Wednesday, July 28, 2021

1071. Morning Birds - Tomas Transtromer

 Translated from the Swedish by Gunnar Harding and Frederic Will

I wake my car.

Its windshield is covered with pollen.

I put on my sunglasses

and the song of the birds darkens.

While another man buys a newspaper

in the railroad station

near a large goods wagon

which is entirely red with rust

and stands flickering in the sun.

No emptiness anywhere here.

Straight across the spring warmth a cold corridor

where someone comes hurrying

to say that they are slandering him

all the way up to the Director.

Through a backdoor in the landscape

comes the magpie

black and white, Hel’s bird.

And the blackbird moving crisscross

until everything becomes a charcoal drawing,

except for the white sheets on the clothesline:

a Palestrina choir.

No emptiness anywhere here.

Fantastic to feel how my poem grows

while I myself shrink.

It is growing, it takes my place.

It pushes me out of its way.

It throws me out of the nest.

The poem is ready.

Tuesday, July 27, 2021

1070. From The Journals Of The Frog Prince - Susan Mitchell

 In March I dreamed of mud,

sheets of mud over the ballroom chairs and table.

rainbow slicks of mud under the throne.

In April I saw mud of clouds and mud of sun.

Now in May I find excuses to linger in the kitchen

for wafts of silt and ale,

cinnamon and river bottom,

tender scallion and sour underlog.

At night I cannot sleep.

I am listening for the dribble of mud

climbing the stairs to our bedroom

as if a child in a wet bathing suit ran

up them in the dark.

Last night I said, “Face it, you’re bored.

How many times can you live over

with the same excitement

that moment when the princess leans

into the well, her face a petal

falling to the surface of the water

as you rise like a bubble to her lips,

the golden ball bursting from your mouth?”

Remember how she hurled you against the wall,

your body cracking open,

skin shriveling to the bone,

the green pod of your heart splitting in two,

and her face imprinted with every moment

of your transformation?

I no longer tremble.

Night after night I lie beside her.

“Why is your forehead so cool and damp?” she asks.

Her breasts are soft and dry as flour.

The hand that brushes my head is feverish.

At her touch I long for wet leaves,

the slap of water against rocks.

“What are you thinking of” she asks.

How can I tell her

I am thinking the green skin

shoved like wet pants behind the Directoire desk?

Or tell her I am mortgaged to the hilt

of my sword, io the leek-green tip of my soul?

Someday I will drag her by her hair

to the river—and what? Drown her?

Show her the green flame of my self rising at her feet?

But here’s no more violence in her

than in a fence or a gate.

“What are you thinking of?” she whispers.

I am staring into the garden.

I am watching the moon

wind its trail of golden slime around the oak,

over the stone basin of the fountain.

How can I tell her

I am thinking that transformations are not forever?

1069. Bring Me The Sunflower - Eugenio Montale

Translated from the Italian by George Kay

Bring me the sunflower for me to transplant

to my own ground burnt by the spray of sea,

and show all day to the imaging blues

of sky that golden-faced anxiety.

Things hid in darkness lean towards the clear,

bodies consume themselves in a flowing

of shades: and they in varied music—showing

the chance of chances is to disappear.

So bring me the plant that takes you right

where the blond hazes shimmering rise

and life fumes to air as spirit does;

bring me the sunflower crazy with the light.

Thursday, July 22, 2021

1068. The Promise We Live By - Simon J. Ortiz

On the West Coast, days of rainstorm wrestle
the Coast Range, their wet fury driven landward.
We never quite know what the sky promises,
and there is certain assurance in that fate.
It is for that we wait. We’ve already weathered
more than promises. They’ve passed us by.
So I’m not sure this morning when I step outside,
and suddenly it’s not winter anymore but some
warm mask that molds the contours of my face
with unbidden warmth. It’s almost unnatural
but I hope not, having already found reliable
the promise of loss. My expectation is unfulfilled.

Somewhere within the universe of the prairie hills
is a climate that is yet unnoticed, and from it
is welling a warm rupture of another sure season.
Believe it is not unusual, I urge myself
whose myths are always changing in the light.
So it’s this we arrive into daily, always
another season, warm or frigid, and it’s we
who wage weather within our furious spirits.

Tomorrow’s dawn is a promise that will fulfill.
Never mind if the sky does not quite agre

1067. Autobiographia Literaria - Frank O'Hara

 When I was a child

I played by myself in a

corner of the schoolyard

all alone.

