Friday, July 31, 2015

Charles Bukowski (1920-1994)

Charles Bukowski
little dark girl with
kind eyes
when it comes time to
use the knife
I won't flinch and
i won't blame
as I drive along the shore alone
as the palms wave,
the ugly heavy palms,
as the living does not arrive
as the dead do not leave,
i won't blame you,
i will remember the kisses
our lips raw with love
and how you gave me
everything you had
and how I
offered you what was left of
and I will remember your small room
the feel of you
the light in the window
your records
your books
our morning coffee
our noons our nights
our bodies spilled together
the tiny flowing currents
immediate and forever
your leg my leg
your arm my arm
your smile and the warmth
of you
who made me laugh
little dark girl with kind eyes
you have no
knife. the knife is
mine and i won't use it
Book: Ham on Rye: A Novel by Charles Bukowski

Earle Birney (1904-1995)

The Bear on the Delhi Road

Earle Birney
From:   Fall by Fury. Toronto: McClelland & Stewart, 1977. With permission of the Estate of Earle Birney.
Unreal      tall as a myth
by the road the Himalayan bear
is beating the brilliant air
with his crooked arms
About him two men      bare
spindly as locusts      leap

One pulls on a ring
in the great soft nose      His mate
flicks      flicks with a stick
up at the rolling eyes

They have not led him here
down from the fabulous hills
to this bald alien plain
and the clamorous world      to kill
but simply to teach him to dance

They are peaceful both      these spare
men of Kashmir      and the bear
alive is their living      too
If      far on the Delhi way
around him galvanic they dance
it is merely to wear      wear
from his shaggy body the tranced
wish forever to stay
only an ambling bear
four-footed in berries

It is no more joyous for them
in this hot dust to prance
out of reach of the praying claws
sharpened to paw for ants
in the shadows ofdeodars
It is not easy to free
myth from reality
or rear this fellow up
to lurch      lurch with them
in the tranced dancing of men

Srinagar 1958/Île des Porquerolles 1959

Thursday, July 30, 2015

Elisabeth Barrett Browning (1806-1861)


With the same heart, I said, I'll answer thee
As those, when thou shalt call me by my name--
Lo, the vain promise ! is the same, the same,
Perplexed and ruffled by life's strategy ?
When called before, I told how hastily
I dropped my flowers or brake off from a game,
To run and answer with the smile that came
At play last moment, and went on with me
Through my obedience. When I answer now,
I drop a grave thought, break from solitude;
Yet still my heart goes to thee--ponder how--
Not as to a single good, but all my good !
Lay thy hand on it, best one, and allow
That no child's foot could run fast as this blood.
Elizabeth Barrett Browning :

Wednesday, July 29, 2015

Ruth Stone (1915-2011)

The Trade-Off

Words make the thoughts.
Severe tyrants, like the scrubbers
and guardians of your cells.
They herd your visions
down the ramp to nexus
waiting with sledge hammer
to knock what is the knowing
without knowing into knowledge.
Yes, the tight bag of grammar,
syntax, the clever sidestep
from babble, is a comfortable
prison. A mirror of the mirror.
And all that is uttered in its chains
is locked out from the secret.
Ruth Stone :

Tuesday, July 28, 2015

Charles Simic

Private Eye

To find clues where there are none,
That's my job now, I said to the
Dictionary on my desk. The world beyond
My window has grown illegible,
And so has the clock on the wall.
I may strike a match to orient myself

In the meantime, there's the heart
Stopping hush as the building
Empties, the elevators stop running,
The grains of dust stay put.
Hours of quiescent sleuthing
Before the Madonna with the mop

Shuffles down the long corridor
Trying doorknobs, turning mine.
That's just little old me sweating
In the customer's chair, I'll say.
Keep your nose out of it.
I'm not closing up till he breaks.
Charles Simic :

Monday, July 27, 2015

Robert Frost (1874-1963)


The heart can think of no devotion
Greater than being shore to ocean -
Holding the curve of one position,
Counting an endless repetition.
Robert Frost :

Sunday, July 26, 2015

Chris D Aechtner

Details | Slam Poem |  |

The Gardener: A Soft Slam With Flowers

Fillet rhyme’s flesh (except for two remaining
mnemonic muscles)

to see if my skeletons can stand under their own duress
without leaning on gangsterisms and a pocket full of shells.

