Monday, December 31, 2007

564. Alusina takes a walk in the rain - Conchitina Cruz

Conchitina Cruz - Alusina takes a walk in the rain

It is difficult to miss you in the summer, your voice written all over the clear night sky, the
stars mapping out your single instruction: go home. Each night, I keep my eyes on the
shadow of my open umbrella. I stay indoors, stay away from windows.

Today, the news tells me you are scheduled to be lonely. I part my curtains and look up.

Later, when the roads turn slippery with your sadness, I will put on my shoes, soak myself
in your tears. It is difficult not to miss you when the evening sky is speechless, when your silence
travels down my cheeks, like a request.

I cannot forgive you. That day, if you had not refused, I would have given you a present. I
would have carved my love in stone.

Friday, December 28, 2007

563. Comes The Dawn - Virginia Shopstall

After awhile you learn the subtle difference
between holding a hand and chaining a soul
and you learn that love doesn’t mean possession
and company doesn’t mean security.

And you begin to learn that kisses aren’t contracts
and presents aren’t promises
and you begin to accept your defeats with your head up
and your eyes ahead
with the grace of an adult not the grief of a child.

And you learn to build your roads today
because tomorrow’s ground is too uncertain for plans
and futures have ways of falling down in mid-flight.

After awhile you learn that even sunshine burns if you get too much
so you plant your own garden and decorate your own soul
instead of waiting for someone to bring you flowers.

And you learn that you really can endure
that you really are strong
and you really do have worth
and you learn and you learn…with every goodbye you learn.

Tuesday, December 25, 2007

562. Variations On A Theme By Joyce - Weldon Kees

The war is in words and the wood in the world
That turns beneath our rootless feet;
The vines that reach, alive and snarled,
Across the path where the sand is swirled,
Twist in the night. The light lies flat.
The war is in words and the wood is the world.

The rain is ruin and our ruin rides
The swiftest winds; the wood is whorled
And turned and smoothed by the turning tides.
––There is rain in the woods, slow rain that breeds
The war in the words. The wood is the world,
This rain is ruin and our ruin rides.

The war is in words and the wood is the world,
Sourceless and seized and forever filled
With green vines twisting on wood more gnarled
Than dead men's hands. The vines are curled
Around these branches, crushed and killed.
The war is in words and the wood is the world.

Sunday, December 23, 2007

561. Remember - Joy Harjo

Remember the sky that you were born under,
know each of the star’s stories.
Remember the moon, know who she is. I met her
in a bar once in Iowa City.
Remember the sun’s birth at dawn, that is the
strongest point of time. Remember sundown
and the giving away to night.
Remember your birth, how your mother struggled
to give you form and breath. You are evidence of
her life, and her mother’s, and hers.
Remember your father. He is your life, also.
Remember the earth whose skin you are:
red earth, black earth, yellow earth, white earth,
brown earth, we are earth.
Remember the plants, trees, animal life who all have their
tribes, their families, their histories, too. Talk to them,
listen to them. They are alive poems.
Remember the wind. Remember her voice. She knows the
origin of this universe. I heard her singing Kiowa war
dance songs at the corner of Fourth and Central once.
Remember that you are all people and that all people
are you. Remember that you are this universe and that this universe is you.
Remember that all is in motion, is growing, is you.
Remember that language comes from this.
Remember the dance that language is, that life is.

Friday, December 21, 2007

560. The Untrustworthy Speaker - Louise Gluck

Don’t listen to me; my heart’s been broken.
I don’t see anything objectively.

I know myself; I’ve learned to hear like a psychiatrist.
When I speak passionately,
that’s when I’m least to be trusted.

It’s very sad, really: all my life, I’ve been praised
for my intelligence, my powers of language, of insight.
In the end, they’re wasted—

I never see myself,
standing on the front steps, holding my sister’s hand.
That’s why I can’t account
for the bruises on her arm, where the sleeve ends.

In my own mind, I’m invisible: that’s why I’m dangerous.
People like me, who seem selfless,
we’re the cripples, the liars;
we’re the ones who should be factored out
in the interest of truth.

When I’m quiet, that’s when the truth emerges.
A clear sky, the clouds like white fibers.
Underneath, a little gray house, the azaleas
red and bright pink.

If you want the truth, you have to close yourself
to the older daughter, block her out:
when a living thing is hurt like that,
in its deepest workings,
all function is altered.

That’s why I’m not to be trusted.
Because a wound to the heart
is also a wound to the mind.

Thursday, December 20, 2007

559. At Blackwater Pond - Mary Oliver

At Blackwater Pond the tossed waters have settled
after a night of rain.
I dip my cupped hands. I drink
a long time. It tastes
like stone, leaves, fire. It falls cold
into my body, waking the bones. I hear them
deep inside me, whispering
oh what is that beautiful thing
that just happened?

