31 January 2010

Provincetown Crossing

My thanks to The Lyric's editor Jean Mellichamp Milliken and judge Erin Garstka for choosing my sonnet, "Provincetown Crossing," for a quarterly award.

29 January 2010

Catullus as translated by Louis & Celia Zukofsky

[from Louis & Celia Zukofsky's Complete Short Poems, Johns Hopkins, 1969]

[believe me, you want to read the Latin line by line with the English]

from Catullus LXIV

laeva colum molli lana retinebat amictum,
dextera tum leviter deducens fila supinis
formabat digitis, tum prono in pollice torquens
libratum tereti versabat turbine fusum,
atque ita decerpens aequabat semper opus dens,
lanaeque aridulis haerebant morsa labellis,
quae prius in levi fuerant extantia filo:
ante pedes autem candentis mollia lanae
vellera virgati custodibant calathisci.
haec tum clarisona pellentes vellera voce
talia divino fuderunt carmine fata,
carmine, perfidiae quod post nulla arguet aetas.

Catullus LXIV
translated from the Latin by Louis & Celia Zukofsky

Left hand holding distaff and wool retained on it (ah mixture)
dexter hand will levitate take down these threads (feels up in these
formed about digitals) thumb pronate 'down' policy torque wanes
liberate the spindle whorl's about round in now fusing,
and what thread they cure pain's about smoothed bitten off with their
wool ends as of arid locks of hair abound morsels on bit lips,
what previously would furl on the thread extant if a lull:
at their feet always near candescent more light than wool white
rolls of fleece well guarded custom bound small willow baskets.
Hike t'whom clarisonous pelting the rolls of fleece, voiced then
the tale ah divinely poured from the harmony Fate their
harmony, perfidy could in no late time argue its heart.

17 January 2010

George Oppen

[from George Oppen's New Collected Poems (with CD), New Directions, 2008]

The mast
Inaudibly soars; bole-like, tapering:
Sail flattens from it beneath the wind.
The limp water holds the boat's round
                          sides. Sun
Slants dry light on the deck.
                          Beneath us glide
Rocks, sands, and unrimmed holes.

. . .

No interval of manner
Your body in the sun.
You? A solid, this that the dress
Your face unaccented, your mouth a mouth?
                          Practical knees:
It is you who truly
Excel the vegetable,
The fitting of grasses — more bare than
Pointedly bent, your elbow on a car-edge
Incognito as summer
Among mechanics.

06 January 2010

Ben Doller

[Ben Doller from Satellite Convulsions: Poems from Tin House,Tin House, 2009]

Beret Spotting

The other other afternoon after
a hearty brunch of nectarine squab,
scrambled egg whites & wet toast,
coffee juice grapefruit juice & port,
a fine cake made mostly of air & sweet spindles,
followed by a nap on the prototypical orange
square did I realize there was still time.

Cough drops, trillenia. Umm, spirals:
there was still time for beret spotting:

so I hoofed down the bony boulevard
toward the hectic, peach-pit esplanade.

My prior imbibing cost me my good breath.
— Nothing kills me how the hiccups kill,
trust, if manufactured and implemented
as torture, had I a state, or a secret,
I would blurt them quick as the mention — this
from one who would happily test the
Punishing Shoes or the Heretic’s Fork for

just a second. Or even the Head Crusher,
minus the skull-steadying spike. Maybe even the Iron Maiden

or the Judas Cradle. Perchance the Hard Rock. Forget about
the Rack, the Pear, the Boots, the Saw, and the Wheel.

I’ll have none of the monosyllabic devices.
“Launois et al. collected the words for hiccup
in 23 languages. Many, but not all of them,
are onomatopoeic. In English at least,
the sound of a hiccup and the burp it produces
are considered embarrassing but there is no help for it.”

Since there is no help, come let us piss & fart;

“A hiccup is essentially an abrupt Mueller maneuver.
The glottis closes to prevent inspiration

35 milliseconds after electrical activity rises above the
baseline in the diaphragm and external intercostal muscles.”

Were it not for my glottis closing, I may never
have spasmd upon the trail of crayons.
For I seldom watch the ground walking, but,
so convulsd, noted there were crayons there.
Poor child, to hoof alone that path
humping a 64-pack still fresh,
unstained by the complete page, unstained Flesh

(since ’62 called peach)
unstained Melon, Maize, Green-Yellow,

unstained Salmon, Thistle, Yellow-Green,
unstained Raw Sienna, Hot Magenta,

unstained Black. White. Unstained Gray.
Poor child, the path to you melts
in radiant pools, in a sun the same
as yesteryear’s. I thought. I thought
what you thought I’d think: “I must
find you. Whatever if the wax stains my shift,
whatever calico.” You know, I began to follow
gathering wickless crepe-wrapped tallows.
The trail fell behind the arc that the world is.
Incidentally a very meager world one day only.
Forty-four colors to the azure, cerulean, very pretty sky.
Which, incidentally.

I followed, you were nowhere found to be.
Nay, I have done, you get no more of me.
But these flowere where which I got lazy
are there. I there, locked, looking. Spammd
again. So delicate and damp the physiological individuality
despite the scores of scores in near facsimile
hooded reddening bulbs sweet spindles.
It just feels “naughty.”

“How do they survive the big-time wind?”
“They don’t have to, this is an asylum.”

Which explains, I suppose, why I spot no berets.
Berets worn so the wind will take them spinning, spinning over the
     blubber moonishness!

Berets of various colors. Like hiccup. Berets,
which split from the soft bark of hollow fallen tres and spill their
     splendor somewhere.