Monday, November 30, 2015

Alberto Rios (b.1952)

A Man Then Suddenly Stops Moving


By Alberto RĂ­os b. 1952       
The old Russian spits up a plum
fruit of the rasping sound
he has stored in his throat
all these lonely years

made in fact lonely by his wife
who left him, God knows
without knowing how to cook for himself.

He examines the plum
notes its purplish consistency
almost the color and shape of her buttocks
whose circulation was bad

which is why he himself wears a beret:
black, good wool, certainly warm enough
the times he remembers.

He shoots the plum
to the ground like a child
whose confidence is a game of marbles

whose flick of a thumb
is a smile inside his mouth
knowing what he knows will happen.

But his wife, Marthe
does not spill out
when the plum breaks open.

Instead, it is a younger self
alive and waving
just the size he remembers
himself to have been.

The old Russian puts him onto his finger
like a parakeet
and sits him on the shelf
with the pictures.

For the rest of his days
he nags himself constantly
into a half-sleep
surprised by this turn of events.

Sunday, November 29, 2015

Jorge Luis Borges (1899-1986)


When sorrow lays us low
for a second we are saved
by humble windfalls
of the mindfulness or memory:
the taste of a fruit, the taste of water,
that face given back to us by a dream,
the first jasmine of November,
the endless yearning of the compass,
a book we thought was lost,
the throb of a hexameter,
the slight key that opens a house to us,
the smell of a library, or of sandalwood,
the former name of a street,
the colors of a map,
an unforeseen etymology,
the smoothness of a filed fingernail,
the date we were looking for,
the twelve dark bell-strokes, tolling as we count,
a sudden physical pain.

Eight million Shinto deities
travel secretly throughout the earth.
Those modest gods touch us--
touch us and move on.

Saturday, November 28, 2015

Pablo Neruda (1904-1973)

Ode to Hope

Oceanic dawn
at the center
of my life,
waves like grapes,
the sky's solitude,
you fill me
and flood
the complete sea,
the undiminished sky,
and space,
sea foam's white
the orange earth,
the sun's
fiery waist
in agony,
so many
gifts and talents,
birds soaring into their dreams,
and the sea, the sea,
chorus of rich, resonant salt,
and meanwhile,
we men,
touch the water,
and hoping,
we touch the sea,

And the waves tell the firm coast:
'Everything will be fulfilled.'
Pablo Neruda :

Friday, November 27, 2015

Edgar Allan Poe (1808-1849)

A Dream Within A Dream

Take this kiss upon the brow!
And, in parting from you now,
Thus much let me avow-
You are not wrong, who deem
That my days have been a dream;
Yet if hope has flown away
In a night, or in a day,
In a vision, or in none,
Is it therefore the less gone?
All that we see or seem
Is but a dream within a dream.

I stand amid the roar
Of a surf-tormented shore,
And I hold within my hand
Grains of the golden sand-
How few! yet how they creep
Through my fingers to the deep,
While I weep- while I weep!
O God! can I not grasp
Them with a tighter clasp?
O God! can I not save
One from the pitiless wave?
Is all that we see or seem
But a dream within a dream?
Edgar Allan Poe :

Thursday, November 26, 2015

Cesar Vallejo (1892-1938)

Under The Poplars

Like priestly imprisoned poets,
the poplars of blood have fallen asleep.
On the hills, the flocks of Bethlehem
chew arias of grass at sunset.

The ancient shepherd, who shivers
at the last martyrdoms of light,
in his Easter eyes has caught
a purebred flock of stars.

Formed in orphanhood, he goes down
with rumors of burial to the praying field,
and the sheep bells are seasoned with shadow.

It survives, the blue warped
In iron, and on it, pupils shrouded,
A dog etches its pastoral howl.
Cesar Vallejo :

Tuesday, November 24, 2015

Khalil Gibran (1883-1931)

A Tear And A Smile

I would not exchange the sorrows of my heart
For the joys of the multitude.
And I would not have the tears that sadness makes
To flow from my every part turn into laughter.

I would that my life remain a tear and a smile.

