Coleen Shin & Alex Stolis, Right Here - Right Now
Thursday, August 12, 2010
It’s a great post this week, featuring two of my favorites.
Coleen Shin, photographer, poet and painter is my featured artist, showcasing her painter side. And my featured poet, Alex Stolis, is also here with Part 1 of his newest book, Clean as a Broke Dick Dog.
Here’s the full line-up for the week:
Winter Solstice Full Moon at Perigee
Photograph: Ice Storm, 1971
What Is Evidence
we pause in our regularly scheduled programming for a moment of editorial reflection
blues at 5 a.m.
a little something to do
Dog in the Sand - Part 1 (from Clean as a Broke Dick Dog)
[I have from you this red]
Bewilderment Is Love
We Have Lost Even
No time-wasting here; let’s move on to the good stuff.
I start with poems by James Galvin, from his book X: Poems, published by Copper Canyon Press in 2003.
Galvin, who was raised in northern Colorado, has five collections of poetry for which he earned numerous awards and prizes.
He currently lives in Wyoming and is a permanent member of the University of Iowa Writer’s Workshop.
Winter Solstice Full Moon at Perigee
Being in love isn’t about being happy.
Here’s a good idea: let’s live some more.
After bad things happen we always live
A little more. Good timing, bad timing.
The people against me were probably right:
You can’t step in front of the same bus twice.
From her on out, honesty’s its own
Intelligence, which may or may not involve
Philosophy. Try to understand
The world, and leave the mind to darkness where
It thrives. Werner Herzog, for example, says
The mind is a room, better dimly lit
For livable ambiance, some lively music
For habitability - than floodlit, mute
For self-knowledge - a bogus notion, anyway.
According to the quarterback from Cedar
Rapids, Iowa, Jesus is a
Football fan, without whose intervention
The Rams could not have won the Super Bowl.
Aren’t you ashamed at refusing love
Like an hors d’oeuvre (outside the work - which was?)
Love’s not love until it’s lost, and then
You write a corybantic poem about it.
That’s what you think. What I think - what do I think?
I think the house we lived in wept itself
All the way down. I think forgiveness mirrors
Facetious animals at play: horseplay.
Horse sense, more what we aspire to -
Remains the province of horses, no?
Winter snowpack is not your jazz.
You can’t riff it over and you can’t take it back
Once it’s out of the horn.
Bright as tears but much more boring,
Your constants without variants
Mewl from the eaves.
That’s why the fish is full of sea.
Just out of curiosity,
How many times did you kiss me
Without meaning it?
Don’t be shy, it’s out of the horn.
Turn your back on the past
And you’re gone.
To say that you exaggerate wold be an understatement.
Cars lick the rainslick street.
If I wear glasses am I more spectacular?
When you left
I woke, and it was my whole life I woke from.
Upslope, geography offers history few options.
We are something’s awareness,
Awareness of fog, for instance.
God saves us in the sorrow of knowing him.
It’s a challenge, always demanding, demanding, demanding.
i have a houseful
of cats -
but that’s not exactly
because i only have
one cat in the
but three others
that live on the
front porch -
but that’s not exactly
since the three others
only live on the
three times a day,
and dinner time
the rest of the time
in some alternate universe
the precise location
of which they have never
but i know it must be
and all encompassing alternate
because when they come running
and dinner time
they come running from
i should better describe the cats
so that if you should happen
to see one
you’re in an alternate universe...
the inside cat,
who operates under the moniker
slipped over my back fence
seventeen years ago
and decided to stay a while -
a very old cat now
she sleeps 23 hours a day
leaving an hour each day
about which she is quite insistent,
screaming cat invectives
should i delay provisioning her food bowl -
the other three cats include
a mama, known in our circles as Mama
and two previously cute
born, as it happens, next to the same fence
Kitty slipped over seventeen years ago -
and the previously cute female former kitten,
named Billy Goat
for the patch of white fur beneath her chin,
have been fixed,
that is to say there will be no more
accidental previously cute kittens
living on my front porch three times a day,
while the previously cute male former kitten,
called George, a shortened version
of his official appellation, Boy George,
chosen because of the appearance of eye-liner
beneath each eye,
continues with gonads in place because
being a scaredy cat of the first magnitude,
i have never been able to catch him,
never fast enough to take him in for the operation
that would change the nature of his dream-life
but i continue to try,
stealthy, every day to get close enough
to grab him
but every day he shies away and does not seem
to care that he misses out on the snip, snip
that would free him from the constant demand
to procreate, procreate, procreate
at every twitch of a female's shapely tail,
sex, i try to tell him,
is oversold, takes over your
life, leaves no time for lying in the sun,
but he seems not yet ready to lay that burden
down, just doesn't care about the medical services available
to responsible every Tom, Dick, and Harry cats, and,
when you get right down to it neither do i since
any momentarily cute kittens he might
bring into this world
will find a home on someone’s else’s
front porch, so what the heck,
go at it George,
fulfill your biological mission,
your being, so far as i can see,
good for nothing else
can’t live with them
can’t live without them,
who warms my lap in winter
and only wants a place to sleep
and occasionally eat
who hates her kids
but doesn’t bother them
unless they come within three feet
and George, worthless old scardey-cat
George, and Billy Goat,
who actually seems to like me
and lets me pet her head with one hand
so long as i have the food bucket
in the other
The next two poems are from Native Guard, a collection of poems by Natasha Trethewey which won her the 2006 Pulitzer Prize for Poetry. The book was published in 2006 by Houghton Mifflin. Trethewey has authored several volumes of poetry which have received numerous honors and awards in addition to her Pulitzer.
