Sunday, July 31, 2011

Vicente Huidobro (1893-1948)


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


Saturday, July 30, 2011

W. B. Yeats (1865-1939)


ALL things can tempt me from this craft of verse:
One time it was a woman's face, or worse --
The seeming needs of my fool-driven land;
Now nothing but comes readier to the hand
Than this accustomed toil. When I was young,
I had not given a penny for a song
Did not the poet Sing it with such airs
That one believed he had a sword upstairs;
Yet would be now, could I but have my wish,
Colder and dumber and deafer than a fish.

Friday, July 29, 2011

Jane Kenyon (1947-1995 / United States)

Not Writing
A wasp rises to its papery
nest under the eaves
where it daubs

at the gray shape,
but seems unable
to enter its own house.

Thursday, July 28, 2011

Percy Bysshe Shelley (1792-1822 / Horsham / England)

Alas! This Is Not What I Thought Life Was
Alas! this is not what I thought life was.
I knew that there were crimes and evil men,
Misery and hate; nor did I hope to pass
Untouched by suffering, through the rugged glen.
In mine own heart I saw as in a glass
The hearts of others ... And when
I went among my kind, with triple brass
Of calm endurance my weak breast I armed,
To bear scorn, fear, and hate, a woful mass!

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

W. B. Yeats (1865-1939)


THAT crazed girl improvising her music.
Her poetry, dancing upon the shore,
Her soul in division from itself
Climbing, falling she knew not where,
Hiding amid the cargo of a steamship,
Her knee-cap broken, that girl I declare
A beautiful lofty thing, or a thing
Heroically lost, heroically found.

No matter what disaster occurred
She stood in desperate music wound,
Wound, wound, and she made in her triumph
Where the bales and the baskets lay
No common intelligible sound
But sang, 'O sea-starved, hungry sea.'

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Jane Miller

By Jane Miller b. 1949

Fire on the mountain, fire under the lake.
Like children, we look on and dream.
We are loved, and none of the images
for love is absolute, so we are frightened.
We cast a glance into our past,
and not at any remarkable affair
but ordinary efforts – that spray of light
at breakfast where we ran out of milk –
we feel as somehow true.
Dare we touch it with a word
it loses its meaning, though not
its beauty. It becomes a fire
in the heart, incomprehensible and expressive,
an image of the whole, so that when finally a man
falls in love with life, it is like an arbor
begged of a desert, for he has accepted
the mirage. Now he is filled with goodness,
as if the unknown were something somehow
sightly slowed, a whole world
in one mountain, pool, and sky
under which we sit sipping milk.
So we are twelve again,
our sexual experience of the world focused
on that tree under which we undress.
The willow caresses us with a sudden gust,
but we have already turned, made up our mind.
It’s very cold in the mornings, and hot by noon.
Plants grow slowly and never die completely.
Nowhere is there greater sympathy
than between the porcelain sky
and the chlorinated waters of the pools.
Still it stays with us that at any moment
a miracle might enter us as easily.
For we are lucky, we are children
in their fullest expression – lonesome
because we are moving through time
like a dot that becomes a sleeping figure
who is actually dead,
who has been killed,
and from whose nightmare
we continually wake into another
world, a moment we feel like kissing
someone’s half-open mouth, once only
an image of fire and water.

Monday, July 25, 2011

Robert Priest

Come To Me

Robert Priest
From: Sadness of Spacemen. Toronto: Dreadnaught Press, 1980.

Come to me
I know we are out of sync
I know they will call it dying
but come to me anyway
I have tried to hate you with the strength
of many animals and I cannot hate you
so come to me burning
and I also will burn
come to me with ancient music and I will be a snake
writhing with my many wrists
each one more undulant than your long hair
o I still have nights and nights of you
all queued up in the thirst of a single slave
to work out
come to me with snow and I will promise
to be red in it
come to me unique and I will match you
stare for stare
come to me in greek in spanish in french in hebrew
and I will sing that I found you
because I overthrew reason
because I live in the wreck of my senses
by wish and magic
like a roc in the ruins of its egg
come to me dancing
that dark bacchanal of your kiss
so wet on my lips for days I will not want
drugs or water
just your own sea broken like a sheet of lightning
on your thigh so sensual
come to me because we will arrive
anyway at each other
because it has been many lives
and each time we touch
great forces
are again able to move
come to me cruel and lovely
because I am abandon
because I am silver
because a million years
you have suffered in slavery to men
and know at last how to be free

Sunday, July 24, 2011

Dylan Thomas (1914 - 1953 / Swansea / Wales)

A Process in the Weather of the Heart

A process in the weather of the heart
Turns damp to dry; the golden shot
Storms in the freezing tomb.
A weather in the quarter of the veins
Turns night to day; blood in their suns
Lights up the living worm.

