Monday, October 31, 2011

Memories Watch Me

A morning in June when it's too early yet
to wake, and still too late to go back to sleep.

I must go out through greenery that's crammed
with memories, that follow me with their eyes.

They are not visible, wholly dissolve
into background, perfect chameleons.

They are so close that I can hear them breathe
although the singing of birds is deafening.

Tomas Transtromer

Sunday, October 30, 2011

Ye Banks and Braes O Bonnie Doon

YE banks and braes o' bonnie Doon,
How can ye bloom sae fair?
How can ye chant, ye little birds,
And I sae fu' o' care?

Thou'll break my heart, thou bonnie bird
That sings upon the bough;
Thou minds me o' the happy days
When my fause Luve was true.

Thou'll break my heart, thou bonnie bird
That sings beside thy mate;
For sae I sat, and sae I sang,
And wist na o' my fate.

Aft hae I roved by bonnie Doon
To see the woodbine twine:
And ilka bird sang o' its Luve,
And sae did I o' mine.

Wi' lightsome heart I pu'd a rose,
Frae aff its thorny tree;
And my fause Luver staw the rose
But left the thorn wi' me.

Robert Burns

Saturday, October 29, 2011

The Snow Man

One must have a mind of winter
To regard the frost and the boughs
Of the pine-trees crusted with snow;

And have been cold a long time
To behold the junipers shagged with ice,
The spruces rough in the distant glitter

Of the January sun; and not to think
Of any misery in the sound of the wind,
In the sound of a few leaves,

Which is the sound of the land
Full of the same wind
That is blowing in the same bare place

For the listener, who listens in the snow,
And, nothing himself, beholds
Nothing that is not there and the nothing that is.

Wallace Stevens

Friday, October 28, 2011


Sometimes my life opened its eyes in the dark.
A feeling as if crowds drew through the streets
in blindness and anxiety on the way towards a miracle,
while I invisibly remain standing.

As the child falls asleep in terror
listening to the heart's heavy tread.
Slowly, slowly until morning puts its rays in the locks
and the doors of darkness open.

Tomas Transtromer

Thursday, October 27, 2011

Around Us

We need some pines to assuage the darkness
when it blankets the mind,
we need a silvery stream that banks as smoothly
as a plane's wing, and a worn bed of
needles to pad the rumble that fills the mind,
and a blur or two of a wild thing
that sees and is not seen. We need these things
between appointments, after work,
and, if we keep them, then someone someday,
lying down after a walk
and supper, with the fire hole wet down,
the whole night sky set at a particular
time, without numbers or hours, will cause
a little sound of thanks--a zipper or a snap--
to close round the moment and the thought
of whatever good we did.

Marvin Bell

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

The Half-Finished Heaven

Despondency breaks off its course.
Anguish breaks off its course.
The vulture breaks off its flight.

The eager light streams out,
even the ghosts take a draught.

And our paintings see daylight,
our red beasts of the ice-age studios.

Everything begins to look around.
We walk in the sun in hundreds.

Each man is a half-open door
leading to a room for everyone.

The endless ground under us.

The water is shinig among the trees.

The lake is a window into the earth.

Tomas Tranströmer
Translation: Robin Fulton

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

The Cuckoo

A cuckoo sat and called in the birch just north of the house.
Its voice was so powerful that at first I thought it
was an opera singer performing a cuckoo imitation. Surprised
I saw the bird. Its tailfeathers moved up and down with each
note like a pump-handle at a well. The bird hopped, turned
around and shouted to all four directions. Then it lifted into the air
and flew cursing under its breath over the house and far off into the West...
The summer grows old and everything flows together into a single
melancholy whisper. Cuculus canorus returns to the tropics. Its time in Sweden
is over. It wasn't long! As a matter of fact the cuckoo is a citizen of Zaire...
I am no longer so fond of traveling. But the journey visits me.
Now that I am being pushed further into a comer, now that the annual
rings widen and I need reading-glasses. Always what happens is more
than we can carry! There is nothing to be astonished about. These
thoughts carry me just as loyally as Susi and Chuma carried Livingstone's
mummified body straight through Africa.

