Thursday, February 25, 2010

Sonnet - Edna St. Vincent Millay

When I too long have looked upon your face,
Wherein for me a brightness unobscured
Save by the mists of brightness has its place,
And terrible beauty not to be endured,
I turn away reluctant from your light,
And stand irresolute, a mind undone,
A silly, dazzled thing deprived of sight
From having looked too long upon the sun.
Then is my daily life a narrow room
In which a little while, uncertainly,
Surrounded by impenetrable gloom,
Among familiar things grown strange to me
Making my way, I pause, and feel, and hark,
Till I become accustomed to the dark.

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

From the Garden - Anne Sexton

Come, my beloved,
consider the lilies.
We are of little faith.
We talk too much.
Put your mouthful of words away
and come with me to watch
the lilies open in such a field,
growing there like yachts,
slowly steering their petals
without nurses or clocks.
Let us consider the view:
a house where white clouds
decorate the muddy halls.
Oh, put away your good words
and your bad words. Spit out
your words like stones!
Come here! Come here!
Come eat my pleasant fruits.

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Words - Shinkichi Takahashi

I don't take your words
Merely as words.
Far from it.

I listen to what makes you talk -
Whatever that is -
And me listen.

Monday, February 22, 2010

Lost in the Forest - Pablo Neruda

Lost in the forest, I broke off a dark twig
and lifted its whisper to my thirsty lips:
maybe it was the voice of the rain crying,
a cracked bell, or a torn heart.

Something from far off it seemed
deep and secret to me, hidden by the earth,
a shout muffled by huge autumns,
by the moist half-open darkness of the leaves.

Wakening from the dreaming forest there, the hazel-sprig
sang under my tongue, its drifting fragrance
climbed up through my conscious mind

as if suddenly the roots I had left behind
cried out to me, the land I had lost with my childhood -
and I stopped, wounded by the wandering scent.

Friday, February 19, 2010

V - Edna St Vincent Millay

If I should learn, in some quite casual way,
That you were gone, not to return again -
Read from the back-page of a paper, say,
Held by a neighbor in a subway train,
How at the corner of this avenue
And such a street (so are the papers filled)
A hurrying man - who happened to be you -
At noon to-day had happened to be killed,
I should not cry aloud - I could not cry
Aloud, or wring my hands in such a place -
I should but watch the station lights rush by
With a more careful interest on my face,
Or raise my eyes and read with greater care
Where to store furs and how to treat the hair.

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Luing - Don Paterson

When the day comes, as the day surely must,
when it is asked of you, and you refuse
to take that lover's wound again, that cup
of emptiness that is our one completion,

I'd say go here, maybe, to our unsung
innermost isle: Kilda's antithesis,
yet still with its own tiny stubborn anthem,
its yellow milkwort and its stunted kye.

Leaving the motherland by a two-car raft,
the littlest of the fleet, you cross the minch
to find yourself, if anything, now deeper
in her arms than ever – sharing her breath,

watching the red vans sliding silently
between the hills. In such intimate exile,
who'd believe the burn behind the house
the straitened ocean written on the map?

Here, beside the fordable Atlantic,
reborn into a secret candidacy,
the fontanells reopen one by one
in the palms, then the breastbone and the brow,

aching at the shearwater's wail, the rowan
that falls beyond all seasons. One morning
you hover on the threshold, knowing for certain
the first touch of the light will finish you.

Friday, February 12, 2010

The Threatened - Jorge Luis Borges

It is love. I will have to run or hide.

The walls of its prison rise up, as in a twisted dream. The beautiful mask has changed, but as always it is the one. Of what use are my talismans: the literary exercises, the vague erudition, the knowledge of words used by the harsh North to sing its seas and swords, the temperate friendship, the galleries of the Library, the common things, the habits, the young love of my mother, the militant shadow of my dead, the timeless night, the taste of dreams?

Being with you or being without you is the measure of my time.

Now the pitcher breaks about the spring, now the man arises to the sound of birds, now those that watch at the windows have gone dark, but the darkness has brought no peace.

It, I know, is love: the anxiety and the relief at hearing your voice, the expectation and the memory, the horror of living in succession.

It is love with its mythologies, with its tiny useless magics.

There exists a corner that I dare not cross.

Now the armies confine me, the hordes.

