Sunday, October 2, 2022

Revenge by Salim Barakat

Revenge

 
a.
The coats are all there,
the winds all there,
footprints deep in the snow all there,
the lamps, houses, last apparitions, all there.
So gather in your tame hands all that they can hold of perfection
and strive so that the scene may be a tamed echo.
 
b.
An unease, like morning, preoccupies those approaching my end, and I — struggling under a great net — hang place — like a prisoner’s pants — on the line, that delicate line, running from the origin of comedy to your moaning.
 
c.
The abundance of naught is I and will is my suspicion.
 
d.
Rage is the sign of night and water a thought ahead of its own completion.
 
e.
Like a shoe polished,
like a nickel doorknob,
thus is your scream.
 
Vocabulary:
 
Day: anger masked in air
Wind: the steps of a word toward its secret
Sound: the ruin of form
Longing: gold scattered on the velvet of the end
Space: the shaper of light
Nothingness: the humor of shadows languishing in their seats
Writing: violence testing the forgotten
Number: the yield of futility
Fruit: the tree’s proof of a past that eludes all proofs
Mask: the moaning of the manifest
Distance: repeated panting
Certainty: a murmuring on the other side
Resurrection: a childhood confirming reason
Gold: a bar fight
Life: a golden bullet
As for you, dweller in endings, don’t wander too long, lest dinner get cold.
 
(translated by Huda Fakhreddine and Jayson Iwen)



Bad Day by Kay Ryan

Bad Day

 
Not every day
is a good day
for the elfin tailor.
Some days
the stolen cloth
reveals what it
was made for:
a handsome weskit
or the jerkin
of an elfin sailor.
Other days
the tailor
sees a jacket
in his mind
and sets about
to find the fabric.
But some days
neither the idea
nor the material
presents itself;
and these are
the hard days
for the tailor elf.



Saturday, October 1, 2022

I Was Told the Sunlight Was a Cure by Hanif Abdurraqib

I Was Told the Sunlight Was a Cure

 
for the cloak of despair thrown over our bright & precious
corners but tell that to the lone bird who did not get the memo
dizzy & shouting into the newly unfamiliar absence of morning
light from atop a sagging branch outside my window—a branch
 
which, too, was closer to the sky before falling into the chorus
line of winter’s relentless percussion all of us, victims to this flimsy math
of hours I was told there was a cure for this. I was told the darkness
would surrender its weapons & retreat I know of no devils who evict themselves
 
to the point of permanence. and still, on the days I want
to be alive the sunlight leaves me stunned like a kiss
from someone who has already twirled away by the time my eyes open
on the days I want to be alive I tell myself I deserve a marching band
 
or at least a string section to announce my arrival above
ground for another cluster of hours. if not a string section, at least one
drummer & a loud-voiced singer well versed in what might move me
to dance. what might push my hand through a crowded sidewalk
 
towards a woman who looks like a woman from my dreams
which means nothing if you dream as I do, everyone a hazy quilt
of features only familiar enough to lead me through a cavern of longing
upon my waking & so I declare on the days I want to be alive I might drag
 
my drummer & my singer to your doorstep & ask you to dance
yes, you, who also survived the groaning machinery of darkness
you who, despite this, do not want to be perceived in an empire
awash with light in the sinning hours & we will dance
 
until our joyful heaving flows into breathless crying, the two often pouring
out of the chest’s orchestra at the same tempo, siblings in their arrival & listen,
there will be no horns to in the marching band of my survival.
 
the preacher says there will be horns at the gates of the apocalypse & I believed even myself
the angel of death as a boy, when I held my lips to a metal mouthpiece & blew out a tune
about autumn & I am pressing your ear to my window & asking if you can hear the deep
moans of the anguished bird & how the wind bends them into what sounds like a child
clumsily pushing air into a trumpet for the first time & there’s the joke:
 
only a fool believes that the sound at the end of the world would be sweet.



Thursday, September 29, 2022

What Are Years? by Marianne Moore

What Are Years?   

