Friday, December 20, 2013

Counting the Mad
by Donald Justice

This one was put in a jacket,
This one was sent home,
This one was given bread and meat
But would eat none,
And this one cried No No No No
All day long.

This one looked at the window
As though it were a wall,
This one saw things that were not there,
This one things that were,
And this one cried No No No No
All day long.

This one thought himself a bird,
This one a dog,
And this one thought himself a man,
An ordinary man,
And cried and cried No No No No
All day long.

Friday, December 13, 2013

Acquainted with the Night
by Robert Frost

I have been one acquainted with the night.
I have walked out in rain—and back in rain.
I have outwalked the furthest city light.

I have looked down the saddest city lane.
I have passed by the watchman on his beat
And dropped my eyes, unwilling to explain.

I have stood still and stopped the sound of feet
When far away an interrupted cry
Came over houses from another street,

But not to call me back or say good-bye;
And further still at an unearthly height,
One luminary clock against the sky

Proclaimed the time was neither wrong nor right.
I have been one acquainted with the night.

Wednesday, December 11, 2013

A Story
by Czeslaw Milosz

Now I will tell Meader's story; I have a moral in view.
He was pestered by a grizzly so bold and malicious
That he used to snatch caribou meat from the eaves of the cabin.
Not only that.  He ignored men and was unafraid of fire.
One night he started battering the door
And broke the window with his paw, so they curled up
With their shotguns beside them, and waited for the dawn.
He came back in the evening, and Meader shot him at close range,
Under the left shoulder blade.  Then it was jump and run,
A real storm of a run:  a grizzly, Meader says,
Even when he's been hit in the heart, will keep running
Until he falls down.  Later, Meader found him
By following the trail -- and then he understood
What lay behind the bear's odd behavior:
Half of the beast's jaw was eaten away by an abscess, and caries.
Toothache, for years.  An ache without comprehensible reason,
Which often drives us to senseless action
And gives us blind courage.  We have nothing to lose,
We come out of the forest, and not always with the hope
That we will be cured by some dentist from heaven.

Tuesday, December 10, 2013

Browning Resolves To Be A Poet
by Jorge Luis Borges (translated by Alastair Reid)

In these red London labyrinths
I find that I have chosen
the most curious of human professions,
though given that all are curious, in their way.
Like alchemists
who looked for the philosopher's stone
in elusive quicksilver,
I shall make ordinary words --
the marked cards of the sharper, the people's coinage --
yield up the magic which was theirs
when Thor was inspiration and eruption,
thunder and worship.
In the wording of the day,
I in my turn will say eternal things;
I will try to be not unworthy
of the great echo of Byron.
This dust that is me will be invulnerable.
If a woman partakes of my love,
my poem will graze the tenth sphere of the concentric heavens;
if a woman shrugs off my love,
I will make music out of my misery,
a vast river reverberating on through time.
I will live by forgetting myself.
I will be the face I half-see and forget,
I will be Judas who accepts
the blessed destiny of being a traitor,
I will be Caliban in the swamp,
I will be a mercenary dying
without fear or faith,
I will be Polycrates, horrified to see
the ring returned by destiny,
I will be the friend who hates me.
Persia will grant me the nightingale, Rome the sword.
Agonies, masks and resurrections
will weave and unweave my fate
and at some point I will be Robert Browning.

Thursday, December 5, 2013

We Are Many
by Pablo Neruda (translated by Alastair Reid)

Of the many men who I am, who we are,
I can't find a single one;
they disappear among my clothes,
they've left for another city.

When everything seems to be set
to show me off as intelligent,
the fool I always keep hidden
takes over all that I say.

At other times, I'm asleep
among distinguished people,
and when I look for my brave self,
a coward unknown to me
rushes to cover my skeleton
with a thousand fine excuses.

When a decent house catches fire,
instead of the fireman I summon,
an arsonist bursts on the scene,
and that's me.  What can I do?
What can I do to distinguish myself?
How can I pull myself together?

