Sunday, January 31, 2016

Jack Kerouac (1922-1969)

To Harpo Marx

O Harpo! When did you seem like an angel
the last time?
and played the gray harp of gold?

When did you steal the silverware
and bug-spray the guests?

When did your brother find rain
in you sunny courtyard?

When did you chase your last blonde
across the Millionaires' lawn
with a bait hook on a line
protruding from your bicycle?

Or when last you powderpuffed
your white flour face
with fishbarrel cover?

Harpo! Who was that Lion
I saw you with?

How did you treat the midget
and Konk the Giant?

Harpo, in your recent nightclub appearance
in New Orleans were you old?
were you still chiding with your horn
in the cane at your golden belt?

Did you still emerge from your pockets
another Harpo, or screw on
new wrists?

Was your vow of silence an Indian Harp?
Jack Kerouac :

Saturday, January 30, 2016

Leonard Cohen (b.1934)

"Chelsea Hotel #2"
I remember you well in the Chelsea Hotel,
you were talking so brave and so sweet,
giving me head on the unmade bed,
while the limousines wait in the street.
Those were the reasons and that was New York,
we were running for the money and the flesh.
And that was called love for the workers in song
probably still is for those of them left.
Ah but you got away, didn't you babe,
you just turned your back on the crowd,
you got away, I never once heard you say,
I need you, I don't need you,
I need you, I don't need you
and all of that jiving around.

I remember you well in the Chelsea Hotel
you were famous, your heart was a legend.
You told me again you preferred handsome men
but for me you would make an exception.
And clenching your fist for the ones like us
who are oppressed by the figures of beauty,
you fixed yourself, you said, "Well never mind,
we are ugly but we have the music."

And then you got away, didn't you babe...

I don't mean to suggest that I loved you the best,
I can't keep track of each fallen robin.
I remember you well in the Chelsea Hotel,
that's all, I don't even think of you that often.

Leonard Cohen Chelsea Hotel #2 Live

Friday, January 29, 2016

Samiya Bashir (b.1970)

Blackbody Curve      

Stairs: a rushed flight down thirty-eight; French doors unlocked always.

Always: a lie; an argument.

Argument: two buck hunters circle a meadow’s edge.

Edge: one of us outside bleeding.

Bleeding: shards of glass; doors locked.

Locked: carpet awash with blood.

Blood: lift and drop; a sudden breeze.

Breeze: its whistle through bone.

Bone: the other was looking at —

Bone: cradled to catch drips.

Drips: quiet as a meadow fawn.

Fawn: faces down each hunter each gun.

Gun: again.

Again: somebody call someone.

Someone: almost always prefers forgetting.

Forgetting: an argument; a lie.

Lie: a meadow; a casement; a stair.
Share this text ...?

Source: Poetry (January 2016).

Wednesday, January 27, 2016

Wallace Stevens (1879-1955)

The Snow Man

One must have a mind of winter
To regard the frost and the boughs
Of the pine-trees crusted with snow;

And have been cold a long time
To behold the junipers shagged with ice,
The spruces rough in the distant glitter

Of the January sun; and not to think
Of any misery in the sound of the wind,
In the sound of a few leaves,

Which is the sound of the land
Full of the same wind
That is blowing in the same bare place
For the listener, who listens in the snow,
And, nothing himself, beholds
Nothing that is not there and the nothing that is.

Wallace Stevens :

Tuesday, January 26, 2016

Vladimir Mayakovsky (1893-1930)


Awhirl with events,
                   packed with jobs one too many,
the day slowly sinks
                    as the night shadows fall.
There are two in the room:
                            and Lenin-
a photograph
             on the whiteness of wall.

The stubble slides upward
                         above his lip
as his mouth
             jerks open in speech.
                                 The  tense
creases of brow
               hold thought
                           in their grip,
immense brow
              matched by thought immense.
A forest of flags,
                raised-up hands thick as grass...
Thousands are marching
                       beneath him...
alight with joy,
                 I rise from my place,
eager to see him,
                hail him,
                        report to him!
"Comrade  Lenin,
                I report to you -
(not a dictate of office,
                      the heart's prompting alone)
This hellish work
                 that we're out to do

will be done
            and  is already being done.
We  feed and we clothe
                       and give light to the needy,

the quotas
          for coal
                  and for iron
but there is
            any amount
                      of bleeding
     and  rubbish
                 around  us still.

