Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Li-young Lee

A Story

Sad is the man who is asked for a story
and can't come up with one.

His five-year-old son waits in his lap.
Not the same story, Baba. A new one.
The man rubs his chin, scratches his ear.

In a room full of books in a world
of stories, he can recall
not one, and soon, he thinks, the boy
will give up on his father.

Already the man lives far ahead, he sees
the day this boy will go. Don't go!
Hear the alligator story! The angel story once more!
You love the spider story. You laugh at the spider.
Let me tell it!

But the boy is packing his shirts,
he is looking for his keys. Are you a god,
the man screams, that I sit mute before you?
Am I a god that I should never disappoint?

But the boy is here. Please, Baba, a story?
It is an emotional rather than logical equation,
an earthly rather than heavenly one,
which posits that a boy's supplications
and a father's love add up to silence.

Monday, November 29, 2010

Darren M. Grine

Tradition of Survival

By Darren M. Grine

Life of harmony, has soon gone past
Visitors from the east, arrived all to fast
Time of transition, was this going to last
Concerns of the Sioux, we have to surpass

The land that was once theirs, is no more
Freedom once had, is gone and nevermore
Buffalo once hunted to sustain, is now a core
Their spirit, they could not take, is forevermore

Overcoming obstacles, it was all about strive
Storms and battles, they would always survive
Mother Earth bequeathed, allowing them to thrive
Taking only what was needed, surely glad to be alive

The Great Spirit allows all to believe
Recognizing all living things, this has to be
Every man and woman of the Sioux, has to agree
The pride of the Native People, is there to conceive

The people of the Sioux will always be strong
Giving thanks to Grandfather with dance and song
A past is kept in order teach the young so that they belong
Tradition of survival shall be taught, so that there will be no more wrong

Sunday, November 28, 2010

Margret Atwood

This Is A Photograph Of Me

It was taken some time ago.
At first it seems to be
a smeared
print: blurred lines and grey flecks
blended with the paper;

then, as you scan
it, you see in the left-hand corner
a thing that is like a branch: part of a tree
(balsam or spruce) emerging
and, to the right, halfway up
what ought to be a gentle
slope, a small frame house.

In the background there is a lake,
and beyond that, some low hills.

(The photograph was taken
the day after I drowned.

I am in the lake, in the center
of the picture, just under the surface.

It is difficult to say where
precisely, or to say
how large or small I am:
the effect of water
on light is a distortion

but if you look long enough,
you will be able to see me.)

Saturday, November 27, 2010

Robert Hunter

Dark Star
Lyrics By: Robert Hunter
Music By: Garcia, Hart, Kreutzmann, Lesh, McKernan, Weir
Dark star crashes
Pouring its light into ashes
Reason tatters
The forces tear loose from the axis
Searchlight casting
For faults in the clouds of delusion

Shall we go, you and I, while we can?
Through the transitive nightfall of diamonds

Mirror shatters
In formless reflections of matter
Glass hand dissolving
To ice petal flowers revolving
Lady in velvet
Recedes in the nights of goodbye

Shall we go, you and I, while we can
Through the transitive nightfall of diamonds?

Friday, November 26, 2010

Czeslaw Milosz

Encounter by Czeslaw Milosz

Czeslaw Milosz
We were riding through frozen fields in a wagon at dawn.
A red wing rose in the darkness.

And suddenly a hare ran across the road.
One of us pointed to it with his hand.

That was long ago. Today neither of them is alive,
Not the hare, nor the man who made the gesture.

O my love, where are they, where are they going
The flash of a hand, streak of movement, rustle of pebbles.
I ask not out of sorrow, but in wonder.

Wilno, 1936

Thursday, November 25, 2010

Yidam Tsering

The Path

Yidam Tsering, 1981
Translated by Yangdon Dhondup

On the road I relish the speed of a horse's hoof.
In the desert I admire the heavy load a camel carries.
On the snow mountain that frightens the eagle
I see the yak with its tongue stuck out jumping like a fierce tiger from
the ravine!

Beneath the feet of those who struggle, there will always be a path!

Please do not to think too highly of the one who dives into the water -
The necklaces of my ancestors were made from the coral deep in that sea!

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Gabriela Mistral

Tiny Feet
A child's tiny feet,
Blue, blue with cold,
How can they see and not protect you?
Oh, my God!

Tiny wounded feet,
Bruised all over by pebbles,
Abused by snow and soil!

Man, being blind, ignores
that where you step, you leave
A blossom of bright light,
that where you have placed
your bleeding little soles
a redolent tuberose grows.

Since, however, you walk
through the streets so straight,
you are courageous, without fault.

Child's tiny feet,
Two suffering little gems,
How can the people pass, unseeing.