(This room is unreal; she has not seen it.)

The name of a woman gives me away.

A woman hurts me in all of my body.

Thursday, February 11, 2010

Antilamentation - Dorianne Laux

Regret nothing. Not the cruel novels you read
to the end just to find out who killed the cook.
Not the insipid movies that made you cry in the dark,
in spite of your intelligence, your sophistication.
Not the lover you left quivering in a hotel parking lot,
the one you beat to the punchline, the door, or the one
who left you in your red dress and shoes, the ones
that crimped your toes, don't regret those.
Not the nights you called god names and cursed
your mother, sunk like a dog in the livingroom couch,
chewing your nails and crushed by loneliness.
You were meant to inhale those smoky nights
over a bottle of flat beer, to sweep stuck onion rings
across the dirty restaurant floor, to wear the frayed
coat with its loose buttons, its pockets full of struck matches.
You've walked those streets a thousand times and still
you end up here. Regret none of it, not one
of the wasted days you wanted to know nothing,
when the lights from the carnival rides
were the only stars you believed in, loving them
for their uselessness, not wanting to be saved.
You've traveled this far on the back of every mistake,
ridden in dark-eyed and morose but calm as a house
after the TV set has been pitched out the upstairs
window. Harmless as a broken ax. Emptied
of expectation. Relax. Don't bother remembering
any of it. Let's stop here, under the lit sign
on the corner, and watch all the people walk by.

Sunday, February 07, 2010

There May Be More of This World Than Can Possibly Exist - Olena Kalytiak Davis

Not just the cosmos you have thickly sown into the small field
just east of your heart, but all that is held
in disbelief, in unfaith. Not only the barbed paragraphs of scrub
willows or the thoughts as thin as telephone wires,
but what’s left of the salt lick of your soul,
or of the woman you married.

And what isn’t: that half-built house, laid bare and open,
forsaken by the suicidal bricklayer, the carpenter’s deconstructing
hands. The winged mail carrier, just now
rounding the corner, feeling depressed again,
praying for deliverance or rain. No, not just that.
Not only the Dostoyevsky reeling
in his walkman: but everything the brothers did, thought about
doing, said …

And all that is held so high.
And all that is swimming, way underneath it.

Not just the trajectory, not only the first stone
or the second, but what’s left in your wrist, that which is
ancient, the African village that dances inside you, the medicine
you are feeding and the whole sky. The sky that’s no longer refusing

the ground and the heretics, the martyrs; the skeptics now willing
to take certain things under consideration:
the god that exists, and the one that doesn’t.

Not just the determination of the stars, but the stars
newly determined to understanding the clear
clear night. The blind appetite
of the senses, so well fed, it’s dreaming of vinegar
and malt. And everything else
you can’t, as luck will have it, bring yourself
to consider: the white-tailed deer stepping gently

out of the scratchy thicket,
her soft warm tongue, sweet and fresh as milk.

And all those quiet hours when you thought you knew
what you were talking about,
but were only scrubbing your soul with salt,
saying: let what is grain turn to grain,

just not meaning it.

Thursday, February 04, 2010

First Things At the Last Minute - Robert Hass

The white water rush of some warbler's song.
Last night, a few strewings of ransacked moonlight
On the sheets. You don't know what slumped forward
In the nineteen-forties taxi or why they blamed you
Or what the altered landscape, willowy, riparian,
Had to do with the reasons why everyone
Should be giving things away, quickly,
Except for spendthrift sorrow that can't bear
The need to be forgiven and keeps looking for something
To forgive. The motion of washing machines
Is called agitation. Object constancy is a term
Devised to indicate what a child requires
From days. Clean sheets are an example
Of something that, under many circumstances,
A person can control. The patterns moonlight makes
Are chancier, and dreams, well, dreams
Will have their way with you, their way
With you, will have their way.

Tuesday, February 02, 2010

The Peace of Wild Things - Wendell Berry

When despair for the world grows in me
and I wake in the night at the least sound
in fear of what my life and my children's lives may be,
I go and lie down where the wood drake
rests in his beauty on the water, and the great heron feeds.
I come into the peace of wild things
who do not tax their lives with forethought
of grief. I come into the presence of still water.
And I feel above me the day-blind stars
waiting with their light. For a time
I rest in the grace of the world, and am free.