Sunday, December 10, 2017

Tadeusz Rozewicz

A Voice
by Tadeusz Rozewicz

They mutilate they torment each other
with silences with words
as if they had another
life to live

they do so
as if they had forgotten
that their bodies
are inclined to death
that the insides of men
easily break down

ruthless with each other
they are weaker
than plants and animals
they can be killed by a word
by a smile by a look

Translated from the Polish by Czeslaw Milosz

Tuesday, August 8, 2017

Seamus Heaney

by Seamus Heaney

And some time make the time to drive out west
Into County Clare, along the Flaggy Shore,
In September or October, when the wind
And the light are working off each other
So that the ocean on one side is wild
With foam and glitter, and inland among stones
The surface of a slate-gray lake is lit
By the earthed lightning of a flock of swans,
Their feathers roughed and ruffling, white on white,
Their fully grown headstrong-looking heads
Tucked or cresting or busy underwater.
Useless to think you’ll park and capture it
More thoroughly. You are neither here nor there,
A hurry through which known and strange things pass
As big soft buffetings come at the car sideways
And catch the heart off guard and blow it open.

Thursday, August 3, 2017

The Periscope

The Periscope

The periscope contains two mirrors
tipped just so I can look through the window
behind my head, see the pink blossoms
replaced by clusters of red leaves.
Someone told me warblers
take only a small bite
from each flower, not enough to damage
the fruit within. When I bring my eye
close to one mirror I see my eye in the mirror
at the far end of the tube. A periscope
discards truth for that finer thing, illusion,
like my age when I’m dreaming,
like the vast unpopulated landscape
outside my urban window.
I take a test online:
Would you rather go to a party or a library?
Is fastidiousness a sign of mental illness
or proof of a Christian upbringing?
Should you bring a lapdog to a funeral?
What part of a Smithfield ham
can be replaced with an octopus?
A more sophisticated world would favor
odd numbers —
one eye, five legs, nine tentacles.
The periscope is made of cardboard
& has never heard of a submarine.
The submarine is a disguised banana.
The banana is one spine of a sea urchin
found only in the South China Sea.
Lying here on a sandy blanket
drenched in late afternoon sunlight
I watch the crabs sidewalk
across the hot sand. Every sixth crab
will be eaten by a seagull
except in the mirror world
where every seventh seagull
will be eaten by a giant clam.
The mirrors whisper softly after midnight
about what to reveal in the morning.
Confectioners sugar on the scrambled eggs.
Eggshells bidding for seats at the opera.
The high chair sawing off its legs,
replacing them with globes of stainless steel
& spinning, spinning away.

Friday, July 14, 2017

Robert Duncan

x: It’s Spring. Love’s Spring.
                                                  The April stirring
      not to be denied.  Inert
      wonderings try me.
And I am very Death that lusts after all men;
that straight and crooked draws into his ken
      all bright live eyes
      to wive.  Avidly.
The mind possesses them. Another life!
To trick the inevitable weather.
To spring the catch:  but the catch
      springs up from the song
long as the year, an engagement, lifelasting,
      even distracted . . .

It is a melody skirted, a configuration
      — as in Schönberg’s Serenade —
a blossoming in shame, almost seen
      or heard, but never . . .

an exact other melody of the strings
      that art refuses to render
And so — unrenderd —
      we are torn apart
— as April rips the weather of our hearts —
      longing from longing:
we could not afford,  or lovewise devise
      the cost
      that sustains us.

Tuesday, July 11, 2017

Robert Duncan

Often I am Permitted to Return to a Meadow
by Robert Duncan

as if it were a scene made-up by the mind,
that is not mine, but is a made place,

that is mine, it is so near to the heart,
an eternal pasture folded in all thought
so that there is a hall therein

that is a made place, created by light
wherefrom the shadows that are forms fall.

Wherefrom fall all architectures I am
I say are likeness of the First Beloved
whose flowers are flames lit to the Lady.

She it is Queen Under the Hill
whose hosts are a disturbance of words within words
that is a field folded.

It is only a dream of the grass blowing
east against the source of the sun
in an hour before the sun’s going down

whose secret we see in a children’s game
of ring a round of roses told.

Often I am permitted to return to a meadow
as if it were a given property of the mind
that certain bounds hold against chaos,

that is a place of first permission,
everlasting omen of what is.

Saturday, April 22, 2017

Touring Egypt

Touring Egypt

The nest above the garage belongs to a finch.
Mine is the savaged arm below the pillow —
raised veins, petechiae — dozens.
Ghost today, memory tomorrow,
age deals this unexpected sanction
of intimate loss, the body’s lurch
apart. Oh, for a package tour of Egypt,
vector idly picked to intercept
this slapdash, two-bit lurch
toward derivatives I don’t sanction —
rude death, wait for tomorrow.
Impelled to nurture another dozen
(lice & worms fattening the nestlings’ pillow)
each spring this blithe finch.

