Sunday, March 29, 2015

A Tomas Transtromer Poem



National Insecurity


The Under Secretary leans forward and draws an X
and her ear-drops dangle like swords of Damocles.

As a mottled butterfly is invisible against the ground
so the demon merges with the opened newspaper.

A helmet worn by no one has taken power.
The mother-turtle flees flying under the water.


(1997) Tr. Robin Fulton

Saturday, March 28, 2015

2 Philip Levine Poems (3)

The Simple Truth


I bought a dollar and a half’s worth of small red
   potatoes,
took them home, boiled them in their jackets
and ate them for dinner with a little butter and
   salt.
Then I walked through the dried fields
on the edge of town. In the middle of June the
   light
hung on in the dark furrows at my feet,
and in the mountain oaks overhead the birds
were gathering for the night, the jays and
   mockers
squawking back and forth, the finches still darting
into the dusty light. The woman who sold me the
   potatoes
was from Poland; she was someone
out of my childhood in a pink spangled sweater
   and sunglasses
praising the perfection of all her fruits and vegetables
at the road-side stand and urging me to taste
even the pale, raw sweet corn trucked all the way,
she swore, from New Jersey. “Eat, eat," she said,
   “Even if you don’t I’ll say you did.”
                                      Some things
you know all your life. They are so simple and
   true
they must be said without elegance, meter and
   rhyme,
they must be laid on the table beside the
   salt-shaker,
the glass of water, the absence of light gathering
in the shadows of picture frames, they must be
naked and alone, they must stand for
themselves.
My friend Henri and I arrived at this together in
   1965
before I went away, before he began to kill
   himself,
and the two of us betray our love. Can you taste
what I’m saying? It is onions and potatoes, a
   pinch
of simple salt, the wealth of melting butter, it is
   obvious,
it stays in the back of your throat like a truth
you never uttered because the time was always
   wrong,
it stays there for the rest of your life, unspoken,
made of that dirt we call earth, the metal we call
   salt,
in a form we have no words for, and you live in it.


(1994)

A Philip Levine Poem

Call It Music


Some days I catch a rhythm, almost a song
in my own breath. I’m alone here
in Brooklyn, it’s late morning, the sky
above the St. George Hotel is clear, clear
for New York, that is. The radio is playing
Bird Flight. Parker in his California
tragic voice fifty years ago, his faltering
“Lover Man” just before he crashed into chaos.
I would guess that outside the recording studio
in Burbank the sun was high above the jacarandas,
it was late March, the worst of yesterday’s rain
had come and gone, the sky was washed. Bird
could have seen for miles if he’d looked, but what
he saw was so foreign he clenched his eyes,
shook his head, and barked like a dog—just once—
and then Howard McGhee took his arm and assured
   him
he’d be OK. I know this because Howard told me
years later, told me he thought Bird could
lie down in the hotel room they shared, sleep
for an hour or more, and waken as himself.
The perfect sunlight angles into my little room
above Willow Street. I listen to my breath
come and go and try to catch its curious taste,
part milk, part iron, part blood, as it passes
from me into the world. This is not me,
this is automatic, this entering and exiting,
my body’s essential occupation without which
I am a thing. The whole process has a name,
a word I don’t know, an elegant word not
in English or Yiddish or Spanish, a word
that means nothing to me. Howard truly believed
what he said that day when he steered
Parker into a cab and drove the silent miles
beside him while the bright world
unfurled around them: filling stations, stands
of fruits and vegetables, a kiosk selling trinkets
from Mexico and the Philippines. It was all
so actual and Western, it was a new creation
coming into being, like the music of Charlie
   Parker
someone later called “glad," though that day
I would have said silent, “the silent music
of Charlie Parker.” Howard said nothing.
He paid the driver and helped Bird up two flights
to their room, got his boots off, and went out
to let him sleep as the afternoon entered
the history of darkness. I’m not judging
Howard, he did better than I could have
now or then. Then I was nineteen, working
on the loading docks at Railway Express,
coming day by day into the damaged body
of a man while I sang into the filthy air
the Yiddish drinking songs my Zadie taught me
before his breath failed. Now Howard is gone,
eleven years gone, the sweet voice silenced.
“The subtle bridge between Eldridge and
   Navarro,"
they later wrote, all that rising passion
a footnote to others, I remember in ‘85
walking the halls of Cass Tech, the high school
where he taught after his performing days,
when suddenly he took my left hand in his
two hands to tell me it all worked out
for the best. Maybe he’d gotten religion,
maybe he knew how little time was left,
maybe that day he was just worn down
by my questions about Parker. To him Bird
was truly Charlie Parker, a man, a silent note
going out forever on the breath of genius
which now I hear soaring above my own breath
as this bright morning fades into afternoon.
Music, I’ll call it music. It’s what we need
as the sun staggers behind the low gray clouds
blowing relentlessly in from the nameless ocean,
the calm and endless one I’ve still to cross.


