Tuesday, March 3, 2015

POEM: "Event Horizon"

Event Horizon

Ebb and flow, nothing before
the event horizon fell on me
featherlight of a hot life with ice
the collected years, misunderstood

She laughed at things I said
I chose her for the hair she kept
and yes her odd way with words
(an alarming way of wearing pain)

This is not the story of the world
told by the fire, told in the wind
it is traffic, relapse, and delusions
old habits and misremembered love

On this table is the air I breathe
the light is provided mostly free
all once gifted, in a silent transit
a most urgent universe of events.

© 2015 Rob Schackne

Painting: Mark Rothko, "Blue, Green and Brown" (1951)

Monday, March 2, 2015

POEM: "Interior Anthem #1 (The Rig)"

Interior Anthem #1 (The Rig)

On any National Day, it's made
Unhappy by unfulfilled promises
Standing out upon a sea-platform
Clouds rolling in, smelling the spray
The giant sculpture’s great unreal
As it stumbles on its waves, says
No flowers here, no biscuits there

The half-moon is the derrick's light
Its tower is stacked with rotting fruit
What the fuck are you on about?
I want fine food, a normal family
A job that doesn’t make me too crazy
A sane head, ten fingers, ten toes will do
Some good poems from time to time
And stop promising me nonsense.

© 2014 Rob Schackne

Sunday, March 1, 2015

POEM: "The Sun Goes Down"

The Sun Goes Down

                             You might light out for the Territory
                             someday, you know it's coming, you
                             toy with perspective, test the distance
                             and watch how the horizon moves...

Dismal science isn’t economics
or accounting, it's mostly dreams
that skip fast under the setting sun
while birds wait for quiet enough
to breach the low horizon, to pass
beneath, sink down to get off free

Definite article of serious wishes
a very serious accounting that excites
the dismal and hopeless, the depressed kept
low, holding up, their mouths set just right
they get it hopping crazy in the farmyard
three-legged dogs and deformed lambs

Broken halters of horses run amok
 sky gets higher, the moon is swelling
these old roads will only stand so much
before this precious, probable, sundrian
will stop the lessening (if you ever could)
take these nothings and turn them into light.

© 2014 Rob Schackne

Saturday, February 28, 2015

A George Mackay Brown Poem

The Old Women

Go sad or sweet or riotous with beer
Past the old women gossiping by the hour,
They'll fix on you from every close and pier
An acid look to make your veins run sour.

'No help', they say, 'his grandfather that's dead
Was troubled with the same dry-throated curse,
And many a night he made the ditch his bed.
This blood comes welling from the same cracked source.'

On every kind of merriment they frown.
But I have known a gray-eyed sober boy
Sail to the lobsters in a storm and drown.
Over his body dripping on the stones
Those same old hags would weave into their moans
An undersong of terrible holy joy.


Wednesday, February 25, 2015

A Vasiliki Katsarou Poem

Pier At Cannes

seen at a film (fish)
marketacross the bay, a string of lights

never thought she’d find herself

in an Antonioni film

yet here she is and so is he—
mere witnesses to an abstraction

the dark sea and dark sky meet somewhere

                                          she thinks,
              directing herself to find a gesture
as apt as this moment

he stares back
in irreflection

The sea and sky may kiss at the horizon
Why not we?

                                         She turns
a cartwheel instead
                                         to approach him
and yet remain distant

absurdity strikes
at the very heart

of the proposition

What a child, an American!

He is of course a French polygamist
with several children by several wives in farmhouses
scattered about the French countryside

so fated to act out

two wholly different scripts,

he says

                                Un écrivain a dit…
                                [A writer once said]

là où toutes les eaux se mèlent, là où il y a un delta—
[Where all the waters come together, at the mouth]

la merde l’a créé.
[shit created it.]

But what about beauty

she wonders too late
                                   doesn’t beauty equal love?

she wanders too late
the sky darkens further

                                  La bêtise
is his reply

from the edge
of that shore
they part


Tuesday, February 24, 2015

A Jane Hirshfield Poem (2)

A Person Protests To Fate

A person protests to fate:

“The things you have caused
me most to want
are those that furthest elude me.”

Fate nods.
Fate is sympathetic.

To tie the shoes, button a shirt,
are triumphs
for only the very young,
the very old.

During the long middle:

conjugating a rivet
mastering tango
training the cat to stay off the table
preserving a single moment longer than this one
continuing to wake whatever has happened the day before

and the penmanships love practices inside the body.


Monday, February 23, 2015

POEM: "It's Space, Johnny!"

It’s Space, Johnny!

                                     “If you won a free trip on a private company’s rocket ship into
                                            space, would you take the trip, or not?” the poll asked.

It turns out of course that since most people
Prefer to stay home and work on their Project,
The vast majority ixnayed another corporate trip
Into space, which after all is as dark as your pocket;
I sent the WaPo article to my international friends,
Who were considerably in favour of the translation,
(Brave souls all, who bless me with their tough wisdom)
Although one person did say she would gladly give up
Her place so that another could boldly go et cetera,
It wouldn’t matter to her at all if he didn’t come back;
Another said he’d have to think some more, he thought,
About who else would likely be there with him to share
Such a special occasion with, so maybe, in the end, not;
But our focus here is very dimmed when we gaze at stars,
We signal our dreams and we wave from a very distance,
And me, intrepid me, who once looked very square at space,
Now, with pen and paper, I’d stay out of the way and write.

