Saturday, April 30, 2011

Maya Angelou

Petulant priests, greedy
centurions, and one million
incensed gestures stand
between your love and me.

Your agape sacrifice
is reduced to colored glass,
vapid penance, and the
tedium of ritual.

Your footprints yet
mark the crest of
billowing seas but
your joy
fades upon the tablets
of ordained prophets.

Visit us again, Savior.
Your children, burdened with
disbelief, blinded by a patina
of wisdom,
carom down this vale of
fear. We cry for you
although we have lost
your name.

Friday, April 29, 2011

Bei Dao

Coldcrow jackdaws piece themselves
Into night: black map
I’ve come back—return journeys
Always take longer than wrong turnings—
Longer than a lifetime

Put on winter’s heart
When springwater and pills of honey
Become night’s speech
When memory barks rabidly
Rainbows come and go in black markets

Small as a bead, Father’s life fire
I am his echo
Turning a corner to keep an appointment
A lover from old days hides in the wind
Revolving with faith-letters

Beijing, let me
Drink a toast with all your lights
Let my white hairs lead the way
Crossing the black map
Ushering you like a windstorm into flight

I queue till I come to that small window
Closed: o silver Moon
I’ve come back—there are always
Fewer reunions than partings
But only by one

Thursday, April 28, 2011

Anna Akhmatova (1889-1966)

I've learned to live simply, wisely
I've learned to live simply, wisely,
To look at the sky and pray to God,
And to take long walks before evening
To wear out this useless anxiety.

When the burdocks rustle in the ravine
And the yellow-red clusters of rowan nod,
I compose happy verses
About mortal life, mortal and beautiful life.

I return. The fluffy cat
Licks my palm and sweetly purrs.
And on the turret of the sawmill by the lake
A bright flame flares.

The quiet is cut, occasionally,
By the cry of a stork landing on the roof.
And if you were to knock at my door,
It seems to me I wouldn't even hear.

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Kutti Revathi

Breasts are bubbles, rising
In wet marshlands

I watched in awe — and guarded —
Their gradual swell and blooming
At the edges of my youth’s season

Saying nothing to anyone else,
They sing along
With me alone, always:
Of Love,

To the nurseries of my turning seasons,
They never once forgot or failed
To bring arousal

During penance, they swell, as if straining
To break free; and in the fierce tug of lust,
They soar, recalling the ecstasy of music

From the crush of embrace, they distill
The essence of love; and in the shock
Of childbirth, milk from coursing blood

Like two teardrops from an unfulfilled love
That cannot ever be wiped away,
They well up, as if in grief, and spill over

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Thomas Merton (1915-1968)

Song For Nobody
A yellow flower
(Light and spirit)
Sings by itself
For nobody.

A golden spirit
(Light and emptiness)
Sings without a word
By itself.

Let no one touch this gentle sun
In whose dark eye
Someone is awake.

(No light, no gold, no name, no color
And no thought:
O, wide awake!)

A golden heaven
Sings by itself
A song to nobody.

Monday, April 25, 2011

Rainer Maria Rilke

I believe in all that has never yet been spoken.
I want to free what waits within me
so that what no one has dared to wish for

may for once spring clear
without my contriving.

If this is arrogant, God, forgive me,
but this is what I need to say.
May what I do flow from me like a river,
no forcing and no holding back,
the way it is with children.

Then in these swelling and ebbing currents,
these deepening tides moving out, returning,
I will sing you as no one ever has,

streaming through widening channels
into the open sea.

Sunday, April 24, 2011

William Butler Yeats

He Wishes For The Cloths Of Heaven
Had I the heavens' embroidered cloths,
Enwrought with golden and silver light,
The blue and the dim and the dark cloths
Of night and light and the half-light,
I would spread the cloths under your feet:
But I, being poor, have only my dreams;
I have spread my dreams under your feet;
Tread softly because you tread on my dreams.

Saturday, April 23, 2011

James Broughton

The Gardener of Eden
I am the old dreamer who never sleeps
I am timekeeper of the timeless dance
I preserve the long rhythms of the earth
and fertilize the rounds of desire

In my evergreen arboretum
I raise flowering hopes for the world
I plant seeds of perennial affection
and wait for their passionate bloom

Would you welcome that sight if you saw it?
Revalue the view you have lost?
Could you wake to the innocent morning
and follow the risks of your heart?

Every day I grow a dream in my garden
where the beds are laid out for love
When will you come to embrace it
and join in the joy of the dance?

Friday, April 22, 2011

Carlos Barbarito

It does not matter in what language one writes.
All language is foreign, incomprehensible.
Every word, as soon as pronounced,
flees far away, where nothing or nobody can reach it.
It does not matter how much is known.
Nobody can read.
Nobody knows what a lightning is
and even less when it is reflected
in the polished metal of a knife.
Now, night seems a sea.
On that sea we row,
dispersed, in silence.

