Friday, July 26, 2013

POEM: "Guess What The Fucking Title Is"

Guess What The Fucking Title Is

Seismologists listen to a volcano
Screaming in Alaska, you jump in
And scream anthropomorphism
You scream the most pathetic fallacy
Meanwhile the cars and jack-hammers
Are all screaming, Listen! Listen!
I scream my secrets in your tender ear
You scream that you listen carefully
The passing clouds float overhead
A jet-fighter screams to its destination
I am listening as well as I can listen

Something in my kitchen is screaming
Some of this poem is screaming.

© 2013 Rob Schackne

Thursday, July 25, 2013

POEM: "While The Clouds Blow In From The South"

While The Clouds Blow In From The South

Inner Mongolia or Nei Menggu
shares an international border
with Mongolia (of course) and Siberian Russia
it stretches almost two and a half thousand kilometres
and Shaanxi province lies just beneath it where
three million farmers will face urban relocation
where it happens that a shining woman
I'm starting to love a little comes from
(yes, Virginia, it's on the fabled Silk Road 
and yes I have "guessed at the layers of her face")
although I know today’s easy trading
comes from another furious direction
only now I'm forced (again) to consider
to whose greater detriment it will be
if ever we crossed those long borders
how we would ever walk such a distance.

© 2013 Rob Schackne

Tuesday, July 23, 2013

POEM: "When I Paint My Monster Piece"

When I Paint My Monster Piece

She tells me
that her beauty
is fading fast
she needs men
to buy her stuff
well shit I say

suan tian ku la
show me more
tell the story
a 30% chance
that you’re wrong
a 60% chance
you’ll tell me
how you gathered
so much pain
(no answer there)
then she said
all our life
we look but
we can’t see
just like me
I’d like to say
20 years later
we are married
but we’re not.

("Suan tian ku la" is a popular Chinese saying that means "sour, sweet, bitter, spicy" — i.e. the 4 principal Chinese food classifiers.)

© 2013 Rob Schackne

Monday, July 22, 2013

An Emily Skillings Poem


I held my canary out for you when you said your canary felt a little droopy.
Your canary was a ruby drop in my frosty glass of canary.
The canary between us grew for many days.
I wanted to fight the canary, but you held me back.
The officer shot the unarmed canary on a canary I used to walk down every day.
When you touched the canary underneath my knee, a balloon filled with canary in
        an eastern corner.
The sound of unmarked canaries overhead frightened the rural hospital.
The president has never commented publicly on the controversial canary program.
Can you remember where that canary was that we tried so many years ago?
Oh, that canary feels so good—just like that.
The canaries carry electricity to our houses in even smaller canaries.
When the activists passed out yellow canaries I took one and read it.
A canary is born every 8 seconds.
I log onto the large canary to check how my canary is faring.
When I go to the supermarket, I check the codes on the canaries to make sure they are 
       not genetically modified canaries.
Many canaries suffer.
She pressed a thumb into my muscle and all the canary was released into me.
When I went outside I saw the sky. It was filled with canary.
You held the canary up to my face. You vibrated the canary at a new frequency.
You said the best time for canaries was 11:30 am.


Sunday, July 21, 2013

A Bruce Snider Poem


I wake to leafless vines and muddy fields,
patches of standing water. His pocketknife

waits in my dresser drawer, still able to gut fish.
I pick up his green shirt, put it on for the fourth day

in a row. Outside, the rusty nail he hammered
catches me, leaves its stain on everything.

The temperature drops, the whole shore
filling with him: his dented chew can, waders,

the cattails kinked, bowing their distress.
At the pier, I use his old pliers to ready the line:

fatheads, darters, a blood worm jig. Today, the lake’s
one truth is hardness. When the trout bite,

I pull the serviceable things glistening into air.


Wednesday, July 17, 2013

An Alfred, Lord Tennyson Poem

From "Maud" (Part I, XXII, 10)

There has fallen a splendid tear
   From the passion-flower at the gate.
She is coming, my dove, my dear;
   She is coming, my life, my fate.
The red rose cries, "She is near, she is near;"
   And the white rose weeps, "She is late;"
The larkspur listens, "I hear, I hear;"
   And the lily whispers, "I wait."


From Jerome K. Jerome's "Three Men In A Boat"

It was a glorious night. The moon had sunk, and left the quiet earth alone with the stars. It seemed as if, in the silence and the hush, while we her children slept, they were talking with her, their sister – conversing of mighty mysteries in voices too vast and deep for childish human ears to catch the sound.

They awe us, these strange stars, so cold, so clear. We are as children whose small feet have strayed into some dim-lit temple of the god they have been taught to worship but know not; and, standing where the echoing dome spans the long vista of the shadowy light, glance up, half hoping, half afraid to see some awful vision hovering there.

And yet it seems so full of comfort and of strength, the night. In its great presence, our small sorrows creep away, ashamed. The day has been so full of fret and care, and our hearts have been so full of evil and of bitter thoughts, and the world has seemed so hard and wrong to us. Then Night, like some great loving mother, gently lays her hand upon our fevered head, and turns our little tear-stained faces up to hers, and smiles; and, though she does not speak, we know what she would say, and lay our hot flushed cheek against her bosom, and the pain is gone.