Wednesday, December 19, 2007

558. Autumn Day - Rainer Maria Rilke

Translated from the German by Stephen Mitchell

Lord: it is time. The huge summer has gone by.
Now overlap the sundials with your shadows,
and on the meadows let the wind go free.

Command the fruits to swell on tree and vine;
grant them a few more warm transparent days,
urge them on to fulfillment then, and press
the final sweetness into the heavy wine.

Whoever has no house now, will never have one.
Whoever is alone will stay alone,
will sit, read, write long letters through the evening,
and wander on the boulevards, up and down,
restlessly, while the dry leaves are blowing.

Tuesday, December 18, 2007

557. Antarctica - Derek Mahon

"I am just going outside and may be some time." The others nod, pretending not to know. At the heart of the ridiculous, the sublime. He leaves them reading and begins to climb, Goading his ghost into the howling snow; He is just going outside and may be some time. The tent recedes beneath its crust of rime And frostbite is replaced by vertigo: At the heart of the ridiculous, the sublime. Need we consider it some sort of crime, This numb self-sacrifice of the weakest? No, He is just going outside and may be some time – In fact, for ever. Solitary enzyme, Through the night yield no glimmer there will glow, At the heart of the ridiculous, the sublime. He takes leave of the earthly pantomime Quietly, knowing it is time to go. "I am just going outside and may be some time." At the heart of the ridiculous , the sublime.

556. Orchards In July - Zbigniew Machej

Waters from cold springs
and glittering minerals
tirelessly wander.
Patient, unceasing,
they overcome granite, layers
of hungry gravel, iridescent
precincts of clay. If they abandon
themselves to the black
roots it's only to go
up, as high as possible
through wells hidden
under the bark of fruit trees. Through
the green touched with gray, of leaves,
fallen petals of white
flowers with rosy edges,
apples heavy with sweet redness
and their bitterish seeds.
O, waters from cold
springs and glittering
minerals. You are awaited
by a cirrus with a fluid
sunny outline
and by an abyss of blue
which has been rinsed
in the just wind.

Monday, December 17, 2007

555. Once A Great Love - Yehuda Amichai

Translated from the Hebrew by Yehuda Amichai and Ted Hughes

Once a great love cut my life in two.
The first part goes on twisting
at some other place like a snake cut in two.

The passing years have calmed me
and brought healing to my heart and rest to my eyes.

And I'm like someone standing in the Judean desert, looking at a sign:
'Sea Level'.
He cannot see the sea, but he knows.

Thus I remember your face everywhere
at your 'face level'.

Sunday, December 16, 2007

554. On Parting - Anne Szumigalski

It's over you know, the summer's over.
Clouds of dust as the last vehicle went out.

A jeep hauling a small boat on a trailer
Through the dust of the grey country road.

Patterns of tires, patterns of cast leaves
Printed in ashen dust

The next day clouds of snow, the crumbled sky
Falling and settling on the trees
Of the bare abandoned forest.

They have all returned to the city, while I remain
Sorting my summer notebooks:

Drawings of tender plants begun in the spring
Pressings of leaves

Which are prints of tough early autumn, before
The rot comes that thickens
The floor of the woods.

And what lies beneath the snow, the needle duff?
Cities of pebbles and crushed shells,

Kingdoms of beetles, republics of worms,
Forest of hyphae, tangled mycelium,

Roots of trees coming upon each other
In the dark.


Saturday, December 15, 2007

553. The Sycamore - Wendell Berry

In the place that is my own place, whose earth
I am shaped in and must bear, there is an old tree growing,
a great sycamore that is a wondrous healer of itself.
Fences have been tied to it, nails driven into it,
hacks and whittles cut in it, the lightning has burned it.
There is no year it has flourished in
that has not harmed it. There is a hollow in it
that is its death, though its living brims whitely
at the lip of the darkness and flows outward.
Over all its scars has come the seamless white
of the bark. It bears the gnarls of its history
healed over. It has risen to a strange perfection
in the warp and bending of its long growth.
It has gathered all accidents into its purpose.
It has become the intention and radiance of its dark fate.
It is a fact, sublime, mystical and unassailable.
In all the country there is no other like it.
I recognize in it a principle, an indwelling
the same as itself, and greater, that I would be ruled by.
I see that it stands in its place and feeds upon it,
and is fed upon, and is native, and maker.

Thursday, December 13, 2007

552. Among The Multitudes - Wislawa Szymborska

I am who I am.
A coincidence no less unthinkable
than any other.

I could have different
ancestors, after all,
I could have fluttered
from another nest
or crawled bescaled
from under another tree.

