Thursday, December 31, 2015

Milton Acorn (1923-1986)

Live With Me On Earth Under the Invisible Daylight Moon

Milton Acorn
From:   Dig Up My Heart: Selected Poems 1952-83. Toronto: 
Live with me on Earth among red berries and the bluebirds
And leafy young twigs whispering
Within such little spaces, between such floors of green, such
     figures in the clouds
That two of us could fill our lives with delicate wanting:

Where stars past the spruce copse mingle with fireflies
Or the dayscape flings a thousand tones of light back at the
Be any one of the colours of an Earth lover;
Walk with me and sometimes cover your shadow with mine.

Wednesday, December 30, 2015

Dante Alighieri (1265-1321)

There Is A Gentle Thought

There is a gentle thought that often springs
to life in me, because it speaks of you.
Its reasoning about love’s so sweet and true,
the heart is conquered, and accepts these things.
‘Who is this’ the mind enquires of the heart,
‘who comes here to seduce our intellect?
Is his power so great we must reject
every other intellectual art?
The heart replies ‘O, meditative mind
this is love’s messenger and newly sent
to bring me all Love’s words and desires.
His life, and all the strength that he can find,
from her sweet eyes are mercifully lent,
who feels compassion for our inner fires.’
Dante Alighieri :

Tuesday, December 29, 2015

Khalil Gibran (1883-1931)

On Pain

Your pain is the breaking of the shell that encloses
your understanding.

Even as the stone of the fruit must break, that its
heart may stand in the sun, so must you know pain.

And could you keep your heart in wonder at the
daily miracles of your life, your pain would not seem
less wondrous than your joy;

And you would accept the seasons of your heart,
even as you have always accepted the seasons that
pass over your fields.

And you would watch with serenity through the
winters of your grief.

Much of your pain is self-chosen.

It is the bitter potion by which the physician within
you heals your sick self.

Therefore trust the physician, and drink his remedy
in silence and tranquillity:

For his hand, though heavy and hard, is guided by
the tender hand of the Unseen,

And the cup he brings, though it burn your lips, has
been fashioned of the clay which the Potter has
moistened with His own sacred tears.
Khalil Gibran :

Monday, December 28, 2015

Arthur Rimbaud (1854-1891)

The Bridges

Skies the gray of crystal.
A strange design of bridges,
some straight, some arched,
others descending at oblique angles to the first;
and these figures recurring
in other lighted circuits of the canal,
but all so long and light that the banks,
laden with domes, sink and shrink.

A few of these bridges
are still covered with hovels,
others support polls,
signals, frail parapets.

Minor chords cross
each other and disappear;
ropes rise from the shore.

One can make out a red coat,
possibly other costumes
and musical instruments.
Are these popular tunes,
snatches of seigniorial concerts,
remnants of public hymns?

The water is gray and blue,
wide as an arm of the sea.
A white ray falling from high
in the sky destroys this comedy.
Arthur Rimbaud :

Sunday, December 27, 2015

Kenneth Patchen (1911-1972)

My Generation Reading the Newspapers


By Kenneth Patchen      
We must be slow and delicate; return
the policeman's stare with some esteem,   
remember this is not a shadow play
of doves and geese but this is now
the time to write it down, record the words—
I mean we should have left some pride
of youth and not forget the destiny of men   
who say goodbye to the wives and homes   
they've read about at breakfast in a restaurant:   
"My love."—without regret or bitterness   
obtain the measure of the stride we make,   
the latest song has chosen a theme of love   
delivering us from all evil—destroy. . . ?
why no. . . this too is fanciful. . . funny how   
hard it is to be slow and delicate in this,   
this thing of framing words to mark this grave   
I mean nothing short of blood in every street   
on earth can fitly voice the loss of these.

Saturday, December 26, 2015

Czeslaw Milosz (1911-2004)

Earth Again

They are incomprehensible, the things of this earth.
The lure of waters. The lure of fruits.
Lure of two breasts and the long hair of a maiden.
In rouge, in vermillion, in that color of ponds
Found only in the Green Lakes near Wilno.
An ungraspable multitudes swarm, come together
In the crinkles of tree bark, in the telescope's eye,
For an endless wedding,
For the kindling of eyes, for a sweet dance
In the elements of air, sea, earth, and subterranean caves,
So that for a short moment there is no death
And time does not unreel like a skein of yarn
Thrown into an abyss.
Czeslaw Milosz :

Thursday, December 24, 2015

Rafael Patino

Every time he turns his eyes
He finds you even more beautiful,
Were it not for the silence,
The fallen mask
Would renounce to its absent identity

With what face shall I meet dawn?
With the reward of being this absent being?

