Tuesday, May 26, 2015

POEM: "By The Goat's Skull, Near The Scrolls"

By The Goat’s Skull, Near The Scrolls 

Sunday again no ants crawling 
just stray dogs and a cat on a roof

Each dawn gaze at the horizon
then don’t look on it all day long

It will be determined
stretched tight as a winter rope

Night or day birth or death
numb-dumb of twin nothing at all

A suggestion not a commandment
a caravan determines to keep going 

One excavation of the heart
one brown hand for pomegranate

Can the naming of either part 
determine the cadenas of a life

An anti-whip prevent a snap
in sand in the vagaries of love? 

© 2015 Rob Schackne

A Michael Anania Poem

Memorial Day

It is easily forgotten, year to
year, exactly where the plot is,
though the place is entirely familiar—
a willow tree by a curving roadway
sweeping black asphalt with tender leaves;

damp grass strewn with flower boxes,
canvas chairs, darkskinned old ladies
circling in draped black crepe family stones,
fingers cramped red at the knuckles, discolored
nails, fresh soil for new plants, old rosaries;

such fingers kneading the damp earth gently down
on new roots, black humus caught in grey hair
brushed back, and the single waterfaucet,
birdlike upon its grey pipe stem,
a stream opening at its foot.

We know the stories that are told,
by starts and stops, by bent men at strange joy
regarding the precise enactments of their own
gesturing. And among the women there will be
a naming of families, a counting off, an ordering.

The morning may be brilliant; the season
is one of brilliances—sunlight through
the fountained willow behind us, its splayed
shadow spreading westward, our shadows westward,
irregular across damp grass, the close-set stones.

It may be that since our walk there is faltering,
moving in careful steps around snow-on-the-mountain,
bluebells and zebragrass toward that place
between the willow and the waterfaucet, the way
is lost, that we have no practiced step there,
and walking, our own sway and balance, fails us.


Saturday, May 23, 2015

A Marge Piercy Poem

Doors opening, closing on us

Maybe there is more of the magical
in the idea of a door than in the door
itself. It’s always a matter of going
through into something else. But

while some doors lead to cathedrals
arching up overhead like stormy skies
and some to sumptuous auditoriums
and some to caves of nuclear monsters

most just yield a bathroom or a closet.
Still, the image of a door is liminal,
passing from one place into another
one state to the other, boundaries

and promises and threats. Inside
to outside, light into dark, dark into
light, cold into warm, known into
strange, safe into terror, wind

into stillness, silence into noise
or music. We slice our life into
segments by rituals, each a door
to a presumed new phase. We see

ourselves progressing from room
to room perhaps dragging our toys
along until the last door opens
and we pass at last into was.


Wednesday, May 20, 2015

POEM: "About Reticence"

About Reticence

                                 for R.S.

Tears, runny nose
the snot, the kisses
the railing on a pier

3pm of an afternoon
birdshit is everywhere
how did it get to this
supposed to be farewell
gulls, rattus aerealis, suck
on the desiccated beach
old thong, paper wrapper
our last loving, the sun
it celebrates our lives

I need to get some gas
and nothing stirs but pity.                     


Well, there's a place
for reticence in poetry
I can’t tell you now but
the truth is ever so precise
like a screw to a screwdriver
it follows a modest grain
now breathe and wait a sec
maybe it's better to be lost
you ever take a trip on a poet
and their will looks wobbly
don't walk on hot coals with
them they won’t hold back
not much good with love
you can relax all you want.

© 2015 Rob Schackne

Monday, May 18, 2015

POEM: "Her Comments On A Sad Excess"

Her Comment On A Sad Excess

I had already known her 
the most beautiful woman
in the world as shocking
as a very dangerous wire
exposed and waiting for a child —

sometimes weeping in the night 
she hates that she was so unready
there's always so much wanting
she can't believe she's so different
drinking whiskey and choler
pleading to the sadly devout
someday they will finally see
their baffled glasses failed them
and fully woken they'll lean
towards a different light
and forget she isn't there.

© 2012 Rob Schackne

Saturday, May 16, 2015

POEM: "All The Screaming Poets"

All The Screaming Poets

The Sheik of Araby
the Sultan of Ogosh
the butcher Hermann
the strange boy Oskar
the waitress with corns
the incarcerated souls
the demented tracing of
the name over and over again
the good man trying to protect
the swamplands of Florida
the mother with twin monsters
the teachers and the students
the lovers and the dreamers
the tired porn stars and athletes
the kids who don’t get the math
the father who keeps trying
the suppression of power
the suicidal executives
the homicidal police
o all the screaming poets
the tears o the tears that flow
o the tears the tears that flow

© 2015 Rob Schackne

Friday, May 15, 2015

A Franz Wright Poem

Morning Arrives

Morning arrives
by limousine: the tall
emaciated chairman

of sleeplessness in person
steps out on the sidewalk
and donning black glasses, ascends
the stairs to your building

guided by a German shepherd.
After a couple faint knocks
at the door, he slowly opens
the book of blank pages

pointing out
with a pale manicured finger
particular clauses,
proof of your guilt.


