Monday, August 31, 2009

Coral Bracho

Firefly Under the Tongue
I love you from the sharp tang of the fermentation;
in the blissful pulp. Newborn insects, blue.
In the unsullied juice, glazed and ductile.
Cry that distills the light:
through the fissures in fruit trees;
under mossy water clinging to the shadows. The
papillae, the grottos.
In herbaceous dyes, instilled. From the flustered touch.
oozing, bittersweet: of feracious pleasures,
of play splayed in pulses.
(Wrapped in the night's aura, in violaceous clamor,
refined, the boy, with the softened root of his tongue
expectant, touches,
with that smooth, unsustainable, lubricity—sensitive lily
folding into the rocks
if it senses the stigma, the ardor of light—the substance, the arris
fine and vibrant—in its ecstatic petal, distended—[jewel
pulsing half-open; teats], the acid
juice bland [ice], the salt marsh,
the delicate sap [Kabbalah], the nectar
of the firefly.)

Sunday, August 30, 2009

Constantine P. Cavafy

You said: "I'll go to another country, go to another shore,
find another city better than this one.
Whatever I try to do is fated to turn out wrong and
my heart -like something dead- lies buried.
How long can I let my mind moulder in this place?
Wherever I turn, wherever I look,
I see the black ruins of my life, here,
where I've spent so many years, wasted them, destroyed them totally."
.You won't find a new country, won't find another shore.
This city will always pursue you.
You'll walk the same streets, grow old
in the same neighbourhoods, turn grey in these same houses.
You'll always end up in this city.
Don't hope for things elsewhere:
there's no ship for you, there's no road.
Now that you've wasted your life here, in this small corner,
you've destroyed it everywhere in the world.

Saturday, August 29, 2009

Amelia Rosselli

and what did that crowd want from my senses other than
my scorched defeat, or I who begged
to play with the gods and stumbled
like a poor whore up and down
the dark corridor─oh! wash my feet, take
the fierce accusations from my
bent head, bend
your accusations and undo all
my cowardice!: it wasn't my wish to break the delicate layer of ice
not my wish to break the mounting battle, no, I swear, it wasn't my
wish to break through your laughable
laughter!─but the hail has other reasons than
serving and the wet eastern wind of
evening does not dream of standing
watch by my
disenchanged lion sobs: no longer will I run
after every passage of beauty,─beauty is defeated, never again
at attention will I snuff out that fire now glimmering like
an old tree trunk
in which hollow swallows make nonsensical nests, child's play,
unreckoning misery, unreckoning misery of sympthy.

Lawrence Ferlinghetti

The pennycandystore beyond the El
is where I first fell in love with unreality
Jellybeans glowed in the semi-gloom
of that september afternoon
A cat upon the counter moved among
the licorice sticks
and tootsie rolls
and Oh Boy Gum
Outside the leaves were falling as they died
A wind had blown away the sun
A girl ran in
Her hair was rainy
Her breasts were breathless in the little room
Outside the leaves were falling
and they cried
Too soon! too soon!

Friday, August 28, 2009

Guillermo Juan Parra


"No spirit seek here rest." —Stephen Spender
Breath defines line length
As does notebook shape / size
Yesterday afternoon hearing
Archie Shepp play
full breath, rich-toned
saxophone chords
think language too
can do this /
make feeling evidence
sound can evil stanzas
As one sufferer said:
unto us denied blessings
Make characteristic failure
our tautness—a trance
"after Juan Sánchez Peláez"
If snow falls now
on a street without course
nor sign,
myriad shades inquire
from the foyer
if our errantry is fleeting,
will it last or not and they point toward
the actual path
always attentive or dressed
in night cloth
from what north or south
from what east or west
these prompt shadows arrive
or amble
through fields
in stables and cottages,
no one knows
save at dusk’s thin beam
when we can glimpse the absent
when our big hands
talking alone
open toward the other cold.

Thursday, August 27, 2009

San Juan de la Cruz

Seeking love always
with hope that cannot falter
I flew ever higher
till I overtook my prey.


So I might seize the prey
in this divine venture
I flew ever higher
from sight was forced to stray,
yet love so far did fly
that though in my flight
I faltered in the height
I caught the prey on high.


As higher I ascended
so the hardest conquest
came about in darkness,
all my sight was dazzled:
yet since love was my prey
from blind dark a leaper
I flew on ever higher
till I overtook the prey.