All the books I read
are full of dazzling heroes,
always sure of themselves.
I die with envy of them;
and in films full of wind and bullets,
I goggle at the cowboys,
I even admire the horses.

But when I call for a hero,
out comes my lazy old self;
so I never know who I am,
nor how many I am or will be.
I'd love to be able to touch a bell
and summon the real me,
because if I really need myself,
I mustn't disappear.

While I am writing, I'm far away;
and when I come back, I've gone.
I would like to know if others
go through the same things that I do,
have as many selves as I have,
and see themselves similarly;
and when I've exhausted this problem,
I'm going to study so hard
that when I explain myself,
I'll be talking geography.

Saturday, November 23, 2013

Curriculum Vitae
by Blanca Varela (translated by Ilan Stavanas)

let's say you won the race
and the prize
was another race
you didn't savor the wine of victory
but your own salt
you never listened to hurrahs
but dog barks
and your shadow
your own shadow
was your only
and disloyal competitor

Wednesday, November 20, 2013

A Poem
by José Asunción Silva

I dreamed in those days of fashioning a poem
of nervous and novel art, daring and superior labor,

I chose between one matter, grotesque; another, tragic;
I called all rhythms with magic invocation

and the untamed rhythms came,
gathering in the shadows, running away and seeking each other,

echoing rhythms, vigor-filled rhythms, solemn rhythms,
some from the clash of weapons, others from the songs of birds,

from East to West, from South to North,
meters and forms came to royal court.

Hammering golden frames below the fragile reins
tercets crossed, like agile stallions;

breaking open a wide walkway, for among that herd,
garbed in gold and purple, the royal sonnet stepped in,

and all that sang there . . . Within the racket,
the spirit rapt me, with its flirting

one witty stanza goaded my longing
with its clear, chimed ringing,

And I picked it among the rest . . . As a wedding gift,
I gave it rich rhymes, of silver and crystal.

In it I sang a tale which, far from servile,
staged a tragic man, fantastic and subtle,

it was the sad story, disreputable and true,
of a beautiful woman, worshipped and departed,

and so my readers might feel the bitter-felt grief, I aimed
to join sweet syllables as with the taste of a kiss,

I embroidered expressions with gold, gave them eccentric music,
like mandolins accompanied by a lute,

I set a nebulous light in the deep distances
full of dampened mists and melancholies

and in the dark depths, as in a dreary festivity
agile masks cross paths, following the orchestra's compass,

wrapped in words obscure as veils,
and with black masks of satin and velvet

I joined in the background vague insinuations
of mystical sentiments and human temptations . . .

Pleased with my verse, with artist's pride,
I gave it the scent of heliotrope and the shade of amethyst . . .

I showed my poem to a marvelous critic . . .
and he read it six times and said, "I don't understand it."

Wednesday, July 24, 2013

poetry readings - bukowski

poetry readings
by Charles Bukowski

poetry readings have to be some of the saddest
damned things ever,
the gathering of the clansmen and clansladies,
week after week, month after month, year
after year,
getting old together,
reading on to tiny gatherings,
still hoping their genius will be
making tapes together, discs together,
sweating for applause
they read basically to and for
each other,
they can't find a New York publisher
or one
within miles,
but they read on and on
in the poetry holes of America,
never daunted,
never considering the possibility that
their talent might be
thin, almost invisible,
they read on and on
before their mothers, their sisters, their husbands,
their wives, their friends, and other poets
and the handful of idiots who have wandered
from nowhere.

I am ashamed for them,
I am ashamed that they have to bolster each other,
I am ashamed for their lisping egos,
their lack of guts.

if these are our creators,
please, please give me something else:

a drunken plumber at a bowling alley,
a prelim boy in a four rounder,
a jock guiding his horse through along the
a bartender on last call,
a waitress pouring me a coffee,
a drunk sleeping in a deserted doorway,
a dog munching a dry bone,
an elephant's fart in a circus tent,
a 6 p.m. freeway crush,
the mailman telling a dirty joke


Saturday, July 20, 2013

the sailor - geof hewitt

The Sailor
by Geof Hewitt

In my movie the boat goes under
And he alone survives the night in the cold ocean,
Swimming he hopes in a shoreward direction.
Daylight and he's still afloat, pawing the water
And doesn't yet know he's only fifty feet from shore.
He goes under for what will be the last time
But only a few feet down scrapes bottom.
He's suddenly a changed man and half hops, half swims
The remaining distance, hauls himself waterlogged
Partway up the beach before collapsing into sleep.
As he dreams the tide comes in
And rolls him back to sea.

