Wednesday, July 31, 2013

Pablo Neruda (1904-1973)


It was passed from one bird to another,
the whole gift of the day.
The day went from flute to flute,
went dressed in vegetation,
in flights which opened a tunnel
through the wind would pass
to where birds were breaking open
the dense blue air -
and there, night came in.

When I returned from so many journeys,
I stayed suspended and green
between sun and geography -
I saw how wings worked,
how perfumes are transmitted
by feathery telegraph,
and from above I saw the path,
the springs and the roof tiles,
the fishermen at their trades,
the trousers of the foam;
I saw it all from my green sky.
I had no more alphabet
than the swallows in their courses,
the tiny, shining water
of the small bird on fire
which dances out of the pollen.

Pablo Neruda :

Tuesday, July 30, 2013

Sherman Alexie


Buffalo Bill opens a pawn shop on the reservation
right across the border from the liquor store
and he stays open 24 hours a day,7 days a week

and the Indians come running in with jewelry
television sets, a VCR, a full-lenght beaded buckskin outfit
it took Inez Muse 12 years to finish. Buffalo Bill

takes everything the Indians have to offer, keeps it
all catalogues and filed in a storage room. The Indians
pawn their hands, saving the thumbs for last, they pawn

their skeletons, falling endlessly from the skin
and when the last Indian has pawned everything
but his heart, Buffalo Bill takes that for twenty bucks

closes up the pawn shop, paints a new sign over the old
charges the Indians five bucks a head to enter.

Sherman Alexie

Monday, July 29, 2013

Octavio Paz (1914-1998)

Summit and Gravity

There's a motionless tree
And another one coming forward
A river of trees
Hits my chest
The green surge
Is good fortune
You are dressed in red
You are
The seal of the scorched year
The carnal firebrand
The star fruit
In you like sun
The hour rests
Above an abyss of clarities
The height is clouded by birds
Their beaks construct the night
Their wings carry the day
Planted in the crest of light
Between firmness and vertigo
You are
Transparent balance

(»Cima y gravedad«)

Sunday, July 28, 2013

Kenneth Patchen (1911-1972)

As We Are So Wonderfully Done With Each Other

As we are so wonderfully done with each other
We can walk into our separate sleep
On floors of music where the milkwhite cloak of childhood lies

O my lady, my fairest dear, my sweetest, loveliest one
Your lips have splashed my dull house with the speech of flowers
My hands are hallowed where they touched over your
soft curving.

It is good to be weary from that brilliant work
It is being God to feel your breathing under me

A waterglass on the bureau fills with morning . . .
Don’t let anyone in to wake us.

Kenneth Patchen :

Saturday, July 27, 2013

Sylvia Plath (1932-1963)

April Aubade

Worship this world of watercolor mood
in glass pagodas hung with veils of green
where diamonds jangle hymns within the blood
and sap ascends the steeple of the vein.

A saintly sparrow jargons madrigals
to waken dreamers in the milky dawn,
while tulips bow like a college of cardinals
before that papal paragon, the sun.

Christened in a spindrift of snowdrop stars,
where on pink-fluted feet the pigeons pass
and jonquils sprout like solomon's metaphors,
my love and I go garlanded with grass.

Again we are deluded and infer
that somehow we are younger than we were.

Friday, July 26, 2013

Charles Baudelaire (1821-1867)


by: Charles Baudelaire
N 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.

Thursday, July 25, 2013

Anna Akhmatova (1889-1966)

I Don't Know If You're Alive Or Dead

I don't know if you're alive or dead.
Can you on earth be sought,
Or only when the sunsets fade
Be mourned serenely in my thought?

All is for you: the daily prayer,
The sleepless heat at night,
And of my verses, the white
Flock, and of my eyes, the blue fire.

No-one was more cherished, no-one tortured
Me more, not
Even the one who betrayed me to torture,
Not even the one who caressed me and forgot.