I have folded the katana four thousand times within my mind—
unsheathed from my eyes, it rides brainwaves,

mulching detritus into fertilizer 
for the seeds I plant in the ruins of your violence.

With every shot you fire,
I plant a flower in the casing, adding more photosynthesis
to turn your smog back into oxygen.

Your "just kidding" is a boomerang-bullet,
its true intentions covered in paint 
that was "Made in China"—

as it flies back ‘round towards your maw,
the paint peels off, and your "just kidding"
comes skidding to a halt (there’s the remaining
mnemonic muscle).

More and more people see your intent beneath the surface,


and you are left in the echo-reverb of your boomerang ballistics,
continuously shooting yourself, 
blaming others for pulling the hair-trigger,

until your words drain-out so badly,
the supposed life-force in your syllables
is a bluff floating on the fear of those who are too weak
to pull the intravenous filled with your "just kidding"

June 6th, 2015

Saturday, July 25, 2015

Judith Fitzgerald

                                                  ART OF SPECTACLE

So, you feel reckless and lost in the art
Of holding it close while it blows apart —
Every little thing, every little life
slickly glistening, the image, the knife.
And who goes where while what goes wrong, slowly?
Missing in action? The luck of the lowly.
Nobody knows you; now, you know the score,
and somebody can always teach you more.
Open, completely, the heart of never;
learn to treasure the bonds you will sever.
This life, so overfull with hell to pay;
this world and its unconditional sway.
Allow spectacular ravages of earth —
Give us this day our habitual dearth.

Friday, July 24, 2015

Angela Gardner

beyond the footlights

Dream a darkness beyond the footlights
and even if you cannot stand
to read our eyes for applause or censure
at least we are here
shuffling and shifting as time opens out
into the not yet knowing
and at eye-level we are wrapt in the words
that are your and our only clothing
Meaning  both seen and unseen
brushes against our crowding mouths
jostling for an opening, for the wounded beauty
and the cruelty of entry

Thursday, July 23, 2015

Percy Bysshe Shelley (1792-1822)

Love's Philosophy

The fountains mingle with the river,
And the rivers with the ocean;
The winds of heaven mix forever
With a sweet emotion;
Nothing in the world is single;
All things by a law divine
In another's being mingle--
Why not I with thine?

See, the mountains kiss high heaven,
And the waves clasp one another;
No sister flower could be forgiven
If it disdained its brother;
And the sunlight clasps the earth,
And the moonbeams kiss the sea;--
What are all these kissings worth,
If thou kiss not me?
Percy Bysshe Shelley :

Wednesday, July 22, 2015

Charles Bukowski (1920-1994)

Be Kind

we are always asked
to understand the other person's
no matter how
foolish or

one is asked
to view
their total error
their life-waste
especially if they are

but age is the total of
our doing.
they have aged
because they have
out of focus,
they have refused to

not their fault?

whose fault?

I am asked to hide
my viewpoint
from them
for fear of their

age is no crime

but the shame
of a deliberately

among so many


Charles Bukowski :

Tuesday, July 21, 2015

Gerald Stern (b. 1925)


Of all sixty of us I am the only one who went
to the four corners though I don't say it
out of pride but more like a type of regret,
and I did it because there was no one I truly believed
in though once when I climbed the hill in Skye
and arrived at the rough tables I saw the only other
elder who was a vegetarian--in Scotland--
and visited Orwell and rode a small motorcycle
to get from place to place; and I immediately
stopped eating fish and meat and lived on soups;
and we wrote each other in the middle and late fifties
though one day I got a letter from his daughter
that he had died in an accident; he was
I'm sure of it, an angel who flew in midair
with one eternal gospel to proclaim
to those inhabiting the earth and every nation;
and now that I go through my papers every day
I search and search for his letters but to my shame
I have even forgotten his name, that messenger
who came to me with tablespoons of blue lentils.