Thursday, July 18, 2013

by Roberto Bolano

Books I buy
Between the strange rains
And heat
Of 1992
Which I've already read
Or will never read
Books for my son to read
Lautaro's library
Which will need to resist
Other rains
And other scorching heats
-- Therefore, the edict is this:
Resist, my dear books,
Cross thy days like medieval knights
And care for my son
In the years to come
F.B. -- He dead
by Roberto Bolano

Francis Bacon
Learned to live
Learned to bear
The slowness
Of human dusk
Its unbearable stench
The art of patience
Similar in many ways
To the art of indifference
Francis Bacon learned
To live with hours
To live with shadows
Of some illegible
"My gift to you will be an abyss, she said..."
by Roberto Bolano

My gift to you will be an abyss, she said,
but it will be so subtle you'll perceive it
only after many years have passed
and you are far from Mexico and me.
You'll find it when you need it most,
and that won't be
the happy ending,
but it will be an instant of emptiness and joy.
And maybe then you'll remember me,
if only just a little.
"Now you walk alone along the piers..."
by Roberto Bolano

Now you walk alone along the piers
of Barcelona.
You smoke a black cigarette and for
a moment think it would be nice
if it rained.
The gods haven't granted you money
but they've granted you strange whims
Look up:
it's raining.

your distant heart - roberto bolano

"Your Distant Heart"
by Roberto Bolano

I don't feel safe
The adventure doesn't end.
Your eyes shine in every corner.
I don't feel safe
In words
Or in money
Or in mirrors.
The Adventure never ends
And your eyes are searching for me.

"it's nighttime and i'm in the zone alta - roberto bolano

"It's nighttime and I'm in the Zone Alta..."
by Roberto Bolano

It's nighttime and I'm in the Zone Alta
in Barcelona and I've drunk
more than three cafés con leche
with some people I don't
know beneath a moon that sometimes
seems so miserable and other times
so alone and maybe it's neither
one nor the other and I
haven't drunk coffee but cognac and cognac
and cognac in a glass restaurant
in the Zona Alta and the people I
thought I was with really
don't exist or are faces floating
at the table next to mine
where I'm alone and drunk
spending my money on one edge
of the unknown university.

Wednesday, July 17, 2013

solitude - roberto bolano

by Roberto Bolano

Does it amuse you that I write in third person?
Does it amuse you that I sometimes say in 100 years
we'll be completely alone?
I know nothing about you except you're my sister
In cold apartments by the barrio gótico
Sometimes listening to the rain
Or kissing
Or making faces in the mirror

"the nightmare..." - roberto bolano

"The nightmare begins over there, right there..."
by Roberto Bolano

The nightmare begins over there, right there.
Further, up, down, everything's part of the 
nightmare. Don't stick your hand in that urn. Don't
stick your hand in that hellish vase. That's 
where the nightmare begins and everything you do there
will grow like a hump on your back.
Stay away, don't hang around that equivocal point.
Even if you see the flowering lips of your true
love, even if you see some flowering eyelids
you wanted to forget or get back. Stay away.
Don't run circles around that mistake. Don't
lift a finger. Trust me. The only thing that grows there
is the nightmare.

"write of widows..." - roberto bolano

"Write of widows, the abandoned ones..."
by Roberto Bolano

Write of widows, the abandoned ones,
the elderly, the handicapped, the mad.
Behind the Great Wars and Great Businesses
that move the world--there they are.
Living day to day, borrowing money,
studying the little red stains
of our cities
   of our sports
      of our songs.

