Wednesday, August 27, 2014

MUSIC: Robert Palmer, "Medley" (1974)



Don't know where you come down on in the matter of Robert Palmer -- but I think I come down on the right side. This was recorded in 1974, when we were young. The Meters, Lowell George. But wait...are you still calling this "white boy funk"?

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pMnzytIbH1I

Tuesday, August 26, 2014

A POEM: "Be There In A Minute"



Be There In A Minute


Love, I see you over there
In the writer’s standard pose
(I could be there in a minute)
Write, pause, think, and erase
Gaze off into the inner distance
Wonder why it was all born so daft
You go back to the pretty good idea
That was causing you so much trouble
Though of course I'm presuming alot
You might not be writing a poem at all.


© 2014 Rob Schack
ne

Monday, August 25, 2014

POEM: "The River"



The River

                            for Rui Xiao

The sun goes down
    Life goes across...

The boat tries to cross the river
  The boat can't cross the river
    The currents take it

The boat, the people…
    But the poets’ voices go across

You see someone from long ago
  You can't cross the deck
    The moment takes it

What does “voices go across” mean

Is this merely distance, or else
    Is it the inability to connect

Does this mean time, or is it
    Our ageing bodies & minds

Love tries to cross the minute
  It can't cross the hours
    The currents take it

The oily swell of time
  You can't cross the river
    The moon takes it

Is anything going anywhere



© 2014 Rob Schackne

Saturday, August 23, 2014

A Rosanna Warren Poem



A Way


She said she sang very close to the mike
to change the space. And I changed the space
by striding down the Boulevard Raspail at dusk in tight jeans
until an Algerian engineer plucked the pen from my back pocket.
As if you're inside my head and you're hearing the song from in there.
He came from the desert, I came
from green suburbs. We understood
nothing of one another over glasses of metallic red wine.
I was playing Girl. He played
Man. Several plots were afoot, all
misfiring. One had to do with my skimpy black shirt
and light hair, his broad shoulders and hunger
after months on an oil rig. Another
was untranslatable. Apollinaire
burned his fingers on June's smoldering lyre
but I had lost my pen. The engineer
read only construction manuals. His room
was dim and narrow and no,
the story didn't slide that way though there are many ways
to throw oneself away.
One singer did it by living by a broken wall
until she shredded her voice but still she offered each song,
she said, like an Appalachian artifact.
Like trash along the riverbank chafing at the quay
plastic bottles a torn shirt fractured dolls
through which the current chortles an intimate tune.



(2014)

Friday, August 22, 2014

A Dylan Thomas Poem (2)



"And death shall have no dominion"


And death shall have no dominion.
Dead man naked they shall be one
With the man in the wind and the west moon;
When their bones are picked clean and the clean bones gone,
They shall have stars at elbow and foot;
Though they go mad they shall be sane,
Though they sink through the sea they shall rise again;
Though lovers be lost love shall not;
And death shall have no dominion.

And death shall have no dominion.
Under the windings of the sea
They lying long shall not die windily;
Twisting on racks when sinews give way,
Strapped to a wheel, yet they shall not break;
Faith in their hands shall snap in two,
And the unicorn evils run them through;
Split all ends up they shan't crack;
And death shall have no dominion.

And death shall have no dominion.
No more may gulls cry at their ears
Or waves break loud on the seashores;
Where blew a flower may a flower no more
Lift its head to the blows of the rain;
Though they be mad and dead as nails,
Heads of the characters hammer through daisies;
Break in the sun till the sun breaks down,
And death shall have no dominion.



(1943)

Monday, August 18, 2014

POEM: "Air Blows Through The Bowery"



Air Blows Through The Bowery


Nothing is real that wasn’t before
but sets all a bite of tailspin lies
like a horsehead in a drum of fire
smoke floats on this and on that


I’ll never remember you enough
a hundred steps above the grotto
a hundred chances to get higher
I walk to the edges to be thrilled

It wants me killed fifty times
till finally my other better eyes
spy a piece of green glass honey
I take it, then dive into the green

Fifty people seated on their shelves
those old white walls so shining
clear deep water just below love
love says splash doesn’t matter.



