Sunday, August 30, 2015

POEM: "The Destruction Of Palmyra"

The Destruction of Palmyra

Where vandals lay charges, no
Not charges, discharges, the
De-charges, that destroy
No, try to destroy time
Something remains
No, it never stays
Very long, but
No history’s

© 2015 Rob Schackne

Saturday, August 29, 2015

A W.S. Merwin Poem


I will tell you what he told me
in the years just after the war
as we then called
the second world war

don't lose your arrogance yet he said
you can do that when you're older
lose it too soon and you may
merely replace it with vanity

just one time he suggested
changing the usual order
of the same words in a line of verse
why point out a thing twice

he suggested I pray to the Muse
get down on my knees and pray
right there in the corner and he
said he meant it literally

it was in the days before the beard
and the drink but he was deep
in tides of his own through which he sailed
chin sideways and head tilted like a tacking sloop

he was far older than the dates allowed for
much older than I was he was in his thirties
he snapped down his nose with an accent
I think he had affected in England

as for publishing he advised me
to paper my wall with rejection slips
his lips and the bones of his long fingers trembled
with the vehemence of his views about poetry

he said the great presence
that permitted everything and transmuted it
in poetry was passion
passion was genius and he praised movement and invention

I had hardly begun to read
I asked how can you ever be sure
that what you write is really
any good at all and he said you can't

you can't you can never be sure
you die without knowing
whether anything you wrote was any good
if you have to be sure don't write


POEM: "When The City Goes Dark Brown"

When The City Goes Dark Brown

An eerie brown light tonight
gnomes churning out the coal
their feet intent on dimming
the all-clear wholesome air

The mood is heavy street lamps
won't give you sight of the next block
woe to them who need clarity
to march or think or plan or dream

Less to it than meets the eye
the cars are stopped by rockfall
every hoodoo flags the imagination
& the gnomes are better knowing

In this deliberate night of ours
every year the same damn argument
that darkness gives you new eyes
the invisible tears fall in deep places

We discussed the B-flat world
she said that it denoted comfort
it was our first date so I demurred
it’s true I sleep better when it rains

I do not mention the scattered love
vuvuzuelas blatting out of automobiles
world-wide air-conditioners dull hums
in the ordinary winds of the world

I cut back listen for another note
look at my wall at the Tibetan mask
hanging in blood ringed with skulls
what I am reminded of forgetting

Fire & wind friction of moving parts
inside the daily machinery of our lives
the message the appeal that’s lost us
this other music stored in silence.

© 2013 Rob Schackne

Friday, August 28, 2015

POEM: "I check my newsletters today"

“I check my newsletters today”

I check my newsletters today
I see the big headline question
Just how resilient is Spacetime?
Quickly I hazard a poet’s caution
And throw all science to the winds
Ships sail by the edges of the world

The fruit all sits well in the basket
Spacetime's as resilient as a banana
It’s as good as your weekend plans

Count to 10 count to 20 good luck
Then wait for the endless replies.

© 2015 Rob Schackne

Thursday, August 27, 2015

A Chard deNiord Poem

Dream of Heaven

I’d smoke cigars all day and into the night
while I wrote and wrote without
any hope or the slightest assurance
that anything I’d written actually mattered
or rose to a standard of literary merit.
I’d languish in the smoke that did me in
and call it the cloud of my unknowing,
so sweet in its taste, such as it was,
of Cuban soil. That would be paradise
in heaven that’s so overrated as endless
bliss it kills to imagine it's a place for living
forever, no less, with nothing to do
or lips to kiss. I’d curse, therefore,
with the best of them—the legion
of Saved—as I sharpened my pencils
and smoked my Punches in the simple room
that I’d be given with a desk for writing
and bed for remembering the things
I’d forgotten. And reading too, I almost
forgot. I’d read and read since I’d be done
with sleeping, but dreaming, no, still dreaming
a lot. I’d live to live again with moments
of dying to see how “lucky” I was. I’d use
my body as an eidolon with invisible wings
that fluttered in the void as if it were air
and hummed in the dark where I could see.