Nature's wardrobe
holds a fair supply of costumes:
spider, seagull, field mouse.
Each fits perfectly right off
and is dutifully worn
into shreds.

I didn't get a choice either,
but I can't complain.
I could have been someone
much less separate.
Someone from an anthill, shoal, or buzzing swarm,
an inch of landscape tousled by the wind

Someone much less fortunate,
bred for my fur
or Christmas dinner,
something swimming under a square of glass.

A tree rooted to the ground
as the fire draws near.

A grass blade trampled by a stampede
on incomprehensible events.

A shady type whose darkness
dazzled some.

What if I'd prompted only fear,
or pity?

If I'd been born
in the wrong tribe,
with all roads closed before me?

Fate has been kind
to me thus far.

I might never have been given
the memory of happy moments.

My yen for comparison
might have been taken away.

I might have been myself minus amazement,
that is,
someone completely different.

Wednesday, December 12, 2007

551. Sotto Voce - Kathleen Flanniken

Tonight blame Kiri Te Kanawa
infusing the kitchen with her aria,
blame the mixed bouquet of basil

and flayed tomatoes and onions
and one expansive high note blooming
like a rose in fast-frame.

Here in the audience,
even in middle age, a little voice sings
from the back of the auditorium

of my throat. Aren't all of us
waiting to be discovered?
Men and women enter the grand halls

of regional sales meetings
pressing nametags to dresses and ties.
I have been one of those

entering hopefully, conducting
delicate exchanges in hotel rooms.
I have called those pale disclosures

my life. Blame the cheap seats
we bought in the balcony.
We barely hear the little cogs

in our own hearts. Mozart, they say,
heard entire operas in a moment––
second violins, a glaze of harp,

heroic voices in the chorus all
clamoring to be realized
at once. My genius may be small,

but sometimes truth rolls right at me
like a hard head of cabbage
and I see myself that suddenly,

draining the pasta.

Tuesday, December 11, 2007

550. The End Of The Opera - Howard Nemerov

Knowing that what he witnessed was only art,
He never wept while the show was going on.

But the curtain call could always make him cry.
When the cast came forward hand in hand
Bowing and smiling to the clatter of applause,
Tired, disheveled, sweating through the paint,
Radiant with our happiness and theirs,
Illuminati of the spot and flood,
Yet much the same as ordinary us.

The dive, the soubrette, the raisonneur,
The inadequate hero, the villain, his buffoon,
All equalled in the great reality
And living proof that life would follow life . . .

Though back of that display there'd always be,
He knew, money and envy, the career,
Tomorrow and tomorrow––it didn't seem
At that moment as if it mattered much
Compared with their happiness and ours
As we wept about the role, about the real,
And how their dissonances harmonized
As we applauded us: ite, missa est.

Monday, December 10, 2007

549. On Commitment - W. H. Murray

Until one is committed there is always hesitancy,
the chance to draw back, always ineffectiveness.
There is one elementary truth,
the ignorance of which kills countless ideas and splendid plans:
the moment one definitely commits oneself, then providence moves too.
All sorts of things occur to help that would never otherwise have occurred.
A whole stream of events issues from the decision,
raising to one’s favor all manner of unforeseen incidents, meetings
and material assistance, which no man could have dreamt
would come his way.
"Whatever you can do or dream you can begin it.
Boldness has genius, power and magic in it."

“This may sound too simple, but is great in consequence. Until one is committed, there is hesitancy, the chance to draw back, always ineffectiveness. Concerning all acts of initiative (and creation), there is one elementary truth the ignorance of which kills countless ideas and splendid plans: that the moment one definitely commits oneself, then providence moves too. A whole stream of events issues from the decision, raising in one's favor all manner of unforeseen incidents, meetings and material assistance, which no man could have dreamt would have come his way. I learned a deep respect for one of Goethe's couplets:"
"Whatever you can do or dream you can, begin it.
Boldness has genius, power and magic in it!"

Saturday, December 08, 2007

548. Eruption: Pu`u Ō`o - Garrett Kaoru Hongo

We woke near midnight,
flicking on the coat closet’s bulb,
the rainforest chilled with mist,
a yellow swirl of gas
in the spill of light outside.
Stars paling, tucked high
in the sky’s blue jade,
we saw, through the back windows
and tops of ohi`a trees,
silhouettes and red showers
as if from Blake’s fires,
magenta and billows of black volleying.
Then, a burbling underground,
like rice steaming in the pot,
shook through chandeliers of fern
and the A-frame’s tambourine floor,
stirring the cats and chickens
from the crawl-space and their furled sleep.