I hated dolls and I

hated games, animals were

not friendly and birds

flew away.

If anyone was looking

for me I hid behind a

tree and cried out “I am

an Orphan.”

And here I am, the

center of all beauty!

writing these poems!


Wednesday, July 21, 2021

1066. Ode To Thaliarchus - Horace

Translated from the Latin by David Ferry

See Mount Soracte shining in the snow.

See how the laboring overladen trees

Can scarcely bear their burdens any longer.

See how the streams are frozen in the cold.

Bring in the wood and light the fire and open

The fourth-year vintage wine in the Sabine jars,

O Thaliarchus, as for everything else,

Forget tomorrow. Leave it up to the gods.

Once the gods have decided, the winds at sea

Will quiet down, and the sea will quiet down,

And these cypresses and old ash trees will shake

In the storm no longer. Take everything as it comes.

Put down your books for profit every new day

That Fortune allows you to have. While you’re still young,

And while morose old age is far away,

There’s love, there are parties, there’s dancing and there’s music,

There are young people out in the city squares together

As evening comes on, there are whispers of lovers, there’s laughter.

Thursday, June 17, 2021

1065. Emily Dickinson at the Poetry Slam - Dan Vera

I will tell you why she rarely ventured from her house.
It happened like this:

One day she took the train to Boston,
made her way to the darkened room,
put her name down in cursive script
and waited her turn.

When they read her name aloud
she made her way to the stage
straightened the papers in her hands —
pages and envelopes, the backs of grocery bills,
she closed her eyes for a minute,
took a breath,
and began.

From her mouth perfect words exploded,
intact formulas of light and darkness.
She dared to rhyme with words like cochineal
and described the skies like diadem.
Obscurely worded incantations filled the room
with an alchemy that made the very molecules quake.

The solitary words she handled
in her upstairs room with keen precision
came rumbling out to make the electric lights flicker.

40 members of the audience
were treated for hypertension.
20 year old dark haired beauties found their heads
had turned a Moses White.

Her second poem erased the memory of every cellphone
in the nightclub,
and by the fourth line of the sixth verse
the grandmother in the upstairs apartment
had been cured of her rheumatism.

The papers reported the power outages.
The area howpitals tazed their emergency generators
and sirens were heard to wail through the night.

Quietly she made her way to the exit,
walked to the terminal and rode back to Amherst

She naver left her room again
and never read such syllables aloud.

Saturday, May 29, 2021

1064. Such Grace - James Laughlin

is in her step     such grace

goes in the movement of her

arms & shoulders as she walks

such grace in how she holds

her head     how graceful the

gestures of her hands     such

grace in the way she slightly

tilts her face toward me when

a smile is beginning there

and float in air of a dan-cer 


suspended flight of a

hummingbird     always she goes

in grace     there is such

grace in all her going.

Sunday, May 02, 2021

1063. For Earth's Grandsons - Joy Harjo

Stand tall, no matter your heights, how dark your skin

Your spirit is all colors within

You are made of the finest woven light

From the iridescent love that formed your mothers, fathers

Your grandparents all the way back on the spiral road----

There is no end to this love

It has formed your bodies

Feeds your bright spirits

And no metter what happens in these times of breaking----

No matter dictators, the heartless, and liars

No matter----you are born of those

Who kept ceremonial embers burning in their hands

All through the miles of relntless exile

Those who sang the path through massacre

All the way to sunrise

You will make it through----

Sunday, April 04, 2021

1062. Becoming Human - Simon J. Ortiz

We are given permission
by the responsibility we accept
and carry out. Nothing more,
nothing less
                        People are not born.
They are made when they become
human beings within ritual,
tradition, purpose, responsibility.

Therefore, as humans, this we do:
sun Father begins red
in the east.
Stand and be humble.
Red through trees,
moments changing each instant
into the next change,
each change tied to the next.
To be human is to have
a sense of being within self

Son, Red. Trees.
Our hearts' eyes seeing
inward and outward, accepting:
Stand and be humble.

The more names you have the more of a person you become.
That's what I've heard. I was telling Tom yesterday afternoon.
Values, education, social change, cultural corruption, what is and what isn't.
I have to dispute him at moments.
I tell him, the knowledge we derive from the education we get is our own.
Knowledge is determined by our cultural, spiritual, linguistic, political environment.
The knowledge from the community and context here cannot be anything but the people's own.
This is not Chicage, St. Louis, Dallas, or Rapid City. This is Rosebud, the Lakota homeland.