Thursday, April 21, 2011

Miguel Hernandez

Because Of Your Feet, Where Your Beauty Ends’
(VIII: From ‘El Rayo Que No Cesa’)

Because of your feet, where your beauty ends
in ten fragments of whiteness, more a dance,
a dove ascends to your waist,
an unending balm falls to earth.

Along with your feet goes the wonder
of nacre, in a ridiculous narrowness,
and where your feet go whiteness goes,
a dog sowing anklets of jasmine.

At your feet, as much foam as shore,
sand and sea reach me, and ebb from me,
and I try to enter the sheepfold of your sole.

I enter and let myself pass to your soul itself,
with the loving voice of the grapes:
trample my heart, now it’s ripe.

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Jorge Luis Borges

The Art Of Poetry
To gaze at a river made of time and water
And remember Time is another river.
To know we stray like a river
and our faces vanish like water.

To feel that waking is another dream
that dreams of not dreaming and that the death
we fear in our bones is the death
that every night we call a dream.

To see in every day and year a symbol
of all the days of man and his years,
and convert the outrage of the years
into a music, a sound, and a symbol.

To see in death a dream, in the sunset
a golden sadness—such is poetry,
humble and immortal, poetry,
returning, like dawn and the sunset.

Sometimes at evening there's a face
that sees us from the deeps of a mirror.
Art must be that sort of mirror,
disclosing to each of us his face.

They say Ulysses, wearied of wonders,
wept with love on seeing Ithaca,
humble and green. Art is that Ithaca,
a green eternity, not wonders.

Art is endless like a river flowing,
passing, yet remaining, a mirror to the same
inconstant Heraclitus, who is the same
and yet another, like the river flowing

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Emily Dickinson

A charm invests a face
Imperfectly beheld.
The lady dare not lift her veil
For fear it be dispelled.

But peers beyond her mesh,
And wishes, and denies,
Lest interview annul a want
That image satisfies.

Sunday, April 17, 2011

Carlos Bedoya

Inside of me night standing
sprinkled with white scales.

After the “good mornings”
a scale of clouds
covered with red gems.

Among bushes
dream snipers
prepare their coup de grâce.

Walking home
I remember
I have lost every house.

Saturday, April 16, 2011

Mirza Ghalib

The Rose with its redolent petals
by Mirza Ghalib
(1797 - 1869) Timeline

English version by
Riaz Ahmad

Original Language
Muslim / Sufi

19th Century

The Rose with its redolent petals
The Water lily with its robe of virgin white
These have surely come to us in transmigration
Of but a few of those
Endowed with sublime beauty and grace.
Some embrace death to sprout again
But most, forever, in dust remain.

Friday, April 15, 2011

Thich Nhat Hanh

by Thich Nhat Hanh
(1929 - ) Timeline

Original Language
Buddhist : Zen / Chan


My head pillowed on waves--
I drift with the flow--
broad river,
deep sky.
They float, they sink,
like bubbles,
like wings.

Thursday, April 14, 2011

Samuel Taylor Coleridge

To Nature
by Samuel Taylor Coleridge
(1772 - 1834) Timeline

Original Language
Secular or Eclectic : Romantic

19th Century

It may indeed be phantasy, when I
Essay to draw from all created things
Deep, heartfelt, inward joy that closely clings;
And trace in leaves and flowers that round me lie
Lessons of love and earnest piety.
So let it be; and if the wide world rings
In mock of this belief, it brings
Nor fear, nor grief, nor vain perplexity.
So will I build my altar in the fields,
And the blue sky my fretted dome shall be,
And the sweet fragrance that the wild flower yields
Shall be the incense I will yield to Thee,
Thee only God! and thou shalt not despise
Even me, the priest of this poor sacrifice


Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Paula Gunn Allen

Out in the light on sitting alone.
Sorting, straightening tangled skins.
(They're always trying lives in knots.)
I would like to be sleeping. Not
dreaming, just black out:
no one bumping, around in my brain-
no angels, no deaths, just quite
empty nests, just threads
lying straight and ordered and still.
outside the window I can see
sweet winter birds
Rise up from tall weeds
chattering. They fly
into sunrisen sky that holds them
in light.

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Sylvia Plath

Childless Woman
The womb
Rattles its pod, the moon
Discharges itself from the tree with nowhere to go.

My landscape is a hand with no lines,
The roads bunched to a knot,
The knot myself,

Myself the rose you acheive---
This body,
This ivory

Ungodly as a child's shriek.
Spiderlike, I spin mirrors,
Loyal to my image,

Uttering nothing but blood---
Taste it, dark red!
And my forest

My funeral,
And this hill and this
Gleaming with the mouths of corpses.

Monday, April 11, 2011

Pablo Neruda

Still Another Day: I
by Pablo Neruda
translated by William O'Daly

Today is that day, the day that carried
a desperate light that since has died.
Don't let the squatters know:
let’s keep it all between us,
day, between your bell
and my secret.

Today is dead winter in the forgotten land
that comes to visit me, with a cross on the map
and a volcano in the snow, to return to me,
to return again the water
fallen on the roof of my childhood.
Today when the sun began with its shafts
to tell the story, so clear, so old,
the slanting rain fell like a sword,
the rain my hard heart welcomes.

