Monday, January 31, 2011

Li-young Lee

From Blossoms

From blossoms comes
this brown paper bag of peaches
we bought from the joy
at the bend in the road where we turned toward
signs painted Peaches.

From laden boughs, from hands,
from sweet fellowship in the bins,
comes nectar at the roadside, succulent
peaches we devour, dusty skin and all,
comes the familiar dust of summer, dust we eat.

O, to take what we love inside,
to carry within us an orchard, to eat
not only the skin, but the shade,
not only the sugar, but the days, to hold
the fruit in our hands, adore it, then bite into
the round jubilance of peach.

There are days we live
as if death were nowhere
in the background; from joy
to joy to joy, from wing to wing,
from blossom to blossom to
impossible blossom, to sweet impossible blossom.

Saturday, January 29, 2011

Al Purdy

At Evergreen Cemetery
Al Purdy

The still grey face and withered body:
without resistance winter enters in,
as if she were a stone or fallen tree,
her temperature the same as the landscape's —
How she would have complained about that,
the indignity of finally being without heat,
an insult from the particular god she believed in,
and worse than the fall that killed her —
Now a thought flies into the cemetery
from Vancouver, another from Edmonton,
- and fade in the January day like fireflies.
I suppose relatives are a little slower
getting the evening meal because of that —
perhaps late for next day's appointments,
the tight schedule of seconds overturned,
everything set a little back or ahead,
the junctures of time moving and still:
settling finally into a new pattern,
by which lovers, hurrying towards each other
on streetcorners, do not fail to meet —
Myself, having the sense of something going
on without my knowledge, changes taking place
that I should be concerned with,
sit motionless in the black car behind the hearse,
waiting to re-enter a different world.

Friday, January 28, 2011

Allen Ginsberg

Wild Orphan
Blandly mother
takes him strolling
by railroad and by river
--he's the son of the absconded
hot rod angel--
and he imagines cars
and rides them in his dreams,

so lonely growing up among
the imaginary automobiles
and dead souls of Tarrytown

to create
out of his own imagination
the beauty of his wild
forebears--a mythology
he cannot inherit.

Will he later hallucinate
his gods? Waking
among mysteries with
an insane gleam
of recollection?

The recognition--
something so rare
in his soul,
met only in dreams
of another life.

A question of the soul.
And the injured
losing their injury
in their innocence
--a cock, a cross,
an excellence of love.

And the father grieves
in flophouse
complexities of memory
a thousand miles
away, unknowing
of the unexpected
youthful stranger
bumming toward his door.

New York, April 13, 1952

Thursday, January 27, 2011

Seamus Heaney

Between my finger and my thumb
The squat pin rest; snug as a gun.

Under my window, a clean rasping sound
When the spade sinks into gravelly ground:
My father, digging. I look down

Till his straining rump among the flowerbeds
Bends low, comes up twenty years away
Stooping in rhythm through potato drills
Where he was digging.

The coarse boot nestled on the lug, the shaft
Against the inside knee was levered firmly.
He rooted out tall tops, buried the bright edge deep
To scatter new potatoes that we picked,
Loving their cool hardness in our hands.

By God, the old man could handle a spade.
Just like his old man.

My grandfather cut more turf in a day
Than any other man on Toner's bog.
Once I carried him milk in a bottle
Corked sloppily with paper. He straightened up
To drink it, then fell to right away
Nicking and slicing neatly, heaving sods
Over his shoulder, going down and down
For the good turf. Digging.

The cold smell of potato mould, the squelch and slap
Of soggy peat, the curt cuts of an edge
Through living roots awaken in my head.
But I've no spade to follow men like them.

Between my finger and my thumb
The squat pen rests.
I'll dig with it.

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Percy Bysshe Shelley

I Arise From Dreams Of Thee
I arise from dreams of thee
In the first sweet sleep of night,
When the winds are breathing low,
And the stars are shining bright
I arise from dreams of thee,
And a spirit in my feet
Has led me -- who knows how? --
To thy chamber-window, sweet!

The wandering airs they faint
On the dark, the silent stream, --
The champak odors fall
Like sweet thoughts in a dream,
The nightingale's complaint,
It dies upon her heart,
As I must die on thine,
O, beloved as thou art!

O, lift me from the grass!
I die, I faint, I fall!
Let thy love in kisses rain
On my lips and eyelids pale,
My cheek is cold and white, alas!
My Heart beats loud and fast
Oh! press it close to thine again,
Where it will break at last!

Monday, January 24, 2011

Vicente Huidobro

You hear the night glide across the snow

The song fell down from the trees
And through the fog sounded voices

I lit my cigar at a glance

Every time I open my lips
I flood the void with clouds

In the harbor
The masts are full of nests.

And the wind
groans in the birds' wings


Whistling on the shore I
Look at the star that glows between my fingers.

