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)
what can we do?
by Charles Bukowski

at their best, there is gentleness in Humanity.
some understanding and, at times, acts of
courage
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?

nothing.

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
Humanity.

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

before my death I hope to obtain my
life.
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 [livejournal.com 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 [livejournal.com 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)
Incident
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!

Pan-thighed,
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)
Generic
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
zarahemla: (when harry met sally)
Full Fathom Five
by Sylvia Plath

Old man, you surface seldom.
Then you come in with the tide's coming
When seas wash cold, foam-

Capped: white hair, white beard, far-flung,
A dragnet, rising, falling, as waves
Crest and trough. Miles long

Extend the radial sheaves
Of your spread hair, in which wrinkling skeins
Knotted, caught, survives

The old myth of orgins
Unimaginable. You float near
As kneeled ice-mountains

Of the north, to be steered clear
Of, not fathomed. All obscurity
Starts with a danger:

Your dangers are many. I
Cannot look much but your form suffers
Some strange injury

And seems to die: so vapors
Ravel to clearness on the dawn sea.
The muddy rumors

Of your burial move me
To half-believe: your reappearance
Proves rumors shallow,

For the archaic trenched lines
Of your grained face shed time in runnels:
Ages beat like rains

On the unbeaten channels
Of the ocean. Such sage humor and
Durance are whirlpools

To make away with the ground-
Work of the earth and the sky's ridgepole.
Waist down, you may wind

One labyrinthine tangle
To root deep among knuckles, shinbones,
Skulls. Inscrutable,

Below shoulders not once
Seen by any man who kept his head,
You defy questions;

You defy godhood.
I walk dry on your kingdom's border
Exiled to no good.

Your shelled bed I remember.
Father, this thick air is murderous.
I would breathe water.
zarahemla: (when harry met sally)
This one for [livejournal.com profile] typicrobots, back from a long flight.

Backdrop Addresses Cowboy
by Margaret Atwood

Starspangled cowboy
sauntering out of the almost-
silly West, on your face
a porcelain grin,
tugging a papier-mâché cactus
on wheels behind you with a string,

you are innocent as a bathtub
full of bullets.

Your righteous eyes, your laconic
trigger-fingers
people the streets with villains:
as you move, the air in front of you
blossoms with targets

and you leave behind you a heroic
trail of desolation:
beer bottles
slaughtered by the side
of the road, bird-
skulls bleaching in the sunset.

I ought to be watching
from behind a cliff or a cardboard storefront
when the shooting starts, hands clasped
in admiration,

but I am elsewhere.

Then what about me

what about the I
confronting you on that border
you are always trying to cross?

I am the horizon
you ride towards, the thing you can never lasso

I am also what surrounds you:
my brain
scattered with your
tincans, bones, empty shells,
the litter of your invasions.

I am the space you desecrate
as you pass through.
zarahemla: (when harry met sally)
Horror of horrors, I FORGOT that this was national poetry month! BUT IT'S NEVER TOO LATE AHAHAHAHAHAHAHAAAAA

We'll start off with one of my faves, not posted in a long time. Some of you may recognize it -- I used it in a fic once, about ten years ago.


Anna Town
by Anne Carson

What an anxious existence I led.
And it went on for years it was years.
Before I noticed the life of objects one day.
Anna gazed down at her.
Sword I saw the sword yield up.
To her all that had been accumulated.
Within it all that strange.
World where an apple weighs more.
Than a mountain then.
We set off.
For bitter warfare.
Is dear to us.
zarahemla: (Default)
A couple by Carl Sandburg.

Kansas Lessons

Often the mockingbird is only a mocker
singing the songs of other birds,
pouring their trills over the bushes.
      And sometimes the mocker is all alone
      the child playing all-aloney all--aloney.
And sometimes the mocker calls, calls, calls,
the fables, texts and cries of all heartbreaks,
all the wild nights a blood-gold moon can buy.

This -- for the moon -- yes?

This is a good book? Yes?
Throw it at the moon.
Stand on the ball of your right foot
And come to the lunge of a center fielder
Straddling in a throw for the home plate,
Let her go -- spang -- this book for the moon
    -- yes?
And then -- other books, good books, even the
    best books -- shoot 'em with a long twist
    at the moon -- yes?