(2004)

Friday, March 27, 2015

POEM: "Over The Mountains, Up"



Over The Mountains, Up


Charlie Parker, Bird, a cautious bird
though he was a man, with a tail of music

It is 70 years away. The updraught still
waiting for more filler, killer of time...

…they later wrote, all that rising passion
a footnote to others,
” wrote Philip Levine

(I wouldn’t feel bad either. It was a better man
than me who pulled off Charlie Parker’s boots)

That’s the problem. Rise, to hear things
come back down, to find you can’t play it

Lover Man, where did he go

   high as an Asian goose?

The others will bang their pots and pans
to make sure pigeons will never land

That certain flights have nervous captains
and instruments lie at the bottom of the sea

After 
the Dial recording, Bird took 
the money and didn’t return to NYC

Was probably a more dangerous place to score
California at least had sunshine and oranges


I lay me down, this could be my last one too
I would rather have a memory than a dream

A seagull decides it wanders off the sand
then the road decides it lands in feathers.


© 2015 Rob Schackne

Thursday, March 26, 2015

A Carol Ann Duffy Poem



Richard


My bones, scripted in light, upon cold soil,
a human braille. My skull, scarred by a crown,
emptied of history. Describe my soul
as incense, votive, vanishing; you own
the same. Grant me the carving of my name.

These relics, bless. Imagine you re-tie
a broken string and on it thread a cross,
the symbol severed from me when I died.
The end of time – an unknown, unfelt loss –
unless the Resurrection of the Dead…

or I once dreamed of this, your future breath
in prayer for me, lost long, forever found;
or sensed you from the backstage of my death,
as kings glimpse shadows on a battleground.


(2015)

Wednesday, March 25, 2015

POEM: "By Charlotte At The Riverside"



By Charlotte At The Riverside


There I was again in the evening air
As though all my rivers kept flowing past
(Maybe I never left the little boat at all)
One half then, a little bit now, one half future
At times there will be someone missing
There's no gentle hand to warm the chills

Even if the old wind carries familiar smells
Later in the autumn breeze, after tying up
My river skiff, after I get out to walk home
(Sun due to set, every tomorrow's coming)
Ghosts I speak with will have such cold breath
They say it once, they'll say it again, half-counsel
Starting, starting over means giving up so much.


© 2015 Rob Schackne

Tuesday, March 24, 2015

POEM: "Swing"



Swing


I remember the swing
The wind the chain the rattle
The seat the trees and the children
Pumping so far forward to sail back again
Knowing I could jump off at the nearest cloud
Years later and doubt dropped by for a little visit 

I was on another ride, invisible, maybe inside
Knowing how easy it is to be pushed away
Lean too far forward fall back so soon
The seat the trees and the flies
The wind the chain the hills
I remember the swing


© 2015 Rob Schackne

Monday, March 23, 2015

A Brenda Shaughnessy Poem



Head Handed


Stop belonging to me so much, face-head.
Leave me to my child and my flowers.

I can't run with you hanging on to me like that.
It's like having ten dogs on a single lead

and no talent for creatures.
No hands, no trees. Not my dogs, nobody's.

Don't you have a place to go, face-head?
Deep into the brick basement of another life?

To kill some time, I mean. That furnace
light could take a shine to you.

There are always places, none of them mine.
And always time—rainbow sugar show

of jimmies falling from ice cream's sky—
but that stuff's extra, it's never in supply.

"Never," however, acres of it. Violet beans
and sarcasm. Too many flavors of it.

All those prodigal particles,
flimsily whimsical miracles, an embarrassment

of glitches. The chorus just more us.
But nowhere bare and slippery have I

got a prayer. If I had two hands
to rub together I wouldn't waste the air.