Sunday, January 23, 2011

Chimako Tada

I stand someplace and watch
People without weight transported
From this bank to that
Only once are they carried across

The water is clear, finely textured yet viscous
The boatman’s oar sends up no spray
Although the passengers are spirits perhaps
All spirit seems to have left them long ago

As if caught in a deep sleep
Their mouths hang slightly open
They need no water from the river of forgetfulness
Probably their memories are already long gone

The old women look like my mother
So I probably resemble them too
Standing with mouth slightly agape
A close resemblance like one dream to another

As I gaze on them, I begin to wonder
From which side of the river I watch . . .
Meanwhile, a dragonfly perched on the helm measures
The weight of the vast afternoon on its thin wings

Saturday, January 22, 2011

Tomas Transtromer

At times my life suddenly opens its eyes in the dark.
A feeling of masses of people pushing blindly
through the streets, excitedly, toward some miracle,
while I remain here and no one sees me.

It is like the child who falls asleep in terror
listening to the heavy thumps of his heart.
For a long, long time till morning puts his light in the locks
and the doors of darkness open.

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Charles Baudelaire

HOU, O my Grief, be wise and tranquil still,
The eve is thine which even now drops down,
To carry peace or care to human will,
And in a misty veil enfolds the town.

While the vile mortals of the multitude,
By pleasure, cruel tormentor, goaded on,
Gather remorseful blossoms in light mood--
Grief, place thy hand in mine, let us be gone

Far from them. Lo, see how the vanished years,
In robes outworn lean over heaven's rim;
And from the water, smiling through her tears,

Remorse arises, and the sun grows dim;
And in the east, her long shroud trailing light,
List, O my grief, the gentle steps of Night.

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Tomas Transtromer

Breathing Space July
The man who lies on his back under huge trees
is also up in them. He branches out into thousands of tiny branches.
He sways back and forth,
he sits in a catapult chair that hurtles forward in slow motion.

The man who stands down at the dock screws up his eyes against the water.
Docks get older faster than men.
They have silver-gray posts and boulders in their gut.
The dazzling light drives straight in.

The man who spends the whole day in an open boat
moving over the luminous bays
will fall asleep at last inside the shade of his blue lamp
as the islands crawl like huge moths over the globe.

Monday, January 17, 2011

Jorge Luis Borges

To a Cat
Mirrors are not more silent
nor the creeping dawn more secretive;
in the moonlight, you are that panther
we catch sight of from afar.
By the inexplicable workings of a divine law,
we look for you in vain;
More remote, even, than the Ganges or the setting sun,
yours is the solitude, yours the secret.
Your haunch allows the lingering
caress of my hand. You have accepted,
since that long forgotten past,
the love of the distrustful hand.
You belong to another time. You are lord
of a place bounded like a dream.

Sunday, January 16, 2011

Joseph Brodsky

Belfast Tune

Here's a girl from a dangerous town
She crops her dark hair short
so that less of her has to frown
when someone gets hurt.

She folds her memories like a parachute.
Dropped, she collects the peat
and cooks her veggies at home: they shoot
here where they eat.

Ah, there's more sky in these parts than, say,
ground. Hence her voice's pitch,
and her stare stains your retina like a gray
bulb when you switch

hemispheres, and her knee-length quilt
skirt's cut to catch the squall,
I dream of her either loved or killed
because the town's too small.

Saturday, January 15, 2011

Sylvia Plath

Alicante Lullaby
In Alicante they bowl the barrels
Bumblingly over the nubs of the cobbles
Past the yellow-paella eateries,
Below the ramshackle back-alley balconies,
While the cocks and hens
In the roofgardens
Scuttle repose with crowns and cackles.

Kumquat-colored trolleys ding as they trundle
Passengers under an indigo fizzle
Needling spumily down from the wires:
Alongside the sibliant narhor the lovers
Hear loudspeakers boom
From each neon-lit palm
Rumbas and sambas no ear-flaps can muffle.

O Cacophony, goddess of jazz and of quarrels,
Crack-throated mistress of bagpipes and cymbals,
Let be your con brios, your capricciosos,
Crescendos, cadenzas, prestos and pretissimos,
My head on the pillow
(Piano, pianissimo)
Lullayed by susurrous lyres and viols.

Friday, January 14, 2011

Lewis Carroll

When midnight mists are creeping,
And all the land is sleeping,
Around me tread the mighty dead,
And slowly pass away.
Lo, warriors, saints, and sages,
From out the vanished ages,
With solemn pace and reverend face
Appear and pass away.
The blaze of noonday splendour,
The twilight soft and tender,
May charm the eye: yet they shall die,
Shall die and pass away.
But here, in Dreamland's centre,
No spoiler's hand may enter,
These visions fair, this radiance rare,
Shall never pass away.
I see the shadows falling,
The forms of old recalling;
Around me tread the mighty dead,
And slowly pass away.

Thursday, January 13, 2011

Maya Angelou

Petulant priests, greedy
centurions, and one million
incensed gestures stand
between your love and me.

