Thursday, December 29, 2016

Jack Kerouac (1922-1969)

Bowery Blues

The story of man
Makes me sick
Inside, outside,
I don't know why
Something so conditional
And all talk
Should hurt me so.

I am hurt
I am scared
I want to live
I want to die
I don't know
Where to turn
In the Void
And when
To cut

For no Church told me
No Guru holds me
No advice
Just stone
Of New York
And on the cafeteria
We hear
The saxophone
O dead Ruby
Died of Shot
In Thirty Two,
Sounding like old times
And de bombed
Empty decapitated
Murder by the clock.

And I see Shadows
Dancing into Doom
In love, holding
TIght the lovely asses
Of the little girls
In love with sex
Showing themselves
In white undergarments
At elevated windows
Hoping for the Worst.

I can't take it
If I can't hold
My little behind
To me in my room

Then it's goodbye
For me
Girls aren't as good
As they look
And Samadhi
Is better
Than you think
When it starts in
Hitting your head
In with Buzz
Of glittergold
Heaven's Angels


We've been waiting for you
Since Morning, Jack
Why were you so long
Dallying in the sooty room?
This transcendental Brilliance
Is the better part
(of Nothingness
I sing)

Jack Kerouac :

Wednesday, December 14, 2016

Julia de Burgos (1914-1953)

Farewell from Welfare Island

It has to come from here,
right this instance,
my cry into the world.

The past is only a shadow emerging from

Life was somewhere forgotten
and sought refuge in depths of tears
and sorrows;
over this vast empire of solitude and darkness.
Where is the voice of freedom,
freedom to laugh,
to move
without the heavy phantom of despair?
Where is the form of beauty
unshaken in its veil, simple and pure?
Where is the warmth of heaven
pouring its dreams of love in broken

It has to be from here,
right this instance,
my cry into the world.
My cry that is no more mine,
but hers and his forever,
the comrades of my silence,
the phantoms of my grave.

It has to be from here,
forgotten but unshaken,
among comrades of silence
deep into Welfare Island
my farewell to the world.

Tuesday, December 13, 2016

Lauren Tivey

Passing through Galveston by Lauren Tivey

Memories of highways,
truckstops and trailer parks,
when I kept you moving, moving,
in those wide-eyed delicate years,
with your trusting blond head,
your bag of dolls, fatherless.
What chance did you ever have?
Misfortune of a teenage mother, me
full of juvenile incompetence,
one shitty boyfriend after another,
food stamps, social workers.  I tried,
kid, I tried, while you deserved
swingsets, playdates, dance classes;
you know, decent foundations.
What have I ever given you, except
the skill of packing a bag, the art
of running?  Economy of subsisting
on a pack of fettucine noodles for a week?
I keep going back to that Texan café,
during our last cross-country escape,
us two in a cracked vinyl booth,
surrounded by truckers in worn jeans,
as I taught you how to blow bubbles
in your milk glass—the happy puff
of your face over the straw, how the sun
lit up your hair.  If only I could pass back
through Galveston, beyond that day,
to rewire your youth, to fix California,
Colorado, our days on the road:  no excuse,
that I was just a kid myself.  Now I watch you
with your daughters, with your stable life,
your kind and firm ways, natural mothering.
Planted in one spot, flourishing like a flower
in a sunny window, like all my wishes come true.
Beautiful girl, I wonder, how you ever beat my odds.

Friday, December 9, 2016

Wislawa Zymborska (1923-2012)

Hunger Camp At Jaslo

Write it. Write. In ordinary ink
on ordinary paper: they were given no food,
they all died of hunger. "All. How many?
It's a big meadow. How much grass
for each one?" Write: I don't know.
History counts its skeletons in round numbers.
A thousand and one remains a thousand,
as though the one had never existed:
an imaginary embryo, an empty cradle,
an ABC never read,
air that laughs, cries, grows,
emptiness running down steps toward the garden,
nobody's place in the line.

