Sunday, December 28, 2014

A Rachel Sherwood Poem

Lock and Key

I hardly know where to look
anymore. Places have a
putrid familiarity
like the smell of my own sheets
or the close air of the kitchen —
fishbones on the drain
left in the ghastly order
of temporal things.

I have been sitting in this bar
for years now
the beer is stale, the wine off-color
the music is always the same,
old, sad songs that get older
no better than endless conversation
night after forgotten night
when all I or you can recall
is the dark, the traffic lights,
the bartender's comments
about drunk women
in public places.

I would like to go home
finally, down the long streets
north and south crossed with small gold leaves;
I forget just where the hell
anything is. Locked out.


Saturday, December 27, 2014

A Heather McHugh Poem

The Oven Loves the TV Set

Stuck on the fridge, our favorite pin-up girl
is anorexic. On the radio we have a riff

of Muzak sax, and on the mind
a self-help book. We sprawl all evening, all

alone, in the unraised ranch;
all day the company we kept

kept on incorporating. As for the world
of poverty, we did our best, thanks

to a fund of Christian feeling
and mementos from

Amelia, the foster child, who has
the rags and seven photogenic sisters we prefer

in someone to be saved. She's proof
Americans have got a heart

to go with all that happy
acumen you read about. We're known to love

a million little prettinesses,
decency, and ribbons on

the cockapoo. (But who
will study alphabets for hands? Who gives

a damn what patience goes into
a good wheelchair? Who lugs the rice

from its umpteen stores
to the ends of the earth, to even

one dead-end? Not we.)
Our constitutional pursuit

is happiness, i.e.
somebody nice, and not

too fat, we can have
for our personal friend.


Friday, December 26, 2014

POEM: "Live At The Kanpur Station"

Live At The Kanpur Station

If it's the winter solstice today, then light
tomorrow will last three seconds longer

And if by bad luck you keep your calendar
some nights had better disappear forever

The Monkey Mind and Its Hopping Motives
is it better to be unknowable than popular?

Not even sure that we live in a secular age
we can’t be that stupid unless we mean to

No creature should be left behind, none
should be hungry or ignorant of danger

Do I even believe confusion was a fake egg
and all we have left in our yard is no feathers?

Better to love and burn, to crash and lose
than cross these tracks and miss the sun

A monkey rescues its electrocuted friend
and here we sit scratching this abiding itch

The days get hotter and the clocks get broken
if one dream at a time, then just more time.

A great beggar has spoken, then two idlers
then a philosopher with a restless camera.

                                                    December 22, 2014

© 2014 Rob Schackne

Thursday, December 25, 2014

Wednesday, December 24, 2014

POEM: "Somedays Don't Even Bother"

Somedays Don’t Even Bother

Inside the cage
everyone is equal
it’s very funny
the first question
from non-writers
from politeness
and by the jealous
by the chancers
by the malicious
and even by lovers
You published?

© 2014 Rob Schackne

Monday, December 22, 2014

A Matthew Olzmann Poem

Letter to the Horse You Rode In On

From this day forth, let it be understood: as one
of God’s most graceful innovations, you—
dear horse—are entitled to certain provisions
under the law. Granted, this law is one
I just made up, but those who acknowledge
its validity will adhere to the following rule:
One does not, under any circumstance, say “fuck you”
to a horse. It matters not who rode in on
the aforementioned steed. It matters not
what kind of jackassery said rider has committed.
We shall not allow even the tangential “fuck you”
to be cast upon this virtuous and sophisticated being,
such as the fuck-you-by-association commonly
phrased as: Fuck you and the horse you rode in on.
No, dear horse, you are proof that one does not
have the luxury of choosing the burden one carries.
Fate makes an animal of us all, and rides us
through the village at sunrise where we are judged.
But we designed those villages. We built them
from our worst ideas and kept expanding until
each enclave was equipped with genetically modified
pigeons and flammable tap water. The human hand
can reach from one ruined thing to the next. It can
level cities and wave goodbye and run its fingers
through your mane, and when I find you, I will
whisper: You would’ve done a better job with this place.
Unfortunately, horses don’t have any say in governance.
Except once. It’s said that the emperor Caligula
nominated his horse, Incitatus, as a Roman Consul.
We should also note: Caligula’s reign was brief.
37-41 AD. Then he was slain.