Tomas Tranströmer
Translation: Malena Mörling

Monday, October 24, 2011

April and Silence

Spring lies deserted.
The dark velvet ditch
creeps by my side
not reflecting anything.

All that shines
are yellow flowers.

I am carried in my shadow
like a violin
in its black case.

All I want to say
gleams out of reach
like the silver
in a pawnshop.

Tomas Tranströmer
Translation: Malena Mörling

Sunday, October 23, 2011

Two-Headed Boy Pt. Two

Daddy please hear this song that I sing
In your heart there's a spark that just screams
For a lover to bring a child to your chest that could lay as you sleep
And love all you have left like your boy used to be
Long ago wrapped in sheets warm and wet

Blister please with those wings in your spine
Love to be with a brother of mine
How he'd love to find your tongue in his teeth
In a struggle to find
Secret songs that you keep wrapped in boxes so tight
Sounding only at night as you sleep

And in my dreams you're alive and you're crying
As your mouth moves in mine soft and sweet
Rings of flowers round your eyes and I love you
For the rest of your life (when you're ready)

Brother see we are one in the same
And you left with your head filled with flames
And you watched as your brains
Fell out through your teeth
Push the pieces in place
Make your smile sweet to see
Don't you take this away
I'm still wanting my face on your cheek

And when we break we'll wait for our miracle
God is a place where some holy spectacle lies
When we break we'll wait for our miracle
God is a place you will wait for the rest of your life

Two-headed boy she is all you could need
She will feed you tomatoes and radio wires
And retire to sheets safe and clean
But don't hate her when she gets up to leave

Jeff Mangum

Saturday, October 22, 2011

The Solitary Reaper

Behold her, single in the field,
Yon solitary Highland Lass!
Reaping and singing by herself;
Stop here, or gently pass!
Alone she cuts and binds the grain,
And sings a melancholy strain;
O listen! for the Vale profound
Is overflowing with the sound.

No Nightingale did ever chaunt
More welcome notes to weary bands
Of travellers in some shady haunt,
Among Arabian sands:
A voice so thrilling ne'er was heard
In spring-time from the Cuckoo-bird,
Breaking the silence of the seas
Among the farthest Hebrides.

Will no one tell me what she sings?—
Perhaps the plaintive numbers flow
For old, unhappy, far-off things,
And battles long ago:
Or is it some more humble lay,
Familiar matter of to-day?
Some natural sorrow, loss, or pain,
That has been, and may be again?

Whate'er the theme, the Maiden sang
As if her song could have no ending;
I saw her singing at her work,
And o'er the sickle bending;—
I listened, motionless and still;
And, as I mounted up the hill,
The music in my heart I bore,
Long after it was heard no more.

William Wordsworth

Friday, October 21, 2011

The Layers

I have walked through many lives,
some of them my own,
and I am not who I was,
though some principle of being
abides, from which I struggle
not to stray.
When I look behind,
as I am compelled to look
before I can gather strength
to proceed on my journey,
I see the milestones dwindling
toward the horizon
and the slow fires trailing
from the abandoned camp-sites,
over which scavenger angels
wheel on heavy wings.
Oh, I have made myself a tribe
out of my true affections,
and my tribe is scattered!
How shall the heart be reconciled
to its feast of losses?
In a rising wind
the manic dust of my friends,
those who fell along the way,
bitterly stings my face,
Yet I turn, I turn,
exulting somewhat,
with my will intact to go
wherever I need to go,
and every stone on the road
precious to me.
In my darkest night,
when the moon was covered
and I roamed through wreckage,
a nimbus-clouded voice
directed me:
“Live in the layers,
not on the litter.”
Though I lack the art
to decipher it,
no doubt the next chapter
in my book of transformations
is already written.
I am not done with my changes.