A process in the eye forwarns
The bones of blindness; and the womb
Drives in a death as life leaks out.

A darkness in the weather of the eye
Is half its light; the fathomed sea
Breaks on unangled land.
The seed that makes a forest of the loin
Forks half its fruit; and half drops down,
Slow in a sleeping wind.

A weather in the flesh and bone
Is damp and dry; the quick and dead
Move like two ghosts before the eye.

A process in the weather of the world
Turns ghost to ghost; each mothered child
Sits in their double shade.
A process blows the moon into the sun,
Pulls down the shabby curtains of the skin;
And the heart gives up its dead.

Saturday, July 23, 2011

Charles Baudelaire (1821-1867)


by: 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

Friday, July 22, 2011

George Bacovia (Romania, 1881-1957)

Late echo
Late night, the sound of dulcimers …
Cabaret of the folk -
The women roared false drunkenness
Through aromatic smoke.

And there were papers, there were events
Of serious times, times of dismay -
The shady suspects of cabaret …
And there were papers, there were events.

Late night, the sound of dulcimers …
Cabaret of the folk -
The women roared false drunkenness
Through aromatic smoke.

Thursday, July 21, 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.

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Derek Walcott

Love After Love by Derek Walcott
The time will come
when, with elation
you will greet yourself arriving
at your own door, in your own mirror
and each will smile at the other's welcome,

and say, sit here. Eat.
You will love again the stranger who was your self.
Give wine. Give bread. Give back your heart
to itself, to the stranger who has loved you

all your life, whom you ignored
for another, who knows you by heart.
Take down the love letters from the bookshelf,

the photographs, the desperate notes,
peel your own image from the mirror.
Sit. Feast on your life.

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Rainer Maria Rilke (1875-1926)

A Sybil
Long before our time they called her old,
But she'd walk down the same road every day.
Her age became too much to say
In years — and, like a forest's, would be told

In centuries. She comes to stand at dusk —
Her spot each time the same — and to foretell.
She is a hollow, wrinkled husk,
Dark as a fire-gutted citadel.

She has to turn her flock of talking loose
Or it will grow too crowded to relieve.
Flapping and screaming, words are flying all

Around her. Then, returning home to roost,
They find a perch beneath her eyebrows' eaves,
And in that shadow wait for night to fall.

Monday, July 18, 2011

Marina Tsvetaeva (1892-1941)

In Paris

Starlit houses, and sky below,
Earth dazed in the nearness.
The same secret longing though
In Paris, so vast and joyous.

The evening boulevards noisy,
The last ray of light dies,
Couples, paired round me,
Fierce lips, insolent eyes.

I’m alone. It’s sweet to rest
My head on a chestnut tree.
As in far Moscow, my breast
Throbs to Rostand’s poetry.

Paris at night, painful strangeness,
Dear the heart’s ancient folly!
I’m going back to violets, sadness,
A portrait of someone kind to me.

There that gaze, pensive, a brother,
There that mild profile, on the wall.
Rostand, L’Aiglon that martyr,
And Sarah – in dream I find them all!

In Paris, so vast and joyous,
I dream of clouds and grass,
Laughter, shadows, ominous,
And the pain that will not pass.

Paris, June 1909.

Sunday, July 17, 2011

Anna Akhmatova (1889-1966)

"Along the Hard Crust..."
1917Along the hard crust of deep snows,
To the secret, white house of yours,
So gentle and quiet – we both
Are walking, in silence half-lost.
And sweeter than all songs, sung ever,
Are this dream, becoming the truth,
Entwined twigs’ a-nodding with favor,
The light ring of your silver spurs...

Saturday, July 16, 2011

David Solway

A Small Cowering Thing

David Solway

I saw it hovering in the distance, a trim and pinioned harrier
stalling in mid-flight, almost loitering,
carrying out aerial reconnaissance in lordly indifferent leisure
(yet bird-alert, genetic with intent), and reconnoitering
the terrain that rolled away beneath its hanging there
in level slabs of icy light and deckle-flecked leaf-shed shade,
slice like a kid’s model glider
in strictly-plotted arcs of eliding mathematical certitude.

And oh! how it rose then, abrupt in updraft, as if on a swing
or swift and aquiline as a Frisbee; floated; and dropped
slow and deliberate and soundless as a plumbline in water
to fathom its shadow.

And a small cowering thing
huddling in that solemn hush of darkness stopped
to cry out its astonishment as if it could, or mattered.