Anna Akhmatova

Wednesday, July 24, 2013

Percy Bysshe Shelley (1792-1822)

Fragment: Apostrophe To Silence

Silence! Oh, well are Death and Sleep and Thou
Three brethren named, the guardians gloomy-winged
Of one abyss, where life, and truth, and joy
Are swallowed up—yet spare me, Spirit, pity me,
Until the sounds I hear become my soul,
And it has left these faint and weary limbs,
To track along the lapses of the air
This wandering melody until it rests
Among lone mountains in some...

Percy Bysshe Shelley

Tuesday, July 23, 2013

Sandra Simonds

Bikram Yoga Sonnet

I was tired because I have a two year old
so I took some NoDoz. And then my heart flipped
out and I needed to relax so I went to a yoga studio.
And it was like the world was made of awkward
pose. And then life turned Caribbean
in a head stand. And then I passed
out in underwater aqua-
marine roses and stars. I think the teacher said “plank”
which meant I was a pirate in colorful
spandex with a nose ring and booty
or maybe it meant that the world was ending
and soon I would become very flexible.
I hope no one here is concerned. The teacher said
some poses take a lifetime to learn.

Monday, July 22, 2013

Margaret Atwood

Sekhmet, the Lion-headed Goddess of War

He was the sort of man
who wouldn't hurt a fly.
Many flies are now alive
while he is not.
He was not my patron.
He preferred full granaries, I battle.
My roar meant slaughter.
Yet here we are together
in the same museum.
That's not what I see, though, the fitful
crowds of staring children
learning the lesson of multi-
cultural obliteration, sic transit
and so on.

I see the temple where I was born
or built, where I held power.
I see the desert beyond,
where the hot conical tombs, that look
from a distance, frankly, like dunces' hats,
hide my jokes: the dried-out flesh
and bones, the wooden boats
in which the dead sail endlessly
in no direction.

What did you expect from gods
with animal heads?
Though come to think of it
the ones made later, who were fully human
were not such good news either.
Favour me and give me riches,
destroy my enemies.
That seems to be the gist.
Oh yes: And save me from death.
In return we're given blood
and bread, flowers and prayer,
and lip service.

Maybe there's something in all of this
I missed. But if it's selfless
love you're looking for,
you've got the wrong goddess.

I just sit where I'm put, composed
of stone and wishful thinking:
that the deity who kills for pleasure
will also heal,
that in the midst of your nightmare,
the final one, a kind lion
will come with bandages in her mouth
and the soft body of a woman,
and lick you clean of fever,
and pick your soul up gently by the nape of the neck
and caress you into darkness and paradise.

Margaret Atwood

Sunday, July 21, 2013

Terri Witek

Fly Over Water, Crumbs in a Cup

At the trial for drunken boaters,
news about how dazzled the hour was,

how like sacks stuffed with shadows
the underwater creatures they hurt without knowing.

If we together equal less than those breathers,
less than burning waters plus hyacinth, than bare cypress knees,

less too than the boats with their careless blades,
tell me (and forgive my old wakefulness)

how much less is the one who, moon-dragged and angry,
only watches love sleep—

less than a fly’s eye fracturing green?
less than crumbs in a cup, desire’s remainder?

Saturday, July 20, 2013

Bob Kaufman (1925-1986)

Jazz Chick

Music from her breast, vibrating
Soundseared into burnished velvet.
Silent hips deceiving fools.
Rivulets of trickling ecstacy
From the alabaster pools of Jazz
Where music cools hot souls.
Eyes more articulately silent
Than Medusa's thousand tongues.
A bridge of eyes, consenting smiles
reveal her presence singing
Of cool remembrance, happy balls
Wrapped in swinging
Her music...

Friday, July 19, 2013

Esther Belin

Night Travel

I like to travel to L.A. by myself
My trips to the crowded smoggy polluted by brown
indigenous and immigrant haze are healing.
I travel from one pollution to another.
Being urban I return to where I came from
My mother
survives in L.A.
Now for over forty years.

