Tuesday, July 31, 2012

POEM: "The Visit"

The Visit

One day in July
three men came

in the same suit
they were polite

we need ya to stay
on the other side

I asked them where
the other side was

see that corner well
don’t go there anymore

© 2012 Rob Schackne

Monday, July 30, 2012

An Arthur Sze Poem


Morning Antlers

Redwinged blackbirds in the cattail pond—
today I kicked and flipped a wing
in the sand and saw it was a sheared
off flicker's. Yesterday's rain has left

snow on Tesuque Peak, and the river
will widen then dwindle. We step
into a house and notice antlers mounted
on the wall behind us; a ten-day-old child

looks, nurses, and sleeps; his mother
smiles but says she cries then cries
as emptiness brims up and over.
And as actions are rooted in feelings,

I see how picking spinach in a field
blossoms the picker, how a thoughtless act
shears a wing. As we walk out
to the car, the daylight is brighter

than we knew. We do not believe
flames shoot out of a cauldron of days
but, looking at the horizon, see
flames leap and crown from tree to tree.


Sunday, July 29, 2012

A Philip Schultz Poem

At the Beach This Morning

There we were, Penelope,
my Border Collie mix, and I,
one godless the other faithful,
observing the fiery orange
at the left side of the horizon,
no bigger than my thumb, say,
shy in profile, exhausting another
of its ration of daybreaks,
while off to the far right
the ghostly white spider moon,
dangling by its dreamy thread.
That's when Lady P barked
at the blind man measuring
each step slowly emerging
out of the shadows, a duel
of balance and resolve. Indeed,
miles from town, how had he
gotten here? Head tilted toward
the waves, as if listening
to their instruction, his own
intuition. That's when, out
of the dunes, the deer came,
a buck, doe and three yearlings,
frozen in a jittery vigilance,
the wonder of their long elegance
turning to find us, Penelope,
obeying my call of silence, bursting
with an excitement the blind man
sensed, turning toward them,
their poise, their keenness,
each of us suddenly an industry
of looking, of not breathing,
a tiny fragile presence, colliding
scraps of discernment, each
suddenly vanishing back
into the bright vagueness
from which we came.


Wednesday, July 25, 2012

A Gerard Manley Hopkins Poem

As kingfishers catch fire, dragonflies dráw fláme

As kingfishers catch fire, dragonflies dráw fláme;
As tumbled over rim in roundy wells
Stones ring; like each tucked string tells, each hung bell's
Bow swung finds tongue to fling out broad its name;
Each mortal thing does one thing and the same:
Deals out that being indoors each one dwells;
Selves—goes itself; myself it speaks and spells,
Crying Whát I do is me: for that I came.

Í say móre: the just man justices;
Kéeps gráce: thát keeps all his goings graces;
Acts in God's eye what in God's eye he is—
Chríst—for Christ plays in ten thousand places,
Lovely in limbs, and lovely in eyes not his
To the Father through the features of men's faces.

(ca. 1880)

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

POEM: "Seppuku (1962)"

Seppuku (1962)
                                  for Kobayashi Masaki

An infant lies sleeping upon a mat
Father to grandson, father’s daughter
The son-in-law’s a Confucian scholar
Or is it a thousand Tokugawa tales
Refuse promotion higher than private
Etched hard in deserving face, have it
Unfold according to plot, maybe not
Not least because black & white days
Hide luxuries like festival kimonos
On a night when the moon is full of blood
One revenge for a love we understand
Right now the cicadas are very loud.

© 2012 Rob Schackne

Sunday, July 22, 2012

POEM: "Summer Note To Self"

Summer Note To Self

The little one is burnt and black
Motionless in a tree looks back

Rest on the cicada barrier
Arm cast lackadaisically over
The unnamed it didn’t matter

Wait a minute what’s she wearing
Why cast that way why is she there?

Bend time curl everything you know
Penetrate it like a remote cave
Save bats save yourself save light

Introduce yourself to Tommy Tomorrow
Say goodbye we were leaving anyway

Where music comes out so sweetly
Where summer comes from so loud
Rubbing rubbing the terms of reality.

