Thursday, March 31, 2016

William Stafford (1914-1993)

Traveling Through The Dark

Traveling through the dark I found a deer
dead on the edge of the Wilson River road.
It is usually best to roll them into the canyon:
that road is narrow; to swerve might make more dead.

By glow of the tail-light I stumbled back of the car
and stood by the heap, a doe, a recent killing;
she had stiffened already, almost cold.
I dragged her off; she was large in the belly.

My fingers touching her side brought me the reason--
her side was warm; her fawn lay there waiting,
alive, still, never to be born.
Beside that mountain road I hesitated.

The car aimed ahead its lowered parking lights;
under the hood purred the steady engine.
I stood in the glare of the warm exhaust turning red;
around our group I could hear the wilderness listen.

I thought hard for us all--my only swerving--,
then pushed her over the edge into the river.
William Stafford :

Wednesday, March 30, 2016

Li-Young Lee

A Story

Li-Young Lee, 1957

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.

Tuesday, March 29, 2016

Alfonsina Storni (1892-1938)

Lighthouse In The Night

The sky a black sphere,
the sea a black disk.

The lighthouse opens
its solar fan on the coast.

Spinning endlessly at night,
whom is it searching for

when the mortal heart
looks for me in the chest?

Look at the black rock
where it is nailed down.

A crow digs endlessly
but no longer bleeds.
Alfonsina Storni :

Monday, March 28, 2016

Rainer Maria Rilke (1875-1926)

The Sonnets To Orpheus: Xix

Though the world keeps changing its form
as fast as a cloud, still
what is accomplished falls home
to the Primeval.

Over the change and the passing,
larger and freer,
soars your eternal song,
god with the lyre.

Never has grief been possesed,
never has love been learned,
and what removes us in death

is not revealed.
Only the song through the land
hallows and heals.

Translated by Stephen Mitchell
Rainer Maria Rilke :

Thursday, March 24, 2016

Pablo Neruda (1904-1973)

Don'T Go Far Off

Don't go far off, not even for a day, because --
because -- I don't know how to say it: a day is long
and I will be waiting for you, as in an empty station
when the trains are parked off somewhere else, asleep.

Don't leave me, even for an hour, because
then the little drops of anguish will all run together,
the smoke that roams looking for a home will drift
into me, choking my lost heart.

Oh, may your silhouette never dissolve on the beach;
may your eyelids never flutter into the empty distance.
Don't leave me for a second, my dearest,

because in that moment you'll have gone so far
I'll wander mazily over all the earth, asking,
Will you come back? Will you leave me here, dying?
Pablo Neruda :

Lawrence Ferlinghetti (b.1919)

Beatitudes Visuales Mexicanas


By Lawrence Ferlinghetti b. 1919
OctoberNovember 1975
Autobus on Paseo de la Reforma with destination signs: bellas artes insurgentes. Exactamente. Just what’s needed: Insurgent Arts. Poesía Insurgente. This is not it ...


Bus to Veracruz via Puebla + Xalapa ... Adobe house by highway, with no roof and one wall, covered with words: la luz del mundo.


Passing through Puebla late Sunday afternoon. A band concert in a plaza next to a Ferris wheel — I have passed through many places like this, I have seen the toy trains in many amusement parks. When you’ve seen them all you’ve seen One.


Halfway to Xalapa a great white volcano snow peak looms up above the hot altiplano — White god haunting Indian dreams.


A boy and three burros run across a stubble field, away from the white mountain. He holds a stick. There is no other way.


Deep yellow flowers in the dusk by the road, beds of them stretching away into darkness. A moon the same color comes up.


As the bus turns + turns down the winding hill, moon swings wildly from side to side. It has had too many pathetic phallusies written about it to stand still for one more.


In Xalapa I am a head taller than anyone else in town — A foot of flesh and two languages separate us.


At a stand in the park at the center of Xalapa I eat white corn on the cob with a stick in the end, sprinkled with salt, butter, grated cheese + hot sauce. The dark stone Indian who hands it to me has been standing there three thousand years.


I’m taking this trip from Mexico City to the Gulf of Mexico and back without any bag or person — only what I can carry in my pockets. The need for baggage is a form of insecurity.


Two hours in this town and I feel I might live forever (foreign places affect me that way). The tall church tower tolls its antique sign: pray.


