Thursday, March 29, 2012

serious? practical?

True Love

by Wislawa Szymborska

True love. Is it normal
 is it serious, is it practical?
 What does the world get from two people
 who exist in a world of their own?

 Placed on the same pedestal for no good reason,
 drawn randomly from millions but convinced
 it had to happen this way - in reward for what?
    For nothing.
 The light descends from nowhere.
 Why on these two and not on others?
 Doesn't this outrage justice? Yes it does.
 Doesn't it disrupt our painstakingly erected principles,
 and cast the moral from the peak? Yes on both accounts.

 Look at the happy couple.
 Couldn't they at least try to hide it,
 fake a little depression for their friends' sake?
 Listen to them laughing - its an insult.
 The language they use - deceptively clear.
 And their little celebrations, rituals,
 the elaborate mutual routines -
 it's obviously a plot behind the human race's back!

 It's hard even to guess how far things might go
 if people start to follow their example.
 What could religion and poetry count on?
 What would be remembered? What renounced?
 Who'd want to stay within bounds?

 True love. Is it really necessary?
 Tact and common sense tell us to pass over it in silence,
 like a scandal in Life's highest circles.
 Perfectly good children are born without its help.
 It couldn't populate the planet in a million years,
 it comes along so rarely.

 Let the people who never find true love
 keep saying that there's no such thing.

 Their faith will make it easier for them to live and die.

Translated by Stanislaw Baranczak and Clare Cavanagh

Tuesday, March 27, 2012

la luna/ the moon

La luna
por Jaime Sabines

La luna se puede tomar a cucharadas
o como una cápsula cada dos horas. 
Es buena como hipnótico y sedante
y también alivia
a los que se han intoxicado de filosofía
Un pedazo de luna en el bolsillo
es el mejor amuleto que la pata de conejo: 
sirve para encontrar a quien se ama, 
y para alejar a los médicos y las clínicas. 
Se puede dar de postre a los niños
cuando no se han dormido, 
y unas gotas de luna en los ojos de los ancianos
ayudan a bien morir

Pon una hoja tierna de la luna
debajo de tu almohada
y mirarás lo que quieras ver. 
Lleva siempre un frasquito del aire de la luna 
para cuando te ahogues, 
y dale la llave de la luna 
a los presos y a los desencantados. 
Para los condenados a muerte 
y para los condenados a vida 
no hay mejor estimulante que la luna 
en dosis precisas y controladas

Monday, March 26, 2012

the undoing

the undoing

it’s psychic surgery
the common fall off a cliff
it’s this personal city of memories & presence
flipped on it’s horizon

it’s dismantling the we into two separate words
it’s my job to do and be done
it’s me calling to you *home*
yet unable to flee or sleep in

it’s calling my mom, my sister, so many
mutual friends to tell them,
telling myself repeatedly, we’ve broken records
it’s six years of rollercoasters and this is the endless drop

this is your saturn returning in libra
mercury not yet fully out of retrograde
it’s that mountain in front of me
and the whole world on the other side

it’s all the sad songs i want to put together
the mix playing slowly on a tape towards the end
it’s a box set, a series
the last thing i think at night

it’s the thoughts that make sleep such a distant shallow dream
and make waking unbearable
this is rock bottom & it keeps going
this is an aquifer of sorrow

this is a reservoir of emptiness
a quarry filled with confusion
i thought i was a water witch
i thought we were divine

you want to make this goodbye the exception
like i wanted to make all of our hellos
and still i climb your bed in search of smell
and still i count grief sheep

you are the extra bone in my body
the one that aches and helps me fly
your body is not a house but *home*,
you are the birdcage under my ribs

it’s nothing i’ve done wrong
there is nothing i can do
except cross out the partner before your name
cross out the offer in my gestures

and now the veil of dawn must lift
and now the wind in virgo turns cold
now the eyes turn to clouds & swell
the moon loosens its mooring & breaks

you eat & sleep, work & dream,
and i am lost in the stopping of this world
you take shelter in the gaze of another
as i crawl out of my mind

but there you are, all shoulders & sweetness
here you are, so unmasked & familiar
and there you go, off into your ramshackle vision
and here, in false hope, i stay and stay and

still. i am still.


