Wednesday, August 12, 2009
Twelve Assorted Poems
"God of Missed Connections"
If the mind is a vast and empty plain of stone,
nothing sticks, nothing stays. The floor's worn
down (as if such stone could wear). There's more
where that came from, friend. More nothing. No,
the metaphor's all wrong. The mind is smooth
as split obsidian. Look in. The glass is black,
it won't look back. It's a thing, neither human,
nor animal, nor the two entwined. No twilit bulk
to skulk the uninterrupted horizon. Others
populate their poems with things, look to their lives
as evidence: to what do I owe, to whom? We look
on this geology. It shrinks back through the trees.
* * *
They will continue wandering,
these things of steel among the stars,
and worn-out men will still go up
to brutalize the placid moon.
There, they will found their pharmacies.
In this time of the swollen grape,
the wind begins to come to life
between the sea and the mountain ranges.
In Chile now, cherries are dancing,
the dark secretive girls are singing,
and in guitars, water is shining.
The sun is touching every door
and making wonder of the wheat.
The first wine is pink in colour,
is sweet with the sweetness of a child,
the second wine is able-bodied,
strong like the voice of a sailor,
the third wine is a topaz, is
a poppy and a fire in one.
My house has both the sea and the earth,
my woman has great eyes
the colour of wild hazelnut,
when night comes down,
the sea puts on a dress of white and green,
and later the moon in the spindrift foam
dreams like a sea-green girl.
I have no wish to change my planet.
-- Pablo Neruda
translated from the Spanish by Alastair Reid
* * *
"E-Mail from an Owl"
The irrigation system wants it to be known it irrigates
It doesn't water it.
It is a stickler about this!
Watering is something done by hand.
Automated catering naturally
Does a better job than a hand with a watering can can.
Devised in Israel to irrigate their orange groves,
It gives life everywhere in the desert of life it goes.
It drips water to the chosen, one zone at a time.
Drip us this day our daily bread, or, rather, this night,
Since a drop on a leaf in direct sunlight can make
A magnifying glass that burns an innocent at the stake.
The sprinkler system hisses kisses on a timer
Under an exophthalmic sky of stars.
Tonight my voice will stare at you forever.
I click on Send,
And send you this perfumed magic hour.
* * *
At one time your touches were clothing enough.
Within these trees now I am different.
Now I wear the woods.
I lower a headdress of bent sticks and secure it.
I strap to myself a breastplate of clawed, roped bark.
I fit the broad leaves of sugar maples
to my hands, like mittens of blood.
Now when I say come,
and you enter the woods,
hunting some creature like the woman I was,
I surround you.
Light bleeds form the clearing. Roots rise.
Fluted molds burn blue in the falling light,
and you also know
the loneliness that you taught me with your body.
When you lie down in the grave of a slashed tree,
I cover you, as I always did.
Only this time you do not leave.
-- Louise Erdrich
* * *
I have visited every last porn site on the web
but I am not yet depraved only depressed
I mean who need Joe Bob's Blow Jobs
banners that spell it amature
who needs Schoolgirl Panties Anal Antics Ungulate Swingers
I want a site that shows only women named Eunice
all of them dressed up to attend PTA
standing before dignified fireplaces
(well, maybe one of them could wear a jaunty hat)
just thinking about it gets me really hot
-- Fred Chappell
* * *
The birds are up early; it's rush hour on the lawn,
and cars fly over the bridges and into the city
in spite of the burnings. I know the true worth
of the sayings my grandmother served up with the lasagna.
My grandmother saw the trees, as did my mother. Father
was alone in the forest. Meanwhile, we children
were raised by wolves; two wrongs
don't make a right are the directions to my house.
But even the blind chicken finds
the kernel of corn, even the unhatched eggs
wobble in their basket and promise
to one day explode into swans,
however modest or far away.
* * *
My contemporaries like small objects,
dried starfish that have forgotten the sea,
melancholy stopped clocks, postcards
sent from vanished cities,
and blackened with illegible script,
in which they discern words
like "yearning," "illness," or "the end."
They marvel at dormant volcanoes.
They don't desire light.
-- Adam Zagajewski
translated from the Polish by Clare Cavanagh
* * *
Down in the garden hoar frost has fallen;
my children play on trails they have made.
the youngest my daughter
holds in her hand what cannot be held.
I should tell her --
It's not real. It's not even snow.
I should warn my foolish, excitable daughter.
I had no daughter.
The memory is old grey and wrong.
I was the daughter and
she never warned me.
Hoar frost is such a lie.
-- Anne Compton
* * *
"The Clothes Shrine"
It was a whole new sweetness
In the early days to find
Light white muslin blouses
On a see-through nylon line
Drip-drying in the bathroom
Or a nylon slip in the shine
Of its own electricity --
As if St. Brigid once more
Had rigged up a ray of sun
Like the one she'd strung on air
To dry her own cloak on
(Hard-pressed Brigid, so
Unstoppably on the go) --
The damp and slump and unfair
Drag of the workaday
Made light of and got through
As usual, brilliantly.
-- Seamus Heaney
* * *
To enter the real,
must we feel beyond
the world in which we already are?
It is all here
but we are not. If we could see
and hear only half
the flawed symphony,
we might cease
nervously to infer
the intentions of
an unimaginable author
senses and tongues unbound,
in the spaces of that land
our fathers brought us to,
where, what will be well
or not well,
or time's undoing can tell.
* * *
"Standing Here Beside You"
Standing here beside you makes me sad.
You're like a house I watch the windows of
knowing I can never go inside.
I see a woman passing to and fro
and envy her the freedom I can't have.
I only watch. And you?
You're watching too, frozen
in your prison of white flowers.
-- Selima Hill
* * *
"Sketch in October"
The tugboat is freckled with rust. What's it doing here so far inland?
It's a heavy extinguished lamp in the cold.
But the trees have wild colors: signals to the other shore.
As if someone wanted to be fetched.
On my way home I see mushrooms sprouting through the grass.
They are the fingers, stretching for help, of someone
who has long been sobbing alone down in the darkness.
We are the earth's.
-- Tomas Transtromer
translated from the Danish by Robin Fulton
* * *
* * *