"in a thousand years nothing will be left..." - roberto bolano

"In a thousand years nothing will be left..." 
by Roberto Bolano

In a thousand years nothing will be left
of all that's been written in this century.
They'll read loose sentences, traces
of lost women,
fragments of motionless children,
your slow green eyes
simply will not exist.
It will be like the Greek Anthology,
but even further away,
like a beach in winter
for another wonder, another indifference.

daybreak - roberto bolano

by Roberto Bolano

Trust me, I'm in the middle of my room
waiting for rain. I'm alone. I don't care
if I finish my poem or not. I wait for rain,
drinking coffee and through the window watching a beautiful
of courtyards, with clothes hanging still,
silent marble clothes in the city, where wind
does not exist and far off you only hear the hum
of a color TV, watched by a family
who's also, at this hour, drinking coffee together around
a table: trust me: the yellow plastic tables
unfold into the horizon and beyond:
into the suburbs where they're building
apartments, and a boy of 16 atop a stack
of red bricks contemplates the machines' movement.
The sky in the boy's hour is an enormous
hollow screw the breeze plays with. And the boy
plays with ideas. With ideas and with frozen scenes.
Inertia is a heavy transparent mist
emerging from his eyes.
Trust me: it isn't love that's drawing near
but beauty with its store of dead dawns.

Wednesday, July 10, 2013

having a coke with you - frank o'hara

Having a Coke with You
by Frank O’Hara

is even more fun than going to San Sebastian, Irún, Hendaye, Biarritz,
or being sick to my stomach on the Travesera de Gracia in Barcelona
partly because in your orange shirt you look like a better happier
     St. Sebastian
partly because of my love for you, partly because of your love for
partly because of the fluorescent orange tulips around the birches
partly because of the secrecy our smiles take on before people and
it is hard to believe when I’m with you that there can be anything
     as still
as solemn as unpleasantly definitive as statuary when right in front
     of it
in the warm New York 4 o’clock light we are drifting back and forth
between each other like a tree breathing through its spectacles

and the portrait show seems to have no faces in it at all, just paint
you suddenly wonder why in the world anyone ever did them

I look
at you and I would rather look at you than all the portraits in
     the world
except possibly for the Polish Rider occasionally and anyway it’s
     in the Frick
which thank heavens you haven’t gone to yet so we can go together
     the first time
and the fact that you move so beautifully more or less takes care
     of Futurism
just as at home I never think of the Nude Descending a Staircase or
at a rehearsal a single drawing of Leonardo or Michelangelo that
     used to wow me
and what good does all the research of the Impressionists do them
when they never got the right person to stand near the tree when
     the sun sank
or for that matter Marino Marini when he didn’t pick the rider
     as carefully
as the horse

it seems they were all cheated of some marvelous experience
which is not going to go wasted on me which is why I am telling you
     about it

Monday, July 8, 2013

voice mail villanelle - dan skwire

Voice Mail Villanelle 
by Dan Skwire

We're grateful that you called today
And sorry that we're occupied.
We will be with you right away.

Press one if you would like to stay,
Press two if you cannot decide.
We're grateful that you called today.

Press three to end this brief delay,
Press four if you believe we've lied.
We will be with you right away.

Press five to hear some music play,
Press six to speak with someone snide.
We're grateful that you called today.

Press seven if your hair's turned gray,
Press eight if you've already died.
We will be with you right away.

Press nine to hear recordings say
That service is our greatest pride.
We're grateful that you've called today.
We will be with you right away.

Saturday, July 6, 2013

the story - mark strand

The Story
by Mark Strand

It is the old story: complaints about the moon
sinking into the sea, about stars in the first light fading,
about the lawn wet with dew, the lawn silver, the lawn cold.

It goes on and on: a man stares at his shadow
and says it's the ash of himself falling away, says his days
are the real black holes in space. But none of it's true.

You know the one I mean: it's the one about the minutes dying,
and the hours, and the years; it's the story I tell
about myself, about you, about everyone.