I drive to L.A. in the darkness of the day
on the road before CHP
one with the dark
driving my black truck
invisible on my journey home.

The dark roads take me back to my childhood
riding in the camper of daddy’s truck headed home.
My brother, sister and I would be put to sleep in the
and sometime in the darkness of the day
daddy would clime into the cab with mom carrying a
   thermos full of coffee and some Pendleton blankets
And they would pray
before daddy started the truck
for journey mercies.

Thursday, July 18, 2013

Jane Kenyon (1947-1995)

Let Evening Come

Let the light of late afternoon
shine through chinks in the barn, moving
up the bales as the sun moves down.

Let the cricket take up chafing
as a woman takes up her needles
and her yarn. Let evening come.

Let dew collect on the hoe abandoned
in long grass. Let the stars appear
and the moon disclose her silver horn.

Let the fox go back to its sandy den.
Let the wind die down. Let the shed
go black inside. Let evening come.

To the bottle in the ditch, to the scoop
in the oats, to air in the lung
let evening come.

Let it come, as it will, and don't
be afraid. God does not leave us
comfortless, so let evening come.

Jane Kenyon

Wednesday, July 17, 2013

Vladimir Mayakovsky (1893-1930)

Call To Account!


Translated: by Lika Galkina with Jasper Goss, 2005.


The drum of war thunders and thunders.
It calls: thrust iron into the living.
From every country
slave after slave
are thrown onto bayonet steel.
For the sake of what?
The earth shivers
and stripped.
Mankind is vapourised in a blood bath
only so
can get hold of Albania.
Human gangs bound in malice,
blow after blow strikes the world
only for
someone’s vessels
to pass without charge
through the Bosporus.
the world
won’t have a rib intact.
And its soul will be pulled out.
And trampled down
only for someone,
to lay
their hands on
Why does
a boot
crush the Earth — fissured and rough?
What is above the battles’ sky -
When will you stand to your full height,
giving them your life?
When will you hurl a question to their faces:
Why are we fighting?

Vladimir Mayakovsky (1917)

Tuesday, July 16, 2013

Ruth Stone (1915-2011)

Another Feeling

Once you saw a drove of young pigs
crossing the highway. One of them
pulling his body by the front feet,
the hind legs dragging flat.
Without thinking,
you called the Humane Society.
They came with a net and went for him.
They were matter of fact, uniformed;
there were two of them,
their truck ominous, with a cage.
He was hiding in the weeds. It was then
you saw his eyes. He understood.
He was trembling.
After they took him, you began to suffer regret.
Years later, you remember his misfit body
scrambling to reach the others.
Even at this moment, your heart
is going too fast; your hands sweat.

Ruth Stone

Monday, July 15, 2013

Tomas Transtromer

Landscape with Suns

The sun emerges from behind the house
stands in the middle of the street
and breathes on us
with its red wind.
Innsbruck I must leave you.
But tomorrow
there will be a glowing sun
in the gray, half-dead forest
where we must work and live.

Saturday, July 13, 2013

Elizabeth Barrett Browning (1806-1861)

A Dead Rose

O Rose! who dares to name thee?
No longer roseate now, nor soft, nor sweet;
But pale, and hard, and dry, as stubble-wheat,---
Kept seven years in a drawer---thy titles shame thee.

The breeze that used to blow thee
Between the hedgerow thorns, and take away
An odour up the lane to last all day,---
If breathing now,---unsweetened would forego thee.

The sun that used to smite thee,
And mix his glory in thy gorgeous urn,
Till beam appeared to bloom, and flower to burn,---
If shining now,---with not a hue would light thee.

The dew that used to wet thee,
And, white first, grow incarnadined, because
It lay upon thee where the crimson was,---
If dropping now,---would darken where it met thee.

