Monday, September 30, 2013

Wallace Stevens (1879-1955)

The Emperor of Ice-Cream

Call the roller of big cigars,
The muscular one, and bid him whip
In kitchen cups concupiscent curds.
Let the wenches dawdle in such dress
As they are used to wear, and let the boys
Bring flowers in last month's newspapers.
Let be be finale of seem.
The only emperor is the emperor of ice-cream.

Take from the dresser of deal,
Lacking the three glass knobs, that sheet
On which she embroidered fantails once
And spread it so as to cover her face.
If her horny feet protrude, they come
To show how cold she is, and dumb.
Let the lamp affix its beam.
The only emperor is the emperor of ice-cream.

Sunday, September 29, 2013

Czeslaw Milosz (1911-2004)

A Song On The End Of The World

On the day the world ends
A bee circles a clover,
A fisherman mends a glimmering net.
Happy porpoises jump in the sea,
By the rainspout young sparrows are playing
And the snake is gold-skinned as it should always be.

On the day the world ends
Women walk through the fields under their umbrellas,
A drunkard grows sleepy at the edge of a lawn,
Vegetable peddlers shout in the street
And a yellow-sailed boat comes nearer the island,
The voice of a violin lasts in the air
And leads into a starry night.

And those who expected lightning and thunder
Are disappointed.
And those who expected signs and archangels’ trumps
Do not believe it is happening now.
As long as the sun and the moon are above,
As long as the bumblebee visits a rose,
As long as rosy infants are born
No one believes it is happening now.

Only a white-haired old man, who would be a prophet
Yet is not a prophet, for he’s much too busy,
Repeats while he binds his tomatoes:
There will be no other end of the world,
There will be no other end of the world.

Czeslaw Milosz :

Saturday, September 28, 2013

Dylan Thomas (1914-1953)

Clown in the Moon

My tears are like the quiet drift
Of petals from some magic rose;
And all my grief flows from the rift
Of unremembered skies and snows.

I think, that if I touched the earth,
It would crumble;
It is so sad and beautiful,
So tremulously like a dream.

Dylan Thomas

Friday, September 27, 2013

Kirman Uribe - Basque

Birds in Winter

Saving the birds was our mission that whole winter.
Saving the birds imprisoned in the snow.

All along the beach most of them were hidden,
nestled in the shade of the black sea.
The birds were black, too.
From the coverts we’d take them and carry them home
in our coat pockets.
The tiniest birds, barely contained
in even our child-sized hands.

Later, we’d lay them beside the warm stove.
But the birds never lasted long.
In two or three hours they died.
We didn’t see why,
didn’t understand their bad luck.
After all, we’d given them
breadcrumbs moistened in milk,
held to their mouths, to eat,
and furnished a nest for each
with our most colorful winter scarves.
But it was useless, they kept on dying.

Furious, our parents told us
not to bring home any more birds,
they were dying of too much heat.
And that nature is wise,
spring would come with its own birds.

We sat and considered their statements,
it could be that they will be right.

Still and all, the very next day
we would flock off back to the beach
to save the birds,
though we knew
it was fruitless as snow in the sea.

And our birds kept dying, these birds taking life.

“Birds in Winter” copyright © 2007 by Kirmen Uribe,

Thursday, September 26, 2013

William Shakespeare (1564-1616)

Let those who are in favour with their stars,
Of public honour and proud titles boast,
Whilst I whom fortune of such triumph bars
Unlooked for joy in that I honour most;
Great princes' favourites their fair leaves spread,
But as the marigold at the sun's eye,
And in themselves their pride lies buried,
For at a frown they in their glory die.
The painful warrior famoused for fight,
After a thousand victories once foiled,
Is from the book of honour razed quite,
And all the rest forgot for which he toiled:
Then happy I that love and am beloved
Where I may not remove nor be removed.

Wednesday, September 25, 2013

Hafiz (1325-1389)

Someone Should Start Laughing

I have a thousand brilliant lies
For the question:

How are you?

I have a thousand brilliant lies
For the question:

What is God?

If you think that the Truth can be known
From words,

If you think that the Sun and the Ocean

Can pass through that tiny opening Called the mouth,

O someone should start laughing!
Someone should start wildly Laughing ‘Now!

