Monday, May 4, 2015

POEMS: "Poems Of There's No Tomorrow"

Poems Of There's No Tomorrow


No it's hell and it looks
like a promise and a pity
the guitar is warped the effort
reaches a point I don't care anymore
do the work write like a motherfucker
if it pans out there will be a port
only not the one I steered for
no no it will have strange music
monkeys dancing on the pier
and a woman wearing a set of eyes
elasticized with me and a plate of beans
the sun like it belongs to no one else.


Yes it's a bizarro poem
and hatred for this art
and everybody around it
makes for heavy reading
after the first thirteen faces
yes yes the itch and the scratching
when next week my car crashes
it's totalled and though I'm OK
the poem in the backseat is injured
he not badlooking she not badlooking
but the five other poems are fucked
now bizarro means it's nothing
this poem crawls away from me.


Water calligraphy
it's not flowers and light
it disappears as soon
as sense arrives
might be a level head
could even be a crazy
wishing to debate
the invisible
I walk past smiling
that there was joy
did any madman ever
write to evaporate
passing readers
see the water see the air
watch the brush
it stays it leaves
the bucket the piss
he moves away
people disperse
he wrote a little.

© 2015 Rob Schackne

Sunday, May 3, 2015

POEM: "All The Screaming Poets"

All The Screaming Poets

The Sheik of Araby
the Sultan of Ogosh
the kind butcher Herman
the strange boy named Oscar
the waitress with corns
the incarcerated souls
the demented tracing of
the name over and over again
the good man trying to protect
the swamplands of Florida
the woman with twin monsters
the teachers and the students
the lovers and the dreamers
the tired porn stars and athletes
the kids who can’t get the math
the father who keeps trying
the suppression of power
the suicidal executives
the homicidal police
o all the screaming poets
the tears o the tears that flow
o the tears the tears that flow

© 2015 Rob Schackne

Saturday, May 2, 2015

Ben E. King, "Stand By Me" (1961)

Well...if all the mountains should crumble to the sea there's nothing will catch up with us just as long as you stand by me.

Friday, May 1, 2015

A Tracy K. Smith Poem

I Don't Miss It

But sometimes I forget where I am,
Imagine myself inside that life again.

Recalcitrant mornings. Sun perhaps,
Or more likely colorless light

Filtering its way through shapeless cloud.

And when I begin to believe I haven't left,
The rest comes back. Our couch. My smoke

Climbing the walls while the hours fall.
Straining against the noise of traffic, music,

Anything alive, to catch your key in the door.
And that scamper of feeling in my chest,

As if the day, the night, wherever it is
I am by then, has been only a whir

Of something other than waiting.

We hear so much about what love feels like.
Right now, today, with the rain outside,

And leaves that want as much as I do to believe
In May, in seasons that come when called,

It's impossible not to want
To walk into the next room and let you

Run your hands down the sides of my legs,
Knowing perfectly well what they know.


Thursday, April 30, 2015

BOOK COVERS: Gustave Doré (1884) / Edgar Allan Poe, "The Raven" (1845)

   Much I marvelled this ungainly fowl to hear discourse so plainly,
Though its answer little meaning—little relevancy bore;
   For we cannot help agreeing that no living human being
   Ever yet was blessed with seeing bird above his chamber door—

Wednesday, April 29, 2015

POEM: "One Meditation One Love"

One Meditation One Love 

I know now why the Earth hums
The Earth hums because the oceans
Love to strum the bits of land they fill

I know tonight why little kids point
With an arm and a finger to call us out
It's now time to see the future and the past!

Maybe I know why it rains for everyone
It's because the streets fill with love, else
The night won't fall and I fail to understand

Why hum is sometimes an affliction 
It's when ordinary storms wake up demons

It's when plants and trees burn with ruin

And I know tonight we misread the future
(I know it's raining, and I'm still not ready)
I know that somehow we mislaid a planet!

The lightning is striking outside my window 
The hum in my ears inside a bouncer’s umbrella
Leaving the bar should be timely and respectful.

© 2015 Rob Schackne

Monday, April 27, 2015

An Evie Shockley Poem

du bois in ghana

at 93, you determined to pick up and go—
and stay gone. the job nkrumah called you to,
to create, at last, your encyclopedia africana
              (encompassing a continent chipped

like wood beneath an axe, a large enough
diaspora to girdle the globe, and a mere four
thousand years) was either well-deserved
               sinecure or well-earned trust

that your health was as indestructible as
your will. my mind wrestles with possible pictures:
the victorian sensibility, the charcoal wool
              formality of your coats and vests, the trim

of your beard as sharp as the crease of your
collar—how would these du boisian essentials
hold up to sub-saharan heat? would
              your critical faculties wilt in accra’s

urban tropics as i’ve read that westerners’
are wont to do? dr. du bois, i presume
you took the climate in stride, took to it,
              looked out your library’s louvered windows

onto a land you needed
neither to condemn nor conquer,
and let the sun tell you what you already knew:
             this was not a port to pass on.