Born in 1966 in Gulfport, Mississippi, she earned a B.A. in English from the University of Georgia, an M.A. in poetry from Hollins University and an M.F.A. in poetry from the University of Massachusetts-Amherst. She is Phillis Wheatley Distinguished Chair in Poetry at Emory University.
Photograph: Ice Storm, 1971
Why the rough edge of beauty? Why
the tired face of a woman, suffering,
made luminous by the camera’s eye?
Or the storm that drives us inside
for days, power lines down, foot rotting
in the refrigerator, while outside
the landscape glistens beneath a glaze
of ice? Why remember anything
but the wonder of those few days,
the iced trees, each leaf in its glassy case?
The picture we took that first morning,
the front yard, a beautiful, strange place -
why on the back has someone made a list
of our names, the date, the event: nothing
of what’s inside - mother, stepfather’s fist?
What Is Evidence
Not the fleeting bruises she’d cover
with makeup, a dark patch as if imprint
of a scope she’d pressed her eye too close to,
looking for a way out, nor the quiver
in the voice she’d steady, leaning
into a pot off bones on the stove, Not
the teeth she wore in place of her own, or
the official document - its seal
and smeared signature - fading already,
the edges wearing. Not the tiny marker
with its dates, her name, abstract as history.
Only the landscape of her body - splintered
clavicle, pierced temporal - her thin bones
settling a bit each day, the way all things do.
Reading the newspaper, a sure-fire cure for illusions of species-grandeur.
we pause our regularly scheduled programming for a moment of editorial reflection
bill and ted can get married
if they wanna
and i say
why the hell not -
half of marriages today
are of people who won’t be able
within five years
to stand being in the same room
with each other - so can bill and ted
really do worse than that?
let’s find out
no longer pumping
oil into the sea;
bp pleased but bemused
always though the holes
pumped gold - didn’t know
they were pumping nasty black
gunky stuff instead
having to push apocalyptic predictions
just you wait they say,
you may not think it’s so bad
but just wait until after you’re dead
and buried -
it’ll be the worst thing you never saw
safe to be brown again
but don’t count on it being permanent -
judges die, racists
breed like flies on fresh
with the extended
of a galapagos tortoise
tea party crackpots
losing elections to moderate republicans;
like pol pot
losing the race for mayor of hell
to mao zedung -
or the katzenjammer kids
by bozos the clown
recalling the mantra
of modern man
it could be worse
has a book out -
i’ll read it some day,
knows more than 12 words
and with help, can spell many
Next I have a bit of a off-beat poem by Michael Gottlieb, from his book The Likes of Us, published in 2007 by Harry Tankoos.
There’s no bio in the book and i can’t find anything on the web that I can be certain is this “Michael Gottlieb.”
that which doesn’t kill you, almost kills you
what is just not available any longer, irrespective of price
lying seething at the edge of the frame, close to the boil empurpled
the unfit - prevailing, the abjurate
understandably. Spot on. A festering that denotes little apparent prog-
ress. an eschaton, bedeviled. Narrowing in on
at the tertiary depot where we attempted to present all this as a color-
able benefit: repatriating the unwilling, now neatly attired in their ob-
jections, each encircled by a slick of not unnatural premonition. Amidst
them a frank perisher, like a symptom of thrush
the awkward bits, ultimately papered over by a condominium between
the two parties. Dividing it all up, like a former coaling station
a veritable adventurism, antic
deeply troubling, a protestation fed by the reckless rescheduling, too-close-
a fully let-out disinclination to join the frolic. Risible, jeering, revving,
as it flags, the squall fading into the arms of the distracted
the better and the much better, leading to a retreat into ‘base articula-
tion,’ no more than another hollowed-out mountain
a former favorite
insisting, caning, treed, floored, hap, ail, unassailable
patronymics scattering like alibis along the rubbishly exhortations and
debased collations, heaped upon the cold table - all we ever hear from
in the hermit borough, home to a certain long-thought-lost species, a
city-state of dissimulation rises up as if overnight, teeming with suspect
chapels of collision-partners
- like aids to mariners. Triangulating by means of eyesores
the crushing overhead, the flat file appearing at the bar, the bulleted
notation with one’s name inscribed. The express instruction. That one
rationing what used to be apportioned
in this fore-noon, this darkened chamber
what the hosts of the becalmed have decided to set before us
Every once in a while, a down-day.