Nausea, rictus, clots
Unable to reach our still haste . . .

We keep swimming lakes of tin
Mating with the night
Mangled by this breeze of being
We shall be vegetal aromas,
Darkness will drink us with its mouth

Tuesday, December 22, 2015

Wislawa Szymborska (1923-2012)


As long as the woman from Rijksmuseum
in painted silence and concentration
day after day pours milk
from the jug to the bowl,
the World does not deserve
the end of the world.
Wislawa Szymborska :

Monday, December 21, 2015

Derek Walcott (b.1930)

The Fist

The fist clenched round my heart
loosens a little, and I gasp
brightness; but it tightens
again. When have I ever not loved
the pain of love? But this has moved

past love to mania. This has the strong
clench of the madman, this is
gripping the ledge of unreason, before
plunging howling into the abyss.

Hold hard then, heart. This way at least you live.
Derek Walcott :

Sunday, December 20, 2015

Jorge Luis Borges (1899-1986)


It opens, the gate to the garden
with the docility of a page
that frequent devotion questions
and inside, my gaze
has no need to fix on objects
that already exist, exact, in memory.
I know the customs and souls
and that dialect of allusions
that every human gathering goes weaving.
I've no need to speak
nor claim false privilege;
they know me well who surround me here,
know well my afflictions and weakness.
This is to reach the highest thing,
that Heaven perhaps will grant us:
not admiration or victory
but simply to be accepted
as part of an undeniable Reality,
like stones and trees.
Jorge Luis Borges :

Saturday, December 19, 2015

Coral Bracho

Among These Ruins

This hotel is an old school,
you can feel it, though time has passed.
Despite the broken-down walls,
the smashed spaces.  The people who live here
seem to be passing through.  A few hours
each day.  A few months.
they do have their own rooms,
but they seem to be constantly on the move.
I have been looking for my own room for some time among these ruins.
I couldn't say how long, but now
I've come out into what must have been a garden
or some back terrace.
From here, all the spaces are back to front.
Perhaps I will recognize the look of my room
by its own back.  Or from it, perhaps, I will catch
some sound.

Friday, December 18, 2015

Jaroslav Seifert (1901-1986)

Fragment of a Letter

All night rain lashed the windows.
I couldn't go to sleep.
So I switched on the light
and wrote a letter.

If love could fly,
as of course it can't,
and didn't so often stay close to the ground,
it would be delightful to be enveloped
in its breeze.

But like infuriated bees
jealous kisses swarm down upon
the sweetness of the female body
and an impatient hand grasps
whatever it can reach,
and desire does not flag.
Even death might be without terror
at the moment of exultation.

But who has ever calculated
how much love goes
into one pair of open arms!

Letters to women
I always sent by pigeon post.
My conscience is clear.
I never entrusted them to sparrowhawks
or goshawks.

Under my pen the verses dance no longer
and like a tear in the corner of an eye
the word hangs back.
And all my life, at its end,

is now only a fast journey on a train:
I'm standing by the window of the carriage
and day after day
speeds back into yesterday
to join the black mists of sorrow.
At times I helplessly catch hold
of the emergency brake.

Perhaps I shall once more catch sight
of a woman's smile,
trapped like a torn-off flower
on the lashes of her eyes.
Perhaps I may still be allowed
to send those eyes at least one kiss
before they're lost to me in the dark.

Perhaps once more I shall even see
a slender ankle
chiselled like a gem
out of warm tenderness,
so that I might once more
half choke with longing.

How much is there that man must leave behind
as the train inexorably approaches
Lethe Station
with its plantations of shimmering asphodels
amidst whose perfume everything is forgotten.
Including human love.

That is the final stop:
the train goes no further.

Tuesday, December 15, 2015

Robert Frost (1874-1963)

Acquainted With The Night

I have been one acquainted with the night.
I have walked out in rain -- and back in rain.
I have outwalked the furthest city light.

I have looked down the saddest city lane.
I have passed by the watchman on his beat
And dropped my eyes, unwilling to explain.