Wednesday, August 26, 2015

POEM: "Cave, Mastodon & Antlered Creature"

Cave, Mastodon & Antlered Creature

Crystals gleam before the night
she awakes before the others
a cave will light in both directions

Putting hands on hard stone walls
she walks beyond their last erasure
midnight of vision or dawn of sleep

She’ll walk 50 feet past the erasure
in and out again by the force of fire

surprised when the subject is the same

They call her simple they say she’s crazy
which hardly concerns dark principles
toting the bag with the colors she needs.

© 2014 Rob Schackne

Tuesday, August 25, 2015

A Nathaniel Mackey Poem

Song of the Andoumboulou: 166 ½

Decapitism stuck to the end of my
   tongue. What to do but call it names
I thought. It wasn’t thought I was  
   ing I’d have answered had I been
asked, not even thinking I thought…
  I sat brooding, tracking a feather’s
    plummet my lush regard. I sat
brooding, hen’s heat yogic so bent
   my hickory legs were, hickory
  transcendent so flexed it was. So it
    will have been said absentmindedly
rolled off my tongue. Least thought,
       thought I mock made-believe I
  believed, prophet shod in castoff
   tread… Profitry rolled off as well,
jelly-coated pill I bit. Bitness rolled
   it or might as well have, qu’ahttet’s
broken jaw. Change was the law I
  sat reflecting, right foot nested on
     left inner thigh, left leg pointed
  straight ahead. I sat, Buddhistic
   hurdler, musing, mouth open, ip-
seities arrayed in a row… I sat, I
    thinking thought’s province re-
 ceded, beauty’s provocation revoked
  as our loins contracted, Itamar,
 cio, all us men. Tantric hoist I was
  thinking, thought’s adumbration,
what ached and what resigned itself,
    placed… We sat checking out the
 yogis in leotards, Ahdja, Eleanoir,
   Anuncia, Sophia, every womanly
wisp under the sun. I dreamt again we
   away with no way home, this or that
     plane waiting, this or that takeoff
 missed, sweet crease loaded with ore
   to be absconded with, gold we’d’ve
     otherwise been. Bent intonation inter-
vened, a reed off away in the distance,
    sanet’s name I no sooner gave than
was given back, Brother B’s wild ox
  moan… I sat dejected, thought’s
    pointment missed, disappointed,
 abscondity’s eviscerate redoubt. I
  was thinking thought had yet to be-
gin, thought’s far emblem a star too
  for sight, leotarded crux and cur-
    vature’s ignition, thought’s due ad-
vent I thought no such arrival, what come-
 liness it wore wore thin. No ideas but
    them I thought, cloak and conni-
 vance the lords of that house, abode


Monday, August 24, 2015

POEM: "The Message"

The Message

I lean towards the message
I'm waiting for something
the skies are filled with fire
everywhere the streets are lit
by other screens, by dreams
we march and none can see
I've got to go now, goodnight

© 2015 Rob Schackne

Sunday, August 23, 2015

POEM: "Far more crap than"

"Far more crap than"

Far more crap than 
I can shake a stick at
knowledge and poems
don’t help flush away

Point, shout, all you like
many won't be looking
it could be true, wanting
but listening like a bird

Bend, twist, everything
that includes the strange
shaped by anything, we–
I try to relax and breathe

Sound waves, light waves
exit through the gift shop
over the fence, down the lane
all goes through the mirror.

© 2015 Rob Schackne

Saturday, August 22, 2015

A Heather McHugh Poem (3)

Language Lesson 1976

When Americans say a man
takes liberties, they mean

he's gone too far. In Philadelphia today I saw
a kid on a leash look mom-ward

and announce his fondest wish: one
bicentennial burger, hold

the relish. Hold is forget,
in American.

On the courts of Philadelphia
the rich prepare

to serve, to fault. The language is a game as well,
in which love can mean nothing,

doubletalk mean lie. I'm saying
doubletalk with me. I'm saying

go so far the customs are untold.
Make nothing without words,

and let me be
the one you never hold.