Saturday, March 24, 2012

with eyes bigger than

with eyes bigger than

i'm familiar with exceptions,
with the unavailable.

i have many sweet teeth tucked under pillows,
(unable to leave) the last peppermints for others.
i swear, sharing comes easy to me,
except when a fucking addict is involved.

did you set up shop in my psyche
with unlocked windows, slashed screens?
you rage all night, strange halfdreams
complete with strobe lights & house music.
like a home filled with moths breeding
in the pantry, you hid for months
behind fog machines, in jars & folded sheets.

i'm regularly in love with slow humans 
who resemble caterpillars & maybe eggs, 
cocoon versions of the possible. like a biologist,
my curiosity fixates on migrations, antennae,
hypotheses. the unavailable corners of me
hide from a turn of the lens. tucked in attics,
under white coats, stacks of papers live
with words like this is a poem, sit down.
i am so in love with the idea of you,
stay. in and out you go, a breeze, a clap of
thunder, thursday. a stone
turned over and over in my hand.

you'd be as gentle as i can be
cruel, soft like something simple, a bed
of edible flowers, even your elbows,
your weak knees. outside a landlocked
bakery, i dream of elaborate pastries,
all false, a mirage on display.

sweetness has a cost and a thirst. i pace
the perimeter, take measurements
with the microscope. nothing computes
according to calculation. careful now,
dodging whispers of not enough,
my breath holds, my hand, unsatisfied, salty.
this desire grows blue & bluer.

could my eyes get any bigger, will my stomach
stop! backflips and nosedives

really, i shouldn't have swallowed
all those fancy butterfly looks. but they had
such shiny sugary wings


Friday, March 23, 2012

the question of calling police

the question of calling police

the neighbors are rushing hand to
fist first into an argument,
equivalent to a foreign tongue
full of slash & slang. second octave
rising upon the first floor, tracked.
we flinch back

to october, when the two lovers
were not next door, when the knob
stuck on the inside of my
parents' modest suburban
captivity. like the who-knows-why
mouth of an owl, i'd shut
open & distract. maybe catch a snake
in my claws. let the indoor lights
fail like singing flesh.

now i pull socks to knees while legs
buckle into the seat of my own
familiar lapse. we toast to new boys drinking
side by side, windows unlocked
and facing into dual dining rooms.

we look everywhere for some sort of
law against this distance, pretending
none of us can touch

november 2005

Thursday, March 22, 2012

conqueror mentality

conqueror mentality

first genevieve wrote this::::

the way that you deny something to be true unless you see it yourself. the way that you exploit and excuse in the name of something greater. you make fires. you build and destroy. build and destroy. build and destroy. i am soulfully woefully sad at the way you have treated me. it is a wound to my heart, to my spirit, to my desire for community, and harmony. you have spat upon it sat upon it. you sit atop your throne of make-believe. i have to keep from hating myself for giving you my heart for so many years, for taking you seriously, for believing that you meant even one damn thing you said.  i still don't know what the lesson is in that for me. you play a mean game. you play to win.

which inspired me to write this::::

a body you nor i chose but must
go about our days in
clothed, putting on
tiered attitudes
fumbled excuses

binary is just a code
developed to advance the program
it enhances your screened performances
(the luddite has faded fast)
gotta follow the money
the maker

i'm listening to the tempo and the tone shifting
there are music videos & there are children's stories
conversations about what's real
what's revolution
you're still putting your experience
at center stage, searching
for allies, looking guarded and

what happens

when someone is more
than anatomy, audience, admiring,
more than you have practiced
allowing room, allotting land for

you are territorial

preferential, who assigned you

the stage is huge, you are not
my friend. you and i,
we have brought our
conqueror selves to these plays
of power, these dictionaries
of definitions. i am cataloged
by paper cards & reduced to pulp
and burning. you pulse

and click and misfire
in the distance. offering
speed and seduction, eyestrain
& headaches, the empires
are sold and bought without melody.

here, i am running
my hand over my own skin.
this is not make believe.
i've always had a heart, a brain,
belief, belonging. never to you,
never to you. i whisper,
scream, cajole, prophesize.
no matter.

you! your prison is the worst!
it's invisible
only to

12.6.11 (thanks gen!!!!!!)