© 2012 Rob Schackne

POEM: "Another Fine Mess"

Another Fine Mess


Then welcome the ghost
who brought the mystery

installed in the easiest chair
supplied with food & water

Put on some Shostakovich
show her some recent poems

refrain from asking questions
let it be for at least an hour

I've always felt it is that right?
Do you mean we should be awed?

Write the answers in invisible ink
ask her if she wants a shower

watch her from the other room
then go about your business.


© 2014 Rob Schackne

Sunday, August 17, 2014

A Dylan Thomas Poem

"The Force That Through the Green Fuse Drives the Flower"


The force that through the green fuse drives the flower
Drives my green age; that blasts the roots of trees
Is my destroyer.
And I am dumb to tell the crooked rose
My youth is bent by the same wintry fever.

The force that drives the water through the rocks
Drives my red blood; that dries the mouthing streams
Turns mine to wax.
And I am dumb to mouth unto my veins
How at the mountain spring the same mouth sucks.

The hand that whirls the water in the pool
Stirs the quicksand; that ropes the blowing wind
Hauls my shroud sail.
And I am dumb to tell the hanging man
How of my clay is made the hangman’s lime.

The lips of time leech to the fountain head;
Love drips and gathers, but the fallen blood
Shall calm her sores.
And I am dumb to tell a weather’s wind
How time has ticked a heaven round the stars.

And I am dumb to tell the lover’s tomb
How at my sheet goes the same crooked worm.



(1957)

Saturday, August 16, 2014

A Robert Hass Poem



Winged And Acid Dark


A sentence with "dappled shadow" in it.
Something not sayable
spurting from the morning silence,
secret as a thrush.

The other man, the officer, who brought onions
and wine and sacks of flour,
the major with the swollen knee,
wanted intelligent conversation afterward.
Having no choice, she provided that, too.

Potsdamer Platz, May 1945.

When the first one was through he pried her mouth open.

Basho told Rensetsu to avoid sensational materials.
If the horror of the world were the truth of the world,
he said, there would be no one to say it
and no one to say it to.
I think he recommended describing the slightly frenzied
swarming of insects near a waterfall.

Pried her mouth open and spit in it.
We pass these things on,
probably, because we are what we can imagine.

Something not sayable in the morning silence.
The mind hungering after likenesses. "Tender sky," etc.,
curves the swallows trace in air.


(2007)

Friday, August 15, 2014

Osamu Tezuka's Astro Boy, 1963





You were 10 years old, you probably felt reason applied for the first time too. FUCK.

A Robert Pinsky Poem



Samurai Song


When I had no roof I made
Audacity my roof. When I had
No supper my eyes dined.

When I had no eyes I listened.
When I had no ears I thought.
When I had no thought I waited.

When I had no father I made
Care my father. When I had
No mother I embraced order.

When I had no friend I made
Quiet my friend. When I had no
Enemy I opposed my body.

When I had no temple I made
My voice my temple. I have
No priest, my tongue is my choir.

When I have no means fortune
Is my means. When I have
Nothing, death will be my fortune.

Need is my tactic, detachment
Is my strategy. When I had
No lover I courted my sleep.



(2000)

Wednesday, August 13, 2014

Maryam Mirzakhani, Fields Winner, 2014




Her deeply beautiful and deeply intelligent gaze. Who knows so well the shape of the universe. Touched by Athena. Maryam Mirzakhani is the first woman to win the Fields Medal, the greatest prize in mathematics. But in a realm I can only imagine -- since I have trouble adding up my own years, and don't understand why some months can move faster than others, or how so many days will collect in a troubled week.

Monday, August 11, 2014

POEM: "Pick A Flower, Any Flower"



Pick A Flower, Any Flower


The farthest star is moving
flowers strangely disappear
dans les champs de l'observation
le hasard ne favorise que les esprits préparés

it's well that we work the fields
we've looked closely at small things

a little dog with its tongue out
the beggar with her hand out
a sick man with his dick out
no prize for guessing wrong
risk sleeps upon the plains

but if it were finally possible 
I mean relief from pain 
liberation from confusion 
would you really do it?


© 2014 Rob Schackne

Thursday, August 7, 2014

A Ron Slate Poem (2)



Stop-Time


Frank McCabe bought on credit at my father’s liquor store,
they had gone to school together. Finally my father said,
teach my son to play drums and we’re even, for now.


