Wednesday, September 17, 2014

POEM: "Untitled Beetles"

Untitled Beetles

                         for Jody Gladding

I too believe that beetles speak of longing
loved by a God that never speaks to them
that after looking around for somebody
anybody else to do the work it's up to us
the beetle people, the beetle poets
to examine the records very closely
and listen for the scratches near the center
and the ones that lie closest to the outer bark
skrilling and carving, writing a message no one hears
but you and me and maybe that small child over there
also loved by a God that can't clean up the mess
this commonality but one encouragement
when we see the souls gathered in their places
under the sky by the trees and through the wind.

© 2014 Rob Schackne

Monday, September 15, 2014

POEM: "At Some Point During The Night"

At Some Point During The Night

I wonder whether every sip takes and gives
away something that’s never coming back.
The illusionist so expert at indirecting
the familiar from other matters nods wisely
then pours another one. Hardly knowing why.
We barely know enough to quit. Though it’s true
that visions will read the first chapters of the mind.
But wear and tear affects the world. Snake laughs
and gives my skin to a pretty Muse who sits
with her long legs spread apart on the barstool
sipping a wet martini. Her blouse is open.
She gazes. She grins. Pokes out her tongue.
Wants me to sit down. She buys the drinks.
Keeps smiling. Not sure about this summation
or whether it’s much of a guide to being normal.

© 2014 Rob Schackne

MUSIC: Townes Van Zandt, "The Highway Kind"

The great Townes Van Zandt. A favourite song? Probably.

Sunday, September 14, 2014

A Christian Wiman Poem

After The Diagnosis

No remembering now
when the apple sapling was blown
almost out of the ground.
No telling how,
with all the other trees around,
it alone was struck.
It must have been luck,
he thought for years, so close
to the house it grew.
It must have been night.
Change is a thing one sleeps through
when young, and he was young.
If there was a weakness in the earth,
a give he went down on his knees
to find and feel the limits of,
there is no longer.
If there was one random blow from above
the way he's come to know
from years in this place,
the roots were stronger.
Whatever the case,
he has watched this tree survive
wind ripping at his roof for nights
on end, heats and blights
that left little else alive.
No remembering now...
A day's changes mean all to him
and all days come down
to one clear pane
through which he sees
among all the other trees
this leaning, clenched, unyielding one
that seems cast
in the form of a blast
that would have killed it,
as if something at the heart of things,
and with the heart of things,
had willed it.


Saturday, September 13, 2014

MUSIC: Tears For Fears (1985) / The Bad Plus (2007), "Everybody Wants To Rule The World"

Both the great TFF and the great Bad Plus, at different times, just saying "Welcome to your life/There's no turning back". This might enrage Patti Smith, but it reminds me a little of her Babelogue: "I haven't fucked much with the past/But I've fucked plenty with the future." Ah...let's be punctual. Enjoy.

POEM: "Why I Don't Want To Own The North Pole"

Why I Don’t Want To Own The North Pole

You'll see it for yourself
the ocean in children’s eyes
& how the ordinary people
graduated from chocolate
think they should own the pieces of the world

The presumption of
some inviolate wilderness
atop this blessèd planet
maybe it should be the braincap
(South Pole wants to be the female partner)

Now that it's our primitive
the tantrums are forgiven
we've got a brand new thing
one-two collect the little planet
(likely to be too much Brainiac there)

We wander the old market
we'll buy our codfish frozen
& far beneath the arctic waters
drumming the probable reserves
the oligarchs watch us from submarines.

© 2014 Rob Schackne

Friday, September 12, 2014

An Adam Zagajewski Poem (2)

Try to Praise the Mutilated World

Try to praise the mutilated world.
Remember June's long days,
and wild strawberries, drops of rosé wine.
The nettles that methodically overgrow
the abandoned homesteads of exiles.
You must praise the mutilated world.
You watched the stylish yachts and ships;
one of them had a long trip ahead of it,
while salty oblivion awaited others.
You've seen the refugees going nowhere,
you've heard the executioners sing joyfully.
You should praise the mutilated world.
Remember the moments when we were together
in a white room and the curtain fluttered.
Return in thought to the concert where music flared.
You gathered acorns in the park in autumn
and leaves eddied over the earth's scars.
Praise the mutilated world
and the gray feather a thrush lost,
and the gentle light that strays and vanishes
and returns.


