Tuesday, May 31, 2011

POEM: "Unseen"


                          for Ron Slate

The hand is a bird stretches
Past a dozen blocks of memory
Every old one of them a prison
Cardboarding a curled collection

A friend had written a poem
About the skin of days, there's
Nothing that we can't recycle
And no tough bread we won't eat

A chipped cup sits upon a rock
No need to know whether the sea
Crashes or sunshine is in the hills
On this other side of knowing

The husbandry of our souls
Can't be easy listening to silence
To the cant of the tip of the slip
The wavering moment of it

An old book lies upon the shelf
Its eyes closed against the sun
A snake bathes against the rock
Filling up, emptying cold blood.

© 2011 Rob Schackne

Sunday, May 29, 2011

A Cynthia Zarin Poem


Bone-spur, stirrup of veins—white colt
a tree, sapling bone again, worn to a splinter,
a steeple, the birch aground

in its ravine of leaves. Abide with me, arrive
at its skinned branches, its arms pulled
from the sapling, your wrist taut,

each ganglion a gash in the tree's rent
trunk, a child's hackwork, love plus love,
my palms in your fist, that

trio a trident splitting the birch, its bark
papyrus, its scars calligraphy,
a ghost story written on

winding sheets, the trunk bowing, 
dead is
my father
, the birch reading the news
of the day aloud as if we hadn't

heard it, the root moss lit gas,
like the veins on your ink-stained hand—
the birch all elbows, taking us in.


Tuesday, May 24, 2011

POEM: "Whomsoever Listens"

Whomsoever Listens

                                               for John Coltrane et al.

I. Acknowledgment

Who supplies your bread
The base is the bass 
To do with you
Or the blues

Ask what you did today
How did your soul fare
How did your shit fail
Explain that to your kids

Sky and abyss missing
The love supreme it is
Does it cleanse your soul
Do you acknowledge?

II. Resolution

We'll watch the sunsets
Under sunken properties
Intricate movements
Look to the metronome

A mine in Pannowonica W.A.
Limping back to my shack
After my 45-R machine drill
Had probed the earth all night

Drumming a resolution
To do no more harm, sure
To do no daylight harm, that is
A tentative arrangement chère

III. Pursuance

Pursuant to the facts
Up to the minutes
Not a moment to lose
Out in the darkness

Everything a moth
They be moving away
They be studying the moon
No path is straighter

The instruments
All those sounds
The railroad tracks
The susurrus of flights

IV. Psalm

It's a matrimony
Of feelings between
This impossible
And the next

The hills are distant
I don't hear any echo
Except distant falling leaves
One for everyone chère

No lasting memories
Worth the winds
The drum is bringing
You home again.

© 2011 Rob Schackne

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

POEM: "At Sunset"

At Sunset

                                                     "Let me take you to a friend of mine..."
                                                      Kirk Franklin

Earlier that morning you'd tampered with
The history of your apartment, tired walls
Releasing red China blues and that fine silk

Now of a sudden, in the middle of the city
There is no more noise, traffic disappears
For a miracle moment the crowds are gone

You have taken your pleasures, it's true
And the honesty of your situation is
Daily asking for more melody and light

You look to the West, above the skyscrapers
Pink clouds are moving faster towards you
To the East a three-quarter moon is rising

How much can this be? Where is the rest?

The silence is exceptional. There is a tap
On the arm, "Teacher, what are you doing?"
You point in both directions, maybe smiling.

© 2011 Rob Schackne

Saturday, May 14, 2011

A Steve Orlen Poem

 In The House Of The Voice Of Maria Callas

In the house of the voice of Maria Callas
We hear the baby's cries, and the after-supper
Rattle of silverware, and three clocks ticking
To different tunes, and ripe plums
Sleeping in their chipped bowl, and traffic sounds
Dissecting the avenues outside. We hear, like water
Pouring over time itself, the pure distillate arias
Of the numerous pampered queens who have reigned,
And the working girls who have suffered
The envious knives, and the breathless brides
With their horned helmets who have fallen in love
And gone crazy or fallen in love and died
On the grand stage at their appointed moments--
Who will sing of them now? Maria Callas is dead,
Although the full lips and the slanting eyes
And flared nostrils of her voice resurrect
Dramas we are able to imagine in this parlor
On the evenings like this one, adding some color,
Adding some order. Of whom it was said:
She could imagine almost anything and give voice to it.


Tuesday, May 10, 2011

POEM: "Inedible Food"

Inedible Food

                                     "But if it's not asking too much..."
                                       Percy Mayfield

Just because of the screw in your mouth
shards of globe in the mutton potatoes
the waiter-hair-in-my-soup, who cares
if this food is increasingly inedible
or if love skirts the eatery like a rat
Lord, but if it's not asking too much
how about gathering from memory
all the inedible foods of this fool's life
please send me someone to love again
the tendons and the gristle, fragments
of pieces to be carefully reassembled
and of that which you can never keep
place her on my right side, impressed
when I lay all the frog bones in a row.

© 2011 Rob Schackne

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

POEM: "A Little Conversation At The Bar"

A Little Conversation At The Bar

In the spirit, I ask him, where is your spirit
In askance, you ask me, what do you mean?

What elevates you, I say, fearing no reply
Get away, you baulk, I work for my living

Always good, the leaves that keep on growing
Do you think the world doesn't notice you?

I play cricket, I'm captain of my Shanghai club
Do you follow the footie or the cricket yourself?

No, I was a rock climber for so many years
I was selfish, all other sports overtook me

So then, are you a specialist, I think to ask
I'm an all-rounder, you answer, I play it all

Willow bat that carves through watery planes
The balls that I tried seaming to perfect flight

In our imaginations, we both recoil.

© 2011 Rob Schackne