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Marko Vešovic

summa summarum
The leaves of the ilex by the graveyard
Whisper prophetically.

And barley-corn ripens
Like those actors who
In the same role for the hundredth time
Stand forth before the audience.

Yet do not extol,
To the skies, your native land.
It ought to extol you.

Seen from this cloud
These meadows and fields
Are a stamp album;

And to the ant a smoke ring
Twirling from your cigarette
Is a whole new landscape!

And stop threatening for once
To return next time
To this handful of land without history
Only in the shape of a rider in bronze.

And before you leave
Stroke the bark of these trees
Which al the while have given you
Free lessons in standing tall!

Monday, November 22, 2010

April Bernard

Coffee & Dolls by April Bernard
It was a storefront for a small-time numbers runner,
pretending to be some sort of grocery. Coffeemakers
and Bustello cans populated the shelves, sparsely.
Who was fooled. The boxes bleached in the sun,
the old guys sat inside on summer lawn chairs,
watching tv. The applause from the talk shows and game shows
washed out the propped-open door like distant rain.

It closed for a few months. The slick sedan disappeared.
One spring day, it reopened, this time a sign
decorated the window: COFFEE & DOLLS.
Yarn-haired, gingham-dressed floppy dolls
lolled among the coffee cans. A mastiff puppy,
the size and shape of a tipped-over fire hydrant,
guarded as the sedan and the old guys returned.

I don't know about you, but I've been looking
for a narrative in which suffering makes sense.
I mean, the high wail of the woman holding her dead child,
the wail that filled the street. I mean the sudden
fatal blooms on golden skin. I mean the crack deaths,
I mean the ice-cream truck that cruised the alphabets
and sold crack to the same deedle-dee-dee tune as fudgesicles.
I mean the raw scabs of the beaten mastiff, and many other things.

Sunday, November 21, 2010

Louis Dudek

Early Morning
Louis Dudek
From: The Caged Tiger. Montreal: Empyreal Press, 1997.

Something that never was,
that now is
and that again will not be­­

of which I am the observer
(who will also not be)
but who observes as from an eternity
of no time
the moment now,

the salesman who made a deal,
the young woman who paid him,
the red-lipped college girls, bold, a bit shy,
the counter girls on a coffee break,
the macho men,

all milling about unconscious
of one another
unconscious of the hand of time

that makes all things vanish, all fade,
all suffer change.
And they live today as if they were forever,
when they are here only for a day.

And I observe, and I am like them
only for a day

Saturday, November 20, 2010

Al Purdy

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

see myself staggering through deep snow
lugging blocks of wood yesterday
an old man
almost falling from bodily weakness
— look down on myself from above
then front and both sides
white hair — wrinkled face and hands
it's really not very surprising
that love spoken by my voice
should be when I am listening
yet there it is
a foolish old man with brain on fire
stumbling through the snow

— the loss of love
that comes to mean more
than the love itself
and how explain that?
— a still pool in the forest
that has ceased to reflect anything
except the past
— remains a sort of half-love
that is akin to kindness
and I am angry remembering
remembering the song of flesh
to flesh and bone to bone
the loss is better

Friday, November 19, 2010

Margaret Chula

hazy autumn moon
the sound of chestnuts dropping
from an empty sky
I gather your belongings
into boxes for the poor

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Janaka Stagnaro

The words come
Fluttering, thundering
Returning from a journey
They only give hints at,
Tickling the imagination
And caressing the heart;
They arrive with no rules to hold them,
And drift into place--
Read aloud, perhaps senseless,
But held quietly, and they grow--
Into feelings envisioned,
Into truths admitted,
Into landscapes of us.

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Darren M. Grine

Circa 1900

Sioux Warrior

By Darren M. Grine

A heritage well respected
Regarded highly is my culture
Custom reigns many generations

First born into tradition am I
Walking in footsteps is expected
To shoulder burdens, sharing the joy

Tall order becomes me the chosen
Maturity comes quickly into season
Resolutions, responsibilities are mine

Life’s skills exceed my growth
Daily survival evolves necessities
Tutored is prayer, family, truth, respect

Sacred thanks to Grandfather
Our symbol of life is the buffalo
Mother earth shares her abundance

Elders mentor the timid
Fighting skills are taught to all
The proven unfold me as a leader

Comes forth a day of uncertainty
Intruders threaten our harmonic means
Defeated is the enemy, truly am I a Sioux Warrior

Copyright © 2006 Darren M. Grine

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Charles Simic

Eyes Fastened With Pins

How much death works,
No one knows what a long
Day he puts in. The little
Wife always alone
Ironing death's laundry.
The beautiful daughters
Setting death's supper table.
The neighbors playing
Pinochle in the backyard
Or just sitting on the steps
Drinking beer. Death,
Meanwhile, in a strange
Part of town looking for
Someone with a bad cough,
But the address somehow wrong,
Even death can't figure it out
Among all the locked doors...
And the rain beginning to fall.
Long windy night ahead.
Death with not even a newspaper
To cover his head, not even
A dime to call the one pining away,
Undressing slowly, sleepily,
And stretching naked
On death's side of the bed.

