22 February 2010

Abe Louise Young

[Abe Louise Young from Hawaii Review]

Torn Screens

My mother is home with one breast, almost
sleep-walking. Three decades of mercury,
burning batteries, falling ash & all the plastic mysteries
compacted into garbage bags–

                   Trash incinerators
downriver are still stitching torn stockings of smoke
to the skyline, long legs of fire.
A boat’s a hat on house;
     a slab’s covered with underwear,

a cardinal pecks at a nest; the bag of birdseed molds,
& shudders to the other side
of the laundry room by sheer gyrations
of maggots.
I know nothing; can’t laugh back.

We sit inside, eat General Tsao’s Chicken dripping
with syrup. Talk feral cats. Her sternum’s purple
& black. Her teeth are good, the crowns
are hanging on, though someone stole
her eyelashes.

Better have a baby
quick. Crazy laugh. And then she cries: her voice
is two tones deeper, dry, with the rattle of a hammer
dropped a long way down
the well.

Twenty years ago we caught rabbits
in the swamp that’s since turned iridescent green,
roped off with caution tape.
There’s an oil slick beautifying the lake.

The porch is falling down
     & once was screened
against mosquitoes but the screens got torn & now
are curtains sliced open in a swag,
night theater.

I kiss her cheek, she holds my hand.
We radiate together.

19 February 2010



Bolted. To the inner
arc of Cs

four legs.

back. Lunge-
powered young

on the colt’s
home range.


reels the

mounts — the buoyancy
of Palominos, of
Appaloosas —


beneath the

surge of chords, of children
twirls itself
(as Appaloosas at
the wild toss

brass rings):


18 February 2010

Ted Berrigan

[from Ted Berrigan's The Collected Poems, University of California, 2005]


Stronger than alcohol, more great than song,
deep in whose reeds great elephants decay;
I, an island, sail, and my shores toss
on a fragrant evening, fraught with sadness
bristling hate.
It's true, I weep too much. Dawns break
slow kisses on the eyelids of the sea,
what other men sometimes have thought they've seen.
And since then I've been bathing in the poem
lifting her shadowy flowers up for me,
and hurled by hurricanes to a birdless place
the waving flags, nor pass by prison ships
O let me burst, and I be lost at sea!
and fall on my knees then, womanly.

15 February 2010

Tom Clark

[from Tom Clark's Light & Shade: New and Selected Poems, Coffee House, 2006]


Don't hurt the radio for
Against all
Solid testimony machines
Have feelings

Brush past it lightly
With a fine regard
For allowing its molecules
To remain 100% intact

Machines can think like Wittgenstein
And the radio's a machine
Thinking softly to itself
Of the Midnight Flower
As her tawny parts unfold

In slow motion the boat
Rocks on the ocean
As her tawny parts unfold

The radio does something mental
To itself singingly
As her tawny parts unfold
Inside its wires
And steal away its heart

Two minutes after eleven
The color dream communicates itself
The ink falls on the paper as if magically
The scalp falls away
A pain is felt
Deep in the radio

I take out my larynx and put it on the blue chair
And do my dance for the radio
It's my dance in which I kneel in front of the radio
And while remaining motionless elsewise
Force my eyeballs to come as close together as possible
While uttering a horrible and foreign word
Which I cannot repeat to you without now removing my larynx
And placing it on the blue chair

The blue chair isn't here
So I can't do that trick at the present time

The radio is thinking a few licks of its own
Pianistic thoughts attuned to tomorrow's grammar
Beautiful spas of seltzery coition
Plucked notes like sandpaper attacked by Woody Woodpecker

The radio says Edwardian farmers form Minnesota march on the Mafia
Armed with millions of radioactive poker chips

The radio fears foul play
It turns impersonal
A piggy bank was smashed
A victim was found naked
Radio how can you tell me this
In such a chipper tone

Your structure of voices is a friend
The best kind
The kind one can turn on or off
Whenever one wants to
But that is wrong I know
For you will intensely to continue
And in a deeper way
You do

Hours go by
And I watch you
As you diligently apply
A series of audible frequencies
To tiny receptors
Located inside my cranium
Resulting in much pleasure for someone
Who looks like me
Although he is seated about two inches to my left
And the both of us
Are listening to your every word
With a weird misapprehension
It's the last of the tenth
And Harmon Killebrew is up
With a man aboard

He blasts a game winning home run
The 559th of his career
But no one cares
Because the broadcast is studio-monitored for taping
To be replayed in 212 years

Heaven must be like this, radio
To not care about anything
Because it's all being taped for replay much later

Heaven must be like this
For as her tawny parts unfold
The small lights swim roseate
As if of sepals were the tarp made
As it is invisibly unrolled
And sundown gasps its old Ray Charles 45 of "Georgia"
Only through your voice

The Fish Trade

On board the Agua C
trailered to a Ford

a fisher, orange-bibbed
offloads fish

to a plastic bin
lifted gunwale high.

Water wets the road
the gutters run.

Ahi and marlin —
shining fins, scales, teeth —

cleaned and fileted, weighed
plastic-wrapped and priced.