Thursday, September 11, 2014

POEM: "Wind Leaves"

Wind Leaves 

I'm standing in a forest bumped by trees
but the great sky looks plainly visible

A fresh breeze is just beginning to stir
A drop of something lands on my head

Nothing above the belt, nothing red
I have misunderstood her too easily

The trees are often fooled by the forest
While the forest responds to the wind

The waves are shaking the leaves again
Nothing below the belt, nothing blue

Each new breeze reacts to her storm
To her breath, her songs, her poems

The leaves are shaking the waves again
I am suspected of speaking my mind.

© 2014 Rob Schackne

Wednesday, September 10, 2014

POEM: "Tethered"


                           for Jack Gilbert

Nothing be nothing or strong
the humming started yesterday
the plastic bag fell in the street
see nothing be nothing be long
the wind blows the same black bag
every single day stays the same
tethered in an alley blind of sight
drawn by a light if you noticed it. 

© 2012 Rob Schackne

Tuesday, September 9, 2014

POEM: "Ah Dreams"

Ah Dreams

We grapple with violence
we look down we don’t look up
beyond the dust beyond the harvest
the clothes are just a trickery one smell
of invidious wanting or not wanting
little night scuffles with big darkness
the rats fight under the promenade
in the cinema she watches a movie
skittish proud curious boys up for murder
mid-autumn moon-cakes made of ice cream
none of it as real as the dog she keeps as pet
ah rattus dreams rattus love me from it
cover up my heart and my stomach
take away the nearest mouth.

© 2013 Rob Schackne

Monday, September 8, 2014

POEM: "Outside Tianshui, Gansu Province"

Outside Tianshui, Gansu Province

                                                             for Anna

 In 759 Du Fu went to Maijishan

There are few monks left in these remote shrines,
And in the wilderness the narrow paths are high.
The musk-deer sleep among the stones and bamboo,
The cockatoos peck at the golden peaches.
Streams trickle down among the paths;
Across the overhanging cliff the cells are ranged,
Their tiered chambers reaching to the very peak;
And for a 100 li one can make out the smallest thing.

I've never been to Maijishan

Purple red sandstone in one cave
at the Maijishan Grottoes observes
the original male form of Guanyin
not Mother Mary and not Madonna
not Lady Gaga or your grandma either
but a fellow much like us who exudes
Exudes? The man is dripping with it!
sweetness tempered with no-nonsense
obviously our man's a former dissident
at Wheatstack Mountain it’s understood
when Buddha turned into Bodhisattvas
the lout still packs one hell of a wallop
stand here your head will be changed
Changed? Are you a complete idiot!
when on the other side you see knives
guns on the floor the stun grenades
soldiers in tanks the frightened students
sharp objects is all the memory has left 
you might understand there is nothing soft
about kindness or about compassion, there
There? Come here, I'll give you compassion!

© 2014 Rob Schackne

Monday, September 1, 2014

"Le Silence", Gil Roth / POEM: "First Day In The Afterlife"

First Day In The Afterlife

It won't get around very fast

(it might not get around at all)
silenced with a middle finger
waiting that you do nothing more
but live your life, write, fight, then fuck off
the Silenus kicks over a few chairs
and then quickly gallops away

"...a reality scarier than science fiction
he says as he pushes against the storm
crashing rain makes the deck non-negotiable
the din of wind is furious, others below
with their smokes and bottles play cards
betting both ends against the middle"

Your first day in the Afterlife

you've got an awful hangover, and 
a strange idea on the verge of memory
there was a victory, a plan that worked
very few casualties, the flag, the wind etc.
you are an eagle now and when you fly over
all is silent, beautiful and covered in trees

One streaks past, then another one fast

you wonder what they are, what they do
many of them now zipping from yes to no
the speed means you need to slow down
it's the Afterlife after all, they shout at you
pause it and restart and look closely again
look at it happening for the first time.

© 2014 Rob Schackne

Saturday, August 30, 2014

A Rosemary Nissen-Wade Poem (2)

Kuta Beach

(After Reading Lorca)

Death comes in
with the salt
at the tavern

in this country
both gentle and sinister

prancing white horses
wave-dancing men

their soft guitars at night
from across the bay

the noises
the bursts of light

mistaken for fireworks
at first

young men
with trembling hands

young men of the sea
an odour of salt
and blood

death enters into the salt
as the salt enters into the death
in that tavern.


