Sunday, September 30, 2012

Leonard Cohen



"Closing Time"


Ah we're drinking and we're dancing
and the band is really happening
and the Johnny Walker wisdom running high
And my very sweet companion
she's the Angel of Compassion
she's rubbing half the world against her thigh
And every drinker every dancer
lifts a happy face to thank her
the fiddler fiddles something so sublime
all the women tear their blouses off
and the men they dance on the polka-dots
and it's partner found, it's partner lost
and it's hell to pay when the fiddler stops:
it's CLOSING TIME
Yeah the women tear their blouses off
and the men they dance on the polka-dots
and it's partner found, it's partner lost
and it's hell to pay when the fiddler stops:
it's CLOSING TIME

Ah we're lonely, we're romantic
and the cider's laced with acid
and the Holy Spirit's crying, "Where's the beef?"
And the moon is swimming naked
and the summer night is fragrant
with a mighty expectation of relief
So we struggle and we stagger
down the snakes and up the ladder
to the tower where the blessed hours chime
and I swear it happened just like this:
a sigh, a cry, a hungry kiss
the Gates of Love they budged an inch
I can't say much has happened since
but CLOSING TIME

I swear it happened just like this:
a sigh, a cry, a hungry kiss
the Gates of Love they budged an inch
I can't say much has happened since
CLOSING TIME

I loved you for your beauty
but that doesn't make a fool of me:
you were in it for your beauty too
and I loved you for your body
there's a voice that sounds like God to me
declaring, declaring, declaring that your body's really you
And I loved you when our love was blessed
and I love you now there's nothing left
but sorrow and a sense of overtime
and I missed you since the place got wrecked
And I just don't care what happens next
looks like freedom but it feels like death
it's something in between, I guess
it's CLOSING TIME

Yeah I missed you since the place got wrecked
By the winds of change and the weeds of sex
looks like freedom but it feels like death
it's something in between, I guess
it's CLOSING TIME

Yeah we're drinking and we're dancing
but there's nothing really happening
and the place is dead as Heaven on a Saturday night
And my very close companion
gets me fumbling gets me laughing
she's a hundred but she's wearing
something tight
and I lift my glass to the Awful Truth
which you can't reveal to the Ears of Youth
except to say it isn't worth a dime
And the whole damn place goes crazy twice
and it's once for the devil and once for Christ
but the Boss don't like these dizzy heights
we're busted in the blinding lights,
busted in the blinding lights
of CLOSING TIME

The whole damn place goes crazy twice
and it's once for the devil and once for Christ
but the Boss don't like these dizzy heights
we're busted in the blinding lights,
busted in the blinding lights
of CLOSING TIME

Oh the women tear their blouses off
and the men they dance on the polka-dots
It's CLOSING TIME
And it's partner found, it's partner lost
and it's hell to pay when the fiddler stops
It's CLOSING TIME
I swear it happened just like this:
a sigh, a cry, a hungry kiss
It's CLOSING TIME
The Gates of Love they budged an inch
I can't say much has happened since
But CLOSING TIME
I loved you when our love was blessed
I love you now there's nothing left
But CLOSING TIME
I miss you since the place got wrecked
By the winds of change and the weeds of sex.



Friday, September 28, 2012

Wislawa Szymborska (1923-2012)


Advertisement


I’m a tranquilizer.
I’m effective at home.
I work in the office.
I can take exams
on the witness stand.
I mend broken cups with care.
All you have to do is take me,
let me melt beneath your tongue,
just gulp me
with a glass of water.

I know how to handle misfortune,
how to take bad news.
I can minimize injustice,
lighten up God’s absence,
or pick the widow’s veil that suits your face.
What are you waiting for—
have faith in my chemical compassion.

You’re still a young man/woman.
It’s not too late to learn how to unwind.
Who said
you have to take it on the chin?

Let me have your abyss.
I’ll cushion it with sleep.
You’ll thank me for giving you
four paws to fall on.

Sell me your soul.
There are no other takers.

There is no other devil anymore.

Wislawa Szymborska

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

George Bacovia (1881-1957)


Sic transit …
I
There, where there is no one,
Not even shadows,
there to where
multitudes of years go,
and the din of the day,
and the silence of the night …
Where all things are known …
There, say travelers,
Only outbursts of fire
Denounce themselves
dismally, metallically,
From minute to minute.
There, where there is no one
and no more need
For any words.

II
And look, we've been surprised by evening,
Which is nothing by day.
Just like
So many times before.
Tales …
of work,
Leisure,
the banquet in the shadows,
Or a time of happiness.
And look, we've been surprised by evening,
which is nothing by day.

Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Percy Bysshe Shelley (1792-1822)


A Bridal Song


I.
The golden gates of Sleep unbar
Where Strength and Beauty, met together,
Kindle their image like a star
In a sea of glassy weather!
Night, with all thy stars look down,--
Darkness, weep thy holiest dew,--
Never smiled the inconstant moon
On a pair so true.
Let eyes not see their own delight;--
Haste, swift Hour, and thy flight
Oft renew.

II.
Fairies, sprites, and angels, keep her!
Holy stars, permit no wrong!
And return to wake the sleeper,
Dawn,—ere it be long!
O joy! O fear! what will be done
In the absence of the sun!
Come along!

Percy Bysshe Shelley

Monday, September 24, 2012

Rainer Maria Rilke (1875-1926)


As Once the Winged Energy of Delight


As once the winged energy of delight
carried you over childhood's dark abysses,
now beyond your own life build the great
arch of unimagined bridges.

Wonders happen if we can succeed
in passing through the harshest danger;
but only in a bright and purely granted
achievement can we realize the wonder.

To work with Things in the indescribable
relationship is not too hard for us;
the pattern grows more intricate and subtle,
and being swept along is not enough.

Take your practiced powers and stretch them out
until they span the chasm between two
contradictions...For the god
wants to know himself in you.

Rainer Maria Rilke

Sunday, September 23, 2012

Marilyn Chin

“Altar (#3)” from “Broken Chord Sequence”
By Marilyn Chin
.
Why cry over dried flowers?
They’re meant to be straw.
Why cry over miniature roses?
They’re meant to be small.

Why cry over Buddha’s hand citron?
Why cry over the hidden flower?
Why cry over Mother’s burnt forehead?
Her votive deathglow, her finest hour.

Saturday, September 22, 2012

Czeslaw Milosz (1911-2004)


A Song On The End Of The World


On the day the world ends
A bee circles a clover,
A fisherman mends a glimmering net.
Happy porpoises jump in the sea,
By the rainspout young sparrows are playing
And the snake is gold-skinned as it should always be.

On the day the world ends
Women walk through the fields under their umbrellas,
A drunkard grows sleepy at the edge of a lawn,
Vegetable peddlers shout in the street
And a yellow-sailed boat comes nearer the island,
The voice of a violin lasts in the air
And leads into a starry night.


And those who expected lightning and thunder
Are disappointed.
And those who expected signs and archangels’ trumps
Do not believe it is happening now.
As long as the sun and the moon are above,
As long as the bumblebee visits a rose,
As long as rosy infants are born
No one believes it is happening now.


Only a white-haired old man, who would be a prophet
Yet is not a prophet, for he’s much too busy,
Repeats while he binds his tomatoes:
There will be no other end of the world,
There will be no other end of the world.

Czeslaw Milosz

Friday, September 21, 2012

Elizabeth Barrett Browning (1806-1861)


XVI

And yet, because thou overcomest so,
Because thou art more noble and like a king,
Thou canst prevail against my fears and fling
Thy purple round me, till my heart shall grow
Too close against thine heart henceforth to know
How it shook when alone. Why, conquering
May prove as lordly and complete a thing
In lifting upward, as in crushing low!
And as a vanquished soldier yields his sword
To one who lifts him from the bloody earth,
Even so, Beloved, I at last record,
Here ends my strife. If thou invite me forth,
I rise above abasement at the word.
Make thy love larger to enlarge my worth.

Thursday, September 20, 2012

Sara de Ibáñez (1909-1971)


Island on the earth

In the north the cold and its broken jasmine.
In the east a nightingale full of thorns.
In the south the rose in its airy mines,
and in the west a road deep in thought.

In the north an angel lies gagged.
In the east the song commands its mists.
In the south my tender bunch of thin palm trees,
and in the west my door and my worry.

A flight of cloud or sigh could
trace this finest of all borders
that amply defends my refuge.

A distant retribution of wave bursts
and bites into your foreign oblivion,
my dry island inmidst the battle.

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Tomas Transtromer


National Insecurity

The Under Secretary leans forward and draws an X

and her ear-drops dangle like swords of Damocles.

As a mottled butterfly is invisible against the ground

so the demon merges with the opened newspaper.

A helmet worn by no one has taken power.

The mother-turtle flees flying under the water.

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Charles Bukowski (1920-1994)


Are You Drinking?


washed-up, on shore, the old yellow notebook
out again
I write from the bed
as I did last
year.
will see the doctor,
Monday.
"yes, doctor, weak legs, vertigo, head-
aches and my back
hurts."
"are you drinking?" he will ask.
"are you getting your
exercise, your
vitamins?"
I think that I am just ill
with life, the same stale yet
fluctuating
factors.
even at the track
I watch the horses run by
and it seems
meaningless.
I leave early after buying tickets on the
remaining races.
"taking off?" asks the motel
clerk.
"yes, it's boring,"
I tell him.
"If you think it's boring
out there," he tells me, "you oughta be
back here."
so here I am
propped up against my pillows
again
just an old guy
just an old writer
with a yellow
notebook.
something is
walking across the
floor
toward
me.
oh, it's just
my cat
this
time.