blues at 5 a.m.
at 5 a.m.
still dark outside,
as the breath
of a dead man sighing -
not even begun
and already i feel
like i’m in the backstretch,
five horses behind,
finish line, a white chalk line
stirred by ill winds,
receding even as i push forward...
the smell of burning hair and flayed skin
in the air,
like this could be
when dark and terrible
are revealed to me - foretellings
of turmoil and red lightning,
nights as dark as the river’s passage to hell...
i am tempted
to stay in bed, moaning
pitiful and blue
under the sheets...
but i am not
things to do; people to see;
poems to write -
perhaps i will share the secrets,
James Fenton was born in Lincoln, England, in 1949. He was educated at Magdalen College, Oxford, where he won the Newdigate Prize for Poetry. He has worked as a political and literary journalist on the New Statesman, was a freelance reporter in Indochina, spent a year in Germany working for the Guardian, is a former Oxford Professor of Poetry, and presently writes as a theater critic for the London Sunday Times.
The poem I have for this week is from his book Children in Exile, Poems 1968-1984, originally published in 1984, then republished in a new edition by The Noonday Press in 1994.
When His Excellency Prince Norodom Chantaraingsey
Invited me to lunch on the battlefield
I was glad of my white suit for the first time that day.
They lived well, the mad Norodoms, they had style.
The brandy and soda arrived in crates.
Bricks of ice, tied around with raffia,
Dripped from the orderlies’ handlebars.
And I remember the dazzling tablecloth
As the APCs fanned out along the road,
The dishes piled high with frogs’ legs,
Pregnant turtles, their eggs boiled in the carapace,
Marsh irises in fish sauce
And inflorescence of banana salad.
On every bottle, Napoleon Bonaparte
Pleaded for the authenticity of the spirit.
The called the empties Dead Soldiers
And rejoiced to see them pile up at our feet.
Each diner was attended by one of the other ranks
Whirling a table-napkin to keep off the flies.
It was like eating between rows of morris dancers -
Only they didn’t kick.
On my left sat the prince;
On my right, his drunken aide.
The frogs’ thighs leapt into the sad purple face
Like fish to the sound of a chinese flute.
I wanted to talk to the prince. I wish now
I had collared his aide, who was Saloth Sar’s brother.
We treated him as the club bore. He was always
Boasting of his connections, boasting with a head-shake
Or by pronouncing of some doubtful phrase .
And well might he boast. Saloth Sar, for instance,
Was Pol Pot’s real name. The APCs
Fired into the sugar palms but met no resistance.
In a dairy, I refer to Pol Pot’s brother as the Jockey Cap.
A few weeks later, I find him ‘in good form
And very skeptical about Chantaraingsey.’
‘But one eats well there,’ I remark.
‘So one should,’ says the Jockey Cap:
‘The tiger always eats well,
It eats the raw flesh of the deer,
And Chantaraingsey was born in the year of the tiger.
So, did they show you the things they do
With the young refugee girls?
And he tells me how he will one day give me the gen.
He will tell me how the prince financed the casino
And how the casino brought Lon Nol to power.
He will tell me this.
He will tell me all these things.
All I must do is drink and listen.
And here’s my cure for those down-days I wrote of earlier.
a little something to do
nothing to do
all day -
like a dog
to run and roam
ready to chew off
that seeks to offer
on a good word
a pat on the head
a kick in the ribs
to run and roam
settling into cold
if allowed to grow dusty
on a forgotten
in a library of the
little something to do
keeps the human brain
fresh and wholesome...
a garden to water
a painting to hang
two loads of laundry
a poem to write...
two little jobs to do
when a new sun cracks
one for today
one for tomorrow
large or small
so that a life-committed
man or woman can say
at the end of the day
i did that -
My next poem is by Marge Piercy, from her book The Twelve-Spoked Wheel Flashing, published by Knopf in 1978.