Published Diverse-City 2006 (Anthology of the Austin International Poetry Festival, Texas)

Friday, August 29, 2014

MUSIC: Hall & Oates (1981) / Tears For Fears (1985) / Simply Red (1985)

In no special order, except for when the artists listed above recorded these songs. Listen to someone going back to four short years a hundred years ago. You're a certain age, it feels good to say that pop music sucked in the 80s. But I still like these songs very much. I'll speed up again soon. I promise. Any day now. Really.

Wednesday, August 27, 2014

MUSIC: Robert Palmer, "Medley" (1974)

(Don't know which side you come down on in the matter of Robert Palmer...but I come down on the right side.) Recorded in 1974, when we were young. The Meters, Lowell George. But still calling this "white boy funk"?

Tuesday, August 26, 2014

A POEM: "Be There In A Minute"

Be There In A Minute

Love, I see you over there
In the writer’s standard pose
(I could be there in a minute)
Write, pause, think, and erase
Gaze off into the inner distance
Wonder why it was all born so daft
You go back to the pretty good idea
That was causing you so much trouble
Though of course I'm presuming alot
You might not be writing a poem at all.

© 2014 Rob Schack

Monday, August 25, 2014

POEM: "The River"

The River

                            for Rui Xiao

The sun goes down
    Life goes across...

The boat tries to cross the river
  The boat can't cross the river
    The currents take it

The boat, the people…
    But the poets’ voices go across

You see someone from long ago
  You can't cross the deck
    The moment takes it

What does “voices go across” mean

Does this mean distance, or else
    Is it the inability to connect

Does this mean time, or is it
    Our ageing bodies & minds

Love tries to cross the minute
  It can't cross the hours
    The currents take it

The oily swell of time
  You can't cross the river
    The moon takes it

Is anything going anywhere

© 2014 Rob Schackne

Saturday, August 23, 2014

A Rosanna Warren Poem

A Way

She said she sang very close to the mike
to change the space. And I changed the space
by striding down the Boulevard Raspail at dusk in tight jeans
until an Algerian engineer plucked the pen from my back pocket.
As if you're inside my head and you're hearing the song from in there.
He came from the desert, I came
from green suburbs. We understood
nothing of one another over glasses of metallic red wine.
I was playing Girl. He played
Man. Several plots were afoot, all
misfiring. One had to do with my skimpy black shirt
and light hair, his broad shoulders and hunger
after months on an oil rig. Another
was untranslatable. Apollinaire
burned his fingers on June's smoldering lyre
but I had lost my pen. The engineer
read only construction manuals. His room
was dim and narrow and no,
the story didn't slide that way though there are many ways
to throw oneself away.
One singer did it by living by a broken wall
until she shredded her voice but still she offered each song,
she said, like an Appalachian artifact.
Like trash along the riverbank chafing at the quay
plastic bottles a torn shirt fractured dolls
through which the current chortles an intimate tune.


Friday, August 22, 2014

A Dylan Thomas Poem (2)

"And death shall have no dominion"

And death shall have no dominion.
Dead man naked they shall be one
With the man in the wind and the west moon;
When their bones are picked clean and the clean bones gone,
They shall have stars at elbow and foot;
Though they go mad they shall be sane,
Though they sink through the sea they shall rise again;
Though lovers be lost love shall not;
And death shall have no dominion.

And death shall have no dominion.
Under the windings of the sea
They lying long shall not die windily;
Twisting on racks when sinews give way,
Strapped to a wheel, yet they shall not break;
Faith in their hands shall snap in two,
And the unicorn evils run them through;
Split all ends up they shan't crack;
And death shall have no dominion.

And death shall have no dominion.
No more may gulls cry at their ears
Or waves break loud on the seashores;
Where blew a flower may a flower no more
Lift its head to the blows of the rain;
Though they be mad and dead as nails,
Heads of the characters hammer through daisies;
Break in the sun till the sun breaks down,
And death shall have no dominion.