In early morning in the great garden of Xalapa, with its terraces and immense jacaranda trees, pines + palms, there are black birds with cries like bells, and others with hollow wooden voices like gourds knocked together. The great white volcano shimmers far off, unreached by the rising sun.


Brown men in white palmetto cowboy hats stand about the fountains in groups of three or four, their voices lost to the hollow-sounding birds. Along a sunlit white stone balustrade, student lovers are studying each other, novios awaiting the day. The sun beats down hot and melts not the mountain.


On the bus again to Veracruz, dropping down fast to flat coast. A tropical feeling — suddenly coffee plantation + palms — everything small except the landscape, horses the size of burros, small black avocados, small strong men with machetes — each still saying to himself Me llamo yo.
Share this text ...?
Source: Poetry (June 2015).

Wednesday, March 23, 2016

Shakila Azizzada


If my heart beats
for Kabul,
it's for the slopes of Bala Hissar,
holding my dead
in its foothills.

Though not one, not one
of those wretched hearts
ever beat for me.

If my heart grieves
for Kabul,
it's for Leyla's sighs of
‘Oh, dear God!'
and my grandmother's heart
set pounding.

It's for Golnar's eyes
scanning the paths
from dawn to dusk, spring to autumn,
staring so long
that all the roads fall apart
and in my teenage nightmares
side roads
suddenly shed their skins.

If my heart trembles
for Kabul,
it's for the slow step of summer noons,
siestas in my father's house which,
heavy with mid-day sleep,
still weighs on my ribs.
For the playful Angel of the Right Shoulder
who keeps forgetting
to ward away stray bullets.

It's for the hawker's cry
of the vegetable seller doing his rounds,
lost in my neighbours' troubled dreams,
that my heart's trembling

Translation notes

Bala Hissar: an ancient citadel in Kabul with a cemetery outside its walls.
Angel of the Right Shoulder: one of the angelic Keraman Katebin, who sit on the shoulders of believers, recording their good and evil deeds.

Tuesday, March 22, 2016

Elizabeth Barrett Browning (1806-1861)

Sonnet Xxxiv

With the same heart, I said, I'll answer thee
As those, when thou shalt call me by my name--
Lo, the vain promise ! is the same, the same,
Perplexed and ruffled by life's strategy ?
When called before, I told how hastily
I dropped my flowers or brake off from a game,
To run and answer with the smile that came
At play last moment, and went on with me
Through my obedience. When I answer now,
I drop a grave thought, break from solitude;
Yet still my heart goes to thee--ponder how--
Not as to a single good, but all my good !
Lay thy hand on it, best one, and allow
That no child's foot could run fast as this blood.
Elizabeth Barrett Browning :

Monday, March 21, 2016

Bob Dylan - Jokerman

Bob Dylan (b.1941)


Standing on the water, casting your bread
While the eyes of the idol with the iron head are glowing
Distant ships sailing into the mist
You were born with a snake in both of your fists while a hurricane was blowing
Freedom just around the corner for you
But with truth so far off, what good will it do.

Jokerman dance to the nightingale tune
Bird fly high by the light of the moon
Oh, oh, oh, Jokerman.

So swiftly the sun sets in the sky
You rise up and say goodbye to no one
Fools rush in where angels fear to tread
Both of their futures, so full of dread, you don't show one
Shedding off one more layer of skin
Keeping one step ahead of the persecutor within.

Jokerman dance to the nightingale tune
Bird fly high by the light of the moon
Oh, oh, oh, Jokerman.

You're a man of the mountains, you can walk on the clouds
Manipulator of crowds, you're a dream twister
You're going to Sodom and Gomorrah
But what do you care ? Ain't nobody there would want marry your sister
Friend to the martyr, a friend to the woman of shame
You look into the fiery furnace, see the rich man without any name.

Jokerman dance to the nightingale tune
Bird fly high by the light of the moon
Oh, oh, oh, Jokerman.

Well, the Book of Leviticus and Deuteronomy
The law of the jungle and the sea are your only teachers
In the smoke of the twilight on a milk-white steed
Michelangelo indeed could've carved out your features
Resting in the fields, far from the turbulent space
Half asleep near the stars with a small dog licking your face.

Jokerman dance to the nightingale tune
Bird fly high by the light of the moon
Oh, oh, oh, Jokerman.