Charles Bukowski

Monday, September 17, 2012

Joseph Brodsky (1940-1996)


A list of some observation...


A list of some observation. In a corner, it's warm.
A glance leaves an imprint on anything it's dwelt on.
Water is glass's most public form.
Man is more frightening than its skeleton.
A nowhere winter evening with wine. A black
porch resists an osier's stiff assaults.
Fixed on an elbow, the body bulks
like a glacier's debris, a moraine of sorts.
A millennium hence, they'll no doubt expose
a fossil bivalve propped behind this gauze
cloth, with the print of lips under the print of fringe,
mumbling "Good night" to a window hinge.

Joseph Brodsky

Sunday, September 16, 2012

Nazik al-Malaika (1922-2007)




Veiled Utopia.
A haven of magic, we were told
It was.
Made of nectar and twilight roses,
Of tenderness and gold.
In it, they said, was
The panacea for the wounds of man.
We wanted it, but didn't get it.
Back to our hopes, miserable and unfulfilled.
Where is this land?
Are we to see it or
is it to stay enveloped, unattainable
Agitating inside us only
A numbed yearning?
A prayer
Within closed lips?
The millions are
A torrent of desire,
Burning desire,
And a dream of flame.
Open the gates for thousands
Of exhausted victims are screaming.

Iraq

Saturday, September 15, 2012

Li-Young Lee



In His Own Shadow

He is seated in the first darkness
of his body sitting in the lighter dark
of the room,

the greater light of day behind him,
beyond the windows, where
Time is the country.

His body throws two shadows:
One onto the table
and the piece of paper before him,
and one onto his mind.

One makes it difficult for him to see
the words he’s written and crossed out
on the paper. The other
keeps him from recognizing
another master than Death. He squints.
He reads: Does the first light hide
inside the first dark?

He reads: While all bodies share
the same fate, all voices do not.

Friday, September 14, 2012

Marina Tsvetaeva (1892-1941)


x x x

The street awakens. She looks, exhausted
With the mute windows' sullen eyes,
On sleepy faces, red from the cold,
That with thoughts chase the stubborn sleep away.
The blackened trees with rime are covered -
With trace mysterious of the night's fun,
In gleaming brocade sad ones are standing,
Just like the dead the alive among.
The gray coat mingles, trampled upon,
The forage-cup with a wreathe, a bored look,
And the red arms, pressed to the ears,
And the black apron with the tied books.
The street awakens. She looks, unpleasant
With mute windows' sullen eyes, it would seem.
To sleep, in a happy thought be forgotten,
What life seems to us, this is a dream!

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

Pablo Neruda (1904-1973)


A Lemon


Out of lemon flowers
loosed
on the moonlight, love's
lashed and insatiable
essences,
sodden with fragrance,
the lemon tree's yellow
emerges,
the lemons
move down
from the tree's planetarium

Delicate merchandise!
The harbors are big with it-
bazaars
for the light and the
barbarous gold.
We open
the halves
of a miracle,
and a clotting of acids
brims
into the starry
divisions:
creation's
original juices,
irreducible, changeless,
alive:
so the freshness lives on
in a lemon,
in the sweet-smelling house of the rind,
the proportions, arcane and acerb.

Cutting the lemon
the knife
leaves a little cathedral:
alcoves unguessed by the eye
that open acidulous glass
to the light; topazes
riding the droplets,
altars,
aromatic facades.

So, while the hand
holds the cut of the lemon,
half a world
on a trencher,
the gold of the universe
wells
to your touch:
a cup yellow
with miracles,
a breast and a nipple
perfuming the earth;
a flashing made fruitage,
the diminutive fire of a planet.

Pablo Neruda

Monday, September 10, 2012

Percy Bysshe Shelley (1792-1822)


A Fragment: To Music


Silver key of the fountain of tears,
Where the spirit drinks till the brain is wild;
Softest grave of a thousand fears,
Where their mother, Care, like a drowsy child,
Is laid asleep in flowers.

Percy Bysshe Shelley

Leonard Cohen



Suzanne


Suzanne takes you down to her place near the river
You can hear the boats go by
You can spend the night beside her
And you know that she's half crazy
But that's why you want to be there
And she feeds you tea and oranges
That come all the way from China
And just when you mean to tell her
That you have no love to give her
Then she gets you on her wavelength
And she lets the river answer
That you've always been her lover
And you want to travel with her
And you want to travel blind
And you know that she will trust you
For you've touched her perfect body with your mind.

Leonard Cohen

Sunday, September 9, 2012

Arthur Rimbaud (1854-1891)


A Winter Dream


In winter we’ll travel in a little pink carriage
With cushions of blue.
We’ll be fine. A nest of mad kisses waits
In each corner too.