The fly that lit upon thee,
To stretch the tendrils of its tiny feet,
Along thy leaf's pure edges, after heat,---
If lighting now,---would coldly overrun thee.

The bee that once did suck thee,
And build thy perfumed ambers up his hive,
And swoon in thee for joy, till scarce alive,---
If passing now,---would blindly overlook thee.

The heart doth recognise thee,
Alone, alone! The heart doth smell thee sweet,
Doth view thee fair, doth judge thee most complete,---
Though seeing now those changes that disguise thee.

Yes, and the heart doth owe thee
More love, dead rose! than to such roses bold
As Julia wears at dances, smiling cold!---
Lie still upon this heart---which breaks below thee!

Elizabeth Barrett Browning

Lou Reed

"Halloween Parade"

There's a down town fairy singing out "Proud Mary"
As she cruises Christopher Street
And some Southern Queen is acting loud and mean
Where the docks and the Badlands meet

This Halloween is something to be sure
Especially to be here without you

There's a Greta Garbo and an Alfred Hitchcock
And some black Jamaican stud
There's five Cinderellas and some leather drags
I almost fell into my mug

There's a Crawford, Davis and a tacky Cary Grant
And some Homeboys lookin' for trouble down here from the Bronx

But there ain't no Hairy and no Virgin Mary
You won't hear those voices again
And Johnny Rio and Rotten Rita
You'll never see those faces again

This Halloween is something to be sure
Especially to be here without you

There's the Born Again Losers and the Lavender Boozers
And some crack team from Washington Heights
The boys from Avenue B and the girls from Avenue D
A Tinkerbell in tights

This celebration somehow gets me down
Especially when I see you're not around

There's no Peter Pedantic saying things romantic
In Latin, Greek or Spic
There's no Three bananas or Brandy Alexander
dishing all their tricks

It's a different feeling that I have today
Especially when I know you've gone away

There's a girl from Soho with a teeshirt saying "I Blow"
She's with the "jive five 2 plus 3"
And the girls for pay dates are giving cut rates
Or else doing it for free

The past keeps knock, knock, knocking on my door
And I don't want to hear it anymore

No consolations please for feelin' funky
I got to get my head above my knees
But it makes me mad and mad makes me sad
And then I start to freeze

In the back of my mind I was afraid it might be true
In the back of my mind I was afraid that they meant you

The Halloween Parade
At the Halloween parade
At the Halloween parade
See you next year, at the Halloween parade

Friday, July 12, 2013

D H Lawrence.


by: D.H. Lawrence (1885-1930)
OURS is the shame and sorrow But the disgrace is mine; Your love was dark and thorough, Mine was the love of the sun for a flower He creates with his shine. I was diligent to explore you, Blossom you stalk by stalk, Till my fire of creation bore you Shrivelling down in the final dour Anguish--then I suffered a balk. I knew your pain, and it broke My fine, craftsman's nerve; Your body quailed at my stroke, And my courage failed to give you the last Fine torture you did deserve. You are shapely, you are adorned, But opaque and dull in the flesh, Who, had I but pierced with the thorned Fire-threshing anguish, were fused and cast In a lovely illumined mesh. Like a painted window: the best Suffering burnt through your flesh, Undressed it and left it blest With a quivering sweet wisdom of grace: but now Who shall take you afresh? Now who will burn you free, From your body's terrors and dross, Since the fire has failed in me? What man will stoop in your flesh to plough The shrieking cross? A mute, nearly beautiful thing Is your face, that fills me with shame As I see it hardening, Warping the perfect image of God, And darkening my eternal fame.

"Last Words to Miriam" is reprinted from Amores: Poems. D.H. Lawrence. New York: B.W. Huebsch, 1916.