Saturday, December 20, 2014

A Jennifer Michael Hecht Poem (2)

Not Stopping by the Woods on a Snowy Evening


Promises to keep was a lie, he had nothing. Through
the woods. Over the river and into the pain. It is an addict's
talk of quitting as she's smacking at a vein. He was always
going into the woods. It was he who wrote, The best way

out is always through. You'd think a shrink, but no, a poet.
He saw the woods and knew. The forest is the one that holds
promises. The woods are lovely, dark, and deep, they fill
with a quiet snow. Miles are traveled as we sleep. He steers

his horse off the road. Among the trees now, the blizzard
is a dusting. Holes in the canopy make columns of snowstorm,
lit from above. His little horse thinks it is queer. They go
deeper, sky gets darker. It's the darkest night of the year.


He had no promises to keep, nothing pending. Had no bed
to head to, measurably away in miles. He was a freak like me,
monster of the dawn. Whose woods these are I think I know,
his house is in the village though. In the middle of life

he found himself lost in a dark woods. I discovered myself
in a somber forest. In between my breasts and breaths I got
lost. The woods are lovely, dark and deep. But I've got promises
to keep, smiles to go before I leap. I'm going into the woods.

They're lovely dark, and deep, which is what I want, deep lovely
darkness. No one has asked, let alone taken, a promise of me,
no one will notice if I choose bed or rug, couch or forest deep.
It doesn't matter where I sleep. It doesn't matter where I sleep.


Friday, December 19, 2014

POEM: "Cat's Cradle"

Cat's Cradle

How long did the moment last
when we played cat's cradle for hours
while it rained. It's not string theory
it's the twisting of long white string
in the dance in our hands, halting
one form before it becomes the next

How we shaped our agreement
with only a suggested movement
of struggling beauty. Inevitable that
this old cradle would have our soul
pick one here and stretch one there
the cats were fingers that held it all

Errant topology, scattered maps
lost directions, a stuttering of tears
foot-on-accelerator, foot-on-brake
took us to unexpected places. But no
the invisible games we played were
unseemly too. And they were as futile

As writing a novel about scissors. But it
seemed like we’d be wed forever and our
clothes washed together for 30 years. Well
the cats cradled with the big knife next to
the hammer. With the old hammer next to
the matches. With the matches next to you.

© 2014 Rob Schackne

Monday, December 15, 2014

POEM: "Going For A Walk"

Going For A Walk

                                       Pawned my guitar so many times
                                          It’s a crying shame…

Like seeing something
In the window that’s yours
But it’s not really a window
And yeah it isn’t really a shop
And yeah it’s not really yours
It belongs to a really big fat guy
Married to an even fatter woman
And yeah neither one loves the blues
The wind of the world against the shroud
And what's still left out there in the cold
If only you had enough for a hot dog
(If only they had better management)
Because of a rainy Monday afternoon
Because of the troubles of your own
Because it isn't your guitar anymore
And you're not really going for a walk
Money's not a mystery I need 5 dollars
Yeah the rhythm of this falling rain
Are in the secrets waiting everywhere.

© 2014 Rob Schackne

Thursday, December 11, 2014

POEM: "A Definition of Homelessness"

A Definition of Homelessness

A person, place or thing
words of misfortune modify
declaim but don't support

O me, o my, you'll never see
the wreckage where I sleep
or the carnage of my dreams

The shopping carts, the air tickets
the black dog that my brother hates
a noisy apartment, fractious neighbors

