I the People

By Alice Notley b. 1945 Alice Notley
I the people
to the things that are were &
      come to be.
We were once what we know
      when we
make love    When we go away
      from each other because
we have been created
      at 10th & A, in winter &
of trees & of the history of houses
      we hope we are
notes of the musical scale of
      heaven—I the
people so repetitious, & my
      vision of
to hold the neighbors loose-
      ly here in
light of gel, my gel, my vision
      come out of
my eyes to hold you sur-
      round you in
gold & you don’t know it
      ever. Everyone
we the people having our
      vision of
gold & silver & silken liquid
      light flowed
from our eyes & caressing
      all around all the
walls. I am a late Pre-
      in this dawn of
We the people
to the things that are & were
      & come to be
Once what we knew was only
      and numbers became
It is numbers & gold & at 10th
      & A you don’t
have to know it ever. Opening
      words that show
Opening words that show that we
      were once
the first to recognize
      the immortality of numbered
bodies. And we are the masters
      of hearing & saying
at the double edge of body &
We the lovers & the eyes
All over, inside her
      when the wedding
is over, & the Park “lies cold &
I the people, whatever is said
      by the first
one along, Angel-Agate. I wear
      your colors
I hear what we say & what
      we say . . . (and I
the people am still parted in
      two & would cry)

Alice Notley, “I the People” from Grave of Light. Copyright © 2006 by Alice Notley and reprinted by permission of Wesleyan University Press.

Source: Grave of Light (Wesleyan University Press, 2006)

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Poet Alice Notley b. 1945

SCHOOL / PERIOD New York School (2nd Generation)

Subjects Relationships, Social Commentaries, Cities & Urban Life

 Alice  Notley


Alice Notley has become one of America’s greatest living poets. She has long written in narrative and epic and genre-bending modes to discover new ways to explore the nature of the self and the social and cultural importance of disobedience. The artist Rudy Burckhardt once wrote that Notley may be “our present-day Homer.” 

Notley was born in Arizona and grew up in Needles, California. After earning her BA from Barnard College and . . .

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Poem Categorization

SUBJECT Relationships, Social Commentaries, Cities & Urban Life

SCHOOL / PERIOD New York School (2nd Generation)

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Originally appeared in Poetry magazine.

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