You, my love, still asleep in August,
my queen, my woman, my vastness, my geography
kiss of mud, the carbon-coated zither,
you, vestment of my persistent song,
today you are reborn again and with the sky’s
black water confuse me and compel me:
I must renew my bones in your kingdom,
I must still uncloud my earthly duties.

Sunday, April 10, 2011

Armando 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, April 9, 2011

Mo Fei



In that place either silent or blind
You're writing the only poem.
In the backyard of time
you've written the lines to replace words and objects.

Before the destruction you started
the poem
which no one can kidnap,
which has no beginning.
It's approaching the winter.
The pen tip gleams.
The last stroke in the dark
brings the world to a sudden halt.

Those whose ears were stolen
will never forgive.
The disaster caused by the snow storm
awoke all the intoxicated.

A gardener who keeps death and roses
is trying to learn cool wisdom
with the short days of his life.
Doors and windows are tightly closed.
How you wish you could keep your relatives here
and let trees enjoy the silent twilight.

You're doomed
to write this only poem.
The breath of the blooming words is short--
you linger on.

translated by Wang Ping and Leonard Schwartz

Friday, April 8, 2011

Lynn Crosbie

i. Gabriel
Lynn Crosbie
From: Fredo Pentangeli in Queen Rat: New and Selected Poems. Toronto: Anansi, 1998. p.3.

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.

Thursday, April 7, 2011

Thomas Merton

I have nothing left to translate
Into the figures of night
Or the pale geometry
Of the fire-birds.
If I once had a wagon of lights to ride in
The axle is broken
The horses are shot.

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

Joseph Brodsky

Daedalus in Sicily
All his life he was building something, inventing something.
Now, for a Cretan queen, an artificial heifer,
so as to cuckold the king. Then a labyrinth, the time for
the king himself, to hide from bewildered glances
an unbearable offspring. Or a flying contraption, when
the king figured himself so busy with new commissions.
The son of that journey perished falling into the sea,
like Phaeton, who, they say, also spurned his father’s
orders. Here, in Sicily, stiff on its scorching sand,
sits a very old man, capable of transporting
himself through the air, if robbed of other means of passage.
All his life he was building something, inventing something.
All his life from those clever constructions m from those inventions,
he had to flee. As though inventions
and constructions are anxious to rid themselves of their blueprints
like children ashamed of their parents, Presumably, that’s the fear
of replication. Waves are running onto the sand;
behind, shine the tusks of the local mountains.
Yet he had already invented, when he was young, the seesaw,
using the strong resemblance between motion and stasis.
The old man bends down, ties to his brittle ankle
(so as not to get lost) a lengthy thread,
straightens up with a grunt, and heads out for Hades.

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

Armando Romero

The three of them arrived at the same spot
They ordered foaming drinks
They greeted the courteous multitude

All three went up to the same table
They drank smoking potions
They knew nobody
They were not uncomfortable

And lo and behold,
When all three jumped together
Over the cornice
Over the window
Over the hole
The woman at the bar said there was no reason to be afraid
Since they were a new flower brought from the East

But when they came down again and killed the whole multitude
She said before dying that there was nothing to fear
That she had come upon the wrong garden
That she was mistaken about the flower
And that instead of blossoms from Buddha
She had brought blossoms of Uranium

Monday, April 4, 2011

Czeslaw Milosz


Love means to learn to look at yourself
The way one looks at distant things
For you are only one thing among many.
And whoever sees that way heals his heart,
Without knowing it, from various ills
A bird and a tree say to him: Friend.
Then he wants to use himself and things
So that they stand in the glow of ripeness.
It doesnt matter whether he knows what he serves:
Who serves best doesnt always understand.

Sunday, April 3, 2011

Farid ud-Din Attar

The pilgrim sees no form but His and knows
The pilgrim sees no form but His and knows
That He subsists beneath all passing shows --
The pilgrim comes from Him whom he can see,
Lives in Him, with Him, and beyond all three.
Be lost in Unity's inclusive span,
Or you are human but not yet a man.
Whoever lives, the wicked and the blessed,
Contains a hidden sun within his breast --
Its light must dawn though dogged by long delay;
The clouds that veil it must be torn away --
Whoever reaches to his hidden sun
Surpasses good and bad and knows the One.
The good and bad are here while you are here;
Surpass yourself and they will disappear.

Saturday, April 2, 2011

William Butler Yeats


NOW as at all times I can see in the mind's eye,
In their stiff, painted clothes, the pale unsatisfied ones
Appear and disappear in the blue depth of the sky
With all their ancient faces like rain-beaten stones,
And all their helms of Silver hovering side by side,
And all their eyes still fixed, hoping to find once more,
Being by Calvary's turbulence unsatisfied,
The uncontrollable mystery on the bestial floor.

Friday, April 1, 2011

Wendy Rose

give me a color
to step in
a color for my
table a color to trash
my hand in
my inner swirls
are gray with yesterday's promises
becoming today's raining wail.