Friday, February 22, 2013

POEM: "Kodachrome (1974-2009)"

Kodachrome (1974-2009)

                                Er hat den Knaben wohl in dem Arm,

                                Er faßt ihn sicher, er hält ihn warm.

                                Goethe (1782)

Now that Kodachrome is dead
Will such fine exceptionalism
Be called into the station because
No one can find the film they need
Is it stored someplace did you sell it?
The police are interrogating you
(The sweat dripping from them)
Getting hit a few times in the head
Confess there was once a project
Conceived late at night in a shack
A green man lots of empty poems
Who didn’t know atoms from Adam
Whose one simple moment wanted you
To take that picture then you waited
Waited forty years for it to fade.

© 2012 Rob Schackne

Thursday, February 21, 2013

A Vasko Popa Poem

Little Box

The little box gets her first teeth
And her little length
Little width little emptiness
And all the rest she has

The little box continues growing
The cupboard that she was inside
Is now inside her

And she grows bigger bigger bigger
Now the room is inside her
And the house and the city and the earth
And the world she was in before

The little box remembers her childhood
And by a great longing
She becomes a little box again

Now in the little box
You have the whole world in miniature
You can easily put in a pocket
Easily steal it lose it

Take care of the little box

Tr. Charles Simic

Monday, February 18, 2013

POEM: "So She Like Gets This Letter From Her Dad Like 6 Months After Her Birthday"

So She Like Gets This Letter From Her Dad Like 6 Months After Her Birthday


My dearest Julie, 
Did you ever get that drawing I sent you? Pretty good, wasn't it? 

A thousand light-years from here I climbed to the rim of Yasur volcano 
on Tanna in Vanuatu and I peered down into its awful fire. I looked down 
at my feet there was a red Coke can. I saw a postcard someone had dropped. 
I picked it up. A terrific photo of some very severe ice-covered mountains. 
On the other side was written But what you don't like where you are
you won't like here even more. Only this. I wish it had been sent to me. 
Today they showed us the film A Scanner Darkly. Check it out. 
It's about addiction and prevarication. Everybody's itch has everybody 
doing it. Tell your mother it's just about photography. There in one scene
our addled heroes car has broken down on this shitty California highway. 
They lift the hood. They are peering at the hot engine busy studying it doing 
their best to clamor and convict a mechanical part of intentional malice. 
Finally exhausting all paranoid leads one shouts Don't blame the drugs! 
Which was the moment all of us had been waiting for. So we cheered. 
Afterwards we discussed the million drugs. For what? The old beaters 
we drove? The hunger for explanations beyond the conventional wisdom? 

Hope the 12th grade is OK & you're making friends with good people. 
Happy birthday. 

© 2011 Rob Schackne

Sunday, February 17, 2013

A Ronnie Yates Poem

New Smyrna, Florida

She waits in the jungle beside a dirt road
Dead ends into Turnbull Bay, pelicans,
Skeets, close heat, no-see-ums, armadillos
Scratching in the dead leaves beneath the poison-tip
Blades of the killer fans of the yucca gloriosa. Headlights
Ply the dust. Pulling himself out, blinking hard, no reason,
Presents himself to his fare, he’s a 50 something hillbilly skinny,
Damp hair, chews on the remains of a menthol smoker’s
Cough; a juiceless ghoul in a Members Only Jacket,
Gray socks, a blood sugar tester, driving a ‘90 88
In a 2 car fleet run out of a Locksmith’s shack.
She laughs, a little nervous, pictures centaurs assaulted
By ten million stars, dreams of Voltaire’s secular
Angels, a magical technology and fetal abductions. He starts
To wheeze, a vacuum of awkward pity opens up
And she goes weak in the knees. What happens next,
She tells it better. “I’ll do it if you want.” He couldn’t
Hear, she opened her mouth, he gave up only a little prod.
It was like an apology for how beautiful she was.


Friday, February 15, 2013

POEM: "Spleen I"

Spleen I 

Bless my heart and cross the street
through the gates of Puji Monastery
past the souvenir vendors and the seers
rent-a-cops beggars plastic Buddhas
thinking a complex faith is best left alone
it was my only meditation on the day but
that night I dreamt Guanyin was running too
breasted the surf in a fiery flower cap a champion
powering a hundred wondrous strokes and stopped
and bobbing in the waves turned and started
working her way slowly back to shore.