Late afternoon lessons in his cellar, first the basics
rapped out on rubber pads, then rolls, drags, flams, paradiddles and ratamacues.
Moving on to a real kit and the flair of fills, underbelly routines
of the bass and flights between cymbals, crash and sizzle.


While I practiced, he scribbled on charts for his quintet --
Thursdays at the Knotty Pine and weddings on weekends.
No lessons for most of the summer after his heart attack.

Autumn rain, water seeping up through linoleum tiles,
staining the peeling baseboards. Mold and mildew,
back beat and double time. Smoker’s cough and drinker’s nose.
Soon he set up his kit next to mine, laying out the opening bars
of “From This Moment On” and I’d play inside him.
That’s how he put it, stay inside me and listen with your wrists.


When Mrs. McCabe came down to say they caught the man
who killed the president, he dropped the needle on “Opus One”
and said play. We listened to Krupa’s “Rockin’ Chair”
and Buddy Rich’s big band doing “Time Check.”


Lying on their sides, quarts of bourbon behind cans
of dried paint. You make the high-hat bark,
a sixteenth-note. You don’t keep time, you make time.
The standards, renowned yet open to reinvention,
thus eternal. But I lived inside a body, Mrs. McCabe returned
from the hospital with no breasts, a week later
she was playing piano upstairs while Frank critiqued me –


Don’t play with your whole arm, it looks cool
but it isn’t. He lit a Winston. Don’t be like a bass player,
use deodorant. Never let a wimp carry your gear.
Listen carefully to the songs you hate the most.


Verse and chorus, shuffle, bridge, fill, drag, fill, stop-time,
ghost-note. Rumble of the sagging boiler, steam knocking the pipes.
Soon you won’t have to remember, you’ll just make the sound.


(published in The Plume Anthology of Poetry, 2014)

Wednesday, August 6, 2014

POEM: "The Cat & The Fiddle"




The Cat & The Fiddle


What a reckless brand of trust
Yes they once loved each other well

They pledged allegiance to their winning
Now he watches the guy stuff her car
Breach running away with promise
He sighs and does 100 push-ups
His day is getting considerably worse
He can barely move the singing lark
Think Stance, Spin, Dig, and Release
The hammer thrown into the cage
(Always dangerous doing that)
When he decided it was finally over
The morning she decided to leave.



© 2014 Rob Schackne

Tuesday, August 5, 2014

An Edgar Bowers Poem



For Louis Pasteur

                                 “Who is Apollo?”                                       
                                     College student

How shall a generation know its story
If it will know no other? When, among
The scoffers at the Institute, Pasteur
Heard one deny the cause of child-birth fever,
Indignantly he drew upon the blackboard,
For all to see, the Streptococcus chain.
His mind was like Odysseus and Plato
Exploring a new cosmos in the old
As if he wrote a poem—his enemy
Suffering, disease, and death, the battleground
His introspection. “Science and peace,” he said,
“Will win out over ignorance and war,”
But then, the virus mutant in his vein,
“Death to the Prussian!” and “revenge, revenge!”

How shall my generation tell its story?
Their fathers jobless, boys for the CCC
And NYA, the future like a stairwell
To floors without a window or a door,
And then the army: bayonet drill and foxhole;
Bombing to rubble cities with textbook names
Later to bulldoze streets for; their green bodies
Drowned in the greener surfs of rumored France.
My childhood friend, George Humphreys, whom I still see
Still ten years old, his uncombed hair and grin
Moment by moment in the Hürtgen dark
Until the one step full in the sniper’s sight,
His pastor father emptied by the grief.
Clark Harrison, at nineteen a survivor,
Never to walk or have a child or be
A senator or governor. Herr Wegner,
Who led his little troop, their standards high
And sabers drawn, against a panzer corps,
Emerging from among the shades at Dachau
Stacked like firewood for someone else to burn;
And Gerd Radomski, listening to broadcasts
Of names, a yearlong babel of the missing,
To find his wife and children. Then they came home,
Near middle age at twenty-two, to find
A new reunion of the church and state,
Cynical Constantines who need no name,
Domestic tranquility beaten to a sword,
Sons wasted by another lie in Asia,
Or Strangeloves they had feared that August day;
And they like runners, stung, behind a flag,
Running within a circle, bereft of joy.

