Monday, February 27, 2012

the juggler at heaven's gate - raymond carver

The Juggler at Heaven's Gate
by Raymond Carver

Behind the dirty table where Kristofferson is having
breakfast, there's  a window that looks onto a nineteenth-
century street in Sweetwater, Wyoming. A juggler
is at work out there, wearing a top hat and a frock coat,
a little reed of a fellow keeping three sticks
in the air. Think about this for a minute.
This juggler. This amazing act of the mind and hands.
A man who juggles for a living.
Everyone in his time has known a star,
or a gunfighter. Somebody, anyway, who pushes somebody
around. But a juggler! Blue smoke hangs inside
this awful café, and over that dirty table where two
grownup men talk about a woman's future. And something,
something about the Cattlemen's Association.
But the eye keeps going back to that juggler.
That tiny spectacle. At this minute, Ella's plight
or the fate of the emigrants
is not nearly so important as this juggler's exploits.
How'd he get into the act, anyway? What's his story?
That's the story I want to know. Anybody
can wear a gun and swagger around. Or fall in love
with somebody who loves somebody else. But to juggle
for God's sake! To give your life to that.
To go with that. Juggling.

Saturday, February 25, 2012

as the mist leaves no scar - leonard cohen

As The Mist Leaves No Scar
by Leonard Cohen

As the mist leaves no scar
On the dark green hill,
So my body leaves no scar
On you, nor ever will.

When wind and hawk encounter,
What remains to keep?
So you and I encounter,
Then turn, then fall to sleep.

As many nights endure
Without a moon or star,
So will we endure
When one is gone and far.

Friday, February 24, 2012

postscriptum - joseph brodsky

by Joseph Brodsky (tr. George Kline)

How sad that my life has not come to mean
for you what your life came to mean for me.
...How many times in vacant lots have I
consigned my copper coin, crowned with the seal
of state, to that webbed universe of wires,
attempting hopelessly to stretch the time
of our connectedness...Alas, unless
a man can manage to eclipse the world,
he's left to twirl a gap-toothed dial in some
phone booth, as one might spin a ouija board,
until a phantom answers, echoing
the last wails of a buzzer in the night.

Sunday, February 19, 2012

breakfast - jacques prévert

by Jacques Prévert (tr. Lawrence Ferlinghetti)

He put the coffee
In the cup
He put the milk
In the cup of coffee
He put the sugar
In the café au lait
With the coffee spoon
He stirred
He drank the café au lait
And he set down the cup
Without a word to me
He lit
A cigarette
He made smoke-rings
With the smoke
He put the ashes
In the ash-tray
Without a word to me
Without a look at me
He got up
He put
His hat upon his head
He put his raincoat on
Because it was raining
And he left
In the rain
Without a word
Without a look at me
And I  I took
My head in my hand
And I cried.

Saturday, February 18, 2012

despair is seated on a bench - jacques prévert

Despair Is Seated On A Bench
by Jacques Prévert (tr. Lawrence Ferlinghetti)

In a square on a bench
There's a man who calls you when you pass
He has eyeglasses and old grey clothes
He smokes a little cigarillo
He is seated
And he calls you when you pass
Or simply makes you a sign
Don't look at him
Don't listen to him
Pass by
Make as if you didn't see him
As if you didn't hear him
Pass by hurry past
If you look at him
If you listen to him
He makes you a sign and nothing nobody
Can stop you from going to sit near him
So then he looks at you and smiles
And you suffer atrociously
And the man continues to smile
And you smile the same smile
The more you smile the more you suffer
The more you suffer the more you smile
And you stay there
Seated fixed
Smiling on the bench
Children play near you
Passersby pass
Birds fly off
Leaving one tree for another
And you stay there
On the bench
And you know you know
You never again will play
Like these children
You know you never again will pass
Like these passersby
Never again fly
Leaving one tree for another
Likes these birds.

one night i burned - leonard cohen

One Night I Burned
by Leonard Cohen

One night I burned the house I loved,
It lit a perfect ring
In which I saw some weeds and stone
Beyond -- not anything.

Certain creatures of the air
Frightened by the night,
They came to see the world again
And perished in the light.

Now I sail from sky to sky
And all the blackness sings
Against the boat that I have made
Of mutilated wings.

love is a fire - leonard cohen

Love Is A Fire
by Leonard Cohen

Love is a fire
It burns everyone
It disfigures everyone
It is the world's excuse
for being ugly

Thursday, February 16, 2012

waking dreams 6 - niloufar talebi

Waking Dreams 6
by Mina Assadi (tr. Niloufar Talebi)

After rain
          there will be rain
After loneliness
After you
          a silence
                    that shall give new meaning to loneliness
After night
          there will be night
After nightmares
After you
          a silence
                    that shall give new meanings to nightmares.

Thursday, February 9, 2012

to fate - charles simic

To Fate
by Charles Simic

You were always more real to me than God.
Setting up the props for a tragedy,
Hammering the nails in
With only a few close friends invited to watch.

Just to be neighborly, you made a pretty girl lame,
Ran over a child with a motorcycle.
I can think of a million similar examples.
Ditto: How the two of us keep meeting.

A fortune-telling gumball machine in Chinatown
May have the answer,
An old creaky door opening in a horror film,
A pack of cards I left on a beach.

I can feel you snuggle close to me at night,
With your hot breath, your cold hands--
And me already like an old piano
Dangling out of a window at the end of a rope.

kazoo wedding - charles simic

Kazoo Wedding
by Charles Simic

The groom is red-cheeked as he blows into a kazoo
And so is the bride as she blows one too.
The guests are blowing hundreds of kazoos
And the Minister as he prepares to bless their union.
The weeping bridesmaid covers her ears.
One sounds like a bad muffler on a hearse,
Another like a wedding dress ripped open at midnight.
Look, even our Lord on the cross is tooting a kazoo!
What are they playing? the hard of hearing are asking.
It's a wedding march, Grandpa, the ushers shout.

Wednesday, February 8, 2012

department of complaints - charles simic

Department Of Complaints
by Charles Simic

Where you are destined to turn up
Some dark winter day
Walking up and down dead escalators
Searching for someone to ask
In this dusty old store
Soon to close its doors forever.

At long last, finding the place, the desk
Stacked high with sales slips,
Concealing the face of the one
You came to complain to
About the coat on your back,
Its frayed collar, the holes in its pockets.

Recalling the stately fitting room,
The obsequious salesman, the grim tailor
Who stuck pins in your shoulders
And made chalk marks on your sleeves
As you admired yourself in a mirror,
Your fists clenched fiercely at your side.