By Barbara Guest 1920–2006 Barbara Guest
The simple contact with a wooden spoon and the word   
recovered itself, began to spread as grass, forced   
as it lay sprawling to consider the monument where   
patience looked at grief, where warfare ceased   
eyes curled outside themes to search the paper   
now gleaming and potent, wise and resilient, word   
entered its continent eager to find another as   
capable as a thorn. The nearest possession would   
house them both, they being then two might glide   
into this house and presently create a rather larger   
mansion filled with spoons and condiments, gracious
as a newly laid table where related objects might gather   
to enjoy the interplay of gravity upon facetious hints,   
the chocolate dish presuming an endowment, the ladle   
of galactic rhythm primed as a relish dish, curved   
knives, finger bowls, morsel carriages words might   
choose and savor before swallowing so much was the   
sumptuousness and substance of a rented house where words   
placed dressing gowns as rosemary entered their scent   
percipient as elder branches in the night where words   
gathered, warped, then straightened, marking new wands.

Barbara Guest, “Words” from Selected Poems (Los Angeles: Sun & Moon Press, 1995). Reprinted with the permission of the author.

Source: Selected Poems (1995)

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Poet Barbara Guest 1920–2006

SCHOOL / PERIOD New York School

Subjects Arts & Sciences, Language & Linguistics

 Barbara  Guest


Barbara Guest rose to prominence in the late 1950s as a member of an informal group of writers known as the New York school of poets whose membership included Frank O'Hara, John Ashbery, and James Schuyler. Their innovative approach to poetry was influenced by modern art, especially surrealism and abstract expressionism. Guest drew on her own background in art (she worked for Art News magazine in the 1950s) to create poetry . . .

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SUBJECT Arts & Sciences, Language & Linguistics

SCHOOL / PERIOD New York School

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Originally appeared in Poetry magazine.

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