(2011)

Sunday, March 22, 2015

A Carl Sandburg Poem


Still Life


Cool your heels on the rail of an observation car.
Let the engineer open her up for ninety miles an hour.
Take in the prairie right and left, rolling land and new hay crops, 
    swaths of new hay laid in the sun.
A gray village flecks by and the horses hitched in front of the post-office 
    never blink an eye.
A barnyard and fifteen Holstein cows, dabs of white on a black wall 
    map, never blink an eye.
A signalman in a tower, the outpost of Kansas City, keeps his place at a 
    window with the serenity of a bronze statue on a dark night when 
    lovers pass whispering.


(1918)

Saturday, March 21, 2015

POEM: "Hardly A Poem"



Hardly A Poem


But I love comics for their timing...
It’s a summer day, you’re lying in bed
Your mother walks in, you’re jerking off
With a magazine, and just as you cum
She says something so perfect, so alien
What are you doing to that magazine?

Respect. Poets spend years working on
Their material before they can do that.


© 2015 Rob Schackne

Friday, March 20, 2015

POEM: "For Once"



For Once
                               pace R.L.F.

Over Mr Frost's well-curb
Peering down into the deep
Echoes of the past, for once
Asking are they well-meaning
And only then a flash of white
(I believe this is more than truth
& more than well-whiskered cloud)
But if two worlds why not three?
Your heart is drumming like crazy
Dreams visit, a dizziness comes
Now what you see is what you get
They never thought to warn you.


© 2011 Rob Schackne

Thursday, March 19, 2015

MUSIC: The Cascades, "Rhythm Of The Rain" (1962)




This strange little song, perhaps the perfected model of corniness in pop music, has nevertheless given me a great deal of solace over the years. I don't know why. But maybe you'll know why.

Wednesday, March 18, 2015

POEM: "A Dream"



A Dream



Yea, though I dreamt 
I was in a horrid place
Full of terrible words
I could not swim away
Steamy towers, rest in fog
And our concrete mama
Was not self-healing
Later when I woke
I fished and fished
And fished for my soul
And when I caught it
I never gave it away again.


© 2015 Rob Schackne

Tuesday, March 17, 2015

PHOTO: Brad Wilson, "A Barn Owl" (2015) / POEM: "Later"



Later


Later, says the
soul. Always later.
Later than time allows.

When the owl sings
in the daytime. I could
tell you about roses.

Let me get dressed.
How the wind comes
off the sea. How the

rain comes later. 
A bottle of wine.
Let me get dressed.
A bottle of wine.
An owl weighs
more than the soul.


© 2015 Rob Schackne

Sunday, March 15, 2015

A Thylias Moss Poem



Interpretation of a Poem by Frost


A young black girl stopped by the woods,
so young she knew only one man: Jim Crow
but she wasn’t allowed to call him Mister.
The woods were his and she respected his boundaries
even in the absence of fence.
Of course she delighted in the filling up
of his woods, she so accustomed to emptiness,
to being taken at face value.
This face, her face eternally the brown
of declining autumn, watches snow inter the grass,
cling to bark making it seem indecisive
about race preference, a fast-to-melt idealism.
With the grass covered, black and white are the only options,
polarity is the only reality; corners aren’t neutral
but are on edge.
She shakes off snow, defiance wasted
on the limited audience of horse.
The snow does not hypnotize her as it wants to,
as the blond sun does in making too many prefer daylight.
She has promises to keep,
the promise that she bear Jim no bastards,
the promise that she ride the horse only as long
as it is willing to accept riders,
the promise that she bear Jim no bastards,
the promise to her face that it not be mistaken as shadow,
and miles to go, more than the distance from Africa to Andover,
more than the distance from black to white
before she sleeps with Jim.



(1998)

Friday, March 13, 2015

POEM: "Dust"



Dust


Any nut that’s saved
is stored in a hole
with one chance it will 
ever see bright light.
The golden countryside 
is only romantic
to those who never lived 
there in winter.
Today is far from war. 
We fight every day.
Father, the best war 
happens in peace.
A daydream may get 
loose, land in a tree
fighting memory, daylight 
saved from itself
win against win, the 
clock fixed, wound back.


