Monday, November 28, 2011

POEM: "Civics"


I read of conscientiousness
& how it increases the life-span
When this afternoon I see a man
On a bike porting a long sharp pole

But there is no flag of red alert
So maybe now it's the accident
Waiting to happen to that small girl
Who steps off the curb in such a hurry

Grandmother moves too slow
The pole pierces her precious eye
And enters her brain for a moment
And shuts down her primary function

So sudden the need for a civil society
Last seen haggling over the money
One experience of liability bleeding
One man looking for the first chance to run.

© 2004/2011 Rob Schackne

Friday, November 11, 2011

An Ivor Gurney Poem

To His Love

He’s gone, and all our plans
Are useless indeed.
We’ll walk no more on Cotswolds
Where the sheep feed
Quietly and take no heed.

His body that was so quick
Is not as you
Knew it, on Severn River
Under the blue
Driving our small boat through.

You would not know him now…
But still he died
Nobly, so cover him over
With violets of pride
Purple from Severn side.

Cover him, cover him soon!
And with thick-set
Masses of memoried flowers—
Hide that red wet
Thing I must somehow forget.


Thursday, November 3, 2011

POEM: "Zirkusmusik/Angel Fragments"

The 5 Zirkusmusik/Angel Fragments poems that follow are about Wim Wenders' 1987 film Wings of Desire, set in West Berlin before the Wall came down, where a group of invisible angels observe human activity. The angel Damiel falls in love with Marion, a circus artist  and decides to become mortal. The actor Peter Falk, another angel who years ago elected to live as a human, plays himself getting ready for his role in a film about Nazi Berlin. He senses Damiel's presence and offers him some advice. Peter Handke wrote much of the dialogue.

POEM: "Marion"


                           Lovers, if they knew how, might utter
                           strange things in night air. Since it seems
                           eveything hides us.

                           R.M. Rilke, Second Duino Elegy (Tr. Kline)

When she was a child she made faces
Whenever they took photographs

Already knowing that she was
At grave odds with the world

Hearing the loud machinery
Outside the levelling of the choir

At 12 years old reading Nietzsche
Tossing that aside for Rilke at 14

Then the Japanese Zen cases later
Other mystics social astrophysics

Not waiting around the silent library
For knowledge at the end of the world

Accidents come after painting & music
Poetry and the men came after that

I place my hand on her shoulder
She spits and shivers like a cat.

© 2011 Rob Schackne

POEM: "Marion & Damiel"

Marion & Damiel

Circus dreams. Is this the end?
Clumsy performance that eventually
Changed to pleasure, now slipping off
I'm going down, suddenly forgetting how
These fake wings could ever fly with art and love

How I watch her beautiful on the trapeze
Arguing with all the gravities of need
Less effort, Marion! More swing!
Today the circus Berlin is pulling down the tent
And elephants are doing tricks for themselves

O Angels of solitude and tears
Why do you all look like criminals?
How do you spend the eternal days?
Would you have me sing my song
At night alone in my little van?

There is no answer, why be desperate?
This shall go on for a very long time
Singing the epic of peace, dreaming
Like the old man, breathless, he looks
For the past and remembers Nazi flags

You're the angel. They almost lived happily
Ever after. Sensing the breezy motions
The dozens everywhere, tremor or itch
I can't even tell if you're beside me now
Hiding, utter me anything real tonight.

© 2011 Rob Schackne

POEM: "Peter Falk"

Peter Falk

                             "These people are extras...extra humans."


A single tree grows out of a lake
Primordial, surrounded by fog and
Quiet water. Water as cold as it gets

Winter in Berlin. Bombs were dropped
An old man walks through a wasteland
His Potsdamer Platz still can't be found

A pre-war car is taken out for a drive
Every street has its own hard borderline
A schoolgirl waits for a john in the cold


The clowns don't speak, doubles and ghosts
The clowns try on hats, ghosts and doubles
Lies, if you didn't have it, you would miss it

Charivari. A trained goat is walking a barrel
It's their last performance, free for the kids
They race into the ring to get their balloons

This one is for those who wished they were alive
This one is for all the evil places in the world
This one is for the poets. 

© 2011 Rob Schackne

POEM: "Who Would Rather Not Think Anymore"

Who Would Rather Not Think Anymore

Sit in the van getting ready
The last night will be your best
A little bit afraid of the full moon
Thinking where were our angels
When the bombs were falling?

Before the story of war
It was going quite well
The days of ecstatic dance
Learning to live with animals
Before it was all paved over

Is the antiphon dirge or beatus
That plays when life is risky?
There will be a party afterwards
But first the audience applauds
The woman who fights the air

Furry ropes and tired props
And cigarette butts joining
White feathers on the water
All of it invents the story
You will keep on having

Glory is all drunken singing
There is a sorrow in angels
No doorways or corners
The set of war is suicide
Why are you crying?

© 2011 Rob Schackne

POEM: "So Many Good Things"

So Many Good Things

                                                Als das Kind Kind war...
                                                Peter Handke


It is very late. A Turkish woman
Is vacuuming the empty library

Then she'll go to an all-night laundromat
And watch hope go through its cycles

When the child was a child
She lived in Room 29 next to mine
She could imagine anything


Wake up with the holy armor
When it is thrown down at you
Later that day you'll pawn it for $50

Your head is still bleeding a little
But there are so many good things left

A stranger gives you your first money
To buy your very first cup of coffee

And you'll burn your mouth
Wondering about the first snow

You give a stranger exquisite directions
And wait for first bliss in a circle of sand

CompaƱero, compaƱero, they whisper 
Other wings will grow that will be valid

You will find her. You will find a home.

© 2011 Rob Schackne

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

POEM: "It Doesn't Have To Be Perfect"

It Doesn't Have To Be Perfect

At 5 o’clock listening for the birds
They wake up and start their calling
(As if nobody again will listen)

Drive in to work, play Keith Jarrett
And there’s no one there to disagree
Driving home, AC/DC’s Highway To Hell

On Sunday you don’t go to church, instead
You go to the pharmacy “Family Planning” section
& stare too long at the inverted commas

The music in there is horrible
All mixed up with improbable fears
(You probably still love your wife a little)

A parking lot in the afternoon—
But no she says, it’s more like sunset
She throws her leg over you and sighs.

© 2011 Rob Schackne