Monday, November 15, 2010

Jorge Luis Borges

History Of The Night
Throughout the course of the generations
men constructed the night.
At first she was blindness;
thorns raking bare feet,
fear of wolves.
We shall never know who forged the word
for the interval of shadow
dividing the two twilights;
we shall never know in what age it came to mean
the starry hours.
Others created the myth.
They made her the mother of the unruffled Fates
that spin our destiny,
they sacrificed black ewes to her, and the cock
who crows his own death.
The Chaldeans assigned to her twelve houses;
to Zeno, infinite words.
She took shape from Latin hexameters
and the terror of Pascal.
Luis de Leon saw in her the homeland
of his stricken soul.
Now we feel her to be inexhaustible
like an ancient wine
and no one can gaze on her without vertigo
and time has charged her with eternity.

And to think that she wouldn't exist
except for those fragile instruments, the eyes.

Sunday, November 14, 2010

Mo Mo


I sell dreams, cheap
following my inclinations like a dog who sold his master
I sell epochs,
my body crosshatched with scars
I sell time, diarrhetic
penniless as fresh air
I sell country, motherland disappears
I sell space, earth vanishes
I hold the universe in my hand and write you a love letter

I sell holidays, together with loneliness
in ignorance of the world
I sell everything:
life, breath, death
But tonight you must listen
I'm going to kiss you seriously
and turn over like a sunken boat
You're the ocean
the only thing I have left

Saturday, November 13, 2010

Francis Barbazon

Dawn is a Friend
by Francis Brabazon
(1907 - 1984) Timeline

Original Language
Muslim / Sufi
Secular or Eclectic
20th Century

Dawn is a friend who comes to rouse the lover from grief,
And enemy, for from his pain he wants no relief.

Without separation's pain how can he be aware
Of the Beloved's presence in the perfumed air?

The deep night breathes quietly as a woman sleeping;
In the silence of it song's harvest spirit is reaping.

With the rising of the sun the world's day begins,
The day of the market and gossip -- the sowing of sins.

In the daylight of the world the lover is like a fish
Hooked and thrown up on the burning sand to writhe and perish.

He longs for the ocean of night with its islands of stars,
And the white hand of his Beloved that heals the day's scars.

In the silence continues the siege of the Beloved's beauty;
And his soul's sigh steals out and goes on sentry duty.

Friday, November 12, 2010

T'ao Ch'ien

Returning to Live in the Country II

I always loved to walk the woods and mountains,

Pleased myself, lost in fields and marshes.

Now I go out with nephews, nieces,

In the wilds, parting hazel branches,

Back and forth through the mounds and hollows,

All around us signs of ancient peoples,

Remnants of their broken hearths and well-heads,

Mulberry and bamboo groves neglected.

Stop and ask the simple woodsman,

‘Where have all these people gone now?’

Turning he looks quietly and tells me,

‘Nothing’s left of them, they’re finished.’

One world. Though the lives we lead are different,

In courts of power or labouring in the market,

These I know are more than empty words:

Our life’s a play of light and shade,

Returning at last to the Void.

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Joy Harjo

"Remember the moon, know who she is.
Remember the sun's birth at dawn, that is the
strongest point of time. Remember sundawn
and the giving away to night.
Remember your birth, how your mother struggled
to give you form and breath. You are evidence of her
life, and her mother's and hers.
Remember the wind. Remember her voice.
She knows the origin of this universe.

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Tomas Transtromer

Breathing Space July
The man lying on his back under the high trees
is up there too. He rills out in thousandfold twigs,
sways to and fro,
sits in an ejector seat that releases in slow motion.

The man down by the jetties narrows his eyes at the water.
The jetties grow old more quickly than people.
They have silver grey timber and stones in their stomachs.
The blinding light beats right in.

The man traveling all day in an open boat
over the glittering straits

Will sleep at last inside a blue lamp
while the islands creep like large moths across the glass.

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Benno Barnard

A Kiss in Brussels
We stand here freezing in our winter coats,
a kiss prevents my breath from showing white,
my hand slows to a halt in mid caress,
I want to let you go, but not tonight –
my fingers in your hair, the evidence.
Here for a second in this city park,
we’re two cold lovers mouthing March,
who kiss as though exchanging quotes.

Monday, November 8, 2010

Eavan Boland

My Country in Darkness by Eavan Boland
After the wolves and before the elms
the bardic order ended in Ireland.

