Saturday, June 30, 2012

POEM: "The Bar Life"

The Bar Life

She sits down too close to me
and orders a bottle of red wine
already loaded fast busting up
with her boyfriend on the phone
so she can tell me to fuck off
when I ask her if she’s OK
no that wasn’t what happened
twenty minutes later a guy shows up
they share a glass he’s smiling
then she tells him to fuck off
thank god for every small mercy
ringtone and she’s on it pissed off
my guess her parents I got my rights
rings off passes out suddenly on bar
stirs to tell the guy to fuck off again
who’s still grinning unaccountably
a new neurone in the morons club
ringtone again and she’s back at it
with some other poor bastard
sure she’s marginally beautiful
almost certainly terminally stupid
and inside the same universe tonight
some dumb things are going to happen.

© 2012 Rob Schackne

POEM: "One Evening Minding My Own Business"

One Evening Minding My Own Business

For once for last for the ever that lasts
For them both in the sky someplace

Howards lead them into German bars
(But alas, they look like you and me)

The element conflicts with sensitivities
(Sometimes she’s a surprising beauty)

For once for last for the ever that lasts
For them both in the sky someplace

The local waitress is usually cruel
Our girl is nervous, spills something

Betraying her out-of-townism
In the different dialect & walk

Of course our Howard doesn’t notice
Confident he’s finally scored real big

For once for last for the ever that lasts
For them both in the sky someplace.

© 2012 Rob Schackne

POEM: "Fred Austerlitz In Shanghai"

Fred Austerlitz In Shanghai

When Welles & Hayworth let him
Slip the leash to see it for himself
Dancing through customs charmed
The pants off them or so they said
How can a man show such grace?
A job trading futures in Shanghai
Hoofing it with the bargirls at night
The Great Wall was his dancing mind
He gained weight drinking cheap beer
Practised his dream steps before bed
Eventually fell in with a country girl
He picked up enough Chinese to wow
Her parents & he danced a life for them

"The Cure Is Worse Than The Disease"
Their eyes shined big they thanked him
They poured him out a fiery cup of wine
He started to stammer a formal speech
Gazed at the sunset waited at the horizon
He pointed at his mouth then to his feet
Was unprepared for the wild applause.

© 2012 Rob Schackne

Thursday, June 28, 2012

POEM: "La Musica Divina"

La Musica Divina

                  Tu lascerai ogne cosa diletta
                  più caramente; e questo è quello strale
                  che l'arco de lo essilio pria saetta.

                  Dante, Paradiso

Boethius makes a deal with music:
I feel most comfortable at night
Accept my arc, I leave you alone
A perfect island far from Rome
Points to the world’s dark ways
And every dawn I see the singer
Felled by an axe or an arrow
Music so naturally a part of us
We can’t be free even if we wanted
Prison another thing altogether.

© 2012 Rob Schackne

Wednesday, June 27, 2012

A Clive James Poem


Language Lessons

She knew the last words of Eurydice
In every syllable, both short and long.
Correcting his misuse of quantity,
She proved the plangent lilt of Virgil’s song
Depended on precision, while his hand,
Light as a mayfly coming in to land,
Caressed her cheek to taste the melody
Of such sweet skin, smooth as a silk sarong.

Give her the palm for speaking well, he thought,
But has she ever melted as she should
With no holds barred, or wept the way she ought?
His scraps of Greek, it seemed, were not much good.
He said the words for rosy-fingered dawn
And when she set him straight with laughing scorn
He spoke a tongue she barely understood,
Contesting her with kisses long and short.

In such a way they traded expertise
Until the day came it took half the night.
She gradually improved his memories
And he set loose her longing for delight.
The passion underneath the verse technique
She saw in its full force, and learned to speak –
Strictly, as always, but in ecstasies.
So finally, for both, the sound was right,

A compound language fashioned out of sighs
And poetry recited line by line.
Few lovers and few scholars realise
The force with which those separate things combine
When classic metres are at last revealed
As reservoirs where rhythms lie concealed
That sprang from heartbeats just like yours and mine,
Pent breath, and what we cry with flashing eyes.