© 2012 Rob Schackne

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

A Richard Hugo Poem (1)

Degrees of Gray in Philipsburg

You might come here Sunday on a whim.
Say your life broke down. The last good kiss
you had was years ago. You walk these streets
laid out by the insane, past hotels
that didn’t last, bars that did, the tortured try
of local drivers to accelerate their lives.
Only churches are kept up. The jail
turned 70 this year. The only prisoner
is always in, not knowing what he’s done.

The principal supporting business now
is rage. Hatred of the various grays
the mountain sends, hatred of the mill,
The Silver Bill repeal, the best liked girls
who leave each year for Butte. One good
restaurant and bars can’t wipe the boredom out.
The 1907 boom, eight going silver mines,
a dance floor built on springs—
all memory resolves itself in gaze,
in panoramic green you know the cattle eat
or two stacks high above the town,
two dead kilns, the huge mill in collapse
for fifty years that won’t fall finally down.

Isn’t this your life? That ancient kiss
still burning out your eyes? Isn’t this defeat
so accurate, the church bell simply seems
a pure announcement: ring and no one comes?
Don’t empty houses ring? Are magnesium
and scorn sufficient to support a town,
not just Philipsburg, but towns
of towering blondes, good jazz and booze
the world will never let you have
until the town you came from dies inside?

Say no to yourself. The old man, twenty
when the jail was built, still laughs
although his lips collapse. Someday soon,
he says, I’ll go to sleep and not wake up.
You tell him no. You’re talking to yourself.
The car that brought you here still runs.
The money you buy lunch with,
no matter where it’s mined, is silver
and the girl who serves your food
is slender and her red hair lights the wall.


A Richard Hugo Poem (2)

Glen Uig

Believe in this couple this day who come
to picnic in the Faery Glen. They pay rain
no matter, or wind. They spread their picnic
under a gale-stunted rowan. Believe they grew tired
of giants and heroes and know they believe
in wise tiny creatures who live under the rocks.

Believe these odd mounds, the geologic joke
played by those wise tiny creatures far from
the world's pitiful demands: make money, stay sane.
Believe the couple, by now soaked to the skin,
sing their day as if dry, as if sheltered inside
Castle Ewen. Be glad Castle Ewen's only a rock
that looks like a castle. Be glad for no real king.

These wise tiny creatures, you'd better believe,
have lived through it all: the Viking occupation,
clan torturing clan, the Clearances, the World War
II bomber gone down, a fiery boom
on Beinn Edra. They saw it from here. They heard
the sobs of last century's crofters trail off below
where every day the Conon sets out determined for Uig.
They remember the Viking who wandered off course,
under the hazelnut tree hating aloud all he'd done.

Some days dance in the bracken. Some days go out
wide and warm on bad roads to collect the dispossessed
and offer them homes. Some days celebrate addicts
sweet in their dreams and hope to share with them
a personal spectrum. The loch here's only a pond,
the monster is in it small as a wren.

Believe the couple who have finished their picnic
and make wet love in the grass, the tiny wise creatures
cheering them on. Believe in milestones, the day
you left home forever and the cold open way
a world wouldn't let you come in. Believe you
and I are that couple. Believe you and I sing tiny
and wise and could if we had to eat stone and go on.


Tuesday, July 17, 2012

A William Stafford Poem

Cutting Loose
                                for James Dickey

Sometimes from sorrow, for no reason,
you sing. For no reason, you accept
the way of being lost, cutting loose
from all else and electing a world
where you go where you want to.

Arbitrary, a sound comes, a reminder
that a steady center is holding
all else. If you listen, that sound
will tell you where it is and you
can slide your way past trouble.

Certain twisted monsters
always bar the path - but that's when
you get going best, glad to be lost,
learning how real it is
here on earth, again and again.