© 2015 Rob Schackne


painting: Luo Zhongli, "Father" (1980)

Thursday, March 12, 2015

A Tomas Venclova Poem



In the Lake Region


When you open the door, everything falls into place—
the little ferry by the wharf, fir trees and thujas.
An old woman, feeding ducks, seems as old as Leni
Riefenstahl. At the base of the hill, chestnut trees, not yet in full bloom,
are younger—but probably as old as her films.
All is wet and bright. A hedgehog or God-knows-whose-soul
is rummaging in last year's leaves. Dead water and living water
fill the plain. The twins Celsius and Fahrenheit
are predicting spring weather—while a shadow obscures
the past (just like the present). The first serene weeks scour the bridges
in a peaceful corner of Europe between Wannsee and Potsdam—where
much has happened, but, probably, nothing more will.
For days we have been watching a ragged crow—in the garden,
sometimes on the roof. The ancients would have said her
stubbornness augurs something. Emerging from the wood's
depths, she lights on one antenna crossbar
then another, her surface bright as mercury
in a thermometer's glass. But these are fever marks
we are incapable of understanding. The beginning of agony?
The past does not enlighten us—but still, it attempts
to say something. Perhaps the crow knows more about us
and about history's dirt than we do ourselves.
Of what does she want to remind us? Of the black photos, the black headphones
of radio operators, black signatures under documents,
of the unarmed with their frozen pupils—of the prisoner's boot or the trunk
of the refugee? Probably not. We will remember this anyway,
though it won't make us any wiser. The bird signifies only stoicism
and patience. If you ask for them, your request will be granted.



(2008) Tr. Ellen Hinsey

Wednesday, March 11, 2015

An Edgar Allan Poe Poem



Dreams


Oh! that my young life were a lasting dream!
My spirit not awakening, till the beam
Of an Eternity should bring the morrow.
Yes! tho’ that long dream were of hopeless sorrow,
’Twere better than the cold reality
Of waking life, to him whose heart must be,
And hath been still, upon the lovely earth,
A chaos of deep passion, from his birth.
But should it be—that dream eternally
Continuing—as dreams have been to me
In my young boyhood—should it thus be given,
’Twere folly still to hope for higher Heaven.
For I have revell’d when the sun was bright
I’ the summer sky, in dreams of living light,
And loveliness,—have left my very heart
In climes of mine imagining, apart
From mine own home, with beings that have been
Of mine own thought—what more could I have seen?
’Twas once—and only once—and the wild hour
From my remembrance shall not pass—some power
Or spell had bound me—’twas the chilly wind
Came o’er me in the night, and left behind
Its image on my spirit—or the moon
Shone on my slumbers in her lofty noon
Too coldly—or the stars—howe’er it was
That dream was as that night-wind—let it pass.

I have been happy, but in a dream.
I have been happy—and I love the theme:
Dreams! in their vivid colouring of life
As in that fleeting, shadowy, misty strife
Of semblance with reality which brings
To the delirious eye, more lovely things
Of Paradise and Love—and all our own!
Than young Hope in his sunniest hour hath known.


(1884)

Monday, March 9, 2015

An Edward Thomas Poem


Liberty


The last light has gone out of the world, except
This moonlight lying on the grass like frost
Beyond the brink of the tall elm’s shadow.
It is as if everything else had slept
Many an age, unforgotten and lost
The men that were, the things done, long ago,
All I have thought; and but the moon and I
Live yet and here stand idle over the grave
Where all is buried. Both have liberty
To dream what we could do if we were free
To do some thing we had desired long,
The moon and I. There’s none less free than who
Does nothing and has nothing else to do,
Being free only for what is not to his mind,
And nothing is to his mind. If every hour
Like this one passing that I have spent among
The wiser others when I have forgot
To wonder whether I was free or not,
Were piled before me, and not lost behind,
And I could take and carry them away
I should be rich; or if I had the power
To wipe out every one and not again
Regret, I should be rich to be so poor.
And yet I still am half in love with pain,
With what is imperfect, with both tears and mirth,
With things that have an end, with life and earth,
And this moon that leaves me dark within the door.