You’ll shut your eyes, not to see, through the glass,
Grimacing shadows of evening,
Those snarling monsters, a crowd going past
Of black wolves and black demons.

Then you’ll feel your cheek tickled quite hard…
A little kiss, like a maddened spider,
Will run over your neck…

And you’ll say: “Catch it!” bowing your head,
– And we’ll take our time finding that creature
– Who travels so far…

Arthur Rimbaud

Saturday, September 8, 2012

Paul Verlaine (1844-1896)


A Une Femme


To you these lines for the consoling grace
Of your great eyes wherein a soft dream shines,
For your pure soul, all-kind!-to you these lines
From the black deeps of mine unmatched distress.

'Tis that the hideous dream that doth oppress
My soul, alas! its sad prey ne'er resigns,
But like a pack of wolves down mad inclines
Goes gathering heat upon my reddened trace!

I suffer, oh, I suffer cruelly!
So that the first man's cry at Eden lost
Was but an eclogue surely to my cry!

And that the sorrows, Dear, that may have crossed
Your life, are but as swallows light that fly
-Dear!-in a golden warm September sky.

Paul Verlaine

Friday, September 7, 2012

Li-Young Lee


Trading For Heaven

I saw you at the top of the stairs.
Now I live a secret life.

I saw you holding open the door.
Now I’m filling pages with

things I can’t tell anyone.
Now I’m more alone than I’ve ever been.

I traded every beyond, every someday,
for heaven in my lifetime. Now I’m dying

of my life. Now I’m alive
inside my death.

Do you see the space between our bodies?
Barely a hand, hardly a breath,

it is the space mountains and rivers are made of.
It is the beginning of oceans, the space

between either and or, both and neither,
the happiness of forgetting

our names and the happiness of hearing them
for the first time. I heard you

singing yourself to sleep.
It was a song from both of our childhoods.

And now I don’t know if singing
is a form of helplessness,
Time’s architecture revealed,

or some inborn motive all blood
and breath obey
to enact a savage wheel.

I found you at dawn
sitting by the open kitchen window.
You were sorting seeds in a plate.

And if you were praying out loud,
I’ll never tell.

And if you were listening to the doves,
and if their various whoo-ing, and coo-ing,
and dying in time,
are your earliest questions blown back to you
through the ragged seasons,

and if you’ve lived your life
in answer to those questions,
I’ll never tell.

Your destiny is safe with me.
Your childhood is safe with me.
What you decide to bury is safe with me.

Thursday, September 6, 2012

Elizabeth Barrett Browning (1806-1861)


The Best Thing In The World
by Elizabeth Barrett Browning

What's the best thing in the world?
June-rose, by May-dew impearled;
Sweet south-wind, that means no rain;
Truth, not cruel to a friend;
Pleasure, not in haste to end;
Beauty, not self-decked and curled
Till its pride is over-plain;
Light, that never makes you wink;
Memory, that gives no pain;
Love, when, so, you're loved again.
What's the best thing in the world?
—Something out of it, I think.

Wednesday, September 5, 2012

Nadia Anjuman (1980-2005)


Light Blue Memories

O exiles of the mountain of oblivion!
O the jewels of your names, slumbering in the mire of silence
O your obliterated memories, your light blue memories
In the silty mind of a wave in the sea of forgetting
Where is the clear, flowing stream of your thoughts?
Which thieving hand plundered the pure golden statue of your dreams?
In this storm which gives birth to oppression
Where has your ship, your serene silver mooncraft gone?

Tuesday, September 4, 2012

Jane Kenyon (1947-1995)


Happiness


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.

Jane Kenyon :

Monday, September 3, 2012

Krisztina Tóth


On the nature of love
.
Harbor suspicions as you watch closed eyes.
The water glugs beneath the ice, extras
act out the dream, and through the mouth's entrance/
exit an aerial procession slides;

recurring words, years reckoned in street signs,
buses that go zigzagging eastwards-westwards
across the nights, and on disordered bedclothes
the blinding signals drawn by motorist's lights …

… You've not been here. You lie here now, but that is
soon to be just a recollection. Therefore
intensively interrogate the hand which

recently moved as yours: you cannot ever
be sure who owns the body lying latticed
by shadows from the drapes, the stranger.

Saturday, September 1, 2012

Robert Frost (1874-1963)


A Cliff Dwelling


There sandy seems the golden sky
And golden seems the sandy plain.
No habitation meets the eye
Unless in the horizon rim,
Some halfway up the limestone wall,
That spot of black is not a stain
Or shadow, but a cavern hole,
Where someone used to climb and crawl
To rest from his besetting fears.
I see the callus on his soul
The disappearing last of him
And of his race starvation slim,
Oh years ago - ten thousand years.

Robert Frost