Tuesday, August 31, 2010

John Gallaher

In the Little Book of Guesses
by John Gallaher

I’ll make you up from out
of the living rooms we face,
equal parts singing gate

and people we knew once,
in biographical order. Equal lengths

investiture, and the sun came out
and it was bright in my eyes.

The room is dark behind
the flaring particles. The day
is twenty years ago

and Tuesday. I did not mean
to leave us there with nothing,

as I was saying car rides
for wonderful. It hardly matters. Unequal parts
wanting to mean something

and frosted glass. Whose cigarette
in the plaid ashtray?

Whose clothes on the coffee table
as the dog begins to bark?

The black dog out in whatever yard,
barking off and on

the rest of our lives.

Monday, August 30, 2010

Rita Dove

Persephone, Falling
by Rita Dove

One narcissus among the ordinary beautiful
flowers, one unlike all the others! She pulled,
stooped to pull harder—
when, sprung out of the earth
on his glittering terrible
carriage, he claimed his due.
It is finished. No one heard her.
No one! She had strayed from the herd.

(Remember: go straight to school.
This is important, stop fooling around!
Don't answer to strangers. Stick
with your playmates. Keep your eyes down.)
This is how easily the pit
opens. This is how one foot sinks into the ground.

Sunday, August 29, 2010

Charles Simic

Eyes Fastened With Pins
by Charles Simic

How much death works,
No one knows what a long
Day he puts in. The little
Wife always alone
Ironing death's laundry.
The beautiful daughters
Setting death's supper table.
The neighbors playing
Pinochle in the backyard
Or just sitting on the steps
Drinking beer. Death,
Meanwhile, in a strange
Part of town looking for
Someone with a bad cough,
But the address somehow wrong,
Even death can't figure it out
Among all the locked doors...
And the rain beginning to fall.
Long windy night ahead.
Death with not even a newspaper
To cover his head, not even
A dime to call the one pining away,
Undressing slowly, sleepily,
And stretching naked
On death's side of the bed.

Saturday, August 28, 2010

Lêdo Ivo

What an incomplete silence among so many sounds!
Now, and only now, they are trying to tell us
that they loved and they forgot, and always remained far
from any final truth. Love is an unredeemable
debt contracted in the dark
and only death can free the debtors from default.

Everything will reach its end in an ocean of shadows.
The dead also cease, after so many tears,
and masses sung and notices in the daily newspapers.
We are born to evaporate, after having been
water lapping at the boatyard launching ramp.
We are born to say our name to the wind.

Our bodies crawled to the entrance of the cave.
But where were our souls at that moment
of ecstasy and bondage? They were hidden
like bats, sleeping, as placid as placentas.

Thursday, August 26, 2010

Wallace Stevens

A High-Toned Old Christian Womanby Wallace Stevens

Wallace Stevens
Poetry is the supreme fiction, madame.
Take the moral law and make a nave of it
And from the nave build haunted heaven. Thus,
The conscience is converted into palms,
Like windy citherns hankering for hymns.
We agree in principle. That's clear. But take
The opposing law and make a peristyle,
And from the peristyle project a masque
Beyond the planets. Thus, our bawdiness,
Unpurged by epitaph, indulged at last,
Is equally converted into palms,
Squiggling like saxophones. And palm for palm,
Madame, we are where we began. Allow,
Therefore, that in the planetary scene
Your disaffected flagellants, well-stuffed,
Smacking their muzzy bellies in parade,
Proud of such novelties of the sublime,
Such tink and tank and tunk-a-tunk-tunk,
May, merely may, madame, whip from themselves
A jovial hullabaloo among the spheres.
This will make widows wince. But fictive things
Wink as they will. Wink most when widows wince.

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Sylvia Plath

The Death of Myth-Making
Two virtues ride, by stallion, by nag,
To grind our knives and scissors:
Lantern-jawed Reason, squat Common Sense,
One courting doctors of all sorts,
One, housewives and shopkeepers.

The trees are lopped, the poodles trim,
The laborer's nails pared level
Since those two civil servants set
Their whetstone to the blunted edge
And minced the muddling devil

Whose owl-eyes in the scraggly wood
Scared mothers to miscarry,
Drove the dogs to cringe and whine
And turned the farmboy's temper wolfish,
The housewife's, desultory.

