2018-01-21


To Those of You Alive in the Future
--Dean Young 
who somehow have found a sip of water,
on this day in the past four syndicated
series involving communication with the dead
were televised and in this way we resembled
our own ghosts in a world made brief with flowers.
To you, our agonies and tizzies
must appear quaint as the stiff shoulders
of someone carrying buckets from a well
or the stung beekeeper gathering honey.
Why did we bother hurrying from A to B
when we’d get no further than D, if that?
On Monday, it sleeted in Pennsylvania
while someone’s mother was scoured further
from her own mind. A son-in-law smoked
in the parking lot, exhaling white curses
torn apart by the large invisible indifference.
The general anesthetic wore off
and someone else opened her eyes to the results.
In this way our world was broken and glued.
But why did we bother shooing away the flies?
Did we think we could work our way
inside a diamond if we ground more pigment
into the paper’s tooth, tried to hold fire
on our tongues, sucked at the sugars of each other?
Many the engagement rings in the pawnshop.
Many the empties piled at the curbs.
A couple paused on a bridge to watch
chunks of ice tugged by bickering currents.
One who slept late reached out
for one who wasn’t there. Breads, heavy
and sweet, were pulled from wide infernos
of stone ovens. My name was Dean Young,
I wrote it on a leaf. Sometimes
I could still manage to get lost,
there was no guidance system wired inside me yet.
Laughter might have come from a window
lit far into the night, others were dark
and always silent.


2018-01-19


[That]
--Leslie Harrison 
That this is the morning in which nothing much 
that the sky is still there and the water dresses 
accordingly that only at night does the water rest 
vanish from sight that the stars are too small too far 
to register there that all our names too are writ 
invisibly on water that abiding requires more hope 
than I can possibly acquire that hope is not a thing 
with feathers that hope is a thing with a fist a thin 
crust sketched over oceans that hope is what despair 
uses for bait come in hope says the water's fine 
that hope is the blood with which you write letter 
that start dear sea dear ocean stop asking so fucking 
much that hope is a telegram delivered by men 
in pairs men in uniform a telegram that says missing 
stop that says once again presumed lost stop


2018-01-17


[ Moon Light ; Igor Medvedev ].........


2018-01-15


Moonlit Moonlight 
In night invisible wishes
search for tokens fallen
from pocket sewn dreams. 
Slightly such songs stir
with traces that hint
through frozen wonder, 
blind to any bedfast
beyond where outskirt
winds swift away hours.
Dust snow, apparent
shadow, faint occurrence
at a loss for any new 
moment. Just to notice
betwixt variant desires
is glass eyed sentience, 
time laden groundswell
blunted alive while framed
in echoes yielding silence. 


2018-01-13


from Approaches to How They Behave
--W. S. Graham 
1
What does it matter if the words
I choose, in the order I choose them in,
Go out into a silence I know
Nothing about, there to be let
In and entertained and charmed
Out of their master’s orders?  And yet
I would like to see where they go
And how without me they behave. 
2
Speaking is difficult and one tries
To be exact and yet not to
Exact the prime intention to death.
On the other hand the appearance of things
Must not be made to mean another
Thing.  It is a kind of triumph
To see them and to put them down
As what they are.  The inadequacy
Of the living, animal language drives
Us all to metaphor and an attempt
To organize the spaces we think
We have made occur between the words. 
3
The bad word and the bad word and
The word which glamours me with some
Quick face it pulls to make me let
It leave me to go across
In roughly your direction, hates
To go out maybe so completely
On another silence not its own. 
4
Before I know it they are out
Afloat in the head which freezes them.
Then I suppose I take the best
Away and leave the others arranged
Like floating bergs to sink a convoy. 
5
One word says to its mate O
I do not think we go together
Are we doing any good here
Why do we find ourselves put down?
The mate pleased to be spoken to
Looks up from the line below
And says well that doubtful god
Who has us here is far from sure
How we on our own tickle the chin
Of the prince or the dame that lets us in. 
6
The dark companion is a star
Very present like a dark poem
Far and unreadable just out
At the edge of this poem floating.
It is not more or less a dark
Companion poem to the poem.


More on W. S. Graham at POETRY. I was previously not familiar with him. 


2018-01-11


from The Constructed Space
--W. S. Graham 
Meanwhile surely there must be something to say,
Maybe not suitable but at least happy
In a sense here between us two whoever
We are. Anyhow here we are and never
Before have we two faced each other who face
Each other now across this abstract scene
Stretching between us. This is a public space
Acheived against subjective odds and then
Mainly an obstacle to what I mean. 
It is like that, remember. It is like that
Very often at the beginning till we are met
By some intention risen up out of nothing.
And even then we know what we are saying
Only when it is said and fixed and dead,
Or maybe, surely, of course we never know
What we have said, what lonely meanings are read
Into the space we make. And yet I say
This silence here for in it I might hear you....


2018-01-09


[ Snow Night ; Hayami Gyoshū (1930) ].........