Friday, August 21, 2015

POEM: "Yearn"


In a room that has no corners
on a bend that sees no lights

like a dripping cave with claws
it's trying to expel something

out of the past — a malignant
forgiveness, an axial flexor

a branch line or terminus-fret
these are forests without trees

seas without shipping bubbles
only a nausea that's like noise

oil sickness, fumes & machinery
you would expel it all willingly

for one night's steady beacon
a pure melody above the drum

sure, but everyone must have it
caveat emptor, diddle-dee-dum

entry was below a bridge this time
its structure looked solid enough.

© 2012 Rob Schackne

Thursday, August 20, 2015

POEM: "First Nights Of A Chinese Autumn"

First Nights Of A Chinese Autumn 

I wish I had a mood
About autumn instead of
A sore back, a hangover

Memory of love like
Cicadas drop from trees
Washed in hot rain

I wish I had an autumn
About a mood instead of
Noisy insects, this summer

Still whistles, not autumn yet
It mumurs with fans and sweat
The days are long, calm is rare 

Tea is good for everything
Probably true, except it makes
A cup of wine taste funny

I’m a long horse-tail
Swatting at the flies
Trying to order more wine

© 2015 Rob Schackne

Wednesday, August 19, 2015

POEM: "Trust In Me (If You Can)"

Trust In Me (If You Can)

                                        for Jack Heseltine

No referees in a game that
Has no beginning and no end

On a scrambled field of hope
After half-time or just before

Ex-Croatian national team
Not just another sack of shit

When 2 years later I played
Elbows and feet to his 6 foot 3

Now these words on a page
Is a poem like a bee sting?

The war zone and the refugees
Games played with brutal rope

The electricity was lethal
I had misjudged my step

Did Plato ever guarantee
The one authentic voice?

Did Thamus actually believe
That Thoth of the sacred ibis

Invented writing as a whip
Or martial football, any game?

I wouldn’t trust any poem
Farther than I could throw it.

© 2012 Rob Schackne

Tuesday, August 18, 2015

A Sam Ross Poem


I believe this is
as real as anything
but safe. It’s like
Puccini: we’re so close
to the moon up here
let me tell you who
I am — and guess
about you: do you like
to fable — I mean
danke — I mean
dance? What I like
is not knowing
what we look like
to each other. Isn’t it
that way anyway?
I saw silverberries
so high atop stones
they were black
against the sky.
Limbs, finger-thin.
More evidence
never hurt a case
for handsome but
by the time you
reach me, I may be
somewhere else.
You might not
even know — like
sleeping in a tent
on a dune moving
miles through
the night. Or now
when I’m close. Are you


Monday, August 17, 2015

POEM: "A Post Office"

A Post Office

In China there's a post office
unmarked on maps, cellar-deep
where you can mail your dreams
(though you might wait for years)

True, they go out without a stamp
or an address, but someone gets them
and you know they get read, even
discussed before they vanish

And of course it costs plenty
a boatload of poetry and music
several galleries of good paintings
skillful dancing and love-making

But no one can ever know
the true excellence of this secret
how far it reaches into the soul
or how much it wishes to be silent.

© 2015 Rob Schackne

Sunday, August 16, 2015

A Christina Rossetti Poem

The Heart Knoweth Its Own Bitterness

When all the over-work of life
Is finished once, and fast asleep
We swerve no more beneath the knife
But taste that silence cool and deep;
Forgetful of the highways rough,
Forgetful of the thorny scourge,
Forgetful of the tossing surge,
Then shall we find it is enough?
How can we say "enough" on earth--
"Enough" with such a craving heart?
I have not found it since my birth,
But still have bartered part for part.
I have not held and hugged the whole,
But paid the old to gain the new:
Much have I paid, yet much is due,
Till I am beggared sense and soul.
I used to labour, used to strive
For pleasure with a restless will:
Now if I save my soul alive
All else what matters, good or ill?
I used to dream alone, to plan
Unspoken hopes and days to come:--
Of all my past this is the sum--
I will not lean on child of man.
To give, to give, not to receive!
I long to pour myself, my soul,
Not to keep back or count or leave,
But king with king to give the whole.
I long for one to stir my deep--
I have had enough of help and gift--
I long for one to search and sift
Myself, to take myself and keep.
You scratch my surface with your pin,
You stroke me smooth with hushing breath:--
Nay pierce, nay probe, nay dig within,
Probe my quick core and sound my depth.
You call me with a puny call,
You talk, you smile, you nothing do:
How should I spend my heart on you,
My heart that so outweighs you all?
Your vessels are by much too strait:
Were I to pour, you could not hold.--
Bear with me: I must bear to wait,
A fountain sealed through heat and cold.
Bear with me days or months or years:
Deep must call deep until the end
When friend shall no more envy friend
Nor vex his friend at unawares.
Not in this world of hope deferred,
This world of perishable stuff:--
Eye hath not seen nor ear hath heard
Nor heart conceived that full "enough":
Here moans the separating sea,
Here harvests fail, here breaks the heart:
There God shall join and no man part,
I full of Christ and Christ of me.


