Wednesday, July 29, 2015

MUSIC: The Who, "Baba O'Riley" (1971)

Out here in the fields
I fight for my meals
I get my back into my living
I don't need to fight
To prove I'm right
I don't need to be forgiven

Pete Townshend

Tuesday, July 28, 2015

POEM: "To A Stuffed Hedgehog"

To A Stuffed Hedgehog

To your stuffed hedgehog 
the one that the car missed
who ambled off road to dream
of the perfected hedgedom—

Although the humble hedgehog
(whom we must regard as good)
looked everywhere for puddles, now
it sees its antecedent before the glass.

For we are guardians of the water.
We are the guardians of reflection.
We are guardians of subsequent mirrors.
We look to the perfection of our minds.

© 2015 Rob Schackne

Monday, July 27, 2015

An Ed Skoog Poem

Gwendolyn Brooks Park, Topeka

They carved the letters yellow,
and painted
the wood around the letters green,
chained a picnic table to the grass
out near where the roof of the dead
mall directs a crack
of sunset to radiate the Burger King sign gold.
Last place open after midnight:
then apartment windows hold
stars and satellites in the cold.
A creek runs like a paper fold
from one corner of park to other,
twenty or thirty blocks from where
she took her first breaths of infancy
in the only city I know of
with the letters for poet
that does not also carry
a port or a point in its name.


Sunday, July 26, 2015

POEM: "After Reading Du Fu"

After Reading Du Fu

I signal the emptiness
I will take leave of you
I watch the passing of time
The speaker is erased
Absence fills with memory
Everyone is the same
Everyone is lonely.

© 2015 Rob Schackne

POEM: "After A Poem By Guan Guan"

After A Poem By Guan Guan

                                             for Anna

The nightgardener 
under moonlight
the sleeping blossoms
shadows lengthened
there was a lake
a lake of mud
this was the ground
a ground of lotus
and now this room
once rooms of marsh
somewhere near here
there was a pond

was it really a pond
that is now a pond
that is now a house
once a house of lotus?

© 2013 Rob Schackne

Saturday, July 25, 2015

POEM: "The Uncontacted"

The Uncontacted

                        No son Peruanos. 
                       No son desaparecidos.
                       No vienen más y no vuelven.

A bright white
plane flies over

they shout point
they throw stones
(sorry but it’s
not their god)
open eyes wide
the bird flies away
three months later
push a boat down

the throat of the
big mother river
a world of stories

never sees a cliff
eyes open wider
her hidden people
now they learn
they should have
stayed in the forest.

© 2015 Rob Schackne

Friday, July 24, 2015

MUSIC: Michael Andrews & Gary Jules, "Mad World" (2001)

All around me are familiar faces
Worn out places, worn out faces
Bright and early for their daily races
Going nowhere, going nowhere

Their tears are filling up their glasses
No expression, no expression
Hide my head, I wanna drown my sorrow
No tomorrow, no tomorrow

And I find it kinda funny
I find it kinda sad
The dreams in which I'm dying
Are the best I've ever had
I find it hard to tell you
I find it hard to take
When people run in circles
It's a very, very mad world, mad world

Children waiting for the day they feel good
Happy Birthday, Happy Birthday
And I feel the way that every child should
Sit and listen, sit and listen

Went to school and I was very nervous
No one knew me, no one knew me
Hello teacher tell me what's my lesson
Look right through me, look right through me

And I find it kinda funny
I find it kinda sad
The dreams in which I'm dying
Are the best I've ever had
I find it hard to tell you
I find it hard to take
When people run in circles
It's a very, very mad world, mad world

Enlarging your world
Mad world

Roland Orzabal

Thursday, July 23, 2015

POEM: "Pathos: The Poem"

Pathos: The Poem

The pestering mouth
a table across the way
the hurt eyes filling
her head on my breast
prolepsis? I don't know
but wait my gentle reader
the busboy drops his plates
the lamp is 3000 drachmae
I'm sure this is my table
she was the love of my life.