Friday, July 15, 2011

Ryokan Taigu (1758-1831)

Even if you consume as many books
As the sands of the Ganges
It is not as good as really catching
One verse of Zen.
If you want the secret of Buddhism,
Here it is: Everything is in the Heart!

Thursday, July 14, 2011

Roo Borson


Roo Borson
From: Night Walk, Selected Poems. Oxford University Press, Toronto, 1994.

Old shoes,
where are you taking me now?
You who've spent a night in the Pacific
farther out than I dared to go --
and I found you again, bedraggled in the morning,
separated from each other by fifty feet of beach,
salt in all your seams, and sand, and seaweed.
That time I thought you were lost for good.
Old shoes, the first my grown feet accepted
without the deep ache that comes
of trying on what others have meant for me. Don't worry,
it's me they're laughing at, those who find us unfashionable.
Our last day upright on the earth
we'll fit each other still.
Don't let them trick you into sorrow.
If they stow you in a box that's too small
in the depths of some unfamiliar closet, remember
the walks we took, the close
companionship of shoes and feet.
Remember the long
mouthwatering days, each place
we rested, just taking it in. We took it in
for a reason, for the time when they'll stow us away
where there is nothing to see, to do, to feel.
And when you've relived it all as much as you need,
when you tire of standing still,
remember the imperceptible holes, how they tore and grew,
the socks, pair by pair, those soft
kittens that came between us, playful, how soon
the walking wore them down.

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Dylan Thomas (1914 - 1953 / Swansea / Wales)

After the Funeral

After the funeral, mule praises, brays,
Windshake of sailshaped ears, muffle-toed tap
Tap happily of one peg in the thick
Grave's foot, blinds down the lids, the teeth in black,
The spittled eyes, the salt ponds in the sleeves,
Morning smack of the spade that wakes up sleep,
Shakes a desolate boy who slits his throat
In the dark of the coffin and sheds dry leaves,
That breaks one bone to light with a judgment clout,
After the feast of tear-stuffed time and thistles
In a room with a stuffed fox and a stale fern,
I stand, for this memorial's sake, alone
In the snivelling hours with dead, humped Ann
Whose hooded, fountain heart once fell in puddles
Round the parched worlds of Wales and drowned each sun
(Though this for her is a monstrous image blindly
Magnified out of praise; her death was a still drop;
She would not have me sinking in the holy
Flood of her heart's fame; she would lie dumb and deep
And need no druid of her broken body) .
But I, Ann's bard on a raise hearth, call all
The seas to service that her wood-tongued virtue
Babble like a bellbuoy over the hymning heads,
Bow down the walls of the ferned and foxy woods
That her love sing and swing through a brown chapel,
Bless her bent spirit with four, crossing birds,
Her flesh was meek as milk, but this skyward statue
With the wild breast and blessed and giant skull
Is carved from her in a room with a wet window
In a fiercely mourning house in a crooked year.
I know her scrubbed and sour humble hands
Lie with religion in their cramp, her threadbare
Whisper in a damp word, her wits dried hollow,
Her fist of a face died clenched on a round pain;
And sculptured Ann is seventy years of stone.
These cloud-sopped, marble hands, this monumental
Argument of the hewn voice, gesture and psalm,
Storm me forever over her grave until
The stuffed lung of the fox twitch and cry Love
And the strutting fern lay seeds on the black sill.

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Sylvia Plath (1932-1963)

Old goatherds swear how all night long they hear
The warning whirr and burring of the bird
Who wakes with darkness and till dawn works hard
Vampiring dry of milk each great goat udder.
Moon full, moon dark, the chary dairy farmer
Dreams that his fattest cattle dwindle, fevered
By claw-cuts of the Goatsucker, alias Devil-bird,
Its eye, flashlit, a chip of ruby fire.

So fables say the Goatsucker moves, masked from men's sight
In an ebony air, on wings of witch cloth,
Well-named, ill-famed a knavish fly-by-night,
Yet it never milked any goat, nor dealt cow death
And shadows only--cave-mouth bristle beset--
Cockchafers and the wan, green luna moth.