Hearing of the disaster at Sedan
And the retreat worse than the one from Moscow,
Their son among the missing or the dead,
Pasteur and his wife Mary hired a carriage
And, traveling to the east where he might try
His way to Paris, stopping to ask each youth
And comfort every orphan of the state’s
Irascibility, found him at last
And, unsurprised, embraced and took him in.
Two wars later, the Prussian, once again
The son of Mars, in Paris, Joseph Meister—
The first boy cured of rabies, now the keeper
Of Pasteur’s mausoleum—when commanded
To open it for them, though over seventy,
Lest he betray the master, took his life.

I like to think of Pasteur in Elysium
Beneath the sunny pine of ripe Provence
Tenderly raising black sheep, butterflies,
Silkworms, and a new culture, for delight,
Teaching his daughter to use a microscope
And musing through a wonder—sacred passion,
Practice and metaphysic all the same.
And, each year, honor three births: Valéry,
Humbling his pride by trying to write well,
Mozart, who lives still, keeping my attention
Repeatedly outside the reach of pride,
And him whose mark I witness as a trust.
Others he saves but could not save himself—
Socrates, Galen, Hippocrates—the spirit
Fastened by love upon the human cross.


(1997)

MUSIC: Paul McCartney & The Beatles, "The Long and Winding Road" (1970)



I don't want to get into the whole Spector thing right now. Paul's voice here is stellar. The strings sing out. The choir goes up. Phil Spector did just fine. Anyway, the road winds around forever and there's no going back. (But sure, you already knew that.)

Monday, August 4, 2014

POEM: "On The Road"



On The Road


First-quarter moon
behind the clouds tonight
emerging, disappearing
reminds me of a story
a guy told me once
that living is poisonous
all of us are born to die
and this Bardo world
means to teach us how to
forget the moon & the clouds
which is maya and maya
they will put you on your ass
I said thank you
this is my turn-off
we both laughed
you said forget this

I said not a chance.


© 2014 Rob Schackne

An Emily Dickinson Poem



"We grow accustomed to the Dark" (428)


We grow accustomed to the Dark - 
When Light is put away -
As when the Neighbor holds the Lamp
To witness her Good bye -

A Moment - We uncertain step
For newness of the night -
Then - fit our Vision to the Dark -
And meet the Road - erect -

And so of larger - Darknesses -
Those Evenings of the Brain -
When not a Moon disclose a sign -
Or Star - come out - within -

The Bravest - grope a little -
And sometimes hit a Tree
Directly in the Forehead -
But as they learn to see -

Either the Darkness alters -
Or something in the sight
Adjusts itself to Midnight -
And Life steps almost straight.



(1862)

POEM: "The Virtuous Failure Of Damn Near Everything"



The Virtuous Failure Of Damn Near Everything


Ghost images
before my owlish eye
these are hard shapes
upon the mountainside


The fungus inverted
with sharp & careful blade
I take my bearings from
the ugly tree 30 meters high


(I want to change my mind)

A stove a pan some herbs
these steps I’ve taken
after a short gestation
the food the looks your hand


Each new word I choose
hears the cicadas saying
Pay attention!
Be here now!



© 2014 Rob Schackne

POEM: "The Wonder"



The Wonder


The wonder where beauty lies
and whether it lies to them

if they'd been blind for years
clubbed in the head so much
and now just rely on touch
and memory to help them see
a pretty subject or an ugly one
the purple flowers float down
a wall of ghostly photograph
slice up time any way you want
whether it joins its power to mine
or the other way round, it can't
smell the wind or feel the fragrance
but every other moment is perfect
knowing I waited for too long.


© 2014 Rob Schackne

Sunday, August 3, 2014

MUSIC: The Allman Brothers & The Dead & The Band (1973) / Donovan (2007)



What about that mountain in Jamaica, Juanita?

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uS0m7hrCfHc

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PPoACkjZaLk

A Ha Jin Poem



Ways Of Talking


We used to like talking about grief.
Our journals and letters were packed
with losses, complaints, and sorrows.
Even if there was no grief
we wouldn’t stop lamenting
as though longing for the charm
of a distressed face.