© 2014 Rob Schackne

Tuesday, July 21, 2015

MUSIC: Leonard Cohen, "Never Mind" (2005)

The war was lost
The treaty signed
I was not caught
I crossed the line

I had to leave
My life behind
I had a name
But never mind

Your victory
Was so complete
That some among you
Thought to keep

A record of
Our little lives
The clothes we wore
Our pots our knives

The games of luck
Our soldiers played
The stones we cut
The songs we made

Our law of peace
Which understands
A husband leads
A wife commands

And all of this
Expressions of
The High Indifference
Some call Love

The High Indifference
Some call Fate
But we had Names
More intimate

Names so deep
and Names so true
They're lost to me
And dead to you

There is no need
That this survive
There's truth that lives
And truth that dies

There's truth that lives
And truth that dies
I don't know which
So never mind

I could not kill
The way you kill
I could not hate
I tried I failed

No man can see
The vast design
Or who will be
Last of his kind

The story's told
With facts and lies
You own the world
So never mind


Monday, July 20, 2015

MUSIC: Silver Jews, "Random Rules" (1998)

In 1984 I was hospitalized for approaching perfection. 
Slowly screwing my way across Europe, they had to make a correction.
Broken and smokin' where the infrared deer plunge in the digital snake.

I tell you, they make it so you can't shake hands when they make your hands shake.

I know you like to line dance, everything so democratic and cool,
But baby there's no guidance when random rules.

I know that a lot of what I say has been lifted off of men's room walls.
Maybe I've crossed the wrong rivers and walked down all the wrong halls.
But nothing can change the fact that we used to share a bed
and that's why it scared me so when you turned to me and said:

"Yeah, you look like someone
Yeah you look like someone who up and left me low.
Boy, you look like somene I used to know."

I asked the painter why the roads are colored black.
He said, "Steve, it's because people leave
and no highway will bring them back."
So if you don't want me I promise not to linger,
But before I go I gotta ask you dear about the tan line on your ring finger.

No one should have two lives,
now you know my middle names are wrong and right.
Honey we've got two lives to give tonight.

Sunday, July 19, 2015

POEM: "The Cured As Was"

The Cured As Was

Trolls at the toll-booth 
Charging a lot to convert
Matter into spirit, one way
(Spirit into matter, other way)
And the light is in the windows
What’s your game? They sneer
When I display it upside down
While they look at it jabbering
Stubby grey fingers stabbing
What’s this then? They are irate
They think my desires are unclear
I gather up the papers and turn back.

© 2015 Rob Schackne

Saturday, July 18, 2015

MUSIC: The Shins, "New Slang" (2001)

Gold teeth and a curse for this town were all in my mouth
Only, I don't know how they got out, dear
Turn me back into the pet I was when we met
I was happier then with no mind-set

And if you'd a took to me like
A gull takes to the wind
Well, I'd a jumped from my tree
And I'd a danced like the king of the eyesores

And the rest of our lives would a fared well

New slang when you notice the stripes 
The dirt in your fries
Hope it's right when you die 
Old and bony
Dawn breaks like a bull through the hall
Never should've called
But my head's to the wall and I'm lonely

And if you'd a took to me like
A gull takes to the wind
Well, I'd a jumped from my tree
And I'd a danced like the king of the eyesores
And the rest of our lives would a fared well

Godspeed all the bakers at dawn 

May they all cut their thumbs
And bleed into their buns 
'Til they melt away
I'm looking in on the good life 
I might be doomed never to find
Without trust, flaming fields am I too dumb to refine?

And if you'd a took to me like
Well, I'd a danced like the queen of the eyesores
And the rest of our lives would a fared well.

Friday, July 17, 2015

POEM: "Poems For Airports"

Poems For Airports

During the mitosis of writing these, I was listening to Eno's music. Naturally I owe much to that. It's funny that while these poems were once about the friction of the air, of the ground, about the weariness of the destination, and the weariness of the way back -- they now feel like they aren't really about airports at all, but about us all getting safely to the places we're going. Godspeed. We are bees.

1. At A Remote Airport 

Black thrumming runway 
its deep core solid and cold 

there's a beach someplace
you won’t stay there long 

the minutes will look fixed
it could be a strange mess 

the sea retakes the shells

all tomorrow’s parties
must begin today. 