Stanley Kunitz

Thursday, October 20, 2011

The Party

And that’s how it is; everyone standing up from the big silence

of the table with their glasses of certainty and plates of forgiveness
and walking into the purple kitchen; everyone leaning away from the gas stove

Marie blows on at the very edge of the breaking blue-orange-lunging-

forward flames to warm another pot of coffee, while the dishes pile up in the sink,
perfect as a pyramid. Aaah, says Donna, closing her eyes,

and leaning on Nick’s shoulders as he drives the soft blade of the knife

through the glittering dark of the leftover chocolate birthday cake.
That’s it; that’s how it is; everyone standing around as if just out of the pool,

drying off, standing around, that’s it, standing, talking,

shuffling back and forth on the deck of the present
before the boat slowly pulls away into the future. Because it hurts

to say goodbye, to pull your body out of the warm water;

to step out of the pocket of safety, clinging to what you knew,
or what you thought you knew about yourself and others.

That’s how it is, that’s it, throwing your jacket over your shoulders

like a towel and saying goodbye Victoria goodbye Sophie goodbye
Lili goodbye sweetie take care be well hang in there see you soon.

Jason Shinder

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

The Measure

I cannot
move backward
or forward.
I am caught

in the time
as measure.
What we think
of we think of—

of no other reason
we think than
just to think—
each for himself.

Robert Creeley

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

In My Dreams

In my dreams I am always saying goodbye and riding away,
Whither and why I know not nor do I care.
And the parting is sweet and the parting over is sweeter,
And sweetest of all is the night and the rushing air.

In my dreams they are always waving their hands and saying goodbye,
And they give me the stirrup cup and I smile as I drink,
I am glad the journey is set, I am glad I am going,
I am glad, I am glad, that my friends don't know what I think.

Stevie Smith

Monday, October 17, 2011

I Know a Man

As I sd to my
friend, because I am
always talking,—John, I

sd, which was not his
name, the darkness sur-
rounds us, what

can we do against
it, or else, shall we &
why not, buy a goddamn big car,

drive, he sd, for
christ’s sake, look
out where yr going.

Robert Creeley

Thursday, October 13, 2011


THE WINTER evening settles down
With smell of steaks in passageways.
Six o’clock.
The burnt-out ends of smoky days.
And now a gusty shower wraps
The grimy scraps
Of withered leaves about your feet
And newspapers from vacant lots;
The showers beat
On broken blinds and chimney-pots,
And at the corner of the street
A lonely cab-horse steams and stamps.
And then the lighting of the lamps.

The morning comes to consciousness
Of faint stale smells of beer
From the sawdust-trampled street
With all its muddy feet that press
To early coffee-stands.

With the other masquerades
That time resumes,
One thinks of all the hands
That are raising dingy shades
In a thousand furnished rooms.

You tossed a blanket from the bed,
You lay upon your back, and waited;
You dozed, and watched the night revealing
The thousand sordid images
Of which your soul was constituted;
They flickered against the ceiling.
And when all the world came back
And the light crept up between the shutters,
And you heard the sparrows in the gutters,
You had such a vision of the street
As the street hardly understands;
Sitting along the bed’s edge, where
You curled the papers from your hair,
Or clasped the yellow soles of feet
In the palms of both soiled hands.

His soul stretched tight across the skies
That fade behind a city block,
Or trampled by insistent feet
At four and five and six o’clock;
And short square fingers stuffing pipes,
And evening newspapers, and eyes
Assured of certain certainties,
The conscience of a blackened street
Impatient to assume the world.

I am moved by fancies that are curled
Around these images, and cling:
The notion of some infinitely gentle
Infinitely suffering thing.

Wipe your hand across your mouth, and laugh;
The worlds revolve like ancient women
Gathering fuel in vacant lots.

TS Eliot

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

A Quiet Poem

When music is far enough away
the eyelid does not often move

and objects are still as lavender
without breath or distant rejoinder.

The cloud is then so subtly dragged
away by the silver flying machine

that the thought of it alone echoes
unbelievably; the sound of the motor falls

like a coin toward the ocean's floor
and the eye does not flicker

as it does when in the loud sun a coin
rises and nicks the near air. Now,

slowly, the heart breathes to music
while the coins lie in wet yellow sand.

