Sunday, March 11, 2007


Some Poems with the Moon in Them

"On The Eclipse of the Moon of October 1865"

One little noise of life remained -- I heard
The train pause in the distance, then rush by,
Brawling and hushing, like some busy fly
That murmurs and then settles; nothing stirred
Beside. The shadow of our travelling earth
Hung on the silver moon, which mutely went
Through that grand process, without token sent,
Or any sign to call a gazer forth,
Had I not chanced to see; dumb was the vault
Of heaven, and dumb the fields -- no zephyr swept
The forest walks, or through the coppice crept;
Nor other sound the stillness did assault,
Save that faint-brawling railway's move and halt;
So perfect was the silence Nature kept.

--Charles (Tennyson) Turner


"Lost in the Heart"

The crazy woman at the beginning of the mountain
spends her days on the dirt road,
her face painted white. a man walks by
with his arms raised, holding empty
cigarette packages, the back of his pants ripped
and his underpants torn, showing the brown skin
of his bottom. Safety is not the answer.
Nor loving kindness. So I leave
Kuan Yin's temple to protect the loneliness
of each one there. The soiled moon is one
day too old. What was easy to pity
is no longer fine. The world is stronger
than ideas about the world. I walk home
knowing the moon rides the night as strongly
as ever. But my heart does not look up.

--Linda Gregg


"Oh Mercy"

Only the billionth person
to glance up at the moon tonight
which looks bald, high-browed and professorial to me,

the kind of face I always shook my fist at
when I was seventeen
and every stopsign was a figure of authority

that had it in for me
and every bottle of cold beer
had a little picture of my father on the label

for smashing down in parking lots
at 2 AM, when things devolved
into the dance of who was craziest.

That year, if we could have reached the moon,
if we could have shoplifted the paint and telescoping ladders,
we would have scribbled FUCK YOU

on its massive yellow cheek,
thrilled about the opportunity
to offend three billion people

in a single night.
But the moon stayed out of reach,
imperturbable, polite.

It kept on varnishing the seas,
overseeing the development of grapes in Italy,
putting the midwest to bed

in white pajamas.
It's seen my kind
a million times before

upon this parapet of loneliness and fear
and how we come around in time
to lifting up our heads,

looking for the kindness
that would make revenge unnecessary.

--Tony Hoagland



While we, braced by our roots, grew old
The acacias had invaded
The sky of an aquatic garden
A whole network of riverbanks irrigating themselves
Trembling, eager to grope the unknown
No limit, it would seem, to their libido
(Beneath the forest's moss flows the torrent
Of birth, inaudible except to us
And naked flocks wander in the underbrush
Carrying out their amorous cycle)

A thrust in which passion has no
Place and the magpie chatters like a self-important God
Indentations, lips drawing away from lips
To breathe the maternal air, to climax, to murmur
(Consider these waves, leaves on a blind man's
Eyes, but for the poet, they are fertile
Moons falling into the trench of sky)

--Claire Malroux
(translated by Marilyn Hacker)


"Full Moon"

No longer throne of a goddess to whom we pray,
no longer the bubble house of childhood's
tumbling Mother Goose man,

The emphatic moon ascends --
the brilliant challenger of rocket experts,
the white hope of communications men.

Some I love who are dead
were watchers of the moon and knew its lore;
planted seeds, trimmed their hair,

Pierced their ears for gold hoop earrings
as it waxed or waned.
It shines tonight upon their graves.

And burned in the garden of Gethsemane,
its light made holy by the dazzling tears
with which it mingled.

And spread its radiance on the exile's path
of Hom who was The Glorious One,
its light made hoy by His holiness.

Already a mooted goal and tomorrow perhaps
an arms base, a livid sector,
the full moon dominates the dark.

--Robert Hayden


"Nine Bean-Rows on the Moon"

No woman has ever lost her man
to another woman here
or had him just go
because he didn't want to stay any longer
No woman has spent the night rocking in pain
knowing that even in her grave and later
she will not see him again
The grief of a child's death has not touched
this place
or the dumb grandeur of mourning for the lost
And the inconsolable
walkers in the storm
cursing the locked gates of fact
refuse to be satisfied with fiction
board a leaky ship for the past
not to be seen again among us
except as our knowledge that pain and death
have their own glory that lifts them
sometimes over our limitations
of being dust to dust
but more than human

After the landing
on that torn landscape of the mind
and the first steps are taken
let a handful of moon-dust run thru your hand
and escape back to itself
for those others
the ghosts of grief and loss
walking beyond the Sea of Serenity

--Al Purdy



Everything is water, and the moon moves it;
The stars move nothing, but are not unmoved.