Well, the rifleman's stalking the sick and the lame
Preacherman seeks the same, who'll get there first is uncertain
Nightsticks and water cannons, tear gas, padlocks
Molotov cocktails and rocks behind every curtain
False-hearted judges dying in the webs that they spin
Only a matter of time 'til the night comes stepping in.

Jokerman dance to the nightingale tune
Bird fly high by the light of the moon
Oh, oh, oh, Jokerman.

It's a shadowy world, skies are slippery gray
A woman just gave birth to a prince today and dressed him in scarlet
He'll put the priest in his pocket, put the blade to the heat
Take the motherless children off the street
And place them at the feet of a harlot
Oh, Jokerman, you know what he wants
Oh, Jokerman, you don't show any response.

Jokerman dance to the nightingale tune
Bird fly high by the light of the moon
Oh, oh, oh, Jokerman.

Sunday, March 20, 2016

Patti Masterman

Reading A Latin American Author

And I started to read some of his poetry
and then I found that there was a little bit of
a fandango, getting going in my hips
then when I had read some more of him,
my breasts began to sway in rhythm,
to a sort of metered mambo
and when I had read a few more lines
my legs were straining toward farruca,
although it seemed that my derriere
was aiming more for flamenco,
while my whole body was in a violent rage
for tango

And then suddenly, it was time
to make dinner,
so I had to stop reading him
and content myself doing matachin
on some habanera peppers
and then doing a salsa jig
all around the table

And after a small cockroach appeared,
drawn in by the savory smells,
I did a quick paso-doble return,
in perfect time
upon his whiskers.
Patti Masterman :

Saturday, March 19, 2016

Uljana Wolf (b.1979)

guest room
                         the world is so small
                         the world has only two stories
                                        —Halina Poświatowska

lock me love into your prayer
into the two stories of this world
into the will to wall myself in voice

when step by step
the guest steals in

to our mouth
to our room
with the cherry-red door

lock me in love
where women lock themselves in
where women speak

when strophe by strophe
the guest is better versed

in our mouth
in our room
with the cherry-red door

Friday, March 18, 2016

Robert Frost (1874-1963)

The Kitchen Chimney

Builder, in building the little house,
In every way you may please yourself;
But please please me in the kitchen chimney:
Don't build me a chimney upon a shelf.

However far you must go for bricks,
Whatever they cost a-piece or a pound,
But me enough for a full-length chimney,
And build the chimney clear from the ground.

It's not that I'm greatly afraid of fire,
But I never heard of a house that throve
(And I know of one that didn't thrive)
Where the chimney started above the stove.

And I dread the ominous stain of tar
That there always is on the papered walls,
And the smell of fire drowned in rain
That there always is when the chimney's false.

A shelf's for a clock or vase or picture,
But I don't see why it should have to bear
A chimney that only would serve to remind me
Of castles I used to build in air.
Robert Frost :

Thursday, March 17, 2016

Bob Kaufman (1925-1986)

Where the string
some point,
Was umbilical jazz,
Or perhaps,
In memory,
A long lost bloody cross,
Buried in some steel cavalry.
In what time
For whom do we bleed,
Lost notes, from some jazzman's
Broken needle.
Musical tears from lost
Broken drumsticks, why?
Pitter patter, boom dropping
Bombs in the middle
Of my emotions
My father's sound
My mother's sound,
Is love,
Is life.

Wednesday, March 16, 2016

Karin Karakash

Here and There

I'm taking the night ferry
a fat firefly
the coast a diamond necklace spread before me
sparkling here and there
In my dream
dressed in knives from head to toe
as I spun round
I cut whoever came near me
Each side was blood on steel
steel on blood
spurting here and there
I tried out all the words and then fell silent
I needed a new curse
words never spoken in vain
as old as the Stone Age
a cry
raging from here and there

Monday, March 14, 2016

Michael Dickman (b.1975)


Sonic drag
and television snow
in the rhododendrons
White scales smudge the windows
It’s all
just description
A wall of butterflies falls apart in the middle of the air or flies back together again like drywall
Their eyes are spackled
All together in a pile above the grass they look fluorescent
coming home from school at noon
Their legs go tick tick
Someone changes the channel inside a cocoon


through a hole in the butterfly day
an orange and yellow
Better than birds
Hanging laundry by remote control
Drinking Coca-Cola
and imitating roses in the pink
There is no way to guess which way they’ll go just scraps of air and then nothing at all
             like on AM radio
Careful with each other
Hands glued together with Elmer’s
to brown particleboard


Sunday, March 13, 2016

Paul Celan (1920-1970)

Whorish Other-When

Whorish other-when. And Eternity
blood-black en-babelled.

with your loamy Locks
my Faith.

