Saturday, August 30, 2014

A Rosemary Nissen-Wade Poem (2)



Kuta Beach

(After Reading Lorca)


Death comes in
with the salt
at the tavern

in this country
both gentle and sinister

prancing white horses
wave-dancing men

their soft guitars at night
from across the bay

the noises
the bursts of light

mistaken for fireworks
at first

young men
with trembling hands

hard-muscled
young men of the sea
an odour of salt
and blood

death enters into the salt
as the salt enters into the death
in that tavern.


(2005)

Published Diverse-City 2006 (Anthology of the Austin International Poetry Festival, Texas)

Friday, August 29, 2014

MUSIC: Hall & Oates (1981) / Tears For Fears (1985) / Simply Red (1985)





In no special order, except for when the artists listed above recorded these songs. Listen to four short years a hundred years ago. You're a certain age, it feels good to say that pop music sucked in the 80s. But I still like these songs very much. A guilty pleasure? Hardly. I'll speed up again soon. I promise. Any day now. Really.


https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cGZwPGsfcwM

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6Ni_c0IMP-c

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yG07WSu7Q9w

Wednesday, August 27, 2014

MUSIC: Robert Palmer, "Medley" (1974)





(Don't know which side you come down on in the matter of Robert Palmer...me, I come down on the right side.) Recorded in 1974. The Meters, Lowell George. But wait...you still calling this "white boy junk funk"?


https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pMnzytIbH1I

Monday, August 25, 2014

POEM: "The River"



The River

                            for Rui Xiao

The sun goes down
    Life goes across

The boat tries to cross the river
  The boat can't cross the river
    The currents take it

The boat, the people
    But the poets’ voices go across

You see someone from long ago
  You can't cross the deck
    The moment takes it

What does “voices go across” mean

Does this mean distance, or else
    Is it the inability to connect

Does this mean time, or is it
    Our ageing bodies & minds

Love tries to cross the minute
  It can't cross the hours
    The currents take it

The oily swell of time
  You can't cross the river
    The moon takes it

Is anything going anywhere



© 2014 Rob Schackne

Saturday, August 23, 2014

A Rosanna Warren Poem



A Way


She said she sang very close to the mike
to change the space. And I changed the space
by striding down the Boulevard Raspail at dusk in tight jeans
until an Algerian engineer plucked the pen from my back pocket.
As if you're inside my head and you're hearing the song from in there.
He came from the desert, I came
from green suburbs. We understood
nothing of one another over glasses of metallic red wine.
I was playing Girl. He played
Man. Several plots were afoot, all
misfiring. One had to do with my skimpy black shirt
and light hair, his broad shoulders and hunger
after months on an oil rig. Another
was untranslatable. Apollinaire
burned his fingers on June's smoldering lyre
but I had lost my pen. The engineer
read only construction manuals. His room
was dim and narrow and no,
the story didn't slide that way though there are many ways
to throw oneself away.
One singer did it by living by a broken wall
until she shredded her voice but still she offered each song,
she said, like an Appalachian artifact.
Like trash along the riverbank chafing at the quay
plastic bottles a torn shirt fractured dolls
through which the current chortles an intimate tune.



(2014)

Friday, August 22, 2014

A Dylan Thomas Poem (2)



"And death shall have no dominion"


And death shall have no dominion.
Dead man naked they shall be one
With the man in the wind and the west moon;
When their bones are picked clean and the clean bones gone,
They shall have stars at elbow and foot;
Though they go mad they shall be sane,
Though they sink through the sea they shall rise again;
Though lovers be lost love shall not;
And death shall have no dominion.

And death shall have no dominion.
Under the windings of the sea
They lying long shall not die windily;
Twisting on racks when sinews give way,
Strapped to a wheel, yet they shall not break;
Faith in their hands shall snap in two,
And the unicorn evils run them through;
Split all ends up they shan't crack;
And death shall have no dominion.

And death shall have no dominion.
No more may gulls cry at their ears
Or waves break loud on the seashores;
Where blew a flower may a flower no more
Lift its head to the blows of the rain;
Though they be mad and dead as nails,
Heads of the characters hammer through daisies;
Break in the sun till the sun breaks down,
And death shall have no dominion.