Frank O'Hara

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

As Planned

After the first glass of vodka
you can accept just about anything
of life even your own mysteriousness
you think it is nice that a box
of matches is purple and brown and is called
La Petite and comes from Sweden
for they are words that you know and that
is all you know words not their feelings
or what they mean and you write because
you know them not because you understand them
because you don't you are stupid and lazy
and will never be great but you do
what you know because what else is there?

Frank O'Hara

Monday, October 10, 2011

Conspiracy of Two Against the World

If I were out of love
and sequence I would turn
the end of love–its death–
knife-like against myself
to cut off my distinction and
rejoin the Commons, maimed.
But love is here!, so by
that contact with the one
oh may I contact all
self-alienated aliens
in Atom City and apply
to join the one big union.
Workers of this world, unite!

Alan Dugan

Sunday, October 09, 2011

from Gnomic Verses


Driving to the expected
Place in mind in
Place of mind in
Driving to the expected

Robert Creeley

Saturday, October 08, 2011

The Road Not Taken

Two roads diverged in a yellow wood,
And sorry I could not travel both
And be one traveler, long I stood
And looked down one as far as I could
To where it bent in the undergrowth;

Then took the other, as just as fair,
And having perhaps the better claim,
Because it was grassy and wanted wear;
Though as for that the passing there
Had worn them really about the same,

And both that morning equally lay
In leaves no step had trodden black.
Oh, I kept the first for another day!
Yet knowing how way leads on to way,
I doubted if I should ever come back.

I shall be telling this with a sigh
Somewhere ages and ages hence:
Two roads diverged in a wood, and I—
I took the one less traveled by,
And that has made all the difference.

Robert Frost

Friday, October 07, 2011

The Beautiful Changes

One wading a Fall meadow finds on all sides
The Queen Anne’s Lace lying like lilies
On water; it glides
So from the walker, it turns
Dry grass to a lake, as the slightest shade of you
Valleys my mind in fabulous blue Lucernes.

The beautiful changes as a forest is changed
By a chameleon’s tuning his skin to it;
As a mantis, arranged
On a green leaf, grows
Into it, makes the leaf leafier, and proves
Any greenness is deeper than anyone knows.

Your hands hold roses always in a way that says
They are not only yours; the beautiful changes
In such kind ways,
Wishing ever to sunder
Things and things’ selves for a second finding, to lose
For a moment all that it touches back to wonder.

Richard Wilbur

Thursday, October 06, 2011

from The Dead Flag Blues

the car's on fire and there's no driver at the wheel
and the sewers are all muddied with a thousand lonely suicides
and a dark wind blows

the government is corrupt
and we're on so many drugs
with the radio on and the curtains drawn

we're trapped in the belly of this horrible machine
and the machine is bleeding to death

the sun has fallen down
and the billboards are all leering
and the flags are all dead at the top of their poles

it went like this:

the buildings tumbled in on themselves
mothers clutching babies picked through the rubble
and pulled out their hair

the skyline was beautiful on fire
all twisted metal stretching upwards
everything washed in a thin orange haze

i said: "kiss me, you're beautiful -
these are truly the last days"

you grabbed my hand and we fell into it
like a daydream or a fever

we woke up one morning and fell a little further down -
for sure it's the valley of death

i open up my wallet
and it's full of blood

Efrim Menuck

After a Death

Once there was a shock
that left behind a long, shimmering comet tail.
It keeps us inside. It makes the TV pictures snowy.
It settles in cold drops on the telephone wires.

One can still go slowly on skis in the winter sun
through brush where a few leaves hang on.
They resemble pages torn from old telephone directories.
Names swallowed by the cold.

It is still beautiful to hear the heart beat
but often the shadow seems more real than the body.
The samurai looks insignificant
beside his armor of black dragon scales.