Tuesday, September 24, 2013

Wislawa Szymborska (1923-2012)


I’m a tranquilizer.
I’m effective at home.
I work in the office.
I can take exams
on the witness stand.
I mend broken cups with care.
All you have to do is take me,
let me melt beneath your tongue,
just gulp me
with a glass of water.

I know how to handle misfortune,
how to take bad news.
I can minimize injustice,
lighten up God’s absence,
or pick the widow’s veil that suits your face.
What are you waiting for—
have faith in my chemical compassion.

You’re still a young man/woman.
It’s not too late to learn how to unwind.
Who said
you have to take it on the chin?

Let me have your abyss.
I’ll cushion it with sleep.
You’ll thank me for giving you
four paws to fall on.

Sell me your soul.
There are no other takers.

There is no other devil anymore.

Wislawa Szymborska :

Monday, September 23, 2013

Paul Celan (1920-1970)


Autunm eats its leaf out of my hand: we are friends.
From the nuts we shell time and we teach it to walk:
then time returns to the shell.

In the mirror it's Sunday,
in dream there is room for sleeping,
our mouths speak the truth.

My eye moves down to the sex of my loved one:
we look at each other,
we exchange dark words,
we love each other like poppy and recollection,
we sleep like wine in the conches,
like the sea in the moon's blood ray.

We stand by the window embracing, and people look up from
the street:
it is time they knew!
It is time the stone made an effort to flower,
time unrest had a beating heart.
It is time it were time.

It is time.

Translated by Michael Hamburger

Paul Celan :

Sunday, September 22, 2013

Li-Young Lee

The Sacrifice

We come to each other
exactly at the center,
the spine of ample fire, and suffer
to be revised.
Stay with me.

Weren't we promised
the sheer flame, bright change
so clean even our clothes wouldn't smell of smoke,
not one hair of our heads would be singed?
Yet, just now, didn't the tongues slip
loose and hot about my neck?
Stay close now.

The sound is like a rustling coming from chambers.
someone sifting through thousands
of pages, the histories of rapture,
looking for a happy ending.
The sound is like the sea,
which is very far away.
Are you scared?

There are many things
which are far from us now.
Try to recall a few of them:
the iron in the bath water
that made you taste of rust.
The rabbit screaming in the night,
its innards strewn

on the stoop like prophesy.
Can you hear me? Say something.
Tell me what you remember of our life.
The torn dress you threw away,
a piece of which I rescued and used as a scarf.
Are you still with me? Say something.
Does this hurt very much? Are you here?

Li-Young Lee :

Saturday, September 21, 2013

Milton Acorn (1923-1986)

The Island

Milton Acorn
From: The Island Means Minago. Toronto: NC Press, 1975. p.13.

Since I'm Island-born home's as precise
as if a mumbly old carpenter,
shoulder-straps crossed wrong,
laid it out, refigured
to the last three-eighths of shingle.

Nowhere that plowcut worms
heal themselves in red loam;
spruces squat, skirts in sand
or the stones of a river rattle its dark
tunnel under the elms,
is there a spot not measured by hands;
no direction I couldn't walk
to the wave-lined edge of home.

Quiet shores -- beaches that roar
but walk two thousand paces and the sea
becomes an odd shining
glimpse among the jeweled
zigzag low hills. Any wonder
your eyelashes are wings
to fly your look both in and out?
In the coves of the land all things are discussed.

In the ranged jaws of the Gulf,
a red tongue.
Indians say a musical God
took up his brush and painted it,
named it in His own language
"The Island".

Friday, September 20, 2013

Charles Bukowski (1920-1994)

Cause And Effect

the best often die by their own hand
just to get away,
and those left behind
can never quite understand
why anybody
would ever want to
get away

Charles Bukowski

Thursday, September 19, 2013

Yosy Flug

Nightfall at the seashore

Black strokes
Of lazy waves
On peachy luminescence
Bordering the purple
Darkening sky
Pierced sparsely
By waking up stars….
O beloved!
Were it only
To behold
This wink of your beauty
It is worth
To be alive.