Piercy is a poet, novelist and social activist. She was born in 1936 in Detroit to a family of limited means. She was the first in her family to attend college, studying at the University of Michigan. Winning a Hopwood Award for Poetry and Fiction in 1957, which enabled her to finish college, spend some time in France, and, eventually, obtain an M.A. from Northwestern University. Her first book of poems, Breaking Camp, was published in 1968. She has since published many novels and collections of poetry and won numerous honors and awards.
Where is that plain door?
That narrow passage,
point where white changes
to soft black: how can
a conscious mind
remember the way through
to embrace the small death?
How beautiful are the waters
of sleep rushing on,
how gratifying is the calm pond
under the fish gape
of the swimming moon
How full of life the tides
rising and ebbing in every
salty estuary of the flesh,
rich as the sea with neon plankton,
with ancient monsters
sleeking though depths
that flatten and deform,
leaching the ordinary colors.
For nine days I have lost my way,
I have been wandering all night
back corridors, drafty, dreary, ill lit
with doors banging and warnings flashing
tedious as aching molars,
as I search the way through.
I am a bulb left
to burn itself out.
What grumpy clatter
of my forebrain buzzing.
With shame I watch my cats.
Sleep is in the benediction
of the body on the brain
at ease, simple
Once again I am very pleased to be able to offer an advanced look at a part of a new book by our good friend Alex Stolis. The book is Clean as a Broke Dick Dog.
I’m not completely sure about the way I have this laid out, but I think it’s what Alex wanted, presented as if in print, with spaces between text indicating turning of a page.
This is Part 1 of the book. I will post the remaining three parts over the weeks ahead or as long as Alex let’s me.
Alex is unique in his poetry and in his approach to poetry and I like what he does very much.
Clean as a Broke Dick Dog
Dog in the Sand - Part 1
Delicate Demian Rice
The Book of Love
Two Sleepy People Hoagy Carmichael
Ich bin von Kopf bis Fuss auf Liebe eingestell Marlene Dietrich
(Falling in Love Again)
Song For You Alexi Murdoch
dis in tegra tion
There is a dead bee on the sill. I want to believe it died
of old age. Want to believe a breeze will blow in the room
that will have power to heal my wounds. I am her sculpture
with chipped mouth, glazed eyes, ready to listen, ready
to have the bits of my life swept under her bare feet.
quid pro quo
the sky bursts open. she counts my thoughts. they fall
in between the lines. clouds snake under the horizon
one two three
if i could change their shape. a bird banks into the sun.
smooth the hard edges. round off the sharp corners.
four five six
my final confession will be a broken window. redemption;
we are together, on a flat, endless highway. it’s easy to forget
seven eight nine
out of context & into meaning
Tell me what you think. I was always getting lost
in everyone else and needing them (the whole world)
to be quiet so I could hear myself. There are indeed
those times when there are not words and I am quiet,
content. But still want you to know the effect you have
on me; I can't breathe. I have to pretend in this moment
you would place your hand to cover my heart. I would
not even need to say please
honor amongst thieves
I am a magician. a quick change artist. A con man
who shines up clichés, pawns them off as new.
We are linked. We are entangled. indebted to morning,
unafraid of imagination. Working her way into my mind,
she sleeps with my thoughts. Dusts them. Shines them.
Tells me it is not nervousness. It is courage. It is a fresh
breath from the living. We carefully hide ourselves in each
other, then listen for the beat of wings against the sun.
music to meet to:
Beatles Van Morrison Jesus & Mary Chain Mills Brothers The Cars Nina Simone Mott the Hoople Elton John The Who Cream Gang of Four Billie Holiday Cat Power
music to fuck to:
The Stones Cowboy Junkies Alejandro Escovedo Al Green Nina Simone Radio Head
Roxy Music Sarah Vaughn Steely Dan Elmore James John Lee Hooker Haley Bonar
music to comfort to:
Aimee Mann Ella Fitzgerald Johnny Cash Neko Case Nat King Cole David Byrne
Wilco Bob Mould Dandy Warhol’s Bob Schneider Violent Femmes Flaming Lips
music to break up to:
Dylan Paul Westerberg Patti Smith R.E.M. Death Cab for Cutie Frank Black Nirvana
Radio Birdman The Brian Jonestown Massacre The Clash Spoon BRMC Black Flag
The water is calm this time of day. Mosquitoes bite, the rain
is cold, the beer is flat warm. The smell of wood smoke is in
her hair. tonight: a small parade of innocents, the soft bang
bang of fire crackers in air thick as mud. He’s a million miles
away but can feel the beat of her heart in the palm of his hand.
There are idle thoughts, loose change and broken cigarettes.
