Monday, December 31, 2012

POEM: "Your Photograph"

Your Photograph

ah that's
easy what
you’ve got there
is a camel 
a picture of
a castration
awful cries
now cut off
the male joins
forever not
a sex but a
dumb community
of burden
now cut off
or else it’s
(one version)
a simple melée 
of camels
like Les says
brutal policy
like inferior art
knows whose
fault it all is
slow diversion
local motorcade
now cut off
the ambassador’s
the tactics
the policies
all a bit too
bloody slow

© 2012 Rob Schackne

Saturday, December 22, 2012

A Meena Alexander Poem

Night Theater

Snails circle
A shed where a child was born.

She bled into straw 
Who can write this?

Under Arcturus, 
Rubble of light:

We have no words 
For what is happening 

Still language endures
Celan says

As he stood in a torn
Green coat

Shivering a little,
In a night theater, in Bremen.


Friday, December 21, 2012

POEM: "Get On The Plane"

Get On The Plane

                                       for Greg Gamage

To overegg the ____
Only I can't think of the what
The lily, the moment, the cooking
The face that isn't looking

Mooncake, new case or the dog
Is it their door on Halloween?
Christmas or the New Year coming
Some other place they haven't been

My mate Greg was right I guess
About the zombies at the airport
Travel is wasted on useless currents 
Overegg it all and get away with it
James Bond in a cool white suit
I think I’ll leave the martinis alone
So many broken eggs I’m unmoved
Pity about the shitty legroom though.

© 2012 Rob Schackne

Thursday, December 20, 2012

A Brian Henry Poem


The opening (read: aperture)
is open by design (read: default),
so susceptible to departure

with the brain floating, bag of salt,
loud, malleable light, the sky profuse
in its movement from rim to vault,

an orb (read: void) open to obtuse
approach from any outer corridor
(read: vector), as if angle could produce

what sight announces as visitor,
a gravity-infected flash, or fleck,
that, focused, becomes meteor,

the surface less limit than wreck,
the eye a crash site, open to air,
onto a sky that will not reflect.


Monday, December 17, 2012

POEM: "Overcast"


Of the moments
that restored my
faith in humanity
I think I'll remember
one or two of them
& this second one just
left me wondering whether
she was really better off
(she didn't listen to me
now she lives in Germany)
first one's hidden
sorry it's the terms
of my dumb faith

just starting to rain
take it with a grain of salt.

© 2012 Rob Schackne

Sunday, December 16, 2012

POEM: "Aside"


You read of a guy who wrote
a novel of 80 thousand pages
who couldn’t work out the ending
even so he managed to say it
& he even mentioned this too
the deficiencies you’re feeling

in the rose garden of doubt
arc and mise-en-scène
a dog’s old toy in the yard.

© 2012 Rob Schackne

Saturday, December 15, 2012

A Ben Doller Poem

Parochial Poetry

Whiter I make it when walking right in
unswerved, sweating fluorescent bleach,
preaching a moon page that says its welts:
learn this by heart is empty but do it
to do it. I make it somehow whiter, zombied
and I opified allover the absolutely
whitest room. I say keep your lines in line
and look at me now just lining them,
some flogged orthodoxen, ploughed
down sillion shiny sacerdotal lines
I'm supposed to like and looky I do.
I like what I like. I just like what I like.
I like to say look: dissident anachronistics,
shambolic stuff in master rows but look
at me. I even early balded to enhance
the interrogation. I meander in and form more
order. I like to point with my pointer, to
indicate. The most afraid I like to get is
a little bit. I app my accounts and survey
the advantage. I tower under.
I oxiclean the ivory. I shower and shower.
I dig on fonts. I wake up singing I say
never start with that but one morning
I wake up singing the Fat Boys. I wikipede
The Fat Boys. One of them is no longer.
The other is no longer fat. I assess the Human
beatbox via a Schwittersian optic.
I exercise my massive rights. I have the right
to remain. I remain. I interview just
like a glacier. I hand dance. I like just
what I like. My skin is white not. It fits
just tight. It burns on will. My horizon
is fungible. My will is like whatever.
My SPF is infinity. People seem to like
me. I was just born just this way.


