Thursday, October 28, 2010

A bouquet
by Bei Dao (tr.?)

Between me and the world
You are a day, a sail
The faithful ends of a rope
You are a fountain, a wind
A shrill childhood cry

Between me and the world
You are a picture frame, a window
A field covered with wild flowers
You are a breath, a bed
A night that keeps the stars company

Between me and the world
You are a calendar, a compass
A ray of light that slips through the gloom
You are a biographical sketch, a bookmark
A preface that comes at the end

Between me and the world
You are a gauze curtain, a mist
A lamp shining into my dreams
You are a bamboo flute, a song without words
A closed eyelid carved in stone

Between me and the world
You are a chasm, a pool
An abyss plunging down
You are a balustrade, a wall
A shield’s eternal pattern.

Tuesday, March 02, 2010

Mehr Licht by Tim Dlugos

Mehr Licht


were the last words
of Goethe on his
deathbed as the darkness
closed around him.
But Mayor Licht
was also the chief
executive of Providence,
Rhode Island in the early
Eighties. I’m dreaming
of the best political
commercial of all time—
Weimar in the 1830s,
Goethe gasping “Mehr licht,
mehr licht”—and suddenly
Mayor Harry Licht of Providence
appears to pump the paw
of the poet, and save the day.

Mehr Licht by Tim Dlugos : Poetry Magazine [poem/magazine] : Find Poems and Poets. Discover Poetry.

Monday, March 01, 2010

Seventh Avenue - Mark Halliday

by, Mark Halliday

Late Tuesday afternoon the romantic self weaves
up Seventh Avenue amid too many lookers, too many
feelers: romance hates democracy;

how can you be so great and golden inside
if your trunk is shouldered among other trunks
block after block, block after block--

you can't help glimpsing an otherness in others
that is not just surface: they ache,
their aches ache away north and south all Tuesday

in murmurous torsos like yours . . .
What apprehension blossoms even now in Manuel
shifting steaks at the ten-foot grill of Charley O's

beneath the towering chef's hat they make him wear?
When I was twenty I'd have written
that he was only thinking of Cadillacs and sex;

now I'm afraid he's just as worried as I am
about love vs. lesser things and the point of it all.
Manuel, stay there at the sizzling grill till midnight

and then just drink or sleep, man,
don't write poems--
do me that favor. It's loud enough already

out here on Seventh Avenue with that cat's boom box
and these three giggle girls being Madonna together
and that guy hawking wind-up titans wielding laser lances.

Who's Wordsworth for any extended period on Seventh Ave?
In this pre-dusk traffic you catch the hint
that Manuel and thou if seers at all are seers only

for seconds--now the steak, taxi, buttocks, headline
and wallet resume their charismatic claim to be what counts.
Soul on Seventh is a sometime on-off quick-flip thing . . .

What I want is a poem long as Seventh Avenue
to sprinkle gold on every oppressed minority,
every young woman's subtly female hips,
every sad and suspicious American face
and the quiddity of every mud-tracked pizza shop;
proving, block after block, stanza by stanza
that I'm not just one skinny nervous pedestrian
but the one who matters because he sees and says.
I want that. The Avenue grins and says
"You want, that? How does it feel to want?"

A Brief for the Defense - Jack Gilbert

A Brief for the Defense

Sorrow everywhere. Slaughter everywhere. If babies
are not starving someplace, they are starving
somewhere else. With flies in their nostrils.
But we enjoy our lives because that's what God wants.
Otherwise the mornings before summer dawn would not
be made so fine. The Bengal tiger would not
be fashioned so miraculously well. The poor women
at the fountain are laughing together between
the suffering they have known and the awfulness
in their future, smiling and laughing while somebody
in the village is very sick. There is laughter
every day in the terrible streets of Calcutta,
and the women laugh in the cages of Bombay.
If we deny our happiness, resist our satisfaction,
we lessen the importance of their deprivation.
We must risk delight. We can do without pleasure,
but not delight. Not enjoyment. We must have
the stubbornness to accept our gladness in the ruthless
furnace of this world. To make injustice the only
measure of our attention is to praise the Devil.
If the locomotive of the Lord runs us down,
we should give thanks that the end had magnitude.
We must admit there will be music despite everything.
We stand at the prow again of a small ship
anchored late at night in the tiny port
looking over to the sleeping island: the waterfront
is three shuttered caf├ęs and one naked light burning.
To hear the faint sound of oars in the silence as a rowboat
comes slowly out and then goes back is truly worth
all the years of sorrow that are to come.

-Jack Gilbert

Envoy by, Maurice Manning

by, Maurice Manning

Man who believes television
is the mouthpiece of the devil,
seeks female with similar views.