2. In Darkness 

                   The moon is the mother of pathos and pity. 
                    Wallace Stevens 

Finally at the baggage claim 
the humming rock the cradle 

cranked away from sight
in sortation about the system 

your electric shaver tossed
because it's a useless current 

your favourite sweater now
worn by a sweating freak 

some undecided cretin tries
to decipher your precious book 

the start of this big machine
bumps against the rubber belt 

at their carousel of waiting
a bawling toddler’s pointing 

at a chicken foot going 'round
in a fog you barely see 

ignore the lunar paraphrase
this aerodrome isn’t safe. 

3. Sura Of The Baggage Claim 

From the sky to the stun of day 
off the plane and down the ramp 

you left last week’s paper there 
a bad novel dogged at page 35 

the sun is blinding (where is this?) 

the goons you see at 4 o’clock 
control your usual breeze of air 

waiting for the big bag to come off 
Customs Customs moment coming

you’ve now forgotten al-Qur'an 
3 children and an evil mother-in-law 

you suspect your faith is wanting. 

4. The Thirdspace

A loving treatment of time 
where did it go post-nostalgia 

present serendip cool across 
the tarmac and swept away 

instead I have no more time 
sitting in this dark room alone 

no more gifts please let me sleep 
stop asking if I’m already there 

my note to self in a book of hours 
Jewel into the gift box tomorrow 

this morning in the airport pursuant 
to baggage claim you claimed nothing. 

© 2013 Rob Schackne

Photo: Yann Arthus-Bertrand

Thursday, July 16, 2015

POEM: "How A Japanese Farmhouse Changed Their Lives"

How A Japanese Farmhouse Changed Their Lives

First, the execrable outhouse, unlettered haste to go
a lingering pong stuck in the clothes. Then, the bug life.
More bugs than tried out for the moon shoot. But ambitious.
The noises started to make them crazy after the first week.

Groaning wood had to settle differently in every weather
the scratchy music of the bamboos could never be stilled.
No electricity was a big problem, before they turned in early
to gaze for hours at the happy lizards going after the bugs.

There was a nauseating stench they couldn’t locate.
They talked to each other, sure, it was as boring as fuck.
They took turns reading aloud, but it became a farce.
Time passed very slowly. Arguments. The third month.

Sure, they drank the local hooch. Yes, it had a nasty kick.
They took back their old smoking habits and lost condition
tooting as they struggled to draw water from the well.
They got rashes. The water started tasting a little funny.

The books they brought to read grew attached to the shelves
like ruined lizards. Odd mould. They walked down to the village
that could not understand them and returned with garbage
they had to dig holes for and bury, swatting at the horseflies.

They bathed in natural water in a small natural wooden tub
in the icy water that each determined almost killed the other one.
When the time came to sell up, there were twenty sweaty farmers
watching them get screwed, happy their lives were changed.

© 2013 Rob Schackne

Wednesday, July 15, 2015

POEM: "A Monkey Looks at the Stars"

A Monkey Looks at the Stars
                                                           for Hugh Bohane
Riding in a bus through Yunnan
Chinese dinosaur fields up ahead
Nothing surprises today in the villages;
I’m dumbstruck by my own foolishness
Fairly certain that I’ll do most of it again
The tunnels take us through the mountains.

We are grown accustomed
By the familiar, taking it all in
According to old stories, old names;
Although everything that rings a bell
Is hardly a prescription, nothing I see
Won’t remind me of something else.
In Dali, the mountains are high
And the Emperor is very far away.
At The Bad Monkey bar, similarity
Is easier than arguing, all our ancestors
Understand their approximate descendants
Will know a thing, a person, and a place.
A small dog is chained up in the corner
When I ask her why, she says it’s because
She doesn’t have a quiet heart, and smiles sadly.
I want to say to her, Past attraction, but
Not past love, yet the stray dog has a soul
But I'm falling up to a perfect sky, and I don’t.