Monday, May 11, 2015

A Michael Palmer Poem

[In the Empire of Light]

In the Empire of Light
the water's completely dry

floating on a surface of itself
around islands pointed south-southwest

The wind fills it then
with more of itself

according to the rules
which cause parallel lines

to vibrate and cross
less and less

among the hanging baskets from a rain forest
among the visiting statesmen

from a rain forest
Here the dancer stops

to regain her balance
and reelaborate the distance

from the feet to the head
The risk is a part of the rhythm

She steps out of
and into balance

with those who are left
Chalk-marks show them where to stand


POEM: "Hosanna"


The truth he tosses out
he is despis├Ęd like shit
clothing stiff, a bad history
rejected by the annual bath
he speaks to us from shame
we spit, we hear a little bit

in the air we’re breathing
children naked by the well

dust falling on every mirror
the sorry verge of our ears

feet tangled up in the mind
Lord we walk home in sorrow.

© 2013 Rob Schackne

Sunday, May 10, 2015

POEM: "If The Universe Be Curved Not Flat"

If The Universe Be Curved Not Flat

Please remember the apple rain
the speedfilled dawn at falling dream
the scent the image left behind

leave the red signs in the junkyard
leave it to the mothers of China
leaving their Masters behind

include the moving clouds
including as many objects as they can
include the underside of this house

if the universe be curved not flat
against time or set or box of matches 
if anything should exceed its direction

jigsaw pieces see all things flash
the sound an old barn door makes
listen to almost the taste of apples

the photo down (as in a book)
the photo up (as on the wall)
the photo round (as on a planet)

© 2013 Rob Schackne

POEM: "Water"


One day water looks like death
Inviting the concentrated minute
But my hair has spun too wild
In the winds ever to be still again
Clothed (I am always clothed)

To inch under the appearance
Of what looks placid and blue
The cold shock and the slowing
Descent is not as painful as
The first rude intake of water

Mother I thought she'd forgive
My father come to rescue me
And memory would be stored safe

Trees just swaying (time is staying)
Before I was not drawn to water.

© 2012 Rob Schackne

Saturday, May 9, 2015

A Dorothea Lasky Poem

The Birth

The birth isn't about poetry
It is about screaming pain on a Sunday
Hailing a cab and head racing
To the hospital, now so close to the new apartment

I had a baby inside of me
But no one expected it to happen so fast
Or then at least they said they didn't
Maybe they expected it to happen so fast
All along

Alone in the waiting room I shook and shook
And the blood ran down my legs
Later with the magnesium
I thought of the many permutations of the bald head
Pale, pickling fish skin, glowing with scales

When she came out, she was dark and full of hair
No blood, but born in the caul
Like the other magical realities of my past accomplishments
When she came out she cried and it sounded like me
But passed me, into her new reality

Now 3 weeks later, they say I am still not an erotic object
So I wander the park in the snow with my friend
We light candles and pray to the darkness
We light the park on fire and the police come and find us

When they take us to the jail, I say no, it's not right
I am a mother after all
They say, but where is your baby
And I say, no no, my baby my baby
They say, yes yes, look at your beautiful baby

I say, I do, I do
Look, look, and listen
My baby my baby
She's here


Friday, May 8, 2015

POEM: "So What If Memory Isn't True"

So What If Memory Isn't True

I found an old scalpel a new blade
she carefully shaved my corns
as gently as her dear mother’s

We drank like magicians we smoked like fish
strange of kind her mahou tsukai
how she put geomancy in the air

She walked out after a fight about my photos
a balance of probabilities she was crazy
(though most likely I was too)

She was a goddess she was so pristine
my poetry was dirty in the shower
she rubbed me down like a horse

Tried to scrub the naysayer off me
she got some here missed a little there
then she refused to have sex for a year

Fires raged on the Kobe streets
she was young she was lost in the great earthquake
so what if memory isn’t true.

© 2014 Rob Schackne

Thursday, May 7, 2015

A Randall Jarrell Poem

The Woman at the Washington Zoo

The saris go by me from the embassies.

Cloth from the moon. Cloth from another planet.
They look back at the leopard like the leopard.

