washed-up, on shore, the old yellow notebook
I write from the bed
as I did last
will see the doctor,
"yes, doctor, weak legs, vertigo, head-
aches and my back
"are you drinking?" he will ask.
"are you getting your
I think that I am just ill
with life, the same stale yet
even at the track
I watch the horses run by
and it seems
I leave early after buying tickets on the
"taking off?" asks the motel
"yes, it's boring,"
I tell him.
"If you think it's boring
out there," he tells me, "you oughta be
so here I am
propped up against my pillows
just an old guy
just an old writer
with a yellow
walking across the
oh, it's just
So many stones have been thrown at me,
That I'm not frightened of them anymore,
And the pit has become a solid tower,
Tall among tall towers.
I thank the builders,
May care and sadness pass them by.
From here I'll see the sunrise earlier,
Here the sun's last ray rejoices.
And into the windows of my room
The northern breezes often fly.
And from my hand a dove eats grains of wheat...
As for my unfinished page,
The Muse's tawny hand, divinely calm
And delicate, will finish it.
All his life he was building something, inventing something.
Now, for a Cretan queen, an artificial heifer,
so as to cuckold the king. Then a labyrinth, the time for
the king himself, to hide from bewildered glances
an unbearable offspring. Or a flying contraption, when
the king figured himself so busy with new commissions.
The son of that journey perished falling into the sea,
like Phaeton, who, they say, also spurned his father’s
orders. Here, in Sicily, stiff on its scorching sand,
sits a very old man, capable of transporting
himself through the air, if robbed of other means of passage.
All his life he was building something, inventing something.
All his life from those clever constructions m from those inventions,
he had to flee. As though inventions
and constructions are anxious to rid themselves of their blueprints
like children ashamed of their parents, Presumably, that’s the fear
of replication. Waves are running onto the sand;
behind, shine the tusks of the local mountains.
Yet he had already invented, when he was young, the seesaw,
using the strong resemblance between motion and stasis.
The old man bends down, ties to his brittle ankle
(so as not to get lost) a lengthy thread,
straightens up with a grunt, and heads out for Hades.
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.
I am an ephemeral
and a not too discontented citizen
of a metropolis considered modern
because all known taste
has been evaded in the furnishings
and the exterior of the houses
as well as in the layout of the city.
Here you will fail to detect the least trace
of any monument of superstition.
Morals and language
are reduced to their simplest expression,
at last! The way these millions of people,
who do not even need to know each other,
manage their education, business,
and old age is so identical
that the course of their lives
must be several times less long
than that which a mad statistics
calculates for the people of the continent.
And from my window I see new specters rolling through
the thick eternal smoke--
our woodland shade, our summer night!--
new Eumenides in front of my cottage
which is my country and all my heart
since everything here resembles it,--
Death without tears,
our diligent daughter and servant,
a desperate Love, and a pretty
Crime howling in the mud in the street.
I wanted a man's face looking into the jaws and throat
With something proud on his face, so proud no smash
of the jaws,
No gulp of the throat leaves the face in the end
With anything else than the old proud look:
Even to the finish, dumped in the dust,
Lost among the used-up cinders,
This face, men would say, is a flash,
Is laid on bones taken from the ribs of the earth,
Ready for the hammers of changing, changing years,
Ready for the sleeping, sleeping years of silence.
Ready for the dust and fire and wind.
I wanted this face and I saw it today in an Aztec mask.
A cry out of storm and dark, a red yell and a purple prayer,
A beaten shape of ashes
waiting the sunrise or night,
something or nothing,
Observed in the holly-grove at Alfoxden, where these verses were written in the spring of 1799. I had the pleasure of again seeing, with dear friends, this grove in unimpaired beauty forty-one years after.
A WHIRL-BLAST from behind the hill
Rushed o'er the wood with startling sound;
Then--all at once the air was still,
And showers of hailstones pattered round.
Where leafless oaks towered high above,
I sat within an undergrove
Of tallest hollies, tall and green;
A fairer bower was never seen.
From year to year the spacious floor
With withered leaves is covered o'er,
And all the year the bower is green.
But see! where'er the hailstones drop
The withered leaves all skip and hop;
There's not a breeze--no breath of air--
Yet here, and there, and everywhere
Along the floor, beneath the shade
By those embowering hollies made,
The leaves in myriads jump and spring,
As if with pipes and music rare
Some Robin Good-fellow were there,
And all those leaves, in festive glee,
Were dancing to the minstrelsy.
My poet, thou canst touch on all the notes
God set between his After and Before,
And strike up and strike off the general roar
Of the rushing worlds a melody that floats
In a serene air purely. Antidotes
Of medicated music, answering for
Mankind's forlornest uses, thou canst pour
From thence into their ears. God's will devotes
Thine to such ends, and mine to wait on thine.
How, Dearest, wilt thou have me for most use?
A hope, to sing by gladly? or a fine
Sad memory, with thy songs to interfuse?
A shade, in which to sing--of palm or pine?
A grave, on which to rest from singing? Choose.
There is a wind that seeks the crevice
under my heart
the way insects file at night
beneath a doorway
It’s edges are rough, it slits
the cords. It trips my steady breathing.
When it comes there is no one
I can trust
It seems, at times, I have designed
too well this vision of you.
I cannot survive your eyes
when they are scarred with a need
for some lesser form of love.
I admit to this conceit.
And though you will not accept it
You love it nonetheless
It is just like you. Our desires
will always be kept sharp
by a kind of perversity. A need
to be each forever alone . . .
Its colour is violet, like lips
that have been smashed at night
or robbed of blood by lack of breath.
The wind I was speaking of does this.
I can feel it now.