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Robert Hunter, Jerry Garcia

Mason's Children
Lyrics By: Robert Hunter
Music By: Jerry Garcia
Mason died on Monday
We bricked him in the wall
All his children grew and grew
They never grew so tall before
May they never grow so tall again

We dug him up on Tuesday
He'd hardly aged a day
Taught us all he ever knew
We never knew so much before
We may never know so much again

Mason was a mighty man
A mighty man was he
All he said, when dead and gone
Don't you weep for me

The wall collapsed on Wednesday
We chalked it up to fate
All his children ran and hid
We never hid so well before
Swore we'd never show our face again

Thursday came, then Friday
With fires tall and bright
Mason's children cooked the stew
And cleaned up when the feast was through
Swore we'd never had such times before

Take me to the Reaper Man
To pay back what was loaned
If he's in some other land
Write it off as stoned

Monday, August 23, 2010

Michael Hartnett

Death of an Irishwoman
Ignorant, in the sense
she ate monotonous food
and thought the world was flat,
and pagan, in the sense
she knew the things that moved
at night were neither dogs nor cats
but púcas and darkfaced men,
she nevertheless had fierce pride.
But sentenced in the end
to eat thin diminishing porridge
in a stone-cold kitchen
she clenched her brittle hands
around a world
she could not understand.
I loved her from the day she died.
She was a summer dance at the crossroads.
She was a card game where a nose was broken.
She was a song that nobody sings.
She was a house ransacked by soldiers.
She was a language seldom spoken.
She was a child’s purse, full of useless things.

Sunday, August 22, 2010

Miguel Hernandes

‘Your Heart, A Frozen Orange, A Centre’
(V: From ‘El Rayo Que No Cesa’)

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

Saturday, August 21, 2010

Chris Lilley

Life As A Honeysuckle

Once I dreamt of heat
so hot neither love nor fire could touch
it burns my skin red
glistening brown
these summer days
how I dream they will never go away
I only live for 3 months out of the year
seasons change and you move on,
seasons change
light is beautiful
how they show off their sun kissed model’s bodies

Friday, August 20, 2010

Margaret Atwood

Siren Song
This is the one song everyone
would like to learn: the song
that is irresistible:

the song that forces men
to leap overboard in squadrons
even though they see the beached skulls

the song nobody knows
because anyone who has heard it
is dead, and the others can't remember.

Shall I tell you the secret
and if I do, will you get me
out of this bird suit?

I don'y enjoy it here
squatting on this island
looking picturesque and mythical

with these two faethery maniacs,
I don't enjoy singing
this trio, fatal and valuable.

I will tell the secret to you,
to you, only to you.
Come closer. This song

is a cry for help: Help me!
Only you, only you can,
you are unique

at last. Alas
it is a boring song
but it works every time.

Thursday, August 19, 2010

Yevgeny Yevtushenko

Like a reminder of this life
of trams, sun, sparrows,
and the flighty uncontrolledness
of streams leaping like thermometers,
and because ducks are quacking somewhere
above the crackling of the last, paper-thin ice,
and because children are crying bitterly
(remember children's lives are so sweet!)
and because in the drunken, shimmering starlight
the new moon whoops it up,
and a stocking crackles a bit at the knee,
gold in itself and tinged by the sun,
like a reminder of life,
and because there is resin on tree trunks,
and because I was madly mistaken
in thinking that my life was over,
like a reminder of my life -
you entered into me on stockinged feet.
You entered - neither too late nor too early -
at exactly the right time, as my very own,
and with a smile, uprooted me
from memories, as from a grave.
And I, once again whirling among
the painted horses, gladly exchange,
for one reminder of life,
all its memories.

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

James Joyce

Memory of the Players in a Mirror at Midnight
They mouth love's language. Gnash
The thirteen teeth
Your lean jaws grin with. Lash
Your itch and quailing, nude greed of the flesh.
Love's breath in you is stale, worded or sung,
As sour as cat's breath,
Harsh of tongue.

This grey that stares
Lies not, stark skin and bone.
Leave greasy lips their kissing. None
Will choose her what you see to mouth upon.
Dire hunger holds his hour.
Pluck forth your heart, saltblood, a fruit of tears.
Pluck and devour!

Tuesday, August 17, 2010


Sonnet 116
Let me not to the marriage of true minds
Admit impediments. Love is not love
Which alters when it alteration finds,
Or bends with the remover to remove:
O no! it is an ever-fixed mark
That looks on tempests and is never shaken;
It is the star to every wandering bark,
Whose worth's unknown, although his height be taken.
Love's not Time's fool, though rosy lips and cheeks
Within his bending sickle's compass come:
Love alters not with his brief hours and weeks,
But bears it out even to the edge of doom.
If this be error and upon me proved,
I never writ, nor no man ever loved.