Saturday, August 15, 2015

POEM" "After Reading A Poem"

After Reading A Poem 

Because it is a poem again 
despite the stretch of darkness
and there is echidna, octopus and cat
and so long as there’s that in the world
sealed bags will not go around the head.
There will be more quarrels with the self
that will demand more meaning, while
the profound self adjusts to the search for it.
Although, as always, I suppose there may
come a time when enough is fair enough
and to give it no more never more
will be the better, yes, alternative.

© 2015 Rob Schackne

Friday, August 14, 2015

POEM: "Untitled"


It’s said that one word writ
upon a wall is not a poem, that
a leopard may not know its spots
whether behind or with or during
and some new love only requires that
an old love jumped the fence – so today
I can talk about how we frame things
and I speak of being released by history
by gender and neglect and all the dreams
of the poor and the angry, and then I see
six bored students I’d put in a sacred circle.

© 2015 Rob Schackne

Thursday, August 13, 2015

POEM: "She Saved My Ass"

She Saved My Ass

During an altercation
in a bar one night
she saved my ass
my back was turned
he came up with a knife
she hit him with a bottle
she was from the mountains
they believe in hard things
it was then I fell in love
big arms and shoulders
every inch of her 6 foot tall
it was such a simple thing
when we were leaving
she stomped hard on his hand
after that the graceful years
lord she was so tender
her feet were lovely &
she loved me very well.

© 2013 Rob Schackne

Wednesday, August 12, 2015

A Louise Bogan Poem

Song for the Last Act

Now that I have your face by heart, I look 
Less at its features than its darkening frame
Where quince and melon, yellow as young flame,
Lie with quilled dahlias and the shepherd's crook.
Beyond, a garden. There, in insolent ease
The lead and marble figures watch the show
Of yet another summer loath to go
Although the scythes hang in the apple trees.

Now that I have your face by heart, I look.

Now that I have your voice by heart, I read
In the black chords upon a dulling page
Music that is not meant for music's cage,
Whose emblems mix with words that shake and bleed.
The staves are shuttled over with a stark
Unprinted silence. In a double dream
I must spell out the storm, the running stream.
The beat's too swift. The notes shift in the dark.

Now that I have your voice by heart, I read.

Now that I have your heart by heart, I see
The wharves with their great ships and architraves;
The rigging and the cargo and the slaves
On a strange beach under a broken sky.
O not departure, but a voyage done!
The bales stand on the stone; the anchor weeps
Its red rust downward, and the long vine creeps
Beside the salt herb, in the lengthening sun.

Now that I have your heart by heart, I see.


Tuesday, August 11, 2015

A Jennifer Chang Poem

Patsy Cline

She’s in the desert
releasing the ashes of her father,
the ashes of her child,
or the ashes of the world. She is not

what she observes. The rare spinystar.
It does not belong to her. Bright needle threading
a cloud through the sky. There’s sun enough,
there’s afterlife. Her own body, a pillar of ash.
I fall to pieces, she says. Faithless

nimbus, faithless thought. In my life,
I have lost two men. One by death,
inevitable. One

by error: a waste. He wept
from a northern state,
hunger too cold
for human knowledge.

Once I was a woman with nothing to say.

Never did I say ash to ash.
Never has the desert woken me up.
I said
who releases whom?

Inevitably, all have known
what the desert knows. No one
will count the lupine when I’m gone.

No one looks to the sun
for meaning. For meat
I’ve done so much less.