The fountains rose to 900 feet that night,
without us near it, smoking white,
spitting from the cone 6 miles away,
a geyser of flame, pyramids and gyre of ash.
Novices, we dressed and drove out,
first to the crater rim, Uwēkahuna
a canyon and sea of ash and moonstone,
the hardened, grey back of Leviathan
steaming and venting, dormant under cloud-cover.
And then next down Volcano Road past the villages
to Hirano Store on Kīlauea’s long plateau
There, over canefield and the hardened lava land,
all we saw was in each other’s eyes ––
the mind’s fear and the heart’s delight,
running us this way and that.

Friday, December 07, 2007

547. the Cambridge ladies who live in furnished souls - e. e. cummings

the Cambridge ladies who live in furnished souls
are unbeautiful and have comfortable minds
(also, with the church's protestant blessings
daughters, unscented shapeless spirited)
they believe in Christ and Longfellow, both dead,
are invariably interested in so many things—
at the present writing one still finds
delighted fingers knitting for the is it Poles?
perhaps. While permanent faces coyly bandy
scandal of Mrs. N and Professor D
.... the Cambridge ladies do not care, above
Cambridge if sometimes in its box of
sky lavender and cornerless, the
moon rattles like a fragment of angry candy

Thursday, December 06, 2007

546. Morning - Conchitina Cruz

You never know when somebody will walk away from you on a bright day on a busy street, never looking back and

you cannot believe the slow disappearance, cannot believe what is moving away from your reach until the busy street no longer needs its presence to look the same, because it is the same.

And the city offers you its fruits and fish, and the churchgoers lift their veils as they step out in the open

and you know the picture is incomplete but it can stand for itself

and who are you to ask for more, who are you to insist on hunger?

Wednesday, December 05, 2007

545. Evening Talk - Charles Simic

Everything you didn’t understand
Made you what you are. Strangers
Whose eye you caught on the street
Studying you. Perhaps they were all-seeing
Illuminati? They knew what you didn’t,
And left you troubled like a strange dream.

Not even the light stayed the same.
Where did all that hard glare come from?
And the scent, as if mythical beings
Were being groomed and fed stalks of hay
On these roofs drifting among the evening clouds.

You didn’t understand a thing!
You loved the crowds at the end of the day
That brought you so many mysteries.
There was always someone you were meant to meet
Who for some reason wasn’t waiting.
Or perhaps they were? But not here, friend.

You should have crossed the street
And followed that obviously demented woman
With the long streak of blood-red hair
Which the sky took up like a distant cry.

Tuesday, December 04, 2007

544. Postscript - Seamus Heaney

And some time make the time to drive out west
Into Country Clare, along the Flaggy Shore,
In September or October, when the wind
And the light are working off each other
So that the ocean on one side is wild
With foam and glitter, and inland among stones
The surface of a slate-gray lake is lit
By the earthed lightning of a flock of swans,
Their feathers roughed and ruffling, white on white,
Their fully grown headstrong-looking heads
Tucked or cresting or busy underwater.
Useless to think you'll park and capture it
More thoroughly. You are neither here nor there,
A hurry through which known and strange things pass
As big soft buffetings come at the car sideways
And catch the heart off guard and blow it open.

Monday, December 03, 2007

543. Carson McCullers - Charles Bukowski

Charles Bukowski - Carson McCullers

she died of alcoholism
wrapped in a blanket
on a deck chair
on an ocean steamer.

all her books of
terrified loneliness

all her books about
the cruelty
of loveless love

were all that was left
of her

as the strolling vacationer
discovered her body

notified the captain

and she was quickly dispatched
to somewhere else
on the ship

as everything
continued just
she had written it.

Saturday, December 01, 2007

542. Slough - John Betjeman

Come friendly bombs and fall on Slough!
It isn't fit for humans now,
There isn't grass to graze a cow.
Swarm over, Death!

Come, bombs and blow to smithereens
Those air -conditioned, bright canteens,
Tinned fruit, tinned meat, tinned milk, tinned beans,
Tinned minds, tinned breath.

Mess up the mess they call a town-
A house for ninety-seven down
And once a week a half a crown
For twenty years.

And get that man with double chin
Who'll always cheat and always win,
Who washes his repulsive skin
In women's tears:

And smash his desk of polished oak
And smash his hands so used to stroke
And stop his boring dirty joke
And make him yell.

But spare the bald young clerks who add
The profits of the stinking cad;
It's not their fault that they are mad,
They've tasted Hell.

It's not their fault they do not know
The birdsong from the radio,
It's not their fault they often go
To Maidenhead

And talk of sport and makes of cars
In various bogus-Tudor bars
And daren't look up and see the stars
But belch instead.

In labour-saving homes, with care
Their wives frizz out peroxide hair
And dry it in synthetic air
And paint their nails.

Come, friendly bombs and fall on Slough
To get it ready for the plough.
The cabbages are coming now;
The earth exhales.