2019-10-16


The Pedagogy of Conflict
--Pádraig Ó Tuama 
I
When I was a child,
I learnt to lie. 
When I was a child
my parents said that sometimes,
lives are protected
by an undetected
light lie of
deception 
When I was a child,
I learnt to lie. 
Now, I am more than twenty five
and I’m alive
because I’ve lied
and I am lying still. 
Sometimes,
it’s the only way of living. 

II
When I was a child
I learnt that I could stay alive
by obeying certain
rules: 
let your anger cool before you
blossom bruises on your brother’s shoulder; 
always show your manners at the table; 
always keep the rules and never question; 
never mention certain things to certain people; 
never doubt the reasons behind
legitimate aggression; 
if you compromise or humanise
you must still even out the score; 
and never open up the door.
Never open up the door.
Never, never, never open up the blasted door. 
When I was a child,
I learnt that I could stay alive
by obeying certain rules.
Never open up the door. 

III
When I was a child,
I learnt to count to five
one, two, three, four, five.
but these days, I’ve been counting lives, so I count 
one life
one life
one life
one life
one life 
because each time
is the first time
that that life
has been taken. 
Legitimate Target
has sixteen letters
and one
long
abominable
space
between
two
dehumanising
words.

2019-10-14


[The Balloon ; Pierre Puvis de Chavannes]

“The only war is the war against the imagination.”
― Diane Di Prima


2019-10-12




 I will cut adrift—I will sit on pavements and drink coffee—I will dream; I will take my mind out of its iron cage and let it swim—this fine October.” 
.--Virginia Woolf, from a diary entry c. October 1927 featured in “Diaries,”




[via dreaming in the deep south


2019-10-10


Geep
--Sidney Wade
     
The music
of the sleepy 
day was
ravagingly 
dull until
Michael reeled 
up a geep
from the depths 
of his considerable
intelligence 
a geep !
a wonky blend 
of goat and sheep
a medical medley 
genetic fugue
they call chimera 
another wholly
enthralling sound 
we found
when googling geep 
whose enharmonic
bleating in the end 
rings oh so
sad the photo 
on the screen
reveals a downcast 
baby creature
neither here 
nor there
two bold 
and mordant
sets of chromosomes 
whistling fortissimo
through its patch-work 
hide a botched-up
map of silken hair 
and wooly yellow
fur its forlorn 
droopy ears
a study 
in radical
embarrassment 
I feel profoundly
sorry for this 
border folly
this lonely little 
instrument
of the ever- 
expanding notion
of what's possible 
but then I see
we're kin 
the little geep and me
we're marginal 
ephemera
intoning low 
invisible messages
at the edges 
of the known
to who knows 
whom
the difference 
between us
a matter of degree 
the poet of course
a hybrid creature 
of transport and remorse
an over-reacher 
in semaphore
who knows that sound's 
the gold in the ore
whose pleasure-ground 
is linguistic welter
who rides like ice 
on its own melting
to paradise 
or to a stranger land
we don't yet understand

2019-10-08



Such Luck
--Sidney Wade

in the larger
darknesses

of the ground
west of sight

I’m shouting
at the mountain

of silence
and depth

when
an eye opens

and I open
my mouth

to devour
the sound

of night
which in time

will filter
through all

that swings
or hums

my fist
is full

of letters
my wrist

aches like
a drum

such luck
to hold 
this compendium
of resonant

voices in
the sanatorium

of my head
whose guest-

book is
crowded

with the high-
brow and 
the low-brow
and whose

overseer
in the back-

ground prays
every day

for my bright
daughters

and the black
blue waters

they’re swimming
through and all

the possibilities
they might

swallow
and I know

my strength
and sphere

may be slight
but look

at this
handful

of light
I found

in a crack
in the ground

here
it’s for you


 [via connotation press]


2019-10-06



.......Autumn by the Greenhouse ; Edvard Munch ]



2019-10-04



Nightcap
--Adam Clay

Some mornings I read poems
and my first impulse is to remain silent,

as if even the simple act

of conversing would further complicate
a world continually unfolding before us.

Perhaps like an observer on the outside of a field,
perhaps like an observer on the outside of a field,
the field has somehow clouded the space around me.