 
   What is our innocence,
what is our guilt? All are
   naked, none is safe. And whence
is courage: the unanswered question,
the resolute doubt --
dumbly calling, deafly listening -- that
in misfortune, even death,
      encourages others
      and in its defeat, stirs
 
   the soul to be strong? He
sees deep and is glad, who
   accedes to mortality
and in his imprisonment rises
upon himself as
the sea in a chasm, struggling to be
free and unable to be,
      in its surrendering
      finds its continuing.
 
  So he who strongly feels,
behaves. The very bird,
   grown taller as he sings, steels
his form straight up. Though he is captive,
his mighty singing
says, satisfaction is a lowly
thing, how pure a thing is joy.
      This is mortality,
      this is eternity.



Tuesday, September 27, 2022

The God of Nothingness by Mark Wunderlich

The God of Nothingness

 
My father fell from the boat.
His balance had been poor for some time.
He had gone out in the boat with his dog
hunting ducks in a marsh near Trempealeau, Wisconsin.
No one else was near
save the wiry farmer scraping the gutters in the cow barn
who was deaf in one ear from years of machines—
and he was half a mile away.
My father fell from the boat
and the water pulled up around him, filled
his waders and this drew him down.
He descended into water the color of weak coffee.
The dog went into the water too,
thinking perhaps this was a game.
I must correct myself—dogs do not think as we do—
they react, and the dog reacted by swimming
around my father’s head. This is not a reassuring story
about a dog signaling for help by barking,
or, how by licking my father’s face, encouraged him
to hold on. The dog eventually tired and went ashore
to sniff through the grass, enjoy his new freedom
from the attentions of his master,
indifferent to my father’s plight.
The water was cold, I know that,
and my father has always chilled easily.
That he was cold is a certainty, though
I have never asked him about this event.
I do not know how he got out of the water.
I believe the farmer went looking for him
after my mother called in distress, and then drove
to the farm after my father did not return home.
My mother told me of this event in a hushed voice,
cupping her hand over the phone and interjecting
cheerful non sequiturs so as not to be overheard.
To admit my father’s infirmity
would bring down the wrath of the God of Nothingness
who listens for a tremulous voice and comes rushing in
to sweep away the weak with icy, unloving breath.
But that god was called years before
during which time he planted a kernel in my father’s brain
which grew, freezing his tongue,
robbing him of his equilibrium.
The god was there when he fell from the boat,
whispering from the warren of my father’s brain,
and it was there when my mother, noting the time,
knew that something was amiss. This god is a cold god,
a hungry god, selfish and with poor sight.
This god has the head of a dog.



Saturday, September 24, 2022

The Man Who Owned Me by Tracy K. Smith

The Man Who Owned Me

 
It was a man I’m sure of it.
Though I never saw him
I felt him rise, climbing up
Through me until I bent
To a devotion not my own.
I felt him in my belly, low
In my hips. I carried him
Like I carried my own children.
I have no idea if he was old
Or young, what his face
Would have been had he flesh.
He did in me whatever an ember does
Burning slowly until all of a piece
What it feeds on falls to ash.
Sometimes I miss what he taught me
To see, the hunger it gave me.
I think he must wait now just
Beside my body, believing I’ll
One day fall back to my knees.
If he had hands, they would be
The kind of hands I open for. 



Friday, September 23, 2022

A Farewell, Age Ten by William Stafford

A Farewell, Age Ten

 
While its owner looks away I touch the rabbit.
Its long soft ears fold back under my hand.
Miles of yellow wheat bend; their leaves
rustle away and wait for the sun and wind.
 
This day belongs to my uncle. This is his farm.
We have stopped on our journey; when my father says to
we will go on, leaving this paradise, leaving
the family place. We have my father's job.
 
Like him, I will be strong all of my life.
We are men. If we squint our eyes in the sun
we will see far. I'm ready. It's good, this resolve.
But I will never pet the rabbit again.



Explaining the Divorce to Our Dog by Olivia Cole

Explaining the Divorce to Our Dog

 
There will be walks. You will
still get your walks, with one
of us, or sometimes both
 
when the little girl
requests it.
 
