Saturday, May 31, 2014

William Carlos Williams / Poem

by William Carlos Williams

The Rose fades
and is renewed again
by its seed, naturally
but where
save in the poem
shall it go
to suffer no diminution
of its splendor

Pictures from Brueghel, 1962.

Friday, May 30, 2014

Sara Teasdale / It Is Not A Word

It Is Not A Word
Sara Teasdale 

It is not a word spoken,
Few words are said;
Nor even a look of the eyes
Nor a bend of the head,
But only a hush of the heart
That has too much to keep,
Only memories waking
That sleep so light a sleep.

Sunday, May 25, 2014

Jarosław Iwaszkiewicz / From The Brotherhood of Man

Jarosław Iwaszkiewicz

Jarosław Iwaszkiewicz
From The Brotherhood of Man
Translated by Adam Gillon and Ludwik Krzyzanowski

When tempests rage upon the ocean, and many-storied
waves clap
against each other,
emitting sounds like many thousands clapping hands,
and toss ships and fishing boats against the rocks,
and cast men upon the waters of the sea, their heads
like wooden logs from shipwrecks -
then suddenly the clouds are rent asunder, like grey
curtains upon
the stage, and a solitary ray falls,
like a gigantic arrow, or a chord that joins the sky
with sea, and
the sea is calmed, and the vessels creep to their ports,
lowering their
tattered sails.
As a mother standing over her son’s grave drops her
And the ray upon the turgid but already clearer wave
draws the word: pax, pax, pax…
Thus we too await for heavens to draw open and to
give a sign
to all of us, to clasp our hands,
and to exclaim as that ray of sun:
Think of those whose mouths were filled with plaster,
and of those felled by bullets before they could cry out,
and of those who eyes were filled with blood and could
not cast a glance upon the sky,
as you look upon it now,
nor on the victorious banner,
because they died in degradation -
and think about the brotherhood of Man!
And if you cannot fight for man
and if you too take to swords and rifles
and kill your brothers -
mankind shall not attain salvation.
Think, think of this now.
Think of happiness and freedom.
For only the struggle for good can win goodness
and only the degradation of evil can elevate goodness
and only the brotherhood of man can raise upon the
the Olympic flag, great as the world.
Take each other’s hand and sing:
paxpaxpax -
to signify the brotherhood of Man.

Thursday, May 22, 2014

Adrienne Rich / Diving into the Wreck

Diving into the Wreck

by Adrienne Rich

read by Anne Waldman

  • 01:21
  • 02:46

First having read the book of myths,
and loaded the camera,
and checked the edge of the knife-blade,
I put on
the body-armor of black rubber
the absurd flippers
the grave and awkward mask.
I am having to do this
not like Cousteau with his
assiduous team
aboard the sun-flooded schooner
but here alone.

There is a ladder.
The ladder is always there
hanging innocently
close to the side of the schooner.
We know what it is for,
we who have used it.
it is a piece of maritime floss
some sundry equipment.

I go down.
Rung after rung and still
the oxygen immerses me
the blue light
the clear atoms
of our human air.
I go down.
My flippers cripple me,
I crawl like an insect down the ladder
and there is no one
to tell me when the ocean
will begin.

First the air is blue and then
it is bluer and then green and then
black I am blacking out and yet
my mask is powerful
it pumps my blood with power
the sea is another story
the sea is not a question of power
I have to learn alone
to turn my body without force
in the deep element.

And now: it is easy to forget
what I came for
among so many who have always
lived here
swaying their crenellated fans
between the reefs
and besides
you breathe differently down here.

I came to explore the wreck.
The words are purposes.
The words are maps.
I came to see the damage that was done
and the treasures that prevail.
I stroke the beam of my lamp
slowly along the flank
of something more permanent
than fish or weed

the thing I came for:
the wreck and not the story of the wreck
the thing itself and not the myth
the drowned face always staring
toward the sun
the evidence of damage
worn by salt and sway into this threadbare beauty
the ribs of the disaster
curving their assertion
among the tentative haunters.

This is the place.
And I am here, the mermaid whose dark hair
streams black, the merman in his armored body.
We circle silently
about the wreck
we dive into the hold.
I am she: I am he

whose drowned face sleeps with open eyes
whose breasts still bear the stress
whose silver, copper, vermeil cargo lies
obscurely inside barrels
half-wedged and left to rot
we are the half-destroyed instruments
that once held to a course
the water-eaten log
the fouled compass

We are, I am, you are
by cowardice or courage
the one who find our way
back to this scene
carrying a knife, a camera
a book of myths
in which
our names do not appear.

Saturday, May 17, 2014

Adrienne Rich / Tonight No Poetry Will Serve



by Adrienne Rich

Saw you walking barefoot
taking a long look
at the new moon's eyelid

later spread
sleep-fallen, naked in your dark hair
asleep but not oblivious
of the unslept unsleeping

Tonight I think
no poetry
will serve

Syntax of rendition:

verb pilots the plane
adverb modifies action

verb force-feeds noun
submerges the subject
noun is choking
verb    disgraced    goes on doing

now diagram the sentence


Monday, May 12, 2014

John Ashbery / Ignorance of the law is no excuse

Ignorance of the law is no excuse
by John Ashbery

We were warned about spiders, and the occasional famine.
We drove downtown to see our neighbors. None of them were home.
We nestled in yards the municipality had created,
reminisced about other, different places—
but were they? Hadn't we known it all before?