your 95th birthday photo found you bathed
in white cloth, cane still in hand, sharing a smile
with a head of state who knew your worth—joy
             that this nation’s birth occurred in time

for you to step out of a cold, cold storm
into outstretched arms. would your pan-
african dream have survived a dictatorial
             nkrumah, an nkrumah in exile? you took

the prerogative of age and died without telling,
without knowing. a half-century later, here
in the country where you were born, i look
             into a screen and watch as, near and far, a pan-

demic of violence and abuse staggers the planet.
we seed the world with blood, grow
bleeding, harvest death and the promise
             of more. when i turn bitter, seeing no potential

for escape, i think of the outrages you saw—wars,
lynchings, genocide, mccarthy, communism’s
failure to rise above corrupting power
             any better than capitalism had, the civil rights

movement’s endless struggle—and how
you kept writing and walking, looking
for what you knew was out there. your memory,
             your tireless radiant energy, calls me

to my work, to my feet, insisting
that somewhere on the earth, freedom is
learning to walk, trying not to fall,
             and, somewhere, laboring to be born.


Sunday, April 26, 2015

POEM: "Lines By The Pint (CXXX)"

Lines By The Pint (CXXX)

It's no small thing like the fold
Of a dress which suddenly speaks
Or a light switch from another world
But even by those kindly lights I see
Reaching deep inside the common face
To way down where the memory sits
Where language is mixed with nonsense

And if there's no end to my blockhead
And there's no limit to this foolish greed
Though cosmetics can't hide a smart woman
I wonder what my next beauty will look like ­­­­­­­
If we'll slap hands together and conjure glee
Till the sun rises roughly over our secrets
And the bed we’re in hears the music wrong.

© 2014 Rob Schackne

Saturday, April 25, 2015

POEM: "Deux Trous Rouges au Côté Droit"

Deux Trous Rouges au Côté Droit

                                        Arthur Rimbaud et les milliards d’autres

How long since war first broke out
vexing the moment, the tipping point
deux trous rouges au côté droit
was it ten thousand years before
shouting turned into bombings
deux trous rouges au côté droit
deliberate bloodshed that repeated
walks of anguish for the rest of time
deux trous rouges au côté droit
the real rage of being human
going to the village well for water
deux trous rouges au côté droit
the sudden soldiers of sharp death
and then the ditches filled with rain?

                                                Anzac Day 25/4/15

© 2015 Rob Schackne

Friday, April 24, 2015

POEM: "But You See It, Don't You?"

But You See It, Don't You?

The clouds perfect, reflected
in a pristine watercourse. Sunny
and warm. Interesting breeze off the hills.
They (the old ones) sit outside in the sun.
But every place there is a shop, people
scattering sunflower seeds and waiting
for the next busloads of you and me.
And you wonder, why duplicate beauty
and why do it like that? It was just itself
and minding its own business, like a cat.
No point to anything but its own rest.
But if you can take a photo of something
the people want to look at, it's real money.
(Spirit was moved, it took a real deep breath)
Money that the perfect clouds tried to wash
with intemperate rain. They thunderstruck 
the village, asking for it to listen up and mop.
To no avail. The river grew rubbish. Plants died.
Today, they (the young ones) spend their days
snotting on the steps, or fast asleep. Tomorrow
is about their phones trying to talk with ghosts.

© 2015 Rob Schackne

Wednesday, April 22, 2015

A Jiang Hao Poem

The Shape Of The Ocean

Every time you ask about the shape of an ocean
I should bring you two bags of ocean water.
This is ocean's shape, like a pair of eyes,
or the shape of ocean that eyes have seen. 

You touch them, as if wiping away two burning tears, 
as tears are the ocean’s shape, too, the clarity
springing from the same deep soul.
Putting the bags together will not
make the ocean wider. They are still fresh,
as if two non-fish will soon swim out.
You sprinkle the water to the sand of flour,
the bread, also, is the shape of the ocean.
Before you slice it with a sharp sail
it leaves, like a departing boat. The plastic bags
left on the table also have the ocean's shape, flat
with tides retreating from the beaches.
When the real tide goes away
there’s salt left, shaped as the ocean too.
You don't believe? I should bring you a bag
of water and a bag of sand, the shape of ocean.
You affirm, you deny; then you non-affirm,
and non-deny? Go on and try out yourself,
as this is your shape too. But you say
“I’m only the image of myself.”

(2003) Tr. Ming Di and Afaa Weaver (2009)

Monday, April 20, 2015

POEM: "A Lament For When It Comes From Behind"

A Lament For When It Comes From Behind

That someone’s life is saved with
books or words, construction
with cranes and girders
that it rests in the sunlight
till the edifice is completed
except that the building’s flawed
and it rains like seven heavens
and bewildered by life’s lizards
the pipes leak important knowledge
and it’s thanks, I wasn’t saved at all.