A tear to purify my heart and give me understanding
Of life's secrets and hidden things.
A smile to draw me nigh to the sons of my kind and
To be a symbol of my glorification of the gods.

A tear to unite me with those of broken heart;
A smile to be a sign of my joy in existence.

I would rather that I died in yearning and longing than that I live Weary and despairing.

I want the hunger for love and beauty to be in the
Depths of my spirit,for I have seen those who are
Satisfied the most wretched of people.
I have heard the sigh of those in yearning and Longing, and it is sweeter than the sweetest melody.

With evening's coming the flower folds her petals
And sleeps, embracingher longing.
At morning's approach she opens her lips to meet
The sun's kiss.

The life of a flower is longing and fulfilment.
A tear and a smile.

The waters of the sea become vapor and rise and come
Together and area cloud.

And the cloud floats above the hills and valleys
Until it meets the gentle breeze, then falls weeping
To the fields and joins with brooks and rivers to Return to the sea, its home.

The life of clouds is a parting and a meeting.
A tear and a smile.

And so does the spirit become separated from
The greater spirit to move in the world of matter
And pass as a cloud over the mountain of sorrow
And the plains of joy to meet the breeze of death
And return whence it came.

To the ocean of Love and Beauty----to God.
Khalil Gibran :

Monday, November 23, 2015

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 :

Sunday, November 22, 2015

Nick Flynn (b.1960)

Philip Seymour Hoffman


By Nick Flynn b. 1960        
Last summer I found a small box stashed away in my apartment,
a box  filled with enough Vicodin to kill me.  I would  have sworn
that  I'd  thrown it away years ealier,  but apparently not. I stared
at the white pills blankly for a long while, I even took a picture of
them,  before  (finally, definitely)  throwing  them away.  I'd been
sober  (again)  for  some years  when  I found that box,  but every
addict  has  one— a  little  box,  metaphorical  or  actual— hidden
away.  Before I flushed them  I held them in my palm,  marveling
that  at  some  point in  the  not-so-distant  past it seemed a good
idea  to  keep a  stash of  pills on hand.  For an emergency, I told
myself.  What kind of emergency? What  if  I needed  a root canal
on  a  Sunday  night?  This little  box  would  see me through until
the   dentist   showed   up  for   work  the  next  morning.  Half  my
brain  told  me  that,  while  the other half  knew that  looking into
that  box  was  akin  to  seeing  a photograph of myself standing on
the  edge of a bridge,  a bridge  in the  familiar  dark neighborhood
of  my  mind,   that   comfortable  place   where  I  could  somehow
believe that fuck it was an adequate response to life.

Saturday, November 21, 2015

Neil Young - After The Gold Rush

Neil Young

"After The Goldrush"

Well, I dreamed I saw the knights
In armor coming,
Saying something about a queen.
There were peasants singing and
Drummers drumming
And the archer split the tree.
There was a fanfare blowing
To the sun
That was floating on the breeze.
Look at Mother Nature on the run
In the nineteen seventies.
Look at Mother Nature on the run
In the nineteen seventies.

I was lying in a burned out basement
With the full moon in my eyes.
I was hoping for replacement
When the sun burst thru the sky.
There was a band playing in my head
And I felt like getting high.
I was thinking about what a
Friend had said
I was hoping it was a lie.
Thinking about what a
Friend had said
I was hoping it was a lie.

Well, I dreamed I saw the silver
Space ships flying
In the yellow haze of the sun,
There were children crying
And colors flying
All around the chosen ones.
All in a dream, all in a dream
The loading had begun.
They were flying Mother Nature's
Silver seed to a new home in the sun.
Flying Mother Nature's
Silver seed to a new home.

Friday, November 20, 2015

Wallace Stevens (1879-1955)

No Possum, No Sop, No Taters

He is not here, the old sun,
As absent as if we were asleep.

The field is frozen. The leaves are dry.
Bad is final in this light.

In this bleak air the broken stalks
Have arms without hands. They have trunks

Without legs or, for that, without heads.
They have heads in which a captive cry

Is merely the moving of a tongue.
Snow sparkles like eyesight falling to earth,

Like seeing fallen brightly away.
The leaves hop, scraping on the ground.