Two Fingers, hand-far,
row towards a swampy
Paul Celan :

Saturday, March 12, 2016

Uljana Wolf (b.1979)

from-  kochanie i bought bread
how the foreign in
forms conversations

i recognize them
with my back warm

with my eyes shut
on a double bed

still without model
without the right answer

only acclimating  
to hill and dale the

way something hap
pens to form halves

atop a translatable

Friday, March 11, 2016

Yusef Komunyakaa (b.1947)

Envoy to Palestine

By Yusef Komunyakaa       
I've come to this one grassy hill
in Ramallah, off Tokyo Street,
to a place a few red anemones
& a sheaf of wheat on Darwish's grave.
A borrowed line transported me beneath
a Babylonian moon & I found myself
lucky to have the shadow of a coat
as warmth, listening to a poet's song
of Jerusalem, the hum of a red string
Caesar stole off Gilgamesh's lute.
I know a prison of sunlight on the skin.
The land I come from they also dreamt
before they arrived in towering ships
battered by the hard Atlantic winds.
Crows followed me from my home.
My coyote heart is an old runagate
redskin, a noble savage, still Lakota,
& I knew the bow before the arch.
I feel the wildflowers, all the grasses
& insects singing to me. My sacred dead
is the dust of restless plains I come from,
& I love when it gets into my eyes & mouth
telling me of the roads behind & ahead.
I go back to broken treaties & smallpox,
the irony of barbed wire. Your envoy
could be a reprobate whose inheritance
is no more than a swig of firewater.
The sun made a temple of the bones
of my tribe. I know a dried-up riverbed
& extinct animals live in your nightmares
sharp as shark teeth from my mountains
strung into this brave necklace around
my neck. I hear Chief Standing Bear
saying to Judge Dundy, "I am a man,"
& now I know why I'd rather die a poet
than a warrior, tattoo & tomahawk.

Thursday, March 10, 2016

Charles Simic (b.1938)

Private Eye

To find clues where there are none,
That's my job now, I said to the
Dictionary on my desk. The world beyond
My window has grown illegible,
And so has the clock on the wall.
I may strike a match to orient myself

In the meantime, there's the heart
Stopping hush as the building
Empties, the elevators stop running,
The grains of dust stay put.
Hours of quiescent sleuthing
Before the Madonna with the mop

Shuffles down the long corridor
Trying doorknobs, turning mine.
That's just little old me sweating
In the customer's chair, I'll say.
Keep your nose out of it.
I'm not closing up till he breaks.
Charles Simic :

Tuesday, March 8, 2016

Margaret Atwood (b.1939)

The Moment

The moment when, after many years
of hard work and a long voyage
you stand in the centre of your room,
house, half-acre, square mile, island, country,
knowing at last how you got there,
and say, I own this,

is the same moment when the trees unloose
their soft arms from around you,
the birds take back their language,
the cliffs fissure and collapse,
the air moves back from you like a wave
and you can't breathe.

No, they whisper. You own nothing.
You were a visitor, time after time
climbing the hill, planting the flag, proclaiming.
We never belonged to you.
You never found us.
It was always the other way round.
Margaret Atwood :

Monday, March 7, 2016

Charles Bukowski (1920-1994)