I have stood still and stopped the sound of feet
When far away an interrupted cry
Came over houses from another street,

But not to call me back or say good-bye;
And further still at an unearthly height,
A luminary clock against the sky

Proclaimed the time was neither wrong nor right.
I have been one acquainted with the night.
Robert Frost :

Angel Gonzalez (1925-2008)

Before I Could Call Myself Ángel González

Before I could call myself Ángel González,
before the earth could support the weight of my body,
a long time
and a great space were necessary:
men from all the seas and all the lands,
fertile wombs of women, and bodies
and more bodies, incessantly fusing
into another new body.
Solstices and equinoxes illuminated
with their changing lights, and variegated skies,
the millenary trip of my flesh
as it climbed over centuries and bones.
Of its slow and painful journey,
of its escape to the end, surviving
shipwrecks, anchoring itself
to the last sigh of the dead,
I am only the result, the fruit,
what's left, rotting, among the remains;
what you see here,
is just that:
tenacious trash resisting
its ruin, fighting against wind,
walking streets that go
nowhere. The success
of all failures. The insane
force of dismay...

         Translated from the Spanish by Steven Ford Brown and Gutierrez Revuelta

(from Palabra sobre palabra, 1964)

Saturday, December 12, 2015

Gregory Corso (1930-2001)


By Gregory Corso      
Uncomprising year—I see no meaning to life.
Though this abled self is here nonetheless,
either in trade gold or grammaticness,
I drop the wheelwright’s simple principle—
Why weave the garland? Why ring the bell?

Penurious butchery these notoriously human years,
these confident births these lucid deaths these years.
Dream’s flesh blood reals down life’s mystery—
there is no mystery.
Cold history knows no dynastic Atlantis.
The habitual myth has an eagerness to quit.

No meaning to life can be found in this holy language
nor beyond the lyrical fabricator’s inescapable theme
be found the loathed find—there is nothing to find.

Multitudinous deathplot! O this poor synod—
Hopers and seekers paroling meaning to meaning,
annexing what might be meaningful, what might be meaningless.

Repeated nightmare, lachrymae lachrymae—
a fire behind a grotto, a thick fog, shredded masts,
the nets heaved—and the indescribable monster netted.
Who was it told that red flesh hose be still?
For one with smooth hands did with pincers
snip the snout—It died like a yawn.
And when the liver sack was yanked
I could not follow it to the pan.

I could not follow it to the pan—
I woke to the reality of cars; Oh
the dreadful privilege of that vision!
Not one antique faction remained;

Egypt, Rome, Greece,
and all such pedigree dreams fled.
Cars are real! Eternity is done.
The threat of Nothingness renews.
I touch the untouched.
I rank the rose militant.
Deny, I deny the tastes and habits of the age.
I am its punk debauche .... A fierce lampoon
seeking to inherit what is necessary to forfeit.

Lies! Lies! Lies! I lie, you lie, we all lie!
There is no us, there is no world, there is no universe,
there is no life, no death, no nothing—all is meaningless,
and this too is a lie—O damned 1959!
Must I dry my inspiration in this sad concept?
Delineate my entire stratagem?
Must I settle into phantomness
and not say I understand things better than God?
Share this text ...?

Gregory Corso, “1959” from The Happy Birthday of Death. Copyright � 1960 by New Directions Publishing Corporation. Reprinted with the permission of New Directions Publishing Corporation.

Thursday, December 10, 2015

David Kinloch (b.1959)

Lorca on Morar

‘Areesaig’, ‘Morrarr…’
the beach stands up
in little whirlwinds of ash
in my Hispanic mouth,

the dunes become chintz
statues of white sand,
poodles with griffon beaks.

Mannerism of stranded sea-horses!
Salute a small poet
murdered for being red and gay.

All the spaces of Scotland
disclose me without warning,
beam me down from whatever limbo
buries in the olive prose of death.

Now: this my purgatory,
ghost country whose name
never crossed my lips.

Morar, morire, muerte:
my very element
from which I hail Atlantic
breakers and you
‘beautiful old Walt Whitman’.

David Kinloch

Wednesday, December 9, 2015

Peter Ruhmkorf (1929-2008)

With Our Saved Necks

With our saved necks from the rabble
Of a hostile lynching mob,
We roam from Belsen to Babel
Carbolic rinsed, our heads throb.

Once we slopped life’s swill
Celebrating at times in vain
What’s under our hatbill
That sacred relic, the brain.

Tattooed with the world’s lye.
But still we manage to stand,
The whites glint in our eyes,
The warmth sweats in our hand.

We’ve suffered and we’ve clamored
With dew and fluff penned petitions—
In turn, words lost, words hammered,
In eternally spun repetitions.

