Sunday, July 26, 2015

The Answer to Every Question Is Fishing

The Answer to Every Question Is Fishing

Weather is either good or bad for fishing.
Long wooden racks air-dry fish,
Cages anchored in fjords corral fish,
awnings fray over tables spilling fish,
the whitest building in town freezes fish into bricks,
ships dock at the pier to load fish.
On independence day, the café serves dinner —
grilled halibut to all able to pay.

Maggi was to take us out, catch our dinner.
Instead, we met for coffee & didn’t speak of fish.
Then the boat capsized —
everyone into the sea.
No one rescued Maggi.
O sea. O Maggi. Maggi’s gone.

Saturday, July 25, 2015

Hahm Dong-seon

Korean National Railway

from Hahm Dong-seon in Three Poets from Modern Korea, translated by Yu Jung-yul & James Kimbrell:

Journal in Jumunjin

As if painted with a thick brush, the horizon
Goes down to dusk
And night begins to settle in the empty shoreline fields.
My hometown, like the stars just blinking on,
Is somewhere on the other side of a wide, wide river —
More sensation, more memory than town.
The raw-fish restaurant sways
With the dizzy give and take of the ocean waves.
The lights from docked fishing boats are doubled
In my cup of rice wine —
I drink and drink
And though I will soon quit this work, I haven't yet looked enough
Through the train window at the trees and fields slipping out of eyeshot.
A handful of wind rises
Hauled away by night's dark skirt.


After the rain
Fell hard on the autumn roofs,
From the most far-flung house to the nearest village
You can hear the ripe persimmons
Heavy with the sun's red setting
Muttering now amongst themselves
That they are on the verge of falling.
As soon as the sun went under
As if hiccupped by the horizon,
The wind pulled in behind a train arriving from the suburbs
And let the night swell across
The field that turns
An annual crop, more or less, for fifty homes.
Before long electric bulbs are hot with light
And the first night of frost goes warm
Like the spot on the floor above the heat piped in from the kitchen fire,
A crescent moon pokes out its face
Like the curved back of a long-toothed comb.

The Last Face

Close to dawn, the moonlight
That made my teeth cold
Shone between the thatched straws of the water mill.
After my mother sewed a charm
In the waistline of my pants, the pants of her youngest son,
The one about to take leave of the war,
She described in detail the landmarks that I might need to escape,
She pointed them out as if I were looking at an unfolded map.
I ran about fifteen li in one long stretch
Alongside the mountain, the stream and field,
And arrived, breathless, at the ferry crossing.
Past the mountain, past the field, I saw
That moon — how it must have floated in the stream long before I got there.
By the time I became a full-grown man,
That charm was
Worn to a knot of sweat-soaked threads,
But I can still see my mother's face in the frayed edges.
If I pick up her face, if I hold her face,
The moon will ask me how I am doing,
The moon will wave its white hand.

Tuesday, July 14, 2015

April Bernard

April Bernard [YouTube]


What was lost, again, the hot sap
that burnt my throat with, well why not, joy.
Did I own it or just borrow it
from eyes that should be cool but were not, were hot.
A moment’s forgetting, did I turn to see
some other sort of startle in the grass,
did I stoop to heal the afflicted
beasts that lost their eyes and wings.
How often is too often, what if
this heat tore through me constant
as the sky I tear apart, claiming,
This is mine, well what of it.
Let’s see who’s still standing when I burn, again,
when the mountain is set to the match.

Saturday, July 4, 2015

Frank Stanford

Frank Stanford [Poetry Foundation]

from Frank Stanford’s What about This: Collected Poems, ed. Michael Wiegers:

The Silence the Thicket the Sniffing

Just like that
is what she meant
when she shook her head
and snapped her thick fingers
at the same time
They call it murder some places
She held onto the brush
picking out kinks of hair
like she was daydreaming of them
The foot
of an infant who is sleeping
My dick when it’s hanging
And the lip of a mare
All like snow
no one expected
a whole field of it can
be there and gone
before you know it

from With the Approach of the Oak the Axeman Quakes

I had a year with this poem; everyday in the woods at work I would say it. I never wrote a word down until I had it right in my mind. It became what they call a floater. That's a work song, a chant. Once I thought it sounded right, and undramatic, I wrote it down without changing a word.

Men sing when they work, or at least they used to. I'm liable to talk to myself. I try to get at the taproot of poetry, of that force drawing things upward. A paradox always — even on Saturday mornings when I might be a little low-down and hungover, but clear as a bell. I talk to myself. There is a poem that goes:

Each dawn love is a captain
Without a ship.
The only instrumentation
The sad and imaginary
Sound of his voice, love with its own
Words for music, the low light
Of a fairly good star.

At the risk of sounding parabolic, I will let this go as technique. Mean and sing.

Really, I visualize the dead as well as the living. I visualize you whom I will never know. We are constant strangers. I imagine you, I stare at you when I write. And to think, you will never know, will never hear of those people I can no longer call anonymous. People close to me have said: I don't understand what you are talking about, but I know what you mean. . . .

Poetry sometimes is like going along in a big rig with no one else on the roads, no smoke, no stops by the wayside, going on with no cargo, the radio quiet, only the sound of your own voice trying to get in touch.

I really don't know if poetry can be paraphrased, set to music, or what have you. Maybe so. Many times the poem ends up down on the ground, surrounded by strangers. I believe that the metaphorical imagination can be authenticated by the cinema. I know that my wife, an artist, has "irrigated" some of her canvases with my poems.

Every two folks have their own way of loving. The poet and the poem know what they like. When a particular kind of loving is adapted, you are getting into a different and strange country.

Now when I was younger, I wrote all the time. I had time to kill. A man has to earn a living; writing has become more special to me. When the poet is young he tries to satisfy himself with many poems in one night. Later, the poet spends many a night trying to satisfy the one poem. My poetry is no longer on a journey, it has arrived at its place.

Then the poet realizes it is midnight, he is alone, and his love is with someone else. What he wanted to sing, what he wanted to mean — someone else has done it. While the poet worried what kind of nails to use, how to fasten down his love, another has hit them on the head and driven them deep.