An Almost Made Up Poem

I see you drinking at a fountain with tiny
blue hands, no, your hands are not tiny
they are small, and the fountain is in France
where you wrote me that last letter and
I answered and never heard from you again.
you used to write insane poems about
ANGELS AND GOD, all in upper case, and you
knew famous artists and most of them
were your lovers, and I wrote back, it’ all right,
go ahead, enter their lives, I’ not jealous
because we’ never met. we got close once in
New Orleans, one half block, but never met, never
touched. so you went with the famous and wrote
about the famous, and, of course, what you found out
is that the famous are worried about
their fame –– not the beautiful young girl in bed
with them, who gives them that, and then awakens
in the morning to write upper case poems about
ANGELS AND GOD. we know God is dead, they’ told
us, but listening to you I wasn’ sure. maybe
it was the upper case. you were one of the
best female poets and I told the publishers,
editors, “ her, print her, she’ mad but she’
magic. there’ no lie in her fire.” I loved you
like a man loves a woman he never touches, only
writes to, keeps little photographs of. I would have
loved you more if I had sat in a small room rolling a
cigarette and listened to you piss in the bathroom,
but that didn’ happen. your letters got sadder.
your lovers betrayed you. kid, I wrote back, all
lovers betray. it didn’ help. you said
you had a crying bench and it was by a bridge and
the bridge was over a river and you sat on the crying
bench every night and wept for the lovers who had
hurt and forgotten you. I wrote back but never
heard again. a friend wrote me of your suicide
3 or 4 months after it happened. if I had met you
I would probably have been unfair to you or you
to me. it was best like this.
Charles Bukowski :

Sunday, March 6, 2016

Jack Kerouac (1922-1969)


Sweet sad young tenor
Horn slumped around neck
Bearded full of junk
Slouches waiting
For Apocalypse,
Listens to the new
Negro raw trumpet kid
Tell him the wooden news;
And the beat of the bass
The bass—drives in
Drummer drops a bomb
Piano tinkle tackles
Sweet tenor lifting
All American sorrows
Raises mouthpiece to mouth
And blows to finger
The iron sounds
Jack Kerouac :

Saturday, March 5, 2016

Mary Oliver (b.1935)

At Blackwater Pond

At Blackwater Pond the tossed waters have
after a night of rain.
I dip my cupped hands. I drink
a long time. It tastes
like stone, leaves, fire. It falls cold
into my body, waking the bones. I hear them
deep inside me, whispering
oh what is that beautiful thing
that just happened?

Friday, March 4, 2016

Robert William Service (1874-1958)

The Healer

"Tuberculosis should not be,"
The old professor said.
"If folks would hearken unto me
'Twould save a million dead.
Nay, no consumptive needs to die,
--A cure have I.

"From blood of turtle I've distilled
An elixir of worth;
Let every sufferer be thrilled
And sing for joy of earth;
Yet every doctor turns his back
And calls me quack.

"Alas! They do not want to cure,
For sickness is their meat;
So persecution I endure,
And die in dark defeat:
Ye lungers, listen to my call!
--I'll save you all."

The old Professor now is dead,
And turtles of the sea,
Knowing their blood they need not shed,
Are festive in their glee:
While sanitoriums are crammed
With legions dammed.
Robert William Service :

Thursday, March 3, 2016

Joy Harjo (b.1951)


I must keep from breaking into the story by force
for if I do I will find myself with a war club in my hand
and the smoke of grief staggering toward the sun,
your nation dead beside you.

I keep walking away though it has been an eternity
and from each drop of blood
springs up sons and daughters, trees,
a mountain of sorrows, of songs.

I tell you this from the dusk of a small city in the north
not far from the birthplace of cars and industry.
Geese are returning to mate and crocuses have
broken through the frozen earth.

Soon they will come for me and I will make my stand
before the jury of destiny. Yes, I will answer in the clatter
of the new world, I have broken my addiction to war
and desire. Yes, I will reply, I have buried the dead

and made songs of the blood, the marrow.
Joy Harjo :

Wednesday, March 2, 2016

Rafael Patino

Every time he turns his eyes
He finds you even more beautiful,
Were it not for the silence,
The fallen mask
Would renounce to its absent identity

With what face shall I meet dawn?
With the reward of being this absent being?

Nausea, rictus, clots
Unable to reach our still haste . . .

We keep swimming lakes of tin
Mating with the night
Mangled by this breeze of being
We shall be vegetal aromas,
Darkness will drink us with its mouth

Tuesday, March 1, 2016

David Oates

excerpt from The Heron Place

on the favored walk
along the river
the place
I once saw a heron
pleases me
as much
as the heron did

          ~  ~  ~

it will always have a name
the heron place
or sometimes
under green alders bending
or sometimes

          ~  ~  ~

and in the name
the story, a small one
I can turn it over stonewise
it fits a palm nicely
swings with a rhythm
while walking