Sunday, July 31, 2022
Tuesday, July 26, 2022
She kisses him goodbye with her eyes still wet and alight from their
last swim in the Awatere River. At the train station celebration, she
leads the kapa haka but her voice keeps breaking under and over
itself like waves. Like last night, on the riverbank, between the moss
and the baby’s-breath, where he had kissed her sticky until she cried
out from her chest. And she was thinking about the rolls of white
fabric her sister kept in the shed and how she would make a dress
pressed with shiny bits of shell. She could even fix a veil from a
fishing net or wear knots of pale hydrangeas like a crown upon her
head. Then together they would move to the empty plot of ancestral
land forgotten by the sea and have little brown babies that she would
make sure to stuff fat with potatoes and wobbly mutton. And her
children would slurp kina in the summer. Collect driftwood for the
fires on their way home from school. And their father would take up
a good job in Gisborne. Return home, with sacks of boiled sweets
and powdery jam-filled treats, and maybe, on special occasions, a
European perfume or powder that she would keep but never use.
And already she could smell the florals and the meat. Feel them
turning inside her. Sensations so visceral that she cried out from
her chest but when the sun lit up and the train started pulling
away, with every salute, march and funeral-wave farewell, she felt
the world changing. The lump in her throat swelled like a sea that
threatened to take him from her, and she had to swallow hard. But
she promised that every day she would be the first to check the mail
and that was the only vow she took.
Sunday, July 24, 2022
Saturday, July 23, 2022
Poppies in July
Little poppies, little hell flames,
Do you do no harm?
You flicker. I cannot touch you.
I put my hands among the flames. Nothing burns.
And it exhausts me to watch you
Flickering like that, wrinkly and clear red, like the skin of a mouth.
A mouth just bloodied.
Little bloody skirts!
There are fumes that I cannot touch.
Where are your opiates, your nauseous capsules?
If I could bleed, or sleep!
If my mouth could marry a hurt like that!
Or your liquors seep to me, in this glass capsule,
Dulling and stilling.
But colorless. Colorless.
Thursday, July 21, 2022
An Old Man’s Winter Night
All out-of-doors looked darkly in at him
Through the thin frost, almost in separate stars,
That gathers on the pane in empty rooms.
What kept his eyes from giving back the gaze
Was the lamp tilted near them in his hand.
What kept him from remembering what it was
That brought him to that creaking room was age.
He stood with barrels round him—at a loss.
And having scared the cellar under him
In clomping there, he scared it once again
In clomping off;—and scared the outer night,
Which has its sounds, familiar, like the roar
Of trees and crack of branches, common things,
But nothing so like beating on a box.
A light he was to no one but himself
Where now he sat, concerned with he knew what,
A quiet light, and then not even that.
He consigned to the moon—such as she was,
So late-arising—to the broken moon
As better than the sun in any case
For such a charge, his snow upon the roof,
His icicles along the wall to keep;
And slept. The log that shifted with a jolt
Once in the stove, disturbed him and he shifted,
And eased his heavy breathing, but still slept.
One aged man—one man—can’t keep a house,
A farm, a countryside, or if he can,
It’s thus he does it of a winter night.
Sunday, July 17, 2022
An Old Story
We were made to understand it would be
Terrible. Every small want, every niggling urge,
Every hate swollen to a kind of epic wind.
Livid, the land, and ravaged, like a rageful
Dream. The worst in us having taken over
And broken the rest utterly down.
A long age
Passed. When at last we knew how little
Would survive us—how little we had mended
Or built that was not now lost—something
Large and old awoke. And then our singing
Brought on a different manner of weather.
Then animals long believed gone crept down
From trees. We took new stock of one another.
We wept to be reminded of such color.
A glimpse through an interstice caught,
Of a crowd of workmen and drivers in a bar-room around the stove late of a winter night, and I
unremark’d seated in a corner,
Of a youth who loves me and whom I love, silently approaching and seating himself near, that
he may hold me by the hand,
A long while amid the noises of coming and going, of drinking and oath and smutty jest,
There we two, content, happy in being together, speaking little, perhaps not a word.
