Wednesday, August 27, 2014

MUSIC: Robert Palmer, "Medley" (1974)

Don't know where you come down on in the matter of Robert Palmer -- but I think I come down on the right side. This was recorded in 1974, when we were young. The Meters, Lowell George. But wait...are you 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

Is this merely 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: "Goodbye LV"

Goodbye LV

               They do not know how one paysthose abroad do not know.
               They do not know what one buys, and at what price.

               Czesław Miłosz (1953)

Suppose I just pitch it
over the that

beyond the floating curtains
past the toys on the table

Mustard seeds of grace
which everless we don't see

(all the foolish deviations
taking a long beating)

Buddha smoking something
congrats it looks like a joint
his argument is sustainable
but his method alas is extreme

I watch the wearied ones
down their rows of grease
gathering up their secrets
of a hundred traces of life

The queues are getting longer
starbucks is open for Miles Davis
vulture peak flies in from India
enlightenment is a foot away

Mid-autumn festival is over
unsold full-moon half-moon off
I don't know where China is
baby I live here in China.

© 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.


POEM: "1-2-3 Roswell"

1-2-3 Roswell
                              for Felix Baumgartner

I don’t really know you
or the variety of ways
any of us can fall falling
or really any more than
that thing about the angels
up by the recurve of earth
forgetting this quiet abyss

in a speed of dark descent
just there seconds ago boom
telling so small from above
blue sky clouds white cells
long field watching your step
balloon helmet pressure suit

one of the other ends of a long day
faced with a blank of possibility

like going into the snowy night.

© 2012 Rob Schackne

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.


Thursday, August 14, 2014

POEM: "Poems For Airports"

Poems For Airports

During the mitosis of writing these, I was listening to heaps of Brian Eno. Naturally I owe alot to that. But funny that while these poems once seemed to be about the friction of the air, of the ground, about the weariness of the destination, and the weariness of the way back -- now they 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

Wednesday, August 13, 2014

Maryam Mirzakhani, Fields Winner, 2014

Her deeply beautiful and deeply intelligent gaze. Who knows so well the shape of the universe. Touched by Athena. Maryam Mirzakhani is the first woman to win the Fields Medal, the greatest prize in mathematics. But in a realm I can only imagine -- since I have trouble adding up my own years, and 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

POEM: "A Little Kid On The Beach"

A Little Kid On The Beach

Whether out far or deep in
the arm is near the sand
we’re drowning or waving
a little matter of perspective
now looking at Miller’s photo
of the night sky with Jupiter
as near to us as the Moon
thus I have almost heard
the thunders of a distant god

& what remains of this time on Earth
like the Sun Buddha might again
come back as Smokey the Bear
to shout only you can conquer fear

don't rest but rescue everything
unravel the tide watch it coming in.

© 2013 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: "Chest Fever"

Chest Fever

You say chest fever won't last 
Now I wonder if you're right. But
No, you have to plan the get-away

Side-entrance, alleyways and exits 
Remove the extensions and anxiety 
A form of relief when you're last in line 

A single life is sad, she said, legs over mine
Everyone's chest fever is waiting all the same 
(In our marrow we know it never came) 

Chest fever, a day that rejects us 
Chest fever, a line on an X-ray 
We leave our glasses behind.

© 2012 Rob Schackne

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. 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.


Saturday, August 2, 2014

POEM: "Frames"


The painting’s rolled out
flat on the table. On the floor
there’s a wire it’ll hang on
one day at the back. Perhaps.
Anticipating what rises.
Rosewood from forest trees.
Glass from the sea sand.
Heavy paper that seals in
all the air it took to breathe.
No. Something isn’t right.

© 2012 Rob Schackne

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.

A Rui Xiao Poem (3)

Drinking Songs

Let me propose a toast
To the blue bays of Finland in the sun
Let me propose a toast
To other shores far away in the Baltic Sea

Let me propose a toast
To the great Pushkin
And to the great Dostoyevsky
Who both belong to the world

To the elves in St. Petersburg
And to all the great hearts of Russia

Let me propose a toast
To my own beautiful lost youth
When I read Pushkin and Lermontov

Let me propose a toast
To galloping on the ocean with Bacchus
Orgiastic winds of spring and summer
In a riot of want

Let me propose a toast
To my heart in amber

Which beats on the Neva
That rushes out to the Baltic Sea

Let me propose a toast
To the blue sea and sky
In my champagne glass
Glittering and translucent

Let me propose a toast
To liberation from all impurities
As I drink the golden sunlight

Come on, hear me
God of lonely rivers
King of Russia’s ocean
Let me be drunk and sleep alone
Let me drift away tonight
On the flow of time

(2014) Tr. 2014

Sunday, July 27, 2014

A Ruben Quesada Poem


              (After Jacques-Louis David’s Oath of the Horatii)

There was a time when giants ruled the earth
and women were gods, too. But here in this moment
of mortality who, woman, will hold back your heart
from the imminent cliffs of grief? You cry out instead
of speaking, and if you were allowed you’d take the oath
and follow your husband, guard him against the wretched
spell of death like a shadow of black silk unraveling,
like a permanent shadow forged onto the ground
after an atomic blast, your arms outstretched;
in the background a curtain surrenders in the wind.
Beloved woman, twisted with torment
your spinning head cries like a god out of control:
Be brief! Let the weight of your serrated edges
cut this sorrow out of me.


POEM: "Walking Down The Street"

Walking Down The Street

                                          for Tim Hetherington & Chris Hondros

Meet my gaze, it's only natural
Look at me as you would a friend
Wait on the way to child or lover
Boss or belligerence, sacred duty

In the family village compound
In Afghanistan, you shot bandits
What do you carry a knife for
When the fruits are all dried?

But my kingdom is a horse
My shoulders, all my humours
I do not count your invisible steps
Or the invisible weights you carry

Afterwards, after the cordite
There's always at least one starer
Beyond the buildings, a hard ship
She's fondling a brick like a future

I will follow you, it's how we move
Till we both gallop across the field
Opposite the glances that break it
A fierce young horse in the yard

The shoes and my silk dressing gown
You know how I yearned for softness
The rounds are closer now, a shit-fight
No better cover here, I run, good night.

© 2011 Rob Schackne

Saturday, July 26, 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 dreams rattus rattus love me from it
cover up my heart and my stomach
take away the nearest mouth.

© 2013 Rob Schackne