In this highest game,
the further I ascended
the humbler, more subdued
more abased I became.
‘None attains it’, I did say.
I sank down lower, lower,
yet I rose higher, higher
and so I took the prey.


My one flight in strange manner
surpassed a hundred thousand
for the hope of highest heaven
attains the end it hopes for:
there hope alone did fly
unfaltering in the height:
hope, seeking in its flight,
I caught the prey on high.

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

An Indian Prayer

My grandfather is the fire
My grandmother is the wind
The Earth is my mother
The Great Spirit is my father
The World stopped at my birth
and laid itself at my feet
And I shall swallow the Earth whole
when I die
and the Earth and I will be one
Hail The Great Spirit, my father
without him no one could exist
because there would be no will to live
Hail The Earth, my mother
without which no food could be grown
and so cause the will to live to starve
Hail the wind, my grandmother
for she brings loving, lifegiving rain
nourishing us as she nourishes our crops
Hail the fire, my grandfather
for the light, the warmth, the comfort he brings
without which we be animals, not men
Hail my parent and grandparentswithout which
not I
nor you
nor anyone else
could have existed
Life gives life
which gives unto itself
a promise of new life
Hail the Great Spirit, The Earth, the wind, the fire
praise my parents loudly
for they are your parents, too
Oh, Great Spirit, giver of my life
please accept this humble offering of prayer
this offering of praise
this honest reverence of my love for you

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Sandro Key-Aberg

Round as a seal cub
and his machinist's fist on his chest
Come lets go to the cranberry woods
it's fun to rock like a boat against the shore
when love flows yellow like rye pollen
Straddling butter-blond thighs
bumble-bee happy in the snapdragon of passion
life's surface is unruffled and yellow whole cream
Embittered as a winter crow
breath of booze against her cheek
Come quick here behind the outhouse
Desperately rocking like a
filthy cart loaded with potatoes
He cracks his dreams between his teeth
longs for the boniest of lovers
his life an umbrella unfolding
Sweden 1954

Monday, August 24, 2009

Richard Wilbur

Some winters, taking leave,
Deal us a last, hard blow,
Salting the ground like Carthage
Before they will go.
But the bright, milling snow
Which throngs the air today—
It is a way of leaving
So as to stay.
The light flakes do not weigh
The willows down, but sift
Through the white catkins, loose
As petal-drift
Or in an up-draft lift
And glitter at a height,
Dazzling as summer’s leaf-stir
Chinked with light.
This storm, if I am right,
Will not be wholly over
Till green fields, here and there,
Turn white with clover,
And through chill air the puffs of milkweed hover

Sunday, August 23, 2009

Thomas Rain Crowe

Wake up Winebringer! And pour me a glass of wine.
Throw dust on the head of this sad earth man.
I’ve taken off my snazzy blue coat and bare-chested
I clutch this full cup.
Even though the rich or the politicians call us “trash,”
To us their blue blood or fame means nothing.
Give me more wine! All their dust blowing around in the wind of pride
And desire is as worthless as a hole.
The smoke from my burning heart
Gags all those with ignorance as their goal.
My mad heart has a secret
That no one knows.
The Beloved has stolen even the sweet solitude from my heart,
And I am content.
No one who has ever laid eyes on this silver-limbed Cypress,
Would ever go looking in the woods for a cypress again.
“Hafez,” the voice of inner wine will say;
“Be careful what you ask for, you may just get what you want."

Saturday, August 22, 2009

Tao Chien

I made my home amidst this human bustle,
Yet I hear no clamour from the carts and horses.
My friend, you ask me how this can be so?
A distant heart will tend towards like places.
From the eastern hedge, I pluck chrysanthemum flowers,
And idly look towards the southern hills.
The mountain air is beautiful day and night,
The birds fly back to roost with one another.
I know that this must have some deeper meaning,
I try to explain, but cannot find the words.

