Thursday, February 28, 2013

William Shakespeare (1564-1616)


If the dull substance of my flesh were thought,
Injurious distance should not stop my way,
For then despite of space I would be brought,
From limits far remote, where thou dost stay,
No matter then although my foot did stand
Upon the farthest earth removed from thee,
For nimble thought can jump both sea and land,
As soon as think the place where he would be.
But ah, thought kills me that I am not thought
To leap large lengths of miles when thou art gone,
But that so much of earth and water wrought,
I must attend, time's leisure with my moan.
Receiving nought by elements so slow,
But heavy tears, badges of either's woe

Wednesday, February 27, 2013

Li-Young Lee

A Story

Sad is the man who is asked for a story
and can't come up with one.

His five-year-old son waits in his lap.
Not the same story, Baba. A new one.
The man rubs his chin, scratches his ear.

In a room full of books in a world
of stories, he can recall
not one, and soon, he thinks, the boy
will give up on his father.

Already the man lives far ahead, he sees
the day this boy will go. Don't go!
Hear the alligator story! The angel story once more!
You love the spider story. You laugh at the spider.
Let me tell it!

But the boy is packing his shirts,
he is looking for his keys. Are you a god,
the man screams, that I sit mute before you?
Am I a god that I should never disappoint?

But the boy is here. Please, Baba, a story?
It is an emotional rather than logical equation,
an earthly rather than heavenly one,
which posits that a boy's supplications
and a father's love add up to silence.

Tuesday, February 26, 2013

Charles Bukowski (1920-1994)

Another Day

having the low down blues and going
into a restraunt to eat.
you sit at a table.
the waitress smiles at you.
she's dumpy. her ass is too big.
she radiates kindess and symphaty.
live with her 3 months and a man would no real agony.
o.k., you'll tip her 15 percent.
you order a turkey sandwich and a
the man at the table across from you
has watery blue eyes and
a head like an elephant.
at a table further down are 3 men
with very tiny heads
and long necks
like ostiches.
they talk loudly of land development.
why, you think, did I ever come
in here when I have the low-down
then the the waitress comes back eith the sandwich
and she asks you if there will be anything
snd you tell her, no no, this will be
then somebody behind you laughs.
it's a cork laugh filled with sand and
broken glass.

you begin eating the sandwhich.

it's something.
it's a minor, difficult,
sensible action
like composing a popular song
to make a 14-year old
you order another beer.
jesus,look at that guy
his hands hang down almost to his knees and he's
well, time to get out.
pivk up the bill.
go to the register.
pick up a toothpick.
go out the door.
your car is still there.
and there are 3 men with heads
and necks
like ostriches all getting into one
they each have a toothpick and now
they are talking about women.
they drive away first
they drive away fast.
they're best i guess.
it's an unberably hot day.
there's a first-stage smog alert.
all the birds and plants are dead
or dying.

you start the engine.

Monday, February 25, 2013

Joseph Brodsky (1940-1996)

Folk Tune

It's not that the Muse feels like clamming up,
it's more like high time for the lad's last nap.
And the scarf-waving lass who wished him the best
drives a steamroller across his chest.

And the words won't rise either like that rod
or like logs to rejoin their old grove's sweet rot,
and, like eggs in the frying pan, the face
spills its eyes all over the pillowcase.

Are you warm tonight under those six veils
in that basin of yours whose strung bottom wails;
where like fish that gasp at the foreign blue
my raw lip was catching what then was you?

I would have hare's ears sewn to my bald head,
in thick woods for your sake I'd gulp drops of lead,
and from black gnarled snags in the oil-smooth pond
I'd bob up to your face as some Tirpitz won't.

But it's not on the cards or the waiter's tray,
and it pains to say where one's hair turns gray.
There are more blue veins than the blood to swell
their dried web, let alone some remote brain cell.

We are parting for good, my friend, that's that.
Draw an empty circle on your yellow pad.
This will be me: no insides in thrall.
Stare at it a while, then erase the scrawl.

Joseph Brodsky

Sunday, February 24, 2013

Thomas Traherne (1636-1674)

"And every stone and every star a tongue,
And every gale of wind a curious song.
The Heavens were an oracle, and spoke
Divinity: the Earth did undertake
The office of a priest; and I being dumb
(Nothing besides was dumb) all things did come
With voices and instructions..."