In vineyards where the bee's hymn drowns the monotony,
we slept for peace, joining in the great run.
He came up to me. 
It was all as it had been,
except for the weight of the present,
that scuttled the pact we had made with heaven.
In truth there was no cause for rejoicing,
nor need to turn around, either. 
We were lost just by standing,
listening to the hum of wires overhead.

We mourned that meritocracy which, wildly vibrant,
had kept food on the table and milk in the glass.
In skid-row, slapdash style
we walked back to the original rock crystal he had become,
all concern, all fears for us.
We went down gently
to the bottom-most step. There you can grieve and breathe,
rinse your possessions in the chilly spring.
Only beware the bears and wolves that frequent it
and the shadow that comes when you expect dawn.




Tuesday, May 6, 2014

Raymond Carver / Poems

Zapatos, 1886
Vincent van Gogh

by Raymond Carver

They’ve come every day this month.
Once I said I wrote them because
I didn’t have time for anything
else. Meaning, of course, better
things – things other than mere
poems and verses. Now I’m writing
them because I want to.
More than anything because
this is February
when normally not much of anything
happens. But this month
the larches have blossomed,
and the sun has come out
every day. It’s true my lungs
have heated up like ovens.
And so what if some people
are waiting for other shoe
to drop, where I’m concerned.
Well, here it is then. Go ahead.
Put it on. I hope it fits
like a shoe.
Close enough, yes, but supple
so the foot has room to breathe
a little. Stand up. Walk
around. Feel it? It will go
where you’re going, and be there
with you at the end of your trip.
But for now, stay barefoot. Go
outside for a while, and play.

A New Path to the Waterfall, 1989.´

Thursday, May 1, 2014

Natalie Eilber / Four Poems

by Natalie Eilbert

The truth of the matter was I could never return
to the whiskers quilled and dull. There were tufts
everywhere. I’d spent too many years hoveled in
trees, too many dense years inside a parable for one
type of loneliness. Here is how to enamor yourself
to no one: erect a small army of air, papier-mache
its invisible structure over an invisible man. He will
resist the clarity of being known. What this means
is victory. Next the cats will come from the trunks
and they will look strange, jailed fur and alien eyes
more a sound than a color, sound like a fruit peeled
behind glass, a sound that can stare. Allow them
onto your branch and let them speak. A new man
will have picked up your scent, is trothed to it now.
Your oneness has made you a princess. You must
change. A new army approaches. Billboards grow
in bundles like mint. Pavement cracks and follies.
Someone is waiting. No: I’ve set fire to all the trees.

My worries were a white paste I made efforts to cook down.
The process was hard since it required fresh herbs,
an ability to balance charm and self-effacement
in place of actual discovery. To be frank I used
rat meat, didn’t wash the fur. It tasted bubonic. I added
salt from a blind horse’s nine tears, precisely nine.
It tasted like my mother standing over a stew with her hate,
it tasted like the open can she was close to crushing.
I pressed two fingers to my breasts searching for a
hidden history, a more exact poison, but nothing.
I fed rat tail through each earlobe, didn’t want scraps.
My prettiness hedged on this steaming pot so I dropped in
clumps of eyelashes. I whispered my embolisms onto
a bay leaf. I tied myself to the stovetop and left the room.

To return to the home I found so many treasures there.
Piece of charred gutter, ash-soaked curtains, a cat jaw
jutted from the dirt. A sunset pink as exposed fiberglass,
how still I became over those favors. A mattress blackened
where my girl-body once lay. When the fire took everything
I mean it was a confession, my house collapsed,
my animals dead. You were discarded, out of reach,
a footnote highlighted in my grandfather’s great book.
Only then did you not exist. Only then did my girlhood
shape itself in a trailer. And for a nanosecond only I knew sorry.
If, years later, I took men through my bay window,
there was still a hill out back made of all of me smoked.

One drink after the next, I dreamed Prague my city, gave it
steel and shiny black asphalt, immaculate women, men
to curse themselves once in the night—such clean vision.
The real occurred as a shapeless army, the procession of drunks
with their small claims to life a stein of pilsner, goulash, the
watery smiles falling from their mouths after dekujeme.
An expat leaned close to my ear, said “We let the world take us
again and again”: nazism, communism, capitalism: all these bodies
dragged heaven-fat across the Charles bridge isn’t it gorgeous.
I’m told the Czech have no word for city. I’m told the men are thick
with songbirds pretty and tucked in their guts. My chest stuffed
with boar meat I am sick and charging, false prophet
of my own tongue. When a street crone waved a toy at me
and begged for money, then followed me cursing, spitting at my feet,
shielding the toy from my sight, I imagined my love a marionette
his torqued face forecasting my death. The expat leaned in again.
“We cannot care what is possibly done to us. Look how I speak
English to you.” I was glad for the sun so early fled from this world,
the night able to statue me to this clock-tower memory where
I hang all my men. I was glad for the drink in my hand. It was mine.