zarahemla: (when harry met sally)
by Kay Ryan

The great taloned osprey
nests in Scotland.
Her nest's the biggest
thing around, a spiked basket
with hungry ugly osprey offspring
in it. For months she sits on it.
He fishes, riding four-pound salmon
home like rockets. They get
all the way there before they die,
so muscular and brilliant
swimming through the sky.
zarahemla: (when harry met sally)
Crustacean Island
by Kay Ryan

There could be an island paradise
where crustaceans prevail.
Click, click, go the lobsters
with their china mitts and
articulated tails.
It would not be sad like whales
with their immense and patient sieving
and the sobering modesty
of their general way of living.
It would be an island blessed
with only cold-blooded residents
and no human angle.
It would echo with a thousand castanets
and no flamencos.
zarahemla: (glove - romeo and juliet)
We're Building the Ship As We Sail It

The first fear
being drowning, the
ship's first shape
was a raft, which
was hard to unflatten
after that didn't
happen. It's awkward
to have to do one's
planning in extremis
in the early years --
so hard to hide later:
sleekening the hull,
making things
more gracious.
zarahemla: (glove - romeo and juliet)
The Mock Ruin
by Kay Ryan

...built as the backdrop of the stage of the ancient
Roman theatre in Sabratha, Libya, Africa, is the most
perfectly preserved part of the entire structure.
--Ripley's Believe It Or Not!

Fakes and mock-ups, stage backdrops
quickly nicked, weathered, and
stuck together for illusion's sake
(getting some parts backwards)
give more, maybe; sway slightly;
take later buffets better generally
than their brittle sources whose
stones were set down in regular courses
and mortared. Maybe there is something
to falseness that doesn't get reported.
zarahemla: (when harry met sally)
by Louise Glück

Public sorrow, the acquired
gold of the leaf, the falling off,
the prefigured burning of the yield:
which is accomplished. At the lake's edge,
the metal pails are full vats of fire.
So waste is elevated
into beauty. And the scattered dead
unite in one consuming vision of order.
In the end,, everything is bare.
Above the cold, receptive earth,
the trees bend. Beyond,
the lake shines, placid, giving back
the established blue of heaven.
                                             The word
is bear: you give and give, you empty yourself
into a child. And you survive
the automatic loss. Against inhuman landscape,
the tree remains a figure for grief; its form
is forced accommodation. At the grave,
it is the woman, isn't it, who bends,
the spear useless beside her.

[July 1978]
zarahemla: (when harry met sally)
Guys what, this is an awesome Friday, because [ profile] voleuse wrote me a little Blair/Chuck snippet, and THEN GUESS WHAT, like a cherry on top of the best cake ever, she embellished it with the Faiz Ahmad Faiz poem that I published last week. I am so happy that even watching Community is not going to make me happier! Trufax.

Here it is: Spell On History. Read it and weep because it wasn't written for you!
zarahemla: (when harry met sally)
what can we do?
by Charles Bukowski

at their best, there is gentleness in Humanity.
some understanding and, at times, acts of
but all in all it is a mass, a glob that doesn't
have too much.
it is like a large animal deep in sleep and
almost nothing can awaken it.
when activated it's best at brutality,
selfishness, unjust judgments, murder.

what can we do with it, this Humanity?


avoid the thing as much as possible.
treat it as you would anything poisonous, vicious
and mindless.
but be careful. it has enacted laws to protect
itself from you.
it can kill you without cause.
and to escape it you must be subtle.
few escape.

it's up to you to figure a plan.

I have met nobody who has escaped.

I have met some of the great and
famous but they have not escaped
for they are only great and famous within

I have not escaped
but I have not failed in trying again and

before my death I hope to obtain my
zarahemla: (when harry met sally)
It's not a Cambodian poem, but it's still in the neighborhood. I'm trying to tell you that if you have one extra cent to give, please give it to Riverkids to help save Cambodian children from trafficking and give them a safe place to go to school and a place to eat.