Attention all ladies who like
biscuits: man has gristmill
and two or three acres of wheat.

Are you a woman cast out from society?
Man with thirty-seven acres
and big muscles can provide refuge.

Would like to find sober woman (beer okay),
interested in pick-up trucks, old-time
Gospel music, buffalo trails.

Grown man who likes red dogs
and skipping rocks, hoping against
hope some woman likes same.

Man who lives several hundred
years in the past would like to find
woman zealous for spinning wheels.

Eccentric (?) gentleman (negotiable)—
tinker/farmer searching the heavens
for the true spark of love (breast-size unimportant). Please.

Thursday, February 25, 2010

To Elsie by William Carlos Williams : The Poetry Foundation [poem] : Find Poems and Poets. Discover Poetry.

To Elsie by William Carlos Williams : The Poetry Foundation [poem] : Find Poems and Poets. Discover Poetry.

from the previous blog

After I’m done pleading with the steering wheel,
after I’m done screaming at the white doors
of the Friendship Inn, no, even while I’m spitting

and howling, I know, yes, this is the way
we find out about ourselves: crying in rental cars
in parking lots in strange cities that are already

too familiar. The huge ship in front of you, 
don’t you hope it will soon disembark? Don’t you
hate hotels? Don’t you hate to travel

just to see the same old pockmarks and limps,
the weight carried below the waist 
and above? Just look at what we have done

to ourselves, and topped it off with a club sandwich,
a scribble of neon. I’m wailing
like some foreigner in a foreign country

we don’t give a shit about because how could we
understand something as subtle as the mutilation
of ears and lips? Please, I beg you,

perform some crazy rite over me so things can either
finally dissolve or finally become solid.
Please, I need something primitive and complex

to relieve me of this world subdivided into better
and better ways to avoid life. Sicker
and sicker ways. Death cruising
down 90. Laughing. Sweetheart, Death is the least of it.

I’m in a parking lot in Spokane reintroducing myself 
to myself. I’m feeling like throwing up.
In a parking lot in Spokane I am resolving

to read Nietzsche, to pierce and tattoo myself,
in a parking lot I’m determining things
about my labia and nose and heart.

- Olena Kalytiak Davis

Post Title.02/20/2010

My heart's aflutter!
I am standing in the bath tub
crying. Mother, mother
who am I? If he
will just come back once
and kiss me on the face
his coarse hair brush
my temple, it's throbbing!

then I can put on my clothes
I guess, and walk the streets.

I love you. I love you,
but I'm turning to my verses
and my heart is closing
like a fist.

Words! be
sick as I am sick, swoon,
roll back your eyes, a pool,

and I'll stare down
at my wounded beauty
which at best is only a talent
for poetry.

Cannot please, cannot charm or win
what a poet!
and the clear water is thick

with bloody blows on its head.
I embraced a cloud,
but when I soared
it rained.

That's funny! there's blood on my chest
oh yes, I've been carrying bricks
what a funny place to rupture!
and now it is raining on the ailanthus
as I step out onto the window ledge
the tracks below me are smoky and
glistening with a passion for running
I leap into the leaves, green like the sea

Now I am quietly waiting for
the catastrophe of my personality
to seem beautiful again,
and interesting, and modern.

The country is grey and
brown and white in trees,
snows and skies of laughter
always diminishing, less funny
not just darker, not just grey.

It may be the coldest day of
the year, what does he think of
that? I mean, what do I? And if I do,
perhaps I am myself again. 


She turns her head 
to breathe the morning air
bright April on her
      pale face
and yellow hair

Hey look! they turn
from their horseplay
Look! reminiscent of the
striking by day

As one who has come
from dancing
half naked under lights
      she plucks
her clothes about her
and fights to seem
indifferent before the
overpowering mastery
      of this
garish dream

