Wednesday, December 18, 2013

POEM: "Greetings from Shanghai"

Greetings from Shanghai

                                               for Ron Slate

It seems we all write different stuff
That is, we process mostly the same
Stuff, but we process it differently
Let’s start this again…for le mot juste
I’ll give up food, sleep, a warm body
Lying sleeping but willing next to me
Money, health, my comfort, husbandry
Probably some other startling things
Like liberation from craving or wisdom
Or what passes today for modern sanity
I wouldn’t kill for it (I don’t think so)
Although given my human track record
Some people might disagree with that
About this need to make sense of a life
After long darkness the light flooding in
When we fool ourselves that we’re surprised
By all the justice, forbearance, and peace.

© 2013 Rob Schackne

Tuesday, December 17, 2013

A Chris Mansell Poem

The Hands Of Adonis


He smooths his hands along
her body and softly speaks
her name, Kristina, Kristina-mou.
She likes it even though it’s
not her own, ordinary, name.
She asks him to say in Greek:
If butterflies could speak,
they would speak Greek

and, when he says it, it sounds like
his mouth is stuffed with wings.

Tell me about the eagle, she says and
he tells her, again, in Greek, about the eagle
falling from the sky, his pain, his pleasure.
She tries to wrap her mind around
the sounds she cannot understand.

She knows the eagle is him.
When he holds her and whispers
these sounds in her ears she could stay
forever suspended in these wisps of words.

His English is perfect. He knows
the deep inflections of Bloke,
the subtle declensions of Don’t
Hurt Me, the various dialects of
Come Here, Come Close and
Stay Away. She struggles
with this language. His first
language, he tells her, is touch.
His hands are broad and strong;
his skin so smooth she thinks
he and she are newborn.
He speaks with his fingers. He takes
her body, humming with
whatever was near. She is too
overstrung, he says. She thinks
too much, he says. She disagrees
and talks at length about it.

He is clever, but his first language
is touch and he’s unwilling to speak.
In the end he will use words to say
Come, let me show you I love you.
And he does; he holds her close,
folds her in. She knows then
those strong arms, those strong
shoulders could harm her if he chose.
She thought that he and she were equals
but he could kill her with a blow. He
grasps her neck and she knows
this is touch at quarter strength.
They’ll part, but there’s a rift
they’ll fight to keep. A pain worth having.

Already she remembers being lost
in his body, smooth and strong.
He doesn’t know he is water,
she stone. He runs his hands over her body,
knots his fingers in her hair, kisses
her throat. On the last day and night,
she loves him to grief, each last touch,
each last kiss makes the air clamorous.
She knows what words
he will say: It’s okay. It’s done, but
his hands say otherwise, say,
Keep me, love me, and she can’t stay.

These words make paradise
impossible. She has grown used
to love, Adonis is not enough—
some crevice of heart-talk is unexplained.


Adonis will watch her go. He will
stand on the kerb and watch her
leave him one last time. This is
what happens with women. You
love them, even secretly, and they go.
No matter how many times he said
it wouldn’t happen, that he didn’t care,
no matter how hard he tried to choose,
he came out losing. They leave you
standing in the damned cold June wind.
It should be spring and nearly summer.
He should be standing on an island
somewhere north. There should be light,
but it’s his turn, somehow, to be locked
in the dark. He’s controlled and beautiful
and his mind is a fist. There is nothing left
but to do what has to be done. This is not
the life he had imagined. One day he’ll get
out. One day. He is counting
the days until he doesn’t know
what. Until he is not himself: father, lover,
son. Kristina told him the future’s now
and then pissed off. Some future.
Some now and when he walks upstairs
the apartment is emptier than before.
He turns the music up and gets out
the golf gear. He laces his shoes
and sees that he is crying and tells himself
it’s the cold that makes him sniffle like a girl.
The universe is clanging; the gods
and their daughters are slamming doors.


Sunday, December 15, 2013

A Bruce Bond Poem

The Delta

If you are going there by foot, prepare
to get wet. You are not you anymore.

You are a girl standing in a pool
of clouds as they catch fire in the distance.

There are laws of heaven and those of place
and those who see the sky in the water,

angels in ashes that are the delta’s now.
They say if you sweep the trash from your house

after dark, you sweep away your luck.
If you are going by foot, bring a stick,

a third leg, and honor the great disorder,
the great broom of waterfowl and songbirds.

Prepare to voodoo your way, best you can,
knowing there is a little water in things

you take for granted, a little charity
and squalor for the smallest forms of life.

Voodoo was always mostly charity.
People forget. If you shake a tablecloth

outside at night, someone in your family
dies. There are laws we make thinking

it was us who made them. We are not us.
We are a floodplain by the Mississippi

that once poured slaves upriver to the fields.
We are a hurricane in the making.

We could use a magus who knows something
about suffering, who knows a delta’s needs.

We understand if you want a widow
to stay single, cut up her husband’s shoes.

He is not himself anyway and walks
barefoot across a landscape that has no north.

Only a ghost tree here and there, a frog,
a cricket, a bird. And if the fates are kind,

a girl with a stick, who is more at home,
being homeless, than you will ever be.


Saturday, December 14, 2013

A Kazim Ali Poem (1)



Denuded and abandoned I recite
but what do I want

To rise again from the ocean
or be buried alive in the surge and sleep

To be a fearsome range in a single body
or to wind my unity down into depth

Missing in action, ghost-like
bobbing in the distance

Singing psalms to terrify myself
into deciding:

So long liberation

My time in the world was
only a gesture

My body a lonely

an ache
I never knew


Tuesday, December 10, 2013

POEM: "One to Nothing Else"

One to Nothing Else

Round the corner the beat pyramid
The boys are hiding in a field of reeds
Whispering about the slavers and the whips

At the nearest village get some clothes
Blend in and learn their bloody language
(They say this they say other foolish things)

Well we’re fit says one look the muscles
Gruel once a day another shakes his head
Spilled our hearts out they didn't pay us

Diminuated by servitude gone by sunset
Then early to rise the shouting and sticks
Bloody pyramids stuck up like dominoes

Never kiss your dear old mother again
Had a picture of her when she was my age
Tattooed on my back I remember how it hurt

Avoid al-Mokattam that valley of bones
A snake will put a fast end to your moaning
Stay out of the villages better head for the hills

It's rabbits you can't catch just dust
Blocks and sledges and ropes I hate it
Captured years ago can't stop shaking.

© 2013 Rob Schackne