And I....
              this print of mine, that has kept its color
Alive through so many cleanings; this dull null
Navy I wear to work, and wear from work, and so
To my bed, so to my grave, with no
Complaints, no comment: neither from my chief,
The Deputy Chief Assistant, nor his chief—
Only I complain.... this serviceable
Body that no sunlight dyes, no hand suffuses
But, dome-shadowed, withering among columns,
Wavy beneath fountains—small, far-off, shining
In the eyes of animals, these beings trapped
As I am trapped but not, themselves, the trap,
Aging, but without knowledge of their age,
Kept safe here, knowing not of death, for death—
Oh, bars of my own body, open, open!

The world goes by my cage and never sees me.
And there come not to me, as come to these,
The wild beasts, sparrows pecking the llamas' grain,
Pigeons settling on the bears' bread, buzzards
Tearing the meat the flies have clouded....
When you come for the white rat that the foxes left,
Take off the red helmet of your head, the black
Wings that have shadowed me, and step to me as man:
The wild brother at whose feet the white wolves fawn,
To whose hand of power the great lioness
Stalks, purring....
                             You know what I was,
You see what I am: change me, change me!


Wednesday, May 6, 2015

A Gary Snyder Poem

A Maul for Bill and Cindy's Wedding

Swung from the toes out,
Belly-breath riding on the knuckles,
The ten-pound maul lifts up,
Sails in an arc overhead,
And then lifts you!

It floats, you float,
For an instant of clear far sight—
Eye on the crack in the end-grain
Angle of the oak round
Stood up to wait to be split.

The maul falls—with a sigh—the wood
Claps apart
    and lies twain—
In a wink. As the maul
Splits all, may

You two stay together.


Tuesday, May 5, 2015

A Charlotte Smith Poem

On Being Cautioned Against Walking on an Headland Overlooking the Sea, Because It Was Frequented by a Lunatic

Is there a solitary wretch who hies
  To the tall cliff, with starting pace or slow,
And, measuring, views with wild and hollow eyes
  Its distance from the waves that chide below;
Who, as the sea-born gale with frequent sighs
  Chills his cold bed upon the mountain turf,
With hoarse, half-uttered lamentation, lies
  Murmuring responses to the dashing surf?
In moody sadness, on the giddy brink,
  I see him more with envy than with fear;
He has no nice felicities that shrink
  From giant horrors; wildly wandering here,
He seems (uncursed with reason) not to know
The depth or the duration of his woe.


Monday, May 4, 2015

POEMS: "Poems Of There's No Tomorrow"

Poems Of There's No Tomorrow

                                              These words say this
                                                  and these words don't.

                                                  Louis C.K.


No it's hell and it seems
the guitar is warped the effort
reaches a point I don't care anymore
do the work write like a motherfucker
it pans out there will be a harbour
only not the one I steered for
no there will be strange music
waiting between a promise and a pity
and do I believe that I'll be joyful
monkeys dancing on the pier
and a woman wearing a set of eyes
who brings some wild soup to share
the sun like it belonged to no one else


Yes it's a bizarro poem
and hatred for this art
and everybody who does it
makes for heavy reading
after the first thirteen faces
yes there's the itches and scratches
when next week the car crashes
it's totalled and although I'm OK
the poem in the backseat is injured
now bizarro means it's nothing
this poem crawls away from me


Water calligraphy
it's not flowers or light

might be a level head
could be a madman
wishing to debate
the invisible
it disappears as soon
as sense arrives
I walk past smiling
that there was ever joy
how does anyone
write to evaporate
passing readers
see the water see the air
watch the brush
it stays it leaves
the bucket the piss
he moves away
people disperse
he wrote a little

© 2015 Rob Schackne

Sunday, May 3, 2015

POEM: "Hardly A Poem"

Hardly A Poem

But I love comics for their timing...
It’s a summer day, you’re lying in bed
Your mother walks in, you’re jerking off
With a magazine, and just as you come
She says something so perfect, so off-hand
What are you doing to that magazine?

Respect. Poets spend years working on
Their material before they can do that.

© 2015 Rob Schackne

Saturday, May 2, 2015

Friday, May 1, 2015

A Tracy K. Smith Poem

I Don't Miss It

But sometimes I forget where I am,
Imagine myself inside that life again.

Recalcitrant mornings. Sun perhaps,
Or more likely colorless light

Filtering its way through shapeless cloud.

And when I begin to believe I haven't left,
The rest comes back. Our couch. My smoke

Climbing the walls while the hours fall.
Straining against the noise of traffic, music,

Anything alive, to catch your key in the door.
And that scamper of feeling in my chest,

As if the day, the night, wherever it is
I am by then, has been only a whir

Of something other than waiting.

We hear so much about what love feels like.
Right now, today, with the rain outside,

And leaves that want as much as I do to believe
In May, in seasons that come when called,

It's impossible not to want
To walk into the next room and let you

Run your hands down the sides of my legs,
Knowing perfectly well what they know.