Friday, November 12, 2010

"& then afterward" by Nate Pritts


I woke to early sun:
burning of fire, & then afterward.

We kept reaching
through the long night.



the small deceptions
we allow ourselves:
a sickness, unchecked.
Like this:


& first sunlight.
Snow continues.
I could never close my eyes to light.

But there was no light
& you looked like night.


There must be a pattern,

snow slow-dropping in wet clusters
through the wooden arms
of empty trees.


Sun fingering its way
through branches

I’d hung my life on.
We don’t matter a bit; realization
forces our eyes closed—


A sickness, unchecked, like this.
I’d hung my life on

burning of fire, & then afterward.


Our arms together
we searched for patterns

& sunlight.


Our arms laced together,
pointing together
over wind-tossed grasses.

Us: waist deep in night blue.


There was no light.
You pointed.


Sun overhead,
you pointed
to the wind-tossed grasses.
This is a memory now.


Together in that first sun,
so vivid:
there must be a pattern

I’d hung my life on.


Snow dropped in clusters,
staggered & jagged.

We don’t matter a bit.


Reflected in lake water:
all these things I’ll forget.


Our arms together

but we keep reaching
over the wind-tossed grasses.


Black smoke curling:

the importance
of night-blue field grass,


the importance of.

The stars are close; we try to hold together.


All this ends
but until then:

burning of fire, & then afterward.
The stars are close; we try to hold.
Such distance between the fallen!


Burning of fire, & then afterward.

You pointed.


Grasses silently fold,
a sickness, unchecked, reaching. Like this.

Wooden arms of trees
long since emptied.


This ends in darkness,
& all the stars within reach,
& other constellations.

Nate Pritts, "& then afterward" from The Wonderfull Yeare (a shepherd’s calendar). Copyright © 2009 by Nate Pritts.

Thursday, November 04, 2010

Leave Taking by Louise Bogan

I do not know where either of us can turn
Just at first, waking from the sleep of each other.
I do not know how we can bear
The river struck by the gold plummet of the moon,
Or many trees shaken together in the darkness.
We shall wish not to be alone
And that love were not dispersed and set free—
Though you defeat me,
And I be heavy upon you.

But like earth heaped over the heart
Is love grown perfect.
Like a shell over the beat of life
Is love perfect to the last.
So let it be the same
Whether we turn to the dark or to the kiss of another;
Let us know this for leavetaking,
That I may not be heavy upon you,
That you may blind me no more.

You Worry Too Much - Rumi

Oh soul,
you worry too much.
Look at yourself,
what you have become.
You are now a field of sugar canes,
why show that sour face to me?
You have tamed the
winged horse of Love.
Of a death of a donkey,
why do you worry?
You say that I keep you warm inside.
Then why this cold sigh?
You have gone to the roof of heavens.
Of this world of dust, why do you worry?
Oh soul,
you worry too much.
Since you met me,
you have become a master singer,
and are now a skilled wrangler,
you can untangle any knot.
Of life's little leash
why do you worry?
Your arms are heavy
with treasures of all kinds.
About poverty,
why do you worry?
You are Joseph,
beautiful, strong,
steadfast in your belief,
all of Egypt has become drunk
because of you.
Of those who are blind to your beauty,
and deaf to your songs,
why do you worry?
Oh soul,
you worry too much.
You say that your housemate is the
Heart of Love,
she is your best friend.
You say that you are the heat of
the oven of every Lover.
You say that you are the servant of
Ali's magical sword, Zolfaghar.
Of any little dagger
why do you still worry?
Oh soul,
you worry too much.
You have seen your own strength.
You have seen your own beauty.
You have seen your golden wings.
Of anything less,
why do you worry?
You are in truth
the soul, of the soul, of the soul.
You are the security,
the shelter of the spirit of Lovers.
Oh the sultan of sultans,
of any other king,
why do you worry?
Be silent, like a fish,
and go into that pleasant sea.
You are in deep waters now,
of life's blazing fire.
Why do you worry?
From: 'Hush Don't Say Anything to God: Passionate Poems of Rumi'
Translated by Sharam Shiva

Sunday, October 24, 2010

My newest project!

Dear Readers,

I have started a new project. Please check it out and spread the word!


p.s. Sorry for the lack of poem posting of late. I have been a) getting used to not being in school and b) beginning many long-term projects for which I previously did not have time. I promise to be back soon!

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Goodbye. (Again and again.)

Stepping Backward - Adrienne Rich

Good-by to you whom I shall see tomorrow,
Next year and when I'm fifty; still good-by.
This is the leave we never really take.
If you were dead or gone to live in China
The event might draw your stature in my mind.
I should be forced to look upon you whole
The way we look upon the things we lose.
We see each other daily and in segments;
Parting might make us meet anew, entire.