Out of my love for you
I wish you to be moved as stars are;
They are in heaven, and ever deeper in heaven
Are hurling backward their reddening light.
We go by sea, and pale as we wander,
And not the moon only, but the wind also dismays.

Not only stars becoming blood, but blue stars too are in heaven.
Beyond the moon it is intolerably bright,
Still and quick,
Moving of old, moving forever. In Lyra is a ring
Lit by a star blue as the sky. Think of it!
Motion which is not flight or departure,
Which seeks not hopelessly to meet anyone,
Unmeaning, unquestioning, free.

The eye of the wind is passionate; who can go into it?
Now it is autumn, the fall of the leaf.
We do not know which is the first falling,
But the oak is the last, if it survive the lightning.
We will not die, we will be buried under snow
Where the wind stares
And the moon draws the restleess waters over us.
Heaven is not earth, but the earth is in heaven
Where man was not created nor ever will be
And all is unsown and unharvested
And ever will be.

Under the drifting snow we drift
Down, down, down, But up there
All moves with no mover -- perpetual tearless departure.
But not alone or together,
Unsheltered and untorn, unawaited and unmourned,
Not whole and not riven,
Moves for no reason, or for a forgotten reason,
Not knowing we know it moves.

--Allen Grossman



Not the city lights. We want

-the moon-

The Moon
none of our own doing!

--Rae Amantrout


"Never of You"

I never have the courage to speak of you
vast sky of my neighborhood
nor you roofs holding off cascades of air
lovely downy roofs the hair of our homes
Nor you chimmneys laboratories of sorrow
spurned by the moon stretching out necks
Nor of you windows opened and closed
which burst when we are dying overseas

I cannot even describe the house
which knows all my escapes and my returns
though so small it stays under my shut eyelid
nothing can render the smell the green curtain
the creak of stairs I ascend carrying a lit lamp
nor the greenery over the gate

In fact I want to write of the house's gate latch
of its rough handshake and its friendly creaks
but although I know so much about it
I use only a cruelly common litany of words
So many feelings fit between two heartbeats
so many objects can be held in our two hands

Don't be surprised we can't describe the world
and just address things tenderly by name

--Zbigniew Herbert
(translated by Alissa Valles)


"How Origami Was Invented"

The last I went to confession was to whisper
I like being alone. I was penanced to sing
Stayin' Alive one hundred times. Solitude
almost tastes like grapes, of course not
but alone I can think such things,
there's no one to counter strawberries.
Particularly the Big Holidays are a good time
to have a conversation with buildings,
everyone's gone, to talk with buildings
you merely lean against them,
they do the rest, brick is thrilled
to be touched, marble, I shun marble, so
haughty. cities need to be alone and oceans
and the moon gets too much credit
lets leave it out of this. I've been given
vast sympathy for this affliction.
Did you know the face of someone who thinks
you're a loser
psychotic looks like a photo of Nixon
lifted from newspaper with Silly Putty
and stretched? While thinking of that sentence
remember this isn't a science.
If I was not alone sometimes I'd all the time
not want to be with people. This
because we invented spandex and chitchat.
Other species invent beehives and asexual
reproduction and spots on wings that look
like eyes but are just spots.
Sometimes I wish the mouth
looked like the mouth but was just the mouth
being kissed. The mouth
kissed both presents and works against
solitude. If that idea was origami
I'd refold it into a heron. I can't, not yet,
but I'm alone this weekend and there's paper
everywhere on which I've tried
to write a clear path to you.

--Bob Hicok


"A Country NIght"

Evening sunshine and distant hills
fold into a crescent moon
passing through an elm wood
the bird's nest is empty
a path encircles the pond
chasing a dog with a dirty coat
up to the mud wall at the village entrance
the bucket in the well sways gently
the clock is as still
as the roller in the yard
dried wheat stalks stir uneasily
the sound of chewing from the stable
is full of threat
a man's long shadow
slips down from the doorstep
firelight from a kitchen range
casts a ruddy glow on a woman's arms
and a chipped earthenware bowl

-- Bei Dao
(translated by Bonnie s. McDougall)


"The Peat-Bog Man"

He was one of the consorts of the moon,
and went with the goddess in a cart.

Wherever he went there would be someone,
a few of the last of the old religion.

Here the moon passes behind a cloud.
Fiftenn centuries pass,

then one of the peat-bog cutters
digs up the man -- with the rope

that ends in a noose at the throat --
a head squashed like a pumpkin.

Yet, there is delicacy in the features
and a peaceful expression . . .

that in Spring the flower comes forth
with a music of pipes and dancing.