Monday, July 16, 2012

POEM: "Of A Saturday Arvo"

Of A Saturday Arvo

Raindrops don’t regret slow passage
Down windowpanes inconsolable rain
Today we spoke of the late Ching dynasty
The early Edo and of curiosity
How explorers do not extend their lives
How culture can look like an enemy
When junction boxes lie as buried
As Amelia’s silver bracelet in the sand
Li Bai too watches raindrops racing
Weaving the odds he survived the boat
Honoring glass compass and credulity
Till the storm was over it was dry again
There’s no telling where this tale is ending
Another glass is raised the nerve is steady
I wonder how we make things important.

© 2012 Rob Schackne

Sunday, July 15, 2012

POEM: "The Earhart Light"

The Earhart Light

He said he could see it bumping
Against the sea of lost aircraft
At one place on a coral atoll, adrift
Imagined Amelia's body recomposed
In the fish and sand and small breezes
That play about the edges of howland
But like the zephyr we never feel
The eyes and heart strain to know
That we who are left searching
Take deep breaths looking for buttons
Find an old regulator & come up for air
Our rescues from ourselves, I think
That rescue was always on the way
We had nothing more to do but wait.

© 2012 Rob Schackne

Wednesday, July 11, 2012

A Howard Altmann Poem


Desert Sounds

The iguana is still under the rock.
Blossoms unfurl scents over coiled snakes.
Saguaros arm their shadows
With the long legs of daylight.
And whose limbs got buried where
The grand inquisitor unearths deeply.

So it goes in the Sonoran desert.
Sky shows its teeth with cacti.
The mouth of civilization spits out sand.
Who are we, who are we?

The heart of the blue-throated hummingbird beats
Up to twelve hundred times a minute.

The palm-sized bird can play its hand backward too.
With good reason metaphors stay open past midnight.
When desert sounds coax silence into submission.
When darkness branches off.
O the miss in mystery; the hiss in history.
The tap in a child’s tapping: wake up, wake up.


Saturday, July 7, 2012

POEM: "Moon & Wine"

Moon & Wine
                      for Rosemary

red wine
at midnight
my neck hurts

thank goodness
the moonlight
another glass

balance it
upon the table
just half-full

indoors tonight
see the moon
see me

© 2012 Rob Schackne

Friday, July 6, 2012

A Jacek Gutorow Poem



The problem with boundaries: in the blink of an eye a dozen crows
lose their individuality and become a flock. Same as now:
frayed seconds disappear into quarters
that transfer their worth into the afternoon's account.
Time flows but space isn't any worse:
the flock of crows cuts the sky diagonally.
It's as if a new continent were emerging
to greet halfway the nascent cartographers
and their dreams. Sooner or later the flock will break up
into birds. The sea will crumble into waves.
The waves into drops. A delicate afternoon will be calculable
like harvested grain. The room will resemble
a clock without hands.


Thursday, July 5, 2012

POEM: "When Interrupted By"

When Interrupted By

When interrupted by

symbols of death
we are supplied
dogs that gnaw & run
the flowers that ride
on the casket, the many
interruptions of gunfire
the quiet mourning
terrified screaming
the processional
the one man rescue
the shock of the loss
of father or daughter
of comrade or son
heads up or heads down
goddamn every kind of bullet...

© 2012 Rob Schackne

Tuesday, July 3, 2012

A Cathy Park Hong Poem


Engines Within The Throne

We once worked as clerks      
       scanning moth-balled pages
into the clouds, all memories
outsourced except the fuzzy
       childhood bits when
I was an undersized girl with a tic,
they numbed me with botox
       I was a skinsuit
of dumb expression, just fingerprints

over my shamed
       all I wanted was snow
to snuff the sun blades to shadow spokes,
muffle the drum of freeways, erase
       the old realism
but this smart snow erases
       nothing, seeps everywhere,
the search engine is inside us,
the world is our display
       and now every industry
has dumped whole cubicles, desktops,
fax machines into developing
       worlds where they stack
them as walls against

what disputed territory
       we asked the old spy who drank
with Russians to gather information
the old-fashioned way,
now we have snow sensors,
       so you can go spelunking
in anyone's mind,
let me borrow your child
thoughts, it's benign surveillance,
       I can burrow inside, find a cave
pool with rock-colored flounder,
and find you, half-transparent
with depression.