© 2015 Rob Schackne

Sunday, April 19, 2015

POEM: "For Good"

For Good

                      “One hundred and fifty thousand people die every day,” he continues. 
                       “And a lot of them have dinner plans.” 
                            Anthony Martin, Escape Artist

                         So, teach us to number our days, that we may gain a heart of wisdom. 
                              Psalms 90:12

Let it counsel against hating
The strong and clean and good
But admit that blood covers it all
As even sunlight works with promise
To show us more pain every day

Everything rotting, it's hopeless
It wouldn’t work in an iron lung
As the literate despair will insist
Because the memory works like that
Against chance and change and sky

We will die because there is no choice
We will write poems because so much
Might get better if it would only try —
Work in an iron lung for nearly nothing
Ignore the nothingness until it goes for good.

© 2015 Rob Schackne

A Fanny Howe Poem

A Poem For Ciaran

The stroll from my cell
along the path above the donkeys
past a door open, a door shut
and a strong smell of wood
and cigarettes ends where
music helps white marguerites
cut through the masonry.

Dark for words with a clicking wren
a yellow tit and over the clover a
shovel and a rustle of grain.
He's training calves with shouts and food
to follow him to another field
before the second bell.

Broom loops over the buttercups.
These names
give birth to cones and needles, ferns
with mini-sacs of pollen attached.
It only takes one shot of spittle on green
for my brother to explain the sexual life
of the forest and honeybees.

Simon says he would like to live alone
in a cottage with a garden,
no humans, no obligations. Solitary
I prefer a pod while he likes hives.
We confess we both wear armor
outside our habitats.

Water was our first armor before our skin.
Then came the bristle of sunshine.
And a thickening of blood into oil
or syrup in the lower veins.

I hate the thistledown
covering my prototype now
interior layer cowering at power
or shout, but can laugh
with the one who has sap under
his skin pouring the bucket
the hand is carrying.

Brother, help me find an animal
who will rescue me from
sharp delirium of fear beyond armor
and my friends the birds
by an open window: to be clear
would be wonderful.
A sigh without the ghostly gasps
that accompany a certain voice.
Still I still do desire more
of the kind no one can see or hear.
Not that second, rasping breath of triumph.
Find me instead
more like the breathy Saint Bernard.
But a little dog
A cask of brandy hanging at his neck


Saturday, April 18, 2015

POEM: "When The Show Is Over"

When The Show Is Over

Special applause for
the sunset on guitar
the nightfall on drums
the after-party on bass
& Orpheus who's done
a runner with our money
thank you all for coming!

© 2015 Rob Schackne

Friday, April 17, 2015

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 is 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 actually do it?

© 2014 Rob Schackne

Thursday, April 16, 2015

A Jennifer Militello Poem

Ode to Love

Place its toothpicked pit in water, watch the grist
of its insides grow. Witness its populous bloom,

honeycombed with rough. Its cobblestones grip
the heart in its mitt, a closed fist thickened

and gritty as silt. The swamp of the plumb beat
adamant as weeds. The dish of which is salted

by complexities or cries. It is a house in which
we cannot live, the quiver on the arrow

we cannot launch. It grows late over Nevada
as we watch. Strikes its gullies: we grow burnt

as a moth. Mimics a sleep of archives and
the small lies all forget. Mimics all laughter

broken by the time it leaves the mouth.
With its moving parts, its chimes, its gleam,

it muddies our archways, lying low, gives off
noise and steam; its mechanics clear the fence.

It must be wooed. Must be quieted. Hush. It must
be soothed. Has a snag. Has a bleed. A drape.

Flaps awkwardly, at its edges, a heron. At
its center, a wide bottom perfect with fish.


Tuesday, April 14, 2015

A Marianne Moore Poem

He Made This Screen

not of silver nor of coral,
but of weatherbeaten laurel.

Here, he introduced a sea
uniform like tapestry;

here, a fig-tree; there, a face;
there, a dragon circling space—

designating here, a bower;
there, a pointed passion-flower.


Sunday, April 12, 2015

POEM: "Prologue d'un Conte de Fées"

Prologue d'un Conte de Fées

In that blue corner lies an exception
A pretty brief rose and a brief squirrel
But not just any corner of forgotten dust
Never to be found, nor just any squirrel
Bushy-tailed, eyes gleaming, chewing nuts

Is this a containment of a natural situation?

Ah, but still more a box than a wrecked bed
Though less than a coffin (though much more)
It’s my old collection of lambent red, I speak
Of our years together, all the time it took
To reassemble me, and when she saw it.

© 2015 Rob Schackne