(1943)

Monday, August 18, 2014

POEM: "Air Blows Through It"



Air Blows Through It


Nothing is real that wasn’t before
like a horsehead in a drum of fire
smoke floats on bone and fat


a hundred steps above the grotto
a hundred chances to get higher
I walk to the edges to be thrilled

it wants me killed a hundred times
I see a piece of honey glass
I take it and dive into the green

those old white walls so shining
below love clear deep water
love says splash doesn’t matter.



© 2012 Rob Schackne

Sunday, August 17, 2014

A Dylan Thomas Poem

"The Force That Through the Green Fuse Drives the Flower"


The force that through the green fuse drives the flower
Drives my green age; that blasts the roots of trees
Is my destroyer.
And I am dumb to tell the crooked rose
My youth is bent by the same wintry fever.

The force that drives the water through the rocks
Drives my red blood; that dries the mouthing streams
Turns mine to wax.
And I am dumb to mouth unto my veins
How at the mountain spring the same mouth sucks.

The hand that whirls the water in the pool
Stirs the quicksand; that ropes the blowing wind
Hauls my shroud sail.
And I am dumb to tell the hanging man
How of my clay is made the hangman’s lime.

The lips of time leech to the fountain head;
Love drips and gathers, but the fallen blood
Shall calm her sores.
And I am dumb to tell a weather’s wind
How time has ticked a heaven round the stars.

And I am dumb to tell the lover’s tomb
How at my sheet goes the same crooked worm.



(1957)

Saturday, August 16, 2014

A Robert Hass Poem



Winged And Acid Dark


A sentence with "dappled shadow" in it.
Something not sayable
spurting from the morning silence,
secret as a thrush.

The other man, the officer, who brought onions
and wine and sacks of flour,
the major with the swollen knee,
wanted intelligent conversation afterward.
Having no choice, she provided that, too.

Potsdamer Platz, May 1945.

When the first one was through he pried her mouth open.

Basho told Rensetsu to avoid sensational materials.
If the horror of the world were the truth of the world,
he said, there would be no one to say it
and no one to say it to.
I think he recommended describing the slightly frenzied
swarming of insects near a waterfall.

Pried her mouth open and spit in it.
We pass these things on,
probably, because we are what we can imagine.

Something not sayable in the morning silence.
The mind hungering after likenesses. "Tender sky," etc.,
curves the swallows trace in air.


(2007)

Friday, August 15, 2014

Wednesday, August 13, 2014

Maryam Mirzakhani, Fields Winner, 2014




Touched by Athena. Her beautifully intelligent gaze. Who knows the shape of the universe. Maryam Mirzakhani is the first woman to win the Fields Medal, the greatest prize in mathematics. But that's a realm I can barely imagine -- since I seem to have trouble adding up my own years, and I don't understand why some months can move faster than others, or how so many days will collect in a troubled week.

Thursday, August 7, 2014

A Ron Slate Poem (2)



Stop-Time


Frank McCabe bought on credit at my father’s liquor store,
they had gone to school together. Finally my father said,
teach my son to play drums and we’re even, for now.


Late afternoon lessons in his cellar, first the basics
rapped out on rubber pads, then rolls, drags, flams, paradiddles and ratamacues.
Moving on to a real kit and the flair of fills, underbelly routines
of the bass and flights between cymbals, crash and sizzle.


While I practiced, he scribbled on charts for his quintet --
Thursdays at the Knotty Pine and weddings on weekends.
No lessons for most of the summer after his heart attack.

Autumn rain, water seeping up through linoleum tiles,
staining the peeling baseboards. Mold and mildew,
back beat and double time. Smoker’s cough and drinker’s nose.
Soon he set up his kit next to mine, laying out the opening bars
of “From This Moment On” and I’d play inside him.
That’s how he put it, stay inside me and listen with your wrists.


When Mrs. McCabe came down to say they caught the man
who killed the president, he dropped the needle on “Opus One”
and said play. We listened to Krupa’s “Rockin’ Chair”
and Buddy Rich’s big band doing “Time Check.”


