Thursday, October 30, 2014

MUSIC: The Andrews Sisters & Bing Crosby, "Ac-cent-tchu-ate The Positive" (1944)

Sure he is. What? Just because you don't see him, you think he's not there? He's been sitting out there for days watching us. You don't mess with Mister In-Between. So, for all you stupids...keep low. Very low.

Monday, October 27, 2014

Sunday, October 26, 2014

POEM: "Three Gestures"

Three Gestures

I. Dharmacakra

The gesture of teaching
beyond a gesture of learning
and all my gaps, all that I forgot

By going where we have to go
this we see without the mirror
in the whiteouts and the sand

Crazy streets still grow wild weed
it's the contemplative mind, so best to
heed well the angle at deadly corners

So strange now the dirty deals we made
the twinge and the fidget and the snore
the life-span, the sweet rose and the sea

How to learn the perfect cup of tea
teach me to dance the broken arrow
and I will show you the broken step

II. Varada

A kitten was run over by a car
tonight it lay on the road crying
intestines strewn like sausages

Before I could crush her skull
she got up and licked her gore
then walked back over to the curb

Nighttime, a parade of people
crossing the perilous borders

begin their journeys of freedom

Probably died in the bushes
from her first true crossing
a kid, a plan, a nalpadika 

No walk for this in any language
no word can toy with compassion
we learn too late most of it is deadly

I wrap the story up and let it go
later seal it inside a diamond heart
and send this poem to the ones I love

III. Abhaya

How these days pass
the pillows are difficult
old speeches are regretted

Faces will carry faces
baskets within baskets
a foot in parallel worlds

A burning house next to
an insipid day at work
a Möbius twist of tracks 

Nature, it isn't feckless
sometimes rabbits wait 
for the big train to pass

Faces to faces watch
the mirrors cracking
waiting for the train to leave

Birds go search in the wind
an egg falls from the nest
an old lizard sucks it dry

Freedom is on the bend
now go, going home try
and practise courage

© 2014 Rob Schackne

Friday, October 24, 2014

An Allen Grossman Poem

The Piano Player Explains Himself

When the corpse revived at the funeral,
The outraged mourners killed it; and the soul
Of the revenant passed into the body
Of the poet because it had more to say.
He sat down at the piano no one could play
Called Messiah, or The Regulator of the World,
Which had stood for fifty years, to my knowledge,
Beneath a painting of a red-haired woman
In a loose gown with one bared breast, and played
A posthumous work of the composer S—
About the impotence of God (I believe)
Who has no power not to create everything.
It was the Autumn of the year and wet,
When the music started. The musician was
Skilful but the Messiah was out of tune
And bent the time and the tone. For a long hour
The poet played The Regulator of the World
As the spirit prompted, and entered upon
The pathways of His power - while the mourners
Stood with slow blood on their hands
Astonished by the weird processional
And the undertaker figured his bill.

    We have in mind an unplayed instrument
Which stands apart in a memorial air
Where the room darkens toward its inmost wall
And a lady hangs in her autumnal hair
At evening of the November rains; and winds
Sublime out of the North, and North by West,
Are sowing from the death-sack of the seed
The burden of her cloudy hip. Behold,
I send the demon I know to relieve your need,
An imperfect player at the perfect instrument
Who takes in hand The Regulator of the World
To keep the splendor from destroying us.
Lady! The last virtuoso of the composer S—
Darkens your parlor with the music of the Law.
When I was green and blossomed in the Spring
I was mute wood. Now I am dead I sing.


Tuesday, October 14, 2014

POEM: "The Sun Goes Down"

The Sun Goes Down

Dismal science isn’t economics
or accounting. It's mostly dreams
that skip fast under the setting sun.
The old birds wait for quiet enough
to breach the low horizon. They pass
beneath, sink down to get off free.

A definite article of serious wishes.
It's the serious accounting that excites
the dismal and hopeless. The sad are kept
low. Held up, their mouths set just right
they get it hopping crazy in the farmyard.
Three-legged dogs and deformed lambs.

The broken halters of horses run amok.
 sky gets higher, the moon is swelling.
These ancient roads only stand so much
till this precious, probable sundrian
stops the lessening and if it be wished
takes the nothings and spins them into light.