Riverkids is run by Dale Edmonds, also known as [ profile] viggorlijah, and she's one of us :) and she's totally trustworthy. Riverkids is running out of funding -- there isn't enough money for all the kids that need help, and I know that every penny you give will be used to feed, educate, house, clothe, and give medical attention to children who might otherwise be in dire straits.

If you're curious and need more info, please read this great post by [ profile] spicedrum. Otherwise, on to the poetry.

Country Scene
by Hô Xuân Hu'o'ng

The waterfall plunges in mist.
Who can describe this desolate scene:

the long white river sliding through
the emerald shadows of the ancient canopy

...a shepherd's horn echoing in the valley,
fishnets stretched to dry on sandy flats.

A bell is tolling, fading, fading
just like love. Only poetry lasts.

(translated from the Vietnamese by John Balaban)
zarahemla: (when harry met sally)
Imagining Their Own Hymns
by Brigit Pegeen Kelly

What fools they are to believe the angels
in this window are in ecstasy. They
do not smile. Their eyes are rolled back in annoyance
not in bliss, as my mother’s eyes roll back
when she finds us in the dirt with the cider—
flies and juice blackening our faces and hands.
When the sun comes up behind the angels
then even in their dun robes they are beautiful,
with their girlish hair and their mean lit faces,
but they do not love the light. As I
do not love it when I am made clean
for the ladies who bring my family money.
They stroke my face and smooth my hair. So sweet,
they say, so good, but I am not sweet or good.
I would take one of the possums we kill
in the dump by the woods where the rats slide
like dark boats into the dark stream and leave it
on the heavy woman’s porch just to think
of her on her knees scrubbing and scrubbing
at a stain that will never come out.
And these angels that the women turn to
are not good either. They are sick of Jesus,
who never stops dying, hanging there white
and large, his shadow blue as pitch, and blue
the bruise on his chest, with spread petals,
like the hydrangea blooms I tear from
Mrs. Macht’s bush and smash on the sidewalk.
One night they will get out of here. One night
when the weather is turning cold and a few
candles burn, they will leave St. Blase standing
under his canopy of glass lettuce
and together, as in a wedding march,
their pockets full of money from the boxes
for the sick poor, they will walk down the aisle,
imagining their own hymns, past the pews
and the water fonts in which small things float,
down the streets of our narrow town, while
the bells ring and the birds fly up in the fields
beyond — and they will never come back.
zarahemla: (when harry met sally)
Oh my gosh, so much sickness in this house! It is a house of plague! Let's not talk about it.

'Don't Ask Me For That Love Again'
by Faiz Ahmed Faiz,
trans. Agha Shahid Ali

That which then was ours, my love,
don't ask me for that love again.
The world was then gold, burnished with light --
and only because of you. That what I had believed.
How could one weep for sorrows other than yours?
How could one have any sorrow but the one you gave?
So what were these protests, these rumors of injustice?
A glimpse of your face was evidence of springtime.
The sky, wherever I looked, was nothing but your eyes.
If you'd fall in my arms, Fate would be helpless.

All this I'd thought, all this I'd believed.
But there were other sorrows, comforts other than love.
The rich had cast their spell on history:
dark centuries had been embroidered on brocades and silks
Bitter threads began to unravel before me
as I went into alleys and in open markets
saw bodies plastered with ash, bathed in blood.
I saw them sold and bought, again and again.
This too deserves attention. I can't help but look back
when I return from those alleys -- what should one do?
There are other sorrows in this world,
comforts other than love.
Don't ask me, my love, for that love again.
zarahemla: (when harry met sally)
by Norman MacCaig

I look across the table and think
(fiery with love)
Ask me, go on, ask me
to do something impossible,
something freakishly useless,
something unimaginable and inimitable

Like making a finger break into blossom
or walking for half an hour in twenty minutes
or remembering tomorrow.

I will you to ask it.
But all you say is
Will you give me a cigarette?
And I smile and,
returning to the marvelous world
of possibility
I give you one
with a hand that trembles
with a human trembling.
zarahemla: (when harry met sally)
Daphne With Her Thighs In Bark
by Eavan Boland

I have written this

so that,
in the next myth,
my sister will be wiser.

