Friday, March 30, 2012

A Tom Disch Poem

  The Library of America

It's like heaven: you've got to die
To get there. And you can't be sure.
The publisher might go out of business.
Or you yourself might not be good enough.
The vagaries of taste might swerve,
Suddenly, leaving you disaudienced.

Marquand. Aiken. cummings. Mailer.
What are their chances now, which once
Loomed so large? Ubi sunt, as they say
In France, while their language
Expires. It's sad, this transience
We share, but look on the bright side:

It makes us, even the snottiest,
Human, which is a good thing to be.
And, in any case, inalterable. We die,
Others occupy our premises, decide
They don't need so many bookshelves,
And redecorate. Every vanity

Will be deaccessioned, as Islam
Deaccessioned Alexandria. Ubi sunt.
Cling as you may, assert whatever claims,
Once you have fallen into the public domain,
There's precious little hope, and all that
Little is reserved for those who had no doubts.

The man who carved the Sphinx's nose:
What was his name again? For centuries,
Millennia, that nose was there, and now
It's not. We are—I am—like him
Ephemeral, a million Ozymandiases
Drifting about in a vast Sahara.

Sift those sands, you archeologists.
Number the shards of the shattered nose.
Reprint the words that once we shivered
To read, and annotate each line. Still,
When we die, we are certainly dead,
And only a few of our books will be read.

And then even those will be forgotten.


Sunday, March 25, 2012

A Jack Gilbert Poem

 Horses At Midnight Without A Moon

Our heart wanders lost in the dark woods.
Our dream wrestles in the castle of doubt.
But there's music in us. Hope is pushed down
but the angel flies up again taking us with her.
The summer mornings begin inch by inch
while we sleep, and walk with us later
as long-legged beauty through
the dirty streets. It is no surprise
that danger and suffering surround us.
What astonishes is the singing.
We know the horses are there in the dark
meadow because we can smell them,
can hear them breathing.
Our spirit persists like a man struggling
through the frozen valley
who suddenly smells flowers
and realizes the snow is melting
out of sight on top of the mountain,
knows that spring has begun.


Friday, March 16, 2012

A George Oppen Poem

  Image of the Engine


Likely as not a ruined head gasket
Spitting at every power stroke, if not a crank shaft
Bearing knocking at the roots of the thing like a pile-driver:
A machine involved with itself, a concentrated
Hot lump of a machine
Geared in the loose mechanics of the world with the valves jumping
And the heavy frenzy of the pistons. When the thing stops,
Is stopped, with the last slow cough
In the manifold, the flywheel blundering
Against compression, stopping, finally
Stopped, compression leaking
From the idle cylinders will one imagine
Then because he can imagine
That squeezed from the cooling steel
There hovers in the moment, wraith-like and and like a plume of
       steam, an aftermath,
A still and quiet angel of knowledge and of comprehension.


Endlessly, endlessly,
The definition of mortality

The image of the engine

That stops.
We cannot live on that.
I know that no one would live out
Thirty years, fifty years if the world were ending
With his life.
The machine stares out,
Stares out
With all its eyes

Thru the glass
With the ripple in it, past the sill
Which is dusty—If there is someone
In the garden!
Outside, and so beautiful.


What ends
Is that
       Even companionship

'I want to ask if you remember
When we were happy! As tho all travels

Ended untold, all embarkations


On that water
Grey with morning
The gull will fold its wings
And sit. And with its two eyes
There as much as anything
Can watch a ship and all its hallways
And all companions sink.


Also he has set the world
In their hearts.
From lumps, chunks,

We are locked out: like children, seeking love
At last among each other. With their first full strength
The young go search for it,

Native in the native air.
But even in the beautiful bony children
Who arise in the morning have left behind
Them worn and squalid toys in the trash

Which is the grimy death of love. The lost
Glitter of the stores!
The streets of stores!
Crossed by the streets of stores
And every crevice of the city leaking
Rubble: concrete, conduit, pipe, a crumbling
Rubble of our roots

              But they will find
In flood, storm, ultimate mishap:
Earth, water, the tremendous
Surface, the heart thundering
Absolute desire.


Saturday, March 10, 2012

An Amy King Poem


The Moon in Your Breath

Man acts as an antenna for the sun
and then: a trout in the milk, 
men who wear kilts after darkness. 
Build a bottle of fish with a few dried figs. 
Dear Shadow,
when did I become that person? 
I mean one who says "plastic glucose" 
without wondering what 
rotten-sweet is? The one who teenagers
represent? There's a room in your breath
I crawl into, eating the wallpaper's yellow,
looking out for the man on the stairs,
his knife in hand, poise incarnate.
I am your minimum envelope,
your string between tin cans and
cannot stop the talk between us.

In Berlin, they lay buildings on concrete
slabs that look straight back at us.
The windows of the soul seek to err
on the side of humanity. Put a piece of glass
between us for less resistance.
Invite rococo scrawl in heated breath upon it.
The moon appears in a cinched waist. 
Stand penance atop her curvature's axis, 
above a hill where headstones claw up 
through the clouds, pulling their fibers 
into blankets across us.

The sleet and silver smiles loom, gauze-thin.
We slip from a reel of translation back 
into how we cater to loneliness,
how we move our mouths and mouth
our meals, engorging entrails where 
even foodstuffs give off energies. 
I am that uncontrollable,
fear in a mesh of moonrock's lapis soup.
We demons are in love and afoot.
As in the primordial diary, time will come 
to take the hem in, tether the ether 
that dreams become from, and examine 
our ankles as the sugar washes over,
disappearing. As with everything, 
that's the body he works on. She also
knows honey lasts best in the future.


Thursday, March 1, 2012

POEM: "After a Tanka by Rosemary Nissen-Wade"

After a Tanka by Rosemary Nissen-Wade

I talk to the one
you were which

comes back to me
conversing as if

he were doomed
or blessed. The cup

finally full of need
Lord, but we have to

talk again as lovers
like it was our food.

© 2012 Rob Schackne