There will still be walks. We
will all be walking and
walking. We just won’t always
be walking
together.
 


Monday, September 19, 2022

The Horse Fell Off the Poem by Mahmoud Darwish

The Horse Fell Off the Poem

 
The horse fell off the poem
and the Galilean women were wet
with butterflies and dew,
dancing above chrysanthemum
 
The two absent ones: you and I
you and I are the two absent ones
 
A pair of white doves
chatting on the branches of a holm oak
 
No love, but I love ancient
love poems that guard
the sick moon from smoke
 
I attack and retreat, like the violin in quatrains
I get far from my time when I am near
the topography of place ...
 
There is no margin in modern language left
to celebrate what we love,
because all that will be ... was
 
The horse fell bloodied
with my poem
and I fell bloodied
with the horse’s blood ...
 
(Translated by Fady Joudah)
 


Saturday, September 17, 2022

Gratitude by Louise Glück

Gratitude

 
Do not think I am not grateful for your small
kindness to me.
I like small kindnesses.
In fact I actually prefer them to the more
substantial kindness, that is always eyeing you,
like a large animal on a run,
until your while life reduces
to nothing but waking up morning after morning
cramped, and the bright sun shining on its tusks. 



Friday, September 16, 2022

Undo it by Carl Phillips

Undo it

 
‘I can almost see again: we’ll drown anyway’
 
Deep from within the changing colors of a life
that itself keeps changing, I know the leaves prove
nothing – though it
does seem otherwise – about
how helplessness is not a luxury, not a hurt by
now worth all the struggling to take back, but
instead what we each, inevitably, stumble
sometimes into,
 
and sometimes through … As for
that grove-within-a-grove that desire has, so long,
looked like – falling, proof of nothing, carrion-birds
clouding the slumped boughs of the mountain ash –
 
I can almost see again: we’ll drown anyway – why not
in color? You’re no more to me a mystery, than I to you.
 


Saturday, September 10, 2022

A Fox in the Dark by Mary Oliver

A Fox in the Dark

 
A fox goes by in the headlights like an electric shock.
 
Then he pauses at the edge of the road
and the heart, if it is still alive,
 
feels something--a yearning for which we have no name
 
but which we may remember, years later, in the darkness,
 
upon some other empty road.



Reemergence of the Noose by Patricia Smith

Reemergence of the Noose

 
Some lamp sputters
its dusty light
across some desk.
Some hand, shaking,
works the strained
rope, twisting and knifing,
weaving, tugging tight
a bellowing circle. Randy
Travis, steamy drawl
and hiccup on the staticky
AM, backs the ritual
of drooping loop.
Sweat drips an awful
hallelujah. God glares
askance, but the artist
doesn’t waver—wrists
click cadence, knots
become a path to what
makes saviors. The sagging
hoop bemoans a need
to squeeze, its craving
for a breath within the ring.



Friday, September 9, 2022

Palea by Tory Dent

Palea

 
Only my mouth taking you in, the greenery splayed deep green.
 
Within my mouth, your arm inserted, a stem of gestures, breaking gracefully.
 
Into each other we root arbitrarily, like bushes, silken, and guttural.
 
Palaver, we open for the thrill of closing, for the thrill of it: opening.
 
The night was so humid when I knelt on the steps, wet and cold, of prewar stone.
 
A charm bracelet of sorts we budded, handmade but brazen, as if organic.
 
I cannot imagine the end of my fascination, emblazoned but feather-white too.
 
The gold closure of this like a gold coin is, of course, ancient.
 
Why can't experience disseminate itself, be silken and brazen yet underwater?
 
A miniature Eiffel Tower, an enameled shamrock, a charm owned by its bracelet.



Saturday, September 3, 2022

Night Mail by W. H. Auden

Night Mail


This is the night mail crossing the Border,
Bringing the cheque and the postal order,
 
Letters for the rich, letters for the poor,
The shop at the corner, the girl next door.
 
Pulling up Beattock, a steady climb:
The gradient's against her, but she's on time.
 
