Friday, September 26, 2008

Keeping Things Whole - Mark Strand

In a field
I am the absence
of field...

This is always
the case.

Wherever I am
I am what is missing...

We all have reasons
for moving,

I move
to keep things whole.

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Teetering Lullaby - Dean Young

Come to rest my darling,
the trees are autumn-twinged
the ocelot of my mind if out
would rest in the long grass.

Comes to rest the bus in hydraulic
exhalation, a puppy-scamper wind
finds itself over water and rests,
rest the future fires rushing,
rest the past ash.

The heart’s
adumbrations of bees may never
cease, not the hopeful hum
or peevish sting but rest I would
my hand upon your breast, sleep I would

above the troposphere. No accounting
for your beauty moving through me
like a branch, a sigh coming from under
the squeaky remnants of the old barn.

Whatever’s buried there that once caused
such alarm has come back to forgive,
to apologize for how it all went wrong.

So rest my darling, the journey’s almost
over even though I’ve gone nowhere
and never meant to stay there.

Thursday, September 18, 2008

Poetry - Pablo Neruda

And it was at that age...Poetry arrived
in search of me. I don't know where
it came from, from winter or a river.
I don't know how or when,
no, they were not voices, they were not
words, nor silence,
but from a street I was summoned,
from the branches of night,
abruptly from the others,
among violent fires
or returning alone,
there I was without a face
and it touched me.

I did not know what to say, my mouth
had no way
with names
my eyes were blind,
and something started in my soul,
fever or forgotten wings,
and I made my own way,
that fire
and I wrote the first faint line,
faint, without substance, pure
pure wisdom
of someone who knows nothing,
and suddenly I saw
the heavens
and open,
palpitating planations,
shadow perforated,
with arrows, fire and flowers,
the winding night, the universe.

And I, infinitesmal being,
drunk with the great starry
likeness, image of
I felt myself a pure part
of the abyss,
I wheeled with the stars,
my heart broke free on the open sky.

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

The Changeling - Charlotte Mew

Toll no bell for me, dear father, dear mother,
Waste no sighs.
There is my sister, and there is my little brother
Who plays in the place called paradise.
Your children all, your children forever;
But I , so wild,
Your disgrace with the queer brown face,
Was never,
Never, I know, but half your child!

In the garden all day at play, last summer,
Far and away I heard
The sweet “tweet-tweet” of a strange newcomer,
The dearest, clearest call of a bird.
It lived down there in the deep green hollow,
My own old home, and the fairies say
The word of a bird is a thing to follow,
So I was away a night and a day.

One evening, too, by the nursery fire,
We snuggled close and sat round so still’
When suddenly as the wind blew higher,
Something scratched at the window-sill.
A pinched brown face peered in - I shivered;
No one listened or seemed to see;
The arms of it waved and the wings of it quivered.
Whoo - I knew it had come for me!
Some are as bad as bad can be!

All night long they danced in the rain,
Round and round in a dripping chain,
Threw their caps at the window-pane,
Tried to make me scream and shout
And fling the bedclothes all about;
I meant to stay in bed that night,
And if only you had left a light
They would never have got me out!

Sometimes I wouldn’t speak, you see,
Or listen when you spoke to me,
Because in the long, still dusks of spring
You can hear the whole world whispering;
The shy green grasses making love,
The feathers grow on the dear grey dove,
The tiny heart of the redstart beat,
The patter of the squirrel’s feet,

The pebbles pushing in the silver streams
The rushes talking in their dreams,
The swish-swish of the bat’s black wings’
The wild-wood bluebell’s sweet ting-tings,
Humming and hammering at you ear,
Everything there is to hear
In the heart of hidden things.

But not in the midst of the nursery riot,
That’s why I wanted to be quiet,
Couldn’t do my sums or sing
Or settle down to anything.
And when, for that, I was sent upstairs
I DID kneel down and say my prayers.
But the king who lives in your high church steeple
Has nothing to do with us fairy people!

‘Times I pleased you, dear father, dear mother.
Learned all my lessons and liked to play,
And dearly I loved that little pale brother,
Whom some other bird must have called away.
Why did they bring me here to make me
Not quite bad, and not quite good,
Why, unless they’re wicked, do they want, in spite, to take me
Back to their wet, wild wood?

Now, every night I shall see the windows shining,
The gold lamp’s glow, the fire’s red gleam,
when the best of us are twining twigs and the rest of us are whining
In the hollow by the stream.
Black and chill are the nights on the wold;
And they live so long, and they feel no pain;
I shall grow up, but never grow old,
I shall always, always be very cold,
I shall never come back again!

Sunday, September 14, 2008

Classic Water - David Berman.

I remember Kitty saying we shared a deep longing for
the consolation prize, laughing as we rinsed the stagecoach.

I remember the night we camped out
and I heard her whisper
"think of me as a place" from her sleeping bag
with the centaur print.

I remember being in her father's basement workshop
when we picked up an unknown man sobbing over the shortwave radio

and the night we got so high we convinced ourselves
that the road was a hologram projected by the headlight beams.