                                                         Kunming-Shanghai 2011
© 2011 Rob Schackne

Tuesday, July 14, 2015

An Ansel Elkins Poem

Reverse: A Lynching

Return the tree, the moon, the naked man
Hanging from the indifferent branch
Return blood to his brain, breath to his heart
Reunite the neck with the bridge of his body
Untie the knot, undo the noose
Return the kicking feet to ground
Unwhisper the word jesus
Rejoin his penis with his loins
Resheathe the knife
Regird the calfskin belt through trouser loops
Refasten the brass buckle
Untangle the spitting men from the mob
Unsay the word nigger
Release the firer’s finger from its trigger
Return the revolver to its quiet holster
Return the man to his home
Unwidow his wife
Unbreak the window
Unkiss the crucifix of her necklace
Unsay Hide the children in the back, his last words
Repeal the wild bell of his heart
Reseat his family at the table over supper
Relace their fingers in prayer, unbless the bread
Rescind the savagery of men
Return them from animal to human, reborn in the long run
Backward to the purring pickup
Reignite the Ford’s engine, its burning headlights
Retreat down the dirt road, tires speeding
Backward into rising dust
Backward past cornfields, past the night floating moths
Rescind the whiskey from the guts
Unswallowed, unswigged, the tongue unstung
Rehouse the flask in the field coat’s interior pocket
Unbare the teeth, unwhet the appetite
Return the howl to its wolf
Return the shovel to the barn, the rope to the horse’s stable
Resurrect the dark from its heart housed in terror

Reenter the night through its door of mercy


Monday, July 13, 2015

POEM: "desire"


not love
heat to body 
write it
she says
not love

and still
see tomorrow
it's true

the quill
all but the heart

© 2015 Rob Schackne

POEM: "Root Down, 1961"

Root Down, 1961 

Our new typhoon is hitting
albeit with diminished punch.
So far. They say it's a big wind
collected of three different storms.

The streets are awash with
unspeakable debris. Walk there.
The eyes are not down watching
all that the world cannot give.

Those last three meals were bad
oily gruesome running sock smells.
Brother Andrew gives me avocadoes
dark green deep earthy pebbly bark.

Yes I do like food. And single-malt
whiskey and unpebbly imported beer.
But see this old dream that wants more
than food. And probably more than love.

© 2015 Rob Schackne

POEM: "Mock"


At the core of desire
A woman stops and turns
And says I waited for so long

It’s not my age we laugh
I say you aren’t the face
You say I’m not the heel

The fruit eventually ripens
Split pomegranate in two
A little light gets through

The moth mocks the flame
All burns bright for a day
And the sun sets with a puff

Later the dust is scattered 
The world opens and shuts
We eat the blood and bone.

© 2015 Rob Schackne

Sunday, July 12, 2015

MUSIC: 4 Non Blondes, "What's Up?" (1992) / POEM: "Wish"

Yes. Bigger, better, faster...



To hell with the mousetrap
I'd like to build a better planet
put my best team on it yessir
the materials are outdated
the springs are all worn out
and the critters just wander in
and take whatever they want.

© 2015 Rob Schackne

Friday, July 10, 2015

An E.B. White Poem

Natural History

The spider, dropping down from twig,
Unwinds a thread of his devising;
A thin, premeditated rig
To use in rising.

And all the journey down through space,
In cool descent, and loyal-hearted,
He builds a ladder to the place
From which he started.

Thus I, gone forth, as spiders do,
In spider's web a truth discerning,
Attach one silken strand to you
For my returning.


Thursday, July 9, 2015

A James Tate Poem

The Blue Booby

The blue booby lives
on the bare rocks
of Galápagos
and fears nothing.
It is a simple life:
they live on fish,
and there are few predators.
Also, the males do not
make fools of themselves
chasing after the young
ladies. Rather,
they gather the blue
objects of the world
and construct from them

a nest—an occasional
Gaulois package,
a string of beads,
a piece of cloth from
a sailor’s suit. This
replaces the need for
dazzling plumage;
in fact, in the past
fifty million years
the male has grown
considerably duller,
nor can he sing well.
The female, though,

asks little of him—
the blue satisfies her
completely, has
a magical effect
on her. When she returns
from her day of
gossip and shopping,
she sees he has found her
a new shred of blue foil:
for this she rewards him
with her dark body,
the stars turn slowly
in the blue foil beside them
like the eyes of a mild savior.