Past cotton-grass and moorland boulder
Shovelling white steam over her shoulder,
 
Snorting noisily as she passes
Silent miles of wind-bent grasses.
 
Birds turn their heads as she approaches,
Stare from bushes at her blank-faced coaches.
 
Sheep-dogs cannot turn her course;
They slumber on with paws across.
 
In the farm she passes no one wakes,
But a jug in a bedroom gently shakes.
 
 
Dawn freshens, Her climb is done.
Down towards Glasgow she descends,
Towards the steam tugs yelping down a glade of cranes
Towards the fields of apparatus, the furnaces
Set on the dark plain like gigantic chessmen.
All Scotland waits for her:
In dark glens, beside pale-green lochs
Men long for news.
 
 
Letters of thanks, letters from banks,
Letters of joy from girl and boy,
Receipted bills and invitations
To inspect new stock or to visit relations,
And applications for situations,
And timid lovers' declarations,
And gossip, gossip from all the nations,
News circumstantial, news financial,
Letters with holiday snaps to enlarge in,
Letters with faces scrawled on the margin,
Letters from uncles, cousins, and aunts,
Letters to Scotland from the South of France,
Letters of condolence to Highlands and Lowlands
Written on paper of every hue,
The pink, the violet, the white and the blue,
The chatty, the catty, the boring, the adoring,
The cold and official and the heart's outpouring,
Clever, stupid, short and long,
The typed and the printed and the spelt all wrong.
 
Thousands are still asleep,
Dreaming of terrifying monsters
Or of friendly tea beside the band in Cranston's or Crawford's:
 
Asleep in working Glasgow, asleep in well-set Edinburgh,
Asleep in granite Aberdeen,
They continue their dreams,
But shall wake soon and hope for letters,
And none will hear the postman's knock
Without a quickening of the heart,
For who can bear to feel himself forgotten?









Friday, September 2, 2022

Excerpt from An Otherwise by Solmaz Sharif

Excerpt from An Otherwise

 
Downwind from a British Petroleum refinery, my mother is removing the books she was ordered to remove from the school library. Russians, mostly. Gorky’s “Mother” among them. The Shah is coming to tour the school. It is winter.
 
In the cold, the schoolgirls line up along the front of the main building and wait for his motorcade. Knee-highs and pleated skirts. Shivering in the refined air.
 
Wave, girls, the teacher says.
 
My mother, waving.
 
##
 
Put another way:
The must of the glued
spines and silverfish, metal
shelves, my mother
 
reaching on tiptoe
to take down Gorky,
for example,
 
filling her arms
with stacks of books.
The Dickens could stay.
You understand.
 
And the air is important to note
for what it is doing
to the pink
 
lungs, bronchioles—
a life of inflammation.
Wave, girls, the teacher says
to the shivering
 
and ironed line of them.
And wave she did.
And if he cared
 
to see
into the minds of teen-aged girls,
this King
would’ve seen then
 
the rifles pointed at him.
 
##
 
When I was a small child,
I think, about five or six, I must’ve
heard something, some cassette turning
 
to dust in the car’s player,
notes stretched, song
that quieted, in the front seat,
 
my parents, some tape spooled back
with a ballpoint pen and worn
to mica in the car’s player as the turn signal
 
clicked its quiet, and the keys
clicked with the wide and final turn—
song which was, I’m sure,
 
an ancient poem sung and filled
with cypresses, their upright
windscreen for what must be grown.
 
##
 
Downwind, I walked the wide hallways
of a great endowment.
 
It didn’t matter if I did or didn’t.
It changed only myself, the doing.
 
It fed down to one knuckle
then the next, this compromise.
 
It fed down to one frequency
and another, leaving me only a scrambled sound.
 
It would burn your fingertips
to walk the length of the hall
 
dragging them along the grass-papered walls
where they punished you
 
for not
wanting enough. For not wanting
 
to be nonbelligerent
by naming the terms
 
for belligerence.
The shellacked
 
shelves, the softly shaking
pens in their pen case.
 