It is deep January. The sky is hard.
The stalks are firmly rooted in ice.

It is in this solitude, a syllable,
Out of these gawky flitterings,

Intones its single emptiness,
The savagest hollow of winter-sound.

It is here, in this bad, that we reach
The last purity of the knowledge of good.

The crow looks rusty as he rises up.
Bright is the malice in his eye...

One joins him there for company,
But at a distance, in another tree.
Wallace Stevens :

Wednesday, November 18, 2015

Xavier Villaurrutia (1903-1950)

North Caroline Blues
                                 To Langston Hughes
In North Carolina
the nocturnal air
is made of human skin.
When I caress it
it leaves me, suddenly,
on my fingers,
the sweat of a drop of water.
                                    In North Carolina
The vertical tree trunk swaying,
from the plants of its feet
to the palms of its hands,
man is a tree once again.
                                      In North Carolina
If the black man laughs
he shows granadine gums
and snowy fruits.
But if the black man is mute
his mouth is a red
                                     In North Carolina

How does one say
that a black man grows dark?
                                    In North Carolina
A black man speaks:
 --No one would understand me
 if I were to say there are white shadows
 in broad daylight.
                                   In North Carolina
In different waiting-rooms
coloured passengers
and whites in first class
await the same death.
                                 In North Carolina
Nocturnal hotels:
invisible couples arrive,
alone they climb the stairs,
the corridors flow along,
the doors retreat,
eyes close the windows.
A bodiless hand
writes and erases black
names on the blackboard.
                                In North Carolina

Bodies and lips
I would not dare
to say in the shadow:
This mouth is mine.
                                In North Carolina

Tuesday, November 17, 2015

Gordon Lightfoot - Let it Ride

Gordon Lightfoot (b.1938)

"Let It Ride"

These are just the simple facts
I will relate to you
Though they are not connected
Each and every one is true
If they seem a bit untidy
Well unraveling them is fun
I will not stand corrected
I have not harmed anyone
I just let it ride
Ride let it ride
Leave on the evenin' tide
Just let it ride

When I listen to my heart
I sometimes fail to find
One sane and simple answer
On the bright side of my mind
Even when I'm sleeping
I can't seem to unwind
I just let it ride

I knew a man from Windsor
Who went to Detroit every night
And stateside of the tunnel
Customs agents gave him flight
He threw his stash in the river
And his bedroll on the ground
And when they finally got there
A sleeping man was all that they found

He just let it ride
Ride let it ride
Leavin' on the evenin' tide
Just let it ride

Hear the steeple bell ring out
Above my lobster pots
I might be out here fishin' man
But that ain't where it stops
The mouths I feed are many
And they all say thanks a lot
They just let it ride

One day when I'm old and gray
'N consider what's gone by
I always will be proud of
Every tear I've ever cried
And all of the old jokes we told
Around the candle light
To all those tender damsels
Who had helped us through the night

They just let it ride
Ride let it ride
Leavin' on the evenin' tide
Just let it ride
I'm gonna let it ride

Here's to the girls of London
And the ones from Montreal
We never will forget them
We still fantasize them all
I knew one in St. Louis
On a Missouri afternoon
I met one up in Shanghai
And another in Rangoon

I just let it ride
Ride let it ride
Leavin' on the evenin' tide
Just let it ride
Ride ride ride
I'm gonna let it ride
Leavin' on the evenin' tide
Just let it ride

Monday, November 16, 2015

Jorge Luis Borges (1899-1986)

Music Box


By Jorge Luis Borges 1899–1986
Translated from the Spanish by Tony Barnstone
Music of Japan. Parsimoniously
from the water clock the drops unfold
in lazy honey or ethereal gold
that over time reiterates a weave
eternal, fragile, enigmatic, bright.
I fear that every one will be the last.
They are a yesterday come from the past.
But from what shrine, from what mountain’s slight
garden, what vigils by an unknown sea,
and from what modest melancholy, from
what lost and rediscovered afternoon
do they arrive at their far future: me?
Who knows? No matter. When I hear it play
I am. I want to be. I bleed away.