In moments like last night, one can’t help but wonder
about the sharp edge of a year and the dullness

of them adding up, one by one. It’s certain
I’m not the same person I was back then and even now
I have a temptation to swerve this life off

into another one. If life is a flight
where I lose everything and everything belongs to oblivion
then I can live with that. After all, what choice

do we have? An observer on the outside of a field,

I am a different person altogether.

I am suddenly standing
there with you, your hand touching my arm.



2019-10-02


Exhibit A
--Adam Clay 
Would it be enough to suggest
the smoke from across the hill 
suggests a type of life or a type of living?
I’d like to be stranger than I’ve been. 
One bite taken from an apple and left
in the yard for an animal 
to scavenge. Could this be a day
or any day? I’d like to think so. 
I’d like to think there’s something
to be said for closeness 
to death, as if nearly leaving this world
can color our existence in a particular way 
or another. I miss you, we might say
to ourselves in those moments, 
but those moments lumber ahead
without us where another person 
is making copies, sipping the last bit of coffee
for a day going, 
a day already half-gone. I miss you,
we might say to each other in those moments, 
as if repetition can be a way of
or even a minor attempt at remembering.  

2019-09-30



Now Warm & Capable
--Adam Clay 
Before sleep, I hear the wind chimes
from our neighbor’s front porch
and back yard and from 
the other side of their house. The chimes
make some kind of sense of the wind, 
though I don’t know what sense it might be
or why they bother. For beauty only?
Or a sieve for the chaos to slip through? 
The week-before-last Ada asked Michael and I
if we believed in God, a higher power, 
a whatever. A few months back Richie
mentioned that search engine histories
have become the closest thing 
to prayer we have. I don’t know why origins
mean so much to us, 
and why our unknowing must sting like a scar.
The way we reckon depends on the day’s shade.
Think of the Sweetspire and how you might 
miss the native if you aren’t looking for it, as if
each day finds its ending in a homily of undoing.

[via Poetry Northwest]



2019-09-28





[ My Old Flame ]


b - Tommy Potter
p- Walter Bishop, Jr
ts - Sonny Rollins
t - Miles Davis

original by Sam Coslow and Arthur Johnston



2019-09-26


Moon Jar Canto (XII)
--Dan Beachy-Quick

] the full moon is two half-moons joined
the old word for such a joint is harmony
harmony joins the two halves of the moon together
and makes the moon whole [  ] there’s a lot of emptiness
inside the moon the moon is made of this emptiness
and it is glazed a blinding white eyeless as the open
eyes of gods when hearing a heart beat
they open their eyes on the animal they hunt [  ] some
times they hunt the moon and sometimes
the moon is the hunter [  ] the moon
has a heart and that heart thinks and pulses
and I who am saying I with you as you say I
am an echo of that pulse or am I a thought
that is the moon’s thought
                                   (  )
life borrows light borrows life
I like the riddle even if I have no choice but to be it [  ] or
so I sometimes think [  ] building so much by hand
building the moon by hand
building by hand my hands and building these thoughts [  ] my
head is feet and hands [  ] the moon has a foot and a lip
and when the harmony limps or lisps
the moon needs a dark crutch to stay full and bright [  ] some
times the moon is a bow drawn back
sometimes it’s the string of the lyre [  ] some
times the moon is a pot filled with smaller moons
rings and earrings and some other singing that has no name
but adorns the emptiness [  ] adores and
adorns the emptiness as it grows inside us [



2019-09-24



The poet told us to moan, and we moaned.

*

She gave us a poem by another poet. The poem had only one word: “Bird.” The word kept repeating and it made a shape. The shape was the cage of a bird.

That’s how we learned we become our own limit. Emerson writes, “Every thought is also a prison; every heaven is also a prison.”
That’s how we ended up being this cage with no bird inside it.

All wire, no song.

*

The poet told us to moan louder.



--from A Quiet Book; Dan Beachy-Quick


2019-09-22



The Cricket and the Grasshopper
--Dan Beachy-Quick 
The senseless leaf   in the fevered hand
Grows hot, near blood-heat, but never grows
Green. Weeks ago the dove’s last cooing strain
Settled silent in the nest to brood slow
Absence from song. The dropped leaf cools
On the uncut grass, supple still, still green,
Twining still these fingers as they listless pull
The tangle straight until the tangle tightens
And the hand is caught, another fallen leaf.
The poetry of the earth never ceases
Ceasing — one blade of grass denies belief
Until its mere thread bears the grasshopper’s
Whole weight, and the black cricket sings unseen,
Desire living in a hole beneath the tangle’s green.