© 2014 Rob Schackne

Sunday, October 12, 2014

POEM: "How To Spend A Birthday"

How To Spend A Birthday

First find the ducks, and get them in a row
Then walk the line, look each one in the eye
Dismiss the distended and mildewed ones
Locate a good supply of water, and herd them
Towards their birthdays and listen to their joy
Give them some pork crackling as they emerge
Shaking feathers and preening (they are proud)
And by now they're following you everywhere
Little souls, their shit and feathers on the carpet
Into your library, the kitchen, even to the bedroom
Where of course you find them tonight, in autumn
In half a dream of water and half a dream of flight
How you toss and turn in how to spend a birthday
But it's good to have ducks, they are simple creatures
And nothing bothers them as long as you stay happy
And who studies mortality today sighs in pleasure.

© 2014 Rob Schackne

Drawing by Michael Leunig

Wednesday, October 8, 2014

POEM: "Recently A Fellow Poet Wrote"

Recently A Fellow Poet Wrote

Recently a fellow poet wrote:
Highjacked by a book of poems, I want
To know more about my captor. What
Has given rise to such intentions?

Diesel smack and smeared mirages
A searing mark under a damning sun
Off the track from an untargeted village
Safe enough for the story and the pics

Now, I don't want to know more about them
(I overstepped my bounds, they're very twitchy)
I want to know about my options to get free
And except for my camera, I'm unrifled
And except for my passport
I’m fucked.

© 2014 Rob Schackne

Tuesday, October 7, 2014

POEM: "Listening To Birds At Dawn"

Listening To Birds At Dawn

And the machinery we depend on
Lasts till we get where we’re going
Five minutes or five inches in reserve
Our heart pounds guessing we made it
(Five pounds more and we wouldn't have)
Hardly feeling five of the something less
Could crash this plane, could send us
Out of control, desperate, terrified;
Strange craft, the inefficiency by
Which the world runs fractured
As if the doors that barely close
Contained enough for long enough

That it all worked fine before the system
We almost had worked out, gave up.

© 2014 Rob Schackne

Sunday, October 5, 2014

A Jessica Greenbaum Poem

A Poem for S.

Because you used to leaf through the dictionary,
Casually, as someone might in a barber shop, and
Devotedly, as someone might in a sanctuary,
Each letter would still have your attention if not
For the responsibilities life has tightly fit, like
Gears around the cog of you, like so many petals
Hinged on a daisy. That's why I'll just use your
Initial. Do you know that in one treasured story, a
Jewish ancestor, horseback in the woods at Yom
Kippur, and stranded without a prayer book,
Looked into the darkness and realized he had
Merely to name the alphabet to ask forgiveness—
No congregation of figures needed, he could speak
One letter at a time because all of creation
Proceeded from those. He fed his horse, and then
Quietly, because it was from his heart, he
Recited them slowly, from aleph to tav. Within those
Sounds, all others were born, all manner of
Trials, actions, emotions, everything needed to
Understand who he was, had been, how flaws
Venerate the human being, how aspirations return
Without spite. Now for you, may your wife's
X-ray return with good news, may we raise our
Zarfs to both your names in the Great Book of Life.


Saturday, October 4, 2014

MUSIC: Japan, "Ghosts" (1982)

David Sylvian sings:

Just when I think I'm winning
When I've broken every door
The ghosts of my life
Blow wilder than before

Just when I thought I could not be stopped
When my chance came to be king
The ghosts of my life
Blew wilder than the wind

MUSIC: The Royalettes, "It's Gonna Take A Miracle" (1965)

I know, I know. That's not their real hair. This is the cheesiest clip you ever saw. Black and white sucks. They don't make music like this anymore. Now shut up.

Friday, October 3, 2014

WOODBLOCK PRINT: Yuko Shimizu (2014)

POEM: "Letter From My Apartment, Oct. 3, 2014"

Letter From My Apartment, Oct. 3, 2014

Love predates nationalities
Wind originates beyond the sky
Earth has water older than the sun

Still things will travel faster than light
(I could go on but you're grateful I won’t)
No one lives in caves though we might as well
A poem of white is no more the absence of colours
Than a poem of black includes them all forever
And though a red umbrella is small protection
Against the ravages of teargas in Hong Kong
A bottle of water applied to the eyes will help.

© 2014 Rob Schackne

Wednesday, October 1, 2014

MUSIC: Fatboy Slim, "Weapon of Choice" / Christopher Walken (2010) / POEM: "Right" (2014)

Right. Flow.
Left foot goes there
no, the other right
now unweight the right
let it slide over to the left
hands block and turn  if
you walk without rhythm
ah, you never learn
now let's try it again.

© 2014 Rob Schackne