Saturday, February 23, 2013

Anna Akhmatova (1889-1966)

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.

June 6, 1914, Slepnyovo

~Anna Akhmatova

Thursday, February 21, 2013

Jim Carroll (1949-2009)

Praying Mantis

Look at it
It's all blank
The face in the photograph
Too dark for features
But the praying mantis
Just so clear
Its forelegs fingering my hair
And it's there in focus on my shoulder
It teaches me my true name
It gives me this message:

Do not strike the low chord,
Lest its vibration awaken the halls of Maya.

It instructs me on the ways when need be to hide
It awakens the serpent inside to throb, to burn
It pulls the arrow from my ear
And it whispers, whispers, whispers a last word
What seems the last vapors of a long dream
Like Baraka wrote, like James Brown sings
Whispers, "please, please, please."

Wednesday, February 20, 2013

Vincente Huidobro (1893-1948)


A small town
A train stopped on the plain

Deaf stars sleep
in every puddle
And the water trembles
Curtains to the wind

Night hangs in the grove

A lively drizzle
From the flower-covered steeple
Bleeds the stars

Now and then
Ripe hours

Drop on life


Saturday, February 16, 2013

Jan Baeke

According to the rules

You play a game.

You work according to the rules, but don’t say, afterwards
give him a day to get out of sight.

You ask me
if he will make it
if a day, an eternity, an hour will be enough.

I repeat what you count out and see that it works.
How it fits within the rules –

Don’t move again, put a blindfold on
hide ourselves.
We are given it all in all.

Friday, February 15, 2013

Shin Byong-eun

The Road to Yeosu by Shin Byong-eun

suddenly you may feel the world is too much;
you may feel you are the only one in the world.
When you shake your head in the dead-end alley,
and say, “No, this is not it. This is not it,”
come to Yeosu at once, lightly,
throwing away all the burdens in your heart.
To you who have run a long way,
the generous rolling sea
and the islands that resemble wind
will softly whisper–
what shakes is not the core;
what shakes lasts only for a moment.
Showing you that living can be so light at times,
she will make a seaweed soup
and relieve you of your tangled and knotted life.
knowing how lonely you were,
the smiling camellia, returning after the biting winter,
will untie her dress and rush to hold you.

Thursday, February 14, 2013

Allen Linam

Eclipse o'96

the day fell as the clouds moved in

a fear and tension came to a halt

the moon spoke in it's calm way

a night to remember had entered

stars seemed to spark and glow

an event that many eyes never saw

soon the magic came upon us all

such grace in the heavens above

slowly gently moving, the moon

the sun and earth danced above

a unison before millions of eyes

so gentle but so tremendous

soon it was the beginning

a crisp view before so many

sparks seemed to fly and dance

a beautiful red glow was growing

slowly and gently such sweet unison

my weary eyes has never seen

soft sweet moon before me

saturn singing her songs they danced

the three slowly sang a chorus

a celestial song of unison,of one

thoughts of awe passed within me

nothing came from my lips

though i write the glory of

the eclipse o' 96.........

Allen Linam

Wednesday, February 13, 2013

Charles Beaudelaire (1821-1867)


by: Charles Baudelaire

In Nature's temple living pillars rise,
And words are murmured none have understood,
And man must wander through a tangled wood
Of symbols watching him with friendly eyes.

As long-drawn echoes heard far-off and dim
Mingle to one deep sound and fade away;
Vast as the night and brilliant as the day,
Colour and sound and perfume speak to him.

Some perfumes are as fragrant as a child,
Sweet as the sound of hautboys, meadow-green;
Others, corrupted, rich, exultant, wild,

Have all the expansion of things infinite:
As amber, incense, musk, and benzoin,
Which sing the sense's and the soul's delight.