Then we couldn’t help expressing grief.
So many things descended without warning:
labor wasted, loves lost, houses gone,
marriages broken, friends estranged,
ambitions worn away by immediate needs.
Words lined up in our throats
for a good whining.
Grief seemed like an endless river—
the only immortal flow of life.

After losing a land and then giving up a tongue,
we stopped talking of grief.
Smiles began to brighten our faces.
We laugh a lot, at our own mess.
Things become beautiful,
even hailstones in the strawberry fields.


(1996)

Friday, August 1, 2014

POEM: "A Slight Misunderstanding"



A Slight Misunderstanding


The last war on Disneyland started when
Mary Poppins let off a few angry rounds...
Mickey dives for cover, Minnie grabs an M-16

The tourists head for Goofy (lost it completely)
They then circle back around to Yosemite Sam
Let's send these varmints to tarnation!

Elmer Fudd quickly hands out his rifle collection
Daffy (in his element) looks for better defilade
Beep-beep says Roadrunner this one's for you asshole!
Heckle and Jeckle conduct a little aerial recon
Unca Donald's ducks-in-diapers guerrillas move out
(Popeye and Olive Oyl are looking after the kids)
Then Tweetie Pie and Sylvester, uneasily engaged
Suspend their misery, they get détente, they get cracking
Put down an RPG on the enemy flank (for once exposed)
Scrooge McDuck is furious at his helicopter throttle
The tourists rally forces and overcome the rebels
Bugs Bunny emerges from his position singing.


© 2014 Rob Schackne

POEM: "Roving Thoughts"



Roving Thoughts


Roving thoughts
& the provocations
old thorns in the side
uncomfortable reminders
of both this world & the other
riding you like wind rides a rose
when the moment permits a prayer

A parent or a child
sitting on the footpath
bawling because they lost
the one I just keep travelling on
treading barefoot on fallen acorns
in the dream they are only megaphones
shouting public things that aren’t in prayers


© 2014 Rob Schackne

Thursday, July 31, 2014

POEM: "Everyday in the same lane..."



"Everyday in the same lane..."


Everyday in the same lane 
a clock tower on legs in summer 
getting slower a little bit older
balding fast beginning to talk
back to his two-year-old self
I can’t make out what he says 
every form is dissimilar, lame
on the left side, the line is wrong
and to the right, very hard to protect
(we were on that face for 3 bloody days)
he looks awfully close and I nod
and he nods I tell myself I don't 
really know what it is he sees.


© 2014 Rob Schackne

Monday, July 28, 2014

A Rui Xiao Poem (1)

A Night In Moscow


The delicious writing night
A glass bowl of cherries
The vodka apple juice
An outsider in the supermarkets
And on my way to St. Petersburg

All the forests and the lakes
I was flying to the end of the world
To know the edges of the land and sea
This is a high fence of language
That stands between us now

Me, always in some orbit
Like a pet bird, free for awhile
I see the limits of time and space
And yes freedom is very delicious
This was only one night in Moscow.


(2014) Tr. 2014

A Rui Xiao Poem (2)



A Song for Changyu, My Niece


The garden you’ll play in is ready
A bamboo awning stretched across
We made you a little wooden stool
We’ll sing your name in the rain

The vines have sprouted
There are ten strawberries
All facing the gentle sun
(How long you’ve had to wait)

Fish are sleeping in their tank
The sun lives in the glasshouse
Your clothes have long been made
Your blanket has been woven

Open your eyes on a warm rainy day
To see the phoenix flower
To see sunflowers smile
Baby, you’ll sing in the rain

We’ll call your little pig Stephen
Call you Changyu
Call you Baby


Now we’re in separated worlds
But here is a paper door
Where we wait for you
Baby, you’ll sing in the rain

Your time has come
To be our baby
Open your eyes
Do not be afraid

Happiness or suffering
Baby you can't choose
We must learn how to love


Roofs are baked white by the sun
This world agrees to have you
As long as you think you want it
Hold the giant world like a toy

Baby, you’ll sing in the rain.