Cattle in the far basin, sagebrush, sage.

I live in the city where I loved that man.
The ash of him, the self’s argument.

Now and then, I think of his weeping,
how my body betrays me:
I am not done with releasing.


Monday, August 10, 2015

POEM: "Reach the top of the mountain, keep climbing"

"Reach the top of the mountain, keep climbing"

Imagine a ladder into the clouds
After the wealth of all that sweat
You’re climbing for what? Heart
Or endurance, ¿flaco o flojo? Stars
Ever closer to the gateway of your soul.
You finally get there. All around it
Looks forlorn it took you so long.

© 2015 Rob Schackne

POEM: "Sign Of The Times"

Sign Of The Times

Gruesome reminder, the mountain
Always gives up its dead. Time
However, ticks a little differently.
All kinds of unexpected men & women
A glacier releases, slowly, like gold
Or a butterfly. A tree gets green leaves.
I get my heart back. I get art. I get you.
A family gets their sons back, plus
Old boots and a rope that couldn't hold.
Meditate on this when sitting in a crevasse.
Look down, listen, as your dark shelf moves.

© 2015 Rob Schackne

Sunday, August 9, 2015

A Robert Herrick Poem

To His Dying Brother, Master William Herrick

LIFE of my life, 'take not so soon thy flight,
But stay the time till we have bade good-night.
Thou hast both wind and tide with thee; thy way
As soon despatch'd is by the night as day.
Let us not then so rudely henceforth go
Till we have wept, kissed, sigh'd, shook hands, or so.
There's pain in parting, and a kind of hell,
When once true lovers take their last farewell.
What! shall we two our endless leaves take here
Without a sad look or a solemn tear?
He knows not love that hath not this truth proved,
Love is most loath to leave the thing beloved.
Pay we our vows, and go; yet when we part,
Then, even then, I will bequeath my heart
Into thy loving hands; for I'll keep none
To warm my breast when thou, my pulse, art gone.
No, here I'll last, and walk (a harmless shade)
About this urn, wherein thy dust is laid,
To guard it so as nothing here shall be
Heavy to hurt those secret seeds of thee.

(Ca. 1652)

Saturday, August 8, 2015

POEM: "Stari Most"

Stari Most

In southern Bosnia
where I first knew you 
where there was so much death 
there was a beautiful bridge 
you can't kill memory
where there is a beautiful bridge
this is a story about Mostar
a story about Stari Most
but no, it's a story about us
and the fight we had 
on the beautiful bridge
and how I swore to you
we would both grow old
there would be no war
you don't listen (I remember)
you kept on slapping me
we got home we didn't speak
we made japrak and chorba
we cried and held each other tight
later they tortured you 
then they killed you
it was a beautiful bridge
all the water gone
of course I write this.

© 2014 Rob Schackne

Friday, August 7, 2015

POEM: "The Bicycle In A Tree"

The Bicycle In A Tree

The interpretive work
Of being human the dirt
Under those table legs the
Dirt under the speakers yes
The pretty dirt in our minds
The skirting boards the dust
That follows for ten months
The years that we just let go
There’s just no point in it no
Being dumb seeking truth
A vacuum cleaning nothing
A loud monkey shedding hair.

© 2015 Rob Schackne

Thursday, August 6, 2015

POEM: "The hell to be inside"

“The hell to be inside” 

The hell to be inside
the mind of a racist
marked by his old code
shaping an angry world
yes I too am marked
by my old codes by
what is human man
is an important signpost
we take our bearings from
that we wander not too far
from reason else our conviction
destroys us liberal dream broke.

© 2015 Rob Schackne

Wednesday, August 5, 2015

A Gerard Manley Hopkins Poem (3)

"No worst, there is none."

No worst, there is none. Pitched past pitch of grief,
More pangs will, schooled at forepangs, wilder wring.
Comforter, where, where is your comforting?
Mary, mother of us, where is your relief?
My cries heave, herds-long; huddle in a main, a chief
Woe, wórld-sorrow; on an áge-old anvil wince and sing —
Then lull, then leave off. Fury had shrieked 'No ling-
ering! Let me be fell: force I must be brief."'