Wednesday, December 12, 2012

POEM: "Death"


Never again to say
I missed you so much 
Or, sleep on your own damn side.

© 2012 Rob Schackne

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

An Adam Fell Poem (1)


                        I don't know how to say 
how I feel politely, or poetically, or without 
the jugular and collapse of the immediate 
heart, so tonight, I won't say anything at 
all. Just stare out the window at our 
stunned little writhe. Hold back the 
strongest urge to knock out a few of the 
capitol's most critical walls, replace its 
fiber optic cables with lightning bugs, 
replace the investment bankers all with 
bunker busters. I lock eyes with the 
capitol's bright and empty rooms and admit 
that, sometimes, deep in my affluent, 
American cells, I miss my body carved to 
projectile. I miss trebuchet shoulders and 
knuckles flaked to arrowheads, miss my 
hands massive and molded from molten to 
the bolts of ballistas. I miss blackjack and 
cudgel and quarterstaff and flintlock. I miss 
pummel and pike and I am not proud of 
this. I know it's not a healthy feeling. I try 
to un-arm, to un-cock. I try to practice my 
breathing. I try The Master Cleanse, The 
Stationary Bike, The Bikram Sweat, The 
Contortion Stretch, The Vegan Meatloaf
The Nightly, Scorching Bath, The Leafy 
Greens and Venom Television, The Self-
Mutilation of a Winter's Run, but we can 
only cleanse our bodies so much before we 
realize it's not our bodies that need 


Monday, December 10, 2012

A Samuel Greenberg Poem

Rimbaud in Embryo


By a peninsula the painter sat and
Sketched the uneven valley groves.
The apostle gave alms to the
Meek. The volcano burst
In fusive sulphur and hurled
Rocks and ore into the air—
Heaven’s sudden change at
The drawing tempestuous,
Darkening shade of dense clouded hues.
The wanderer soon chose
His spot of rest; they bore the
Chosen hero upon their shoulders,
Whom they strangely admired, as
The beach-tide summer of people desired.


Sunday, December 9, 2012

POEM: "Rehearsal"


Alright I’ve said it the ass
depends upon the legs like
a clock on a minute’s notice
the banjax awaits the band
there’s nothing new under
the sun except the sun while
we’re roaring like monsters
dammit you didn’t know it
now I say it the form attends
an invisible quiet thing.

© 2012 Rob Schackne

Saturday, December 8, 2012

A Louise Glück Poem


The Night Migrations 

This is the moment when you see again
the red berries of the mountain ash
and in the dark sky
the birds' night migrations.

It grieves me to think
the dead won't see them—
these things we depend on,
they disappear.

What will the soul do for solace then?
I tell myself maybe it won't need
these pleasures anymore;
maybe just not being is simply enough,
hard as that is to imagine.


Wednesday, December 5, 2012

POEM: "The Afternoon"

The Afternoon

Why you were an hour late
planned to shuck your husband
to meet me later in the room
I felt strangely neutral like I was
your husband wanting to know
why it takes 2 hours to buy rice
after when you were a bag of rice
we were just a pair of stomachs
& we looked out of the window
there was a man painting
his balcony red in the rain
the sky was mostly grey &
not much chance of letting up.

© 2012 Rob Schackne

Tuesday, December 4, 2012

A Shanna Compton Poem

Panoramic View

Last week Mars suddenly got a lot closer.
It used to be the place we'd throw out
as impossible, utterly unreachable, so red
and foreign and sere. Not anymore.
And I'm trying to figure out why watching
the panorama makes something in the hot core
of me crumple like a swig-emptied can,
intoxicating though it may be, vibrant
with out-of-this-world color like the whole thing's
a sand painting, a dimensional mandala
some galactic monk took her sweet time pouring
freehand, blowing on it between sips of her tea,
ruffling up the most dramatic of its rumpled crests.
It's bluer than I thought, attained. Like most things
I wish we could take back.