Monday, July 11, 2011

Steely Dan

Kid Charlemagne

While the music played you worked by candlelight
Those san francisco nights
You were the best in town
Just by chance you crossed the diamond with the pearl
You turned it on the world
That’s when you turned the world around
Did you feel like jesus
Did you realize
That you were a champion in their eyes
On the hill the stuff was laced with kerosene
But yours was kitchen clean
Everyone stopped to stare at your technicolor motor home
Every a-frame had your number on the wall
You must have had it all
You’d go to l.a. on a dare
And you’d go it alone
Could you live forever
Could you see the day
Could you feel your whole world fall apart and fade away

Get along, get along kid charlemagne
Get along kid charlemagne

Now your patrons have all left you in the red
Your low rent friends are dead
This life can be very strange
All those dayglow freaks who used to paint the face
They’ve joined the human race
Some things will never change
Son you were mistaken
You are obsolete
Look at all the white men on the street


Clean this mess up else we’ll all end up in jail
Those test tubes and the scale
Just get them all out of here
Is there gas in the car
Yes, there’s gas in the car
I think the people down the hall
Know who you are

Careful what you carry
’cause the man is wise
You are still an outlaw in their eyes


Sunday, July 10, 2011

Wislawa Szymborska


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 immermorial.

The Tree of Understanding, dazzling staight 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 unsummoned
and 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.

Saturday, July 9, 2011

Allen Ginsberg (1926-1997)

An Asphodel

O dear sweet rosy
unattainable desire sad, no way
to change the mad
cultivated asphodel, the
visible reality...

and skin's appalling
petals--how inspired
to be so Iying in the living
room drunk naked
and dreaming, in the absence
of electricity...
over and over eating the low root
of the asphodel,
gray fate...

rolling in generation
on the flowery couch
as on a bank in Arden--
my only rose tonite's the treat
of my own nudity.

Friday, July 8, 2011

Percy Bysshe Shelley (1792-1822)

A Lament
O World! O Life! O Time!
On whose last steps I climb,
Trembling at that where I had stood before;
When will return the glory of your prime?
No more -Oh, never more!

Out of the day and night
A joy has taken flight:
Fresh spring, and summer, and winter hoar
Move my faint heart with grief, but with delight
No more -Oh, never more!

Thursday, July 7, 2011

Pablo Neruda (1904-1973 / Parral / Chile)

‘Perhaps not to be is to be without your being.’
Perhaps not to be is to be without your being,
without your going, that cuts noon light
like a blue flower, without your passing
later through fog and stones,
without the torch you lift in your hand
that others may not see as golden,
that perhaps no one believed blossomed
the glowing origin of the rose,
without, in the end, your being, your coming
suddenly, inspiringly, to know my life,
blaze of the rose-tree, wheat of the breeze:
and it follows that I am, because you are:
it follows from ‘you are’, that I am, and we:
and, because of love, you will, I will,
We will, come to be.

Wednesday, July 6, 2011

Charles Bukowski (1920 - 1994)

So Now? by Charles Bukowski
the words have come and gone,
I sit ill.
the phone rings, the cats sleep.
Linda vacuums.
I am waiting to live,
waiting to die.
I wish I could ring in some bravery.
it's a lousy fix
but the tree outside doesn't know:
I watch it moving with the wind
in the late afternoon sun.
there's nothing to declare here,
just a waiting.
each faces it alone.
Oh, I was once young,
Oh, I was once unbelievably
from Transit magazine, 1994

Tuesday, July 5, 2011

Constantine P. Cavafy

Our efforts are those of men prone to disaster;
our efforts are like those of the Trojans.
We just begin to get somewhere,
begin to gather a little strength,
grow almost bold and hopeful,

when something always comes up to stop us:
Achilles leaps out of the trench in front of us
and terrifies us with his violent shouting.

Our efforts are like those of the Trojans.
We think we'll change our luck
by being resolute and daring,
so we move outside ready to fight.

But when the big crisis comes,
our boldness and resolution vanish;
our spirit falters, paralyzed,
and we scurry around the walls
trying to save ourselves by running away.

Yet we're sure to fail. Up there,
high on the walls, the dirge has already begun.
They're mourning the memory, the aura of our days.
Priam and Hecuba mourn for us bitterly.

Monday, July 4, 2011

Cen Shen (715-770)

Iron Gate Pass
Cen Shen (Tang)

Iron Gate Pass at world's edge,
Few travelers to be seen.
One lowly official closes the gate,
All day just see stone walls.
Mountain bridge, a thousand dangerous steps,
Narrow road winds between sharp cliffs.
I climbing west tower to look,
One glance and my head turns white!

Jane Kenyon (1947-1995 / United States)


There's just no accounting for happiness,
or the way it turns up like a prodigal
who comes back to the dust at your feet
having squandered a fortune far away.

And how can you not forgive?
You make a feast in honor of what
was lost, and take from its place the finest
garment, which you saved for an occasion
you could not imagine, and you weep night and day
to know that you were not abandoned,
that happiness saved its most extreme form
for you alone.

No, happiness is the uncle you never
knew about, who flies a single-engine plane
onto the grassy landing strip, hitchhikes
into town, and inquires at every door
until he finds you asleep midafternoon
as you so often are during the unmerciful
hours of your despair.