Monday, August 16, 2010

J.R.R. Tolkien

The Road Goes Ever On
The Road goes ever on and on
Down from the door where it began.
Now far ahead the Road has gone,
And I must follow, if I can,
Pursuing it with eager feet,
Until it joins some larger way
Where many paths and errands meet.
And whither then? I cannot say.

Sunday, August 15, 2010

Ernest Hemingway

Workingmen believed
He busted trusts,
And put his picture in their windows.
"What he'd have done in France!"
They said.
Perhaps he would--
He could have died
Though generals rarely die except in bed,
As he did finally.
And all the legends that he started in his life
Live on and prosper,
Unhampered now by his existence.

Saturday, August 14, 2010

Carlos Barbarito

Nothing grows except the grass.
Nothing leaps into sight except some stone
and what the stone contains and protects.
Here, far from the beach,
far from the place where the water
returns every so often
rusted metal, mouldy wood,
the corpse of a dolphin or a turtle.
The wind does not blow with the force
to propel us as far as the promised then.
The minutes that pass become hours
but never days, they become nights
that never agree to be years,
and centuries in which somebody dies
and someone else, who does not know it, yawns.

Friday, August 13, 2010

Chen Kehua

Gazing into the Distance One Autumn Day
my imaginary lover has already left in a hurry
windows stand open like eyelashes in this
autumn room
an overbearing man suns his body
out on the balcony
rippled repeatedly by a lukewarm breeze

like a plaza of crowding trees
that autocrat, King Desire
has prepared a magnificent celebration
for Himself

the vast silences infect one another
and in the midst of all this he sees, far off
in the distance,
the first tree set itself on fire . . .

Thursday, August 12, 2010

e.e. cummings

I Carry Your Heart With Me
i carry your heart with me (i carry it in
my heart) i am never without it (anywhere
i go you go, my dear; and whatever is done
by only me is your doing, my darling)
i fear
no fate (for you are my fate, my sweet) i want
no world (for beautiful you are my world, my true)
and it's you are whatever a moon has always meant
and whatever a sun will always sing is you

here is the deepest secret nobody knows
(here is the root of the root and the bud of the bud
and the sky of the sky of a tree called life; which grows
higher than the soul can hope or mind can hide)
and this is the wonder that's keeping the stars apart

i carry your heart (i carry it in my heart)

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Khalil Gibran

Love One Another
Love one another, but make not a bond of love.
Let it rather be a moving sea between the shores of your souls.
Fill each other's cup, but drink not from one cup.
Give one another of your bread, but eat not from the same loaf.
Sing and dance together and be joyous, but let each one of you be alone.
Even as the strings of a lute are alone though they quiver with the same music.
Give your hearts, but not into each other's keeping.
For only the hand of life can contain your hearts.
And stand together, yet not too near together.
For the pillars of the temple stand apart.
And the oak tree and the cypress grow not in each other's shadow.

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Robert Hunter/ Jerry Garcia/Phil Lesh

Cumberland Blues
Lyrics By: Robert Hunter
Music By: Jerry Garcia, Phil Lesh
I can't stay here much longer, Melinda
The sun is getting high
I can't help you with your troubles
If you won't help with mine
I gotta get down
I gotta get down
Gotta get down to the mine

You keep me up just one more night
I can't stop here no more
Little Ben clock says quarter to eight
You kept me up till four
I gotta get down
I gotta get down
Or I can't work there no more

Lotta poor man make a five dollar bill
Will keep him happy all the time
Some other fellow's making nothing at all
And you can hear him cry

Can I go, buddy, can I go down
Take your shift at the mine
Gotta get down to the Cumberland mine
That's where I mainly spend my time

Make good money, five dollars a day
If I made any more I might move away

Lotta poor man got the Cumberland Blues
He can't win for losing
Lotta poor man got to walk the line
Just to pay his union dues

I don't know now, I just don't know
If I'm going back again
I don't know now, I just don't know
If I'm going back again

Monday, August 9, 2010

Armando Romero

Determined to Remember
Determined to remember,
as an ocean swept over his pen
he gathered his words together
like pebbles on a beach.
Sitting there he started tapping them
one against the other
and in the splinters that sprang away
he saw faces, wild tresses.
He could not hold back
the outbreak of cries
and rushed into the water,
with the sky for infinity.
His memories turned the page
into a whirlpool.

Sunday, August 8, 2010

Anne Micheals

Women On a Beach
Light chooses white sails, the bellies of gulls.

Far away in a boat, someone wears a red shirt,
a tiny stab in the pale sky.

Your three bodies form a curving shoreline,
pink and brown sweaters, bare legs.

The beach glows grainy under the sun's copper pressure,
air the colour of tangerines.
One of you is sleeping, the wind's finger
on your cheek like a tendril of hair.