The low hum of headphones, spaghetti straps, pierced lips
and laughter that rumbles off the asphalt. There is the inevitable
burn when your throat is parched. Nothing ever runs in a straight
line. It’s all angles and curves, sharp corners and brick walls.
love minus zero/no limit
we roam too far and we’re never too close we’re eye to eye
and mouth to mouth the sky is falling but it is enough
to catch us
Shots and Ladders
She talks about Mexico, rock hounding and beach
combing, upturned pails of sand. One week turns
to two and two folds into three. At four we decide
there is enough luck to stretch into the next month.
God opens the door and the devil shut the windows.
We lock them tight. Nail them down for good karma;
shot for shot and one jukebox anthem after another
gets crammed into our throats. A kiss on dry lips,
a wisp of hair and a hint of honesty. Pour after pour
and then comes the rain; by the time we’re finished
our bodies will never have time to catch up.
letter to an occupant [part 1]
There is no end to shadow, the taste
of ash and the burn of silence:
flowers that bloom in your absence.
an american koan
i had to read it again & again before i could describe
to you the difference between this moment and then.
then: she is a collage in my imagination
the lake holds her reflection perfectly still
she is a thread that whispers recognition
i’ve been ripped off before, left empty palmed
& loaded, been left behind and liberated
now: she imagines every word is a new lover
believes any story is capable of being captured
in black and white.
i am a thief, a charlatan. ready to sell the last
of my stories for a crumb of respectability
She puts her hands on her hips, tilts her head
pretends to scowl. She’s smiling but trying not
to smile. all as if to say: C’mon man! What am
I supposed to do with all of this?
she’s been there. she sees right through me. tells me
how birds know what is worthwhile
There is a loon outside her window. a drop of rain
winds its way down the window. She falls in love
with the idea of permanence. Wants to embrace
its roughness, wants to learn its language.
postcard exchange <2010>
a bird flies a straight line, my fingers touch the perfect round of your breast
In case I start to drift away
From: L** S***** View Contact
Sent: 7/02/2010 08:26 PM
To: J*** L****>
2 Files View Slideshow Download All
image001.jpg (77KB); image002.jpg (63KB
...you will know who to grab out of the crowd
hip to hip and bone against bone, our shadows will dissolve into air
RE: In case I start to drift away
From: J*** L****View Contact
Sent: 7/05/2010 08:52 PM
To: L** S*****
I will send you a picture when i get home. Not a chance of you drifting away....you just might be my life preserver
wish I could write more...
One Paris story
Its only a crime of the flesh. No witnesses.
We have one ending for two different tales.
I got it bad from the beginning. The middle
breaks down, and the end, cuts to the bone
dissolves into marrow. You got shotgun.
There are many ways to say
the color of the moon
when it hits the top of the sea.
Arancione - the swirl of wind
in the eye of a storm,
the gray sky reminds me
you are gone.
The light that runs through
your hair -alaranjado- fades
to a dark red that burns
the scar on my chest.
you picture her: in knee socks
you picture her: in her first dress
you picture her: at her wedding
after her first child; in your bed
the lights are on
her eyes are closed
and you are in no hurry
letter to an occupant [part 2]
It isn’t like a full moon. I want to be that girl. The one in the story
who knows what it is like to brush her fingers across your knuckles.
Knows the beautiful ache that comes from patience. No, it isn’t
like a full moon at all. More like a memory that hasn’t happened yet.
Yours again today
coffee, billie holiday & thunder
there is nothing but her voice, the part i love.
the part where morning finally drinks the stars
under the table. the part when the hiss of light
shines out from the land of Nod. she knows
the bite of a lingering kiss. feels the clarity
of rain. i don’t mind being alone: windows
locked open, flat broke with a swollen voice
waiting for a winged horse.
this one is for you
it is summer. there are open windows. it is hot.
road trips planned. destinations lost and the past
is found. there is a box of matches on the table.
a glass is half empty. a candle. a glass is half full.
the lights dim. curtains shimmy to the scratch
and hiss of a 78. a still life. a three cornered
question on the tip of a tongue. conversation
tumbles but it can’t break the silence. it’s five
am. the sunrise is not visible. the skyline breaks
at the same time the record skip-bumps to a stop.
a match is lit. sparks. sulphur. a fleck of orange
is caught; not everything burns.
My next several poems are from the anthology New European Poets, published by Graywolf Press in 2008. There are 290 poets in the book, all new, in the sense that their writing was first published after 1970. The poets are from every country in Europe, many published in this book for the first time in the United States. They were selected by twenty-two regional editors, working with the two principal editors in this country, Wayne Miller and Kevin Prufer.