(1917)

Sunday, March 8, 2015

POEM: "Five Little Poems to Forget"



Five Little Poems to Forget


What is this
suck doesn’t 
really want
another one

The remora
its value is
an added 

sweet delay

Bed is warm
pillow between 
the legs won’t
take a lover

Her occupation
was Chinese
Tibetan time for
something else

Dark faces
vices hidden
only frighten
before dawn


© 2014 Rob Schackne

POEM: "Five Little Poems to Remember"



Five Little Poems to Remember


No form for beauty
anywhere near the end
till I scuffle to get in line

Jeez even mangoes
which are born to be ripe
have Platonic form

Here I dream of bridges
that always lead to the same
places I’ve been before

Young Chinese Neighbor
has a finger up the nose
how perfected the search

Jeans dream of youth
no embarrassment
it's just a small project.


© 2014 Rob Schackne

Friday, March 6, 2015

POEM: "An Ape's Raincoat"




An Ape's Raincoat


I.   Stella Fugio


There are stairs to take
the steps to consider, and all
the slender things we are
stars can wait a little longer
distance must be reached
love is met on the landing
(a demon black cat flashes
past, between our future legs)
we barely recognize each other
one going up the other down
we hardly have time to speak
in platitudes of stairs and star
a bad day ahead of us or behind 

a meeting later, always later.


II.   An Ape's Raincoat


No more going back
it's a playful galaxy
(all majestic dress)
stars are mine and thine and we
their celestial seawrack


Still more vintage wine

upon the leaning trellis
(takes a year to press)
a star gently climbs the stairs
as he waits to hear her sigh


Still more petrichor

on the breasts of a woman
(a star to caress)
who so loves each sleepy rain
her lover listens to her snore

Still more empty shells
that listen on the seashore
(still the seagulls' mess)
to time in its giggling core
pumping stars from distant wells.   



III.   Bashō Was The Snowball


I just wrote a poem
about reaching space
at the speed of light

Three bags full of
cock & steam. I guess
that’s all. Empty shovel

We try remembering
every memory to forget
which ones are special

Enlightened thought
the chance that physics
has always waited for

The possibility exists
somewhere. The translation
looks into a cold mirror

Bashō was the snowball
sharp-shooter of hats. But
that was then. It’s still winter

I’m still writing. So
are you. The next one
comes at the speed of light.
                 
                  

IV.   The Extra Weight


I don’t believe the
writing on the wall

Mixed bird offerings
or that insects wake

Mene, mene, tekel, upharsin

Even if the meal is
found wanting is

Counting gematria really
the dessert of wisdom?

My mind's made up
the spring is cleansed

My life is the sum
of all my choices

(at least the choices
that waited for me)


But         the       weight
       extra      but

When birds come closer
when mountaintops are sand

When the scales
are finally settled

How do you return
the angel’s stare?



© 2015 Rob Schackne

painting: Joan Miró, "Une Étoile Caresse Le Sein d'Une Négresse" (1938)

POEM: "To A Future Lover"



To A Future Lover

                                I.M. A. de Saint-Exupéry

The earth was noise and dust
my horse surprised a snake
I walked all night under the stars
the desert was a bank of hums

Dishevelled in this mirage
where desire is unkindled limit
a kiss that didn't even matter
night was an ocean of those days

Way back I stood there then
as fearsome as a pilot waking
to a slow smoke and a brandy
that spoke to him on his last day

Hard grim lines drawn in blood
for a time when laughter’s wrong
to continue in blood until there’s
no more discussion in blood

I'm still walking years later
distraught of many concerns
delinquent of the inconsequential
every animal drawn to its own smell

It hardly mattered what love was
shadows and the sun would not light
each caress or that busy time did not
search for the fine wreckage all about.


© 2015 Rob Schackne

POEM: "In Orbit, Across The Void"



In Orbit, Across The Void


Perfect pitch
admirable tone
in orbit, across the Void

Don’t play what’s there
Play what isn’t there


(I’m being navigated out of this world)

Might tempo also hitch a ride
on the gathering flight of emphasis?

Who seek maturity
along special paths of pain
to avoid the order of blunt notes


Puzzle me the right answer to that one

This question, a perennial one
phrased in weariness, the question
doesn't end when the answer comes


Fire out of the fire, smoke
out of the smoke, a woman
who confesses her own delight

Birds quiet after the fireworks 
stars almost seen behind the moon

A deep conversation
floats across this dark field
they join hands and embrace
the joy is thunderous.


