Tuesday, August 30, 2011

POEM: "In Strong Winds"

In Strong Winds

The earthworms know the future
the birds fly away for the bombing
only much later do you pick up the pieces
holding your breath for the thousand leaves
your water in bottles in an unlighted room
you bite your own hand like a hamburger
a hurricane has come taking angry stock
flaying rivers and trees, sending roof slates
miles off in search of a field without a house
but you're going to miss the Apocalypse
now you have to eat the left-overs fast
before the moon sets and dark animals come
it's only August, the lucky month of leaders
you've just lost your job, you have $20.

© 2011 Rob Schackne

Thursday, August 25, 2011

POEM: "Today The Lesson Is Fresh Air"

Today The Lesson Is Fresh Air

A 60-year-old man, and she is 23
And naturally she is very beautiful

Walking on the bridge he breathes
The air suspended between 2 peaks

She waits for each word, she presses
His hand to her ear. He doesn't say it.

Sunset seagulls play shivaree below,
One has what looks like a banana peel

Zen lessons years ago he remembers
Detachment from all that causes pain

Though desire can make a lousy poem
He will not carry her from his mind.

© 2011 Rob Schackne

Thursday, August 18, 2011

POEM: "Why Maps Matter"

Why Maps Matter

The bugs are plaguing you
The ruts are getting deeper
You are unfolding the map

There’s a dead beast up ahead
Her giggling continues, you reach in
A brown bag for a sip of Jack D

The machine almost out of control
Not exactly because of you, but well
Damn, levity is beyond your powers

She slaps foul goo all over you
The tube says Use By 2006
And the map is nearly useless

A million insects suddenly go nuts
Their number’s been dialled at last
You swat at them hard with the map

When you get back on the sacred road
You miss your turn-off, damn it all
How far do brutal tracks go?

© 2011 Rob Schackne

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

POEM: "The Art Of China"

The Art Of China

WW in prison
as a punishment
the guards make him
wash his own clothes

(Never pleasure for them both)

Pavement night
there was no moon
summer impenetrable
a beggar lay beating
long summer odds
feigning sleep

To walk on, to hum
to admire the skulls

(What's that in Chinese?)

Around the clock
& inches away
they're shouting
they want you to wake up

Get back on board!


Then write again.

© 2011 Rob Schackne

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

A William Matthews Poem

 Office Life

Drab bickering, the empire dead and tax
reports alive, paperwork, erasure,
the grime on the philodendron leaves
since who tends everybody’s plant?
It’s the triumph of habit over appetite,
like comparing the stars to diamonds.
We make copies. We send out for food. Food
arrives. We have spats and tizzies and huffs.
Isn’t it great being grown up, having
a job? We get our work done more or less
and go home. How was it today? we’re asked
and don’t know what to say. It’s like wet soot,
like us, like what we feel: stuck on itself,
as, from here, starlight seems stuck to its star.

(from New Hope For The Dead: Uncollected Matthews, 2010)

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

A Jorge Luis Borges Poem


Of all the streets that blur in to the sunset,
There must be one (which, I am not sure)
That I by now have walked for the last time
Without guessing it, the pawn of that Someone

Who fixes in advance omnipotent laws,
Sets up a secret and unwavering scale
for all the shadows, dreams, and forms
Woven into the texture of this life.

If there is a limit to all things and a measure
And a last time and nothing more and forgetfulness,
Who will tell us to whom in this house
We without knowing it have said farewell?

Through the dawning window night withdraws
And among the stacked books which throw
Irregular shadows on the dim table,
There must be one which I will never read.

There is in the South more than one worn gate,
With its cement urns and planted cactus,
Which is already forbidden to my entry,
Inaccessible, as in a lithograph.

There is a door you have closed forever
And some mirror is expecting you in vain;
To you the crossroads seem wide open,
Yet watching you, four-faced, is a Janus.

There is among all your memories one
Which has now been lost beyond recall.
You will not be seen going down to that fountain
Neither by white sun nor by yellow moon.

You will never recapture what the Persian
Said in his language woven with birds and roses,
When, in the sunset, before the light disperses,
You wish to give words to unforgettable things.

And the steadily flowing Rhone and the lake,
All that vast yesterday over which today I bend?
They will be as lost as Carthage,
Scourged by the Romans with fire and salt.

At dawn I seem to hear the turbulent
Murmur of crowds milling and fading away;
They are all I have been loved by, forgotten by;
Space, time, and Borges now are leaving me.

(Tr. Alastair Reid)

Tuesday, August 2, 2011

POEM: "Y Por La Mañana Miraba"

Y Por La Mañana Miraba

                                   Yo soy yo y mi circunstancia
                                   José Ortega y Gasset

You think you know
the histories of a person's hand
what touched it, what it did

these hearts are leather gloves
whether pounding a kitchen table
or shooting something inattentive

of course there's a gentle side
the hands of the farmer husband
who makes paper birds for children

now the hot summer months
need trucks to carry water
and the beasts are sullen

I am I and my circumstances, he says
pick up the bullet and show me
you say it to any human heart.

© 2011 Rob Schackne

A Rosemary Nissen-Wade Poem

Quietly Surprising

(Found poem: Cryptic crossword clues)

One enters
very quietly
the final conduit
quiet knock
Len returning
with bits of broken shell
nice to come back
into quiet, first-rate court area
the French shelter
outside the open atrium
with a kind of concealed energy
the boy it brings back
makes hand signals in water surges
surprising boy dancer
a pro, he is faultless.