Let her learn from me:

the opposite of passion
is not virtue
but routine.

I can be cooking,
making coffee,
scrubbing wood, perhaps,
and back it comes:
the crystalline, the otherwhere,
the wood

where I was
when he began the chase.
And how I ran from him!

satyr-faced he was.

The trees reached out to me.
I silvered and I quivered. I shook out
My foil of quick leaves.

He snouted past.
What a fool I was!

I shall be here forever,
setting out the tea,
among the coppers and the branching alloys and
the tin shine of this kitchen;
laying saucers on the pine table.

Save face, sister.
Fall. Stumble.
Rut with him.
His rough heat will keep you warm and

you will be better off than me,
with your memories
down the garden,
at the start of March,

unable to keep your eyes
off the chestnut tree -

just the way
it thrusts and hardens.
zarahemla: (when harry met sally)
Bad Girl
Kim Addonizio

She's the one sleeping all day, in a room
at the back of your brain. She wakes up
at the sound of a cork twisted free
of a bottle, a stabbed olive

plopped into gin. She's prettier than you
and right now you bore the shit out of her,
sitting there sipping when she wants
to stand on the rim of the glass, naked,

dive straight to the bottom and lie there
looking up, amazed at how the world
wavers and then comes clear. You're not
going to let her. You've locked her in

with her perfume and cheap novels,
her deep need for trouble. She's the one
calling to you through the keyhole,
then sneaking away to squirm out

a window and tear her silk dress.
You can't guess where she's going,
or who you'll wake up with
when you finally wake up,

your head throbbing like a heart.
She's the one you're scared of,
the one who dares you to go ahead
and completely disappear. It's not

you the boys are noticing, not you
turning toward them and throwing off light.
You're crouched in a corner, coming undone.
She's in love with you now. She's the one.
zarahemla: (when harry met sally)
I could probably post from this book all month. I may not spare you. !!

Promise -- if you make it to the middle of this poem you will not regret it.

What do you mean you have nothing?
by Robert Hass

For C.R.

What do you mean you have nothing?
You can't have nothing. Aren't there three green apples
on the table in an earth-brown bowl? Weren't there
three apples for three goddesses in the story
and the fellow had to pick -- no, there was one apple
and three goddesses, as in the well-known remark
that all of politics is two pieces of cake
and three children. Aren't there three yellow roses
on the counter in a clear glass vase among purple spikes
of another flower that resembles a little
the Nile hyacinth you saw in lush borders
along the green canal at Puerto Escondido?
Do you remember Juan called them "Lent flowers,"
which made you see that the white gush of the calyx
was an eastering, and you looked at Connie
with her shaved head after chemo and her bright,
wide eyes that wanted to miss nothing,
and do you remember that the surface of the water
came suddenly alive: a violent roiling and leaping
of small fish, and Juan, pointing into the water
at what had got them leaping, shouted "Barracuda,"
and that the young pelicans came swooping in
to practice their new awkward skill of fishing
on the small, terrified, silvery river fish? And
the black-headed terns, a flock of them,
joined in, hovering and plunging like needles
into the churning water? All in one explosion:
green lagoon, barracuda, silver fish, brown pelicans,
plunging terns, Juan's laugh, appalled, alive,
and Connie's wide blue eyes and the river smell
coming up as the water quieted again. Of course,
there were three apples, one for beauty,
and one for terror, and one for Connie's eyes
in the quiet after, mangrove swallows in the air,
shy, white-faced ibises foraging among the hyacinths.
zarahemla: (when harry met sally)
Picked up Robert Hass's newest book, "The Apple Trees At Olema," from the library today. Didn't even make it to page 5 before having to post this :)

from July Notebook: the Birds
by Robert Hass

Are you there? It's summer. Are you smeared with the juice of cherries?

The light this morning is touching everything,
the grasses by the pond,
and the wind-chivvied water,
and the aspens on the bank, and the one white fir on its sunward side,
and the blue house down the road
and its white banisters which are glowing on top
and shadowy on the underside,
which intensifies the luster of the surfaces that face the sun
as it does to the leaves of the aspen.