Friday, July 5, 2013

the accident - mark strand

The Accident
by Mark Strand

A train runs over me.
I feel sorry
for the engineer
who crouches down
and whispers in my ear
that he is innocent.

He wipes my forehead,
blows the ashes
from my lips.
My blood streams
in the evening air,
clouding his glasses.

He whispers in my ear
the details of his life--
he has a wife
and child he loves,
he's always been
an engineer.

He talks
until the beam
from someone's flashlight
turns us white.
He stands.
He shakes his jacket out

and starts to run.
The cinders crack
under his boots,
the air is cold
and thick
against his cheeks.

Back home he sits
in the kitchen,
staring at the dark.
His face is flushed,
his hands are pressed
between his knees.

He sees me sprawled
and motionless
beside the tracks
and the faint blooms
of my breath
being swept away;

the fields bend
under the heavy sheets
of the wind
and birds scatter
into the rafters
of the trees.

He rushes
from the house,
lifts the wreckage
of my body in his arms,
and brings me back.
I lie in bed.

He puts his head
down next to mine
and tells me
that I'll be all right.
A pale light
shines in his eyes.

I listen to the wind
press hard against the house.
I cannot sleep.
I cannot stay awake.
The shutters bang.
The end of my life begins.

Tuesday, July 2, 2013

the serpent - theodore roethke

The Serpent
by Theodore Roethke

There was a Serpent who had to sing.
There was. There was.
He simply gave up Serpenting.
Because. Because.

He didn't like his Kind of Life;
He couldn't find a proper Wife;
He was a Serpent with a soul;
He got no Pleasure down his Hole.
And so, of course, he had to Sing,
And Sing he did, like Anything!
The Birds, the were, they were Astounded;
And various Measures Propounded
To stop the Serpent's Awful Racket:
They bought a Drum. He wouldn't Whack it.
They sent,--you always send,--to Cuba
And got a Most Commodious Tuba;
They got a Horn, they got a Flute,
But Nothing would suit.
He said, "Look, Birds, all this is futile:
I do not like to Bang or Tootle."
And then he cut loose with a Horrible Note
That practically split the Top of his Throat.
"You see," he said, with a Serpent's Leer,
"I'm Serious about my Singing Career!"
And the Woods Resounded with many a Shriek
As the Birds flew off to the End of Next Week.

Monday, July 1, 2013

the favorite - theodore roethke

The Favorite
by Theodore Roethke

A knave who scampered through the needle's eye,
He never trembled at a veiled remark.
His oyster world was easily come by;
There were no nights of sleeping in the park.

Fearless and bold, he did his fellows in,
Only to gain fresh triumphs and applause.
His insolence could wear no patience thin.
He lived beyond the touch of mortal laws.

O he was Fortune's child, a favorite son
Upon whom every gift and thrill were showered,
And yet his happiness was not complete;
Slowly his matchless disposition soured
Until he cried at enemies undone
And longed to feel the impact of defeat.

Sunday, June 30, 2013

the geranium - theodore roethke

The Geranium
by Theodore Roethke

When I put her out, once, by the garbage pail,
She looked so limp and bedraggled,
So foolish and trusting, like a sick poodle,
Or a wizened aster in late September,
I brought her back in again
For a new routine--
Vitamins, water, and whatever
Sustenance seemed sensible
At the time: she'd lived
So long on gin, bobbie pins, half-smoked cigars, dead beer,
Her shriveled petals falling
On the faded carpet, the stale
Steak grease stuck in her fuzzy leaves.
(Dried-out, she creaked like a tulip.)

The things she endured!--
The dumb dames shrieking half the night
Or the two of us, alone, both seedy,
Me breathing booze at her,
She leaning out of her pot toward the window.

Near the end, she seemed almost to hear me--
And that was scary--
So when that snuffling cretin of a maid
Threw her, pot and all, into the trash-can,
I said nothing.

But I sacked the presumptuous hag the next week,
I was that lonely.

