Monday, May 31, 2010

Percy Bysshe Shelley

Love's Philosophy
The fountains mingle with the river
And the rivers with the ocean,
The winds of Heaven mix for ever
With a sweet emotion;
Nothing in the world is single,
All things by a law divine
In one spirit meet and mingle -
Why not I with thine?

See the mountains kiss high Heaven
And the waves clasp one another;
No sister-flower would 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?

Sunday, May 30, 2010

Earle Birney

From The Hazel Bough
I met a lady
on a lazy street
hazel eyes
and little plush feet

her legs swam by
like lovely trout
eyes were trees
where boys leant out

hands in the dark and
a river side
round breasts rising
with the finger's tide

she was plump as a finch
and live as a salmon
gay as silk and
proud as a Brahmin

we winked when we met
and laughed when we parted
never took time
to be brokenhearted

but no man sees
where the trout lie now
or what leans out
from the hazel bough

Military Hospital, Toronto 1945/Vancouver 1947

Saturday, May 29, 2010

Ancient Mayan Poetry by Ah Bam


This day there is a feast in the villages.
Dawn streams over the horizon,
south north east west,
light comes to the earth, darkness is gone.
Roaches, crickets, fleas and moths
hurry home.

Magpies, white doves, swallows,
partridges, mockingbirds, thrushes, quail,
red and white birds rush about,
all the forest birds begin their song because
morning dew brings happiness.

The Beautiful Star
shines over the woods,
smoking as it sinks and vanishes;
the moon too dies
over the forest green.

Happiness of fiesta day has arrived
in the villages;
a new sun brings light
to all who live together here.

Friday, May 28, 2010

Sylvia Plath

The Great Carbuncle
We came over the moor-top
Through air streaming and green-lit,
Stone farms foundering in it,
Valleys of grass altering
In a light neither dawn

Nor nightfall, out hands, faces
Lucent as percelain, the earth's
Claim and weight gone out of them.
Some such transfiguring moved
The eight pilgrims towards its source--

Toward the great jewel: shown often,
Never given; hidden, yet
Simultaneously seen
On moor-top, at sea-bottom,
Knowable only by light

Other than noon, that moon, stars ---
The once-known way becoming
Wholly other, and ourselves
Estranged, changed, suspended where
Angels are rumored, clearly

Floating , among the floating
Tables and chairs. Gravity's
Lost in the lift and drift of
An easier element
Than earth, and there is nothing

So fine we cannot do it.
But nearing means distancing:
At the common homecoming
Light withdraws. Chairs, tables drop
Down: the body weighs like stone.

Thursday, May 27, 2010

Bei Dao

This book is so heavy, like an anchor
Sinking onto resurrectionary interpretations
Your face, like the clock on the other shore of the ocean
Is unable to be spoken to
Words have been floating on seas all night
And in the morning suddenly fly high

Laughter falls into an empty bowl
The sun revolves on the butcher’s hook
The first bus of the day drives toward
The post office on the end of the fields
O, in the green variations
Sits the king of departure

Lightning, the postman of storms
Is lost beyond the flowering days
I trail you as close as the shadow to the body
From the classroom to the playground
Under the rapidly growing poplars
We get small, one going east, another west

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Wislawa Szymborska

A Photograph of a Crowd

In a photograph of a crowd
my head seventh from the edge,
or maybe four in from the left
or twenty up from the bottom;

my head, I can't tell which,
no more the one and only, but already one of many,
and resembling the resembling,
neither clearly male nor female;

the marks it flashes at me
are not distinguishing marks;

maybe The Spirit of Time sees it,
but he's not looking at it closely;

my demographic head
which consumes steel and cables
so easily, so globally,

unashamed it's nothing special,
undespairing it's replaceable;

as if it weren't mine
in its own way on its own;

as if a cemetery were
dug up, full of nameless skulls
of high preservability
despite their mortality;

as if it were already there,
my any head, someone else's--

where its recollections, if any,
would stretch deep into the future

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Wendell Berry

The peace of wild things
When despair grows in me
and I wake in the middle of the night at the least sound
in fear of what my life and my children's lives may be,
I go and lie down where the wood drake
rests in his beauty on the water, and the great heron feeds.
I come into the peace of wild things
who do not tax their lives with forethought
of grief. I come into the presence of still water.
And I feel above me the day-blind stars
waiting for their light. For a time
I rest in the grace of the world, and am free.