Wednesday, September 18, 2013

William Butler Yeats (1865-1939)


WHEN my arms wrap you round I press
My heart upon the loveliness
That has long faded from the world;
The jewelled crowns that kings have hurled
In shadowy pools, when armies fled;
The love-tales wrought with silken thread
By dreaming ladies upon cloth
That has made fat the murderous moth;
The roses that of old time were
Woven by ladies in their hair,
The dew-cold lilies ladies bore
Through many a sacred corridor
Where such grey clouds of incense rose
That only God's eyes did not close:
For that pale breast and lingering hand
Come from a more dream-heavy land,
A more dream-heavy hour than this;
And when you sigh from kiss to kiss
I hear white Beauty sighing, too,
For hours when all must fade like dew.
But flame on flame, and deep on deep,
Throne over throne where in half sleep,
Their swords upon their iron knees,
Brood her high lonely mysteries.

Tuesday, September 17, 2013

Alice Oswald


by Alice Oswald

I will not meet that quiet child

roughly my age but match-size

I will not kneel low enough to her lashes

to look her in her open eye

or feel her hairy wiry strength

or open my mouth among her choristers

I will not lie small enough under her halo

to smell its laundered frills

or let the slightest whisperiness

find out her friendliness

because she is more

summer-like more meek

than I am I will push my nail

into her neck and make

a lovely necklace out of her green bones

Monday, September 16, 2013

Anfisa Osinnik

Amok II

A Malay with a face of withered leaves
appeared in my dream.
Piercing my heart with a spear,
he said:
"This is amok."
Midnight is impenetrable.
I am midnight.
The stars
are my wounds,
the moon is my throat ...
Give me, Malay,
the medicine
to heal my wounds
and silence the moon's
painful lament.
No medicine,
said the Malay,
will cure amok.
How do you heal wounds
when they are stars?
How can you silence the voice
when the moon is your throat?
I know all that, old fellow,
don't tell me ...
The solo of the moon in my throat,
in the dark star anise,
the bird
composes a chant
for me:

Sunday, September 15, 2013

Joseph Brodsky (1940-1996)


About a year has passed. I've returned to the place of the battle,
to its birds that have learned their unfolding of wings
from a subtle
lift of a surprised eyebrow, or perhaps from a razor blade
- wings, now the shade of early twilight, now of state
bad blood.

Now the place is abuzz with trading
in your ankles's remnants, bronzes
of sunburnt breastplates, dying laughter, bruises,
rumors of fresh reserves, memories of high treason,
laundered banners with imprints of the many
who since have risen.

All's overgrown with people. A ruin's a rather stubborn
architectural style. And the hearts's distinction
from a pitch-black cavern
isn't that great; not great enough to fear
that we may collide again like blind eggs somewhere.

At sunrise, when nobody stares at one's face, I often,
set out on foot to a monument cast in molten
lengthy bad dreams. And it says on the plinth "commander
in chief." But it reads "in grief," or "in brief,"
or "in going under."

Joseph Brodsky

Saturday, September 14, 2013

Charles Baudelaire (1821-1867)


by: Charles Baudelaire
HOU, O my Grief, be wise and tranquil still, The eve is thine which even now drops down, To carry peace or care to human will, And in a misty veil enfolds the town. While the vile mortals of the multitude, By pleasure, cruel tormentor, goaded on, Gather remorseful blossoms in light mood-- Grief, place thy hand in mine, let us be gone Far from them. Lo, see how the vanished years, In robes outworn lean over heaven's rim; And from the water, smiling through her tears, Remorse arises, and the sun grows dim; And in the east, her long shroud trailing light, List, O my grief, the gentle steps of Night.

'Contemplation' is reprinted from The Poems and Prose Poems of Charles Baudelaire. Ed. James Huneker. New York: Brentano's, 1919.

Monday, September 9, 2013

Angelica Jochim

Last July in North Dakota

I never dreamed I would sit
with my mother this way,
the two of us hunched over plates
of leftover Chinese food,
brown sauce staining the white
containers discarded on
the hotel room desk.
Our faces frozen like
paper mache’.

Us, in unmatched chairs that didn’t
fit the table,
pulling ourselves up to it anyway,
tasting only grief,
lining the walls,
tracing the doorframe,
leaking along the baseboards.