Friday, August 21, 2009

Ruben Dario

Welcome the sun. spider, no need for spite.
Give thanks to God, o toad, for your life.
The hairy crab carries rosy thorns
and the mollusk something similar to the female sex.
Learn to be what you are, enigmas, given form
Give up the Norm,
a responsibility, in time, passed to the Divine,
(Play cricket, to the moonshine, and bear, dance.)
Nicaragua, 1905

Thursday, August 20, 2009

Rainer Maria Rilke

As a struck match, before becoming flame, white
flickering tongues in all directions sends,
so, bystanders looking on, unfolds her dance: bright,
hot and hurried, a circular rite,
pulsating with passion, and intense.
And suddenly it is fully aflare.
With just a glance she lights her hair,
and then, with daring art, turns her entire
dress into this flaming ball of fire,
from which, each like a startled snake,
her naked arms dart, rattling and awake.
Then, deeming too close the lambent heat,
she gathers all of if it together and flings it to her feet
with an imperious gesture, haughtily gazing.
There it lies on the floor, enraged and blazing,
and burning still, refusing to retire.
But, confident of victory, her smile assured and sweet,
she lifts her face as if in greeting to the fire,
and stamps it out with solid little feet.

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Jose Garostiza

That word never appears
in the sung language of your questions,
that, dying,
it freezes in the air of your voice,
yes, like a breath of flutes,
against a glass air evaporated,
Look at it, oh, Play it!,
Look at it now!
Look at missing the entire word
without voice, without echo, without language, accurate
watch how its trace is in
walls of glass loving water!

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Ernesto Trejo

At my window, I write:
Three children in the swings
testing how high they can go,
how much the chains will hold.
I imagine this April air
humming in their throats,
the trees behind them
disappearing like ice.
Off to one side
a younger kid awaits his turn
and pats the ground while his mouth
opens in a cry or a yawn.
Today I feel like that kid.
Last night I opened my arms
to embrace my muted dreams
and when I awoke I went around
shutting every door and window.
Nothing will happen. The sky
will go on circling above.
The trees will dig deeper.
In this corner of the planet, with
an angle of sunlight on my shoulder,
my pencil tucked away,
I stand up and leave.

Monday, August 17, 2009

Rosario Castellanos

What to do at death? Turn
your face to the wall?
Grab the shoulders of the closest
person, who will listen?
Do you run like a man on fire,
to the finish?
What rituals guide this ceremony?
Who owns the final agony? Who smooths the sheets?
Who watches from the last clear mirror?
In the end no mother nor heirs exist.
No sobbing. Terrible silence.
All become the attentive, incredulous face
of the other side.
What is happening is not true.

Sunday, August 16, 2009

Antonio Jose Ponte

A whole summer I spent listening to that record.
So that the emotion would not leave it
I listened to it once a day.
If I ended up hungry I went out to walk.
The light sang that song in its way,
the sea sang it, a bird
spoke it.
In one instant I thought:
all this is happening to me so I might fall in love.
Then the summer went away.
The bird
dryer than the branch
didn’t open its beak again.

Saturday, August 15, 2009

Robert Hunter

You told me goodbye
How was I to know
You didn't mean goodbye
You meant please don't let me go
I was having a high time
Living the good life
Well I know
The wheels are muddy
Got a ton of hay
Now listen here baby'
Cause I mean what I say
I'm having a hard time
Living the good life
Well I know
I was losing time, I had nothing to do
No-one to fight, I came to you
Wheels broke down, the leader won't draw
The line is busted, the last one I saw

Tomorrow comes trouble
Tomorrow comes pain
Now don't think too hard, baby'
Cause you know what I'm saying
I could show you a high time
Living the good life
Don't be that way
Nothing's for certain
It could always go wrong
Come in when it's raining
Go on out when it's gone
We could have us a high time
Living the good life
Well I know

Friday, August 14, 2009

Adrienne Rich

I wake up in your bed. I know I have been dreaming.
Much earlier, the alarm broke us from each other,
You've been at your desk for hours.
I know what I dreamed:our friend the poet comes into my room
where I've been writing for days,
drafts, carbons, poems are scattered everywhere,
and I want to show her one poem
which is the poem of my life. But I hesitate,
and wake. You've kissed my hair
to wake me. I dreamed you were a poem,
I say, a poem I wanted to show someone...
and I laugh and fall dreaming again
of the desire to show you to everyone I love,
to move openly together
in the pull of gravity, which is not simple,
which carries the feathered grass a long way
down the upbreathing air

Thursday, August 13, 2009

Gregory Corso


My hands did numb to beauty
as they reached into Death and tightened!
O sovereign was my touch
upon the tan-ink's fragile page!
Quickly, my eyes moved quickly,
sought for smell for dust for lace
for dry hair!
I would have taken the page
breathing in the crime!
For no evidence have I wrung from dreams--
yet what triumph is there in private credence?
Often, in some steep ancestral book,
when I find myself entangled with leopard-apples
and torched-skin mushrooms,
my cypressean skein outreaches the recorded age
and I, as though tipping a pitcher of milk,
pour secrecy upon the dying page.