Lying on their sides, quarts of bourbon behind cans
of dried paint. You make the high-hat bark,
a sixteenth-note. You don’t keep time, you make time.
The standards, renowned yet open to reinvention,
thus eternal. But I lived inside a body, Mrs. McCabe returned
from the hospital with no breasts, a week later
she was playing piano upstairs while Frank critiqued me –


Don’t play with your whole arm, it looks cool
but it isn’t. He lit a Winston. Don’t be like a bass player,
use deodorant. Never let a wimp carry your gear.
Listen carefully to the songs you hate the most.


Verse and chorus, shuffle, bridge, fill, drag, fill, stop-time,
ghost-note. Rumble of the sagging boiler, steam knocking the pipes.
Soon you won’t have to remember, you’ll just make the sound.


(published in The Plume Anthology of Poetry, 2014)

Wednesday, August 6, 2014

POEM: "The Cat & The Fiddle"




The Cat & The Fiddle


What a reckless brand of trust
Yes they once loved each other well

They pledged allegiance to their winning
Now he watches the guy stuff her car
Breach running away with promise
He sighs and does 100 push-ups
His day is getting considerably worse
He can barely move the singing lark
Think Stance, Spin, Dig, and Release
The hammer thrown into the cage
(Always dangerous doing that)
When he decided it was finally over
The morning she decided to leave.



© 2014 Rob Schackne

Tuesday, August 5, 2014

An Edgar Bowers Poem



For Louis Pasteur

                                 “Who is Apollo?”                                       
                                     College student

How shall a generation know its story
If it will know no other? When, among
The scoffers at the Institute, Pasteur
Heard one deny the cause of child-birth fever,
Indignantly he drew upon the blackboard,
For all to see, the Streptococcus chain.
His mind was like Odysseus and Plato
Exploring a new cosmos in the old
As if he wrote a poem—his enemy
Suffering, disease, and death, the battleground
His introspection. “Science and peace,” he said,
“Will win out over ignorance and war,”
But then, the virus mutant in his vein,
“Death to the Prussian!” and “revenge, revenge!”

How shall my generation tell its story?
Their fathers jobless, boys for the CCC
And NYA, the future like a stairwell
To floors without a window or a door,
And then the army: bayonet drill and foxhole;
Bombing to rubble cities with textbook names
Later to bulldoze streets for; their green bodies
Drowned in the greener surfs of rumored France.
My childhood friend, George Humphreys, whom I still see
Still ten years old, his uncombed hair and grin
Moment by moment in the Hürtgen dark
Until the one step full in the sniper’s sight,
His pastor father emptied by the grief.
Clark Harrison, at nineteen a survivor,
Never to walk or have a child or be
A senator or governor. Herr Wegner,
Who led his little troop, their standards high
And sabers drawn, against a panzer corps,
Emerging from among the shades at Dachau
Stacked like firewood for someone else to burn;
And Gerd Radomski, listening to broadcasts
Of names, a yearlong babel of the missing,
To find his wife and children. Then they came home,
Near middle age at twenty-two, to find
A new reunion of the church and state,
Cynical Constantines who need no name,
Domestic tranquility beaten to a sword,
Sons wasted by another lie in Asia,
Or Strangeloves they had feared that August day;
And they like runners, stung, behind a flag,
Running within a circle, bereft of joy.

Hearing of the disaster at Sedan
And the retreat worse than the one from Moscow,
Their son among the missing or the dead,
Pasteur and his wife Mary hired a carriage
And, traveling to the east where he might try
His way to Paris, stopping to ask each youth
And comfort every orphan of the state’s
Irascibility, found him at last
And, unsurprised, embraced and took him in.
Two wars later, the Prussian, once again
The son of Mars, in Paris, Joseph Meister—
The first boy cured of rabies, now the keeper
Of Pasteur’s mausoleum—when commanded
To open it for them, though over seventy,
Lest he betray the master, took his life.

I like to think of Pasteur in Elysium
Beneath the sunny pine of ripe Provence
Tenderly raising black sheep, butterflies,
Silkworms, and a new culture, for delight,
Teaching his daughter to use a microscope
And musing through a wonder—sacred passion,
Practice and metaphysic all the same.
And, each year, honor three births: Valéry,
Humbling his pride by trying to write well,
Mozart, who lives still, keeping my attention
Repeatedly outside the reach of pride,
And him whose mark I witness as a trust.
Others he saves but could not save himself—
Socrates, Galen, Hippocrates—the spirit
Fastened by love upon the human cross.