Without you,
            there's many
                       have got out of hand,

all the sparring
              and  squabbling
                                  does one in.
There's scum
            in plenty
                     hounding our land,

outside the borders
                   and  also

Try to
      count 'em
                  tab 'em -
                           it's no go,

there's all kinds,
                 and  they're
                             thick as nettles:
       red tapists,
                     down the row,
They strut around
                         as peacocks,
badges and fountain pens
                         studding their chests.
We'll lick the lot of 'em-
                             to lick 'em
is no easy job
              at the very best.
On snow-covered lands
                      and on stubbly fields,
in smoky plants
               and on factory sites,
with you in our hearts,
                      Comrade  Lenin,
                                     we  build,
we  think,
           we breathe,
                   we  live,
                           and we fight!"
Awhirl with events,
                   packed with jobs one too many,
the day slowly sinks
                     as the night shadows fall.
There are two in the room:
                           and Lenin-
a photograph
             on the whiteness of wall.


Monday, January 25, 2016

Arthur Rimbaud (1854-1891)

The Sideboard

It is a high, carved sideboard made of oak.
The dark old wood, like old folks, seems kind;
Its drawers are open, and its odours soak
The darkness with the scent of strong old wine.

Its drawers are full, a final resting place
For scented, yellowed linens, scraps of clothes
Foe wives or children, worn and faded bows,
Grandmothers' collars made of figured lace;

There you will find old medals, locks of grey
Or yellow hair, and portraits, and a dried bouquet
Whose perfume mingles with the smell of fruit.

- O sideboard of old, you know a great deal more
And could tell us your tales, yet you stand mute
As we slowly open your old dark door.
Arthur Rimbaud :

Sunday, January 24, 2016

Li-Young Lee (b.1957)

Early In The Morning

While the long grain is softening
in the water, gurgling
over a low stove flame, before
the salted Winter Vegetable is sliced
for breakfast, before the birds,
my mother glides an ivory comb
through her hair, heavy
and black as calligrapher's ink.

She sits at the foot of the bed.
My father watches, listens for
the music of comb
against hair.

My mother combs,
pulls her hair back
tight, rolls it
around two fingers, pins it
in a bun to the back of her head.
For half a hundred years she has done this.
My father likes to see it like this.
He says it is kempt.

But I know
it is because of the way
my mother's hair falls
when he pulls the pins out.
Easily, like the curtains
when they untie them in the evening.
Li-Young Lee :

Saturday, January 23, 2016

Allan Ginsberg (1926-1997)

In Back Of The Real

railroad yard in San Jose
I wandered desolate
in front of a tank factory
and sat on a bench
near the switchman's shack.

A flower lay on the hay on
the asphalt highway
--the dread hay flower
I thought--It had a
brittle black stem and
corolla of yellowish dirty
spikes like Jesus' inchlong
crown, and a soiled
dry center cotton tuft
like a used shaving brush
that's been lying under
the garage for a year.

Yellow, yellow flower, and
flower of industry,
tough spiky ugly flower,
flower nonetheless,
with the form of the great yellow
Rose in your brain!
This is the flower of the World.
Allen Ginsberg :

Friday, January 22, 2016

Czeslaw Milosz (1911-2004)

It Was Winter

Winter came as it does in this valley.
After eight dry months rain fell
And the mountains, straw-colored, turned green for a while.
In the canyons where gray laurels
Graft their stony roots to granite,
Streams must have filled the dried-up creek beds.
Ocean winds churned the eucalyptus trees,
And under clouds torn by a crystal of towers
Prickly lights were glowing on the docks.

This is not a place where you sit under a café awning
On a marble piazza, watching the crowd,
Or play the flute at a window over a narrow street
While children’s sandals clatter in the vaulted entryway.