I remember how she would always get everyone to vote
on what we should do next and the time she said
"all water is classic water" and shyly turned her face away.

At volleyball games her parents sat in the bleachers
like ambassadors from Indiana in all their midwestern schmaltz.

She was destroyed when they were busted for operating
a private judicial system within U.S. borders.

Sometimes I'm awakened in the middle of the night
by the clatter of a room service cart and I think back on Kitty.

Those summer evenings by the government lake,
talking about the paradox of multiple Santas
or how it felt to have your heart broken.

I still get a hollow feeling on Labor Day when the summer ends

and I remember how I would always refer to her boyfriends
as what's-his-face, which was wrong of me and I'd like
to apologize to those guys right now, wherever they are:

No one deserves to be called what's-his-face.

Saturday, September 13, 2008

Snow Melting - Gjertrud Schnackenberg

Snow melting when I left you, and I took
This fragile bone we'd found in melting snow
Before I left, exposed beside a brook
Where raccoons washed their hands. And this, I know,

Is that raccoon we'd watched for every day.
Though at the time her wild human hand
Had gestured inexplicably, I say
Her meaning now is more than I can stand.

We've reasons, we have reasons, so we say,
For giving love, and for withholding it.
I who would love must marvel at the way
I know aloneness when I'm holding it,

Know near and far as words for live and die,
Know distance, as I'm trying to draw near,
Growing immense, and know, but don't know why,
Things seen up close enlarge, then disappear.

Tonight this small room seems too huge to cross.
And my life is that looming kind of place.
Here, left with this alone, and at a loss
I hold an alien and vacant face

Which shrinks away, and yet is magnified--
More so than I seem able to explain.
Tonight the giant galaxies outside
Are tiny, tiny on my windowpane.

Friday, September 12, 2008

Asylum - Carey Fries

I still hate myself for what I did, taunting feral
cats in the isolation room, a suede bite

glove. So cold, they hissed at the fog
of my breath, squeezed their bodies to kennel

back corners, yellow eyes flashing. I couldn't leave
the door open for long; some loose, tore

bags of cat food, spilt kibble, bits of shredded paper bag
littering white floor. My fingers thumping wearily

along silver bars, knowing any second one could pounce
down the ten foot stack and maul me.

So I took a hose from the yard, dragged it as if choking
a snake, the long jade body writhing

and sticking to intolerant ice. I climbed
on top of the cages, my head at the drop

ceiling, poking through, running water
over the floor. The cats groaned, maybe afraid.

With my thumb over the flow, I doused every
pair of eyes I could see, the entire room dripping.

Feral cats scrambled up walls, drowned claws
scraping beige paint. I managed to detain

only two with a net, but felt triumphant even so, though
the cats were soaked and later died because of it

and the cold. I believed it was their fault, that I
couldn't get near enough to dry or warm them and anyways

they were going to be destroyed, and I hated them
because they were homeless ungrateful bastards, who had

created other bastards to replace them before they got here.
Because they could look me in the eye with no shame

or request for love and it scared me, made me breathe
a heavy fog, because they couldn't help their stiff

looks, bodies proud as African lions
defending an awkward, encased pride.

And maybe I can say I was thrilled
to torture them, tease them. A leather glove guarding

my fist. They snarled and swung out long
claws, curled around my hand as if

playing. I wanted to break that spirit.

Saturday, September 06, 2008

After a Death - Tomas Tranströmer

Once there was a shock
that left behind a long, shimmering comet tail.
It keeps us inside. It makes the TV pictures snowy.
It settles in cold drops on the telephone wires.

One can still go slowly on skis in the winter sun
through brush where a few leaves hang on.
They resemble pages torn from old telephone directories.
Names swallowed by the cold.

It is still beautiful to hear the heart beat
but often the shadow seems more real than the body.
The samurai looks insignificant
beside his armor of black dragon scales.

Wine Lily - Marianne Boruch

Bees do not care how delicately
the lily's trance
is inlaid, overrunning the garden
easily, like the deepest color
in a bruise. One looks away, for this
is utterly private.
The bees will have their communion.
They come for miles, their wooden hive
stacked up low in the field dropping straight
into woods. Across that road
the town's violinist
teaches children to sound
like crickets. They'll get better
in a lifetime. The bees have
forty-two days. So sunstruck now, they
can barely figure
the scheme of things: how much honey
by dusk, how much sweet depth
for beauty this obvious. They love their rage
and drop it like a dress for heaven. This terrible red
lasts for days, the lily basking in air.
How the bees release themselves
and rise across the human surface
exhausted, as if they were skating,
pulled by moonlight, home.

Late Self-Portrait by Rembrandt - Jane Hirshfield

The dog, dead for years, keeps coming back in the dream.
We look at each other there with the old joy.
It was always her gift to bring me into the present-

Which sleeps, changes, awakens, dresses, leaves.

Happiness and unhappiness
differ as a bucket hammered from gold differs from one of pressed tin,
this painting proposes.

Each carries the same water, it says.