So man fishes, so
fish die, so the man

sells fish so man can
eat. Forklift by Yale.

12 February 2010

Ezra Pound

[from Ezra Pound's The Cantos, New Directions, 1993]

LII [excerpt]

Know then:
          Toward summer when the sun is in Hyades
Sovran is Lord of the Fire
            to this month are birds.
with bitter smell and with the odour of burning
To the hearth god, lungs of the victim
          The green frog lifts up his voice
            and the white latex is in flower
In red car with jewels incarnadine
          to welcome the summer
In this month no destruction
            no tree shall be cut at this time
Wild beasts are driven from field
          in this month are simples gathered.
The empress offers cocoons to the Son of Heaven
          Then goes the sun into Gemini
Virgo in mid heaven at sunset
          indigo must not be cut
No wood burnt into charcoal
          gates are all open, no tax on the booths.
Now mares to go grazing,
            tie up the stallions
Post up the horsebreeding notices
            Month of the longest days
Life and death are now equal
            Strife is between light and darkness
Wise man stays in his house
            Stag droppeth antlers
Grasshopper is loud,
            leave no fire open to southward.
Now the sun enters Hydra, this is the third moon of summer
Antares of Scorpio stands mid heaven at sunset
Andromeda is with sunrise
            Lord of the fire is dominant
To this month is SEVEN,
            with bitter smell, with odour of burning
Offer to gods of the hearth
              the lungs of the victims
Warm wind is rising, cricket bideth in wall
Young goshawk is learning his labour
              dead grass breedeth glow-worms.
In Ming-T'ang HE bideth
              in the west wing of that house
Red car and the sorrel horses
              his banner incarnadine.
The fish ward now goes against crocodiles
To take all great lizards, turtles, for divination,
sea terrapin.
The lake warden to gather rushes
          to take grain for the manes
to take grain for the beasts you will sacrifice
to the Lords of the Mountains
          To the Lords of great rivers
Inspector of dye-works, inspector of colour and broideries
see that the white, black, green be in order
let no false colour exist here
black, yellow, green be of quality
            This month are trees in full sap
Rain has now drenched all the earth
            dead weeds enrich it, as if boil'd in a bouillon.
Sweet savour, the heart of the victim
yellow flag of Emperor's chariot
            yellow stones in his girdle.
Sagittarius in mid-course at sunset
            cold wind is beginning. Dew whitens.
Now is cicada's time,
          the sparrow hawk offers birds to the spirits.
Emperor goes out in war car, he is drawn by white horses,
white banner, white stones in his girdle
eats dog and the dish is deep.
            This month is the reign of Autumn
Heaven is active in metals, now gather millet
            and finish the flood-walls
Orion at sunrise.
            Horses now with black manes.
Eat dog meat. This is the month of ramparts.
Beans are the tribute. September is end of thunder
The hibernants go into their caves.
          Tolls lowered, now sparrows, they say, turn into oysters
The wolf now offers his sacrifice.
              Men hunt with five weapons,
They cut wood for charcoal.
            New rice with your dog meat.

08 February 2010

Denise Levertov

[from Denise Levertov's Tesserae: Memories & Suppositions, New Directions, 1995]

The Sack Full of Wings

When my father was a little boy in Russia an old pedlar used to come by from time to time, carrying a big sack over his shoulder. Sometimes he would be seen in the streets and outlying districts of the town of Orsha, my father's home; sometimes when my father was taken to the larger city of Vitepsk to visit his grandparents and uncles, there again he would glimpse the pedlar, trudging along, always carrying the bulky sack. My father did not wonder what was in the sack, for he believed he knew: it was full of wings, wings which would enable people to fly like birds. (Of my father's great-grandfather, the Rav of Northern White Russia, it was told that although when young he had abjured the temptation to learn the language of birds, yet in old age he understood all that they said.)

When my father was ten years old another boy was born in Vitepsk who grew up to become a great and renowned painter: Marc Chagall. He and my father never knew one another, but Chagall depicted the old pedlar and his sack. He is flying, though not with wings. Perhaps the constant burden of such a concentration of wings was transmuted into the ability to levitate without stretching and flapping a single pair of them. At all events, it is clearly the same man, exactly as my father used to describe him when I was a child in London and he a middle-aged Anglican parson. I didn't discover until after my father's death in 1954 that Chagall had shared his recognition of the sack's magic.

06 February 2010

nature poetry

Blogging on Harriet, Sina Queyras considers Til Lilburn and nature poetry

Your Elbow on a Car-Edge, Incognito As Summer

Your Elbow on a Car-Edge, Incognito As Summer

Draws me near to wonder
how grief

alters your wolf’s grin.

"The world’s a stage." No one

doubts the princess weeps for the king’s
              death (divined by the chorus), falls for
              the conquering lord.

Grape, apple, citrus, tea

these trinities of
nitrogen, phosphate, and sugar


a chronicle histone-wound

like the Mahabharata.

Lyrics and melody
preview the roles we play

shooters and callers, dealers and spenders
the charmed ropes