What was given there
could be taken, and
 
quietly, you were reminded of this.
You were reminded all
 
was property of the West.
The mess of a raven’s nest
 
built behind a donor’s great bust
then gone.
 
The mess of bird shit on the steps
then gone. All dismantled and scrubbed
 
sensibility. And this was it.
This nowhere.
 
My school of resentment commenced.
 
##
 
What awaits us on the other side
of alphabet,
scrawl
 
serrated, all slit,
all hole,
 
red with scream,
I do not know.
 
The knowing is the dullest part of all.
 
Someone posts a picture of the Poet’s tomb
and I want to say,
That’s my city—
 
but I am left with the lie of my.
I said what I said and stayed
saying
 
what I came to say
 
long after the people left.
A poet as a fixed position
 
most cannot stand to be in
for long.
 
Someone snaps a photo and moves on.
Someone provides a corpse for this great wall.
 
##
 
Maybe I shouldn’t have taken you there,
she said of our trip
to her childhood home.
For years, I wrote of the bumps
 
left by the tanks
churning over her roads
as braille messages from the martyrs,
 
which meant I missed
it entirely,
the only
it:
 
my mother’s face
turned out
the passenger window,
 
just looking.
 
##

Summer. Harvest done.
The last stone fruit
 
pitted, jarred,
spoiling the last white shirt—
 
Row of cypress,
sun-blistered
 
fences.
Solid and settled masonry.
 
The unseen town
and town just
 
beyond.
The echo
 
as if inside
a room of stone.
 
I felt each world
was one cypress-lined path
 
and each path had
one of us, bagless
 
and awake, walking
wind and footfalls.
 
I felt we were heading
to meet somewhere.
 
##
 
I tried to say it was dead, the song,
but then it came, my mother singing
of cypress—
 
I tried to leave the literal,
but it got lonely—
 
I tried to leave desire,
but it scratched at the door, tapped
its empty bowl against the floor—
 
I tried not to answer,
but the bulb shone—
 
##
 
I saw that the head bent over
a book I couldn’t see
beneath a single yellow lamp
 
through the evening window
 
of a childhood not mine
was my mother’s
mind alight
 
learning to oil a rifle.
 
##
 
It seemed the astrologer might back away
from the stench—
 
There are too many and it is hard
to tell what is for you
in the noise.
 
I didn’t ask if the prisoner
with the sharpened spoon handle
to the wrist
 
came, saying, Tell my mother
or the mother
 
salting a meal she won’t taste herself.
At a gate, it seemed
 
the officers knew I was coming.
Their questions tailored.
 
At a gate, I was asked
the name of my father,
 
my father’s father,
beneath a shivering bulb,
 
and whether I write
plays.
 
At a gate, one man
selling gladiolas
 
wrapped in plastic
out of a black bucket.
 
One selling wreaths.
One selling water.
 
At a gate, the men gathered to discuss
building
 
a playground
over the unmarked graves.
 
At a gate, I watched one hand
outstretched, saying,
 
Come.
I thought it was loss—
 
language, its little
radius—
 
when it’s a beckoning,
a way.
 
At one gate, my mother waving.
 
##
 
Enough, I said.
I plotted.
In the mornings, I wrote.
 
In my sleep, I wrote
with fancier, more elaborate inks.
And in my writing I began to write of cypresses.
 
And of small and sharp stone.
And I, on this path, a wooden handle in my palm, and a blade at the end of it.
And beyond, their windscreen, the unseen.
 
I knew not the poem, only the weather.
I knew not the listening, only this landscape, its one clear channel.
 
The metal in my teeth caught its frequency.
The iron shavings of my blood pulled toward this otherwise.



The White City by Claude McKay

The White City

 
I will not toy with it nor bend an inch.
Deep in the secret chambers of my heart
I muse my life-long hate, and without flinch
I bear it nobly as I live my part.
My being would be a skeleton, a shell,
If this dark Passion that fills my every mood,
And makes my heaven in the white world's hell,
Did not forever feed me vital blood.
I see the mighty city through a mist--
The strident trains that speed the goaded mass,
The poles and spires and towers vapor-kissed,
The fortressed port through which the great ships pass,
The tides, the wharves, the dens I contemplate,
Are sweet like wanton loves because I hate.