Monday, May 24, 2010

Gary Snyder

December At Yase.
You said, that October,
In the tall dry grass by the orchard
When you chose to be free,
"Again someday, maybe ten years."

After college I saw you
One time. You were strange,
And I was obsessed with a plan.

Now ten years and more have
Gone by: I've always known
where you were—
I might have gone to you
Hoping to win your love back.
You still are single.

I didn't.
I thought I must make it alone. I
Have done that.

Only in dream, like this dawn,
Does the grave, awed intensity
Of our young love
Return to my mind, to my flesh.

We had what the others
All crave and seek for;
We left it behind at nineteen.

I feel ancient, as though I had
Lived many lives.

And may never now know
If I am a fool
Or have done what my
karma demands

Sunday, May 23, 2010

Armado Orozco Tovar

for Isabel

"A roll of the dice
will never abolish chance."
All chance is an appointment.

Chance is a remembrance
of the finding.

An instant
in the street.

in the tepid fire of your flesh.

Saturday, May 22, 2010

Valzhyna Mort

for A.B.
it’s so hard to believe
that once we were even younger
than now
that our skin was so thin
that veins blued through it
like lines in school notebooks
that the world was a homeless dog
that played with us after classes
and we were thinking of taking it home
but somebody else took it first
gave it a name
and trained it “stranger”
against us

and this is why we wake up late at night
and light up the candles of our tv sets
and in their warm flame we recognize
faces and cities
and courageous in the morning
we dethrone omelets from frying pans . . .

but our dog grew up on another’s leash
our mothers suddenly stopped sleeping with men
and looking at them today
it’s so easy to believe in the immaculate conception

Friday, May 21, 2010

Charles Bukowski

The Night I Was Going To Die
the night I was going to die
I was sweating on the bed
and I could hear the crickets
and there was a cat fight outside
and I could feel my soul dropping down through the
and just before it hit the floor I jumped up
I was almost too weak to walk
but I walked around and turned on all the lights
and then I went back to bed
and dropped it down again and
I was up
turning on all the lights
I had a 7-year-old daughter
and I felt sure she wouldn't want me dead
otherwise it wouldn't have
but all that night
nobody phoned
nobody came by with a beer
my girlfriend didn't phone
all I could hear were the crickets and it was
and I kept working at it
getting up and down
until the first of the sun came through the window
through the bushes
and then I got on the bed
and the soul stayed
inside at last and
I slept.
now people come by
beating on the doors and windows
the phone rings
the phone rings again and again
I get great letters in the mail
hate letters and love letters.
everything is the same again

Thursday, May 20, 2010

Jorge Carrera Andrade


Fruit seller church
seated at the corner of life:
crystal orange windows,
the sugar cane organ.

Angels: little chicks
of Mother Mary.

The blue-eyed bell
wanders off on bare feet
throughout the countryside.

Sun clock:
angelic burro with its innocent sex;
wind, in Sunday best,
bringing news from the mountains.

Indian women with loads of vegetables
embracing foreheads.

The sky rolls up its eyes
when it sees the church bell
run barefoot from the church

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Tomas Transtromer

Despondency breaks off its course.
Anguish breaks off its course.
The vulture breaks off its flight.

The eager light streams out,
even the ghosts take a drink.

And our paintings see daylight,
our red beasts of the ice-age studios.

Everything begins to look around.
We walk in the sun in hundreds.

Each man is a half-open door
leading to a room for everyone.

The endless ground under us.

The water is shining among the trees.

The lake is a window into the earth.