They heard of a land, empty and vast,
Bordered by mountains. So they went, leaving behind crosses
Of thorny wood and traces of campfires.
As it happened, they spent winter in the snow of a mountain pass,
And drew lots and boiled the bones of their companions;
And so afterward a hot valley where indigo could be grown
Seemed beautiful to them. And beyond, where fog
Heaved into shoreline coves, the ocean labored.

Sleep: rocks and capes will lie down inside you,
War councils of motionless animals in a barren place,
Basilicas of reptiles, a frothy whiteness.
Sleep on your coat, while your horse nibbles grass
And an eagle gauges a precipice.

When you wake up, you will have the parts of the world.
West, an empty conch of water and air.
East, always behind you, the voided memory of snow-covered fir.
And extending from your outspread arms
Nothing but bronze grasses, north and south.

We are poor people, much afflicted.
We camped under various stars,
Where you dip water with a cup from a muddy river
And slice your bread with a pocketknife.
This is the place; accepted, not chosen.
We remembered that there were streets and houses where we came
So there had to be houses here, a saddler’s signboard,
A small veranda with a chair. But empty, a country where
The thunder beneath the rippled skin of the earth,
The breaking waves, a patrol of pelicans, nullified us.
As if our vases, brought here from another shore,
Were the dug-up spearheads of some lost tribe
Who fed on lizards and acorn flour.

And here I am walking the eternal earth.
Tiny, leaning on a stick.
I pass a volcanic park, lie down at a spring,
Not knowing how to express what is always and everywhere:
The earth I cling to is so solid
Under my breast and belly that I feel grateful
For every pebble, and I don’t know whether
It is my pulse or the earth’s that I hear,
When the hems of invisible silk vestments pass over me,
Hands, wherever they have been, touch my arm,
Or small laughter, once, long ago over wine,
With lanterns in the magnolias, for my house is huge.
Czeslaw Milosz :

Thursday, January 21, 2016

Aleister Crowley (1875-1947)

Ave Adonai

[Dedicated to G. M. Marston]

Pale as the night that pales
In the dawn's pearl-pure pavillion,
I wait for thee, with my dove's breast
Shuddering, a god its bitter guest-
Have I not gilded my nails
And painted my lips with vermillion ?

Am I not wholly stript
Of the deeds and thoughts that obscure thee?
I wait for thee, my soul distraught
With aching for some nameless naught
In its most arcane crypt-
Am I not fit to endure thee?

Girded about the paps
With a golden girdle of glory,
Dost thou wait me, thy slave who am,
As a wolf lurks for a strayed white lamb?
The chain of the stars snaps,
And the deep of night is hoary!

Thou whose mouth is a flame
With its seven-edged sword proceeding,
Come ! I am writhing with despair
Like a snake taken in a snare,
Moaning thy mystical name
Till my tongue is torn and bleeding!

Have I not gilded my nails
And painted my lips with vermillion?
Yea ! thou art I; the deed awakes,
Thy lightening strikes; thy thunder breaks
Wild as the bride that wails
In the bridegroom's plumed pavillion!
Aleister Crowley :

Wednesday, January 20, 2016

Charles Bukowski (1920-1994)


there's a bluebird in my heart that
wants to get out
but I'm too tough for him,
I say, stay in there, I'm not going
to let anybody see
there's a bluebird in my heart that
wants to get out
but I pour whiskey on him and inhale
cigarette smoke
and the whores and the bartenders
and the grocery clerks
never know that
in there.

there's a bluebird in my heart that
wants to get out
but I'm too tough for him,
I say,
stay down, do you want to mess
me up?
you want to screw up the
you want to blow my book sales in
there's a bluebird in my heart that
wants to get out
but I'm too clever, I only let him out
at night sometimes
when everybody's asleep.
I say, I know that you're there,
so don't be
then I put him back,
but he's singing a little
in there, I haven't quite let him
and we sleep together like
with our
secret pact
and it's nice enough to
make a man
weep, but I don't
weep, do
Charles Bukowski :

Monday, January 18, 2016

Margaret Atwood (b.1939)

Night Poem

There is nothing to be afraid of,
it is only the wind
changing to the east, it is only
your father the thunder
your mother the rain

In this country of water
with its beige moon damp as a mushroom,
its drowned stumps and long birds
that swim, where the moss grows
on all sides of the trees
and your shadow is not your shadow
but your reflection,

your true parents disappear
when the curtain covers your door.
We are the others,
the ones from under the lake
who stand silently beside your bed
with our heads of darkness.
We have come to cover you
with red wool,
with our tears and distant whipers.