Tuesday, April 4, 2017

Atlanta, 1955

Esther, John, Carol, David

Atlanta, 1955

The whistle — descending third — meant home.
How wonderfully far that familiar sound
traveled at dusk to children bicycling round
suburban streets yellow with ragweed bloom.
Tonto, Geronimo, wannabe hounds of hell
played hide & seek in half-built houses
pressing on pastures of last-chance cows
fated to fuel Atlanta’s urban swell.
Up to the school, down to the pond, a zoom
around a corner to the corner store
where no one had coins so our gang
leader stole. We seemed impossibly far
when dinnertime tolled & pronto — hunger pangs.
Oh! There were mothers, whistling us home.



Driving home I shake at what I’ve done —
handfuls of grapes prised from their stems,
their tart flesh juiced between my teeth,
the bottle of cold beer a welcome balm.
Four ticks the women struggled to release,
troublesome barbs lodged in skin,
the imminent threat of Lyme Disease an old
refrain, fables victims told, the flood
of horror — leeches fastened to tender skin.
Sleep continues to be my best release —
dark, cotton, arm under pillow, balm
until I wake at midnight, heart in my teeth,
slung from the highest trunk, branch, stem.
Guilty, I am. Oh for this dream to be done!

Sunday, March 12, 2017

Sea Glass

Sea Glass

Collecting sea glass, high tide,
I raced toward the rocks, away from swash
until I forgot. The swash rose past my knees.
I stayed on my feet, I swayed, I waited, then peered
at backwash for minuscule bits
of orange & red, green & blue, pearlescent
white, shells worn thin as mica, rocks
blotched & streaked, fossiled & pitted, hollowed
& cored. Next I knew a streaking wave
sideswiped a second seeker, bloodied
on gravel-strewn sand, muscled by forces
beyond her ken, she rued her salty camera
& phone. We come from Nevada, she said,
we have nothing like this at home.

Tuesday, February 28, 2017

Jorie Graham

Jorie Graham [WSJ]

Orpheus and Eurydice
by Jorie Graham

Up ahead, I know, he felt it stirring in himself already, the glance,
the darting thing in the pile of rocks,

already in him, there, shiny in the rubble, hissing Did you want to remain
completely unharmed? —

the point-of-view darting in him, shiny head in the ash-heap,

hissing Once upon a time, and then Turn now darling give me that look,

that perfect shot, give me that place where I’m erased. . . .

The thing, he must have wondered, could it be put to rest, there, in the glance,
could it lie back down into the dustiness, giving its outline up?

When we turn to them — limbs, fields, expanses of dust called meadow and avenue —
will they be freed then to slip back in?

Because you see he could not be married to it anymore, this field with minutes in it
called woman, its presence in him the thing called

future — could not be married to it anymore, expanse tugging his mind out into it,
tugging the wanting-to-finish out.

What he dreamed of was this road (as he walked on it), this dustiness,
but without their steps on it, their prints, without
song —

What she dreamed, as she watched him turning with the bend in the road (can you
understand this?) — what she dreamed

was of disappearing into the seen

not of disappearing, lord, into the real —

And yes she could feel it in him already, up ahead, that wanting-to-turn-and-

by his glance,

sealing the edges down,

saying I know you from somewhere darling, don’t I,
saying You’re the kind of woman who etcetera —

(Now the cypress are swaying) (Now the lake in the distance)
(Now the view-from-above, the aerial attack of do you
remember?) —

now the glance reaching her shoreline wanting only to be recalled,
now the glance reaching her shoreline wanting only to be taken in,

(somewhere the castle above the river)

(somewhere you holding this piece of paper)

(what will you do next?) (— feel it beginning?)

now she’s raising her eyes, as if pulled from above,

now she’s looking back into it, into the poison the beginning,

giving herself to it, looking back into the eyes,

feeling the dry soft grass beneath her feet for the first time now the mind

looking into that which sets the _________ in motion and seeing in there

a doorway open nothing on either side
(a slight wind now around them, three notes from up the hill)

through which morning creeps and the first true notes —

For they were deep in the earth and what is possible swiftly took hold.

Saturday, February 4, 2017



The silver mike in a soundproof booth
overlooks side-by-side turntables
screwed to a raw plywood bench.
A tight space. While one song plays
to the live feed I unsleeve a fresh
LP, guide the spindle through
the center hole. My anti-static brush
sweeps the grooves. I choose the cut, set
the needle, rotate round to the first sound,
& as one last note fades, I flip
a knob to swap the feed, toggle a switch
to start the new song, rate my segue.
One-girl DJ, now & again
I name the artists, the bands. Mostly I spin.