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Angela Garcia

Declaration of Silence
Something solid connects me to you
Like kinship
A hidden stream
In season’s change

Our embrace is never past tense
It is the trunk of a centuries-old tree
From time to time giving up all of its leaves
To the hunger of earth
Firing up new roots
In decomposed matter

The rotating water dances
Rotating air
Mood of eternal longing
Dense as earth
Light as air
Dark like the first
Ethereal like the second

Something connects me to you
Solid like a natural law

Monday, May 17, 2010

Robert Hunter

Driving that train, high on cocaine
Casey Jones you'd better watch your speed
Trouble ahead, trouble behind
And you know that notion just crossed my mind (note 1)

This old engine makes it on time
Leaves Central Station 'bout a quarter to nine
Hits River Junction at seventeen to
At a quarter to ten you know it's travelling again

Trouble ahead, the lady in red
Take my advice you'd be better off dead
Switchman's sleeping, train Hundred and Two
Is on the wrong track and headed for you

Trouble with you is the trouble with me
Got two good eyes but we still don't see
Come round the bend, you know it's the end
The fireman screams and the engine just gleams

Sunday, May 16, 2010

Paul Bogaert

What you said was undiluted.
And it proved effective too:
I can’t see a thing. My head is clean
now and white. It’s done.

First I pushed my eyes in
and tilted my head back.
Then I filled up the holes
with eau de javel and white spirit.

That anything goes is a delusion.
It’s the air that is tenuous.
Give me time to come round.

Bury me where I requested
water and let me be – out of reach –
of fish

Saturday, May 15, 2010

Tomas Transtromer

After a black day, I play Haydn,
and feel a little warmth in my hands.

The keys are ready. Kind hammers fall.
The sound is spirited, green, and full of silence.

The sound says that freedom exists
and someone pays no tax to Caesar.

I shove my hands in my haydnpockets
and act like a man who is calm about it all.

I raise my haydnflag. The signal is:
"We do not surrender. But want peace."

The music is a house of glass standing on a slope;
rocks are flying, rocks are rolling.

The rocks roll straight through the house
but every pane of glass is still whole.

(trans. Robert Bly)

Source: Selected Poems, 1954-1986
Posted by Akshay Ahuja at 6:35 AM
Labels: Robert Bly, Tomas Transtromer

Friday, May 14, 2010

Vincente Huidobro

Stormy night
The darkness bites my head

The devils

who drive the thunder
are having their vacation

No one goes by in the street
She hasn't come

fell in the corner
The clock


Thursday, May 13, 2010

Adam Aitken

Saigon The Movie
James Bond flies into Phuket, which he pronounces
Fukit and this announces the demise
of the colonial era.
My mother sits on the Left Bank, harvesting rice.
The Baron announces his arrival
with a slice of lemon between his teeth and
Panama with razors embedded in its rim, to wear
to restaurants with a view of crossfire.

The iron butterfly folds back her wings, and rests awhile
on the pillows of this city.
But they are soaked
with the formalin of diplomacy
and the perfumes of an irresistible corruption.

Finally the old merchants
dig up their gold and re-invest in a
coat of arms they wire to a security gate.
Guard dogs with degrees, and lap-dog breeds
that do not bark.
Here a childhood made sensitive to bombs,
a kindergarten closed down with prayer,
American linguists in a helicopter, dropping
ration packs of Chiclets and brand new grammar

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Ambrose Bierce

Thou shalt no God but me adore:
'Twere too expensive to have more.

No images nor idols make
For Roger Ingersoll to break.

Take not God's name in vain: select
A time when it will have effect.

Work not on Sabbath days at all,
But go to see the teams play ball.

Honor thy parents. That creates
For life insurance lower rates.

Kill not, abet not those who kill;
Thou shalt not pay thy butcher's bill.

Kiss not thy neighbor's wife, unless
Thine own thy neighbor doth caress.

Don't steal; thou'lt never thus compete
Successfully in business. Cheat.

Bear not false witness--that is low--
But "hear 'tis rumored so and so."

Covet thou naught that thou hast got
By hook or crook, or somehow, got.