© 2015 Rob Schackne

POEM: "Thrown Into The Shade"


Thrown Into The Shade                                           
                                           
                                           for Jason Molina RIP

The jukebox is in an empty room
And only the gods are dancing there
A security guard checks the outdoor lock
Before thieves make their rounds of night
A Ducati Panigale screams past with love
There's enough strong nectar for everyone
Thor is hammered again, Zeus is passed out
A conga line of gods is winding through the bar
The robbers sigh and pour themselves a whisky
An old fellow in a cap unplugs the jukebox
Outside the moon sings high & lonesome
It's very late, all the buses have gone home
Across town the parties are in full swing.


© 2014 Rob Schackne

Thursday, March 5, 2015

A Barbara Guest Poem


Roses

          "painting has no air..."
             — Gertrude Stein


That there should never be air
in a picture surprises me.
It would seem to be only a picture
of a certain kind, a portrait in paper
or glue, somewhere a stickiness
as opposed to a stick-to-it-ness
of another genre. It might be
quite new to do without
that air, or to find oxygen
on the landscape line
like a boat which is an object
or a shoe which never floats
and is stationary.


                              Still there
are certain illnesses that require
air, lots of it. And there are nervous
people who cannot manufacture
enough air and must seek
for it when they don't have plants,
in pictures. There is the mysterious
traveling that one does outside
the cube and this takes place
in air.


                               It is why one develops
an attitude toward roses picked
in the morning air, even roses
without sun shining on them.
The roses of Juan Gris from which
we learn the selflessness of roses
existing perpetually without air,
the lid being down, so to speak,
a 1912 fragrance sifting
to the left corner where we read
"La Merveille" and escape.


(1995)

Wednesday, March 4, 2015

POEM: "Event Horizon"



Event Horizon


Ebb and flow, nothing before
the event horizon fell on me
featherlight of a hot life with ice
the collected years, misunderstood

She laughed at things I said
I chose her for the hair she kept
and yes her odd way with words
(an alarming way of wearing pain)

This is not the story of the world
told by the fire, told in the wind
it is traffic, relapse, and delusions
old habits and misremembered love

On this table is the air I breathe
the light is provided mostly free
all once gifted, in a silent transit
a most urgent universe of events.


© 2015 Rob Schackne


Painting: Mark Rothko, "Blue, Green and Brown" (1951)

Tuesday, March 3, 2015

POEM: "Outside Tianshui, Gansu Province"



Outside Tianshui, Gansu Province

                                                                          for Anna


 759. Du Fu went to Maijishan

There are few monks left in these remote shrines,
And in the wilderness the narrow paths are high.
The musk-deer sleep among the stones and bamboo,
The cockatoos peck at the golden peaches.
Streams trickle down among the paths;
Across the overhanging cliff the cells are ranged,
Their tiered chambers reaching to the very peak;
And for a 100 li one can make out the smallest thing.



2014. I've never been to Maijishan

Purple red sandstone in one cave
At the Maijishan Grottoes observes
The original male form of Guanyin
Not Mother Mary and not Madonna
Not Lady Gaga or your grandma either
But a fellow much like us who exudes
(Exudes? The man is dripping with it!) 
Sweetness tempered with no-nonsense
Obviously our man's a former dissident
At Wheatstack Mountain it’s understood
When Buddha turned into Bodhisattvas
The lout still packs one hell of a wallop
Stand here your head will be changed
(Changed? Are you a complete idiot!)
When on the other side you see knives
Guns on the floor the heavy truncheons
Soldiers in tanks the frightened students
But sharpness is all the memory has left 
You might understand there is nothing soft
About kindness or about compassion, there
(There? Come here, I'll give you compassion!)

                                                                         
© 2014 Rob Schackne

Monday, March 2, 2015

POEM: "Interior Anthem #1 (The Rig)"



Interior Anthem #1 (The Rig)


On any National Day, it's made
Unhappy by unfulfilled promises
Standing out upon a sea-platform
Clouds rolling in, smelling the spray
The giant sculpture’s great unreal
As it stumbles on its waves, says
No flowers here, no biscuits there

The half-moon is the derrick's light
Its tower is stacked with rotting fruit
What the fuck are you on about?
I want fine food, a normal family
A job that doesn’t make me too crazy
A sane head, ten fingers, ten toes will do
Some good poems from time to time
And stop promising me nonsense.