In that regard they made a pretty pair:
He with his otherwise unhurried touch,
She with her prim and finely balanced air,
When they lay down together, came to such
An ending they were like a poem caught
In the last singing phrase of what it sought
To start with: to contain what means too much
Left lying loose. In something like despair,

Though it was joy, they would forget they knew
What anybody else had ever said
Of love, and simply murmur the poor few
Abstract endearments suitable for bed
Until they slept, and dreamed they’d never met
And none of this sheer bliss had happened yet.
One woke the other –which was which? –in dread:

Ah, Orpheus, what has lost us, me and you?

Alas, what is this madness? Out of sight
Like smoke mixed with thin air I seem to fly.

Although her form, when he switched on the light,
Was still there, he had heard her spirit die.
To bring it back, he swore that he would go
To hell for her. It would be always so,
For he would live forever and defy
The halls of Dis and the gigantic night.

Having heard this from him, she smiled again,
And in his arms came back to life as one
Returning to the mortal world of men,
Their ticking clocks, the race that they must run.
Believing in their love: that was the task
That these two faced. It seemed too much to ask,
So moved were they when all was said and done –
Knowing that it would stop, but never when.


Monday, June 25, 2012

POEM: "Movie"


After calculating the return on
2 cats 2 rats a noisy dog & a goat
The rain continued to keep out
Others in peril of their bones
I remember someone like you
Before one shot scraped it silly
After it left you ants pouring
Down your head seconds to plan
Before the 2 beards walked in
Determinate threat was present
Before you saw a clean way out
Though it was an afterthought
Before you used the knife.

© 2012 Rob Schackne

Sunday, June 24, 2012

POEM: "Why He Hates Dreams"

Why He Hates Dreams

                                            after Michael Chabon

1. They are without conscience

2. They skip the important bits

3. They look very weird & stupid

4. They make you wake up & think

5. They want you to go back to sleep

6. They always resume differently

7. They amuse themselves with your woes

8. They keep you tightly frozen

9. They have you flying all over the place

10. They’ve got you wearing pyjamas

11. They leave your dick hanging out

12. They offer you some girl called Suzie

13. They give you one called Etheria

14. They insert people you’ve never met

15. They add jokers you wish you could forget

16. They deafen you to the knock at the door

17. They are difficult to remember

18. They tell you that you’ll see her again

19. They finish with no real point

© 2012 Rob Schackne

Thursday, June 21, 2012

A Les Murray Poem (1)


The Conversations

A full moon always rises at sunset
and a person is taller at night.
Many fear their phobias more than death.
The glass King of France feared he’d shatter.
Chinese eunuchs kept their testes in spirit.

Your brain can bleed from a sneeze-breath.
A full moon always rises at sunset
and a person is taller when prone.
Donald Duck was once banned in Finland
because he didn’t wear trousers,

his loins were feather-girt like Daisy’s
but no ostrich hides its head in sand.
The cure for scurvy was found
then long lost through medical theory.
The Beginning is a steady white sound.

The full moon rises at sunset
and lemurs and capuchin monkeys
pass a millipede round to get off on
its powerful secretions. Mouthing it
they wriggle in bliss on the ground.

This heart of a groomed horse slows down.
A fact is a small compact faith,
a sense-datum to beasts, a power to man
even if true, even while true –
we read these laws in Isaac Neurone.

One woman had sixty-nine children.
Some lions mate fifty times a day.
Napoleon had a victory addiction.
A full moon always rises at sunset.
Soldiers now can get in the family way.


Sunday, June 17, 2012

POEM: "Footprints"

footprints go
shower to
living room
they stop in
the bedroom
it was there
a moment ago
her clothes hide
the shoes hide
not there now

Tuesday, June 12, 2012

A William Carlos Williams Poem


It Is A Small Plant

  It is a small plant
delicately branched and
tapering conically
to a point, each branch
and the peak a wire for
green pods, blind lanterns
starting upward from
the stalk each way to
a pair of prickly edged blue
flowerets: it is her regard,
a little plant without leaves,
a finished thing guarding
its secret. Blue eyes—
but there are twenty looks
in one, alike as forty flowers
on twenty stems—Blue eyes
a little closed upon a wish
achieved and half lost again,
stemming back, garlanded
with green sacks of
satisfaction gone to seed,
back to a straight stem—if
one looks into you, trumpets—!
No. It is the pale hollow of
desire itself counting
over and over the moneys of
a stale achievement. Three
small lavender imploring tips
below and above them two
slender colored arrows
of disdain with anthers
between them and
at the edge of the goblet
a white lip, to drink from—!
And summer lifts her look
forty times over, forty times