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Amparo Osorio

When a splitting
puts together
the names of the ivy
and the shadow
thus broken in two
half ash
half miracle . . .

where are You the impossible?

Monday, May 10, 2010

Lynn Crosbie

i. Gabriel

My mother is lighting candles,
I am screaming. She smooths goose oil into
my chest as I purple with pneumonia.
Poor Fredo, they whisper,
and my father watches from the corner.
He covers his face.
My father asks me to stop
at the market. He is selecting fruit, holding
it to his lips when the guns ignite.
Thrown back he staggers to the curb.
I am crawling toward him as the black car
retreats. He is bleeding; oranges tumble from
his coat. I sit on the curb and cover my face,
crying, Papa —
And the Angel departed from me.

Sunday, May 9, 2010

Alvero Miranda

Diurnal night of spiritual bathing
and Andean calabash where silence does not fit
night of paralytic rain in the middle of space
foreign night of cancerous light
of tamale crumbs between nests of vultures
tulle night on a paper vessel's course

Night of air's husk
of nap of stars under the weeping of willows
night shrouded by clouds
in a rosary of bright rebel stars
timid night of rosy dawn cheeks
and of a doll broken by a mammoth’s blow

Night of jelly on a pewter plate
cardboard night between rats’ teeth
and of drowned men in the axis of the sea
pointless Christmas night among the fumes
of epileptic party-goers

Crucified night between a thief of dreams
of foam and of truths

Saturday, May 8, 2010

Gerald Fisher

The Calling

The fire is dancing tonight and the winds are talking
Dancers from past lives enter the circle
Leading me back and forth through the history of myself
The mind searches as the spirit dances

The drums...dancing to the heartbeat
Memories of long ago insights to the future
I hear the winds whispering my sweat lodge dreams
I see Sungmanitu tanka (the wolf) my guide

He shows me the ancestors, not mine
They are not Lakota, or Tsalagi, or Iroquois
But they are all Nations, one Nation
Speaking with wisdom to share with each other

Yesterdays create todays and promises of tomorrow
The lies will die with the smoke
And the whispers of the winds are clear and loud
And we shall all see the return of the buffalo

Friday, May 7, 2010

Pablo Neruda

It was the nightfall of the iguana
from his rainbow-colored crest
his tongue like a dart
sank into the greenery
The monastic ant colony stepped
with musical feet through the jungle.
The wild llama, as delicate as oxygen
in the wide brown high country
went walking in his golden boots
while the tame llama opened
his candid eyes onto the daintiness
of a world filled with dew.
The monkeys braided
an endless erotic thread
along the shores of daybreak
bringing down walls of pollen
and frightening the violet flight
of butterflies on the river.
It was the night of the alligators
the pure, pulsing night
of snouts sticking out of slime
and from the drowsy swamps
the dull noise of scale armor
goes back to the origin of the earth.
The jaguar touched the leaves
with his glowing absence.
The puma runs through the thicket
like a devouring fire
while in him are burning
the alcoholic eyes of the jungle.
Badgers are scrabbling the banks
of the river, sniffing at a nest
full of living delicacies
which they will attack with red teeth.
And in the depth of the great water
like the circle of the earth
is the giant anaconda
covered with ceremonial paint,
devouring and religious

Thursday, May 6, 2010

Gladys Carmagnola

This ancient domestic ritual
of covering the bread well,
of seeing there is a tablecloth for the table
and that it doesn't lack salt,
my hands in such assiduous escape
without wanting nor thinking
it's already almost an irremediable defect
that I can't succeed in curing.
In the same way, I carry in my syllables
that someone sometime will write,
here, in my lukewarm fingertips
quick to caress
or to extend in a resounding slap in the face
that I can't manage to restrain.

In whatever manner, one lives jailed
who doesn't wish to escape.