Sunday, November 15, 2015

Dante Alighieri (1265-1321)

Autumn Song

Know’st thou not at the fall of the leaf
How the heart feels a languid grief
Laid on it for a covering,
And how sleep seems a goodly thing
In Autumn at the fall of the leaf?
And how the swift beat of the brain
Falters because it is in vain,
In Autumn at the fall of the leaf
Knowest thou not? and how the chief
Of joys seems–not to suffer pain?
Know’st thou not at the fall of the leaf
How the soul feels like a dried sheaf
Bound up at length for harvesting,
And how death seems a comely thing
In Autumn at the fall of the leaf?

Saturday, November 14, 2015

Boris Pasternak (1890-1960)

From Early Dawn The Thirtieth Of April...

From early dawn the thirtieth of April
Is given up to children of the town,
And caught in trying on the festive necklace,
By dusk it only just is settling down.

Like heaps of squashy berries under muslin
The town emerges out of crimson gauze.
Along the streets the boulevards are dragging
Their twilight with them, like a rank of dwarves.

The evening world is always eve and blossom,
But this one with a sprouting of its own
From May-day anniversaries will flower
One day into a commune fully blown.

For long it will remain a day of shifting,
Pre-festive cleaning, fanciful decor,
As once it used to be with Whitsun birches
Or pan-Athenian fires long before.

Just so they will go on, conveying actors
To their assembly points; beat sand; just so
Pull up towards illuminated ledges
The plywood boards, the crimson calico.

Just so in threes the sailors briskly walking
Will skirt the grass in gardens and in parks,
The moon at nightfall sink into the pavements
Like a dead city or a burnt-out hearth.

But with each year more splendid and more spreading
The taut beginning of the rose will bloom,
More clearly grow in health and sense of honour,
Sincerity more visibly will loom.

The living folksongs, customs and traditions
Will ever spreading, many-petalled lay
Their scent on fields and industries and meadows
From early buddings on the first of May,

Until the full fermented risen spirit
Of ripened years will shoot up, like the smell
Of humid centifolia. It will have to
Reveal itself, it cannot help but tell.
Boris Pasternak :

Friday, November 13, 2015

William Stafford (1914-1993)

Ask Me

Some time when the river is ice ask me
mistakes I have made. Ask me whether
what I have done is my life. Others
have come in their slow way into
my thought, and some have tried to help
or to hurt: ask me what difference
their strongest love or hate has made.

I will listen to what you say.
You and I can turn and look
at the silent river and wait. We know
the current is there, hidden; and there
are comings and goings from miles away
that hold the stillness exactly before us.
What the river says, that is what I say.
William Stafford :

Thursday, November 12, 2015

Charles Baudelaire (1821-1867)

by: Charles Baudelaire (1821-1867)

hortly we will plunge within the frigid gloom,
Farewell swift summer brightness; all too short--
I hear already sounding with a death-like boom
The wood that falls upon the pavement of the court.

The whole of winter enters in my Being--pain,
Hate, honor, labour hard and forced--and dread,
And like the northern sun upon its polar plane
My heart will soon be but a stone, iced and red.

I listen trembling unto every log that falls,
The scaffold, which they build, has not a duller sound,
My spirits waver, like the trembling tower walls
That shake--with every echoing blow the builders pound.

Meeseemeth--as to these monotonous blows I sway,
They nail for one a coffin lid, or sound a knell--
For whom? Autumn now--and summer yesterday!
This strange mysterious noise betokens a farewell.
I love within your oblong eyes the verdant rays,
My sweet! but bitter everything to-day meseems:
And nought--your love, the boudoir, nor the flickering blaze,
Can replace the sun that o'er the screen streams.

And yet bemother and caress me, tender heart!
Even me the thankless and the worthless one;
Beloved or sister--unto me the sweets impart
Of a glorious autumn or a sinking sun.

Ephemeral task! the beckoning the beckoning empty tomb is set!
Oh grant me--as upon your knees my head I lay,
(Because the white and torrid summer I regret),
To taste the parted season's mild and amber ray.