[via lifting of the veil/parabola mag


2018-01-07


How It Happens
--W. S. Merwin 
The sky said I am watching
to see what you
can make out of nothing
I was looking up and I said
I thought you
were supposed to be doing that
the sky said Many
are clinging to that
I am giving you a chance
I was looking up and I said
I am the only chance I have
then the sky did not answer
and here we are
with our names for the days
the vast days that do not listen to us


2018-01-05


A Message to Po Chu-I
--W. S. Merwin 
In that tenth winter of your exile
the cold never letting go of you
and your hunger aching inside you
day and night while you heard the voices
out of the starving mouths around you
old ones and infants and animals
those curtains of bones swaying on stilts
and you heard the faint cries of the birds
searching in the frozen mud for something
to swallow and you watched the migrants
trapped in the cold the great geese growing
weaker by the day until their wings
could barely lift them above the ground
so that a gang of boys could catch one
in a net and drag him to market
to be cooked and it was then that you
saw him in his own exile and you
paid for him and kept him until he
could fly again and you let him go
but then where could he go in the world
of your time with its wars everywhere
and the soldiers hungry the fires lit
the knives out twelve hundred years ago 
I have been wanting to let you know
the goose is well he is here with me
you would recognize the old migrant
he has been with me for a long time
and is in no hurry to leave here
the wars are bigger now than ever
greed has reached numbers that you would not
believe and I will not tell you what
is done to geese before they kill them
now we are melting the very poles
of the earth but I have never known
where he would go after he leaves me


2018-01-03


The Bamboo by Li Ch’e Yun’s Window
--Po Chü-I (trans. Kenneth Rexroth) 
Don’t cut it to make a flute.
Don’t trim it for a fishing
Pole. When the grass and flowers
Are all gone, it will be beautiful
Under the falling snow flakes.


Staying at Bamboo Lodge
--Po Chü-I (trans. James Cryer) 
an evening sitting under
the eaves of the pines
at night sleeping
in Bamboo Lodge
the sky so clear you’d say
it was drugs
meditation so deep, thought
I’d gone home to the hills
but Clever can’t beat
Stupid
and Quick won’t match
Quiet
Untoiling-ness!
(you just can’t pave the Way)
that’s it!
the Gate of Mystery!


2018-01-01



If asked which book jumps to mind first for what I read in 2017, answer would be Jean-Paul Sartre’s The Age of Reason. Not that I thought it was a perfect book. Far from it. The drama, while entertaining, was a bit too much. Over the top really and if written by anyone but Sartre, quite a few eyes would role. But in the end the histrionics helped to bring about the philosophical realization obtained by the central character. I guess. In the missing pages which could follow, one can suppose Mathieu then enjoyed long walks on beaches. At least up until WWII bombs started dropping. Sort of like what I now find on Monday evenings. No expectations. Too early in the week to look forward to much. An easy sleep. So unlike Saturdays when I busily attempt to make life more than what it really is. With the exception of a winter wreath on the front door and some white lights on the holly bush beside the steps, all the holiday décor in the house was taken down a few days ago. And after I vacuumed up the pine needles and sat down for a beer before dinner, the snowfall eased off and allowed sunlight to stream through a back room window and onto the wool rug in the front living room. My cat Chet found a place to sit to join in. I largely take the same approach to politics. Less can be more. I remember a Robert Thurman lecture where he spoke on how there will always be people blowing each other up. His shocking bluntness to match the absurdity of violence. Its prevalence as well. Any resolute action, really. What we throw out into existence comes right back at us. Why finding and nurturing personal freedom is not being apathetic, but rather an act of inner strength and if authentic, can be a moral example for betterment. When translated to artistic efforts, how close it resides to the eternal humdrum that surrounds truth, ‘human condition’ as it is known. When speaking of the universe, never do you hear of faults or errors. Things to be done. Instead, existence as it is is fully accepted. What would be the price to extend such an attitude down here on earth?  The struggle for survival needs to be worked into the equation. Another Monday evening is coming, as it always will and no different from any other. Such is my resolution. Welcome, January 2018. 



2017-12-29



..........He was a wise man who invented beer. ~Plato..................
.......[ Juicy Tree ; Short's Brewing (Bellaire, MI) ]


2017-12-27



Laugh & Be Merry
--John Masefield

Laugh and be merry, remember, better the world with a song,
Better the world with a blow in the teeth of a wrong.
Laugh, for the time is brief, a thread the length of a span.
Laugh and be proud to belong to the old proud pageant of man.

Laugh and be merry: remember, in olden time.
God made Heaven and Earth for joy He took in a rhyme,
Made them, and filled them full with the strong red wine of His mirth
The splendid joy of the stars: the joy of the earth.

So we must laugh and drink from the deep blue cup of the sky,
Join the jubilant song of the great stars sweeping by,
Laugh, and battle, and work, and drink of the wine outpoured
In the dear green earth, the sign of the joy of the Lord.

Laugh and be merry together, like brothers akin,
Guesting awhile in the rooms of a beautiful inn,
Glad till the dancing stops, and the lilt of the music ends.
Laugh till the game is played; and be you merry, my friends.