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Tai Qian

Wild grass, how vast, vast;
White poplars too, sighing, sighing.
Harsh frost has come in the middle of the ninth month,
and you send me off in the distant countryside.
On all sides, there’s no one living:
just tall tombs towering, in rows.
So the horse lifts his head and neighs;
So the wind, alone, blows bleakly.
The dark chamber — once it’s already closed,
in a thousand years, the dawn will not come again.
In a thousand years, the dawn will not come again,
and the sages, the wise — they cannot help —
it’s in the past. People see each other off
and each person returns home —
the relatives. Perhaps their sorrow stays;
but they’ve already sung for other people,
dead and gone now. Where gone?
Entrust the body to a fold in the mountains.

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

San Juan de la Cruz

of perfection, that is, the union with God,
by the path of spiritual negation.

On a darkened night
on fire with all love’s longing
– O joyful flight! –
I left, none noticing,
my house in silence resting.

Secure, devoid of light,
by secret stairway, stealing
– O joyful flight! –
in darkness self-concealing,
my house in silence resting.

In the joy of night,
in secret so none saw me,
no object in my sight
no other light to guide me,
but what burned here inside me.

Which solely was my guide,
more surely than noon-glow,
to where he does abide,
one whom I deeply know,
a place where none did show.

O night, my guide!
O night, far kinder than the dawn!
O night that tied
the lover to the loved,
the loved in the lover there transformed!

On my flowering breast,
that breast I kept for him alone,
there he took his rest
while I regaled my own,
in lulling breezes from the cedars blown.

The breeze, from off the tower,
as I sieved through its windings
with calm hands that hour,
my neck in wounding
left all my senses hanging.

Self abandoned, self forgot,
my face inclined to the beloved one:
all ceased, and I was not,
my cares now left behind, and gone:
there among the lilies all forgotten.

Monday, August 10, 2009

Miklos Radnoti (1909-1944)

I went out, closed the street door, and the clock struck ten,
on shining wheels the baker rustled by and hummed,
a plane droned in the sky, the sun shone, it struck ten,
I thought of my dead aunt and in a flash it seemed
all the unliving I had loved were flying overhead,
with hosts of silent dead the sky was darkened then
and suddenly across the wall a shadow fell.
Silence. The morning world stood still. The clock struck ten,
over the street peace floated: cold dread was its spell.

Sunday, August 9, 2009


Returning to my native village after many years’ absence:
Ill, I put up at a country inn and listen to the rain.
One robe, one bowl is all I have.
I light incense and strain to sit in meditation;
All night a steady drizzle outside the dark window --
Inside, poignant memories of these long years of pilgrimage

Saturday, August 8, 2009

Gary Snyder


You said, that October,
In the tall dry grass by the orchard
When you chose to be free,
"Again someday, maybe ten years."
After college I saw you
One time.
You were strange,
And I was obsessed with a plan.
Now ten years and more have
Gone by: I've always known
Where you were—
I might have gone to you
Hoping to win your love back.
You still are single.
I didn't.I thought
I must make it alone.
I Have done that.
Only in a dream
like this dawn,
Does the grave, awed intensity
Of our young love
Return to my mind, to my flesh.
We had what the others
All crave and seek for;
We left it behind at nineteen.
I feel ancient, as though I had
Lived many lives.
And may never now know If
I am a fool
Or have done what my
karma demands,
like this dawn,
Does the grave, awed intensity
Of our young love
Return to my mind, to my flesh.
We had what the others
All crave and seek for;
We left it behind at nineteen.
I feel ancient, as though
I had Lived many lives.
And may never now know
If I am a fool
Or have done what my
karma demands.

Friday, August 7, 2009

John Keats (1795-1821)

Bright star, would I were stedfast as thou art --
Not in lone splendour hung aloft the night
And watching, with eternal lids apart,
Like nature's patient, sleepless Eremite,
The moving waters at their priest-like task
Of pure ablution round earth's human shores,
Or gazing on the new soft-fallen mask
Of snow upon the mountains and the moors --
No -- yet still stedfast, still unchangeable,
Pillow'd upon my fair love's ripening breast,
To feel for ever its soft fall and swell,
Awake for ever in a sweet unrest,
Still, still to hear her tender-taken breath,
And so live ever -- or else swoon to death.