Monday, August 18, 2014

POEM: "Air Blows Through The Bowery"

Air Blows Through The Bowery

Nothing is real that wasn’t before
but sets all a bite of tailspin lies
like a horsehead in a drum of fire
smoke floats on this and on that

I’ll never remember you enough
a hundred steps above the grotto
a hundred chances to get higher
I walk to the edges to be thrilled

It wants me killed fifty times
till finally my other better eyes
spy a piece of green glass honey
I take it, then dive into the green

Fifty people seated on their shelves
those old white walls so shining
clear deep water just below love
love says splash doesn’t matter.

© 2012 Rob Schackne

POEM: "Another Fine Mess"

Another Fine Mess

Then welcome the ghost
who brought the mystery

installed in the easiest chair
supplied with food & water

Put on some Shostakovich
show her some recent poems

refrain from asking questions
let it be for at least an hour

I've always felt it is that right?
Do you mean we should be awed?

Write the answers in invisible ink
ask her if she wants a shower

watch her from the other room
then go about your business.

© 2014 Rob Schackne

Sunday, August 17, 2014

A Dylan Thomas Poem

"The Force That Through the Green Fuse Drives the Flower"

The force that through the green fuse drives the flower
Drives my green age; that blasts the roots of trees
Is my destroyer.
And I am dumb to tell the crooked rose
My youth is bent by the same wintry fever.

The force that drives the water through the rocks
Drives my red blood; that dries the mouthing streams
Turns mine to wax.
And I am dumb to mouth unto my veins
How at the mountain spring the same mouth sucks.

The hand that whirls the water in the pool
Stirs the quicksand; that ropes the blowing wind
Hauls my shroud sail.
And I am dumb to tell the hanging man
How of my clay is made the hangman’s lime.

The lips of time leech to the fountain head;
Love drips and gathers, but the fallen blood
Shall calm her sores.
And I am dumb to tell a weather’s wind
How time has ticked a heaven round the stars.

And I am dumb to tell the lover’s tomb
How at my sheet goes the same crooked worm.


Saturday, August 16, 2014

A Robert Hass Poem

Winged And Acid Dark

A sentence with "dappled shadow" in it.
Something not sayable
spurting from the morning silence,
secret as a thrush.

The other man, the officer, who brought onions
and wine and sacks of flour,
the major with the swollen knee,
wanted intelligent conversation afterward.
Having no choice, she provided that, too.

Potsdamer Platz, May 1945.

When the first one was through he pried her mouth open.

Basho told Rensetsu to avoid sensational materials.
If the horror of the world were the truth of the world,
he said, there would be no one to say it
and no one to say it to.
I think he recommended describing the slightly frenzied
swarming of insects near a waterfall.

Pried her mouth open and spit in it.
We pass these things on,
probably, because we are what we can imagine.

Something not sayable in the morning silence.
The mind hungering after likenesses. "Tender sky," etc.,
curves the swallows trace in air.


Friday, August 15, 2014

Osamu Tezuka's Astro Boy, 1963

You were 10 years old, you probably felt reason applied for the first time too. FUCK.

A Robert Pinsky Poem

Samurai Song

When I had no roof I made
Audacity my roof. When I had
No supper my eyes dined.

When I had no eyes I listened.
When I had no ears I thought.
When I had no thought I waited.

When I had no father I made
Care my father. When I had
No mother I embraced order.

When I had no friend I made
Quiet my friend. When I had no
Enemy I opposed my body.

When I had no temple I made
My voice my temple. I have
No priest, my tongue is my choir.

When I have no means fortune
Is my means. When I have
Nothing, death will be my fortune.

Need is my tactic, detachment
Is my strategy. When I had
No lover I courted my sleep.


Wednesday, August 13, 2014

Maryam Mirzakhani, Fields Winner, 2014

Touched by Athena. Her beautifully intelligent gaze. Who knows so well the shape of the universe. Maryam Mirzakhani is the first woman to win the Fields Medal, the greatest prize in mathematics. But that's a realm I can barely imagine -- since I seem to have trouble adding up my own years, don't understand why some months can move faster than others, or how so many days will collect in a troubled week.

Monday, August 11, 2014

POEM: "Pick A Flower, Any Flower"

Pick A Flower, Any Flower

The farthest star is moving
flowers strangely disappear
dans les champs de l'observation
le hasard ne favorise que les esprits préparés

it's well that we work the fields
we've looked closely at small things

a little dog with its tongue out
the beggar with her hand out
a sick man with his dick out
no prize for guessing wrong
risk sleeps upon the plains

but if it were finally possible 
I mean relief from pain 
liberation from confusion 
would you really do it?