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

palpar/ touch


por octavio paz

mis manos
abren las cortinas se tu ser
te visten con otra desnudez
descubren los cuerpos de tu cuerpo
mis manos
inventan otro cuerpo a tu cuerpo

Sunday, March 18, 2012

Depression by Sonia Sanchez


i have gone into my eyes
bumping against sockets that sing
smelling the evening from under the sun
where waterless bones move
toward their rivers in incense.
a piece of light crawls up and down
then turns a corner.

as when drunken air molts in beds,
tumbling over blankets that cover sweat
nudging into sheets continuing dreams;
so i have settled in wheelbarrows
grotesque with wounds,
small and insistent as sleigh bells.

am i a voice delighting in the sand?
look how the masks rock on the winds
moving in tune to leave.
i shed my clothes.
am i a seed consumed by breasts
without the weasel's eye
or the spaniel teeth of a child?
i have cried all night
tears pouring out of my forehead
sluggish in pulse,
tears from a spinal soul
that run in silence to my birth
ayyyy! am i born? i cannot peel the flesh.
i hear the moon daring to dance these rooms.
O to become a star.
stars seek their own mercy
and sigh the quiet, like gods.

From I'VE BEEN A WOMAN (Third World Press, 1978)

Thursday, March 15, 2012

Nightmare Begins Responsibility by Michael S. Harper

Nightmare Begins Responsibility

I place these numbed wrists to the pane   
watching white uniforms whisk over
him in the tube-kept
fear what they will do in experiment
watch my gloved stickshifting gasolined hands   
breathe boxcar-information-please infirmary tubes   
distrusting white-pink mending paperthin   
silkened end hairs, distrusting tubes
shrunk in his trunk-skincapped
shaven head, in thighs   
on his son who will not make his second night   
of this wardstrewn intensive airpocket   
where his father's asthmatic
hymns of night-train, train done gone
his mother can only know that he has flown   
up into essential calm unseen corridor
going boxscarred home, mamaborn, sweetsonchild
gonedowntown into researchtestingwarehousebatteryacid
mama-son-done-gone/me telling her 'nother   
train tonight, no music, no breathstroked   
heartbeat in my infinite distrust of them:

and of my distrusting self   
say it for two sons gone,
say nightmare, say it loud
panebreaking heartmadness:
nightmare begins responsibility.

from Songlines in Michaeltree: New and Collected Poems.

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

i am currently obsessed with the poems of jeffrey mcdaniel, like this one.

The Benjamin Franklin of Monogamy

Reminiscing in the drizzle of Portland, I notice the ring
that's landed on your finger, a massive insect

of glitter, a chandelier shining at the end of a long tunnel.
Thirteen years ago, you hid the hurt under the blanket

of your voice, said I guess there's two kinds of women.
Those you write poems about, and those you don't. 

It's true. I never slid sonnets under the door, or served you
haiku in bed.  My idea of courtship was tapping

Jane's Addiction lyrics in Morse code on your window
at three hundred a.m., whiskey doing push-ups

on my breath. I worked within the confines of my character,
cast as the bad boy in your life, the Magellan

of your dark side. We don't have a past so much as a bunch
of electricity, power never put to good use. What 

we had together makes it sound like a virus, as if
we caught one another like a flu, and desire was merely

a symptom that could be treated with soup and lots of sex.
Gliding beside you now, I feel like the Ben Franklin

of monogamy, as if I invented it, but I'm still not immune
to your waterfall scent, haven't developed antibodies

for your smile. I don't know how long regret existed
before humans hammered a word on it, or how many

paper towels it would take to wipe up the Pacific Ocean,
or why the light of a candle being blown out

travels faster than the luminescence of one that's freshly lit,
but I do know all our huffing and puffing

into each other's throat—as if the heart was a birthday cake
covered with trick candles—didn't make the silence

any easier to navigate. I'm sorry all the kisses I scribbled
on your neck were written in disappearing ink, sorry

this poem took thirteen years to reach you. Sometimes
I thought of you so hard one of your legs would pop out

of my ear, and when I was sleeping, you'd press your face
against the porthole of my submarine.  I wish that just once,

instead of joyriding over flesh, we'd put our hands away
like chocolate to be saved for later, and deciphered

the calligraphy of each other's eyelashes, translated
a paragraph from the volumes of what couldn't be said.