Thursday, July 11, 2013

Patti Smith

Beneath the Southern Cross

to be
not anyone
this maze of being
to cry
not any cry
so mournful that
the dove just laughs
the steadfast gasps

to owe
not anyone
to be
not here
but here
equatorial bliss
who walked through
the callow mist
dressed in scraps
who walked
the curve of the world
whose bone scraped
whose flesh unfurled
who grieves not
anyone gone
to greet lame
the inspired sky
amazed to stumble
where gods get lost
the southern cross

Wednesday, July 10, 2013

Sheila Martindale

Volkswagon Song

Sheila Martindale
From: Negotiable Assets. (chapbook, Pierian Press, 1986).

You overtook me on the highway
and took me by surprise
I did not know you were behind me
until your eighteen-wheel transporter
roared by my left flank scattering
gravel dust-clouds and my complacency

For miles I was carried in your updraft
struggling to steer while being swept
dangerously near your loaded rig
my four cylinders spluttering
in the wake of your mega-powered engine

I hugged the road knowing that one touch
of our wheels would send me spinning
across the soft shoulder chassis over roof
into the ditch

When you pulled away
your red lights flashing in my eyes
diminished as they stretched
the growing distance between us
finally disappearing over the crest

Then I resumed my old pace
took control of my own steering
shaken and out of breath but
glad enough of solitude and space

And sometimes on my lonely night drives
the long haul between the cities of my life
I feel vibration on the tarmac
a slight shuddering of undercarriage
and think I hear in the rear distance
the portentous rumbling
of your approach

Tuesday, July 9, 2013

Margret Atwood


My daughter plays on the floor
with plastic letters,
red, blue & hard yellow,
learning how to spell,
how to make spells.

I wonder how many women
denied themselves daughters,
closed themselves in rooms,
drew the curtains
so they could mainline words.

A child is not a poem,
a poem is not a child.
there is no either/or.

I return to the story
of the woman caught in the war
& in labour, her thighs tied
together by the enemy
so she could not give birth.

Ancestress: the burning witch,
her mouth covered by leather
to strangle words.

A word after a word
after a word is power.

At the point where language falls away
from the hot bones, at the point
where the rock breaks open and darkness
flows out of it like blood, at
the melting point of granite
when the bones know
they are hollow & the word
splits & doubles & speaks
the truth & the body
itself becomes a mouth.

This is a metaphor.

How do you learn to spell?
Blood, sky & the sun,
your own name first,
your first naming, your first name,
your first word.

Margaret Atwood

Monday, July 8, 2013

Albert Huffstickler (1927-2002)

Love Song

In how many rooms
have I thought about you
in fifteen years?
In how many states?
In how many moods?
Knowing all the while
that you were still the same
and that I was the one
who left and the past
is past and not dead
but living and unretrievable.
Actually, you were
a shit most of the time
but so beautiful.
Sullen and unapproachable.
So was I.
You said I smoked too much.
Fuck you.
I paid the bills
while you went off to see
your old boyfriends.
Sometimes we’d go for coffee
and sit perfectly silent,
you sketching and me writing.
Those moments exist beyond time.

In how many rooms
have I thought about you
in fifteen years?
You were so beautiful.

Sunday, July 7, 2013

Jane Miller

Meadow with Standing Crows

After living in the sprouting desert there is nothing

like the thought of sweet rain falling into a salty bay.

Rather than bear the farthest touch,

rather than be rain, having been

neither of this world nor mad as it turns

out, on and off during a year

I saw someone had bitten your neck near the baby

hair, and also your shoulder. Why does it show,

is it of the heart, is it mindless, jealousy,

where nothing moves in a field in a world, and it is morning?

Even though you never came after me


Summer, nor called,

not once when I said not to, like finally

stepping over water after contemplation of it

as sand, two crows in the moans of the salt

water in my head answer for whom are we mysterious

and suffering, for loveliness.