    O the mind, mind has mountains; cliffs of fall
Frightful, sheer, no-man-fathomed. Hold them cheap
May who ne'er hung there. Nor does long our small
Durance deal with that steep or deep. Here! creep,
Wretch, under a comfort serves in a whirlwind: all
Life death does end and each day dies with sleep.

(Ca. 1870)

Tuesday, August 4, 2015

MUSIC: Jim James, "State Of The Art (A.E.I.O.U.)" (2013)

Daylight come
Daylight go
How far will it reach?
Ain't nobody know

And when the dawn breaks
The cradle will fall
And down will come baby
Cradle and all

And now I know you need the dark
Just as much as the sun
But you're signing on forever
When you ink it in blood

A.E.I.O.U., A.E.I.O.U.
I use the state of the art
Suppose to make for better living
Are we better human beings?
We got our wires all crossed
The tubes are all tied
And I'm straining to remember
Just what means to be alive

A life worth living
Now you can feel it in your chest
Building like the little birds
Just building up the nest
And you build it up strong
And you fill it up with love
And you pray for good rain
All from the Lord above

A.E.I.O.U., A.E.I.O.U.

I use my state of the art
Now don't you forget it
It ain't using me
'Cause when the power goes out
I got other means
'Cause when the power's going out
I hear the power's going out
I mean it the power's going out
I really mean it the power's going out

Jim James

Monday, August 3, 2015

A Philip Levine Poem (4)

What Work Is

We stand in the rain in a long line
waiting at Ford Highland Park. For work.
You know what work is—if you're
old enough to read this you know what
work is, although you may not do it.
Forget you. This is about waiting,
shifting from one foot to another.
Feeling the light rain falling like mist
into your hair, blurring your vision
until you think you see your own brother
ahead of you, maybe ten places.
You rub your glasses with your fingers,
and of course it's someone else's brother,
narrower across the shoulders than
yours but with the same sad slouch, the grin
that does not hide the stubbornness,
the sad refusal to give in to
rain, to the hours wasted waiting,
to the knowledge that somewhere ahead
a man is waiting who will say, 'No,
we're not hiring today,' for any
reason he wants. You love your brother,
now suddenly you can hardly stand
the love flooding you for your brother,
who's not beside you or behind or
ahead because he's home trying to
sleep off a miserable night shift
at Cadillac so he can get up
before noon to study his German.
Works eight hours a night so he can sing
Wagner, the opera you hate most,
the worst music ever invented.
How long has it been since you told him
you loved him, held his wide shoulders,
opened your eyes wide and said those words,
and maybe kissed his cheek? You've never
done something so simple, so obvious,
not because you're too young or too dumb,
not because you're jealous or even mean
or incapable of crying in
the presence of another man, no,
just because you don't know what work is.


Sunday, August 2, 2015

POEM" "From The Three-Self Movement"

From The Three-Self Movement

I too would be all gunfighter
And explain how death hits
The floor, except that the floor
Is constructed with the sweat
Of many workers, mostly men
And some don’t much mind death,
But in the early morning they lay

The foundations of the rest of us.

And I too would be all Casanova
And explain love and how it smells
The body, except that this body
Is constructed of the serial fears
Of unknown lovers, who don’t know
That heartbreak isn't the end of life,
But still take their chances, even though
It's late in the afternoon of the rest of us.

And I too would be all Zen master
And explain how old dust accords
To new dust, that hitting the wall
Is dripping with the mind of billions
While the Three-Self Movement cries
Wisdom won't take your life on the street,
But please come take a late walk by the river
While the moon waits there for the rest of us.

© 2015 Rob Schackne

Saturday, August 1, 2015

POEM: "On The Edge Of Joy"

On The Edge Of Joy 

                          This art of behavior.
                          Poetry into the ground.

                               Qin Fei

When we barely know
we're     going down
the clouds are beautiful

in the sweet curves
of our deliverance
a few degrees of angels

if only she stopped
screaming     her beauty
could start the engines

on the edge of joy
we weigh nothing
except our hearts

we yearn to be birds
like birds yearn to be
butterflies     clearly

it is impossible

we are going home

© 2015 Rob Schackne

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