Are you there? Maybe it would be best
to be the shadow side of a pine needle
on a midsummer morning
(to be in imagination and for awhile
on a midsummer morning
the shadow side of a pine needle).

The sun has concentrated to a glowing point
in the unlit bulb of the porchlight on the porch
of the blue house down the road.
It almost hurts to look at it.

Are you there? Are you soaked in dreams still?

The sky is inventing a Web site called newest azure.
There are four kinds of birdsong outside
and a methodical early morning saw.
No, not a saw. It's a boy on a scooter and the sun
on his black helmet is concentrated to a point of glowing light.
He isn't death come to get us
and he isn't truth arriving in a black T-shirt
chevroned up the arms in tongues of flame.

Are you there? For some reason I'm imagining
the small hairs on your neck, even though I know
you are dread and the muse
and my mortal fate and a secret.
It's a boy on a scooter on a summer morning.
Did I say the light was touching everything?
zarahemla: (when harry met sally)
by Rachel Hadas

The little boy who snuggles next to me
while I read him Millions of Cats,
and we meow together
"No, I am the prettiest!" "I am!" "I am!"
is five. I'm sixty. The book is eighty-one.
I have read it before.

Durable, evocative, stale, weary;
renewable, exhaustible, and placid;
benign or neutral, shifty as the moon;
obedient to undeciphered laws:
What we take for granted
vanishes, reconfigures, disappears.

Samos, Squirrel Island, Spetses,
Cherry Tree Walk down by the Hudson River:
The massive stones on which I love to perch
and gaze into the changed, unchanging water
don't tell me their age, and I don't ask.
I have been here before.
zarahemla: (when harry met sally)
Hotel Insomnia
by Charles Simic

I liked my little hole,
Its window facing a brick wall.
Next door there was a piano.
A few evenings a month
A crippled old man came to play
"My Blue Heaven."

Mostly, though, it was quiet.
Each room with its spider in heavy overcoat
Catching his fly with a web
Of cigarette smoke and revery.
So dark,
I could not see my face in the shaving mirror.

At 5 a.m. the sound of bare feet upstairs,
The "Gypsy" fortune-teller,
Whose storefront is on the corner,
Going to pee after a night of love.
Once, too, the sound of a child sobbing.
So near it was, I thought
For a moment, I was sobbing myself.
zarahemla: (when harry met sally)
I was in Maryland all weekend! I missed you guys. Here's one of my favorite poems ever (I think I posted it last year) ... it happens to be about traveling. Read it, and then listen to it.

Our Ground Time Here Will Be Brief
by Maxine Kumin

Blue landing lights make
nail holes in the dark.
A fine snow falls. We sit
on the tarmac taking on
the mail, quick freight,
trays of laboratory mice,
coffee and Danish for
the passengers.

Wherever we’re going
is Monday morning.
Wherever we’re coming from
is Mother’s lap.
On the cloud-packed above, strewn
as loosely as parsnip
or celery seeds, lie
the souls of the unborn:

my children’s children’s
children and their father.
We gather speed for the last run
and lift off into the weather.
zarahemla: (when harry met sally)
The Butterfly Farm
by Medbh McGuckian

The film of a butterfly ensures that it is dead:
Its silence like the green cocoon of the car-wash,
Its passion for water to uncloud.

In the Japanese tea house they believe
In making the most of the bright nights:
That the front of a leaf is male, the back female.

There are grass stains on their white stockings;
In artificial sun even the sound are disposable;
The mosaic of their wings is spun from blood.

Cyanide in the killing jar relaxes the Indian moon moth,
The pearl-bordered beauty, the clouded yellow,
The painted lady, the silver-washed blue.
zarahemla: (when harry met sally)
Sentimental Moment or Why Did the Baguette Cross the Road?
by Robert Hershon

Don't fill up on bread
I say absent-mindedly
The servings here are huge

My son, whose hair may be
receding a bit, says
Did you really just
say that to me?

What he doesn't know
is that when we're walking
together, when we get
to the curb
I sometimes start to reach
for his hand