Saturday, July 16, 2022
“My parents, my husband, my brother, my sister.”
I am listening in a cafeteria at breakfast.
The women's voices rustle, fulfill themselves
In a ritual no doubt necessary.
I glance sidelong at their moving lips
And I delight in being here on earth
For one more moment, with them, here on earth,
To celebrate our tiny, tiny my-ness.
(Translated by Czesław Miłosz and Robert Hass)
Thursday, July 14, 2022
I was doing alright,
but now I’m not.
Bottled up and broken again
soon to be born
into another day of what.
No seriously, what?
The sign might come out,
or it might not.
I was thinking
about love at the end
of another day. Really
thinking about it.
Crazy to see red and want it to be last. Stupid,
to tell you about it.
Wednesday, July 13, 2022
Twenty-One Love Poems [Poem II]
I wake up in your bed. I know I have been dreaming.
Much earlier, the alarm broke us from each other,
you’ve been at your desk for hours. I know what I dreamed:
our friend the poet comes into my room
where I’ve been writing for days,
drafts, carbons, poems are scattered everywhere,
and I want to show her one poem
which is the poem of my life. But I hesitate,
and wake. You’ve kissed my hair
to wake me. I dreamed you were a poem,
I say, a poem I wanted to show someone . . .
and I laugh and fall dreaming again
of the desire to show you to everyone I love,
to move openly together
in the pull of gravity, which is not simple,
which carries the feathered grass a long way down the upbreathing air.
Tuesday, July 12, 2022
Past the strip malls and the power plants,
out of the holler, past Gun Bottom Road
and Brassfield and before Red Lick Creek,
there’s a stream called Drowning Creek where
I saw the prettiest bird I’d seen all year,
the Belted Kingfisher, crested in its Aegean
blue plumage perched not on a high nag
but on a transmission wire, eyeing the creek
for crayfish, tadpoles, and minnows. We were
driving fast back home and already our minds
were pulled taut like a high black wire latched
to a utility pole. I wanted to stop, stop the car
to take a closer look at the solitary stocky water
bird with its blue crown and its blue chest
and its uncommonness. But already we were
a blur and miles beyond the flying fisher
by the time I had realized what I’d witnessed.
People were nothing to that bird, hovering over
the creek. I was nothing to that bird that wasn’t
concerned with history’s bloody battles or why
this creek was called Drowning Creek, a name
I love though it gives me shivers, because
it sounds like an order, a place where one
goes to drown. The bird doesn’t call the creek
that name. The bird doesn’t call it anything.
I’m almost certain, though I am certain
of nothing. There is a solitude in this world
I cannot pierce. I would die for it.
Monday, July 11, 2022
It was May before my
to spring and
my word I said
to the southern slopes
missed it, it
came and went before
I got right to see:
don't worry, said the mountain,
try the later northern slopes
you can climb, climb
into spring: but
said the mountain
it's not that way
with all things, some
that go are gone
Sunday, July 10, 2022
to my aunt blanche
who rolled from grass to driveway
into the street one sunday morning.
i was ten. i had never seen
a human woman hurl her basketball
of a body into the traffic of the world.
Praise to the drivers who stopped in time.
Praise to the faith with which she rose
after some moments then slowly walked
sighing back to her family.
Praise to the arms which understood
little or nothing of what it meant
but welcomed her in without judgment,
accepting it all like children might,
Saturday, July 9, 2022
You Are Gorgeous and I Am Coming
Vaguely I hear the purple roar of the torn-down Third Avenue El
It sways slightly but firmly like a hand or a golden-downed thigh
normally I don’t think of sounds as colored unless I’m feeling corrupt
concrete Rimbaud obscurity of emotion which is simple and very definite
even lasting, yes it may be that dark and purifying wave, the death of boredom
nearing the heights themselves may destroy you in the pure air
to be further complicated, confused, empty but refilling, exposed to light
With the past falling away as an acceleration of nerves thundering and shaking
aims its aggregating force like the Metro towards a realm of encircled travel
rending the sound of adventure and becoming ultimately local and intimate
repeating the phrases of an old romance which is constantly renewed by the
endless originality of human loss the air the stumbling quiet of breathing
newly the heavens’ stars all out we are all for the captured time of our being.