Saturday, July 6, 2013

Joseph Brodsky (1940-1996)

I threw my arms about those shoulders


I threw my arms about those shoulders, glancing
at what emerged behind that back,
and saw a chair pushed slightly forward,
merging now with the lighted wall.
The lamp glared too bright to show
the shabby furniture to some advantage,
and that is why sofa of brown leather
shone a sort of yellow in a corner.
The table looked bare, the parquet glossy,
the stove quite dark, and in a dusty frame
a landscape did not stir. Only the sideboard
seemed to me to have some animation.
But a moth flitted round the room,
causing my arrested glance to shift;
and if at any time a ghost had lived here,
he now was gone, abandoning this house.

Joseph Brodsky

Friday, July 5, 2013

Marge Piercy

Attack of the Squash People

And thus the people every year
in the valley of humid July
did sacrifice themselves
to the long green phallic god
and eat and eat and eat.
They're coming, they're on us,
the long striped gourds, the silky
babies, the hairy adolescents,
the lumpy vast adults
like the trunks of green elephants.
Recite fifty zucchini recipes!

Zucchini tempura; creamed soup;
sauté with olive oil and cumin,
tomatoes, onion; frittata;
casserole of lamb; baked
topped with cheese; marinated;
stuffed; stewed; driven
through the heart like a stake.

Get rid of old friends: they too
have gardens and full trunks.
Look for newcomers: befriend
them in the post office, unload
on them and run. Stop tourists
in the street. Take truckloads
to Boston. Give to your Red Cross.
Beg on the highway: please
take my zucchini, I have a crippled
mother at home with heartburn.

Sneak out before dawn to drop
them in other people's gardens,
in baby buggies at churchdoors.
Shot, smuggling zucchini into
mailboxes, a federal offense.

With a suave reptilian glitter
you bask among your raspy
fronds sudden and huge as
alligators. You give and give
too much, like summer days
limp with heat, thunderstorms
bursting their bags on our heads,
as we salt and freeze and pickle
for the too little to come.

Marge Piercy

Thursday, July 4, 2013

Lew Welch (1926-1971)

I Saw Myself

I saw myself
a ring of bone
in the clear stream
of all of it

and vowed
always to be open to it
that all of it
might flow through

and then heard
"ring of bone" where
ring is what a

bell does

Lew Welch

Wednesday, July 3, 2013

Ruth Stone (1915-2011)


I wore a large brim hat
like the women in the ads.
How thin I was: such skin.
Yes. It was Indianapolis;
a taste of sin.

You had a natural Afro;
no money for a haircut.
We were in the seedy part;
the buildings all run-down;
the record shop, the jazz
impeccable. We moved like
the blind, relying on our touch.
At the corner coffee shop,
after an hour’s play, with our
serious game on paper,
the waitress asked us
to move on. It wasn’t much.

Oh mortal love, your bones
were beautiful. I traced them
with my fingers. Now the light
grows less. You were so angular.
The air darkens with steel
and smoke. The cracked world
about to disintegrate,
in the arms of my total happiness.

Ruth Stone

Tuesday, July 2, 2013

Jorge Luis Borges (1899-1986)

A Patio

At evening

they grow weary, the patio’s two or three colours.

Tonight, the moon, bright circle,

fails to dominate space.

Patio, channel of sky.

The patio is the slope

down which sky flows into the house.


eternity waits at the crossroad of stars.

It’s pleasant to live in the friendly dark

of entrance-way, arbour, and cistern.

Monday, July 1, 2013

Milton Acorn (1923-1986)


Milton Acorn
From: Dig Up My Heart: Selected Poems 1952-83. Toronto: McClelland and Stewart, 1983. p.62.

One day in a lifetime
I saw one with wings
a pipesmoke blur
shaped like half a kiss
and its raspberry-stone
heart winked fast
in a thumbnail of a breast.

In that blink it
was around a briar
and out of sight, but
I caught a flash
of its brain
where flowers swing
udders of sweet cider;
and we pass as thunderclouds or,
dangers like death, earthquake, and war,
ignored because it's no use worrying ....

By him I mean. Responsibility
Against the threat of termination
by war or other things
is given us as by a deity.