© 2015 Rob Schackne

Sunday, February 22, 2015

POEM: "In Orbit, Across The Void"

In Orbit, Across The Void

Perfect pitch
admirable tone
in orbit, across the Void

Don’t play what’s there
Play what isn’t there

(I’m being navigated out of this world)

Might tempo also hitch a ride
on the gathering flight of emphasis?

Who seek maturity
along special paths of pain
to avoid the order of blunt notes

Puzzle me the right answer to that one

This question, a perennial one
phrased in weariness, the question
doesn't end when the answer comes

Fire out of the fire, smoke
out of the smoke, a woman
who confesses her own delight

Birds quiet after the fireworks 
stars almost seen behind the moon

A deep conversation
floats across this dark field
they join hands and embrace
the joy is thunderous.

© 2015 Rob Schackne

Friday, February 20, 2015

A Seamus Heaney Poem


I returned to a long strand,
the hammered curve of a bay,
and found only the secular
powers of the Atlantic thundering.

I faced the unmagical
invitations of Iceland,
the pathetic colonies
of Greenland, and suddenly

those fabulous raiders,
those lying in Orkney and Dublin
measured against
their long swords rusting,

those in the solid
belly of stone ships,
those hacked and glinting
in the gravel of thawed streams

were ocean-deafened voices
warning me, lifted again
in violence and epiphany.
The longship’s swimming tongue

was buoyant with hindsight—
it said Thor’s hammer swung
to geography and trade,
thick-witted couplings and revenges,

the hatreds and behind-backs
of the althing, lies and women,
exhaustions nominated peace,
memory incubating the spilled blood.

It said, ‘Lie down
in the word-hoard, burrow
the coil and gleam
of your furrowed brain.

Compose in darkness.
Expect aurora borealis
in the long foray
but no cascade of light.

Keep your eye clear
as the bleb of the icicle,
trust the feel of what nubbed treasure
your hands have known.’


Sunday, February 15, 2015

A Philip Levine Poem (2)

Our Valley

We don’t see the ocean, not ever, but in July and August
when the worst heat seems to rise from the hard clay
of this valley, you could be walking through a fig orchard
when suddenly the wind cools and for a moment
you get a whiff of salt, and in that moment you can almost
believe something is waiting beyond the Pacheco Pass,
something massive, irrational, and so powerful even
the mountains that rise east of here have no word for it.

You probably think I’m nuts saying the mountains
have no word for ocean, but if you live here
you begin to believe they know everything.
They maintain that huge silence we think of as divine,
a silence that grows in autumn when snow falls
slowly between the pines and the wind dies
to less than a whisper and you can barely catch
your breath because you’re thrilled and terrified.

You have to remember this isn’t your land.
It belongs to no one, like the sea you once lived beside
and thought was yours. Remember the small boats
that bobbed out as the waves rode in, and the men
who carved a living from it only to find themselves
carved down to nothing. Now you say this is home,
so go ahead, worship the mountains as they dissolve in dust,
wait on the wind, catch a scent of salt, call it our life.


Monday, February 9, 2015

POEM: "Raiments"


Unrequited clothing sounds silly.
I wish I wore her memory as well

As I still wear the knitted clothes
She once made for me. Comfortable

In the extreme, that fit me perfectly.
Had them for years. Anyway at this rate

They’ll outlast me. The shell cast away,
The cosmic sea, then where will they be?

© 2015 Rob Schackne

Sunday, February 8, 2015

An Emily Dickinson Poem (4)

774. "It is a lonesome Glee"

It is a lonesome Glee —
Yet sanctifies the Mind —
With fair association —
Afar upon the Wind

A Bird to overhear
Delight without a Cause —
Arrestless as invisible —
A matter of the Skies.

(ca. 1863)

Saturday, February 7, 2015

POEM: "You See It, Don't You?"

You See It, Don't You?

The clouds perfect, reflected
in a pristine watercourse. Sunny
and warm. Interesting breeze off the hills.
They (the old ones) sit outside in the sun.
But every place here is a shop, people
scattering sunflower seeds and waiting
for the next busloads of you and me.
And you wonder, why duplicate beauty
and why do it like that? It was just there
and minding its own business, like a cat.
No point to anything but its own rest.
But if you can take a photo of something
the people want to look at, it's real money
(Spirit was moved, it took a real deep breath)
Money that the perfect clouds tried to wash
with intemperate rain. They thunderstruck 
the village, asking for it to listen up and mop.
To no avail. The river grew rubbish. Plants died.
Today, they (the young ones) spend their days
snotting on the steps, no dream but sleep. Tomorrow
is about their phones trying to talk with ghosts.

© 2015 Rob Schackne

Friday, February 6, 2015

BOOK COVERS: "Reading The OED: One Man, One Year, 21,730 Pages" (2009)

He remembers that as a boy he frequently had his nose in either The Times Atlas or The Oxford English Dictionary. (Searching for solace in taxonomy? Sure, he was an strange child.) Come to think of it though, whether words can hold sufficient territory, or whether a location can be defended, largely explains what he's still looking for today.