from The Splinter Factory, published by Manic D Press in 2002

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

i kept noticing your low voice

i kept noticing your low voice

and i didn't even imagine a cocoon
but there it wrapped around
a bench, two bodies, past
my eyelashes, yellow birds darted
with quail but the air was
warm & wet & i had to look away
to listen

all i could think of was cheap
words like sparkles or magic
and did i start moving closer?
my body steps ahead of the rest

then from chest to belly
my heart sunk in a highly specific way i
wanted (incredibly) to run, losing
and faith

i bear
the baggage
of forlorn boundaries how could you
be both/and, not either/or
i'm so humyn i'm so
hidden and disguised
this is too many nerves firing
too distracting too

unable to back away and still
looking sideways it was not
peripheral in my mind it was
the tropical trees but i couldn't
exactly describe them i was
touching everything with

ears and voice and body, floating

i had to close my eyes i had to
enter your story it had a violin
and smells of perfume i kept
noticing your long voice
how it spoke even allegories
in silences and asked questions
like why are you
like me in all my favorite ways?


Monday, March 12, 2012

Flash Cards by Rita Dove

Flash Cards
In math I was the whiz kid, keeper
of oranges and apples. What you don’t understand,
master, my father said; the faster
I answered, the faster they came.

I could see one bud on the teacher’s geranium,
one clear bee sputtering at the wet pane.
The tulip tree always dragged after heavy rain
so I tucked my head as my boots slapped home.

My father put up his feet after work
and relaxed with a highball and The Life of Lincoln.
After supper we drilled and I climbed the dark

before sleep, before a thin voice hissed
numbers as I spun on a wheel. I had to guess.
Ten, I kept saying, I’m only ten.

Saturday, March 10, 2012

cold horse

cold horse

“but how do i know what she needs? maybe simply
to spin herself a house within a house, on her own terms
in cold, in silence” –adrienne rich

being born,
the bitterness of one winter
has forgotten how to
freeze.  i want
the weight of this past year to catch
up with the race. sprinting,
like an emotional genius, it is almost
six months. no
finish line, many fences,
multiple leaps.

image popping into a head.
you, and distant.
a small blue box with a small blue lid.
the view gets elbowed into periphery.

an era. not an error.
and all gone.

bitterness won't always translate
into sepia. face it, there is wistful, complicated,
lost, loved, blankets.  a pasture.
that thin veneer thickens to a pane
of glass. the threads braid themselves
into the mane of my best horse,
all for show.  you never knew me in my
power or in my poems. these
limbs and symbols, these full
exhalations. you were sighing,
i was working, you were working,
and there i went, over-
committed, stressed, saddled. 

sometimes carrots,
sometimes apples.

weight gathered under eyes
with blinders, metal bit 
between teeth, roaring 
in ears.  muck.  sweat.

you. i'm not even thinking of.
i'm not.

this is a house and
it is thinking of
me, built of me.
cobwebs and haylofts.
safe, like fur,
like frozen.

february 2012

Thursday, March 1, 2012

the tropics, the muse

i was made of leaves.  and rock.
only i had forgotten how to look.  how
 to use my eyes and skin?  the edge
is aglow with definitions,
 fuzzy like young compositions and footsteps
 through slips.  succulence,
scary in its sudden certainty,
 then fog, then feathery wings.  turn
on the lights, it's warm like the orchids
which need no sleep.  like fire
crackling on the backs of winter coats
i am teased by cacti of winter,
flourishing.  make a roof of the permeable, 
let the melted bird perch.  not a simple nest
of illusion, this is a shadow, a reflection, a character
of hunger.  it resembles death under certain
lights, it looks like deliverance.
but where we are wounded, go there.
let the moss storm whisper strength
let the hidden spider gather secrets
it's perfect, you snuck up, you caught it.
i saw it dropping like gilded stars,
a gliding stream of fallen thirst
begging to be seen, changed, contextualized.
 is the infinite path of chaos itself
seen in the infinitesimal pattern of movement?  what then?
to shift from far away to upclose, to leave oneself and enter.
the air, the colors, the ground.  to surround.

*listening to rachel's selenography on headphones

feb/march 2012