Gerald Stern :

Monday, July 20, 2015

Alfred Lord Tennyson (1809-1892)

"Flower in the crannied wallI pluck you out of the crannies
I hold you here, root and all, in my hand.
Little flower, but if I could understand,
What you are, root and all, and all in all,
I should know what God and man is."-  Alfred Tennyson, Flower in the Crannied Wall  

Sunday, July 19, 2015

Alfred Corn (b. 1943)

The Wall

By Alfred Corn b. 1943        

I try and try not to think about the Wall.
Its profile, massive height and roughcut stonework
All stir up fear, gloom, exaltation, pride,
And numbness, in a jumble hard to name.

No one knows who had it built, or when;
Five hundred years ago, the locals guess;
But sunset trumpet calls depict it gold
Enough to have been there more than a thousand.

The thing held off  invasions, true—but not
Always, our history records defeats.
Nowadays we never get invaders,
Or else they're us, going beyond its limits

To acquire new territory and subjects.
Though weaker stretches have sheared off and fallen,
Herders fence up their sheepfolds at the base,
And some blocks are dragged off to build new houses.

Topside, binoculars can sight its ramparts
Winding through dark-blue mountains farther north . . .
That monumental, chill indifference
Explains why boys graffiti names on it

(Or jokes), no matter if their scrawny slashes
In time begin to erode. Decades ago,
I gouged in mine, it wasn't yet forbidden.
Luckily, dense vines screen the signature,

Made at an age when we assume our name
Amounts to more than permanent stone structures.
Oh, even now it sparks a vocal reflex
When I move the leaves and read it there again.

Friday, July 17, 2015

August Stramm (1874-1915)

Frost fire

Toes deaden.
Breath smelts to lead.
Hot needles dance in fingers.
Backs turn to snails. Ears hum coffee.
The fire swaggers with logs
and with a shrivel a crack
a satisfaction your simmer heart
from high in the sky a seething sleep.

—Translated from the German by Alisiair Noon
(Berlin, 1914)

Thursday, July 16, 2015

Amiri Baraka (1934-2014)

Preface to a Twenty Volume Suicide Note
Lately, I've become accustomed to the way
The ground opens up and envelopes me
Each time I go out to walk the dog.
Or the broad edged silly music the wind
Makes when I run for a bus...

Things have come to that.

And now, each night I count the stars.
And each night I get the same number.
And when they will not come to be counted,
I count the holes they leave.

Nobody sings anymore.

And then last night I tiptoed up
To my daughter's room and heard her
Talking to someone, and when I opened
The door, there was no one there...
Only she on her knees, peeking into

Her own clasped hands

Wednesday, July 15, 2015

Paul Celan (1920-1970)


By Paul Celan 1920–1970     
Translated By Pierre Joris
above the grayblack wastes.
A tree-
high thought
grasps the light-tone: there are
still songs to sing beyond

Tuesday, July 14, 2015

Stanley Plumly (b. 1939)

Variation on a Line from Elizabeth Bishop’s “Five Flights Up”

By Stanley Plumly b. 1939       

Sometimes it’s the shoes, the tying and untying,
the bending of the heart to put them on,
take them off, the rush of blood
between the head and feet, my face,
sometimes, if I could see it, astonished.
Other times the stairs, three, four stages
at the most, “flights” we call them,
in honor of the wings we’ll never have,
the fifth floor the one that kills the breath,
where the bird in the building flies to first.
Love, too, a leveler, a dying all its own,
the parts left behind not to be replaced,
a loss ongoing, and every day increased,
like rising in the night, at 3:00 am,
to watch the snow or the dead leaf fall,
the rings around the streetlight in the rain,
and then the rain, the red fist in the heart
opening and closing almost without me.
“ — Yesterday brought to today so lightly!”
The morning, more and more, like evening.
When I bend to tie my shoes and the blood
fills the cup, it’s as if I see into the hidden earth,
see the sunburned path on which I pass
in shoes that look like sandals
and arrive at a house where my feet
are washed and wiped with my mother’s hair
and anointed with the autumn oils of wildflowers.
Share this text ...?