The first poem is by Macedonian poet Zoran Ancevski.
Born in 1954, Ancevski is a professor in the Department of English Language and Literature at Sts. Cyril and Metdhodius University in Skopje. He has published five books of poetry.
The poem was translated by Graham W. Reid, Peggy Reid and the author.
What’s slouching like stagnant air
through these Balkan corridors?
with milk teeth,
descending from the national parks
with conserved views,
for outbursts of tribal passion,
Freudian complexes of minimal difference,
for random reservists
with condoms of all different colors too.
Whatever is slouching
will never reach Bethlehem or Jerusalem
nor Mecca or Medina
but hurry and scurrying
down different European corridors
in red crescent or red cross ambulance
will enter a wilderness of mirrors,
where terrible tailors
cut out new corridors
and a well-turned verse
is reversed to a stammer.
The next poem is by Gwyneth Lewis of Wales.
Lewis, born in 1959, writes in both Welsh and English and was the inaugural National Poet of Wales. Her first three books of poetry are published in the United States.
“I started to translate in seventy-three
in the schoolyard. for a bit of fun
to begin with - an occasional ‘fuck’
for the bite of another language’s smoke
at the back of my throat, its bitter chemicals.
Soon I was hooked on whole sentences
behind the shed, and lessons in Welsh
seemed very boring. I started on print,
Jeeves & Wooster, Dick Francis, James Bond,
in Welsh covers. That worked for a while
until Mam discovered Jean Plaidy inside
a Welsh concordance one Sunday night.
There were ructions: a language, she screamed,
should be for a lifetime. Too late for me.
Soon I was snorting Simenon
and Flaubert. Had to read much more
for any effect. One night I OD’d
after reading too much Proustt.
I came to, but it scared me. for a while
I went Welsh-only but it was bland
and my taste was changing. Before too long
I was back on translating, found that three
languages weren’t enough. the ‘ch’
in German was easy. Rilke a buzz...
For a language fetishist like me
sex is part of the problem. Umlauts make me sweat,
so I need a multilingual man
but they’re rare in West Wales and tend to be
married already. If only I’d kept
myself much purer, with simpler tastes,
the Welsh might be living...
Detective, you speak
Russian, I hear, and Japanese.
Could you whisper some softly?
I’m begging you. Please...”
Now here’s a poem by Austrian poet Evelyn Schlag.
Born in 1952, Schlag earned her Masters Degree in 1971 at the University of Vienna. From 1978 to 1981 she worked as a school teacher in Vienna. Since then, she has taught German and English at the Commercial College in Waidhofen, where she lives.
Her poem was translated by Karen Leeder.
I wanted to list
What I have learned
How I hold a cool
Name in my hand when
I touch the doorknob how
I turn the road sign around
Kill the fish by striking
Their heads on the stone
I have practiced till I have
The knack and how I change
Dresses while the splashes of
Gill-blood are drying
from red to black
The cat which was sitting
On my lap laid his paw
On the back of my hand
And I did not know whether
It was to calm me or because
He so believed in the dead fish
And the last poet from this book for this week (I’ll be back) is Valerio Magrelli from Italy.
As with the last poet from Austria, Magrelli is not included among the poets’ biographies at the end of the book, leaving me to rely on poor translations in Wikipedia.
I think this is what it says.
He was born in Rome in 1957 and graduated from the University of Rome with specialties in Philosophy and French Literature. He published his first collection of poems when he was 23 years old.
The poem was translated by Dana Gioia
[I have from you this red]
And the crack in the teacup opens
A lane to the land of the dead.
- as when a crack
crosses a cup.
- R.M. Rilke
I have from you this red
cup with which to drink to all my days
one by one
in the pale mornings, the pearls
of the long necklace of thirst.
And if it drops and breaks, I, too,
will be shattered, but compassionately
I will repair it
to continue the kisses uninterrupted.
And each time the handle
or the rim gets cracked
I will go back to glue it
until my love will have completed
the hard, slow work of mosaic.
