Sunday, December 24, 2017

1019. Figment at the Beginning of Something. . . - David Watts

My son brings me a stone and asks
which star it fell from,
he is serious
and so I must be careful, even though
I know he will place it
among those things that will leave him
someday, and he
will go on gathering. For this
is one of those moments
that turns suddenly towards you, opening
as it turns, as if for a moment
we paused on the edge
of a heart beat, conscious
of the fear that runs beside us
and how lovely it is to be with each other

in the long resilient mornings.

Sunday, December 10, 2017

1018. Poema - Maria Teresa Horta

Poema by Maria Teresa Horta
Translated from the Portuguese by Lesley Saunders

I let him come.
He sneaks on tiptoe
right up to my ear;
under its ribs my heart
quivers, quickens
as the excitement mounts:
first the forest appears,
then the woodland-sequel,
more mist than snow to the touch –
from the new poem’s
very first line the paper sucks up
every waif-word
and an ugliness steals in,
a cunning hungry thing
crouching there incognito,
pretending to be tame and yet so wolfish
that he’s the kernel of light
and then the noise of its cracking;
he’s lithe on the path,
doubling back on himself,
running with the pack, loping alone;
pussy-footing through the night
he trails moonlight behind him
like a mink coat.
I feel him when the hairs on my skin
lift, and in the delicious dizziness
of my private pulse –
in the midst of my writing, in my dream-life,
I slip all his clothes slowly off

and slide him down beside me.

Monday, November 06, 2017

1017. Marks - Linda Pastan

My husband gives me an A
for lasts nights’s supper
an incomplete for my ironing,
a B plus in bed.
My son says I am average,
an average mother, but if
I put my mind to it
I could improve.
My daughter believes
in Pass/Fail and tells me
I pass. Wait ‘till they learn

I’m dropping out.

Friday, October 27, 2017

1016. Epitaph For "Poet's Tomb" - Shuntaro Tankawa

“I, infinite silence, will grant you words”
[God Contemplates Man]  —Jules Supervielle

When I was born
I was nameless
like a water molecule
But right away I was fed vowels mouth-to-mouth
consonants tickled my ears
I was called and
pulled away from the cosmos

Oscillating the atmosphere
carved onto clay tablets
inscribed on bamboo
recorded on sand
words are onion skins
If I keep on peeling
I will not find the cosmos

I would have loved to lose words
to be a tree singing in the wind
I would have loved to be a cloud from a hundred thousand years ago
I would have loved to be a whale’s song
Now I go back to being nameless
with dirt over my eyes, my ears and my mouth

with stars leading me by the fingers

Wednesday, September 27, 2017

1015. To John Keats (1795 - 1821) -Jorge Luis Borges

Translated from the Spanish by Stephen Kessler

From the beginning to your early death
a terrible beauty lay in wait for you
as good or bad luck lay in wait for others.
That beauty waited for you in the dawns
of London, or by chance in the pages of
a dictionary of mythology,
in the ordinary gifts of a normal day,
or in a face, a voice, the mortal lips
of Fanny Brawne. O posthumous Keats
snatched away from earth, blinded by time,
the nightingale on high and the Greek urn
are your eternity, o fleeting one.
You were the fire. In panic memory

you are not ashes now. You are glory.

Wednesday, September 13, 2017

1014. Low Tide At St Andrews - Emily Pauline Johnson

(New Brunswick)

The long red flats stretch open to the sky,
Breathing their moisture on the August air.
The seaweeds cling with flesh-like fingers where
The rocks give shelter that the sands deny;
And wrapped in all her summer harmonies 
St Andrews sleeps beside her sleeping seas.
The far-off shores swim blue and indistinct,
Like half-lost memories of some old dream.
The listless waves that catch each sunny gleam
Are idling up the waterways land-linked,
And, yellowing along the harbour’s breast,
The light is leaping shoreward from the west.
And naked-footed children, tripping down,
Light with young laughter, daily come at eve
To gather dulse and sea clams and then heave
Their loads, returning laden to the town,
Leaving a strange grey silence when they go, 
The silence of the sands when tides are low.

Tuesday, August 15, 2017

1013. Emily Dickinson - Linda Pastan

We think of her hidden in a white dress
among the folded linens and sachets
of well-kept cupboards, or just out of sight
sending jellies and notes with no address
to all the wondering Amherst neighbors.
Eccentric as New England weather
the stiff wind of her mind, stinging or gentle,
blew two half-imagined lovers off.
Yet legend won’t explain the sheer sanity
of vision, the serious mischief
of language, the economy of pain.