Tomas Tranströmer
translated by Robert Bly

Wednesday, October 05, 2011

Here comes the sun again

Kingdoms and queens they all bow down to you,
Branches and ranch hands are bowin' too
And I've taken off my straw hat for you, singing
Here comes the sun again

The leaves on the trees they all call out your name,
Chrome on the freight line shines the same
And the stars in their cars roll their tops down for you singing,
Here comes the sun again

Oh but if you're gunna stay show some mercy today
Blow a little breeze on my face

Snow banks drift down the hillside for you,
Slides inside sandy river before the day is through,
And before evenin' falls I may find myself there too, singing
Here comes the sun again

M. Ward

Tuesday, October 04, 2011

Doubled Mirrors

It is the dark of the moon.
Late at night, the end of summer,
The autumn constellations
Glow in the arid heaven.
The air smells of cattle, hay,
And dust. In the old orchard
The pears are ripe. The trees
Have sprouted from old rootstocks
And the fruit is inedible.
As I pass them I hear something
Rustling and grunting and turn
My light into the branches.
Two raccoons with acrid pear
Juice and saliva drooling
From their mouths stare back at me,
Their eyes deep sponges of light.
They know me and do not run
Away. Coming up the road
Through the black oak shadows, I
See ahead of me, glinting
Everywhere from the dusty
Gravel, tiny points of cold
Blue light, like the sparkle of
Iron snow. I suspect what it is,
And kneel to see. Under each
Pebble and oak leaf is a
Spider, her eyes shining at
Me with my reflected light
Across immeasurable distance.

Kenneth Rexroth

Monday, October 03, 2011

Just Sepia

I refuse to settle
out of the true
choose to communicate
through pay phones and paper
out here in the country of McAllister & Steiner
we are the only Victorians left
& I wish I wouldn’t have said
that one something that one time
when what I really wanted
was to finish cutting the okra for the gumbo
& read Baudelaire again
his L’Invitation au Voyage
backwards reveals all of the magic
in writing that one can endure
each line out loud resounds perfect
all week I’ve been thinking about printing
a pirated book of such, nothing grand
typed on the Remington, 3x4, no address
no copyright and fifty limited
for whomever I run into

Micah Ballard

Sunday, October 02, 2011

After Apple-Picking

My long two-pointed ladder's sticking through a tree
Toward heaven still,
And there's a barrel that I didn't fill
Beside it, and there may be two or three
Apples I didn't pick upon some bough.
But I am done with apple-picking now.
Essence of winter sleep is on the night,
The scent of apples: I am drowsing off.
I cannot rub the strangeness from my sight
I got from looking through a pane of glass
I skimmed this morning from the drinking trough
And held against the world of hoary grass.
It melted, and I let it fall and break.
But I was well
Upon my way to sleep before it fell,
And I could tell
What form my dreaming was about to take.
Magnified apples appear and disappear,
Stem end and blossom end,
And every fleck of russet showing clear.
My instep arch not only keeps the ache,
It keeps the pressure of a ladder-round.
I feel the ladder sway as the boughs bend.
And I keep hearing from the cellar bin
The rumbling sound
Of load on load of apples coming in.
For I have had too much
Of apple-picking: I am overtired
Of the great harvest I myself desired.
There were ten thousand thousand fruit to touch,
Cherish in hand, lift down, and not let fall.
For all
That struck the earth,
No matter if not bruised or spiked with stubble,
Went surely to the cider-apple heap
As of no worth.
One can see what will trouble
This sleep of mine, whatever sleep it is.
Were he not gone,
The woodchuck could say whether it's like his
Long sleep, as I describe its coming on,
Or just some human sleep.

Robert Frost

Saturday, October 01, 2011


Some lit theirs at both ends.
Some clutched theirs as a blind man does his cane.
Some sucked theirs like the only orange.
Some packed clean shirts and a few socks in theirs.
Some spent their lives looking for theirs and they
    were wearing it all the time.
Some neglected theirs but the roots found a way.
Some buried theirs. The stones tell when and where.

W. S. Merwin