It comes down along the white
slope of the cup
along the concave interior
and flashes, just like lightning -
the sign of a storm
over this resonant landscape
“Mother Dreaming Daughter Dreaming Flowers”
Sometimes, you might have several poems, none of them strong enough to stand on their own, that you can put together and have several poems, not strong enough to stand on their own, strung together.
best place i used to go when i was playing hooky
used to be in pool halls
of balls sounding
down a long line of
in the cooler for a dime
now they're in
and rec centers
and and all manner of
puts a solid in the corner
on a three-cushion bank
and no one
wins or loses even a nickel
on the shot...
and the fat little man in the corner
with a mustache and half-chewed cigar
i don't know where
supply & demand
swarm in overnight
after the first sustained rains
between late summer
and early fall
along the curb
and against walls
and in doorways, trying
to get inside? nobody knows
some primitive insectual urge
treat them like vipers
writhing on the sidewalks -
but for birds,
it’s a bountiful
free lunch for two weeks,
no labor involved
the curious thing is
you don’t see the birds
during this period
it’s like they’ve filled
their belly with crickets
at first light
and have gone home
to their tree
to take a nap as the sun
it’s rising - it’s only when
most of the crickets are gone
that you see the birds
chasing them along the sidewalk,
competing with other birds
it’s like a grizzled old economics
professors wet dream - real life demonstration,
when supply goes down, demand goes up
as for me
and the crickets,
i kind of like them,
signaling season change
i ate a few one time,
fried crispy with chili pepper,
nice crunchy taste, except for the legs
it felt like they were wiggling
as they went down my throat
probably won’t eat them again
law & order
i am the kind
by nature seeks
to apply order
to the world, especially
on things i can easily control
like my philosophy
and method of boot
shit-kicking cowboy boots, even though,
except, for a very little while
in my youth, i didn't
do any of that in boots
i wore them almost exclusively
most of my life,)
having in my closet during all those years
four pairs, two pair, one black
one brown, for dress-up and work,
one pair of everyday,
the latest dress-up replaced,
and one for dirty work,
the every-day pair
replaced by the latest
a pair of boots
used in this orderly
and methodological manner
for five or six years,
for a pair of
for maintaining order
in the universe
forgetting all the good stuff
i write poems
about old people
because there is too much
i don't remember...
that remind me
there are wonderful
important exciting things
i have forgot
and though i have accepted
this ravage of time
i still don’t understand it -
how can one forget
so unforgettable at the time?
the color orange
or the taste salt
or the smell of a fresh
plowed field in the morning
Now I have several poets from another huge anthology, this one, Poetry Daily, with 366 poems, a poem a day. The anthology was published by Soucebooks Inc. in 2003.
The first poem is by Sonia Sanchez.
Sanchez was born Wilsonia Benita Driver on September 9, 1934, in Birmingham, Alabama. In 1943, she moved to Harlem with her sister to live with their father and his third wife.
She earned a B.A. in political science from Hunter College in 1955. She also did postgraduate work at New York University and studied poetry.
She began teaching in the San Francisco area in 1965 and was a pioneer in developing black studies courses at what is now San Francisco State University, where she was an instructor from 1968 to 1969.
Sanchez is the author of more than a dozen books of poetry, as well as plays and books for children. She has also edited two anthologies.
Recipient of many awards and honors, she has lectured at more than five hundred universities and colleges in the United States and had traveled extensively, reading her poetry in Africa, Cuba, England, the Caribbean, Australia, Nicaragua, the People's Republic of China, Norway, and Canada. She was the first Presidential Fellow at Temple University, where she began teaching in 1977, and held the Laura Carnell Chair in English there until her retirement in 1999. She lives in Philadelphia.
The poem previously appeared in her books Shake Loose My Skin: New and Selected Poems and Homegirls and Handgrenades
after the Spanish
forgive me if i laugh
you are so sure of love
you are so young
and i too old to learn of love.
the rain exploding
in the air is love
the grass excreting her
green wax is love
and stones remembering
past steps is love,
but you, you are too young
and i am too old.
once, what does it matter
when or who, i knew
i fixed my body
under his and went
to sleep in love
all trace of me
was wiped away
forgive me if i smile
young heiress of a naked dream
your are so young
and i too old to learn of love.
The next poem is by David Lehman.
Lehman, born in 1948 in New York City, is a poet and editor for The Best American Poetry series. He currently teaches at The New School in New York City.
I have used his poems frequently on “Here and Now. “ In fact, this poem is from his book The Daily Mirror, his own book of daily poems and from which I’ve borrowed many poems.
for Beth Ann Fennelly
Do I still like to think
of myself in the third
person? I do. I mean,
he does. He liked, too,
to read the paper on
the couch with a cup
of coffee in his robe
daydreaming of a girl
he hadn’t met who
liked doing a pirouette
in an ankle-length
silvery gray skirt
that flares in a full
circle when she does so.
Not that she planned
to do so onstage, but
it was nice to know
she could. She thought
of herself as a fair warrior
on the strand hearing
the warring voices
of the sea, and he was
her demon lover,who
like sitting around
dreaming of the things
he liked, like the girl
who shoplifted lipstick
because she liked
the sound of its name.
Here’s a poem by Linda Pastan.