The night goes away, another night, and the wing
of an immense airplance has placed itself
between the wide blue and the window, and I wonder
whether it's the faintest kind of green or silver, cold
as the insistent fineness of the knife scraping
the imposition of excessive life
off the uterus, or the light itself, as the boy's hand
opens: he's getting tired of making a fist to
aggravate his brothers, pretending it holds some
kind of treasure. He gives away his prey, and I know
it's not anything that wasn't in me yesterday
and disconsolate, and I feel cold looking at myself
another day, dried-out pit of a fruit, pulpless,
outside the night.
Ramona, come closer
Shut softly your watery eyes
The pangs of your sadness
Will pass as your senses will rise
The flowers of the city
Though breathlike, get deathlike at times
And there's no use in tryin'
To deal with the dyin'
Though I cannot explain that in lines.
Your cracked country lips
I still wish to kiss
As to be by the strength of you skin
Your magnetic movements
Still capture the minutes I'm in
But it grieves my heart, love
To see you tryin' to be a part of
A world that just don't existv It's all just a dream, babe
A vacuum, a scheme, babe
That sucks you into feelin' like this.
I can see that your head
Has been twisted and fed
With worthless foam from the mouth
I can tell you are torn
Between stayin' and returnin'
Back to the South
You've been fooled into thinking
That the finishin' end is at hand
Yet there's no one to beat you
No one to defeat you
'Cept the thoughts of yourself feeling bad
I've heard you say many times
That you're better 'n no one
And no one is better 'n you
If you really believe that
You know you have
Nothing to win and nothing to lose
From fixtures and forces and friends
Your sorrow does stem
That hype you and type you
Making you feel
That you gotta be just like them.
I'd forever talk to you
But soon my words
They would turn into a meaningless ring
For deep in my heart
I know there is no help I can bring
Just do what you think you should do
And someday, maybe
Who knows, baby
I'll come and be cryin' to you.
We The First People
I'm proud to belong to one of the original clans
Whose Ancestors occupied all of these lands
Before we were "found" by some wandering seaman
Who knew just where he was and we became "Indian"
Talk to me of our victories, and I will listen
Tell me about our history, a tear will glisten
Stories of how life use to be, bring a rueful smile
Drums and flutes will find me dreaming all the while
In order to "save" us, they killed us
Our peaceful cultures were "dangerous"
And they thought they could just ravage us
But by fighting back, we became “savages”
Call us lazy indeed - we're not driven by their greed
To gather "materials" about them
But my question is
How did we exist
For hundreds of centuries without them?
We come to each other
exactly at the center,
the spine of ample fire, and suffer
to be revised.
Stay with me.
Weren't we promised
the sheer flame, bright change
so clean even our clothes wouldn't smell of smoke,
not one hair of our heads would be singed?
Yet, just now, didn't the tongues slip
loose and hot about my neck?
Stay close now.
The sound is like a rustling coming from chambers.
someone sifting through thousands
of pages, the histories of rapture,
looking for a happy ending.
The sound is like the sea,
which is very far away.
Are you scared?
There are many things
which are far from us now.
Try to recall a few of them:
the iron in the bath water
that made you taste of rust.
The rabbit screaming in the night,
its innards strewn
on the stoop like prophesy.
Can you hear me? Say something.
Tell me what you remember of our life.
The torn dress you threw away,
a piece of which I rescued and used as a scarf.
Are you still with me? Say something.
Does this hurt very much? Are you here?
They restored man to the earth
They said you will eat
And you will eat
They cast the heavens to the earth
They said The gods will perish
And the gods will perish
They made a building site of the earth
They said The weather will be beautiful
And the weather will be beautiful
They opened a hole on the earth
They said The flame will burst forth
And the flame will burst forth
Speaking to the masters of the earth
They said You will give way
And you will give way
They took in their hands the earth
They said The black shall be white
And the black shall be white
Glory on the lands and the earth
To the sun of Bolshevik days
And Glory to the Bolsheviks
—Translated from the French by Mitch Abidor
(from Hourra l'Oural, 1934)
Oh the sisters of mercy, they are not departed or gone.
They were waiting for me when I thought that I just can't go on.
And they brought me their comfort and later they brought me this song.
Oh I hope you run into them, you who've been travelling so long.
Sonnet 13 - And wilt thou have me fashion into speech
Elizabeth Barrett Browning
And wilt thou have me fashion into speech
The love I bear thee, finding words enough,
And hold the torch out, while the winds are rough,
Between our faces, to cast light on each?—
I drop it at thy feet. I cannot teach
My hand to hold my spirit so far off
From myself—me—that I should bring thee proof
In words, of love hid in me out of reach.
Nay, let the silence of my womanhood
Commend my woman-love to thy belief,—
Seeing that I stand unwon, however wooed,
And rend the garment of my life, in brief,
By a most dauntless, voiceless fortitude,
Lest one touch of this heart convey its grief
My friend, the traveler
We are here,
Hidden under various disguises,
As guards, guides and companions
Along your life's journey,
To give you assistance
To extend a helping hand
To provide succor.
But a reflection of your virtues
Manifesting in time
Placed by your forgotten
In the inexhaustible
Yours for the taking
When the need arises.
Whose face is always hidden
Yet ever revealed
In the silent smile
Of your heart,
In the caress of the wind,
In the soothing coolness of spring water.
And the secret is
Beautiful Vagabonds by Desi Di Nardo
I am not the piston in the flower or
The bulging seed throttled by pollen
But a separate figure expectant and
Cupped by the shape palms make
Holding sumptuously to the fragile
Killings – crickets, bees, and moths
The soulful water strider apparently
Impervious to deep mirrored waters
And the lotus lilies rooted in mire
Look up at me
Look into me
I am the wind-loving swallow
Lighter than the air itself
Rippling my whole transience
Renascent by the threat of rain