© 2014 Rob Schackne

Thursday, August 7, 2014

A Ron Slate Poem (2)


Frank McCabe bought on credit at my father’s liquor store,
they had gone to school together. Finally my father said,
teach my son to play drums and we’re even, for now.

Late afternoon lessons in his cellar, first the basics
rapped out on rubber pads, then rolls, drags, flams, paradiddles and ratamacues.
Moving on to a real kit and the flair of fills, underbelly routines
of the bass and flights between cymbals, crash and sizzle.

While I practiced, he scribbled on charts for his quintet --
Thursdays at the Knotty Pine and weddings on weekends.
No lessons for most of the summer after his heart attack.

Autumn rain, water seeping up through linoleum tiles,
staining the peeling baseboards. Mold and mildew,
back beat and double time. Smoker’s cough and drinker’s nose.
Soon he set up his kit next to mine, laying out the opening bars
of “From This Moment On” and I’d play inside him.
That’s how he put it, stay inside me and listen with your wrists.

When Mrs. McCabe came down to say they caught the man
who killed the president, he dropped the needle on “Opus One”
and said play. We listened to Krupa’s “Rockin’ Chair”
and Buddy Rich’s big band doing “Time Check.”

Lying on their sides, quarts of bourbon behind cans
of dried paint. You make the high-hat bark,
a sixteenth-note. You don’t keep time, you make time.
The standards, renowned yet open to reinvention,
thus eternal. But I lived inside a body, Mrs. McCabe returned
from the hospital with no breasts, a week later
she was playing piano upstairs while Frank critiqued me –

Don’t play with your whole arm, it looks cool
but it isn’t. He lit a Winston. Don’t be like a bass player,
use deodorant. Never let a wimp carry your gear.
Listen carefully to the songs you hate the most.

Verse and chorus, shuffle, bridge, fill, drag, fill, stop-time,
ghost-note. Rumble of the sagging boiler, steam knocking the pipes.
Soon you won’t have to remember, you’ll just make the sound.

(published in The Plume Anthology of Poetry, 2014)

Wednesday, August 6, 2014

POEM: "The Cat & The Fiddle"

The Cat & The Fiddle

What a reckless brand of trust
Yes they once loved each other well

They pledged allegiance to their winning
Now he watches the guy stuff her car
Breach running away with promise
He sighs and does 100 push-ups
His day is getting considerably worse
He can barely move the singing lark
Think Stance, Spin, Dig, and Release
The hammer thrown into the cage
(Always dangerous doing that)
When he decided it was finally over
The morning she decided to leave.

© 2014 Rob Schackne

Tuesday, August 5, 2014

An Edgar Bowers Poem

For Louis Pasteur

                                 “Who is Apollo?”                                       
                                     College student

How shall a generation know its story
If it will know no other? When, among
The scoffers at the Institute, Pasteur
Heard one deny the cause of child-birth fever,
Indignantly he drew upon the blackboard,
For all to see, the Streptococcus chain.
His mind was like Odysseus and Plato
Exploring a new cosmos in the old
As if he wrote a poem—his enemy
Suffering, disease, and death, the battleground
His introspection. “Science and peace,” he said,
“Will win out over ignorance and war,”
But then, the virus mutant in his vein,
“Death to the Prussian!” and “revenge, revenge!”

How shall my generation tell its story?
Their fathers jobless, boys for the CCC
And NYA, the future like a stairwell
To floors without a window or a door,
And then the army: bayonet drill and foxhole;
Bombing to rubble cities with textbook names
Later to bulldoze streets for; their green bodies
Drowned in the greener surfs of rumored France.
My childhood friend, George Humphreys, whom I still see
Still ten years old, his uncombed hair and grin
Moment by moment in the Hürtgen dark
Until the one step full in the sniper’s sight,
His pastor father emptied by the grief.
Clark Harrison, at nineteen a survivor,
Never to walk or have a child or be
A senator or governor. Herr Wegner,
Who led his little troop, their standards high
And sabers drawn, against a panzer corps,
Emerging from among the shades at Dachau
Stacked like firewood for someone else to burn;
And Gerd Radomski, listening to broadcasts
Of names, a yearlong babel of the missing,
To find his wife and children. Then they came home,
Near middle age at twenty-two, to find
A new reunion of the church and state,
Cynical Constantines who need no name,
Domestic tranquility beaten to a sword,
Sons wasted by another lie in Asia,
Or Strangeloves they had feared that August day;
And they like runners, stung, behind a flag,
Running within a circle, bereft of joy.