Wednesday, November 11, 2015

Al Purdy (1918-2000)

The Dead Poet

Al Purdy
From:   Beyond Remembering - The collected poems of Al Purdy. 2000.

I was altered in the placenta
by the dead brother before me
who built a place in the womb
knowing I was coming:
he wrote words on the walls of flesh
painting a woman inside a woman
whispering a faint lullaby
that sings in my blind heart still

The others were lumberjacks
backwoods wrestlers and farmers
their women were meek and mild
nothing of them survives
but an image inside an image
of a cookstove and the kettle boiling
— how else explain myself to myself
where does the song come from?

Now on my wanderings:
at the Alhambra's lyric dazzle
where the Moors built stone poems
a wan white face peering out
— and the shadow in Plato's cave
remembers the small dead one
— at Samarkand in pale blue light
the words came slowly from him
— I recall the music of blood
on the Street of the Silversmiths

Sleep softly spirit of earth
as the days and nights join hands
when everything becomes one thing
wait softly brother
but do not expect it to happen
that great whoop announcing resurrection
expect only a small whisper
of birds nesting and green things growing
and a brief saying of them
and know where the words came from

Tuesday, November 10, 2015

Aleister Crowley (1875-1947)

The Disciples


Beneath the vine tree and the fig
Where mortal cares may not intrude,
On melon and on sucking pig
Although their brains are bright and big
Banquet the Great White Brotherhood.

Among the fountains and the trees
That fringed his garden's glowing border,
At sunset walked, and, in the breeze
With his disciples, took his ease
An Adept of the Holy Order.

"My children," Said the holy man,
"Once more I'm willing to unmask me.
This is my birthday; and my plan
Is to bestow on you (I can)
Whatever favour you may ask me."

Nor curiosity nor greed
Brought these disciples to disaster;
For, being very wise indeed,
The adolescents all agreed
To ask His Secret of the Master.

With the "aplomb" and "savoir faire"
Peculiar to Eastern races,
He took the secret then and there
(What, is not lawful to declare),
And thrust it rudely in their faces.

"A filthy insult!" screamed the first;
The second smiled, "Ingenious blind!"
The youngest neither blessed nor cursed,
Contented to believe the worst -
That He had spoken all his mind!

The second earned the name of prig,
The first the epithet of prude;
The third, as merry as a grig,
On melon and on sucking pig
Feasts with the Great White Brotherhood.
Aleister Crowley :

Monday, November 9, 2015

Pablo Neruda (1904-1973)

Don'T Go Far Off

Don't go far off, not even for a day, because --
because -- I don't know how to say it: a day is long
and I will be waiting for you, as in an empty station
when the trains are parked off somewhere else, asleep.

Don't leave me, even for an hour, because
then the little drops of anguish will all run together,
the smoke that roams looking for a home will drift
into me, choking my lost heart.

Oh, may your silhouette never dissolve on the beach;
may your eyelids never flutter into the empty distance.
Don't leave me for a second, my dearest,

because in that moment you'll have gone so far
I'll wander mazily over all the earth, asking,
Will you come back? Will you leave me here, dying?
Pablo Neruda :

Saturday, November 7, 2015

Toeti Heraty (b.1933)

A Woman’s Portrait 1938

The painting conveys her exquisite taste:
ear studs, bracelets, green and yellow selendang;
the sash conceals her pregnancy.
The death she is carrying can’t be disguised.
The life she carries will grasp and cling on.
Yearning, restlessness and the turmoil of fear
are not recorded in the brush-strokes,
pencil outline of a face
surrendering to the flow of history.

The painting, with its final brilliant gesture,
only fully reveals this face
when it is framed by memory.

July 1989

Friday, November 6, 2015

Amelia Rosselli (1930-1996)

Poems from War Variations

I was, I flew, I fell trembling into the
arms of God, and may this last sigh
be my whole being, and may the wave reward,
held in difficult union, my blood,
and from that supreme deceit may death
become vermillion be given back to me, and I
who from the passionate brawls of my comrades plucked
that longing for death
will enjoy, finally─the age of reason;
and my all the white flowers along the shore, and
all the weight of God
beat upon my prisons.