Sunday, August 28, 2022

Route by George Oppen

Route

 
                                        'the void eternally generative'
                                        the Wen Fu of Lu Chi
 
1
Tell the beads of the chromosomes like a rosary,
Love in the genes, if it fails
 
We will produce no sane man again
 
I have seen too many young people become adults, young
           friends become old people, all that is not ours,
 
The sources
And the crude bone
 
                     —we say
 
Took place
 
Like the mass of the hills.
 
'The sun is a molten mass'. Therefore
 
Fall into oneself—?
 
Reality, blind eye
Which has taught us to stare—
 
Your elbow on a car-edge
Incognito as summer,
 
I wrote. Not you but a girl
At least
 
Clarity, clarity, surely clarity is the most beautiful
           thing in the world,
A limited, limiting clarity
 
I have not and never did have any motive of poetry
But to achieve clarity
 
2
Troubled that you are not, as they say,
Working—
I think we try rather to understand,
We try also to remain together
 
There is a force of clarity, it is
Of what is not autonomous in us,
We suffer a certain fear
 
Things alter, surrounded by a depth
And width
 
The unreality of our house in moonlight
Is that if the moonlight strikes
It is truly there tho it is ours
 
3
Not to reduce the thing to nothing—
 
I might at the top of my ability stand at a window
and say, look out; out there is the world.
 
Not the desire for approval nor even for love—O,
that trap! From which escaped, barely—if it fails
 
We will produce no sane man again
 
4
Words cannot be wholly transparent. And that is the
           'heartlessness' of words.
 
Neither friends nor lovers are coeval...
 
as for a long time we have abandoned those in
           extremity and we find it unbearable that we should
           do so...
 
The sea anemone dreamed of something, filtering the sea
           water thru its body,
 
Nothing more real than boredom—dreamlessness, the
           experience of time, never felt by the new arrival,
           never at the doors, the thresholds, it is the native
 
 
Native in native time...
 
The purity of the materials, not theology, but to present
           the circumstances
 
5
         In Alsace, during the war, we found ourselves on the
edge of the Battle of the Bulge. The front was inactive, but
we were spread so thin that the situation was eerily precar-
ous. We hardly knew where the next squad was, and it was
not in sight—a quiet and deserted hill in front of us. We dug
in near a farmhouse. Pierre Adam, tho he was a journeyman
mason, lived with his wife and his children in tha farmhouse.
 
         During the occupation the Germans had declared Alsace
a part of Greater Germany. Therefore they had drafted
Alsatian men into the German army. Many men, learning in
their own way that they were to be called, dug a hole. The
word became a part of the langauge: faire une trou. Some
men were in those holes as long as two and three years. It
was necessary that someone should know where those holes
were; in winter it was impossible for a man to come out of
his hole without leaving footprints in the snow. While snow
was actually falling, however, a friend could come to the hole
with food and other help. Pierre, whom many people trusted,
knew where some two dozen of those holes were.
 
         The Germans became aware that men were going into
hiding, and they began to make reprisals. If the man was
young and unmarried, they killed his parents. If the man was
married, they took his wife into Germany to the army broth-
els, it was said. They took children into Germany, and it
was not certain whether those children would remember
where they came from. Pierre told me this stroy:
 
         Men would come to Pierre and they would say: I am
thinking of making a hole. Pierre would say: yes. They would
say then: but if I do they will kill my parents; or; they will
take my wife and my children. Then Peirre would say, he
told me: if you dig a hole,    I will help you.
 