Night exhales its long held breath.
Stars puncture through.

At dusk you are a small soft heap, a kind of moss.
In the moonlight, a boulder of women.

Saturday, August 7, 2010

Roberto Bolano

Self Portrait At Twenty Years
I set off, I took up the march and never knew
where it might take me. I went full of fear,
my stomach dropped, my head was buzzing:
I think it was the icy wind of the dead.
I don't know. I set off, I thought it was a shame
to leave so soon, but at the same time
I heard that mysterious and convincing call.
You either listen or you don't, and I listened
and almost burst out crying: a terrible sound,
born on the air and in the sea.
A sword and shield. And then,
despite the fear, I set off, I put my cheek
against death's cheek.
And it was impossible to close my eyes and miss seeing
that strange spectacle, slow and strange,
though fixed in such a swift reality:
thousands of guys like me, baby-faced
or bearded, but Latin American, all of us,
brushing cheeks with death.

Friday, August 6, 2010

Jack Kerouac

The wheel of the quivering meat
Turns in the void expelling human beings,
Pigs, turtles, frogs, insects, nits,
Mice, lice, lizards, rats, roan
Racinghorses, poxy bucolic pigtics,
Horrible unnameable lice of vultures,
Murderous attacking dog-armies
Of Africa, Rhinos roaming in the
Vast boars and huge gigantic bull
Elephants, rams, eagles, condors,
Pones and Porcupines and Pills—
All the endless conception of living
Gnashing everywhere in Consciousness
Throughout the ten directions of space
Occupying all the quarters in & out,
From supermicroscopic no-bug
To huge Galaxy Lightyear Bowell
Illuminating the sky of one Mind—
Poor! I wish I was free
of that slaving meat wheel
and safe in heaven dead.

Thursday, August 5, 2010

Abu-Said Abil-Kheir

Detached You are, even from your being,
and this being is nothing but You.
Unmanifest, yet the manifest is naught
but Your shadow.

Moons, galaxies and worlds drunk from this cup.
And the cupbearer is nowhere to be seen!

Wednesday, August 4, 2010

Mo Fei


This is not the last
that's punished by language.
A new wooden house
is knocked down by a tree.

The prisoner
makes traps around himself.
If he's let out alive
he'll take the crimes with him.

He has no other shortcut.
A knife between life and death.
Light is cut open
and bent by the lonely sky.

The world is as painful as fate.
Words are shackles.
Once he's learned how to confess,
no one can ever defend him.

Tuesday, August 3, 2010

Oscar Wilde

Sonnet To Liberty
These are the letters which Endymion wrote
To one he loved in secret, and apart.
And now the brawlers of the auction mart
Bargain and bid for each poor blotted note,
Ay! for each separate pulse of passion quote
The merchant's price. I think they love not art
Who break the crystal of a poet's heart
That small and sickly eyes may glare and gloat.

Is it not said that many years ago,
In a far Eastern town, some soldiers ran
With torches through the midnight, and began
To wrangle for mean raiment, and to throw
Dice for the garments of a wretched man,
Not knowing the God's wonder, or His woe?

Monday, August 2, 2010

Ruben Dario

The Three Wise Kings

My name is Kaspar. I the incense bear.
The glamour of the Star has made me wise.
I say that love is vaster than the skies.
And God exits. And Life is pure and fair.

-My name is Melchior. And my myrrh scents all.
There is God. He is the light of morn.
The fairest blossoms from the dust are born,
And joy is shadowed by a threatful pall.

-My name is Balthasar. I bring a wreath
Of Orient gold, my gift. I come to say
That God exists. I know all by the ray
Of starry light upon the crown of Death.

-Balthasar, Melchior, Kaspar, be ye still.
Love triumphs and has bid you to his feast.
Radiance has filled the void, the night has ceased:
Wearing Life's crown, Christ comes to work His Will!

Sunday, August 1, 2010

Tiel Aisha Ansari

Inheritance. I wasn't raised to call
myself Black, Indian, Chinese--
"You're human," said my parents. That was all.

By the west window sits a Chinese camphor chest
folded full of blankets and grandmother's dresses.
Tiny Chinese bones she had. They'll never fit me
but the fabric's pretty.

Atop the chest: a set of Mali drums.
Oh yeah, I play the djembe... some...
My father's folk, in distant history--
you understand, that link is lost to me.
All I have now is echo.

Improvisation. On the eastern wall
a saxophonist plays. Black, yellow, red his clothes.
His notes escape the frame and fall
like water on imaginary ears. He's got good roots.
The cross-bred tree grows tall.