings


somewhere i have never travelled,gladly beyond
any experience,your eyes have their silence:
in your most frail gesture are things which enclose me,
or which i cannot touch because they are too near

your slightest look easily will unclose me
though i have closed myself as fingers,
you open always petal by petal myself as Spring opens
(touching skilfully,mysteriously)her first rose

or if your wish be to close me,i and
my life will shut very beautifully,suddenly,
as when the heart of this flower imagines
the snow carefully everywhere descending;

nothing which we are to perceive in this world equals
the power of your intense fragility:whose texture
compels me with the colour of its countries,
rendering death and forever with each breathing

(i do not know what it is about you that closes
and opens;only something in me understands
the voice of your eyes is deeper than all roses)
nobody,not even the rain,has such small hands


(from Complete Poems: 1904-1962 by E. E. Cummings, edited by George J. Firmage. Liveright Publishing Corporation)


xoce garcia villa


I can no more hear Love’s
Voice.  No more moves
The mouth of her.  Birds
No more sing.  Words
I speak return lonely.
Flowers I pick turn ghostly.
Fire that I burn glows
Pale.  No more blows
The wind.  Time tells
No more truth.  Bells
Ring no more in me.
I am all alone singly.
Lonely rests my head
—Oh my God!  I am dead


(from Poetry, June 1941 © Poetry Foundation. Copyright © by Jose Garcia Villa)


c.k. williams


I stand on the first step under the torn mouths of hours
in a new suit. Terrified of the arched webs and the dust,
of my speech, my own hair slicked with its thin pride,
I jut like a thorn; I turn, my pain turns and closes.

Tell me again about silence. Tell me I won’t,
not ever, hear the cold men whispering in my pores
or the mothers and fathers who scream in the bedroom
and throw boxes of money between them and kiss.

At the window, faces hover against the soft glow
like names. If I cry out, it will forget me and go;
if I don’t, nothing begins again. Tell me
about mercy again, how she rides in eternity’s arms

in the drifts and the dreams come. The night is dying.
Wisely it thinks of death as a thing born of desire.
Gently it opens its sharp ribs and bites through
and holds me. Tell me about my life again, where it is now.


(from Lies. Copyright © 1969 by C.K. Williams. Houghton Mifflin Company)


emily dickinson


Success is counted sweetest
By those who ne’er succeed.
To comprehend a nectar
Requires sorest need.

Not one of all the purple host
Who took the flag to-day
Can tell the definition,
So clear, of victory,

As he, defeated, dying,
On whose forbidden ear
The distant strains of triumph
Break, agonized and clear.


(from Emily Dickinson. The Laurel Poetry Series © 1960 by Richard Wilbur. Dell Publishing Co., Inc.)



"Rosendo M Makabali's work first came out in the poetry pages of Jingle Music Magazine in the eighties. He went on to publish poems in Philippine Graphic, Philippine Panorama, and Sunday Inquirer Magazine throughout the nineties. In 2000, old and new work by him started appearing in cyberspace via his website and a handful of ezines. Makabali was born and is based in Pampanga."
(From the book "Last Words & Other Poems" by Rosendo M Makabali, published 2005 by the National Commission for Culture and the Arts)

[Published July 21, 2018]