Source: Poetry (June 2015).

Monday, July 13, 2015

Leonard Cohen (b. 1934)

“first of all nothing will happen
and a little later
nothing will happen again”
Leonard Cohen, Book of Longing
“... i didn't fall in love of course
it's never up to you
but she was walking back and forth
and i was passing through”
Leonard Cohen, Book of Longing
“How bitter were
the Prozac pills
of the last
few hundred mornings”
Leonard Cohen, Book of Longing
“The sweetest little song:

You go your way
I'll go your way too!”
Leonard Cohen, Book of Longing

Sunday, July 12, 2015

Phil Hall

as of old

Phil Hall

  as of old

a ghost haunts a house you've lost
  buy the house back — feed the ghost

a pillow & a snore outbid the going rates
  a living ear is what a ghost eats

asleep & listening — weave a nursery
  to a child tucked in tell a ghost story

"the blood on the stairs would not fade
  'til the bones in the cellar were reburied

& the story told . . ."

Saturday, July 11, 2015

Francisco X Alarcon

L.A. Prayer


By Francisco X. Alarcon      
April 1992
was wrong                  
when buses                
didn't come                
no longer                    
how easy                      
the night                    
the more
we run
the more
we burn
o god
show us
the way
lead us
spare us
from ever
turning into
so much

Maya Angelou (1928-2014)

Harlem Hopscotch

By Maya Angelou 1928–2014       
One foot down, then hop! It's hot.
          Good things for the ones that's got.
Another jump, now to the left.
          Everybody for hisself.

In the air, now both feet down.
         Since you black, don't stick around.
Food is gone, the rent is due,
          Curse and cry and then jump two.

All the people out of work,
         Hold for three, then twist and jerk.
Cross the line, they count you out.
          That's what hopping's all about.

Both feet flat, the game is done.
They think I lost. I think I won.

Friday, July 10, 2015

Nicanor Parra (b 1914)

Young Poets

Write as you will
In whatever style you like
Too much blood has run under the bridge
To go on believing
That only one road is right.

In poetry everything is permitted.

With only this condition of course,
You have to improve the blank page.

(trans. by Miller Williams)
Nicanor Parra :

Thursday, July 9, 2015

Anna Akhmatova (1889-1966)

We Don't Know How To Say Goodbye - Poem by Anna Akhmatova

We don't know how to say good-bye
We wander on, shoulder by shoulder.
Already the sun is going down.
You're moody, I am your shadow.

Let's step inside a church and watch
baptisms, marriages, masses for the dead.
Why are we different from the rest?
Outdoors again, each of us turns his head.

Or else, let's sit in the graveyard
On the trampled snow, sighing to each other.
That stick in your hand is tracing mansions
In which we shall always be together.

Wednesday, July 8, 2015

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 :

Tuesday, July 7, 2015

Langston Hughs (1902-1967)


We passed their graves:
The dead men there,
Winners or losers,
Did not care.
In the dark
They could not see
Who had gained
The victory.
Langston Hughes :

Monday, July 6, 2015

Milton Acorn (1923-1986)

I Shout Love

Milton Acorn
From: I Shout Love and other Poems, ed. James Deahl. Toronto: Aya Press, 1987. p. 23.
I shout love in a blizzard's
scarf of curling cold,
for my heart's a furred sharp-toothed thing
that rushes out whimpering
when pain cries the sign writ on it.

I shout love into your pain
when skies crack and fall
like slivers of mirrors,
and rounded fingers, blued as a great rake,
pluck the balled yarn of your brain.

I shout love at petals peeled open
by stern nurse fusion-bomb sun,
terribly like an adhesive bandage,
for love and pain, love and pain
are companions in this age.

June, 1958.

