Tuesday, January 27, 2015

A Robert Louis Stevenson Poem

To Any Reader

As from the house your mother sees
You playing round the garden trees,
So you may see, if you will look
Through the windows of this book,
Another child, far, far away,
And in another garden, play.
But do not think you can at all,
By knocking on the window, call
That child to hear you. He intent
Is all on his play-business bent.
He does not hear; he will not look,
Nor yet be lured out of this book.
For, long ago, the truth to say,
He has grown up and gone away,
And it is but a child of air
That lingers in the garden there.


Sunday, January 25, 2015

POEM: "Bashō Was The Snowball"

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

When we remember

every memory to forget
which ones are special

Enlightened thought

the chance that physics
has always waited for

Somewhere the possibility
exists. This translation
into kinder mirrors

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.

© 2015 Rob Schackne

Saturday, January 24, 2015

PAINTING: Joan Miró, "Une Étoile Caresse le Sein d'une Négresse" (peinture-poème, 1938); POEM: "An Ape's Raincoat"

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   

© 2015 Rob Schackne

Friday, January 23, 2015

POEM: "Stella Fugio"

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.

© 2015 Rob Schackne

Thursday, January 22, 2015

A William Butler Yeats Poem


High Talk

Processions that lack high stilts have nothing that catches the eye.
What if my great-granddad had a pair that were twenty foot high,
And mine were but fifteen foot, no modern stalks upon higher,
Some rogue of the world stole them to patch up a fence or a fire.
Because piebald ponies, led bears, caged lions, make but poor shows,
Because children demand Daddy-long-legs upon his timber toes,
Because women in the upper storeys demand a face at the pane,
That patching old heels they may shriek, I take to chisel and plane.

Malachi Stilt-Jack am I, whatever I learned has run wild,
From collar to collar, from stilt to stilt, from father to child.
All metaphor, Malachi, stilts and all. A barnacle goose
Far up in the stretches of night; night splits and the dawn breaks loose;
I, through the terrible novelty of light, stalk on, stalk on;
Those great sea-horses bare their teeth and laugh at the dawn.


Sunday, January 18, 2015

BOOK COVERS: Casey Walker, 'Last Days In Shanghai" (2014)

"It was the best of times, it was the worst of times, it was the age of wisdom, it was the age of foolishness, it was the epoch of belief, it was the epoch of incredulity, it was the season of Light, it was the season of Darkness, it was the spring of hope, it was the winter of despair, we had everything before us, we had nothing before us, we were all going direct to Heaven, we were all going direct the other way – in short, the period was so far like the present period, that some of its noisiest authorities insisted on its being received, for good or for evil, in the superlative degree of comparison only."

Charles Dickens, "A Tale Of Two Cities" (1859)

Tuesday, January 13, 2015

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

Sunday, January 11, 2015

IDLE THOUGHTS: "On Est Tous Charlie (7/1/2015)"

(There are times when I can't hang up my pen even if I wanted to. It sighs like a dog. Other times I would sorely miss it.) And while I might be a minor, uncelebrated poet and not a widely-read cartoonist, I am still a Francophile, so please let me buy in for two cents, with a comment about the recent Charlie Hebdo massacres in Paris. (May the dead all rest in peace.) One could say that a grievous blasphemy was properly silenced by rubbing out some disrespectful infidels, who got what they deserved, and let that be a lesson to them (and ain't we lucky that you are nowhere near the helm); or that such cartoons should henceforth be more carefully rendered, and exercising the freedom of speech should be tempered with an understanding of what will likely flow from it; or that the subject really isn't that funny (fools find everything funny), and anyway it's high time to move on from subjects that we don't really care enough about to understand, the desperate fixations of culture are so inherently non-dialogic and non-negotiable. Or finally, that there's a hard grim line that must be drawn in blood, to continue in blood, until there is no more discussion in blood. But I won't say any of that. The two artists below, Art Spiegelman and Joe Sacco, say it much better.



Friday, January 9, 2015

A Hugh Seidman Poem

After the Ear Inn After the Snow

The river icy in the wind.
Jersey glinting from night’s amalgam. Neon shines
from the luminous, frosted window.
Drunk, twenty years back,

I pitched over handlebars to snow,
proud of my scarred chin at 2 AM
on the Tenth Avenue bridge
after the Mixers had closed.

There Berryman, the drinker of sherry and gin,
would jump to the Mississippi.
But Charlotte Mew drank
disinfectant and begged: Let me go —

obsessed that her dead sister was not dead,
since no vein had been opened.
Blood throbs in my own. A truck
shifts on West Street through the snow,

brilliant under the street light:
the microphotographs, the hexagonal
crystals on black hung once in a show,
caught in their fall to the literal.

Thus had a man entered under
the camera’s hood, to cull them,
for what reason, from the cold:
molecule, cell, sun from the billions.

And I think of the friend who wept at Vallejo:
Tánta vida y jamás!
So much life and never!
Her fervor embarrassed, but then exalted.

But the cold strikes my chest
and many will tire and fail,
as always some must in the account,
when night falls like a sheet to the face.

And what shall be said for whoever
had no more to say to that sky:
so clear now, as thought I were young
on that bridge to its stars.

As I walk the street home, toward a sun
that burns and is consumed—
that first power of the light,
coming in the dark, hours from now.


Thursday, January 8, 2015

PIECES: South Park, Kyle (2010)

“I learned something today,” Kyle starts. “The magical power of threatening people with violence. That’s obviously the only true power. If there’s anything we’ve all learned, it’s that terrorizing people works.”

“That’s right,” Jesus says. “If you don’t want to be made fun of anymore, all you need are guns and bombs to get people to stop.”

“That’s right, friends,” Santa Claus agrees. “All you need to do is instill fear and be willing to hurt people and you can get whatever you want. The only true power is violence.”

Tuesday, January 6, 2015

PHOTO: Ding Yuin Shan, "Monk" (2014) / POEM: "China Monks"

China Monks

Down these mean streets
some real monks must go
they are not mean men
although they are hard men

the dusty streets divided
by their lonely presence
neither this one nor that one
unusual men still proud

not tarnished or afraid
walking out of smoke and
weathered by inevitability
reflexes sometimes a mess
I walk those streets at night
when my life's too one-sided
photographer, seasonal crab
let me depend on their reason.

© 2015 Rob Schackne

photo: Ding Yuin Shan