Coleen Shin & Alex Stolis, Right Here - Right Now   Thursday, August 12, 2010

“Oil-Crayon Self-Portrait”
Coleen Shin

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:

James Galvin
Winter Solstice Full Moon at Perigee
January Thaw


Natasha Trethewey
Photograph: Ice Storm, 1971
What Is Evidence

we pause in our regularly scheduled programming for a moment of editorial reflection

Michael Gottlieb
Inconvenient Affects

blues at 5 a.m.

James Fenton
Dead Soldiers

a little something to do

Marge Piercy

Alex Stolis
Dog in the Sand - Part 1 (from Clean as a Broke Dick Dog)

Zoran Ancevski
What’s Slouching

Gwyneth Lewis
Mother Tongue

Evelyn Schlag

Valerio Magrelli
[I have from you this red]

sunday quartet

Sonia Sanchez

David Lehman
November 19

Linda Pastan

Lesley Dauer
Bewilderment Is Love

via vitae

Pablo Neruda
White Bee
We Have Lost Even

a.m. Tuesday

No time-wasting here; let’s move on to the good stuff.

Coleen Shin

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?

January Thaw

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.
Author, authority,
Master, mastery,
If I wear glasses am I more spectacular?
Tweezer-brain casualty.
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.

Coleen Shin

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,

at breakfast
and dinner time

the rest of the time
they live

in some alternate universe
the precise location

of which they have never
informed me

but i know it must be
and all encompassing alternate

because when they come running

at breakfast
and dinner time

they come running from
all directions


i should better describe the cats

so that if you should happen
to see one

you’ll know
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
for eating

about which she is quite insistent,
screaming cat invectives

at me
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 -

both Mama
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,
without Kitty,

who warms my lap in winter
and only wants a place to sleep

and occasionally eat
in return

and Mama
who hates her kids

but doesn’t bother them
unless they come within three feet

of her,
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

Coleen Shin

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.

Coleen Shin

Reading the newspaper, a sure-fire cure for illusions of species-grandeur.

we pause our regularly scheduled programming for a moment of editorial reflection

judge says
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

gulf well
no longer pumping
oil into the sea;
bp pleased but bemused

always though the holes
they dug
pumped gold - didn’t know
they were pumping nasty black

gunky stuff instead

environmentalist distressed,
having to push apocalyptic predictions
back decades...
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
in arizona
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
brought low
by bozos the clown

recalling the mantra
of modern man

it could be worse

glen beck
has a book out -
i’ll read it some day,
no, really,

glen beck
knows more than 12 words

and with help, can spell many
of them

no, really

Coleen Shin

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.”

Inconvenient Affects

               for Drew

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
that quarter

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

Coleen Shin

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
the day

when dark and terrible

are revealed to me - foretellings
of days

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,
perhaps not

Coleen Shin

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.

Dead Soldiers

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.

Coleen Shin

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


to run

to roam...

crazy dog...


ready to chew off
any hand
that seeks to offer


on a good word
a pat on the head
a kick in the ribs


that’s you
that’s me

our brains
to run and roam

settling into cold
if allowed to grow dusty
on a forgotten
in a library of the

little something to do
every day
keeps the human brain

my brain

fresh and wholesome...

a garden to water

a painting to hang

two loads of laundry
to wash

and coloreds)

or just
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 -

Coleen Shin

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,
the hourglass
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
as breathing.

“Digital Art”
Coleen Shin

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

it’s summer

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

paper doll

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]

Dear J,

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

-------------------------------------------------------------------------------- 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 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.

orange crush

There are many ways to say

orange –anaranjado-

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.

hotel song

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

to hide.

letter to an occupant [part 2]

Dear L,

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.

Coleen Shin

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

What’s slouching like stagnant air
through these Balkan corridors?
Eroded erudites,
plague-ridden radicals,
bloodthirsty ecologists
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,

in Versailles,
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.

Mother Tongue

“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.

              -W.H. Auden

        - 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 crack,
black, permanent,
the sign of a storm
still thundering
over this resonant landscape
of enamel.

“Mother Dreaming Daughter Dreaming Flowers”
Coleen Shin

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.

sunday quartet

best place i used to go when i was playing hooky

pool tables
used to be in pool halls

of balls sounding
down a long line of
smoke-swirled bright-
lit felt

orange crush
in the cooler for a dime

now they're in
church basements
and rec centers
and and all manner of
where goofy
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
he went

supply & demand

the crickets
swarm in overnight
after the first sustained rains

between late summer
and early fall

pile up
along the curb

and against walls
and in doorways, trying
to get inside? nobody knows

why -
some primitive insectual urge
for air-conditioning?

some people
treat them like vipers
writhing on the sidewalks -

but for birds,
it’s a bountiful

crickets everywhere,
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,

jiminey crickets
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

(pointy-toed, cockroach-in-the-corner-
stomping, stirrup-grabbing,
shit-kicking cowboy boots, even though,

except, for a very little while
in my youth, i didn't
do any of that in boots

even though
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
dress-up replaced...

a pair of boots
used in this orderly
and methodological manner

could last
for five or six years,
not bad,

for a pair of
sears specials

ample reward
for maintaining order
in the universe

forgetting all the good stuff

i write poems
about old people

because there is too much
about being

i don't remember...

just flashes
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
what seemed
so unforgettable at the time?

the color orange
or the taste salt
or the smell of a fresh
plowed field in the morning

Coleen Shin

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
for love
and i am too old.

once, what does it matter
when or who, i knew
of love.
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.

November 19

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
are swimming
in our waters now,

breaching the skin
of the river with their
tarnished silvery fins,

heading upstream
straight for our tables
where already

knives and forks gleam
in anticipation, these trees
in the woods break

into flower - small white
flags surrendering
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”
Coleen Shin

Monday - a hell’uv a way to start a week.

via vitae

don’t tell me -
i know

it’s time to write
my morning poem


i’m waiting

i brought my

so i can
those words
right out of the air
as they fly

only the good ones

dirty ones...
i save those for
which deserve
dirty words
if ever a day

just plain
simple straight for-
ward words

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
on german-flying-through-the-air

strong words

active words

is not poetically required
or preferred,

colorful words
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

i await
the flying of the words
like bats
out of a cave

the sun is shining now
and it is time

so bring on the....

let me take a bathroom

de rigueur
in the morning
after a pot of strong coffee

you might even say
as Cicero

via vitae.

“Madonna and Child”
Coleen Shin

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

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?
Saying what?
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.

Coleen Shin

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.

a.m. Tuesday

my new

by a bald guy
in a kilt

a green ponytail

on the very
of his head

in the corner
a woman in a low-

cut blouse
and very white breasts

for two hours
fine thin fingers

peck peck pecking
like a chicken
pulling elegant worms

in the
farm yard


7 a.m.
give or take
ten minutes

the morning
ambulance passes
on the interstate

red lights blazing
siren unheard
behind my glass

someone making

the commuters crash
on time
Italian fascists

bravo bravo bravissimo


dogs bark
for miles around
at 5 a.m.

i get up
to see what they know
see nothing

of their secrets
i go for breakfast

i leave them
for i am human

and they cannot


black coffee
crispy bacon, one
egg over easy

like it knows

‘s next

there is no
on my white plate

to hide


three days
no wind
at all

it finally starts blowing

in their nests
will be needing

a dose or two

Coleen Shin

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.


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