You asked me once, and I could give no answer,
How far dare we throw off the daily ruse,
Official treacheries of face and name,
Have out our true identity? I could hazard
An answer now, if you are asking still.
We are a small and lonely human race
Showing no sign of mastering solitude
Out on this stony planet that we farm.
The most that we can do for one another
Is let our blunders and our blind mischances
Argue a certain brusque abrupt compassion.
We might as well be truthful. I should say
They're luckiest who know they're not unique;
But only art or common interchange
Can teach that kindest truth. And even art
Can only hint at what disturbed a Melville
Or calmed a Mahler's frenzy; you and I
Still look from separate windows every morning
Upon the same white daylight in the square.

And when we come into each other's rooms
Once in awhile, encumbered and self-conscious,
We hover awkwardly about the threshold
And usually regret the visit later.
Perhaps the harshest fact is, only lovers--
Unlearn that clumsiness of rare intrusion
And let each other freely come and go.
Most of us shut too quickly into cupboards
The margin-scribbled books, the dried geranium,
The penny horoscope, letters never mailed.
The door may open, but the room is altered;
Not the same room we look from night and day.

It takes a late and slowly blooming wisdom
To learn that those we marked infallible
Are tragi-comic stumblers like ourselves.
The knowledge breeds reserve. We walk on tiptoe,
Demanding more than we know how to render.
Two-edged discovery hunts us finally down;
The human act will make us real again,
And then perhaps we come to know each other.

Let us return to imperfection's school.
No longer wandering after Plato's ghost,
Seeking the garden where all fruit is flawless,
We must at last renounce that ultimate blue
And take a walk in other kinds of weather.
The sourest apple makes its wry announcement
That imperfection has a certain tang.
Maybe we shouldn't turn our pockets out
To the last crumb or lingering bit of fluff,
But all we can confess of what we are
Has in it the defeat of isolation--
If not our own, then someone's, anyway.

So I come back to saying this good-by,
A sort of ceremony of my own,
This stepping backward for another glance.
Perhaps you'll say we need no ceremony,
Because we know each other, crack and flaw,
Like two irregular stones that fit together.
Yet still good-by, because we live by inches
And only sometimes see the full dimension.
Your stature's one I want to memorize--
Your whole level of being, to impose
On any other comers, man or woman.
I'd ask them that they carry what they are
With your particular bearing, as you wear
The flaws that make you both yourself and human.

Adrienne Rich, The Fact of a Doorframe:
Poems Selected and New 1950-1984

Monday, June 21, 2010

Butchering Crabs by Henry Carlile

All day we smashed and swore,
filling the brine tanks
with twitching claws and legs,
white belly meat,
dropping the entrails
and deep-dish violet shells
down a slime hole to the bay.
Even Hawk, our best butcher,
got pinched.
Those claws cut
through our heaviest gloves.
When we broke them off
they clamped down tighter.

"Take that, you buckethead!"
the shell shattering
like crockery.
"You'll never bite another
Stabbing his hands
into that cage of maniacs,
clattering and seething,
bubbling at the mouths,
glare of stalked eyes,
claws like open traps,
he would snap one up
and in one smooth movement
break it over the knife.

She dips her fork
into the cocktail,
lifts it to her perfect face
and eats.
Over miles of white tablecloth
the bits and pieces fall.

He lived in a shack
with newspaper curtains,
drove home each night
crabby and skidding.
On the third day
they gave me my check:
"Too slow, sonny."
But Hawk was fast,
he was faster than life.

Friday, June 04, 2010

Odes by Ricardo Reis (translated by Edouard Roditi)

Of the gardens of Adonis, Lydia, I love
Most of all those fugitive roses
         That on the day they are born,
         That very day, must also die.
Eternal, for them, the light of day:
They're born when the sun is already high
         And die before Apollo's course

         Across the visible sky is run.
We too, of our lives, must make one day:
We never know, my Lydia, nor want
        To know of nights before or after
        The little while that we may last.
To be great, be whole: nothing that's you
         Should you exaggerate or exclude.
In each thing, be all. Give all you are
         In the least you ever do.
The whole moon, because it rides so high,
         Is reflected in each pool.

Monday, May 24, 2010

A Blessing - James Wright

Just off the Highway to Rochester, Minnesota
Twilight bounds softly forth on the grass.
And the eyes of those two Indian ponies
Darken with kindness.
They have come gladly out of the willows
To welcome my friend and me.
We step over the barbed wire into the pasture
Where they have been grazing all day, alone.
They ripple tensely, they can hardly contain their happiness
That we have come.
They bow shyly as wet swans. They love each other.
There is no loneliness like theirs.
At home once more,
They begin munching the young tufts of spring in the darkness.
I would like to hold the slenderer one in my arms,
For she has walked over to me
And nuzzled my left hand.
She is black and white,
Her mane falls wild on her forehead,
And the light breeze moves me to caress her long ear
That is delicate as the skin over a girl's wrist.
Suddenly I realize
That if I stepped out of my body I would break
Into blossom.