(1995/6) Tr.
 2014

A Rui Xiao Poem (3)



Drinking Songs


Let me propose a toast
To the blue bays of Finland in the sun
Let me propose a toast
To other shores far away in the Baltic Sea

Let me propose a toast
To the great Pushkin
And to the great Dostoyevsky
Who both belong to the world

To the elves in St. Petersburg
And to all the great hearts of Russia

Let me propose a toast
To my own beautiful lost youth
When I read Pushkin and Lermontov

Let me propose a toast
To galloping on the ocean with Bacchus
Orgiastic winds of spring and summer
In a riot of want

Let me propose a toast
To my heart in amber

Which beats on the Neva
That rushes out to the Baltic Sea

Let me propose a toast
To the blue sea and sky
In my champagne glass
Glittering and translucent


Let me propose a toast
To liberation from all impurities
As I drink the golden sunlight

Come on, hear me
God of lonely rivers
King of Russia’s ocean
Let me be drunk and sleep alone
Let me drift away tonight
On the flow of time



(2014) Tr. 2014

Sunday, July 27, 2014

A Ruben Quesada Poem



Lament

              (After Jacques-Louis David’s Oath of the Horatii)

There was a time when giants ruled the earth
and women were gods, too. But here in this moment
of mortality who, woman, will hold back your heart
from the imminent cliffs of grief? You cry out instead
of speaking, and if you were allowed you’d take the oath
and follow your husband, guard him against the wretched
spell of death like a shadow of black silk unraveling,
like a permanent shadow forged onto the ground
after an atomic blast, your arms outstretched;
in the background a curtain surrenders in the wind.
Beloved woman, twisted with torment
your spinning head cries like a god out of control:
Be brief! Let the weight of your serrated edges
cut this sorrow out of me.


(2011)

Saturday, July 26, 2014

POEM: "Ah Dreams"



Ah Dreams


We grapple with violence
we look down we don’t look up
beyond the dust beyond the harvest
the clothes are just a trickery one smell
of invidious wanting or not wanting
little night scuffles with big darkness
the rats fight under the promenade
in the cinema she watches a movie
skittish proud curious boys up for murder
mid-autumn moon-cakes made of ice cream
none of it as real as the dog she keeps as pet
ah dreams rattus rattus love me from it
cover up my heart and my stomach
take away the nearest mouth.



© 2013 Rob Schackne

Thursday, July 24, 2014

MUSIC: Weird Al's Real "Tacky" (2014)



Equal-time rule. Weird Al gives us tacky. Right. "Bring me shame, I never know why, I'm probably tacky too". OK. But wait a sec... What if he means me?

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XsWo8apgLys

Wednesday, July 23, 2014

POEM: "This Wheel"



This Wheel


These dinosaur rivers
the wheels of chariots
the so-called joy of angels

leaving on a marvellous spree
hammerhead & inside loop
(the details aren't important)

if my memory serves me well
the devils hide in the crannies
where the angels get short sticks
meanwhile by the riverside I sit
arms-length & long spoons divided
supping with a band of demons
looks like the wind is picking up
dark clouds now are sailing past
the spokes have turned inward
don’t know how long this will last.


© 2014 Rob Schackne

Tuesday, July 22, 2014

POEM: "A Thousand"

A Thousand


I hardly knew how to begin this poem:

I was a young sausage in a butcher shop
Just a little lamb chop lightly seasoned


Disembodiment to be expected
Sure she handled me like meat

Now I’m old enough to get that look
When I show a pretty thing my look


Maybe I should stop the drooling now
Funny a thousand fucks come to this

It'll happen to you, so pay attention.