Saturday, June 29, 2013

by Theodore Roethke

I have known the inexorable sadness of pencils,
Neat in their boxes, dolor of pad and paper-weight,
All the misery of manilla folders  and mucilage,
Desolation in immaculate public places,
Lonely reception room, lavatory, switchboard,
The unalterable pathos of basin and pitcher,
Ritual of multigraph, paper-clip, comma,
Endless duplication of lives and objects.
And I have seen dust from the walls of institutions,
Finer than flour, alive, more dangerous than silica,
Sift, almost invisible, through long afternoons of tedium,
Dropping a fine film on nails and delicate eyebrows,
Glazing the pale hair, the duplicate grey standard faces.

Friday, June 28, 2013

by James Joyce

Because your voice was at my side
   I gave him pain,
Because within my hand I held
   Your hand again.

There is no word nor any sign
   Can make amend--
He is a stranger to me now
   Who was my friend.

Sunday, June 2, 2013

Don’t Ask Me Why
by Alexander Pushkin

Don’t ask me why, alone in dismal thought,
In times of mirth, I’m often filled with strife,
And why my weary stare is so distraught,
And why I don’t enjoy the dream of life;

Don’t ask me why my happiness has perished,
Why I don’t love the love that pleased me then,
No longer can I call someone my cherished--
Who once felt love will never love again;

Who once felt bliss, no more will feel its essence,
A moment’s happiness is all that we receive:
From youth, prosperity and joyful pleasantry,
All that is left is apathy and grief... 
by Aleksandr Pushkin (Scott Horton transl.)

When the noisy day of mortal men grows still
With illusory nocturnal shadows.
And sleep, the harvest of a day’s exertion,
Sinks down upon the silent city streets
This is my hour of the night, when silent hours
Drag by in painful attentiveness:
During the indolent night the wound of my heart’s serpent
Rises up in me more powerfully;
Imagination surges: my mind, numbed by yearning,
Entertains a parade of tortured thoughts;
Before my eyes, quiet remembrance
Unfurls its lengthy parchment;
Thus set back, I rehearse the course of my life,
I quake and I curse,
I shed bitter tears and complain painfully,
But alas the dismal lines cannot be purged.

Saturday, May 11, 2013

The Poet
by Lawrence Durrell

Time marched against my egg,
But Saturn hatched it:
Furnished two rusty claws,
The antelope's logic:
While by the turtle's coma in summer
The new moon watched it.

Four seasons conspired
To poison my water:  with scissors
A late spring lanced the bud,
Tightened the caul on my skull,
Lulled me in a dragon's blood.

Sun withered this crucible head,
Wove me by a tragical loom.
Nine moons heard of my coming,
The drumming of mythical horses
On the walls of the womb.

Winter buried the eyes like talents.
Tightened the temple's bony ring,
And now the pie is opened,
Feathered the head of the owlet --
What shall the monster sing?

Monday, April 15, 2013

King don Luis
by Oscar Vladislas de Lubicz-Milosz (tr. John Peck)

King don Luis wanted to see again
The palace called Sweet Years.

Cloak of grief and a black horse.

Bell in the blank of evening:
Never so ominous as this--

Harsh as the wind's hurry
Through abandoned houses.

Indeed, it is a sound
Travelling farther than time.

Doors swinging into reveries
Over men dead, and women.

Treacherous advent, entering
From what dreams, what shores.

Over my mind it sleeps
In false glimmers of poison.

And the tall beggar, most certainly,
Is that sound's body.

On the road into exile.
Sinister, self-encountering!

I see two eyes nearly headless,
Two eyes on two legs of thread.

Farther than the forgotten,
Deeper than the drowned.

The black horse pricks its ears.

The king's blood would cry out
The smell of silence is so old.

Sunday, April 7, 2013

An Illustrated Guide to the Post-Apocalypse by Annelyse Gelman

An Illustrated Guide to the Post-Apocalypse poem by Annelyse Gelman filming by Auden Lincoln-Vogel

Saturday, March 2, 2013

"I'm beginning to know myself. I don't exist..."
by Fernando Pessoa (tr. Edwin Honig & Susan M Brown)

I'm beginning to know myself. I don't exist.
I'm the space between what I'd like to be and what others
     made of me.
Or half that space, because there's life there too...
So that's what I finally am...
Turn off the light, close the door, stop shuffling your
     slippers out there in the hall.
Just let me be at ease and all by myself in my room.
It's a cheap world.

