Saturday, April 16, 2011

A Philip Larkin Poem


I work all day, and get half-drunk at night.
Waking at four to soundless dark, I stare.   
In time the curtain-edges will grow light.   
Till then I see what’s really always there:   
Unresting death, a whole day nearer now,   
Making all thought impossible but how   
And where and when I shall myself die.   
Arid interrogation: yet the dread
Of dying, and being dead,
Flashes afresh to hold and horrify.

The mind blanks at the glare. Not in remorse
—The good not done, the love not given, time   
Torn off unused—nor wretchedly because   
An only life can take so long to climb
Clear of its wrong beginnings, and may never;   
But at the total emptiness for ever,
The sure extinction that we travel to
And shall be lost in always. Not to be here,   
Not to be anywhere,
And soon; nothing more terrible, nothing more true.

This is a special way of being afraid
No trick dispels. Religion used to try,
That vast moth-eaten musical brocade
Created to pretend we never die,
And specious stuff that says No rational being
Can fear a thing it will not feel, not seeing
That this is what we fear—no sight, no sound,   
No touch or taste or smell, nothing to think with,   
Nothing to love or link with,
The anaesthetic from which none come round.

And so it stays just on the edge of vision,
A small unfocused blur, a standing chill   
That slows each impulse down to indecision.   
Most things may never happen: this one will,   
And realisation of it rages out
In furnace-fear when we are caught without   
People or drink. Courage is no good:
It means not scaring others. Being brave   
Lets no one off the grave.
Death is no different whined at than withstood.

Slowly light strengthens, and the room takes shape.   
It stands plain as a wardrobe, what we know,   
Have always known, know that we can’t escape,   
Yet can’t accept. One side will have to go.
Meanwhile telephones crouch, getting ready to ring   
In locked-up offices, and all the uncaring
Intricate rented world begins to rouse.
The sky is white as clay, with no sun.
Work has to be done.
Postmen like doctors go from house to house.


Friday, April 15, 2011

A Wallace Stevens Poem

 The Plain Sense of Things

After the leaves have fallen, we return
To a plain sense of things. It is as if
We had come to an end of the imagination,
Inanimate in an inert savoir.

It is difficult even to choose the adjective
For this blank cold, this sadness without cause.
The great structure has become a minor house.
No turban walks across the lessened floors.

The greenhouse never so badly needed paint.
The chimney is fifty years old and slants to one side.
A fantastic effort has failed, a repetition
In a repetitiousness of men and flies.

Yet the absence of the imagination had
Itself to be imagined. The great pond,
The plain sense of it, without reflections, leaves,
Mud, water like dirty glass, expressing silence

Of a sort, silence of a rat come out to see,
The great pond and its waste of the lilies, all this
Had to be imagined as an inevitable knowledge,
Required, as a necessity requires.


Tuesday, April 12, 2011

POEM: "À Jolie"

À Jolie

Yes, I did love her body
As now I love her shape
Up the tides that flow
By and down a signal

Precious like shells
From unlit depths
I listen to it right now
Sorrow at the end of beat

Tomorrow streets
Swept of yesterday
No chance to get it back
That beach or that life

Taking her body again
Brown ears behind black hair
On her stomach sleeping
O her ass I remember.

© 2011 Rob Schackne

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

POEM: "Fukushima"


God gives you the feeling
Not the words
You've got to find the words
By yourself

How often have words left me
Left me a husk of feeling
Rough like a coconut graveyard
Still looking up and reeling
At a sky developing more blue

When there is actually nothing
Of the graveyard or the blue
When there is actually no point
Dreaming there is any way through
Occasionally I admit there is you.

© 2011 Rob Schackne

Friday, April 1, 2011

A Rosa Alcalá Poem

 Fushigi na Chicharrón

(for Sergio Mondragón)


The body's hidden face

removed of its excesses
is cooked into a codex
that reads:
this little piggy went to market
this little piggy
piled high
what's meant by surface.

Everywhere a nation awaits,
a cardboard raft
soaks through. Everywhere is
a drink of water
swimming with the dead:

Leagues that can't be reached
or spoken.


A man in the plaza
sweats beneath
the synthetic hide
of historical sacrifice
and does a dance
making tourists
in t-shirts
so alive.

Far north
an altar will be built
for the seamstress
forgotten in piecing
such garments.


The question, as we sit
by the grill, becomes:
What is the real animal
between us?

What skin do we stretch,
scrape and tension with
our desire
for expansion? For books
that leap like bodies
not our own?

So we can never end
with more or less
than this: What
does it mean to start here,
with a taco de chicharrón,
as if to say "fushigi na en"
the encounter and consumption of skin
launches every ship?