Saturday, December 1, 2012

POEM: "Archy In The House"

Archy In The House

this long hard climb 
youre on how much 
further do you have to go 
good lord i hope that 
youre not entirely on 
your own the poems i
mean they help like 
flowers do so never 
dismiss that comfort   
in the speak tonight i
saw a chinese guy regale 
his birthday gal with a
bouquet of toy bunnies
but nothing she could
do till they got home

© 2012 Rob Schackne

Tuesday, November 6, 2012

A David Hernandez Poem

David Hernandez

At the Post Office

The line is long, processional, glacial,
and the attendant a giant stone, cobalt blue
with flecks of white, I’m not so much
looking at a rock but a slab of night.
The stone asks if anything inside the package
is perishable. When I say no the stone
laughs, muted thunderclap, meaning
everything decays, not just fruit
or cut flowers, but paper, ink, the CD
I burned with music, and my friend
waiting to hear the songs, some little joy
after chemo eroded the tumor. I know flesh
is temporary, and memory a tilting barn
the elements dismantle nail by nail.
I know the stone knows a millennia of rain
and wind will even grind away
his ragged face, and all of this slow erasing
is just a prelude to when the swelling
universe burns out, goes dark, holds
nothing but black holes, the bones of stars
and planets, a vast silence. The stone
is stone-faced. The stone asks how soon
I want the package delivered. As fast
as possible, I say, then start counting the days.


Monday, November 5, 2012

An Emily Dickinson Poem


Except the heaven had come so near,
So seemed to choose my door,
The distance would not haunt me so;
I had not hoped before.

But just to hear the grace depart
I never thought to see,
Afflicts me with a double loss;
’Tis lost, and lost to me.

(ca. 1864)

Monday, October 29, 2012

A Ravi Shankar Poem

Lines On a Skull

(Haiku Erasure of Lord Byron's "Lines Inscribed Upon a Cup Formed from a Skull")

Start spirit; behold
the skull. A living head loved
earth. My bones resign

the worm, lips to hold
sparkling grape's slimy circle,
shape of reptile's food.

Where wit shone of shine,
when our brains are substitute,
like me, with the dead,

life's little, our heads
sad. Redeemed and wasting clay
this chance. Be of use.


Sunday, October 28, 2012

POEM: "Rondelet Aux Apaches"

Rondelet Aux Apaches

Get this thing on
maybe he struggles to keep up
get this thing on
she’s leaning over his table
he feels his future wed to breasts
her mind reaches for big monkey
get this thing on.

© 2012 Rob Schackne

Thursday, October 25, 2012

A Larry Levis Poem


                                 for Philip Levine

The cop holds me up like a fish;
he feels the huge bones
surrounding my eyes,
and he runs a thumb under them,

lifting my eyelids
as if they were
envelopes filled with the night.
Now he turns

my head back and forth, gently,
until I'm so tame and still
I could be a tiny, plastic
skull left on the

dashboard of a junked car.
By now he's so sure of me
he chews gum,
and drops his flashlight to his side;

he could be cleaning a trout
while the pines rise into the darkness,
though tonight trout
are freezing under bits of stars

under the ice. When he lets me go
I feel numb. I feel like
a fish burned by his touch, and turn
and slip into the cold

night rippling with neons,
and the razor blades
of the poor,
and the torn mouths on posters.

Once, I thought even through this
I could go quietly as a star turning over and over
in the deep truce of its light.

Now, I must
go on repeating the last, filthy
words on the lips
of this shunken head

shining out of its death in the moon—
until trout surface
with their petrified, round eyes,
and the stars begin moving.


Thursday, October 11, 2012

A Charles Simic Poem


Butcher Shop

Sometimes walking late at night
I stop before a closed butcher shop.
There is a single light in the store
Like the light in which the convict digs his tunnel.

An apron hangs on the hook:
The blood on it smeared into a map
Of the great continents of blood,
The great rivers and oceans of blood.

There are knives that glitter like altars
In a dark church
Where they bring the cripple and the imbecile
To be healed.

There's wooden block where bones are broken,
Scraped clean–a river dried to its bed
Where I am fed,
Where deep in the night I hear a voice.


Thursday, October 4, 2012

A Horace Poem

Odes BkI:IX Winter

See how Soracte stands glistening with snowfall,
and the labouring woods bend under the weight:
see how the mountain streams are frozen,
cased in the ice by the shuddering cold?