We stand in the meadow where it became flesh,
and the meadow is silent as a false witness.
Sunny. Green. Nearby, a forest
with wood for chewing and water under the bark-
every day a full ration of the view
until you go blind. Overhead, a bird-
the shadow of its life-giving wings
brushed their lips. Their jaws opened.
Teeth clacked against teeth.
At night, the sickle moon shone in the sky
and reaped wheat for their bread.
Hands came floating from blackened icons,
empty cups in their fingers.
On a spit of barbed wire,
a man was turning.
They sang with their mouths full of earth.
"A lovely song of how war strikes straight
at the heart." Write: how silent.

Wednesday, December 7, 2016

Wallace Stevens (1879-1955)

A High-Toned Old Christian Woman    

Poetry is the supreme fiction, madame.
Take the moral law and make a nave of it
And from the nave build haunted heaven. Thus,
The conscience is converted into palms,
Like windy citherns hankering for hymns.
We agree in principle. That's clear. But take
The opposing law and make a peristyle,
And from the peristyle project a masque
Beyond the planets. Thus, our bawdiness,
Unpurged by epitaph, indulged at last,
Is equally converted into palms,
Squiggling like saxophones. And palm for palm,
Madame, we are where we began. Allow,
Therefore, that in the planetary scene
Your disaffected flagellants, well-stuffed,
Smacking their muzzy bellies in parade,
Proud of such novelties of the sublime,
Such tink and tank and tunk-a-tunk-tunk,
May, merely may, madame, whip from themselves
A jovial hullabaloo among the spheres.
This will make widows wince. But fictive things
Wink as they will. Wink most when widows wince.

Sunday, December 4, 2016

Erin CoughlinHollowell

A uniform hieroglyphic
Time isn’t thinking of her sitting
beside this man she doesn’t know
even though she has slept to the cadence
of his breath for more than seventy years.
Every Sunday her children call
down a long hallway like the braying
of beasts that sounds only slightly
familiar. When she looks in the mirror,
Time has scrawled his mark
over the face she composed. All
those stories piled up as a shield
against people who have shifted, villains
become benign, and then shadows.
Only the small room is left, curtains
drawn, gracious darkness sifting into
every corner, and the world
a uniform hieroglyphic beyond the door.

Thursday, December 1, 2016

Pablo Neruda (1904-1973)

Ode to Hope

Oceanic dawn
at the center
of my life,
waves like grapes,
the sky's solitude,
you fill me
and flood
the complete sea,
the undiminished sky,
and space,
sea foam's white
the orange earth,
the sun's
fiery waist
in agony,
so many
gifts and talents,
birds soaring into their dreams,
and the sea, the sea,
chorus of rich, resonant salt,
and meanwhile,
we men,
touch the water,
and hoping,
we touch the sea,

And the waves tell the firm coast:
'Everything will be fulfilled.'
Pablo Neruda :

Leonard Cohen - Famous Blue Raincoat

Leonard Cohen (1934-2016)

Famous Blue Raincoat"

It's four in the morning, the end of December
I'm writing you now just to see if you're better
New York is cold, but I like where I'm living
There's music on Clinton Street all through the evening.
I hear that you're building your little house deep in the desert
You're living for nothing now, I hope you're keeping some kind of record.

Yes, and Jane came by with a lock of your hair
She said that you gave it to her
That night that you planned to go clear
Did you ever go clear?

Ah, the last time we saw you you looked so much older
Your famous blue raincoat was torn at the shoulder
You'd been to the station to meet every train
And you came home without Lili Marlene

And you treated my woman to a flake of your life
And when she came back she was nobody's wife.

Well I see you there with the rose in your teeth
One more thin gypsy thief
Well I see Jane's awake --

She sends her regards.

And what can I tell you my brother, my killer
What can I possibly say?
I guess that I miss you, I guess I forgive you
I'm glad you stood in my way.

If you ever come by here, for Jane or for me
Your enemy is sleeping, and his woman is free.

Yes, and thanks, for the trouble you took from her eyes
I thought it was there for good so I never tried.

And Jane came by with a lock of your hair
She said that you gave it to her
That night that you planned to go clear --

Sincerely, L. Cohen