Monday, July 6, 2015

PAINTING: Georges Seurat, "Alfalfa Fields, Saint-Denis" (1885-6)

You might wonder how you could get out of this. And if you could, whether you'd ever be the same afterwards. (But yeah, probably not.)

POEM: "The Scar House Factory"

The Scar House Factory
                                     for Greg Gamage

That'll be a glorious reduction of heaven
without the buzz of electronic space
shrunk to the size of the mote in His eye
when our dreams wake us up together
and we start laughing at the Cat who has
managed a climb to the top of the bookcase
and upside down is worrying a tasselled bookmark
with a claw-mark on a forgotten Chinese history text
but the scar house factory is dark and boarded up
that went out of business while we were lying here
amid the cuts and brokenness and missing whats
all that we hold with all the gentleness we have left
a lifetime of books and cats made us the fools we are
and our birthmarks are the only words we study now.

© 2015 Rob Schackne

Sunday, July 5, 2015

A Ravi Shankar Poem (2)

Double Rainbow

Speeding, without destination, after dark
torrents have poured & been returned
at home, the skies above mirror my mood,

windshield wipers knifing through sheets,
back roads slick with pooling, when a shard
of cloudlessness opens. Pulling over, cutting

the ignition, I unstitch myself from the humid
seat, still fuming, to greet a full spectrum
of color arcing past the treetops in lockstep

with its fainter inverse. Archer's bow, hem
of the sun god's coat, bridge between worlds,
reconciliation & pardon. They don't last.


Saturday, July 4, 2015

POEM: "Thirty-Three And A Bird"

Thirty-Three And A Bird

I'd be amazed too if other animals couldn't do it

Why only yesterday in Oz
the chestnut-crowned babbler bird
came clean something never before
seen in animals first sign

Outside of the human
an animal can use they
use meaningless sounds
in a different way

3 months ago Rabbit Angstrom ran out to buy his wife cigarettes. 
He hasn't come home yet.

Another monkey poem
that is not a game of chess

Thunder thirty-three and a bird

Even the smoke is attracted to him

It follows after he leaves the fire

Why do I bother?

© 2015 Rob Schackne

PHOTO: F.A. Loumis, "Independence Day, 1906"

OK about let's not blow up some shit today.

Friday, July 3, 2015

A Michael Robbins Poem

To The Drone Vaguely Realizing Eastward

This is a poem for President Drone.
It was written by a camel.
Can I borrow your phone?
This is for President Mark Hamill.

Newtown sounds a red alert.
Mark Hamill asks is Ernie burnt?
Every camel’s a first-person shooter.
The Prez’s fez is haute couture.

It seems strange that he should be offended.
The same orders are given by him.
Paging Pakistan and Yemen.
Calling all the drone-dead children.

The camel can’t come to the phone.
This is for the drone-in-chief.
Mumbai used to be Bombay.
The bomb bay opens with a queef.


A Michael Robbins Poem (2)

Lust For Life

The elephants ate each other then they dreamed
of eating elephants till their captors came
to feed them. Then they died. My meth lab
tends to explode. I move to a new one
like a hermit crab. I give the gift of gab.
The truth gets me hard. Song selection
is key. The idiot Swedes do a number on me.
They invent refrigeration and sleep in shifts.
I’m tired of being compared to Britney Spears.
She’s so pretty. I’m covered in petroglyphs.
That sorcerer bewitched my penis!
I’m speed and space, an Aztec princess.
The truth makes me hurl, the truth’s a mistake.
John Milton jumps out of my birthday cake.
The psyched Mohican oils the beaver.
Fruit Stripe gum soon loses flavor.
Everything’s flammable. Everything’s flash.
Postmen like doctors and doctors like cash.