Monday, July 10, 2017

1012. Nikos Kazantzakis - The Mind Of Man

From: The Saviors of God. translated by Kimon Friar

The mind of man can perceive appearances only
 and never the essence of things

And not all appearances but only the appearance of matter.

And not even these appearances of matter
 but only relationships between them.

And these relationships are not real and independent
 of man for even these are his creations.

And they are not the only ones humanly possible but simply

 the most convenient for his practical and perceptive needs.

Monday, May 29, 2017

1011. Sunset Oien - Shuntaro Tanikawa

Sometimes I reread poems I wrote long ago
I don't ask textbook questions like "what was the author feeling when he wrote this?"
When you write a poem, there is nothing but the feeling of wanting to write a poem
Even if I wrote that I am sad
I know it doesn't mean that I was sad at the time

It's difficult to read my own poems critically
I had nearly forgotten them, and while they don't belong to someone else,
they can't possibly be mine
How best to take responsibility is utterly lost on me

Sometimes, unawares, I find myself moved by my own poems
Poetry ignites the lyricism that lies hidden within people
You might say it does so brazenly and without shame

I've heard that Saul Bellow said one of the most essential purposes of literature
Is to pose ethical questions
But the truth which poetry strives for is different from that of novels
Rather than the progression of time, poems concern themselves with moments

But while rereading my poems I think to myself
I can't write like this
A day is made up of more than the sunset
I can't live merely standing there before it

No matter how beautiful it may be 

Sunday, April 30, 2017

1010. Good Bones - Maggie Smith

Good Bones by Maggie Smith

Life is short, though I keep this from my children.
Life is short, and I've shortened mine
in a thousand delicious ill-advised ways
in a thousand deliciously ill-advised ways,
I'll keep from my children. The world is at least
fifty percent terrible, and that's a conservative
estimate, though I keep this from my children.
For every bird there is a stone thrown at a bird.
For every loved child, a child broken, bagged,
sunk in a lake. Life is short and the world
is at least half terrible, and for every kind
stranger, there is one who would break you,
though I keep this from my children. I am trying
to sell them the world. Any decent realtor,
walking you through a real shithole, chirps on
about good bones: This place could be beautiful,
right? You could make this place beautiful.

Wednesday, April 12, 2017

1009. And - Shuntarō Tanikawa

Translated from the Japanese by William I Elliott and Kazuo Kawamure

When summer comes
the cicadas
sing again.
in my memory.
Distant countries are dim
but the universe
is right in front of your nose.
What a blessing 
that people
can die
leaving behind
only the conjunction

Tuesday, April 04, 2017

1008. What Is Lost - Jorge Luis Borges

Translated from the Spanish by Stephen Kessler

I wonder whee my life is, the one that could
have been and never was, the daring one
or the one of gloomy dread, that other thing
which could as well have been the sword or shield
but never was? I wonder where is my lost
Persian or Norwegian ancestor,
where is the chance of my not being blind,
where is the anchor, the ocean, where the forgetting
to be who I am? I wonder where the pure
night is that the unlettered working day
entrusts to the rough laborer so that he
can also feel the love of literature
I also think about a certain mate
who waited for me once, perhaps still waits.

1007. First Sight - Philip Larkin

Lambs that learn to walk in snow
When their bleating clouds the air
Meet a vast unwelcome, know
Nothing but a sunless glare.
Newly stumbling to and fro
All they find, outside the fold,
Is a wretched width of cold.

As they wait beside the ewe,
Her fleeces wetly caked, there lies
Hidden round them, waiting too,
Earth's immeasurable surprise.
They could not grasp it if they knew,
What so soon will wake and grow.

Thursday, March 09, 2017

1006. And Now You - Kate Miller

From The Observances, Kate Miller’s debut collection Carcanet, 2015.

And now you
outside the royal room of blood you occupied
and – without being shown –
can close a fist or yawn.
Practised, you look
already. Hopskip and bowing,
treading measure in a dance.
You only took to unfamiliar air
with your first taste of dust
yesterday as evening fell. All the falling,
all the flow around you,
hair and water, will become familiar:
mother, father: skin-to-skin.
You’ve swum the sea of welcome,
been lifted on the swell,
slipped waxy through the crowd of hands.
Your own breath sounded
the all-clear,
all’s well,
when you sang out a first
exclamatory note
about the cord that tied you
being cut,
the tying-off, your separate knot.