         He knew, of course, what he was telling me. You must
try to put yourself into those times. If one thought he knew
anything, it was that a man should not join the Nazi army.
Pierre himself learned, shortly before the Americans arrived,
that he was about to be drafted. He and his wife discusses
the children. They thought of tattoing the children's names
and addresses on their chests so that perhaps they could be
found after the war. But they thought that perhaps the tattoo-
ing would be cut out of the children...They did not, finally,
have to make that decision, as it turned out. But what a con-
versation between a man and his wife—
 
          There was an escape from that dilemma, as, in a way,
there always is. Pierre told me of a man who, receiving the
notification that he was to report to the German army, called
a celebration and farewell at his home. Nothing was said at
that party that was not jovial. They drank and sang. At the
proper time, the host got his bicycle and waved goodbye. The
house stood at the top of a hill and, still waving and calling
farewells, he rode with great energy and as fast as he could
down the hill, and, at the bottom, drove into a tree.
 
It must be hard to do. Probably easier in an automobile.
There is, in an automobile, a considerable time during which
you cannot change your mind. Riding a bicycle, since in those
woods it is impossible that the tree should be a redwood, it
must be necessary to continue aiming at the tree right up to
the moment of impact. Undoubtely difficult to do. And, of
course, the children had no father. Thereafter.
 
6
Wars that are just? A simpler question: In the event,
will you or will you not want to kill a German. Because
in the event, if you do not want to, you won't.
 
...and my wife was reading letters she knew were two weeks
late and did not prove I was not dead while she read. Why
did I play all that, what was I doing there?
 
We are brother, we are brothers?—these things are
composed of a moral subtance only if they are untrue. If
these things are true they are perfectly simple, perfectly
impenetrable, those primary elements which can only be
named.
 
A man will give his life for his friend provided he wants
to.
 
In all probability a man will give his life for his child
provided his child is an infant.
 
...One man could not understand me because I was saying
simple things; it seemed to him that nothing was being
said. I was saying: there is a mountain, there is a lake
 
A picture seen from within. The picture is unstable, a
moving picture, unlimited drift. Still, the picture
exists.
 
The circumstance:
 
7
And if at 80
 
He says what has been commonly said
It is for the sake of old times, a cozy game
 
He wishes to join again, an unreasonable speech
Out of context
 
8
Cars on the highway filled with speech,
People talk, they talk to each other;
 
Imagine a man in the ditch,
The wheels of the overturned wreck
Still spinning—
 
I don't mean he despairs, I mean if he does not
He sees in the manner of poetry
 
9
The cars run in a void of utensils
—the powerful tires—beyond
Happiness
 
Tough rubbery gear of invaders, of the descendents
Of invaders, I begin to be aware of a countryside
And the exposed weeds of a ditch
 
The context is history
Moving toward the light of the conscious
 
And beyond, culvert, blind curb, there are also names
For these things, language in the appalling fields
 
I remember my father as a younger man than I am now,
My mother was a tragic girl
Long ago, the autonomous figures are gone,
The context is the thousands of days
 
10
Not the symbol bu the scene this pavement leads
To roadsides—the finite
 
Losing its purposes
Its estranged
 
All this is reportage.
 
If having come so far we shall have
Song
 
Let it be small enough.
 
Virgin
what was there to be thought
 
comes by the road
 
11
Tell the life of the mind, the mind creates the finite.
 
All punishes him. I stumble over these stories—
Progeny, the possibility of progeny, continuity
 
Or love that tempted him
 
He is punished by place, by scene, by all that holds
all he has found, this pavement, the silent symbols
 
Of it, the word it, never more powerful than in this
moment. Well, hardly an epiphany, but there the thing
is all the same
 
All this is reportage
 
12
To insist that what is true is good, no matter, no matter,
           a definition—?
 
That tree
           whose fruit...
 