Thursday, July 2, 2015

POEM: "The Paper Cut"

The Paper Cut

Handling a precious calendar
with only my normal frenzy
when shit the left index finger
is sliced you know the one
I use to switch stuff on & off
in the spaceship before reentry
then before assessing the damage
I manage to twist my ankle
and further damage the nerves
I'm shouting at Scuttles the Robot
to go fetch the skin spray then go
back to the lab for the micromovie
how it throbs for the days on Earth
the Fool laughs under its breath

under the lens unfolds the reason
the blood had a latch that was undone
and the tiny blade came through
with astonishing ferocity.

© 2013 Rob Schackne­­

Wednesday, July 1, 2015

A Guy Laramée Poem

I carve landscapes out of books 

and I paint romantic landscapes 

Mountains of disused knowledge 

return to what they really are 


they erode a bit more and they become hills 

Then they flatten and become fields 

where apparently nothing is happening 

Piles of obsolete encyclopedias return to that 

which does not need to say anything 

                                       that which simply is

Fogs and clouds erase everything we know

                          which is everything we think we are.


Tuesday, June 30, 2015

A DJ Dolack Poem

From "Flying Point"

The sea
calls to witness
some vastness

or that which
is only a declaration
of the limited
and the countable.

And the sun some tourist
wades out each morning
in obligation

to touch
for a few moments
and to forget and drown.

And then later the moon
high as a pill
does its own work

emitting no light but re-guiding
light emitted by another:

six ships in the hour
follow each other
far off

into some great
length of silence.


Monday, June 29, 2015

POEM: "Neat Cold Warm"

Neat Cold Warm
                                   To my brother and sister poets in China

It wasn’t always this way you
Didn’t always break the glass
Warm forgot to check the mirror
Before the ideas went in reverse
These words I use you use too

I watched the landscape die
Awful dust I blew off the dust
The electric sound of willy-willy
Two dreams facing each other
Take a rock and a butterfly

The photograph looks inside
These words I use you will too
Conspicuous cold illuminated
A car is driven by its headlights
It was fifty years since I was a child.

© 2015 Rob Schackne

painting: Willy Tjunurrayi

Saturday, June 27, 2015

POEM: "A Very Sharp Fragment"

A Very Sharp Fragment 

The most beautiful woman in the world
present today at the moment of this poem
is safe in a psychiatric unit maybe in Indiana
and somewhere a very sharp fragment got

stuck in the mind she got on the wrong track
years ago she conceived an idea that all of love
was poisoned and all of gaze was murderous
we are born to die and we must suffer the years

medications come and go like nervous visitors
she screams whenever someone looks at her

she reads then doodles to pass the next 30 years
calm down it’s alright you’ll never meet her.

© 2013 Rob Schackne

Friday, June 26, 2015

POEM: "Houston, Houston..."

“Houston, Houston...”

Biologists found the secret of life
Physicists found the key to the universe
You slip getting out of the bath
And find that you’ve got a sore neck
The universe looks a bit different now
Obviously your life’s still on the skids

The 4th most beautiful woman on earth

Actually a Miss Universe runner-up
Is a student in your language class
Well-spoken, tall, no make-up, smart
Wonders if in some other galaxy
The next Miss Universe is being judged

The keys and secrets of everything
Walking superstitious rounds as you
Preach a modesty that puts your self first
Until you see the parallel worlds
As clearly as your own feet at the exit
And that life and the universe look on

The red pill or the blue pill?
Behind us is the great bazaar
The drone of confusion continues
Is knowledge the incandescent one?
Is beauty ever the shield rubbed raw
That hides the other side of night?

© 2012 Rob Schackne

Wednesday, June 24, 2015

A William Matthews Poem (2)

Spring Snow

Here comes the powdered milk I drank
as a child, and the money it saved.
Here come the papers I delivered,
the spotted dog in heat that followed me home

and the dogs that followed her.
Here comes a load of white laundry
from basketball practice, and sheets
with their watermarks of semen.

And here comes snow, a language
in which no word is ever repeated,
love is impossible, and remorse...
Yet childhood doesn’t end,

but accumulates, each memory
knit to the next, and the fields
become one field. If to die is to lose
all detail, then death is not

so distinguished, but a profusion
of detail, a last gossip, character
passed wholly into fate and fate
in flecks, like dust, like flour, like snow.