Your agape sacrifice
is reduced to colored glass,
vapid penance, and the
tedium of ritual.

Your footprints yet
mark the crest of
billowing seas but
your joy
fades upon the tablets
of ordained prophets.

Visit us again, Savior.
Your children, burdened with
disbelief, blinded by a patina
of wisdom,
carom down this vale of
fear. We cry for you
although we have lost
your name

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Anne Sexton

The Starry Night
That does not keep me from having a terrible need of — shall I say the word — religion. Then I go out at night to paint the stars.
— Vincent Van Gogh in a letter to his brother

The town does not exist
except where one black-haired tree slips
up like a drowned woman into the hot sky.
The town is silent. The night boils with eleven stars.
Oh starry night! This is how
I want to die.

It moves. They are all alive.
Even the moon bulges in its orange irons
to push children, like a god, from its eye.
The old unseen serpent swallows up the stars.
Oh starry starry night! This is how
I want to die:

into that rushing beast of the night,
sucked up by that great dragon, to split
from my life with no flag,
no belly,
no cry.

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Charles Bukowski

To The Whore Who Took My Poems
some say we should keep personal remorse from the
stay abstract, and there is some reason in this,
but jezus;
twelve poems gone and I don't keep carbons and you have
paintings too, my best ones; its stifling:
are you trying to crush me out like the rest of them?
why didn't you take my money? they usually do
from the sleeping drunken pants sick in the corner.
next time take my left arm or a fifty
but not my poems:
I'm not Shakespeare
but sometime simply
there won't be any more, abstract or otherwise;
there'll always be mony and whores and drunkards
down to the last bomb,
but as God said,
crossing his legs,
I see where I have made plenty of poets
but not so very much

Monday, January 10, 2011

Briceida Cuevas Cob

your breasts are two little girls jostling each other in play when you wash.
The rainbow of your glance is suspended in the lather.
To look at you one wouldn’t guess you suffer,
wouldn’t know that at the foot of your washtub you hoard part of your story.
You give a whistle,
your whistle is a thread where you will hang your tiredness.
The wind
is a mischievous lad who tugs and tugs at your laundry.
On the trees of the east
the sun is a newborn baby scattering his warm yellow tears.

Saturday, January 8, 2011

Percy Bysshe Shelley

Love's Philosophy
The Fountains mingle with the river
And the rivers with the ocean,
The winds of heaven mix for ever
With a sweet emotion;
Nothing in the world is single,
All things by a law devine
In one another's being mingle--
Why not I with thine?

See the mountains kiss high heaven
And the waves clasp one another;
No sister-flower would be forgiven
If it disdain'd its brother:
And the sunlight clasps the earth,
And the moonbeams kiss the sea--
What are all these kissings worth,
If thou kiss not me?

Thursday, January 6, 2011

Duo Yu

A Sprinkling of Snow

there’s a little light snow I’ve reached this city’s
outermost edge at once, the rivers calm down the sun
between dry grass and branches
is tormented by the severity of winter
an expanse of uncultivated ground a few dogs
iron-sheet sheds a child
playing in grey fog
in the swamps I see
a freshly-dug grave which looks like the breast
of a virgin girl a sprinkling a snow
covers it written on the unfinished headstone are the words
Here lies . . .
a migrant worker in the city, who came
to a sad end, calmly she lies
in the midst of water
I can almost here her breathing underground
her breath pierces the deafening noise of the city

Wednesday, January 5, 2011

Stephen Crane

A man said to the universe:
A man said to the universe:
"Sir I exist!"
"However," replied the universe,
"The fact has not created in me
A sense of obligation."

Tuesday, January 4, 2011

Tomas Transtromer

After a Death
by Tomas Tranströmer
translated by Robert Bly

Once there was a shock
that left behind a long, shimmering comet tail.
It keeps us inside. It makes the TV pictures snowy.
It settles in cold drops on the telephone wires.

One can still go slowly on skis in the winter sun
through brush where a few leaves hang on.
They resemble pages torn from old telephone directories.
Names swallowed by the cold.

It is still beautiful to hear the heart beat
but often the shadow seems more real than the body.
The samurai looks insignificant
beside his armor of black dragon scales.

Saturday, January 1, 2011

Louis Dudek

And So We Have Arrived
Louis Dudek
From: Europe. The Porcupine's Quill Press, 1991

And so we have arrived.
It narrows into the thin St. Lawrence.
Yet a river with a city inside it,
with a thousand islands,
as Cartier found it,
as Cabot discovered (I saw his face
in the Ducal Palace in Venice).
We have our physical heroes,
and are also a nation
built in the middle of water.
Somehow a bigger place than we left it:
a country with certain resources,
and a mind of its own, if lacking hunger.
The mountains of Gaspé doze, reclining,
in the air vacant as morning.
At home, there will be faces full of this light,
blank maybe, but beautiful.
Getting started is never easy.
We have work to do.
Europe is behind us.
America before us