© 2014 Rob Schackne

Sunday, March 1, 2015

POEM: "The Sun Goes Down"



The Sun Goes Down

                             You might light out for the Territory
                             someday, you know it's coming, you
                             toy with perspective, test the distance
                             and watch how the horizon moves...


Dismal science isn’t economics
or accounting, it's mostly dreams
that skip fast under the setting sun
while birds wait for quiet enough
to breach the low horizon, to pass
beneath, sink down to get off free

Definite article of serious wishes
a very serious accounting that excites
the dismal and hopeless, the depressed kept
low, holding up, their mouths set just right
they get it hopping crazy in the farmyard
three-legged dogs and deformed lambs

Broken halters of horses run amok
the
 sky gets higher, the moon is swelling
these old roads will only stand so much
before this precious, probable sundrian
will stop the lessening and, if it be wished
take these nothings and spin them into light.


© 2014 Rob Schackne

Saturday, February 28, 2015

A George Mackay Brown Poem



The Old Women


Go sad or sweet or riotous with beer
Past the old women gossiping by the hour,
They'll fix on you from every close and pier
An acid look to make your veins run sour.

'No help', they say, 'his grandfather that's dead
Was troubled with the same dry-throated curse,
And many a night he made the ditch his bed.
This blood comes welling from the same cracked source.'

On every kind of merriment they frown.
But I have known a gray-eyed sober boy
Sail to the lobsters in a storm and drown.
Over his body dripping on the stones
Those same old hags would weave into their moans
An undersong of terrible holy joy.


(1959)

Wednesday, February 25, 2015

A Vasiliki Katsarou Poem



Pier At Cannes


seen at a film (fish)
marketacross the bay, a string of lights

never thought she’d find herself

in an Antonioni film

yet here she is and so is he—
mere witnesses to an abstraction

the dark sea and dark sky meet somewhere


                                          she thinks,
              directing herself to find a gesture
as apt as this moment

he stares back
in irreflection

The sea and sky may kiss at the horizon
Why not we?


                                         She turns
a cartwheel instead
                                         to approach him
and yet remain distant

absurdity strikes
at the very heart

of the proposition

What a child, an American!

He is of course a French polygamist
with several children by several wives in farmhouses
scattered about the French countryside

so fated to act out

two wholly different scripts,

he says

                                Un écrivain a dit…
                                [A writer once said]

là où toutes les eaux se mèlent, là où il y a un delta—
[Where all the waters come together, at the mouth]

la merde l’a créé.
[shit created it.]

But what about beauty

she wonders too late
                                   doesn’t beauty equal love?

she wanders too late
the sky darkens further

                                  La bêtise
                                  [Nonsense]
is his reply

from the edge
of that shore
they part


(2015)

Tuesday, February 24, 2015

A Jane Hirshfield Poem (2)




A Person Protests To Fate


A person protests to fate:

“The things you have caused
me most to want
are those that furthest elude me.”

Fate nods.
Fate is sympathetic.

To tie the shoes, button a shirt,
are triumphs
for only the very young,
the very old.

During the long middle:

conjugating a rivet
mastering tango
training the cat to stay off the table
preserving a single moment longer than this one
continuing to wake whatever has happened the day before

and the penmanships love practices inside the body.


(2015)

Monday, February 23, 2015

POEM: "It's Space, Johnny!"



It’s Space, Johnny!


                                     “If you won a free trip on a private company’s rocket ship into
                                            space, would you take the trip, or not?” the poll asked.



It turns out of course that since most people
Prefer to stay home and work on their Project,
The vast majority ixnayed another corporate trip
Into space, which after all is as dark as your pocket;
I sent the WaPo article to my international friends,
Who were considerably in favour of the translation,
(Brave souls all, who bless me with their tough wisdom)
Although one person did say she would gladly give up
Her place so that another could boldly go et cetera,
It wouldn’t matter to her at all if he didn’t come back;
Another said he’d have to think some more, he thought,
About who else would likely be there with him to share
Such a special occasion with, so maybe, in the end, not;
But our focus here is very dimmed when we gaze at stars,
We signal our dreams and we wave from a very distance,
And me, intrepid me, who once looked very square at space,
Now with pen and paper, I’d stick with gravity, and write.


© 2015 Rob Schackne