Tuesday, June 23, 2015

POEM: "The World Is Bad, Let Me Sleep"

The World Is Bad, Let Me Sleep

The Great Barrier Reef
is the size of Italy or Japan
our nearest star closer than
the nearest human heart
stretched from you to me
from the cosmos to the sea

I once tied a life around my neck
with the tensile strength of spider silk
after meditation upon the aggregates
and form was returning to nothingness
I rested my case, I drew the curtains
the world was bad I said, let me sleep.

Dreams rattle the door before the fall
when the nothing spins a web of matter
for the bangles of the ten-thousand arms
when your cell dreams become your alarm
back to the greed and jealousy and envy
so tough shit, the world is bad, let me sleep.

Reading Levine’s poem about the kids of
factory fodder in a hell of a town somewhere
the people we could love, we must imagine hope
but a good poem it is, that draws the curtains
against knowing more than a bit about the future
the world was bad, it's starting to rain, let me sleep.

© 2014 Rob Schackne

Monday, June 22, 2015

A Megan Fernandes Poem

The Jungle

In midsummer, in Los Angeles,
the night is fractured

with mountains, grilling ink
into the blue thaw. I trail

into pools and pastures,
and in the diner,

tattoos speck
and skirt up booths,

the waitress, Dottie, is whipping
shells, mac and cheese,

waffles and chickens,
all oracles in the oil.

You think I’m kidding? Look
at Hopper’s orange rooms,

his lone man. Vineyards
are boring to paint,

the coffee rumbling us all
into a primal scene, the mismatched

silverware like guns in a Western,
all the possibilities

of a warm night.
The thing about LA is

anyone can walk through
the door. The drunk drive, the

open-air and clipping down
Highland Avenue. Here are all the streets

I remember: Alvarado and Effie.
Mohawk and Montana. Before

all this? The hills of Carpinteria,
cattle punk, the drained floodplains

and eucharistic jimson weed.
But dig that ditch city,

those impersonal stones,
the great vigilance

of the 19th century,
the circus of eggs on the plate,

Dottie full of lips, just lips
sipping, stinging the sandy air.


Sunday, June 21, 2015

POEM: "Deuteroscopy"


                        The severe schools shall never laugh me out of the philosophy of Hermes.
                              Sir Thomas Browne, 1643

Yea all severe schools take turns
to prosecute to judge to sentence
the sentences that attach the words

with chains set round our ankles but
take it easy it takes us out of the glue
hands free the mind enter hermetic

get into the car go to the supermarket
where in the floating aisles I’m reading

all the letters I need spread for islands 

editor of the severe school see her smile
Hermes stacking shelves I hear him sing
the unridiculous side is always falling

caught between the stretch and the slide
so surely it's a severe school to be a poet

to take the second look at everything

the product the loving the alchemy
bid me go on in a more lasting story
a friend tries to laugh me out of it.

© 2015 Rob Schackne

Saturday, June 20, 2015

A Robert Duncan Poem

Often I Am Permitted to Return to a Meadow

as if it were a scene made-up by the mind, 

that is not mine, but is a made place, 

that is mine, it is so near to the heart, 
an eternal pasture folded in all thought 
so that there is a hall therein 

that is a made place, created by light 
wherefrom the shadows that are forms fall. 

Wherefrom fall all architectures I am 
I say are likenesses of the First Beloved 
whose flowers are flames lit to the Lady. 

She it is Queen Under The Hill 
whose hosts are a disturbance of words within words 
that is a field folded. 

It is only a dream of the grass blowing 
east against the source of the sun 
in an hour before the sun’s going down 

whose secret we see in a children’s game 
of ring a round of roses told. 

Often I am permitted to return to a meadow 
as if it were a given property of the mind 
that certain bounds hold against chaos, 

that is a place of first permission, 
everlasting omen of what is.