2019-09-20



[ Apple Tree ; Prudence Heward (1935) ]........



2019-09-18



On the Road Home
--Wallace Stevens 
It was when I said,
“There is no such thing as the truth,”
That the grapes seemed fatter.
The fox ran out of his hole. 
You . . . You said
“There are many truths,
But they are not parts of a truth.”
Then the tree, at night, began to change, 
Smoking through green and smoking blue.
We were two figures in a wood.
We said we stood alone. 
It was when I said,
“Words are not forms of a single word.
In the sum of the parts, there are only the parts.
The world must be measured by eye”; 
It was when you said,
“The idols have seen lots of poverty,
Snakes and gold and lice,
But not the truth”; 
It was at that time, that the silence was largest
And longest, the night was roundest,
The fragrance of the autumn warmest,
Closest and strongest.


2019-09-16


Semicolons
--Zubair Ahmed 
Forgive me.
I say to the wall.
My life is paper.
My jaws rust. 
Wanderer: singing.
The sky is my home.
I throw roses into it
to color it red. 
Stop: these roads
grow from me.
My journey must end
because my destinations
have ended. 
Kneeling like a priest,
seeing the spherical eyes
of flies, my wish:
emptiness and sudden light. 
Resurrection: I am dead
from it—the attempt to live
again. 
It sings as me when I sleep:
the world dressed in yellow.
Never have songs
meant for me what they do
when you sing. 
I leave you: haloes and clothes.
I leave you violently.
Like the wail of an exile. 
Forget me: my truth.
My masterpiece is
my nonexistence. 
Sunrise: unbreakable dawn.
I open your book.
It has no pages.



2019-09-14


Gradiva 
--Billie Chernicoff
She who walks
walking,
the woman who walks
that woman
walking,
the splendid one
unreal twice over
thus real, who walks
with her sisters,
the three who walk
early, in the dew. 
The dew, called
“what is it?” called
Dieu,
the teaching water,
drops of the night. 
She who does not stride
who does not go dreamily
who is real, who walks
with naked foot
who lifts her foot
and sets it down
sets her heel down
in wet grass
she whose toes, whose
arch, the arch of whose foot
whose foot lifts
and flexes, whose toes
press the earth
whose heel is firm
she who walks
walking ahead,
even of her sisters. 
Across the wet field.
She who has risen early
who hears the owl
and the mourning dove. 
She who lifts her skirt
who lifts the heavy cloth
the folds of
the stuff of her skirt
who gathers in her hand
the soft cloth of her garment
and lifts it from the ground
walking with wet feet and ankles
with cool feet in the dew. 
With warm thighs under her skirt
under the cloth, her warmth
as she walks, as she walks away
from chaos, history, obsession,
she to whom the walls of the city
are as mist.  
The rhythm of sisters
rhythm of hips
deep socket of the back
the sway of hips
spine rising
from the cleft of her buttocks
her torso rising, uplifted. 
Each step lifts her.
It is a rocking
and a sailing
a moving forward
while hovering. 
The unthinking acts of her feet
knees and hips, the hinges, the slip
the synovial fluency, the slip of
thighs overtaking each other
the genital slip, the smallest. 
Unreal twice over,
therefore real, she walks ahead
of those who imagine
remember, deny
and pursue her,
who are perplexed
refreshed, comforted
pleased, vexed, shaken by her,
who confuse her with her name. 
She slips away.
She balances,
acquiesces,
moves forward.
Her gaze is a sailing ship. 
Her foot on the earth
pleasures her, the earth
pressures her, answers her.
It is her pleasure. 
The moist cloud
of her breath
and of the earth,
her own perfume
in her skirt
in her armpit,
the perfume
of her sisters
of the grass
even of her name,
all these are in the air. 
The dew is in her skirt
her cloth, her clothes
her hem heavy with dew,
it cannot be helped.
That she is free of us,
free of our supplications
our promises,
free of our books. 
Her wet skirt is her book.
She who resolves
absolves and reveals
wrings out the solvent
from her own skirt.
Her hem rains,
love doctoring love. 
Our father the owl
our mother the mourning dove
our sisters the laughter of her sisters. 
The sun and moon are in the sky.
The morning star is in the sky,
a wet flame. How pale the moon is.
How at one everything is in her gaze. 