It comes to the monk in his cell.
It comes to the woman sweeping the street
with a birch broom, to the child
whose mother has passed out from drink.
It comes to the lover, to the dog chewing
a sock, to the pusher, to the basket maker,
and to the clerk stacking cans of carrots
in the night.
It even comes to the boulder
in the perpetual shade of pine barrens,
to rain falling on the open sea,
to the wineglass, weary of holding wine.

Sunday, July 3, 2011

Anfisa Osinnik

Anfisa Osinnik
(Russia, *1957)
Five poems in translation by Johannes Beilharz

Amok II
Bio note

Renoir liked to enlarge women's eyes,
giving roundness to cheeks and lips.
Renoir liked to play with women's hair.
Excellent painter and magnificent hatter,
every hat in his pictures shouts:
I'm the spirit of nature!
When he mixed crimson, cobalt and cinnabar on his pallet,
the oil in the paint turned solar,
the sun took unceremonious walks on his canvases
without noticing the frame.
The day he died
was gray, gray, gray,
or maybe it wasn't,
or maybe he died at night.
But I think that his spirit,
looking at his own portrait
in the frame of the coffin, thought:
Here's my worst picture.
Then the spirit fled,
surely towards the sun,
surely to step on women's hats,
surely to portray angels
with enlarged eyes,
with round cheeks
and fleshy lips.
Of course the angels
wear hats now;
the angels like
natural beauty turned spiritual.

Amok II

A Malay with a face of withered leaves
appeared in my dream.
Piercing my heart with a spear,
he said:
"This is amok."
Midnight is impenetrable.
I am midnight.
The stars
are my wounds,
the moon is my throat ...
Give me, Malay,
the medicine
to heal my wounds
and silence the moon's
painful lament.
No medicine,
said the Malay,
will cure amok.
How do you heal wounds
when they are stars?
How can you silence the voice
when the moon is your throat?
I know all that, old fellow,
don't tell me ...
The solo of the moon in my throat,
in the dark star anise,
the bird
composes a chant
for me:

My hemispherical world,
between complexes of filth
and queen.
And your right-handed world,
and your global
oedipal mind ...


With Eve's putrefaction,
with Eve's depravity
Eve's apple becomes
the sapphire-colored
hermaphrodite flower,
the impossible
flower ...

Saturday, July 2, 2011

Sylvia Plath (1932-1963)

Dark House
This is a dark house, very big.
I made it myself,
Cell by cell from a quiet corner,
Chewing at the grey paper,
Oozing the glue drops,
Whistling, wiggling my ears,
Thinking of something else.

It has so many cellars,
Such eelish delvings!
U an round as an owl,
I see by my own light.
Any day I may litter puppies
Or mother a horse. My belly moves.
I must make more maps.

These marrowy tunnels!
Moley-handed, I eat my way.
All-mouth licks up the bushes
And the pots of meat.
He lives in an old well,
A stoney hole. He's to blame.
He's a fat sort.

Pebble smells, turnipy chambers.
Small nostrils are breathing.
Little humble loves!
Footlings, boneless as noses,
It is warm and tolerable
In the bowel of the root.
Here's a cuddly mother.

Friday, July 1, 2011

Al Purdy (1918-2000)

Married Man's Song

Al Purdy
From: Beyond Remembering - The collected poems of Al Purdy. 2000.

When he makes love to the young girl
what does the middle-aged long-married
man say to himself and the girl?
— that lovers live and desk clerks perish?

When neons flash the girl into light and shadow
the room vanishes and all those others
guests who checked out long ago
are smiling
and only the darkness of her may be touched
only the whiteness looked at
she stands above him as a stone goddess
weeping tears and honey
she is half his age and far older
and how can a man tell his wife this?

Later they'll meet in all politeness
not quite strangers but never friends
and hands touched elsewhere may shake together
with brush of fingers and casual eyes
and the cleanser cleans to magic whiteness
and love survives in the worst cologne
(but not girls' bodies that turn black leather)
for all believe in the admen's lies

In rare cases among the legions of married men
such moments of shining have never happened
and whether to praise such men for their steadfast virtue
or condemn them as fools for living without magic
answer can hardly be given

There are rooms for rent in the outer planets
and neons blaze in Floral Sask
we live with death but it's life we die with
in the blossoming earth where springs the rose
In house and highway in town and country
what's given is paid for blood gifts are sold
that stars' white fingers unscrew the light bulbs
the bill is due and the desk clerk wakes
outside our door the steps are quiet
light comes and goes from a ghostly sun
where only the darkness may be remembered
and the rest is gone