Thursday, May 07, 2009


Some Short Poems


Under the bed, I wait for you to drop your book.
One by one I will eat the pages, every word,
and I grow fat on your illiteracy, then
slither like an unvoiced question out the door.

-- Priscila Uppal

* * *

"Autumn Elegy"

Sumac, your running wild
In bad seasonal verse
Depresses me no longer.  Spelt anew
In the mind's mirror, child,
Your dark dry blood reverts
To that of the young demi-god Camus.

-- James Merrill

* * *

"Faint Autumn Murmurs"

The persimmons by the fence are tinted tart,
the cockscomb and the hollyhock are tinted scarlet:
so what tint am I, this autumn day?

Last year's gourd lies like a big fist in the garden,
the dipper's lying outside like a small fist:
so where should my fist best be laid?

-- So Chung Ju
translated from the Korean by Brother Anthony of Taize

* * *


cut your losses and flee
my horoscope proposed the other day;

so here I have fled
to this anonymous spot
with all the other gullible Geminis of the world
for company.

I can tell these people anything,
I realized,
They'll believe anything.

-- Tony Towle

* * *

"A Blue Butterfly"

In May life is so lifelike
it can be deceptive.
Watch out, butterfly!  Don't sit

too long on that poppy.
Your blue wings weigh me down
with the white mountains you've come from.

-- Henrik Nordbrandt
translated from the Danish by Robin Fulton

* * *

"Dunn's River Falls"

The Falls thunder
their last hurrah
before the surrender to the sea.
What sound I wonder
would they make
if they flowed backward
to a calm, deep lake.

-- Ralph Thompson

* * *

"The Gymnast  Valeria Vatkina"

Legs counterposed like six o'clock, her stretch
is bowstave, sky foot to ground foot.  a point shoe tips each.

She leans out around herself the, and gazes
intently past her hand at what she blazes:

a switchback trail of rainbow ribbon
that climbs stairs of air to her whipped baton

and equally shimmies down landings of allure
right-left right-left like a Caliph's signature.

-- Les Murray

* * *


They were delicacy and grace.
But the ferocity, as well,
of a burning knot of rooftop cats.
They are young and they are dancing -- as beautiful
as dunes, wheat, mustangs.

-- Eugenio de Andrade
translated from the Portuguese by Alexis Levitin

* * *

"See the Flies"

See the flies, delirious with joy,
our summer afternoons in tiled rooms
where roses part like thighs on polished sideboards
in houses we refuse to call our home;
see the flies, delirious with joy,
plunging blindly into fresh wounds.

Selima Hill

* * *

"The Ritz, Paris"

A slight thinness of the ankles;
The changed shape of the calf;
A place the thigh curves in
Where it didn't used to; and when he turns
A mirror catches him by surprise
With an old man's buttocks.

--Frederick Seidel

* * *


Corners of the linden yellow like grapes . . .
back in July leaves blew.  Rain wounds the window,
preoccupies the drainpipes, nourishes --
after a seemly interval -- the mould spots
in the cornices.  Stray nooses of wisteria
toss purposefully, aimlessly, who can say.

-- Michael Hofmann

* * *

"Secrets of the Estate"

Death may be the side of life's mansion
That's always been turned away from us --
But that hasn't kept us, now and then,
From sneaking around to the other side,
Where tall weeds grow over the broken statues,
And peeking in the windows.

-- Tom Clark

* * *

"At the Flea Market"

Someone's selling love
for no money, no lie.  No one
stops.  My lover
at the next stand
buys a golden ring.

-- Kerstin Hensel
translated from the German by Elizabeth Oehlkers Wright

* * *

"The Hedgehog"

The garden is mysterious at night
And scented!  and scented!  in the night of stars.
The hedgehog snuffles somewhere among leaves,
Just by the arch-way.  So it is with time
-- Mute night and then a voice that says nothing,
Busying itself, complaining and insisting:
When this has end, silence will come again.

-- C. H. Sisson

* * *

"I Look Over The Scythes Before Mowing"

Used scythes
always shine,
never rust, although
I see these too are done.
Which is best, rusting unused in the box
or worn out by whetstone and rocky hay-patch?

--Olav H. Hauge
translated from the Norwegian by Robin Fulton

* * *
* * *  

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