Our names are both Indian and American.
We have so many names now we don't know them all.
In a sense, we have become more of a people than ever before.

1061. Museum Piece - Richard Wilbur

The good gray guardians of art
Patrol the halls on spongy shoes
Impartially protetive though
Perhaps suspicious of Toulouse. 

Here dozes one against the wall
Disposed upon a funeral chair.
A Degas dancer pirouettes
Upon the parting of his hair.

See how she spins! The grace is there,
But strain as well is plain to see.
Degas loved the two together.
Beauty joined to energy.

Edgar Degas purchased once
A fine El Greco, which he kept
Against the wall beside his bed
To hang his pants on while he slept.

Wednesday, March 10, 2021

1060. This Is Not A Poem - Joyce Carol Oates

in which the poet discovers
delicate white-parched bones
of a small creature
on a Great Lake shore
or the desiccated remains
of cruder roadkill
beside the rushing highway.

Nor is it a poem in which
a cracked mirror yields
a startled face,
or sere grasses hissing
like consonants
in a foreign language.
Family photo album
filled with yearning
strangers long deceased,
closet of beautiful
clothes of the dead.
Attic trunk, stone well,
or metonymic moon
time-travelling for wisdom
in the Paleolithic
age, in the Middle Kingdom
or Genesis
or the time of Basho. . . . 
Instead it is a slew
of words in search
of a container 
a sleek green stalk,
a transparent lung,
a single hair's curl,
a cooing of vowels
like doves.

Monday, January 04, 2021

1059. Abbott's Lagoon - Robert Hass


The first thing that is apt to raise your eyes

Above the dove-grey and silvery thickets

Of lupine and coyote bush and artichoke thistle

On the sandy, winding path from the parking lot

To the beach at Abbott’s Lagoon is the white flash

Of the marsh hawk’s rump as it skims low

Over the coastal scrub. White-crowned sparrows,

Loud in the lupine even in October, even

In the drizzly rain, startle and disappear.

The brush rabbits freeze, then bolt and disappear,

And the burbling songs and clucks of the quail

That you may not even have noticed you were noticing

Go mute and you are there in October and the rain,

And the hawk soars past, first hawk, then shadow

Of a hawk, not much shadow in the rain, low sun

Silvering through clouds a little to the west.

It’s almost sundown. And this is the new weather

At the beginning of the middle of the California fall

When a rain puts an end to the long sweet days

Of our September when the skies are clear, days mild,

and the roots of the plants have gripped down

Into the five-or six-month drought, have licked

All the moisture they are going to lick

From the summer fogs, and it is very good to be walking

Because you can almost hear the earth sigh

As it sucks up the rain, here where mid-October

Is the beginning of winter which is the beginning

Of a spring greening, as if the sound you are hearing

Is spring and winter lying down in one another’s arms

Under the hawk’s shadow among the coastal scrub,

Ocean in the distance and the faintest sound of surf

and a few egrets, bright whits, working the reeds

At the water’s edge in October in the rain.

Monday, December 21, 2020

1058. Am I Not Lucky - James Laughlin


that you decided to love me

what if you decided to love

a cat or a dog or dresses

or even Paul Newman    Ive

never quite understood how

it happened     I was having my

life you yours and each

seemed content    we knew each

other slightly but only as

friends    then suddenly with-

out warning or expectation

you decided to love me (and

I you) & my life was changed

Friday, December 04, 2020

1057. Culture and the Universe - Simon J. Ortiz

 Culture and the Universe


Two nights ago

in the canyon darkness,

only the half-moon and stars,

only mere men.

Prayer, faith, love,


                       We are measured

by vastness beyond ourselves.

Dark is light.

Stone is rising.

I don’t know

if humankind understands

culture: the act

of being human

is not easy knowledge.

With painted wooden sticks

and feathers, we journey

into the canyon toward stone,

a massive presence

in midwinter.

We stop.

                       Lean into me.

                       The universe

sings in quiet meditation.

We are wordless:

                       I am in you.

Without knowing why

culture needs our knowledge,

we are one self in the canyon.

                                                                    And the stone wall

I lean upon spins me

wordless and silent

to the reach of stars

and to the heavens within.

It’s not humankind after all

nor is it culture

that limits us.

It is the vastness

we do not enter.

It is the stars

we do not let own us.