Wednesday, May 5, 2010

Zou Jingzhi


From "Yellow Tiles and Red Walls

The gate of hell, so gloomy so cold so deep and so far away,
opening and closing at the bottom of the dry well
Girls dare not bend to look in
afraid of a hand pusing from behind

Concubine Zhen died thin.
Her husband was an emperor, her mother-in-law the emperor dowager
Widowed for many years,
the dowager feared the laughter between man and woman,
feared that Zhen's graceful steps and her perfume
hooked the emperor's eye.

She ordered Zhen to die
and the emperor to love another.

Crying she said she didn't want to die or pollute the well.
If she died the other person would also perish . . .
Before she finished she was pushed
into a long distant night

She's been floating ever since

in the news
a girl who rebels against an exchange marriage
jumps into a well

Tuesday, May 4, 2010

Jorge Carrera Andrade

Ecuadorian Man under the Eiffel Tower

You turn into a plant on the coasts of time.
With a chalice of round sky
and tunnel for traffic,
you are the largest ceiba tree on earth.

The painter’s eye climbs up
through your scissor-stairs to blue.
Over a flock of roofs you stretch your neck
like a llama of Peru.

Robed in folds of wind,
with an ornamental comb of constellations,
you loom over
the circus of the horizon.

Mast of an adventure upon time!

Pride of five hundred and thirty cubits.

Pole of the tent raised by men
in a corner of history.
With gaseous lights your sketch in the night
reproduces the Milky Way.

First letter of a cosmic Alphabet,
pointing towards sky,
hope standing on stilts,
a glorified skeleton.

Iron that brands a flock of clouds,
mute sentinel of an Industrial Age.

The tides of heaven
silently undermine your column.

Monday, May 3, 2010

Robert Hunter

Uncle John's Band
Lyrics By: Robert Hunter
Music By: Jerry Garcia
Well the first days are the hardest days, don't you worry any more
'Cause when life looks like easy street, there is danger at your door
Think this through with me, let me know your mind
Wo-oh, what I want to know is, are you kind?

It's a buck dancer's choice my friend, better take my advice
You know all the rules by now, and the fire from the ice
Will you come with me, won't you come with me?
Wo-oh, what I want to know, will you come with me?

God damn, well I declare, have you seen the like?
Their walls are built of cannon balls
Their motto is "don't" tread on me"

Come hear Uncle John's Band, playing to the tide
Come with me or go alone
He's come to take his children home

It's the same story the crow told me, it's the only one he knows
Like the morning sun you come and like the wind you go
Ain't no time to hate, barely time to wait
Wo-oh, what I want to know, where does the time go?

I live in a silver mine and I call it beggar's tomb
I got me a violin and I beg you call the tune
Anybody's choice, I can hear your voice
Wo-oh, what I want to know, how does the song go?

Come hear Uncle John's Band, by the river side
Got some things to talk about
Here beside the rising tide

Sunday, May 2, 2010

Adil Jussawalla

Ships fastened to water,
A long line of ships this hot
Afternoon, stand like homes
Abandoned for the day.
There are things not in the picture:
The tower with its roof askew,
A drowned garland.
The ships came with the view.

A mill rots, a freighter pulls
Away. Hills rise
Straight out of Africa; a mandolin sounds.
Palms along the coast become
A line of leaves above a door,
Withered long past welcome.
The sea a massive bolt, shot across.

Saturday, May 1, 2010

Laure-Anne Bosselaar

I watch the man bend over his patch,
a fat gunny sack at his feet. He combs the earth

with his fingers, picks up pebbles around
tiny heads of sorrel. Clouds bruise in, clog the sky,

the first fat drops pock-mark the dust.
The man wipes his hands on his chest,

opens the sack, pulls out top halves
of broken bottles, and plants them, firmly,

over each head of sorrel — tilting the necks
toward the rain. His back is drenched, so am I,

his careful gestures clench my throat,
wrench a hunger out of me I don't understand,

can't turn away from. The last plant
sheltered, the man straightens his back,

swings the sack over his shouler, looks
at the sky, then at me and — as if to end

a conversation — says: I know they'd survive
without the bottles, I know. He leaves the garden,

plods downhill, blurs away. I hear myself
say it to no one: I never had a father.