Tuesday, February 12, 2013

Jean Nordhaus


Would it surprise you to learn
that years beyond your longest winter
you still get letters from your bank, your old
philanthropies, cold flakes drifting
through the mail-slot with your name?
Though it's been a long time since your face
interrupted the light in my door-frame,
and the last tremblings of your voice
have drained from my telephone wire,
from the lists of the likely, your name
is not missing. It circles in the shadow-world
of the machines, a wind-blown ghost. For generosity
will be exalted, and good credit
outlasts death. Caribbean cruises, recipes,
low-interest loans. For you who asked
so much of life, who lived acutely
even in duress, the brimming world
awaits your signature. Cancer and heart disease
are still counting on you for a cure.
B'nai Brith numbers you among the blessed.
They miss you. They want you back.

-Jean Nordhaus

Monday, February 11, 2013

Percy Bysshe Shelley (1792-1822)

A Summer Evening Churchyard, Lechlade, Gloucestershire

THE wind has swept from the wide atmosphere
Each vapour that obscured the sunset's ray,
And pallid Evening twines its beaming hair
In duskier braids around the languid eyes of Day:
Silence and Twilight, unbeloved of men,
Creep hand in hand from yon obscurest glen.

They breathe their spells towards the departing day,
Encompassing the earth, air, stars, and sea;
Light, sound, and motion, own the potent sway,
Responding to the charm with its own mystery.
The winds are still, or the dry church-tower grass
Knows not their gentle motions as they pass.

Thou too, aerial pile, whose pinnacles
Point from one shrine like pyramids of fire,
Obey'st I in silence their sweet solemn spells,
Clothing in hues of heaven thy dim and distant spire,
Around whose lessening and invisible height
Gather among the stars the clouds of night.

The dead are sleeping in their sepulchres:
And, mouldering as they sleep, a thrilling sound,
Half sense half thought, among the darkness stirs,
Breathed from their wormy beds all living things around,
And, mingling with the still night and mute sky,
Its awful hush is felt inaudibly.

Thus solemnized and softened, death is mild
And terrorless as this serenest night.
Here could I hope, like some enquiring child
Sporting on graves, that death did hide from human sight
Sweet secrets, or beside its breathless sleep
That loveliest dreams perpetual watch did keep.

Percy Bysshe Shelley

Saturday, February 9, 2013

Anne Spencer (1882-1975)

Letter to My Sister

It is dangerous for a woman to defy the gods;
To taunt them with the tongue's thin tip,
Or strut in the weakness of mere humanity,
Or draw a line daring them to cross;
The gods own the searing lightning,
The drowning waters, tormenting fears
And anger of red sins.

Oh, but worse still if you mince timidly--
Dodge this way or that, or kneel or pray,
Be kind, or sweat agony drops
Or lay your quick body over your feeble young;
If you have beauty or none, if celibate
Or vowed--the gods are Juggernaut,
Passing over . . . over . . .

This you may do:
Lock your heart, then, quietly,
And lest they peer within,
Light no lamp when dark comes down
Raise no shade for sun;
Breathless must your breath come through
If you'd die and dare deny
The gods their god-like fun.

John Ashbery

At North Farm

Somewhere someone is traveling furiously toward you,
At incredible speed, traveling day and night,
Through blizzards and desert heat, across torrents, through narrow passes.
But will he know where to find you,
Recognize you when he sees you,
Give you the thing he has for you?

Hardly anything grows here,
Yet the granaries are bursting with meal,
The sacks of meal piled to the rafters.
The streams run with sweetness, fattening fish;
Birds darken the sky. Is it enough
That the dish of milk is set out at night,
That we think of him sometimes,
Sometimes and always, with mixed feelings?

John Ashbery

Friday, February 8, 2013

Sylvia Plath (1932-1963)

The Eye-Mote
Blameless as daylight I stood looking
At a field of horses, necks bent, manes blown,
Tails streaming against the green
Backdrop of sycamores. Sun was striking
White chapel pinnacles over the roofs,
Holding the horses, the clouds, the leaves

Steadily rooted though they were all flowing
Away to the left like reeds in a sea
When the splinter flew in and stuck my eye,
Needling it dark. Then I was seeing
A melding of shapes in a hot rain:
Horses warped on the altering green,

Outlandish as double-humped camels or unicorns,
Grazing at the margins of a bad monochrome,
Beasts of oasis, a better time.
Abrading my lid, the small grain burns:
Red cinder around which I myself,
Horses, planets and spires revolve.