Monday, June 11, 2012

An Anselm Berrigan Poem


Poem For Circulation

Things surrounding things
fill my Wicked Tuna grid

heart with a swishy austerity-like
intention. I cut my post-fleshy

forearms & bleed a serious parallel
echo chamber reading everything

to approve of nothing. I massage 
my anterior cruciate ligaments

to celebrate a hard won royal flush.
This mind is slick-like and easy-like

and music-like and gesture-like
and, as I am the dappled heathen

you've been given internal permission
to dismiss from your sacrosanct

barricades and bounty systems,
coy, and shit-like. A second first-person

recapitulation does not defiantly
buy shape rightly here. Sane

continuity is your trashy blues
making progress out of heart's lack.

How should I know you're not
there bleeding, respectably

to conclude a moist relentment
and make my evil labors clear?


Sunday, June 10, 2012

POEM: "All Summer In A Day"

All Summer In A Day

Parade of fading dreams
see the children etched in
acid treatment of school-bags
bosses sigh already know
their recruits are unready
though Eleanor may demur
still playing at the seaside
left at the edge of the world
to taste the fire and the pity
to learn that the starfish
is neither fish nor star
& every day changes a little.

© 2012 Rob Schackne

Friday, June 8, 2012

An A. Van Jordan Poem


Old Boy
         (Park Chan-Wook, 2003)

If one rainy night you find yourself
leaving a phone booth, and you meet a man
with a lavender umbrella, resist
your desire to follow him, to seek
shelter from the night in his solace.
Later, don't fall victim to the Hypnotist's
narcotic of clarity, which proves
a curare for the heart; her salve
is merely a bandage, under which memories 
pulse. Resist the taste for something still 
alive for your first meal; resist the craving 
for the touch of a hand from your past. 
We live some memories,
and some memories are planted. There's
only so much space for the truth
and the fabrications to spread out 
in one's mind. When there's no more 
space, we grow desperate. You'll ask 
if practicing love for years in your mind, 
prepares you for the moment,
if practicing to defend one's life
is the same as living? You'll
hole up, captive, in a hotel room
for fifteen years and learn to find
a man within you, which will prove 
a painful introduction to the trance
into which you were born. Better
to stay under the spell of your guilt,
than to forget; you've already released
your pain onto the world; don't believe
there's some joy in forgetting. 
There's no joy in the struggle to forget. 
And what appears as an endless verdant field, 
only spreads across a building's rooftop;
your peaceful sleep could be a fetal position,
which secures you in a suitcase in this field. 
A bell rings, and you fall out of this luggage 
like clothes you no longer fit. Now what to do?
You remember when you were the man
who fit those clothes, but you've forgotten this 
world. Even forgotten scenes from your life, 
leave shadows of the memory,
haunting your spirit 
until, within a moment's glance,
strangers passing you on the street,
observe history in your eyes. Experience
lingers through acts of forgetting, 
small acts of love or trauma 
falling from the same place. Whether
memory comes in the form of a stone
or a grain of sand, they both sink in water.
A tongue—even if it were, say, sworn 
to secrecy; or if it were cut from one's mouth;
yes, even without a mouth to envelop 
its truth—the tongue continues to confess.


Wednesday, June 6, 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.


Monday, June 4, 2012

POEM: "The Phrases (II)"

The Phrases (II)

The honest sentiment, the romantic
& pure sound you chased all your life

Miles said Don’t waste any phrases
You want key changes & discord

How could she say Don’t waste my time

When she really meant Give me your best

(But given the stakes, how could
She even know what she said?)

Around you the invisible senses swarm
Occasionally one is a fly on your skin

You revisit all the times you wasted
The lights change colour. You cross.

© 2012 Rob Schackne