© 2014 Rob Schackne

MUSIC: Johnny Winter at Woodstock 1969 / "Highway 61 Revisited" (Revisited)



Some drivin' Texas blues by the late great Johnny Winter. Listen hard you can hear Lightnin' Hopkins. Listen a little bit harder you might even hear you & me. (We all live right close to Highway 61.) Since the blues ain't never gonna end, his fine work will be revisited for a very long time. Brother Johnny. RIP.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=M6kPQLLLYAc

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Ga2FfPaHjd8

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=un9Nlfzmq-E

Monday, July 21, 2014

A Rigoberto González Poem



Other Fugitives and Other Strangers


The nightclub's neon light glows red with anxiety
as I wait on the turning lane. Cars blur past,
their headlights white as charcoal.
I trust each driver not to swerve. I trust each stranger
not to kill me and let me cross
the shadow of his smoky path.
Trust is all I have for patrons at the bar:
one man offers me a line, one man buys the kamikaze,
another drinks it. Yet another wraps his arm
around my waist. I trust him not to harm my body
as much as he expects his body to remain unharmed.
One man asks me to the dance floor, one asks me
to a second drink, another asks me home.
I dance, I drink, I follow.
I can trust a man without clothes.
Naked he conceals no weapons, no threat
but the blood in his erection. His bed unfamiliar,
only temporarily. Pillows without loyalty
absorb the weight of any man, betray
the scent of the men who came before.
I trust a stranger's tongue to tell me
nothing valuable. It makes no promises
of truth or lies, it doesn't swear commitments.
The stranger's hands take their time exploring.
Undisguised, they do not turn to claws or pretend
artistic skill to draw configurations on my flesh. They
are only human hands with fingertips
unsentimental with discoveries, without nostalgia
for what they leave behind. I trust this stranger
not to stay inside me once he enters me.
I trust him to release me from the blame
of pleasure. The pain I exit with no greater
than the loneliness that takes me to the bar.
He says good night, I give him back
those words, taking nothing with me that is his.
The front door shuts behind me, the gravel
driveway ushers me away. The rearview mirror
loses sight of threshold, house, sidewalk, street.
Driving by the nightclub I pass a car
impatient on the turning lane. My hands are cold
and itch to swerve the wheel, to brand
his fender with the fury of my headlights.
But I let this stranger live

to struggle through the heat and sweat
of false affections, anonymous and
borrowed like the glass that washed my prints
to hold another patron's drink.


(2006)

Sunday, July 20, 2014

A Richard Garcia Poem



Mozart's Concerto for Glass Harmonica


There you are, at the gate of the memory palace
underneath the rusted teeth of the portcullis,
your hand raised in a puzzling gesture—
is it farewell, come here, get back, no blame,
or are you just trying to hitch a ride? But I've seen
that gesture when you sleep, as if you were saying
to someone, on the one hand . . . on the other hand.
Here is a memory to store in the palace—
You and I at the circus. The arena is dark
except for one blue spotlight. In it, a clown
stands before a table. On the table an array,
crystal wine glasses filled with different levels
of water. He's dressed in white with a conical hat,
tear marks on one cheek. With a wet finger,
he plays music that was once forbidden
because it made musicians lose their minds.
There is a blank look in his eyes and he performs
perfectly, as if he were a mechanical clown.
Now look up, the lady on the trapeze
is dropping large blue crepe-paper flowers.
Maybe the palace is the size of a dollhouse
and my eye at the window is the eye of a giant.
Maybe the palace is in my chest and my heart
is beating too loud inside. I remember
when I woke but was still asleep and saw
my chest rising and falling on its own
and then I accidentally rolled out of my body
and there were two of me lying side by side.
In an alcove shaped like a scallop shell I've placed
a list of the way lovers have said goodbye.
Developer fluid heated up, passed off
as consommé, is a standout. As is GOODBYE
written in shaving cream on the dusty windows
of a row of abandoned cars in Baja. Just as I begin
to suspect what is wrong with this picture
I notice how lightly you step over the grillwork
of the oubliette, that terrible lace under which
men are forgotten. You raise your hand again
and now I understand that gesture—
it's how you erase the distant mountains,
the palace, the sky, everything.



(2006)

Friday, July 18, 2014

POEM: "Reading A Letter of Bukowski's"



Reading A Letter of Bukowski's

This letter spells it out:
Fear makes us eat shit.
Not a happy image.
But it explains
why you needed those
twenty-five jobs to retire early
and thrive as a beach bum.

Or a builder.
Or a bartender. 
Or a barfly poet.
Or an English teacher 
living on the foreign edge where 
they only understand 40% 
of what you're saying.
They tried to murder me.
Your days are different now.
You write about the perfect moments.
Near the airport
your calico cat smirks
under the flightpath.


© 2014 Rob Schackne