Neither tears nor the easing flush
Of eyebaths can unseat the speck:
It sticks, and it has stuck a week:
I wear the present itch for flesh,
Blind to what will be and what was.
I dream that I am Oedipus.

What I want back is what I was
Before the bed, before the knife,
Before the brooch-pin and the salve
Fixed me in this parenthesis;
Horses fluent in the wind,
A place, a time gone out of mind.

Thursday, February 7, 2013

Li-Young Lee

My Indigo

It's late. I've come
to find the flower which blossoms
like a saint dying upside down.
The rose won't do, nor the iris.
I've come to find the moody one, the shy one,
downcast, grave, and isolated.
Now, blackness gathers in the grass,
and I am on my hands and knees.
What is its name?

Little sister, my indigo,
my secret, vaginal and sweet,
you unfurl yourself shamelessly
toward the ground. You burn. You live
a while in two worlds
at once.

Li-Young Lee

Wednesday, February 6, 2013

Czeslaw Milosz (1911-2004)

A Poem For the End of the Century

When everything was fine
And the notion of sin had vanished
And the earth was ready
In universal peace
To consume and rejoice
Without creeds and utopias,

I, for unknown reasons,
Surrounded by the books
Of prophets and theologians,
Of philosophers, poets,
Searched for an answer,
Scowling, grimacing,
Waking up at night, muttering at dawn.

What oppressed me so much
Was a bit shameful.
Talking of it aloud
Would show neither tact nor prudence.
It might even seem an outrage
Against the health of mankind.

Alas, my memory
Does not want to leave me
And in it, live beings
Each with its own pain,
Each with its own dying,
Its own trepidation.

Why then innocence
On paradisal beaches,
An impeccable sky
Over the church of hygiene?
Is it because that
Was long ago?

To a saintly man
--So goes an Arab tale--
God said somewhat maliciously:
"Had I revealed to people
How great a sinner you are,
They could not praise you."

"And I," answered the pious one,
"Had I unveiled to them
How merciful you are,
They would not care for you."

To whom should I turn
With that affair so dark
Of pain and also guilt
In the structure of the world,
If either here below
Or over there on high
No power can abolish
The cause and the effect?

Don't think, don't remember
The death on the cross,
Though everyday He dies,
The only one, all-loving,
Who without any need
Consented and allowed
To exist all that is,
Including nails of torture.

Totally enigmatic.
Impossibly intricate.
Better to stop speech here.
This language is not for people.
Blessed be jubilation.
Vintages and harvests.
Even if not everyone
Is granted serenity.

Czeslaw Milosz

Tuesday, February 5, 2013

Diane di Prima

First Snow, Kerhonkson
By Diane di Prima
for Alan

This, then, is the gift the world has given me
(you have given me)
softly the snow
cupped in hollows
lying on the surface of the pond
matching my long white candles
which stand at the window
which will burn at dusk while the snow
fills up our valley
this hollow
no friend will wander down
no one arriving brown from Mexico
from the sunfields of California, bearing pot
they are scattered now, dead or silent
or blasted to madness
by the howling brightness of our once common vision
and this gift of yours—
white silence filling the contours of my life.

Sunday, February 3, 2013

Charles Beaudelaire (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.

Saturday, February 2, 2013

Rainer Maria Rilke (1875-1976)

The Lovers

See how in their veins all becomes spirit:
into each other they mature and grow.
Like axles, their forms tremblingly orbit,
round which it whirls, bewitching and aglow.
Thirsters, and they receive drink,
watchers, and see: they receive sight.
Let them into one another sink
so as to endure each other outright.

Friday, February 1, 2013

Anna Enquist


Towering tall and over me, the bridge
grabs into the grass with hard fingers.
Vehicles slide back and forth, a child
with flowers, a roaring fanfare.

I wait. They’ll bow in my direction,
bent with madness and malady, hearing in the waves’ slap
comfort from a hundred mothers. I’m willing;
I take position, surround the new piles.

When this bridge is overgrown and gone
I’ll still be beating stones. O cloudy sky,
see yourself reflected in my flesh. I’ve let myself
be led, be spanned, be beaten.