—Translated from the German by Charlotte Melin

Sunday, December 6, 2015

Vladimir Mayakovsky (183-1930)

Vladimir Mayakovsky 1917
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)

Saturday, December 5, 2015

Endre Ady (1877-1919)


An angry angel beat the drum on high
Sounding the alarm on this sad Earth,
At least a hundred youths went mad
At least a hundred stars fell
At least a hundred veils were rent:
It was a strange,
Strange summer night.
Our old beehive burst into flame,
Our best colt broke his leg,
I dreamed the dead came back to life,
Our good dog, Brutus, went astray
And our servant, Mary the mute,
Burst into loud song
On that strange,
Strange summer night.
The worthless swaggered like heroes
And true men lay low
And finicky robbers went out to rob:
On that strange,
Strange summer night.
We knew that men were feeble
And bankrupt in love:
Even so, it was weird
The living and the dead on the turning wheel.
The Moon was never more mocking:
Never were men punier,
Than on that night:
That strange,
Strange summer night.
Dread bent over souls
with gleeful spite,
The hidden fate of his forebears
In every man dwelt deep,
Drunken Thought, Man’s once proud lad,
Heading to that grim and bloody wedding feast,
Was now lame and naught:
On that strange,
Strange summer night
I believed at that time, I thought
Some neglected God
Would come to life
And deliver me to death
And now, I live here,
Transfigured by that night
Waiting for God. I remember
That world-destroying,
Dreadful night:
That strange,
Strange summer night.

--Translated from the Hungarian by Elizabeth Csicsery-Rónay

Friday, December 4, 2015

Paul Celan (1920-1970)


not on my lips look for your mouth,
not in front of the gate for the stranger,
not in the eye for the tear.

seven nights higher red makes for red,
seven hearts deeper the hand knocks on the gate,
seven roses later plashes the fountain.
Paul Celan :

Thursday, December 3, 2015

Czeslaw Milosz (1911-2004)


No, it won’t do, my sweet theologians.
Desire will not save the morality of God.
If he created beings able to choose between good and evil,
And they chose, and the world lies in iniquity,
Nevertheless, there is pain, and the undeserved torture of creatures,
Which would find its explanation only by assuming
The existence of an archetypal Paradise
And a pre-human downfall so grave
That the world of matter received its shape from diabolic power.
Czeslaw Milosz :

Wednesday, December 2, 2015

Bob Kaufman (1925-1986)

A Terror is More Certain . . .


By Bob Kaufman 1925–1986       
A terror is more certain than all the rare desirable popular songs I
know, than even now when all of my myths have become . . . , & walk
around in black shiny galoshes & carry dirty laundry to & fro, & read
great books & don’t know criminals intimately, & publish fat books of
the month & have wifeys that are lousy in bed & never realize how
bad my writing is because i am poor & symbolize myself.

A certain desirable is more terror to me than all that’s rare. How
come they don’t give an academic award to all the movie stars that
die? they’re still acting, ain’t they? even if they are dead, it should
not be held against them, after all they still have the public on their
side, how would you like to be a dead movie star & have people sit-
ting on your grave?

A rare me is more certain than desirable, that’s all the terror, there
are too many basketball players in this world & too much progress
in the burial industry, lets have old fashioned funerals & stand
around & forgive & borrow wet handkerchiefs, & sneak out for
drinks & help load the guy into the wagon, & feel sad & make a
date with the widow & believe we don’t see all of the people sink-
ing into the subways going to basketball games & designing baby
sitters at Madison Square Garden.

A certain me is desirable, what is so rare as air in a Poem, why can’t
i write a foreign movie like all the other boys my age, I confess to all
the crimes committed during the month of April, but not to save
my own neck, which is adjustable, & telescopes into any size noose,
I’m doing it to save Gertrude Stein’s reputation, who is secretly
flying model airplanes for the underground railroad stern gang of
oz, & is the favorite in all the bouts . . . not officially opened yet
Holland tunnel is the one who writes untrue phone numbers.

A desirable poem is more rare than rare, & terror is certain, who
wants to be a poet & work a twenty four hour shift, they never ask
you first, who wants to listen to the radiator play string quartets all
night. I want to be allowed not to be, suppose a man wants to
swing on the kiddie swings, should people be allowed to stab him
with queer looks & drag him off to bed & its no fun on top of a
lady when her hair is full of shiny little machines & your ass
reflected in that television screen, who wants to be a poet if you
fuck on t.v. & all those cowboys watching.
Share this text ...?

Bob Kaufman, “A Terror is More Certain . . .” from Cranial Guitar.

Tuesday, December 1, 2015

Francisco X. Alarcon (b.1954)

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