© 2013 Rob Schackne

Tuesday, February 12, 2013

POEM: "Spleen II"

Spleen II 

O spring streets comes the artist 
a pail of water and a large brush 
to draw his frustrated characters 
they dry the moment you read them 
dusk but hard to tell dark particulates 
closing hard with the invisible ink 
this is not the life you ordered 
these are not the epicurean streets
what has gone before is turned to rice
polaroid photos working in reverse
you reach a pale door without a poem 
in a city that is not long-shouldered 
that pushes points between our bodies 
shoves and turns shoulders to make way. 

© 2013 Rob Schackne 

Monday, February 11, 2013

POEM: "Spleen III"

Spleen III

The faces of Chinese women in anguish
           forced detentions
                 the razing of homes
the vanity of old men with dyed hair

the tether of foolishness
           already in opposition
                 at times the only way out 
sits quietly upon the stair

shoo away the temple rats
          (maybe pray away the time)
                 Guanyin please help us
fold these dumplings with extra care

some faces from the years I've lived there:


© 2013 Rob Schackne

Sunday, February 10, 2013

A Chris Wallace-Crabbe Poem

Chris Wallace-Crabbe


Not, please, this creeping elaborate pain
and not slow parody of how lives end,
nor policemen in mufti playing a dirty god,
not the stinking underside of Elsewhere,
regimes of colonels or generals or psychopaths,
not fascination with seeing just how far a body can be made to go
nor the treatment of survival as precisely equal to dying.

Please, not a battering on the door at three in the morning;
not, I'm afraid, you're going to have to come with me.
Not the large plain dull old car
waiting outside your door with motor grumbling
for the quick take-off,
nor the bareness of a shabby room with overbright lighting.
Not Them, moving in.

Certainly not having to take off your clothes;
water, the truncheon, the cold, the blaring, the slaps
and long standing still in one damned place,
not the prodded humiliation of your nudity,
clothed ones treating you as a slab of meat,
not the drawn-out thickness of questioning
and not the detumescence of hope.

Not the naked genitals like frightened mice,
not something hard inserted in the vagina,
not pints of liquid trickled down your throat,
not a bully's foul breath up against your face
as concentration goes,
not the pummelled phonebook against your guts
leaving no distinct bruises.

Not the electrodes.
Fuck, no, not the electrodes
and not your buttocks beaten, then beaten again,
not something pushed right up under your fingernails
nor a bloody gobbet hacked off your left ear –
which you are then going to be forced to eat.
Not weeks without food.

Bodies have been designed frail, by and large, by and small,
ready to be tormented and taken apart.
The shit may run down your cold legs.
You may die.
You will suffer and die.
You will survive, language holding some trace of you for years,
And the mourners, too.


Saturday, February 9, 2013

POEM: "Climbing Rock: A Meditation"

Climbing Rock: A Meditation

                                      .for the freaky mountain kids

Look along any line keep the light
any grip of angle know the hope

we are distracted

divine winds hum stand off don’t hug
first rule of salvation never hang from a rope

the subtle atomicities of evil

hold my cold flexed hand
maintain the grip on a winter day

where fear is not 

the summit is finally reached
days & nights they pass away 

the happy ending

evidence prominent 
witnesses numerous

the falcon circling us 

one will never say
I cannot do that 

old friend miraculous.

© 2013 Rob Schackne

Wednesday, February 6, 2013

POEM: "The Turn"

The Turn

You've been brave that way
no stopping in the tunnel

so Li'l Buck just danced today
won't you dance he was asking
but there's no need to answer that
sometimes bravery's just a sudden thing
now consider if you’re dancing high
in gunfire shelling or screams
when did you turn into wolf
smell of gun oil in your bed
the big swans dying from love?

© 2013 Rob Schackne

Tuesday, February 5, 2013

A Carolyn Kizer Poem

On a Line from Valéry (The Gulf War)

                            Tout le ciel vert se meurt
                            Le dernier arbre brûle.

The whole green sky is dying. The last tree flares 
With a great burst of supernatural rose 
Under a canopy of poisonous airs. 

Could we imagine our return to prayers 
To end in time before time's final throes, 
The green sky dying as the last tree flares? 

But we were young in judgement, old in years 
Who could make peace; but it was war we chose, 
To spread its canopy of poisoning airs. 

Not all our children's pleas and women's fears 
Could steer us from this hell. And now God knows 
His whole green sky is dying as it flares. 

Our crops of wheat have turned to fields of tares. 
This dreadful century staggers to its close 
And the sky dies for us, its poisoned heirs. 

All rain was dust. Its granules were our tears. 
Throats burst as universal winter rose 
To kill the whole green sky, the last tree bare 
Beneath its canopy of poisoned air.