You walk with her
wait for her
marry and abandon her.
She heals the letters of your name. 
You dream you are her only errand.
She leaves her footprints in you. 
She who slips between columns
who advances, who rises
and walks on, splendid in walking.

2019-09-12


[ Gradiva ; Salvador Dalí (1933) ]



2019-09-01


Haiku- Summer 2019


wake to rise 
from sleep or dream
daylight 


petrichor--
all those memories rising
from their shadows


choosing what's not said
as much as enjoying what is--
friends over forty


goldfinch perched atop
thistle's purple spined blossom
sharing a secret


that musty cellar
sand at rest at the bottom
of the hour glass


learning late of a death-
not a matter of if but when life is
left to swallow us whole


excitement over,
I meet myself yet again
out on the back porch




2019-08-27



And Yet Yesterday Where Still It Rains 
Briefest key in sunrise, time flows fluid smooth
eye pursuit inducement, dream sight of gravity's 
convertible silence for beginning manifest
effort worthy of emphatic coffee, fixed as it is 
simplest attendance sallied past calendar days
encircled by seasonal rind, apostrophic slide 
without needful gobbet, only thinnest presence
to linger this being minstrel morning color, 
remnant play gleaned from childlike fathoms
ever that jocose beginner, devoted companion, 
I sit here with thematic carafe, it's just myself
quartered by sunlight through syllables 
like images, ambulant thought unsourced,
grown aloud, amidst weightless trajectory. 



2019-08-25



[ Preserved Peaches ; Janet Fish (1975) ].............



2019-08-23



Instructions
--Eavan Boland 
To write about age you need to take something and
break it. 
(This is an art that has always loved young women.
And silent ones.) 
A branch, perhaps, girlish with blossom. Snapped off.
Close to the sap. 
Then cut through a promised summer. Continue. Cut
down to the root. 
The spring afternoon will come to your door, angry
as any mother. Ignore her. 
Now take syntax. Break that too. What is left is for you
and you only: 
A dead tree. The future. What does not bear fruit. Or
thinking of.



[via Paris Review,  as through their poem a day subscription] 


2019-08-21



Amor Mundi
--Christina Rossetti

“Oh where are you going with your love-locks flowing
 ..On the west wind blowing along this valley track?”
“The downhill path is easy, come with me an it please ye,
  ..We shall escape the uphill by never turning back.”

So they two went together in glowing August weather,
 ..The honey-breathing heather lay to their left and right;
And dear she was to dote on, her swift feet seemed to float on
 ..The air like soft twin pigeons too sportive to alight.

“Oh what is that in heaven where gray cloud-flakes are seven,
  ..Where blackest clouds hang riven just at the rainy skirt?”
“Oh that’s a meteor sent us, a message dumb, portentous,
  ..An undeciphered solemn signal of help or hurt.”

“Oh what is that glides quickly where velvet flowers grow thickly,
  ..Their scent comes rich and sickly?”—“A scaled and hooded worm.”
“Oh what’s that in the hollow, so pale I quake to follow?”
  ..“Oh that’s a thin dead body which waits the eternal term.”

“Turn again, O my sweetest,—turn again, false and fleetest:
  ..This beaten way thou beatest I fear is hell’s own track.”
“Nay, too steep for hill-mounting; nay, too late for cost-counting:
  ..This downhill path is easy, but there’s no turning back.”



2019-08-19



From Blossoms
--Li-Young Lee 
From blossoms comes
this brown paper bag of peaches
we bought from the boy
at the bend in the road where we turned toward 
signs painted Peaches
From laden boughs, from hands,
from sweet fellowship in the bins,
comes nectar at the roadside, succulent
peaches we devour, dusty skin and all,
comes the familiar dust of summer, dust we eat. 
O, to take what we love inside,
to carry within us an orchard, to eat
not only the skin, but the shade,
not only the sugar, but the days, to hold
the fruit in our hands, adore it, then bite into 
the round jubilance of peach. 
There are days we live
as if death were nowhere
in the background; from joy
to joy to joy, from wing to wing,
from blossom to blossom to
impossible blossom, to sweet impossible blossom.