Friday, July 8, 2022
My eldest sister arrived home that morning
In her white muslin evening dress.
'Who the hell do you think you are
Running out to dances in next to nothing?
As though we hadn't enough bother
With the world at war, if not at an end.'
My father was pounding the breakfast-table.
'Those Yankees were touch and go as it was—
If you'd heard Patton in Armagh—
But this Kennedy's nearly an Irishman
So he's not much better than ourselves.
And him with only to say the word.
If you've got anything on your mind
Maybe you should make your peace with God.'
I could hear May from beyond the curtain.
'Bless me, Father, for I have sinned.
I told a lie once, I was disobedient once.
And, Father, a boy touched me once.'
'Tell me, child. Was this touch immodest?
Did he touch your breasts, for example?'
'He brushed against me, Father. Very gently.'
Thursday, July 7, 2022
Monday, July 4, 2022
First, above all, I live forever. And
thereafter redecorate paradise
in the majesty of the Roof Nightclub,
DJ Lucifer, at predawn hours
terrifies the floorboards to give way to
Apollyon’s abyss, reflecting scarred light
on the wall. The mirror alive with tremors.
Herons bring news of consolation.
I rebuke them for my brilliance
and enrich uranium in my cove
across Navy Island. The hospital
vanishes in the fog, so I arrange rain
to restore magenta ginger lilies
where my mother walked to born me.
Malignant fireflies at Christmas;
sorrel then sorrow, such is Kingston, there
funky carols seethe asphalt with famine.
Forever ends. Never a moment holds
‘still-here,’ when sand murmurs through my fingers.
I number and chant down stars, ellipsoidal
as fire ants with, “I think I will be
killed once I die!” and again return
the Super Ape, to conquer the Roof Club,
rip off Apollyon’s hell fence; skin him; dance
thundering subatomic dub music,
until my rage yields settled coral.
A million embers of eyes split from coals
to see me loom out the shadows’ sunray
by the turntable wearing a splash crown.
Saturday, July 2, 2022
The River of Rivers in Connecticut
There is a great river this side of Stygia
Before one comes to the first black cataracts
And trees that lack the intelligence of trees.
In that river, far this side of Stygia,
The mere flowing of the water is a gayety,
Flashing and flashing in the sun. On its banks,
No shadow walks. The river is fateful,
Like the last one. But there is no ferryman.
He could not bend against its propelling force.
It is not to be seen beneath the appearances
That tell of it. The steeple at Farmington
Stands glistening and Haddam shines and sways.
It is the third commonness with light and air,
A curriculum, a vigor, a local abstraction . . .
Call it, one more, a river, an unnamed flowing,
Space-filled, reflecting the seasons, the folk-lore
Of each of the senses; call it, again and again,
The river that flows nowhere, like a sea.
Friday, July 1, 2022
Like the moon that night, my father —
a distant body, white and luminous.
How small I was back then,
looking up as if from dark earth.
Distant, his body white and luminous,
my father stood in the doorway.
Looking up as if from dark earth,
I saw him outlined in a scrim of light.
My father stood in the doorway
as if to watch over me as I dreamed.
When I saw him outlined — a scrim of light —
he was already waning, turning to go.
Once, he watched over me as I dreamed.
How small I was. Back then,
he was already turning to go, waning
like the moon that night — my father.
These are amazing: each
Joining a neighbor, as though speech
Were a still performance.
Arranging by chance
To meet as far this morning
From the world as agreeing
With it, you and I
Are suddenly what the trees try
To tell us we are:
That their merely being there
Means something; that soon
We may touch, love, explain.
And glad not to have invented
Such comeliness, we are surrounded:
A silence already filled with noises,
A canvas on which emerges
A chorus of smiles, a winter morning.
Placed in a puzzling light, and moving,
Our days put on such reticence
These accents seem their own defense.