Pastan was born in New York City in 1932. She has published many books of poetry, and has won the Dylan Thomas Award, the Di Castagnola Award, The Bess Hokin Prize of Poetry magazine, the Virginia Faulkner Award from Prairie Schooner, and a Pushcart Prize. She lives in Potomac, Maryland.
The poem first appeared in The Georgia Review
Because the shad
in our waters now,
breaching the skin
of the river with their
tarnished silvery fins,
straight for our tables
knives and forks gleam
in anticipation, these trees
in the woods break
into flower - small white
to the season.
Finally, my last poem this week from Poetry Daily, a short piece by Lesley Dauer.
Dauer's first book of poems, The Fagile City, published in 1996, won the Bluestem Award. Her poems have appeared in American Poetry: The Next Generation and The Bread Loaf Anthology of New American Poets. Garrison Keillor has twice read her work on "The Writer's Almanac."
This poem first appeared in Grand Street.
Bewilderment Is Love
Your whole life you’ve hailed police cars
when all you wanted was an empty cab.
Once you put a dollar in a stranger’s coffee,
you thought it was an empty cup.
Your baby’s cry means change me.
you think it wants to be a different baby.
Sweetheart, one thing is another,
you’re confused because you care;
why not hire a stand-in
to handle your affairs?
“Red River Girl”
Monday - a hell’uv a way to start a week.
don’t tell me -
it’s time to write
my morning poem
i brought my
so i can
right out of the air
as they fly
only the good ones
i save those for
if ever a day
simple straight for-
elaboration and no
no no french words
no latin words
and german words
only if they sound funny
(which almost all german words do
so that’s not much of an constraint
is not poetically required
unless writing about
prisons or political speeches
which require a full palette
of grays and browns
none of this being
in my opinion unnecessarily
picky on my part
the flying of the words
out of a cave
the sun is shining now
and it is time
so bring on the....
let me take a bathroom
in the morning
after a pot of strong coffee
you might even say
“Madonna and Child”
For the last of my library poems this week, I have two poems by Pablo Neruda, from the very small, pocket-sized collection Twenty Love Poems and a Song of Despair, a Penguin Classic.
It’s a bilingual book, Spanish and English, translated by W. S. Merwin, on facing pages.
The poems in this little book, in my opinion, express the genius of Neruda better than anything else of his I’ve ever read.
White bee, you buzz in my soul, drunk with honey,
and your flight winds in slow spirals of smoke,
I am the one without hope, the word without echoes,
he who lost everything and he who had everything.
Last hawser, in you creaks my last longing.
In my barren land you are the final rose.
Ah you who are silent!
Let you deep eyes close. There the night flutters.
Ah your body, a frightened statue, naked.
You have deep eyes in which night flails.
Cool arms of flowers and a lap of rose.
Your breasts seem like white snails.
A butterfly of shadow has come to sleep on you belly.
Ah you are silent!
Here is the solitude from which you are absent.
It is raining. The sea wind is hunting stray gulls.
The water walks barefoot in the wet streets.
From that tree the leaves complain as though they were sick.
White bee,even when you are gone you buzz in my soul.
You live again in time, slender and silent.
Ah you who are silent!
We Have Lost Even
We have lost even this twilight.
No on saw us this evening hand in hand
while the blue night dropped on the world.
I have seen from my window
the fiesta of sunset in the distant mountain tops.
Sometimes a piece of sun
burned like a coin between my hands.
I remember you with my soul clenched
in that sadness of mine that you know.
Where were you then?
Who else was there?
Why will the whole of love come on me suddenly
when I am sad and feel you are far away?
The book fell that is always turned to at twilight
and my cape rolled like a hurt dog at my feet.
Always, always you recede through the evenings
towards where the twilight goes erasing statues.
I’m getting pretty good at this early morning rising stuff, 4:30 - 5:00 every morning. Of course that means it’s a race every night to see what goes down last, the sun or me.
by a bald guy
in a kilt
a green ponytail
on the very
of his head
in the corner
a woman in a low-
and very white breasts
for two hours
fine thin fingers
peck peck pecking
like a chicken
pulling elegant worms
give or take
on the interstate
red lights blazing
behind my glass
the commuters crash
bravo bravo bravissimo
for miles around
at 5 a.m.
i get up
to see what they know
of their secrets
i go for breakfast
i leave them
for i am human
and they cannot
crispy bacon, one
egg over easy
like it knows
there is no
on my white plate
it finally starts blowing
in their nests
will be needing
a dose or two
Done and done.
Until next week, all here belongs to who created it. You can rent my stuff for the low, low price of proper credit.
I’m allenitz, owner and producer of “Here and Now” and Thursday afternoon pundit, but only when punditry is required.