Drive away bitterness, and pile on the logs,
bury the hearthstones, and, with generous heart,
out of the four-year old Sabine jars,
O Thaliarchus, bring on the true wine.

Leave the rest to the gods: when they’ve stilled the winds
that struggle, far away, over raging seas,
you’ll see that neither the cypress trees
nor the old ash will be able to stir.

Don’t ask what tomorrow brings, call them your gain
whatever days Fortune gives, don’t spurn sweet love,
my child, and don’t you be neglectful
of the choir of love, or the dancing feet,

while life is still green, and your white-haired old age
is far away with all its moroseness. Now,
find the Campus again, and the squares,
soft whispers at night, at the hour agreed,

and the pleasing laugh that betrays her, the girl
who’s hiding away in the darkest corner,
and the pledge that’s retrieved from her arm,
or from a lightly resisting finger.

tr. A.S. Kline (2003)

Tuesday, October 2, 2012

POEM: "3 Dog Senryu"

3 Dog Senryu

One time a monk asked Joshu, "Does a dog have Buddha-nature or not?"
Joshu answered, "No."
Another time, a monk asked Joshu, "Does a dog have Buddha-nature or not?"
Joshu answered, "Yes."

The patient trees bow
A stray dog is quizzical
Do we have our souls?

It's barely autumn
Already the bad haiku
Wind and leaves make friends

The patient trees bow
Stray dogs are barking again
Do we not have souls?

© 2011 Rob Schackne

Friday, September 28, 2012

A George Oppen Poem (II)


Astrolabes and lexicons
Once in the great houses

A poor lobsterman

Met by chance
On Swan's Island

Where he was born
We saw the old farmhouse

Propped and leaning on its hilltop
On that island
Where the ferry runs

A poor lobsterman

His teeth were bad

He drove us over that island
In an old car

A well-spoken man

Hardly real
As he knew in those rough fields

Lobster pots and their gear
Smelling of salts

The rocks outlived the classicists
The rocks and the lobstermen's huts

And the sights of the island
The ledges in the rough sea seen from the road

And the harbor
And the post office

Difficult to know what one means
to be serious and to know what one means

An island
Has a public quality

His wife in the front seat

In a soft dress
Such as poor women wear

She took it that we came
I don't know how to say, she said

Not for anything we did, she said,
Mildly, 'from God'. She said

What I like more than anything
Is to visit other islands...


Tuesday, September 25, 2012

POEM: "Ledge Dark Somewhere"

Ledge Dark Somewhere
                                       I.M. Charles Bukowski

Maximum power is a river
it flows past wild rocks
something hits my ass   mon dieu

the Chauvet cave paintings
“celebrate the stupidity
of our endurance”   only wait

qu’est-ce que c’est   delinquencies
satisfactions have been reckoned
they look pretty damn small

consider the initiation of art
the Late Stone Age in France
goddamn there were rhinos

far back from the light
rockfall sealed the cave
careful   bear tracks   framed

si ça se peut   not my business
old wines stretch my brain
cat on the sofa   watermelons   summer

© 2012 Rob Schackne

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

An Alan Shapiro Poem



I lay back on the carpeted bottom step
Of the stairwell that like a well extended
Darkly up to the window near the ceiling,

Up where the Chinaman under the wide-brimmed hat
That hid his face pulled the flowerpot that held
No flower across the sill no one could reach.

There was a television on somewhere
Above me, and the doomsday clock was ticking,
Someone was saying. Someone was saying something

About a blockade and a quarantine,
Who would blink first, lose face, or push the button.
A fat man banged a shoe against a desk.

The Chinaman however didn’t care.
Pulling his flowerpot of absent flowers,
He was content to be a clot of darkness

Brightening the moment late sun caught the glass—
The hat tip first, and then the hat, the arms,
The rickshaw of the flowerpot he pulled.

And everywhere within the light’s slow fall
Infinities of particles were falling
Into the flowerpot they’d never fill.