Sometimes, our pain is very deep and real, and we stand before her very silent, because there is no language for our pain, only a moan. Night’s heart is full of pity for us: she cannot ease our aching; she takes our hand in hers, and the little world grows very small and very far away beneath us, and, borne on her dark wings, we pass for a moment into a mightier Presence than her own, and in the wondrous light of that great Presence, all human life lies like a book before us, and we know that Pain and Sorrow are but the angels of God.

Only those who have worn the crown of suffering can look upon that wondrous light; and they, when they return, may not speak of it, or tell the mystery they know.

Once upon a time, through a strange country, there rode some goodly knights, and their path lay by a deep wood, where tangled briars grew very thick and strong, and tore the flesh of them that lost their way therein. And the leaves of the trees that grew in the wood were very dark and thick, so that no ray of light came through the branches to lighten the gloom and sadness.

And, as they passed by that dark wood, one knight of those that rode, missing his comrades, wandered far away, and returned to them no more; and they, sorely grieving, rode on without him, mourning him as one dead.

Now, when they reached the fair castle towards which they had been journeying, they stayed there many days, and made merry; and one night, as they sat in cheerful ease around the logs that burned in the great hall, and drank a loving measure, there came the comrade they had lost, and greeted them. His clothes were ragged, like a beggar’s, and many sad wounds were on his sweet flesh, but upon his face there shone a great radiance of deep joy.

And they questioned him, asking him what had befallen him: and he told them how in the dark wood he had lost his way, and had wandered many days and nights, till, torn and bleeding, he had lain him down to die.

Then, when he was nigh unto death, lo! through the savage gloom there came to him a stately maiden, and took him by the hand and led him on through devious paths, unknown to any man, until upon the darkness of the wood there dawned a light such as the light of day was unto but as a little lamp unto the sun; and, in that wondrous light, our way-worn knight saw as in a dream a vision, and so glorious, so fair the vision seemed, that of his bleeding wounds he thought no more, but stood as one entranced, whose joy is deep as is the sea, whereof no man can tell the depth.

And the vision faded, and the knight, kneeling upon the ground, thanked the good saint who into that sad wood had strayed his steps, so he had seen the vision that lay there hid.

And the name of the dark forest was Sorrow; but of the vision that the good knight saw therein we may not speak nor tell.


Monday, July 15, 2013

A Ravi Shankar Poem

Ravi Shankar. Photo by Adriane Colburn

An Unverifiable Theorem

The gun once introduced must be forgotten
because its snub-nose gives a pocket the weight
of syllogism: no posthumous event can affect us.

Or, say, after it occurs, death cannot affect us:
it’s impossible to imagine what we have forgotten
when who we were no longer has any real weight.

Stripped of consciousness a body has the weight
of water evaporating from a lake: breath leaving us.
Once introduced the gun cannot be forgotten.

The weight of the forgotten: not what leaves us.


A Harry Mathews Story

Observations Of A Crab

Inside her, blood began to flow. Herbert's reflexes had thrust his fat buttocks hard into her belly at the same instant that the stump of duck thigh he had swallowed was ejected like a slung stone from his windpipe--its lodging there had been what prompted Amandine to leap behind him and vigorously administer the ever-reliable Heimlich maneuver.

Herbert had attracted her attention as soon as he and his wife, Marsha, began ordering their meal, he speaking with a stutter like a pneumatic drill, she with a lisp that suggested a woolen gag: a counterpoint of sounds that Amandine found positively fascinating, quite unlike the impression they had made upon entering--just another overweight American couple.

Dorothée had just been telling her to abandon the object of her obsessive worrying. Colette had previously recommended email, Béatrice the telephone. Amandine had not told them she was pregnant, she explained her unfeigned anxiety by the fact that more than two weeks had already passed since she had been promised a letter and none had arrived. The man had returned to America at the end of his tourist's stay, during which he had engaged with her in a passionate affair. Amandine had decided to tell Béatrice, Colette, and Dorothée about it, since they were all friends and, as such, had met at this bistrot on the Left Bank; one which, incidentally, I am happy to recommend: Aux Fins Gourmets, 213, boulevard Saint-Germain, tel. 01 42 22 06 57.


Sunday, July 14, 2013

An Adam O. Davis Poem


What Blues?

Horseflies hunt in the hockshop, heel
like hinges and rest like rust when dead.

They sting despite antidote, despite
aspirin, and give themselves so gladly

to every inevitable end. At this hour dust
is called for. Call it quick. The horseflies

have stung their last. In back, the blind
man’s saxophone is a sorry mess of brass

surrounded by a horoscope of household
appliances. Accordions resigned to the conspiracy

of cobwebs. Wedding rings and handguns,
comic books and collectible plates.

Dead horseflies, lucky horseshoes, defanged
hand grenades. How lost are the least of us?

In time, a bottle brings the blizzard. Ask after
an infirmary for the frostbitten. Ask another

three bars of brass, barely played in a place
where every mouth is a purse of smoke.

Someone asks for a kiss. The night
is a cash register that doesn’t know when to quit.