Saturday, February 22, 2014

A Patty Seyburn Poem

The Alphabetizer Speaks

I have my reasons

have never known starvation nor plenitude
and unless the order of the world
changes, I won’t.
If the order of the world changes, I will
disappear, the way some vowels
elide into their word-bodies
or an individual blade recedes
into a field each season.

Will my daughter carry on this way?
I cannot yet tell her qualities—
if she prefers scale to chance, sequence to random.
And this may mean nothing.
I find chaos theory appealing, and eavesdrop on talk
of black holes, chasms, any abyss
that fetters sense. I relish
the desultory in many matters,
am slovenly, a slacker, a slave to caprice.
Except with the letters.

There is such thing as a calling
though I cannot speak for prophets or martyrs.
I have been summoned
by people of stature and the low-stationed,
comrade and debutante alike.
My eyes suffer, and my hands, my back.

I am my profession. It is no whim.
I do not want the world a certain way.
The world is that way, and I am a vehicle
on the road of nomenclature. I tend the road.

In my dream, all events coterminous—
no linear narrative, preceding or next.
The odd vignette, lone scene, an image
in isolation, no neighbors.
Then I awaken and pace
my thin balcony, calculating
how much of me waits above, how much
lives below, and I pose
the question of balance. My name
cues the turn home.


Friday, February 21, 2014

A Gottfried Benn Poem

This is Bad

Someone hands you an English thriller,
highly recommended.
You don’t read English

You’ve worked up a thirst
for something you can’t afford.

You have deep insights,
brand new, and they sound
like an academic glossing Holderlin.

You hear the waves at night
ramping against the shore
and you think: that’s what waves do.

Worse: you’re asked out
when at home you get better coffee,
silence, and you don’t expect to be amused.

Awful: not to die in summer
under a bright sky
when the rich dirt
falls easily from the shovel.

Ca. 1950 (Tr. Harvey Shapiro)

Thursday, February 20, 2014

POEM: "Jenny Ducati"

Jenny Ducati

Riding her electric bicycle
in Siberian winter wind
delivering food to Apt. 309
graceful tall and gentle
she dreams of a red Ducati
(bitter brings you nothing)
leaning low on the curves
black suit gleaming helmet
burning high on the crest of hills
perfect weightless moment
sometimes she even races.

                                      Shanghai (Year of the Snake)

© 2014 Rob Schackne

Tuesday, February 18, 2014

POEM: "Goodbye LV"

Goodbye LV

               They do not know how one paysthose abroad do not know.
               They do not know what one buys, and at what price.

               Czesław Miłosz (1953)

Suppose I just pitch it
over the that

beyond the floating curtains
past the toys on the table

Mustard seeds of grace
which everless we don't see

(all the foolish deviations
taking a long beating)

Buddha smoking something
congrats it looks like a joint
his argument is sustainable
but his method alas is extreme

I watch the wearied ones
down their rows of grease
gathering up their secrets
of a hundred traces of life

The queues are getting longer
starbucks is open for Miles Davis
vulture peak flies in from India
enlightenment is a foot away

Mid-autumn festival is over
unsold full-moon half-moon off
I don't know where China is
baby I live here in China.

© 2012 Rob Schackne

Sunday, February 16, 2014

POEM: "Stories"


All the stories that it tells
Shaking a common umbrella out
The slant of his head the hand
Shook so badly after the accident
That would not let go the bed
Where the best of them was made

A man waiting to cross the road
Sees his eyes glance up the sky
Where someone waited for him once
Who now is part of another heaven
A tree three sweet birds a rainbow
Where the grass is much greener stop

A toddler already festooned with
Red balloons goes after just one more
Learning the measure of passion
A mother who ignores his noises
Ignored her own once upon a time
Now makes up stories in her head

He sits down as oddly as he will
His body whispers things to him
About the door the table the glasses
When the fire jumped across their line
And they heard the Devil’s fierce music
And they were very lucky to get out.

© 2014 Rob Schackne

Wednesday, February 12, 2014

Otto Dix, "Portrait of the Journalist Sylvia von Harden" (1926); POEM: "Portrait Of A Jailed Man"

File:Otto Dix Sy von Harden.jpg

Portrait Of A Jailed Man

Too sudden into a dirty cell
(The charge was separatism)

Tea leaves that blinded him
Left to recant the sunshine

Hands blooded on sharp work
If sleep comes he dare not wake
When Death comes he will sleep
Bullied and pushed by dreams

Last night the girl came again
Dressed for a painted festival
She led him to the river bank
(The charge was dereliction)

In the coolness she stood quiet
And she pointed to the sunset
At how he was disappearing
And what was leaving him forever

Shoved into the muddy river
He raised a shining dagger
He plunged the self-portrait in
The river rolled by as it always did

The picture was unchanging
(The charge was cooperation)

His heart would not stop beating
It was unconscionable neglect

The prisoner awoke in sweat

In faith or in fear trembling
In a language that wasn’t clear
(The charge was extreme poverty)

He remembers the villagers
Sighing for the big day one day
And sitting down with informers
Who swore they'd never tell.

© 2004/2015 Rob Schackne

Saturday, February 8, 2014

POEM: "Freedom without order does not exist"

Freedom Without Order Does Not Exist

Hell is hands without feet
Order, order, I want to order

Freedom is there taking a nap
Lord it all went hell for leather

Fools the same as you and me
Hell is balls without a band

A sunset for once the autistic see
5 years since you were translated

Some jungle shit but wait a bit
The monkeys, they all come down.

© 2014 Rob Schackne

Wednesday, February 5, 2014

POEM: "1-2-3 Roswell"

1-2-3 Roswell
                              for Felix Baumgartner

I don’t really know you
or the variety of ways
any of us can fall falling
or really any more than
that thing about the angels
up by the recurve of earth
forgetting this quiet abyss

in a speed of dark descent
just there seconds ago boom
telling so small from above
blue sky clouds white cells
long field watching your step
balloon helmet pressure suit

one of the other ends of a long day
faced with a blank of possibility

like going into the snowy night.

© 2012 Rob Schackne

Saturday, February 1, 2014

POEM: "You Don't Hear a Silent Invocation"

You Don't Hear a Silent Invocation 

I.  Midnight

Sinkhole cave-in water
in flame gas darkness
between wall and hope
the railway incidental
maybe an angel guard
two flags a red & blue
a quick decision then
I raise a glass tonight
to the invisible good
two minutes before
the mud month ends
on this water snake year
most grateful I imagine
things that didn't happen.

II.  3 A.M.

Yet the world works
the winds slamming
midnight ruckus
on protuberant tins
sheets and awnings
howling whistling
the winds are gusting
they speak so swirly
words that sound like
causative derivative
ad hominem inter alia
verum casus fortuitus

the hope & shit of sorrows
the bang of everything
not nailed down.

© 2013 Rob Schackne