Tuesday, September 18, 2012

A Mark Doty Poem

A Green Crab's Shell

Not, exactly, green:
closer to bronze
preserved in kind brine,

something retrieved
from a Greco-Roman wreck,
patinated and oddly

muscular. We cannot
know what his fantastic
legs were like–

though evidence
suggests eight
complexly folded

scuttling works
of armament, crowned
by the foreclaws'

gesture of menace
and power. A gull's
gobbled the center,

leaving this chamber
–size of a demitasse–
open to reveal

a shocking, Giotto blue.
Though it smells
of seaweed and ruin,

this little traveling case
comes with such lavish lining!
Imagine breathing

surrounded by
the brilliant rinse
of summer's firmament.

What color is
the underside of skin?
Not so bad, to die,

if we could be opened
into this–
if the smallest chambers

of ourselves,
revealed some sky.


Wednesday, September 12, 2012

A Kris Hemensley Poem

"to come away with Hesiod"

to come away with Hesiod
and leave the rock as though to rocks
the tree to trees and dwell on other things

imagine the injunction
to leave the mint to its own devices
amongst the dust & stones in the shadow
of rocks or tree-roots hard as rocks

imagine poems like tended mint
or poems like wildest mint which survives
the oblivion of feckless gardeners
until plucked by knowing fingers
after the fiercer heat’s abated

imagine poems left to their own devices
as poets gorge on air & airy thoughts
& figures — the idea cuts me
to the bone of a sobriety earned
at the expense of the airiness Hesiod
was commissioned to name

but who wouldnt seize a staff of bay
or ash or gum and trade common or
garden cough for lungsfull of song
taking the world in one’s stride
careering towards heaven?


Tuesday, September 11, 2012

POEM: "La Magia"

La Magia

How can formulas be literature?
I love that. I laugh and give myself up
To the extra breath, side-step the beggar
Who is quite interested in my loot.

I’m watching you while something else
Is spreading like an eager plant
When the conditions are right.
The moon is bright. Maybe no pines.

Seeing all the forms of things
How they change before your eyes
Wait a bit for the lights and the darkness.
You watch the F1. The directions are on TV.

Take this poem. Stop and look awhile.
It has only my wallet on its mind
Sitting in an Italian restaurant
Walking down a street back home.

© 2012 Rob Schackne

Monday, September 3, 2012

POEM: "The Atoms Of Books"

The Atoms of Books

3. If reader wants to keep book and buy it:
 i) Supply name of book store.
 ii) The library cannot sell books to individuals. The books are the  property of the Library Board.
4. If reader says he pays taxes and the book belongs to him:
 i) State that
 the Public Libraries Act makes books property of the Library Board.

                Chinook Regional Library Procedures Manual (2007)

Running up the path to the treasure house
I always maxed out the borrowing limit

The craters of the moon, insects, stories
Of people who lived differently than me

Geography and history, Greek myths
Astronomy and atoms, the pyramids

Tycho Brahe, his noses, magic moose
Telescopes and heliocentrics of sad

The blue-stocking's reprimand
This is not appropriate for your age

Once I even cried to show her that it was
And a guy said, Jesus give the kid his book!

Pliny the Elder, Pompeii, Alexandria
The Cairo Geniza, my forefathers, herself

On a carved page suddenly discovered
Where silence is no longer special virtue

Now books cannot sit squarely upon a shelf
With furred pages, the silverfish and worms

Growing older & more important in the shade
Happily replenishing the nutrition of words.

© 2012 Rob Schackne

Friday, August 31, 2012

A Carl Dennis Poem



Just yesterday my poem lamenting the power
Of time to sweep away all trace of the beautiful
Seemed done at last, but the light this morning
Shows it to be a sketch, evidence that my vision
Cleared as I slumbered, that my sense of beauty
Grows in the night like corn or bamboo.

Maybe a poem in praise of time
Ought to be next on my agenda,
The time required for seeds to open,
For leaves to push out on tender stems.

Yesterday, the teacher didn't believe the excuse
Her student offered for missing his appointment—
A tire gone flat on the Thruway—but today
His story seems almost convincing,
Suggesting how quickly the bruise to her ego
Has begun to heal, the first small step
From the tiresome realm of insult and umbrage.

Yesterday the lover couldn't commit himself.
Today he wants to write his beloved
A check for a million dollars,
Though the time hasn't come, he admits,
For her to cash it.
Meanwhile, though he has nothing,
Whatever he has is hers.