You rock in the rain's arms
the chilly ark of your sleep,
while we wait, your night
father and mother
with our cold hands and dead flashlight,
knowing we are only
the wavering shadows thrown
by one candle, in this echo
you will hear twenty years later.

Margaret Atwood :

Sunday, January 17, 2016

Xavier Villaurrutia (1903-1950)

Love Nocturne
                   To Manuel Rodríguez Lozano
The nothing that is heard in this cistern of shadow
I don’t know how my arms are not hurting
I pursue in your breathing  the pain of the crime
and you fall into the net that dream stretches out
You keep the name of your accomplice in your eyes
but I find your eyelashes harder than silence
and rather than share it you would kill the pleasure
of handing yourself over to sleep with closed eyes
I suffer feeling the pleasure with which your body searches
for a body that conquers you more than sleep
and I compare the fever of you hands
to my hands of ice
and the throbbing of your temples to my lost pulse
and the plaster of my thighs to the skin of yours
that shadow corrodes with incurable leprosy
I now know the sex of your mouth
and what the avarice of your armpit holds
and I curse the rumour that floods the labyrinth of your ear
on the pillow of froth
on the hard page of snow
Not the blood that flees from me as the arrow flies from the bow
but anger circulates through my arteries
yellow with fire half of the night
and all the words in the prison of my mouth
and a thirst that quenches in the mirror’s water
an identical thirst
From what night do I wake to this naked
night long and cruel night no longer night
beside your body deader than dead
that is not your body but its void
because the absence of your dream has killed death
and my coldness is so great that with a new heat
it opens my eyes where shadow is harder
and clearer and brighter than light itself
and it renews in me what has not been
and it is an unexpected pain even colder and more fiery
not being but that statue that awakens
in the bedroom of the world where everything has died.

Saturday, January 16, 2016

Kahlil Gibran (1883-1931)

The Scarecrow

Once I said to a scarecrow, 'You must be tired of standing in this
lonely field.'

And he said, 'The joy of scaring is a deep and lasting one, and I
never tire of it.'

Said I, after a minute of thought, 'It is true; for I too have
known that joy.'

Said he, 'Only those who are stuffed with straw can know it.'

Then I left him, not knowing whether he had complimented or belittled

A year passed, during which the scarecrow turned philosopher.

And when I passed by him again I saw two crows building a nest
under his hat.
Khalil Gibran :

Friday, January 15, 2016

Nick Flynn (b.1960)

Twenty-Pound Stone

It nests in the hollow of my pelvis, I carry it with both hands, as if
offering my stomach, as if it were pulling me forward.

At night the sun leaks from it, it turns cold, I sleep with it
beside my head, I breath for it.

Sometimes I dream of hammers.

I am hammering it back into sand, the sand we melt into glass,
the glass we blow into bottles.

This stone is fifteen green bottles with nothing inside.

It never bleeds, it never heals, it is a soup can left on the back shelf,
the label worn off.

It is the corner of a house, the beginning of a wall.

At night it changes shape, it lies on one side, casting jagged shadows.

It brightens where my tongue touches it.

Richard's eyes were this color, a pale fruit, honeydew.

When I swing it over my head I swear it could lift me.

If I jump from a bridge it would drag me down, the current couldn't
carry us, it has no lungs, no pockets of air.

