Sunday, November 17, 2013

POEM: "Là-bas Bleu"

Là-bas Bleu

Across the fields 
come the goatherds
shouting about some

new way of reading
the Bible, the Qu'ran 
the Book Of The Dead
their willingness to call
one length of desire
the concentrated picture
and they who will not
turn a difficult page
who will screw their 
faces at fiendish words
these same words)
want to sit me down 
but time (and pain) 
isn't a poet's problem
everything is the problem
why just last week when
I put the question to them
they laughed and laughed 
they gave me more wine
they screamed at me it's
only the wind at the window
look out for fuckin' eagles
but watch your own feet.

© 2013 Rob Schackne

Tuesday, November 12, 2013

POEM: "Selah"


An unlucky jump wasn't to blame
there was hope of getting back over
an insert with no supply line except
imagine braids with no central column
her hair beautiful body with no head
nothing there for as long as you could
walk over the silly weeks on the frontier
dry sky the wet ground the vibrations
remembering I finally found the head
how close it almost made me tired.

© 2013 Rob Schackne

Monday, November 11, 2013

A Bruce Weigl Poem

Song Of Napalm

                                             for my wife

After the storm, after the rain stopped pounding, 
We stood in the doorway watching horses
Walk off lazily across the pasture’s hill.
We stared through the black screen,
Our vision altered by the distance
So I thought I saw a mist
Kicked up around their hooves when they faded
Like cut-out horses
Away from us.
The grass was never more blue in that light, more
Scarlet; beyond the pasture
Trees scraped their voices into the wind, branches
Crisscrossed the sky like barbed wire
But you said they were only branches.

Okay. The storm stopped pounding.
I am trying to say this straight: for once
I was sane enough to pause and breathe
Outside my wild plans and after the hard rain
I turned my back on the old curses. I believed
They swung finally away from me...

But still the branches are wire
And thunder is the pounding mortar,
Still I close my eyes and see the girl
Running from her village, napalm
Stuck to her dress like jelly,
Her hands reaching for the no one
Who waits in waves of heat before her.

So I can keep on living,
So I can stay here beside you,
I try to imagine she runs down the road and wings
Beat inside her until she rises
Above the stinking jungle and her pain
Eases, and your pain, and mine.

But the lie swings back again.
The lie works only as long as it takes to speak
And the girl runs only as far
As the napalm allows
Until her burning tendons and crackling
Muscles draw her up
into that final position

Burning bodies so perfectly assume. Nothing
Can change that; she is burned behind my eyes
And not your good love and not the rain-swept air
And not the jungle green
Pasture unfolding before us can deny it.


Sunday, November 10, 2013

POEM: "A Pale Blue Dress"

A Pale Blue Dress

I can't believe that I thought I knew
she was smart, as smart as I pictured her
putting the shining wash on a white line
watering the plants, sprinkling the chickens
in a pale blue dress with no underwear --
come to bed at night with only a sexy moan.
OK. Erase that likeness. She was plenty smart.
Proud house plants wilted under the stress
and the chickens all one day fled for the trees.
The underwear was wrapped three times around.
OK. She was smart enough to hide her feelings.
She sprinkled me enough that I climbed away
while I believed she was smart. OK. Not that.
I believed I was smart to know when a blue dress
looks like it should come off it sometimes doesn't.
Hiding my feelings about that makes me smart.
Scotch that. It makes me almost smart enough
to read a pale blue dress, so well, so well.

© 2010 Rob Schackne

Wednesday, November 6, 2013

An Adrienne Rich Poem

Stepping Backward

Good-by to you whom I shall see tomorrow,
Next year and when I'm fifty; still good-by.
This is the leave we never really take.
If you were dead or gone to live in China
The event might draw your stature in my mind.
I should be forced to look upon you whole
The way we look upon the things we lose.
We see each other daily and in segments;
Parting might make us meet anew, entire.

You asked me once, and I could give no answer,
How far dare we throw off the daily ruse,
Official treacheries of face and name,
Have out our true identity? I could hazard
An answer now, if you are asking still.
We are a small and lonely human race
Showing no sign of mastering solitude
Out on this stony planet that we farm.
The most that we can do for one another
Is let our blunders and our blind mischances
Argue a certain brusque abrupt compassion.
We might as well be truthful. I should say
They're luckiest who know they're not unique;
But only art or common interchange
Can teach that kindest truth. And even art
Can only hint at what disturbed a Melville
Or calmed a Mahler's frenzy; you and I
Still look from separate windows every morning
Upon the same white daylight in the square.

And when we come into each other's rooms
Once in awhile, encumbered and self-conscious,
We hover awkwardly about the threshold
And usually regret the visit later.
Perhaps the harshest fact is, only lovers--
And once in a while two with the grace of lovers--
Unlearn that clumsiness of rare intrusion
And let each other freely come and go.
Most of us shut too quickly into cupboards
The margin-scribbled books, the dried geranium,
The penny horoscope, letters never mailed.
The door may open, but the room is altered;
Not the same room we look from night and day.

It takes a late and slowly blooming wisdom
To learn that those we marked infallible
Are tragi-comic stumblers like ourselves.
The knowledge breeds reserve. We walk on tiptoe,
Demanding more than we know how to render.
Two-edged discovery hunts us finally down;
The human act will make us real again,
And then perhaps we come to know each other.

Let us return to imperfection's school.
No longer wandering after Plato's ghost,
Seeking the garden where all fruit is flawless,
We must at last renounce that ultimate blue
And take a walk in other kinds of weather.
The sourest apple makes its wry announcement
That imperfection has a certain tang.
Maybe we shouldn't turn our pockets out
To the last crumb or lingering bit of fluff,
But all we can confess of what we are
Has in it the defeat of isolation--
If not our own, then someone's, anyway.

So I come back to saying this good-by,
A sort of ceremony of my own,
This stepping backward for another glance.
Perhaps you'll say we need no ceremony,
Because we know each other, crack and flaw,
Like two irregular stones that fit together.
Yet still good-by, because we live by inches
And only sometimes see the full dimension.
Your stature's one I want to memorize--
Your whole level of being, to impose
On any other comers, man or woman.
I'd ask them that they carry what they are
With your particular bearing, as you wear
The flaws that make you both yourself and human.