The fork of my life
has become too short
and my fingers are getting dirty

You can't understand me
and words of anger modify
the words of loss

© 2014 Rob Schackne

Wednesday, December 10, 2014

A Mary Avidano Poem

City Lights 

My father, rather a quiet man,
told a story only the one time,
if even then—he had so little
need, it seemed, of being understood.
Intervals of years, his silences!
Late in his life he recalled for us
that when he was sixteen, his papa
entrusted to him a wagonload
of hogs, which he was to deliver
to the train depot, a half-day’s ride
from home, over a hilly dirt road.
Lightly he held the reins, light his heart,
the old horses, as ever, willing.
In town at noon he heard the station-
master say the train had been delayed,
would not arrive until that evening.
The boy could only wait. At home they’d
wait for him and worry and would place
the kerosene lamp in the window.
Thus the day had turned to dusk before
he turned about the empty wagon,
took his weary horses through the cloud
of fireflies that was the little town.
In all his years he’d never seen those
lights—he thought of this, he said, until
he and his milk-white horses came down
the last moonlit hill to home, drawn as
from a distance toward a single flame.


Monday, December 8, 2014

POEM: "The Big Cat Show"

The Big Cat Show 

The big cat show, see wronged cops
travel to the capital to kill themselves
you breathe one sigh and say for what
they’re arrested after drinking poison

All their lives, their guts hammered
see held against their will in hospital
see survival punished, don’t do it again
(an awful press gets away with murder)

See happy man has no past and maybe
see unhappy man has got nothing else
and you are a solid citizen of the world
and nothing you see can ever freeze you

See in Amerika the black man is feared
Lord see the lawful moment is absent
look he is killed by a police who swore
to be righteous before this world ends.

© 2014 Rob Schackne

Wednesday, December 3, 2014

POEM: "Monday At The Germbar After Work"

Monday At The Germbar After Work 

“There is no epiphany or revelation or aha moment or big click. There is no redemption. There is no great lesson learned. There is only the unknowable and the unspeakable.”

                                                                      Meghan Daum (2014)

I don’t know. I was killed. I died and I came back
And what I didn’t know about it was so immense
That the huge gap reached out to become a teacher
Of dreams and invisible beauty. True I lost track a lot
So many languages were spoken. Some I understood
Some clicked me knowable, some clicked me unspeakable
(Afterwards of course one must return and get on with it)
I never spoke of epiphanies or redemption. Anyway it is
Poor manners to flush an aha moment & not give it a chance
And although (of course) it's quite impossible to give as a present
I got very involved in writing poetry. I bring a message back
Sit you down in a silent classroom at dusk. The one alone
I expected nothing but death. I had the grace of surprise.

© 2014 Rob Schackne

Tuesday, December 2, 2014

POEM: "New Note"

New Note

               LA BEAUTÉ EST DANS LA RUE

New note. Derive in the streets
This note. Non-related dancing
Performing a nervous situation
When all is cut and struggling
Show, don’t tell. What rubbish
This lyrical divide. With no song
You couldn’t put your shoes on
Your animal mask would warp
All Fall was born and died in Fall
Don’t ask me why I still sell fruit
Because I have no more appetite
Just park your red body over there
Between the red bicycle and the
Red bulldozer. Pay me later with
A poem that belongs to the world
With a crooked life that walks the way
A dog looks at me. Watch the tail
This rainy day reads and writes it
The subway EXIT is a holy name.

© 2014 Rob Schackne

Monday, December 1, 2014

POEM: "Awed (I)"

Awed (I)

We do I guess because others don’t 
Because the others gave up too early 
Sound drove them on like the drone of bees 
They ran out and covered their heads. 

So take away music, take away words 
Take away the colours and the birds
Steal love and steal the seasons too
How much the spectrum changes.

That field of corn 
would never see a plow
that field of corn 

would be deserted now
a man is born 

but he's no good no-how
without a song

Slam through time, study the light
Shake it till it rattles no more. Shout
Like there's no tomorrow. Scream away
The rough bits and crackles. Why do I care?

The torch is out. The wind is up. You
And me, us and them, antidote of the anger
Dark is done. After silence, after violence
The stranger emerges alive and well.

What? My inspiration is under my arm 
It's behind my knees, in a cup of coffee
It’s in your cup of coffee. Productive?
I don’t think so. It’s almost everywhere.

© 2014 Rob Schackne