-William Carlos Williams
North American Sequence



On things asleep, no balm:
A kingdom of stinks and sighs,
Fetor of cockroaches, dead fish, petroleum,
Worse than castoreum of mink or weasels,
Saliva dripping from warm microphones,
Agony of crucifixion on barstools.
      Less and less the illuminated lips,
      Hands active, eyes cherished;
      Happiness left to dogs and children--
      (Matters only a saint mentions!)
Lust fatigues the soul.
How to transcend this sensual emptiness?
(Dreams drain the spirit if we dream too long.)
In a bleak time, when a week of rain is a year,
The slag-heaps fume at the edge of the raw cities:
The gulls wheel over their singular garbage;
The great trees no longer shimmer;
Not even the soot dances.
And the spirit fails to move forward,
  But shrinks into a half-life, less than itself,
Falls back, a slug, a loose worm
Ready for any crevice,
An eyeless starer.
A wretch needs his wretchedness. Yes.
O pride, thou art a plume upon whose head?
How comprehensive that felicity! . . .
A body with the motion of a soul.
What dream's enough to breathe in? A dark dream.
The rose exceeds, the rose exceeds us all.
Who'd think the moon could pare itself so thin?
A great flame rises from the sunless sea;
The light cries out, and I am there to hear--
I'd be beyond; I'd be beyond the moon,
Bare as a bud, and naked as a worm.
To this extent I'm a stalk. 
  --How free; how all alone.
Out of these nothings
  --All beginnings come.
I would with the fish, the blackening salmon, and the mad lemmings,
The children dancing, the flowers widening.
Who sighs from far away?
I would unlearn the lingo of exasperation, all the distortions of malice 
        and hatred;
I would believe my pain: and the eye quiet on the growing rose;
I would delight in my hands, the branch singing, altering the excessive 
I long for the imperishable quiet at the heart of form;
I would be a stem, winding between great striated rocks in the late
A leaf, I would love the leaves, delighting in the redolent disorder of
        this mortal life,
This ambush, this silence,
Where shadow can change into flame,
And the dark be forgotten.
I have left the body of the whale, but the mouth of the night is still
On the bullhead, in the Dakotas, where the eagles eat well,
In the country of few lakes, in the tall buffalo grass at the base of the
        clay buttes.
In the summer heat, I can smell the dead buffalo,
The stench of their damp fur drying in the sun,
The buffalo chips drying.
  Old men should be explorers?
  I'll be an Indian.


Over the low, barnacled, elephant-colored rocks,
Come the first tide-ripples, moving almost without sound, toward
Running along the narrow furrows of the shore, the rows of dead clam
Then a runnel behind me, creeping closer,
Alive with tiny striped fish, and young crabs climbing in and out of
        the water.
No sound from the bay. No violence.
Even the gulls quiet on the far rocks,
Silent, in the deepening light,
Their cat-mewing over,
Their child-whimpering.
At last one long undulant ripple,
Blue-black from where I am sitting,
Makes almost a wave over a barrier of small stones,
Slapping lightly against a sunken log.
I dabble my toes in the brackish foam sliding forward,
Then retire to a rock higher up on the cliff-side.
The wind slackens, light as a moth fanning a stone:
A twilight wind, light as a child's breath
Turning not a leaf, not a ripple.
The dew revives on the beach-grass;
A fish raven turns on its perch (a dead tree in the rivermouth),
Its wings catching a last glint of the reflected sunlight.
The self persists like a dying star,
In sleep, afraid. Death's face rises afresh,
Among the shy beasts, the deer at the salt-lick,
The doe with its sloped shoulders loping across the highway,
The young snake, poised in green leaves, waiting for its fly,
The hummingbird, whirring from quince-blossom to morning-glory--
With these I would be.
And with water: the waves coming forward, without cessation,
The waves, altered by sand-bars, beds of kelp, miscellaneous driftwood,
Topped by cross-winds, tugged at by sinuous undercurrents
The tide rustling in, sliding between the ridges of stone, 
The tongues of water, creeping in, quietly.
In this hour,
In this first hour of knowing,
The flesh takes on the pure poise of spirit,
Acquires, for a time, the sandpiper's insouciance,
The hummingbird's surety, the kingfisher's cunning--
I shift on my rock, and I think:
Of the first trembling of a Michigan brook in April,
Over a lip of stone, the tiny rivulet;
And that wrist-thick cascade tumbling from a cleft rock,
Its spray holding a double rain-bow in early morning,
Small enough to be taken in, embraced by two arms,--
Or the Tittebawasee, in the time between winter and spring,
When the ice melts along the edges in early afternoon.
And the midchannel begins cracking and heaving from the pressure
The ice piling high against the iron-bound spikes,
Gleaming, freezing hard again, creaking at midnight--
And I long for the blast of dynamite,
The sudden sucking roar as the culvert loosens its debris of branches
         and sticks,
Welter of tin cans, pails, old bird nests, a child's shoe riding a log,
As the piled ice breaks away from the battered spiles,
And the whole river begins to move forward, its bridges shaking.
Now, in this waning of light,
I rock with the motion of morning;
In the cradle of all that is,
I'm lulled into half-sleep
By the lapping of water,
Cries of the sandpiper.
Water's my will, and my way,
And the spirit runs, intermittently,
In and out of the small waves,
Runs with the intrepid shorebirds--
How graceful the small before danger!
In the first of the moon,
All's a scattering,
A shining.