If I could walk it to the center of a frozen pond & leave it,
in the spring it would be gone.
Nick Flynn :

Thursday, January 14, 2016

Robert Burns (1759-1796)

Ae Fond Kiss
Ae fond kiss, and then we sever;   
Ae fareweel, alas, for ever! 
Deep in heart-wrung tears I'll pledge thee,    
Warring sighs and groans I'll wage thee! 
Who shall say that Fortune grieves him
While the star of hope she leaves him?   
Me, nae cheerfu' twinkle lights me,
Dark despair around benights me.   
I'll ne'er blame my partial fancy; 
Naething could resist my Nancy;
But to see her was to love her,    
Love but her, and love for ever.   
Had we never loved sae kindly,     
Had we never loved sae blindly,    
Never met—or never parted,
We had ne'er been broken-hearted.  
Fare thee weel, thou first and fairest!  
Fare thee weel, thou best and dearest!   
Thine be ilka joy and treasure,    
Peace, enjoyment, love, and pleasure!
Ae fond kiss, and then we sever!   
Ae fareweel, alas, for ever! 
Deep in heart-wrung tears I'll pledge thee,    
Warring sighs and groans I'll wage thee! 

“The wisest man the warl’ [world] e’er saw, he dearly lov’d the lasses, O. [Solomon had hundreds of wives and concubines]”—Robert Burns

Wednesday, January 13, 2016

Cesar Vallejo (1892-1938)

Black Messengers. (Translation Of Los Heraldos Negros)

There are in life such hard blows . . . I don't know!
Blows seemingly from God's wrath; as if before them
the undertow of all our sufferings
is embedded in our souls . . . I don't know!

There are few; but are . . . opening dark furrows
in the fiercest of faces and the strongest of loins,
They are perhaps the colts of barbaric Attilas
or the dark heralds Death sends us.

They are the deep falls of the Christ of the soul,
of some adorable one that Destiny Blasphemes.
Those bloody blows are the crepitation
of some bread getting burned on us by the oven's door

And the man . . . poor . . . poor!
He turns his eyes around, like
when patting calls us upon our shoulder;
he turns his crazed maddened eyes,
and all of life's experiences become stagnant, like a puddle of guilt, in a daze.

Tuesday, January 12, 2016

Jalaluddin Rumi (1207-1263)

A Moment Of Happiness

A moment of happiness,
you and I sitting on the verandah,
apparently two, but one in soul, you and I.
We feel the flowing water of life here,
you and I, with the garden's beauty
and the birds singing.
The stars will be watching us,
and we will show them
what it is to be a thin crescent moon.
You and I unselfed, will be together,
indifferent to idle speculation, you and I.
The parrots of heaven will be cracking sugar
as we laugh together, you and I.
In one form upon this earth,
and in another form in a timeless sweet land.
Mewlana Jalaluddin Rumi :

Monday, January 11, 2016

Miguel Pinero (1946-1988)

Jitterbug Jesus

Tiempos is longin' lookin'
for third world laughter
to break out like a pimple on the face
of a pimp
of youthful
latino eyes that chase el ritmo del güiro
en lo vagones del tren on school mornin'
shoutin' broken spanish dream
— si tü cocina como tu mamá
como hasta el pegao
jitterbuggin' in wrinkled
worn out jeans
bailando new found pride in bein' nuyoricano . . .
on their piss stained streets
where teens meet in head on collision
claimin' colors on concrete cemetary slums
slums that vomit screamin' rumblin' tongues ramblin'
for a crust of welfare cheese . . .
here in this aroma of arroz y habichuela-tostones-pasteles . . .
two triple culture lovers meet/embrace
tremblin' hands lift pleated shirt — break an elastic band.
in this cocaine drenched hallway
that has passed broken wine bottles & broken bulbs
& broken homes
& broken souls & the two lovers meet/reach out for
each other
under the view of a million cucarachas
their pulsin' bodies vibrate droppin' droplets of
sweat petals a river of nourishment for the rats scurryin'
across cracked mural walls
graffiti screamin' profanity
under this ghetto umbrella
brown baby king is born
Jesús Rodriguez
who talked with his father on a garden firescape
walked across the east river on empty beer cans
changed six barrels of dope into a finely blended rum
was stoned out of school
will be crucified on a set of works
will be crowned
King of the Dope-Fiends . . .