Thursday, August 6, 2009

Wislawa Symborska


Island where all becomes clear.

Solid ground beneath your feet.


The only roads are those that offer access.

Bushes bend beneath the weight of proofs.


The Tree of Valid Supposition grows here

with branches disentangled since time immemorial.


The Tree of Understanding, dazzlingly straight and simple,

sprouts by the spring called Now I Get It.

The thicker the woods, the vaster the vista:the Valley of Obviously.

If any doubts arise, the wind dispels them instantly.


Echoes stir unsummonedand eagerly explain all the secrets of the worlds.

On the right a cave where Meaning lies.


On the left the Lake of Deep Conviction.

Truth breaks from the bottom and bobs to the surface.


Unshakable Confidence towers over the valley.

Its peak offers an excellent view of the Essence of Things.


For all its charms, the island is uninhabited,

and the faint footprints scattered on its beaches


turn without exception to the sea.

As if all you can do here is leave and plunge,


never to return, into the depths.

Into unfathomable life

Wednesday, August 5, 2009

Charles Simic

The mail truck goes down the coast
Carrying a single letter.
At the end of a long pier
The bored seagull lifts a leg now and then
And forgets to put it down.
There is a menace in the air
Of tragedies in the making.
Last night you thought you heard television
In the house next door.
You were sure it was some new
Horror they were reporting,
So you went out to find out.
Barefoot, wearing just shorts.
It was only the sea sounding weary
After so many lifetimes
Of pretending to be rushing off somewhere
And never getting anywhere.
This morning, it felt like Sunday.
The heavens did their part
By casting no shadow along the boardwalk
Or the row of vacant cottages,
Among them a small church
With a dozen gray tombstones huddled close
As if they, too, had the shivers.

Tuesday, August 4, 2009

Flavia Cosma

The road stays, sated, white,
Stretched out, facing the sky.
Rare snowflakes slowly descend.
The branch keeps mum,
A nest laid bare.
The river lifts its shirt at the shores,
Runs higher and higher on its fleet feet,
Runs hurriedly with the fish and the shadows.
Trice slips the footstep
On snow-hidden ice;
Mirrors slyly gleam beneath the flimsy cover;
The horizon teems with eyes and snares,
We christen each other with high reverence,
We want the recollection of who it is we are
To carry us forward.

Monday, August 3, 2009

Bulleh Shah (1680-1758)

I have been pierced by the arrow of love, what shall I do ?

I can neither live, nor can I die.

Listen ye to my ceaseless outpourings,

I have peace neither by night, nor by day.

I cannot do without my Beloved even for a moment.

I have been pierced by the arrow of love, what shall I do ?

The fire of separation is unceasing !

Let someone take care of my love.

How can I be saved without seeing him?

I have been pierced by the arrow of love, what shall I do ?

O Bullah, I am in dire trouble !Let someone come to help me out.

How shall I endure such torture ?

I have been pierced by the arrow of love,what shall I do ?

I can neither live, nor can I die.

Sunday, August 2, 2009

Chuang Tzu

You train your eye and your vision lusts after color.
You train your ear, and you long for delightful sound.
You delight in doing good, and your natural kindness
is blown out of shape.
You delight in righteousness, and you become righteous
beyond all reason. You overdo liturgy, and you turn into
a ham actor. Overdo your love of music, and you play corn.
Love of wisdom leads to wise contriving.
Love of knowledge leads to faultfinding.
If men would stay as they really are,
taking or leaving these eight delights
would make no difference. But if they will not rest
in their right state, the eight delights develop like malignant tumors.
The world falls into confusion.
Since men honour these delights, and lust after them,
the world has gone stone-blind. When the delight is over,
they still will not let go of it...

Saturday, August 1, 2009

Miguel Hernandez

Your heart, a frozen orange, a centre,
within, without light, of sweet juniper oil
and a porous appearance of gold: a surface
that promises danger to those who look.

My heart, a feverish pomegranate
of clustered blushes, and opened wax,
which might offer you its tender seeds
with an enamoured obstinacy.

Ay! What an experience of loss
to go to your heart and find a coldness
of irreducible and fearful snow!

Through the outskirts of my weeping
a thirsty handkerchief goes flying,
with the hope of one who might drink there.