Only a few remained to continue
a dead art in a dying land:

This is a man
on the road from Youghal to Cahirmoyle.
He has no comfort, no food and no future.
He has no fire to recite his friendless measures by.
His riddles and flatteries will have no reward.
His patrons sheath their swords in Flanders and Madrid.

Reader of poems, lover of poetry—
in case you thought this was a gentle art
follow this man on a moonless night
to the wretched bed he will have to make:

The Gaelic world stretches out under a hawthorn tree
and burns in the rain. This is its home,
its last frail shelter. All of it—
Limerick, the Wild Geese and what went before—
falters into cadence before he sleeps:
He shuts his eyes. Darkness falls on it.

Sunday, November 7, 2010

Kawano Yuko

cucumber flowers
aubergine flowers, melon flowers –
I draw up plans
for a vegetable garden this night
wearied of writing manuscripts

Saturday, November 6, 2010

Rosario Castellanos

What to do at death? Turn
your face to the wall?
Grab the shoulders of the closest
person, who will listen?
Do you run like a man on fire,
to the finish?

What rituals guide this ceremony?
Who owns the final agony? Who smooths the sheets?
Who watches from the last clear mirror?

In the end no mother nor heirs exist.

No sobbing. Terrible silence.

All become the attentive, incredulous face
of the other side.

What is happening is not true.

Friday, November 5, 2010

Joseph Brodsky

A Polar Explorer

All the huskies are eaten. There is no space
left in the diary, And the beads of quick
words scatter over his spouse's sepia-shaded face
adding the date in question like a mole to her lovely cheek.
Next, the snapshot of his sister. He doesn't spare his kin:
what's been reached is the highest possible latitude!
And, like the silk stocking of a burlesque half-nude
queen, it climbs up his thigh: gangrene.

Thursday, November 4, 2010

Marko Vešovic

summa summarum
The leaves of the ilex by the graveyard
Whisper prophetically.

And barley-corn ripens
Like those actors who
In the same role for the hundredth time
Stand forth before the audience.

Yet do not extol,
To the skies, your native land.
It ought to extol you.

Seen from this cloud
These meadows and fields
Are a stamp album;

And to the ant a smoke ring
Twirling from your cigarette
Is a whole new landscape!

And stop threatening for once
To return next time
To this handful of land without history
Only in the shape of a rider in bronze.

And before you leave
Stroke the bark of these trees
Which al the while have given you
Free lessons in standing tall!

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

John Donne

Holy Sonnets - I

THOU hast made me, And shall thy worke decay?
Repaire me now, for now mine end doth haste,
I runne to death, and death meets me as fast,
And all my pleasures are like yesterday;
I dare not move my dimme eyes any way,
Despaire behind, and death before doth cast
Such terrour, and my feeble flesh doth waste
By sinne in it, which it t'wards hell doth weigh;
Onely thou art above, and when towards thee
By thy leave I can looke, I rise againe;
But our old subtle foe so tempteth me,
That not one houre my selfe I can sustaine;
Thy Grace may wing me to prevent his art,
And thou like Adamant draw mine iron heart.

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Guido Cavalcanti

‘Avete ’n vo’ li fior’ e la verdura’

You have, in you, the leaves and flowers
All that shines and all that’s sweet to see:
Greater than the sun your face in splendour,
Who sees you not can never worthy be.
In this world there is no creature
So pleasing or so full of beauty:
And he is led, who holds love in terror,
By your face, to desire such inwardly.
Each woman who is with you pleases me,
Through the love you show towards her:
And I pray to her, of her courtesy,
She who can do so best does you most honour.
And shows great care for your sovereignty,
For you are queen of all those who are there.

Burt Kimmelman

Blackeyed Susan
Blackeyed Susan, bright flower
in the sun, yellow petals
of late summer and your dark
heart of winter to come, you
bow ever so gracefully

over the edge of the trim,
newly cut grass, and let go,
in the breeze, your wild seed so
that, next year, there will be more
of you, and yet when you first

blossom we come to know the
dusk, how it settles in a
bit sooner each day, and how
you glow in the light you seem
to have stolen from the moon.

Monday, November 1, 2010

Xiao Qiao


by Xiao Qiao
translated by Cindy M. Carter

The Chinese word for cactus, 仙人掌, translates as "Palm of the Immortals."

The cactus grows not from immortal arms,
but vainly from the sands,
thirsting for a surgery:

Oh cut me, cut me open,
let me hear the water gush from me...

Comes a western trader,
peddling wigs as sleek as silver,
whose merchant-eyes pierce cacti
like they were strings of copper cash.

The cactus face goes green,
trembles that it might withstand
the winds that shift the sand.