Philip Josť Farmer is one of the most talented writers alive - Damon Knight


Here are all of the poems by Philip Josť Farmer that we are aware of. Most of these are from the 40s and 50s, and newly discovered ones keep popping up.
Good But Not Good Enough
First appeared in: Bradley Quarterly, August 1949

The thing that ran and screamed and fell a pace
From me was he whom I had never thought
To see in Hell, where none like him were brought
To flee the blacksih glare of Satan's grade.
He scrambled up and clutched my hand to brace
Himself against what he on Earth had wrought
And now, no matter where he ran, was caught
By it before he had begun to race.

I dropped his hand, for what is there to do
For one whose gift from Satan is a tail
Whose tip is fastened to an angel's head
With fiery lips that shriek, "It is too late to rue
The man you might have been, too late to veil
My face - your face - the horror you would shed!"

First appeared in: AMERICA SINGS, Anthology of College Poetry 1949
Also appeared in: Thrilling Wonder Stories, Summmer 1954
Also appeared in: PEARLS FROM PEORIA, Subterranean Press, 2006 hardcover

Can imagination act
Perpendicular to fact?
Can it be a kite that flies
Till the Earth, umbrella-wise,
Folds and drops away from sight?

Miles above the Earth we know,
Fancy's rocket roars. Below,
Here and Now are needles which
Sew a pattern black as pitch,
Waiting for the rocket's light.

Poet, steer your rocket down.
Lights are useless, though they crown
Half of space with glory, yet
Leave this hard old globe in jet.
Earth's the start, the end of flight.

The Pterodactyl
First appeared in: Sky Hook #16, Winter 1952-53
Also appeared in: Fantasy & Science Fiction, July 1965
Also apperared in: BURNING WITH A VISION, 1984
Also appeared in: PEARLS FROM PEORIA, Subterranean Press, 2006 hardcover

Far pre-father of feathers, you are flying
Through cerebral Jurassics in a spasm
Of leathery vanes, afraid to sound the chasm
Where saurian trades of tooth and loin are plying.
Wing-fingered feeder on metaphysics, signing
From withering bowels denotes enthusiasm
Wasted chasing toothsome ectoplasm
And omens a skeleton decease while trying.

Sawbeaked epitome of bodiless
Idea, tossed by gusts of ether, dive
Through abstract mists and raid the sea of fact
Eat rich strange fish, grow long bright feathers, press
Form's flesh around thought's rib, and so derive
From the act of beauty, beauty of the act.

Sestina of the Space Rocket
First appeared in: Startling Stories, February 1953
Also appeared in: PEARLS FROM PEORIA, Subterranean Press, 2006 hardcover

One thing is sure, O comrades, that the love
That fights to keep us rooted in the earth,
But also urges us to dare the stars,
This irresistible, this ancient power
Wedged in the soul, unshakable, is the light
That burns our rootsand leaves us free for Space.

The way is open, comrades, free as Space
Alone is free. The only gold is love,
A coin that we have minted from the light
Of others who have cared for us on Earth
And who have deposited in us the power
That nerves our nerves to seize the burning stars.

Courage, comrades! Let the fire of stars
Reflect their flames in your hearts till men lack space
To say enough of the enough of the inexpressible power
That gives the strength to sever us from love
Of beautiful women, strength which makes large Earth,
Once so close, now only a spurt of light.

Eyes forward! Sing a paean to the light
That God gives us to net the distant stars
In eyes that once were blinded with black earth.
Man had no time for aught but toll, no space
For aught but war. Yet God, in His great love,
Has cleared our eyesand given a hint of Power.

Now we have lit a candle to the power
Of atoms; now we know we're heirs of light
Itself and know no more that fleck whose love
And hates are far from us, as far as stars
Once were, now let us swear to leave no space
Unconquered till we find a better earth.

Yes, we hope to seed a new, rich earth.
We hope to breed a race of men whose power
Dwells in hearts as open as all Space
Itself, who ask for nothing but the light
That rinses the heart of hate so that the stars
Above wil be below when man has Love.

God, Whose hand holds stars, as we lump earth
In our fingers, give us power, give us light
To hold all love within our breast's small space.

Beauty in This Iron Age
First appeared in: Starlanes #11, Fall 1953
Also appeared in:
PEARLS FROM PEORIA, Subterranean Press, 2006 hardcover

Beauty in this Iron Age must turn
From fluid living rainbow shapes to torn
And sootened fragments, ashes in an urn
On whose gray surface runes are traced by a Norn
Who hopes to wake the Future to arise
In Phoenix-fashion, and to shine with rays
To blast the sight of modern men whose dyes
Of selfishness and lust have stained our days
With acid blotches, days that should be white
With other Helens' sea-foam breasts, with wheat
Of Deirdres' hair be rippling, days whose flight
From Timo is hand in hand with Beauty fleet.

Reader, pray that soon this Iron Age
Will crumble, and Beauty escape the rusting cage.

In Common
First appeared in: Starlanes #14, April 1954
Also appeared in:
PEARLS FROM PEORIA, Subterranean Press, 2006 hardcover

Prometheus, I have no Titan's might,
Yet I, too, must each dusk renew my heart,
For daytime's vulture talons tear apart
The tender alcoves built by love at night.
Black Squirrel on Cottonwood Limb's Tip
First appeared in: Skyhook #23, Winter 1954-55
Also appeared in:
The Hunting of the Snark #12, June 1977
Also appeared in: PEARLS FROM PEORIA, Subterranean Press, 2006 hardcover

Bright-eyed surmise on a grey twist like my mind:
Flirt-tailed punctuation, fluid sign
That branches, like phrases and mazes,
Never end but link
In aerial conjunction, I'd think
You're a luciferous nuciferous
Metaphysics that I'd like to swallow
Whole. Not for your flesh. To fill a hollow
Lust to interpret me through you, but can see
You know no me nor you, only fear food frenzy;
That tipping your tiny skull as cup, grey bead
Of brain as exquisite shot will bring no readback
Trick of using your eyes in fusing feedback.

Oh, I'd reach beyond the comma of you
To the invisible phrase, the dangling Omega! No use. No act
Of mine or mind denies the ante-cerebellum fact
Of furry you, poised fleetingly, bright flex,
Black reflex, too leaping for me to ink and fix
As period to end what has no period, no, no
End, just quo vadis? Quid nunc? Cui bono?
Myself am quo quid cui -- quit
Of that big black question mark on branch
Of brain only when Death'll crack me, crunch
Me, chattering quo quid cui

We too. No wisdom to utter.
You've beauty, flux, and terror
To tell. So've I. And they're
Very hard to mutter
Through so much chatter and stutter.

Job's Leviathan
First appeared in: JD Argassy #58, 1961
Also appeared in: First Fandom Magazine #4, June 1961
Also appeared in: PEARLS FROM PEORIA, Subterranean Press, 2006 hardcover

A Jungian Analysis

Job as Simple Simon, soul as pail,
And Beauty, Leviathan: the king of deep
On deep, unbribed guard of the sunken keep
Where primal gods deman expensive bail.
Let those who think the soul is shallow rail,
They must be warned before they dare to leap
They'll plunge into the twilight depths where sweep
In ceaseless thirst great teeth too swift to fail.

Job's Word is bait; the big fish strikes; the line
Grows taut; vast treadings crush abysmal grapes;
Drowned idols swirl like seeds in chaos' wine.
Look, Job! Caught Beauty, held to light, now apes
A good, now evil, thing--the shifting sign
And spectrum of archaic, psychic shapes.
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