Friday, June 19, 2015

POEM: "Endgame"


Playing to fuck someone
pieces all black or all white
(the table belongs to someone else)

I carve some pieces myself
but the tactics have no colour
the opening generally sucks

No clear platform of rules
the other’s pieces willy-nilly
they’re put neatly to one side

Middle game’s a slaughter
tenderness a gambit that works
the glass walls of the obvious

Storm turns thunder comes
endgame nearly wrecks the bed
one two lightnings bump the mind

© 2015 Rob Schackne

Thursday, June 18, 2015

2 Juan Felipe Herrera Poems

In the Cannery the Porpoise Soul

In the cannery the porpoise soul
& the shadow fins of spirit boats lie awake
the hundred hooks & flying reels
one harpoon
& the silver fleshing in the nets

the mayor is waiting/counting scales
dreaming new quotas & tuna coasts
(under the table blood & payrolls
swim to the shores on a crucifix of oil)

in the cannery the porpoise soul
steals a dagger for the engines throat
tuna fins etch an X
on the green stone of the ships floor

there are documents with worker sweat
files & rolled sleeve salt
a spear of sails & anchor years
inside the shoulders & against the ropes
a policy gunned the waves back
before the porpoise sea was born


Let Me Tell You What a Poem Brings

                                                        for Charles Fishman

Before you go further,
let me tell you what a poem brings,
first, you must know the secret, there is no poem
to speak of, it is a way to attain a life without boundaries,
yes, it is that easy, a poem, imagine me telling you this,
instead of going day by day against the razors, well,
the judgments, all the tick-tock bronze, a leather jacket
sizing you up, the fashion mall, for example, from
the outside you think you are being entertained,
when you go in, things change, you get caught by surprise,
your mouth goes sour, you get thirsty, your legs grow cold
standing still in the middle of a storm, a poem, of course,
is always open for business too, except, as you can imagine,
it isn’t exactly business that pulls your spirit into
the alarming waters, there you can bathe, you can play,
you can even join in on the gossip—the mist, that is,
the mist becomes central to your existence.


Wednesday, June 17, 2015

MUSIC: The Grateful Dead, "It Must Have Been The Roses" (1980)

It Must Have Been The Roses

Annie laid her head down in the roses.
She had ribbons, ribbons, ribbons, in her long brown hair.
I don't know, maybe it was the roses,
All I know I could not leave her there.

I don't know, it must have been the roses,
The roses or the ribbons in her long brown hair.
I don't know, maybe it was the roses,
All I know I could not leave her there.

Ten years the waves roll the ships home from the sea,
Thinkin' well how it may blow in all good company,
If I tell another what your own lips told to me,
Let me lay 'neath the roses, till my eyes no longer see.

I don't know, it must have been the roses,
The roses or the ribbons in her long brown hair.
I don't know, maybe it was the roses,
All I know I could not leave her there.

One pane of glass in the window,
No one is complaining, no, come in and shut the door,
Faded is the crimson from the ribbons that she wore,
And it's strange how no one comes round any more.

I don't know, it must have been the roses,
The roses or the ribbons in her long brown hair.
I don't know, maybe it was the roses,
All I know I could not leave her there.

Annie laid her head down in the roses.
She had ribbons, ribbons, ribbons, in her long brown hair.
I don't know, maybe it was the roses,
All I know I could not leave her there.

Robert Hunter

OK. OK. Leggo the stereo! Jeez. "Ripple" then...


If my words did glow with the gold of sunshine
And my tunes were played on the harp unstrung
Would you hear my voice come through the music
Would you hold it near as it were your own?

It's a hand-me-down, the thoughts are broken
Perhaps they're better left unsung
I don't know, don't really care
Let there be songs to fill the air

Ripple in still water
When there is no pebble tossed
Nor wind to blow

Reach out your hand if your cup be empty
If your cup is full may it be again
Let it be known there is a fountain
That was not made by the hands of men

There is a road, no simple highway
Between the dawn and the dark of night
And if you go no one may follow
That path is for your steps alone

Ripple in still water

When there is no pebble tossed
Nor wind to blow 

You who choose to lead must follow
But if you fall you fall alone
If you should stand then who's to guide you?
If I knew the way I would take you home

Robert Hunter

...and some more of the New Year concert.