Hearing of the disaster at Sedan
And the retreat worse than the one from Moscow,
Their son among the missing or the dead,
Pasteur and his wife Mary hired a carriage
And, traveling to the east where he might try
His way to Paris, stopping to ask each youth
And comfort every orphan of the state’s
Irascibility, found him at last
And, unsurprised, embraced and took him in.
Two wars later, the Prussian, once again
The son of Mars, in Paris, Joseph Meister—
The first boy cured of rabies, now the keeper
Of Pasteur’s mausoleum—when commanded
To open it for them, though over seventy,
Lest he betray the master, took his life.

I like to think of Pasteur in Elysium
Beneath the sunny pine of ripe Provence
Tenderly raising black sheep, butterflies,
Silkworms, and a new culture, for delight,
Teaching his daughter to use a microscope
And musing through a wonder—sacred passion,
Practice and metaphysic all the same.
And, each year, honor three births: Valéry,
Humbling his pride by trying to write well,
Mozart, who lives still, keeping my attention
Repeatedly outside the reach of pride,
And him whose mark I witness as a trust.
Others he saves but could not save himself—
Socrates, Galen, Hippocrates—the spirit
Fastened by love upon the human cross.


MUSIC: Paul McCartney & The Beatles, "The Long and Winding Road" (1970)

I don't want to get into the whole Spector thing right now. It's late and I didn't have my potatoes. But Paul's voice here is stellar. The strings sing out. The choir goes up. Phil Spector did just fine. Anyway, the road winds around forever and there's no going back. (But sure, you already knew that.)

Monday, August 4, 2014

POEM: "On The Road"

On The Road

First-quarter moon
behind the clouds tonight
emerging, disappearing
reminds me of a story
a guy told me once
that living is poisonous
all of us are born to die
and this Bardo world
means to teach us how to
forget the moon & the clouds
which is maya and maya
they will put you on your ass
I said thank you
this is my turn-off
we both laughed
you said forget this

I said not a chance.

© 2014 Rob Schackne

An Emily Dickinson Poem

"We grow accustomed to the Dark" (428)

We grow accustomed to the Dark - 
When Light is put away -
As when the Neighbor holds the Lamp
To witness her Good bye -

A Moment - We uncertain step
For newness of the night -
Then - fit our Vision to the Dark -
And meet the Road - erect -

And so of larger - Darknesses -
Those Evenings of the Brain -
When not a Moon disclose a sign -
Or Star - come out - within -

The Bravest - grope a little -
And sometimes hit a Tree
Directly in the Forehead -
But as they learn to see -

Either the Darkness alters -
Or something in the sight
Adjusts itself to Midnight -
And Life steps almost straight.


POEM: "The Virtuous Failure Of Damn Near Everything"

The Virtuous Failure Of Damn Near Everything

Ghost images
before my owlish eye
these are hard shapes
upon the mountainside

The fungus inverted
with sharp & careful blade
I take my bearings from
the ugly tree 30 meters high

(I want to change my mind)

A stove a pan some herbs
these steps I’ve taken
after a short gestation
the food the looks your hand

Each new word I choose
hears the cicadas saying
Pay attention!
Be here now!

© 2014 Rob Schackne

POEM: "The Wonder"

The Wonder

The wonder where beauty lies
and whether it lies to them

if they'd been blind for years
clubbed in the head so much
and now just rely on touch
and memory to help them see
a pretty subject or an ugly one
the purple flowers float down
a wall of ghostly photograph
slice up time any way you want
whether it joins its power to mine
or the other way round, it can't
smell the wind or feel the fragrance
but every other moment is perfect
knowing I waited for too long.

© 2014 Rob Schackne

Sunday, August 3, 2014

MUSIC: The Allman Brothers & The Dead & The Band (1973) / Donovan (2007)

What about that mountain in Jamaica, Juanita?