Sunday, February 26, 2017

1005. Italy to Lord - Jane Draycott

(From:  The Occupant)

It’s dark in here and forest green: Britannica,
sixteen oak trees in a London living room,
the little girl, my mother, in the bookcase glass.
Italy, Ithaca, Izmail, Japan, each page a mainsail,
turning, HMS Discovery – none of the rivers
of southern Italy is of any great importance.
Like birds on a long-haul flight, let not seas
or deserts, cliffs or icy mountain-tops
impede you. Jews, Kabȋr, Kabul, Kaffir,
from up here all seems clear (all evil in the world’s
ascribed to Maya or illusion), then home at last
returned from all those navigable miles
to Lichen, Linnet, Logic, London, to find
a century has passed, the forest’s cleared,
the animals all bared and scorched, the gold
all brought to light. I look into the glass,
discover there myself in dense shade, deep

and shadowy as on any wooded island.

Tuesday, February 21, 2017

1004. Labyrinth - Jorge Luis Borges

Translated from the Spanish by Stephen Kessler

There’ll never be a door. You are inside
and the fortress contains the universe
and has no other side nor any back
nor any outer wall nor secret core.
Do not expect the rigor of your path,
which stubbornly splits into another one,
which stubbornly splits into another one,
to have an end. Your fate is ironclad
like your judge. Do not expect the charge
of the bull that is a man and whose strange
plural form fills the thicket of endless
interwoven stone with your own horror.
It does not exist. Expect nothing. Not

even the beast obscured by the black dusk.

Saturday, February 11, 2017

1003. The Lake of Memories - Robert Altmann

Voices sit
like broken chairs
in a room.
A room stands
for the ceremony
of impermanence.
Impermanence cracks
the façade
of self.
The self builds
its walls
of healing.
Healing frames
the house
of wounds.
Wounds bridge
darkness and light
over time.
Time winds through
the lake of memories

in frozen tongue.

Saturday, January 14, 2017

1002. Meeting Point - Louis MacNeice


Time was away and somewhere else,
There were two glasses and two chairs
And two people with the one pulse
(Somebody stopped the moving stairs):
Time was away and somewhere else,

And they were neither up nor down;
The stream’s music did not stop,
Flowing through heather, limpid brown,
Although they sat in a coffee shop
And they were neither up nor down.

The bell was silent in the air
Holding its inverted poise –
Between the clang and clang a flower,
A brazen calyx of no noise:
The bell was silent in the air.

The camels crossed the miles of sand
That stretched around the cups and plates;
The desert was their own, they planned
To portion out the stars and dates:
The camels crossed the miles of sand.

Time was away and somewhere else.
The waiter did not come, the clock
Forgot them and the radio waltz
Came out like water from a rock:
Time was away and somewhere else.

Her fingers flicked away the ash
That bloomed again in tropic trees:
Not caring if the markets crash
When they had forests such as these,
Her fingers flicked away the ash.

God or whatever means the Good
Be praised that time can stop like this,
That what the heart has understood
Can verify in the body’s peace
God or whatever means the Good.

Time was away and she was here
And life no longer what it was,
The bell was silent in the air
And all the room a glow because

Time was away and she was here.

Sunday, January 08, 2017

1001. The Dog Itself - Helen Farish

Memory rounds this up, breathless,
like the dog herding sheep
below the bedroom window:
dropped at my feet are smells –
wool in the rain, my aunt’s
cigarette smoked on the hoof,
gorse also, firs making green
(and what it all means,
that too has a smell).
Not forgetting the dog itself,
so pleased with its work,

I must pen it in quick.

Wednesday, January 04, 2017

1,000 !!!!! Burning the Old Year - Naomi Shihab Nye

Letters swallow themselves in seconds.
Notes friends tied to the doorknob,
transparent scarlet paper,
sizzle like moth wings,
marry the air.
So much of any year is flammable,
lists of vegetables, partial poems.
Orange swirling flame of days,
so little is a stone.
Where there was something and suddenly isn’t,
an absence shouts, celebrates, leaves a space.
I begin again with the smallest numbers.
Quick dance, shuffle of losses and leaves,
only the things I did’t do
crackle after the blazing dies.