Friday, February 22, 2013

“Life: XIX”
by Emily Dickinson

“Pain has an element of blank;
It cannot recollect
When it began, or if there were
A day when it was not.

It has no future but itself,
Its infinite realms contain
Its past, enlightened to perceive
New periods of pain.”

Saturday, February 16, 2013

The Figure In The Scene
by Thomas Hardy

          It pleased her to step in front and sit
             Where the cragged slope was green,
While I stood back that I might pencil it
              With her amid the scene;
                  Till it gloomed and rained;
But I kept on, despite the drifting wet
                   That fell and stained
My draught, leaving for curious quizzings yet
                    The blots engrained.

                And thus I drew her there alone,
                     Seated amid the guaze
Of moisture, hooded, only her outline shown,
                      With rainfall marked across.
                       - Soon passed our stay;
Yet her rainy form is the Genius still of the spot,
                       Immutable, yea,
Though the place now knows her no more,
   and has known her not
                        Ever since that day.

Thursday, February 14, 2013

The Photograph
by Thomas Hardy

The flame crept up the portrait line by line
As it lay on the coals in the silence of night's profound,
     And over the arm's incline,
And along the marge of the silkwork superfine,
And gnawed at the delicate bosom's defenceless round.

Then I vented a cry of hurt, and averted my eyes;
The spectacle was one that I could not bear,
     To my deep and sad surprise;
But, compelled to heed, I again looked furtivewise
Till the flame had eaten her breasts, and mouth,
     and hair.

'Thank God, she is out of it now!' I said at last,
In a great relief of heart when the thing was done
     That had set my soul aghast,
And nothing was left of the picture
     unsheathed from the past
But the ashen ghost of the card it had figured on.

She was a woman long hid amid packs of years,
She might have been living or dead; she was lost
     to my sight,
     And the deed that had nigh drawn tears
Was done in a casual clearance of life's arrears;
But I felt as if I had put her to death that night!...

- Well; she knew nothing thereof did she survive,
And suffered nothing if numbered among the dead;
     Yet - yet - if on earth alive
Did she feel a smart, and with vague strange
     anguish strive ?
If in heaven, did she smile at me sadly
     and shake her head?
By Her Aunt's Grave
by Thomas Hardy

'Sixpence a week', says the girl to her lover,
'Aunt used to bring me, for she could confide
In me alone, she vowed. 'Twas to cover
The cost of her headstone when she died.
And that was a year ago last June;
I've not yet fixed it. But I must soon.'

'And where is the money now, my dear?'
'O, snug in my purse...Aunt was so slow
In saving it - eighty weeks, or near.'...
'Let's spend it,' he hints. 'For she won't know.
There's a dance to-night at the Load of Hay.'
She passively nods. And they go that way.

Thursday, January 24, 2013

by Ezra Pound

If on the tally-board of wasted days
They daily write me for proud idleness,
Let high Hell summons me, and I confess,
No overt act the preferred charge allays.

To-day I thought what boots it what I thought?
Poppies and gold! Why should I blurt it out?
Or hawk the magic of her name about
Deaf doors and dungeons where no truth is bought?

Who calls me idle? I have thought of her.
Who calls me idle? By God’s truth I’ve seen
The arrowy sunlight in her golden snares.

Let him among you all stand summonser
Who hath done better things ! Let whoso hath been
With worthier works concerned, display his wares!

Monday, January 21, 2013

Another Long Night in the Office of Dreams 
by Jeffrey McDaniel

There’s a woman I’m in love with, but I forget
what she looks like, so I take out my paintbrushes
and create my image of her.
Your eyes are blue like the morning of going.
Your ears are tender twists of logic. Your thighs
are impossible avenues my car swerves out of control on.