The weight of air
Measured by the barometer in the parlor,
Time remains what it was
 
Oddly, oddly insistent
 
haunting the people in the automobiles,
 
shining on the sheetmetal,
 
open and present, unmarred by indifference,
 
wheeled traffic, indifference,
the hard edge of concrete continually crumbling
 
into gravel in the gravel of the shoulders,
Ditches of our own country
 
Whom shall I speak to
 
13
Department of Plants and Structures—obsolete, the old name
In this city, of the public works
 
Tho we meant to entangel ourselves in the roots of the world
 
An unexpected and forgotten spoor, all but indestructible
           shards
 
To owe nothing to fortune, to chance, nor by the power of
            his heart
Or her heart to have made these things sing
But the benevolence of the real
 
Tho there is no longer shelter in the earth, round helpless belly
Or hope amoung the pipes and broken works
 
'Substance itself which is the subject of all our planning'
 
And by this we are carried into the incalculable
 
14
There was no other guarantee
 
Ours aren't the only madmen tho they have burned thousands
of men and women alive, perhaps no madder than most
 
Strange to be here, strange for them also, insane and criminal,
who hasn't noticed that, strange to be man, we have come
rather far
 
We are at the beginning of a radical depopulation of the earth
 
Cataclysm...cataclysm of the plains, jungles, the cities
 
Something in the soil exposed between two oceans
 
As Cabeza de Vaca found a continent of spiritual despair
in campsites
 
His miracles among the Indians heralding cataclysm
 
Even Cortés greeted as revelation...No I'd not emigrate,
I'd not live in a ship's bar wherever we may be healed
 
These things at the limits of reason, nothing at the limits
of dream, the dream merely ends, by this we know it is the
real
 
That we confront



Saturday, August 27, 2022

Ode to the Female Reproductive System by Sharon Olds

Ode to the Female Reproductive System

 
I first saw you in a simple line
drawing, black and white, on an unfolded
sheet of insertion instructions, the side
view of a girl—a passageway, at a
slant, up and back, to a blunt,
humble thing, like the outline
of a wading bird’s bowed head
made on a wall by a drooped hand
held in the beam of a flashlight in the dark.
Later I saw you in an illustration
in a magazine, in full, damsel
color, the middle sister between
the magenta genie of the rectum and the little
stork dancer of the urinary bladder
up on the fine, slender leg
of the ureter. All three of you
had a rosy enclosedness, but you
were the central grace. And when I saw you, in a textbook
of anatomy, full frontal, I saw
a feral unseeing creature, like a she-ram
with great fallopian horns. In some drawings,
the fimbrial fringe at the frayed end of the
tube was reaching out, with a beckoning
suction, toward the ovary, as if
sirening up an egg—and in others
the entire apparatus of you
looked like a ghost costume, the child in it
making the haunted Woooo, woooo.
But mostly it looked like an instrument, a
graceful lyre, which would be played in me
to call a being forth from another
world, from the future, bringing her own harp with her.



Friday, August 26, 2022

Poem [Your breath was shed] by Dylan Thomas

Poem [Your breath was shed]

 
Your breath was shed
Invisible to make
About the soiled undead
Night for my sake, 
 
A raining trail
Intangible to them
With biter's tooth and tail
And cobweb drum, 
 
A dark as deep
My love as a round wave
To hide the wolves of sleep
And mask the grave. 



Tuesday, August 23, 2022

praise, after by Danez Smith

praise, after

 
in my most recent future, I am young & beautiful & dead, the bones undressing themselves, the body turned to an idea of the body. or let’s say there is a cure & the parades that follow & I live to see my children & the oceans grow bigger, see my mother lowered into & become the earth. I hope I bury my mother. don’t make her deal with the business of dressing me. It’s been so long since the last time & may she never again. but that’s not what this poem is for. I’m want to talk about blunts & boys, how both burn my lips so, how they call the wings to my shoulders. I want to talk about the impossible impossible of God or the smell of good rain or how joy is the black girl who made me soft collards & peppered fish before she took me into the room & showed me my name. I don’t want to talk about the virus, so to hell with the virus. to hell with blood. to hell with yesterday & the settled dust. to hell with shame & loathing & shame & madness & shame & shame & shame & shame. I’m not ashamed of all my mouth has turned into a river of pearls, for my body & all the false gods worshipped here. my body a godless church, holy for no reason beyond itself. let the bloodcurse be the old testament & each day I am still alive be the new. if there is no savior, I’ll do it myself, I’ll forgive myself of my sins. I forgive. I forgive. I forgive. I forgive. I live. I live.