The television always on,
turned up loud
so my mother could hear.

Two blocks away,
my brother’s body laid out,
his made up face the wrong color.

I stared out the 13th floor window
to the night sky shrouded in stormclouds,
pressed my face to the glass,
and waited for rain.

Sunday, September 8, 2013

Vladimir Mayakovsky (1893-1930)

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, September 7, 2013

Ayana Erdal

The disasters happened when we didn’t notice,
persimmons blackened on the trees
and your hand looked more tired than ever,
as if it had already held everything.

You listened carefully to music as to people talking
and hung the laundry just as slowly,
and the sublime lessons of flesh and blood
that others learned but we did not.
We learned how to climb stairs with a baby in one’s arms
and how to shop with less money
and pile rage upon rage.

We didn’t know about isolation,
we didn’t lock doors,
and the secrets that moved us from one room to another
allowed us to remain lovers.

Friday, September 6, 2013

Sharon Olds


I have heard about the civilized,
the marriages run on talk, elegant and honest, rational. But you and I are
savages. You come in with a bag,
hold it out to me in silence.
I know Moo Shu Pork when I smell it
and understand the message: I have
pleased you greatly last night. We sit
quietly, side by side, to eat,
the long pancakes dangling and spilling,
fragrant sauce dripping out,
and glance at each other askance, wordless,
the corners of our eyes clear as spear points
laid along the sill to show
a friend sits with a friend here.

Sharon Olds

Wednesday, September 4, 2013

Judith Viorst

Happiness (Reconsidered)

Is a clean bill of health from the doctor,
And the kids shouldn't move back home for
more than a year,
And not being audited, overdrawn, in Wilkes-Barre,
in a lawsuit or in traction.

Is falling asleep without Valium,
And having two breasts to put in my brassiere,
And not (yet) needing to get my blood pressure lowered,
my eyelids raised or a second opinion.

And on Saturday nights
When my husband and I have rented
Something with Fred Astaire for the VCR,
And we're sitting around in our robes discussing,
The state of the world, back exercises, our Keoghs,
And whether to fix the transmission or buy a new car,
And we're eating a pint of rum-raisin ice cream
on the grounds that
Tomorrow we're starting a diet of fish, fruit and grain,
And my dad's in Miami dating a very nice widow,
And no one we love is in serious trouble or pain,
And our bringing-up-baby days are far behind us,
But our senior-citizen days have not begun,
It's not what I called happiness
When I was twenty-one,
But it's turning out to be
What happiness is.

Judith Viorst

Tuesday, September 3, 2013

Leonard Cohen

Waiting for Marianne

I have lost a telephone
with your smell in it

I am living beside the radio
all the stations at once
but I pick out a Polish lullaby
I pick it out of the static
it fades I wait I keep the beat
it comes back almost alseep

Did you take the telephone
knowing I'd sniff it immoderately
maybe heat up the plastic
to get all the crumbs of your breath

and if you won't come back
how will you phone to say
you won't come back
so that I could at least argue

Monday, September 2, 2013

Anna Akhmatova (1889-1966)

But Listen, I Am Warning You

But listen, I am warning you
I'm living for the very last time.
Not as a swallow, nor a maple,
Not as a reed, nor as a star,
Not as spring water,
Nor as the toll of bells…
Will I return to trouble men
Nor will I vex their dreams again
With my insatiable moans.

Anna Akhmatova

Sunday, September 1, 2013

Margret Atwood

The Landlady

This is the lair of the landlady

She is
a raw voice
loose in the rooms beneath me.

the continuous henyard
squabble going on below
thought in this house like
the bicker of blood through the head.

She is everywhere, intrusive as the smells
that bulge in under my doorsill;
she presides over my
meagre eating, generates
the light for eyestrain.

From her I rent my time:
she slams
my days like doors.
Nothing is mine.

and when I dream images
of daring escapes through the snow
I find myself walking
always over a vast face
which is the land-
lady's, and wake up shouting.

She is a bulk, a knot
swollen in a space. Though I have tried
to find some way around
her, my senses
are cluttered by perception
and can't see through her.

She stands there, a raucous fact
blocking my way:
immutable, a slab
of what is real.

solid as bacon.

Margaret Atwood :