Sunday, July 5, 2015

Margaret Atwood

The Rest

The rest of us watch from beyond the fence
as the woman moves with her jagged stride
into her pain as if into a slow race.
We see her body in motion
but hear no sounds, or we hear
sounds but no language; or we know
it is not a language we know
yet. We can see her clearly
but for her it is running in black smoke.
The cluster of cells in her swelling
like porridge boiling, and bursting,
like grapes, we think. Or we think of
explosions in mud; but we know nothing.
All around us the trees
and the grasses light up with forgiveness,
so green and at this time
of the year healthy.
We would like to call something
out to her. Some form of cheering.
There is pain but no arrival at anything.
Margaret Atwood :

Saturday, July 4, 2015

Aleister Crowley (1875-1947)


Gabriel whispered in mine ear
His archangelic poesie.
How can I write? I only hear
The sobbing murmur of the sea.

Raphael breathed and bade me pass
His rapt evangel to mankind;
I cannot even match, alas!
The ululation of the wind.

The gross grey gods like gargoyles spit
On every poet's holy head;
No mustard-seed of truth or wit
In those curst furrows, quick or dead!

A tithe of what I know would cleanse
The leprosy of earth; and I -
My limits are like other men's.
I must live dumb, and dumb must die!
Aleister Crowley :

Li He (790-816)

Walking Through The South Mountain Fields

The autumn wilds bright,
Autumn wind white.
Pool-water deep and clear,
Insects whining,
Clouds rise from rocks,
On moss-grown mountains.
cold reds weeping dew,
Colour of graceful crying.

Wilderness fields in October
Forks of rice.
Torpid fireflies, flying low,
Start across dike-paths.
Water flows from veins of rocks,
Springs drip on sand.
Ghost-lanterns like lacquer lamps
Lighting up pine-flowers.
Li He :

Friday, July 3, 2015

Thomas K. Hervey (1799-1859)

"He stood beside a cottage lone
And listened to a lute,
One summer's eve, when the breeze was gone,
And the nightingale was mute."
-  Thomas K. Hervey, The Devil's Progress 

Thursday, July 2, 2015

Siegfried Sasson (1886-1967)

Conscripts - Poem by Siegfried Sassoon

‘Fall in, that awkward squad, and strike no more
Attractive attitudes! Dress by the right!
The luminous rich colours that you wore
Have changed to hueless khaki in the night.
Magic? What’s magic got to do with you?
There’s no such thing! Blood’s red, and skies are blue.’

They gasped and sweated, marching up and down.
I drilled them till they cursed my raucous shout.
Love chucked his lute away and dropped his crown.
Rhyme got sore heels and wanted to fall out.
‘Left, right! Press on your butts!’ They looked at me
Reproachful; how I longed to set them free!

I gave them lectures on Defence, Attack;
They fidgeted and shuffled, yawned and sighed,
And boggled at my questions. Joy was slack,
And Wisdom gnawed his fingers, gloomy-eyed.
Young Fancy—how I loved him all the while—
Stared at his note-book with a rueful smile.

Their training done, I shipped them all to France,
Where most of those I’d loved too well got killed.
Rapture and pale Enchantment and Romance,
And many a sickly, slender lord who’d filled
My soul long since with lutanies of sin,
Went home, because they couldn’t stand the din.

But the kind, common ones that I despised
(Hardly a man of them I’d count as friend),
What stubborn-hearted virtues they disguised!
They stood and played the hero to the end,
Won gold and silver medals bright with bars,
And marched resplendent home with crowns and stars.                         

Wednesday, July 1, 2015

Britney Franco


By Britney Franco 
My eyes are on yours
Looking for my body in the dark pools of your pupils
And my mind is in a dark suburban town
Where the milkman delivers clanking bottles
To the homes of disenchanted Gen Xers. 

You label me an old soul but I digress.
I am the broken bones you find on a beach
On your lonely vacation, too worn down to
Provide an exact time frame.

I could have been lying dormant as
An existential crisis since the late seventies
When you made a suicide pact with the neighbor
You would never see again
Or preceding the birth of the universe. 

Buddhists say that there is a source of
And path out of suffering.
But they do not know, do not say
How to save yourself from a cycle of 
Emotional disconnect, of perpetual floating

On the sands of time,
How to embrace introspection’s anchor
Like a long-lost brother.