I want to cut the silence with your shoulder blades,
blow moon-shaped kisses to orbit your skull
as you sleep on the highest ledge of my insomnia,

but I’m a broken promise in a pawn shop,
and this is just a secret that happens to involve you.

Saturday, January 19, 2013

by Meerbaum-Eisinger (tr. Pearl Fichman)
Dec. 23, 1941

This is the hardest: to give yourself
and know that you are unwanted,
to give yourself fully and to think
that you vanish like smoke into the void.

*The niece of Paul Celan, Selma Meerbaum-Eisinger died at the age of eighteen of typhus in the Mikhailovska labor camp. Fifty-seven poems survived in a notebook titled Blütenlese (Harvest of Blossoms).

Friday, January 18, 2013

cicada - hosho mccreesh

You Will Hear Thunder
by Anna Akhmatova

You will hear thunder and remember me,
And think: she wanted storms. The rim
Of the sky will be the colour of hard crimson,
And your heart, as it was then, will be on fire.

That day in Moscow, it will all come true,
when, for the last time, I take my leave,
And hasten to the heights that I have longed for,
Leaving my shadow still to be with you.

Monday, January 14, 2013

Song of Wine
by Émile Nelligan (Translation by Fred Cogswell)

“Fresh in joy, life, light - all things coincide,
This fine May eve ! like living hopes that once
Were in my heart, the choiring birds announce
Their prelude to my window open wide.
O fine May eve! O happy eve of May!
A distant organ beats out frigid chords;
And long shafts of sun, like crimson swords,
Cuts to the heart the scent of dying day.

How gay, how glad am I ! Pour out, pour out
Once more the wine into the chiming glass
That I may lose the pain of days which pass
In scorn for all the wicked human rout.

How glad am I ! My wine and art be blest!
I, too, have dreamt of making poetry
That lives, of poems which sound the exequy
For autumn winds that passing far-off mist.

The bitter laugh of rage is now good form,
And I, a poet, must eat scorn for food.
I have a heart but am not understood
Save by the moonlight and the great nights of storm.

Woman ! I drink to you who mock the path
where the rose-dream calls with arms flung wide;
I drink, too, to you men with brows of pride
Who first refuse my hand then scorn my life!

When the starry sky becomes one glorious roof,
And when a hymn resounds for golden spring,
I do not weep for all the days’ calm going,
Who wary grope within my own black youth.

How glad am I ! May eve all eves above.
Not drunk but desperately glad am I !…
Has living grown at last to be a joy?
Has my heart, too, been healed of my sick love?

The clocks have struck and the wind smells of night
Now the wine gurgles as I pour it out.
So glad am I that I laugh and shout
I fear I shall break down and sob outright.”

Broken Things 
by Sara Teasdale

Broken things are loveliest,
        Broken clouds when dusk is red,
Broken waves where a rainbow rides,
        Broken words left half unsaid.

Broken things, broken things—
        How quietly they comfort me,
Riven cliffs, where I can watch
        The broken beauty of the sea.

Sunday, January 13, 2013

Mr. Cogito Meditates on Suffering
by Zbigniew Herbert (tr. John & Bogdana Carpenter)

All attempts to remove
the so-called cup of bitterness--
by reflection 
frenzied actions on behalf of homeless cats
deep breathing

one must consent
gently bend the head
not wring the hands
make use of the suffering gently moderately
like an artificial limb
without false shame
but also without unnecessary pride

do not brandish the stump
over the heads of others
don't knock with the white cane
against the windows of the well-fed

drink the essence of bitter herbs
but not to the dregs
leave carefully
a few sips for the future

but simultaneously
isolate within yourself
and if it is possible
create from the matter of suffering
a thing or a person

with it
of course
entertain it
very cautiously
like a sick child
forcing at last
with silly tricks
a faint 

Thursday, January 10, 2013

And the days are not full enough
by Ezra Pound

And the days are not full enough
And the nights are not full enough
And life slips by like a field mouse
      Not shaking the grass