Sunday, January 10, 2016

Vasko Popa (1922-1991)

In The Village of my Ancestors

Someone embraces me
Someone looks at me with the eyes of a wolf
Someone takes off his hat
So I can see him better

Everyone asks me
Do you know how I'm related to you

Unknown old men and women
Appropriate the names
Of young men and women from my memory

I ask one of them
Tell me for God's sake
Is George the Wolf still living

That's me he answers
With a voice from the next world

I touch his cheek with my hand
And beg him with my eyes
To tell me if I'm living too

Saturday, January 9, 2016

Robert Frost (1874-1963)

"Whose woods these are I think I know.
His house is in the village though;
He will not see me stopping here
To watch his woods fill up with snow." 
-  Robert Frost, Stopping by Woods on a Snowy Evening 

Friday, January 8, 2016

Emily Dickinson (1830-1886)

"Some keep the Sabbath going to Church,
I keep it staying at Home -
With a bobolink for a Chorister,
And an Orchard, for a Dome."
-  Emily Dickinson, No. 324, St. 1, 1862   

Thursday, January 7, 2016

Angel Gonzalez (1925-2008)

Dogs Against the Moon

Dogs against the moon, very far away,
bring close
the restlessness of the murmuring
night. Clear
sounds, once inaudible,
are now heard. Vague echoes,
shreds of words, creaking
disturb the shadowed circle.

Scarcely without space,
the silence, the silence
you can't hold, closed in
by sounds, presses
against your arms and legs,
rises gently to your head,
and falls through your loosened hair.

It's night and the dream: don't be uneasy.
The silence has grown like a tree.

          Translated from the Spanish by Steven Ford Brown and Gutierrez Revuelta

(from Palabra sobre palabra, 1964)

Wednesday, January 6, 2016

Mikhail Lermontov (1814-1841)

The Grave Of Ossian

In my beloved Scottish highlands,
Under a curtain of cold mists,
Between the sky of storms and dry sands,
The grave of Ossian exists.
My dreaming heart flies to its stone
To breathe in native air puffs
And take from it the priceless loan -
The treasure of the second life.

Translated by Yevgeny Bonver, October, 2000
Edited by Dmitry Karshtedt, May, 2001

Tuesday, January 5, 2016

William Blake (1757-1827)

The Human Abstract

From Songs of Experience
Pity would be no more
If we did not make somebody poor,
And Mercy no more could be
If all were as happy as we.

And mutual fear brings Peace,
Till the selfish loves increase;
Then Cruelty knits a snare,
And spreads his baits with care.

He sits down with holy fears,
And waters the ground with tears;
Then Humility takes its root
Underneath his foot.

Soon spreads the dismal shade
Of Mystery over his head,
And the caterpillar and fly
Feed on the Mystery.

And it bears the fruit of Deceit,
Ruddy and sweet to eat,
And the raven his nest has made
In its thickest shade.

The gods of the earth and sea
Sought through nature to find this tree,
But their search was all in vain:
There grows one in the human Brain.

Monday, January 4, 2016

Tuli Kupferberg (1923-2010)

Flower Passion

I want to fuck flowers
Flowers want to suck me
Kinsey should have given me a chapter
I would go down in fucken history
Daffodils and tiger lilies
Open up their fleshly lips
I would dare the thorns of horror
For a taste of red rose hips
You may keep you birds and wild bees
You may keep your soft does eyes
Nor can sweetgirls passion equal
Sweat peas coming through the rye

-Tuli Kupferberg

Sunday, January 3, 2016

Tomas Transtromer (1931-2015)


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.

Saturday, January 2, 2016

Lew Welch (1926-1971)

Dear Joanne

Dear Joanne,

Last night Magda dreamed that she,
you, Jack, and I were driving around

We parked in Florence and left
our dog to guard the car.

She was worried because he
doesn't understand Italian.

 Lew Welch :

Friday, January 1, 2016

Jorge Plaza

What must the stone be thinking…

What must the stone be thinking
that crowns the high peak of Kilimanjaro?
Does it feel fortunate for his glory
for being high among the heights of this world?
Or might it consider that honor misfortune
that banishes it to desolation?
And if by virtue of their massiveness
stones were to speak a different language?
And were the stone to speak with its wake
while shattered it rolls through the kosmos?
And were it to speak with beacon light?
(When it reaches land, I will know.)