A Ha Jin Poem

Ways Of Talking

We used to like talking about grief.
Our journals and letters were packed
with losses, complaints, and sorrows.
Even if there was no grief
we wouldn’t stop lamenting
as though longing for the charm
of a distressed face.

Then we couldn’t help expressing grief.
So many things descended without warning:
labor wasted, loves lost, houses gone,
marriages broken, friends estranged,
ambitions worn away by immediate needs.
Words lined up in our throats
for a good whining.
Grief seemed like an endless river—
the only immortal flow of life.

After losing a land and then giving up a tongue,
we stopped talking of grief.
Smiles began to brighten our faces.
We laugh a lot, at our own mess.
Things become beautiful,
even hailstones in the strawberry fields.


Friday, August 1, 2014

POEM: "A Slight Misunderstanding"

A Slight Misunderstanding

The last war on Disneyland started when
Mary Poppins let off a few angry rounds...
Mickey dives for cover, Minnie grabs an M-16

The tourists head for Goofy (lost it completely)
They then circle back around to Yosemite Sam
Let's send these varmints to tarnation!

Elmer Fudd quickly hands out his rifle collection
Daffy (in his element) looks for better defilade
Beep-beep says Roadrunner this one's for you asshole!
Heckle and Jeckle conduct a little aerial recon
Unca Donald's ducks-in-diapers guerrillas move out
(Popeye and Olive Oyl are looking after the kids)
Then Tweetie Pie and Sylvester, uneasily engaged
Suspend their misery, they get détente, they get cracking
Put down an RPG on the enemy flank (for once exposed)
Scrooge McDuck is furious at his helicopter throttle
The tourists rally forces and overcome the rebels
Bugs Bunny emerges from his position singing.

© 2014 Rob Schackne

POEM: "Roving Thoughts"

Roving Thoughts

Roving thoughts
& the provocations
old thorns in the side
uncomfortable reminders
of both this world & the other
riding you like wind rides a rose
when the moment permits a prayer

A parent or a child
sitting on the footpath
bawling because they lost
the one I just keep travelling on
treading barefoot on fallen acorns
in the dream they are only megaphones
shouting public things that aren’t in prayers

© 2014 Rob Schackne

Thursday, July 31, 2014

POEM: "Everyday in the same lane..."

"Everyday in the same lane..."

Everyday in the same lane 
a clock tower on legs in summer 
getting slower a little bit older
balding fast beginning to talk
back to his two-year-old self
I can’t make out what he says 
every form is dissimilar, lame
on the left side, the line is wrong
and to the right, very hard to protect
(we were on that face for 3 bloody days)
he looks awfully close and I nod
and he nods I tell myself I don't 
really know what it is he sees.

© 2014 Rob Schackne

Monday, July 28, 2014

A Rui Xiao Poem (1)

A Night In Moscow

The delicious writing night
A glass bowl of cherries
The vodka apple juice
An outsider in the supermarkets
And on my way to St. Petersburg

All the forests and the lakes
I was flying to the end of the world
To know the edges of the land and sea
This is a high fence of language
That stands between us now

Me, always in some orbit
Like a pet bird, free for awhile
I see the limits of time and space
And yes freedom is very delicious
This was only one night in Moscow.

(2014) Tr. 2014

A Rui Xiao Poem (2)

A Song for Changyu, My Niece

The garden you’ll play in is ready
A bamboo awning stretched across
We made you a little wooden stool
We’ll sing your name in the rain

The vines have sprouted
There are ten strawberries
All facing the gentle sun
(How long you’ve had to wait)

Fish are sleeping in their tank
The sun lives in the glasshouse
Your clothes have long been made
Your blanket has been woven

Open your eyes on a warm rainy day
To see the phoenix flower
To see sunflowers smile
Baby, you’ll sing in the rain

We’ll call your little pig Stephen
Call you Changyu
Call you Baby

Now we’re in separated worlds
But here is a paper door
Where we wait for you
Baby, you’ll sing in the rain

Your time has come
To be our baby
Open your eyes
Do not be afraid

Happiness or suffering
Baby you can't choose
We must learn how to love

Roofs are baked white by the sun
This world agrees to have you
As long as you think you want it
Hold the giant world like a toy

Baby, you’ll sing in the rain.

(1995/6) Tr.