(1997)

MUSIC: Paul McCartney & The Beatles, "The Long and Winding Road" (1970)




I don't want to get into the whole Spector thing right now. It's late and I didn't have my potatoes. But Paul's voice here is stellar. The strings sing out. The choir goes up. Phil Spector did just fine. Anyway, the road winds around forever and there's no going back. (But sure, you already knew that.)

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WA6HE_5Uhrs


Monday, August 4, 2014

POEM: "On The Road"



On The Road


First-quarter moon
behind the clouds tonight
emerging, disappearing
reminds me of a story
a guy told me once
that living is poisonous
all of us are born to die
and this Bardo world
means to teach us how to
forget the moon & the clouds
which is maya and maya
they will put you on your ass
I said thank you
this is my turn-off
we both laughed
you said forget this

I said not a chance.


© 2014 Rob Schackne

An Emily Dickinson Poem



"We grow accustomed to the Dark" (428)


We grow accustomed to the Dark - 
When Light is put away -
As when the Neighbor holds the Lamp
To witness her Good bye -

A Moment - We uncertain step
For newness of the night -
Then - fit our Vision to the Dark -
And meet the Road - erect -

And so of larger - Darknesses -
Those Evenings of the Brain -
When not a Moon disclose a sign -
Or Star - come out - within -

The Bravest - grope a little -
And sometimes hit a Tree
Directly in the Forehead -
But as they learn to see -

Either the Darkness alters -
Or something in the sight
Adjusts itself to Midnight -
And Life steps almost straight.



(1862)

POEM: "The Virtuous Failure Of Damn Near Everything"



The Virtuous Failure Of Damn Near Everything


Ghost images
before my owlish eye

These are hard shapes
upon the mountainside


The fungus inverted
with sharp & careful blade

I take my bearings from
the ugly tree 30 meters high


The virtuous failure of
damn near everything

I want to change my mind

A stove a pan some herbs
these steps I’ve taken

After a short gestation
the food the looks her hand


Each new word I choose
hears the cicadas cracking


Please pay better attention
Please be here right now



© 2014 Rob Schackne

POEM: "The Wonder"



The Wonder


The wonder where beauty lies
and whether it lies to us

if it had been blind for years
clubbed in the head so much
and now just relies on touch
and memory to help it see
a pretty subject or an ugly one
the purple flowers float down
a wall of ghostly photograph
slice up time any way you want
whether it joins its power to mine
or the other way round, it can't
smell the wind or feel the fragrance
but every other moment is perfect
knowing that I waited for too long.


© 2014 Rob Schackne

Sunday, August 3, 2014

MUSIC: The Allman Brothers & The Dead & The Band (1973) / Donovan (2007)





What about that mountain in Jamaica, Juanita?

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uS0m7hrCfHc

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PPoACkjZaLk

A Ha Jin Poem



Ways Of Talking


We used to like talking about grief.
Our journals and letters were packed
with losses, complaints, and sorrows.
Even if there was no grief
we wouldn’t stop lamenting
as though longing for the charm
of a distressed face.

Then we couldn’t help expressing grief.
So many things descended without warning:
labor wasted, loves lost, houses gone,
marriages broken, friends estranged,
ambitions worn away by immediate needs.
Words lined up in our throats
for a good whining.
Grief seemed like an endless river—
the only immortal flow of life.

After losing a land and then giving up a tongue,
we stopped talking of grief.
Smiles began to brighten our faces.
We laugh a lot, at our own mess.
Things become beautiful,
even hailstones in the strawberry fields.


(1996)

Friday, August 1, 2014

POEM: "Roving Thoughts"



Roving Thoughts


Roving thoughts
& the provocations
old thorns in the side
uncomfortable reminders
of both this world & the other
riding you like wind rides a rose
when the moment permits a prayer

A parent or a child
sitting on the footpath
bawling because they lost
the one I just keep travelling on
treading barefoot on fallen acorns
in the dream they are only megaphones
shouting public things that aren’t in prayers


© 2014 Rob Schackne