--Louis Simpson


"Boat People"

After midnight they load up.
A hundred shadows move about blindly.
Something close to sleep
hides low voices drifting
toward a red horizon. Tonight's
a black string, the moon's pull --
this boat's headed somewhere.
Lucky to have gotten past
searchlights low-crawling the sea,
like a woman shaking water
from her long dark har.

Twelve times in three days
they've been lucky,
clinging to each other in gray mist.
Now Thai fishermen gaze out across
the sea as it changes color,
hands shading their eyes
the way sailors do,
minds on robbery & rape.
Sunlight burns blood-orange.

Storm warnings crackle on a radio.
The Thai fishermen turn away.
Not enough water for the trip.
The boat people cling to each other,
faces like yellow sea grapes,
wounded by doubt & salt.
Duck hangs over the water.
Seasick, they daydream Jade Mountain
a whole world away, half-drunk
on what they hunger to become.

--Yusef Komunyakaa



Dans le vieux parc, solitaire et glacé
I saw a couple pass and move away.

There was the pond, the little boats were moored
Along the edge, bobbing and faintly bored.

The boatman sat by his hut, reading a fat
Slab of a book with an embossed title. That

Was all. The couple were lost to view. The moon
Silvered and sharpened as if all misfortune

Were concentrated in it, somewhere over
And above the hut. The book with its cover

Closed. Charon got up. My love stood out clear
On the far side, calling but I couldn't hear

Her. The trees too closed. The water grew
Rapidly colder, the sky a deeper blue.

--George Szirtes



Don't look at the moon
after I've gone.
Look down at the thin
snow, translucent where
trucks have passed.
How delicately
the yellow brushstroke
of piss
unfurls on the lawn!
Go home.
Take off your shoes,
examine the hulled silence
of your toes.
You may have extinguished
your highest hopes,
but intact are the
little trinkets
from which they leapt up
like flames.

--Mary Ruefle



For Robert Philen

A quick wind weeding the sky
when we step through the glass door,
clouds plucked and swept from sight

A full moon sets out repairing
the night, putting streetlights
in their proper place

The dandelions are foreigners
like me, some yellowed, some gone
to gray: all stragglers, late for sleep

And we have grown deciduous,
losing our leaves, letting down
our green and palmate

in preparations for December,
for this and for all year,
our naked branched evasions,

your fingers warming mine
If the world were an experiment,
you would still be waiting

--Reginald Shepherd


"The Earth's Attraction"

A moon glued to the windowpane like a canceled postage stamp
on a letter undelivered. The closed furniture shop filled
with tables, armchairs, mirrors. a lone dog frightened by its own shadow
barks alone amid the avenue lights. No matter
how high you may sling objects, they will not remain in the air,
they will not sprout wings; they will fall with a thud on the earth
in almost the same place, like the coins of chance,
revealing exactly that side you did not want to appear.

--Yannis Ritsos
(translated by Kimon Friar and Kostas Myrsiades)


"Stilt Jack: XXIV"

Always the light: a strange moon,
and the green I don't understand;

knives set in order; somewhere else,
eyes looking back across a terrible space:

a meeting in a garden, hands, knees, feet
in the dirt: animals; the flies feeding;

what comes from this? pour wind on it:
have you read all your blood?

No prophecy in the furrow: only the print of bare feet,
anxious for what grows;

nothing? one small leaf is a heart:
a leaf we divide, dividing us.

Lift up the soily stones,
feel the burn of lime,

a handful of seeds, a handful of earth,
silence in thunder on the tongue:

a long waiting without stars,
ending in snow.

--John Thompson


"After the Flight of Ranger VII"

old fossil
to be scrubbed
and studied
like a turtle's stomach

prodded over on your back
Invulnerable hump
that stumped us

pincers prepare to
pick your secrets
bludgeons of light
to force your seams

Old fossil
in the continuous rain
of meteorites
blown to you from
between the stars
Stilt feet
mobilize to alight upon you
Ticking feelers
determine your fissures
to impact a pest
of electric eggs in the
cracks of your cold
Copernicus Kappa
look for geysers

strange abrasions
zodiacal wounds

--May Swenson


"But they have fallen"

But they have fallen to the ground
amid the twigs and leaves

all dry. And we bend
to pick them up, these things,

we think to pick them up
but we cannot

hard as we try.
It is too dark or else too light.

There's been a failure at the source of light,
a fractured moon or swollen sun,

and our fingers one by one
have grown numb.

--Michael Palmer

Comments: Post a Comment

<< Home

This page is powered by Blogger. Isn't yours?