[via whiskey river]



2017-12-25


Birds Know
--Charles Simic 
There's a pond, a man said,
Far back in these woods,
Birds and deer know about
And slake their thirst there 
In a water so cold and clear,
It's like a brand-new mirror
No one had a chance to look at yet,
Save, perhaps, that little boy, 
Who went missing years ago,
And may've drowned in it,
Or left some trace of himself
Playing along its rocky edges. 
I better go and find out,
This very night, I said to myself,
With my mind running wild,
And the moon out there so bright.


An earlier version can be found at Verse Daily. This final version, as well as Illegible Scribble from the post prior, are available in Simic's 2017 publication, Scribbled in the Dark.

2017-12-23



Illegible Scribble
--Charles Simic 
These rags the spirit borrows
To clothe itself
Against the chill of mortality.
O barbed wire of crossed-out words,
Crown of thorns,
Camp meeting of dead wall reveries,
Spilled worry beads,
Fortune-teller's coffee dregs,
My footholds in the abyss.



2017-12-21



Wanting It Darker
--Ben Ladouceur 

The sun time of the year died out and never might return.
We made fires big as coffee tables to approximate the sun.
I wanted to be a mountain.
I wanted us all countless mountains in a detailed painting.

Blood is everywhere as always.
But now it is blown further and oxygenated for longer.
Yet more sad word has come digitally.
We contain no blood with which to soften and warm the sad word.

Cold wind placed and places the house in its mouth.
We met the end numb and almost still.
Number meant less motion meant even number meant totally still.

The buildings stand still.
The buildings still stand.
The buildings like the builders take each other by the hand.


[via POETRY December 2017]

2017-12-19



[ Some of My Best Friends are Blues ; Jimmy Smith ]



D- Donald Bailey
G- George Benson
K- Jimmy Smith



2017-12-17



Always it’s cold on this mountain!
Every year, and not just this.
Dense peaks, thick with snow.
Black pine-trees breathing mist.
It’s summer before the grass grows,
Not yet autumn when the leaves fall.
Full of illusions, I roam here,
Gaze and gaze, but can’t see the sky. 
--Han-Shan (c.800)


[via Poetry In Translation]


2017-12-15


This Morning
--George Scarbrough 
Getting out of bed, Han-Shan
Falls flat on his back between the bed
And the bureau for the second time in a week.  
He lies breathless, feeling no dismay, only
A sense of expectation confirmed: “I’m
Developing an intimacy with the earth,  
The old leveler,” he says, getting his breath
Back. “The world keeps going for my head,
The love of one sphere for another,” he
Supposes. “With heaven kicked out of the way.” 
He smiles at the egregious metaphor
And climbs the bedpost to a new erection,
But tempted to slide down again. Stepping
Gingerly, he makes his way to the kitchen,  
Wondering how many more falls he will be
Obliged to take before he is forced
To accept the stance and keep to the level. 


[taken from the Han-Shan Sequence]



2017-12-13


The Traveler
--George Scarbrough 
Each morning before he gets up
To feed the chickens and milk the cow,
Han-Shan, propped among pillows, studies
The map of nameless places and lost
Addresses he keeps in his head: 
He might as well consult the veins
On the back of his gnarled hand
Or count the rows of hair
As if they were tree-lined avenues,
So little information they give. 
Somewhere in the maze of twists
And turns that leads his mind nowhere,
There is a valley of melons
And groves of plum trees:
Somewhere between the mountains. 
Farther, at the foot of an abrupt
Plateau, there are plats of yellow
Poppies that vie for attention:
But where? In what precinct?
What country? 
And where, in what latitude,
Under the first snow of the season,
Stand the young chestnut trees
That make so viable a plantation?
Where the venue of chestnut-fall? 
If there were only a fingerpost
Or marked stone on the river-road
To go by! If only he could remember
The man who gave him directions
With an ivory-ringed hand. 
Mists open and close like swept
Curtains, denying further inspection:
At the barn the young calf pleads
To be turned in with its mother.
The old mare drums a door 
With impatient hooves.
There is a sudden outcry
Amount the white hens.
First light is not the time
To reckon foreign geographies. 
Or tabulate the years in an age.
Yet as his feet grope in bedside
Darkness for his scattered shoes,
Han-Shan wonders if in that other
Realm the wheatfield is still on fire.



2017-12-11



[ Village. Winter. ; Isaac Levitan (1888) ].........



2017-11-30


Haiku- Autumn 2017


goldenrod sunlight
down stretched shadows
of late september


schoolyard,
kicking a stone along
just because


in the porch light shadows
always the curious
raccoon


geese flying south
yet only one story ever
to call my own


indian summer-
graciously, the elderly man
says hello


outbound morning train
but stirring in the oak leaves,
ghosts still left behind


three days of rain
and then its november,
only november


into the sunset
empty branches stretch beyond
both hope and memory


northern cloud bank-
an overloaded bookshelf
bringing in winter



2017-11-28


From Here
--Federico García Lorca (trans. Sarah Arvio) 
Tell my friends
I have died 
Water always sings
under the trembling woods 
Tell my friends
I have died 
How the poplars
sway the silken sound— 
Tell them my eyes
stayed open 
that the immortal
blue handkerchief
covered my face 
And ah! 
that I went to my star
without bread

[via poetry daily; Spanish original]