Wednesday, July 29, 2015

MUSIC: The Who, "Baba O'Riley" (1971)

Out here in the fields
I fight for my meals
I get my back into my living
I don't need to fight
To prove I'm right
I don't need to be forgiven

Pete Townshend

Tuesday, July 28, 2015

POEM: "To A Stuffed Hedgehog"

To A Stuffed Hedgehog

To your stuffed hedgehog 
the one that the car missed
who ambled off road to dream
of the perfected hedgedom—

Although the humble hedgehog
(whom we must regard as good)
looked everywhere for puddles, now
it sees its antecedent before the glass.

For we are guardians of the water.
We are the guardians of reflection.
We are guardians of subsequent mirrors.
We look to the perfection of our minds.

© 2015 Rob Schackne

Monday, July 27, 2015

An Ed Skoog Poem

Gwendolyn Brooks Park, Topeka

They carved the letters yellow,
and painted
the wood around the letters green,
chained a picnic table to the grass
out near where the roof of the dead
mall directs a crack
of sunset to radiate the Burger King sign gold.
Last place open after midnight:
then apartment windows hold
stars and satellites in the cold.
A creek runs like a paper fold
from one corner of park to other,
twenty or thirty blocks from where
she took her first breaths of infancy
in the only city I know of
with the letters for poet
that does not also carry
a port or a point in its name.


Friday, July 24, 2015

MUSIC: Michael Andrews & Gary Jules, "Mad World" (2001)

All around me are familiar faces
Worn out places, worn out faces
Bright and early for their daily races
Going nowhere, going nowhere

Their tears are filling up their glasses
No expression, no expression
Hide my head, I wanna drown my sorrow
No tomorrow, no tomorrow

And I find it kinda funny
I find it kinda sad
The dreams in which I'm dying
Are the best I've ever had
I find it hard to tell you
I find it hard to take
When people run in circles
It's a very, very mad world, mad world

Children waiting for the day they feel good
Happy Birthday, Happy Birthday
And I feel the way that every child should
Sit and listen, sit and listen

Went to school and I was very nervous
No one knew me, no one knew me
Hello teacher tell me what's my lesson
Look right through me, look right through me

And I find it kinda funny
I find it kinda sad
The dreams in which I'm dying
Are the best I've ever had
I find it hard to tell you
I find it hard to take
When people run in circles
It's a very, very mad world, mad world

Enlarging your world
Mad world

Roland Orzabal

Thursday, July 23, 2015

POEM: "Pathos: The Poem"

Pathos: The Poem

The pestering mouth
a table across the way
the hurt eyes are filling
her head is on my breast
prolepsis? I don't know
but wait my gentle reader
the busboy drops the dishes
the lamp is 3000 drachmae
I am sure this was my table
she was the love of my life.

© 2014 Rob Schackne

Monday, July 20, 2015

MUSIC: Silver Jews, "Random Rules" (1998)

In 1984 I was hospitalized for approaching perfection. 
Slowly screwing my way across Europe, they had to make a correction.
Broken and smokin' where the infrared deer plunge in the digital snake.

I tell you, they make it so you can't shake hands when they make your hands shake.

I know you like to line dance, everything so democratic and cool,
But baby there's no guidance when random rules.

I know that a lot of what I say has been lifted off of men's room walls.
Maybe I've crossed the wrong rivers and walked down all the wrong halls.
But nothing can change the fact that we used to share a bed
and that's why it scared me so when you turned to me and said:

"Yeah, you look like someone
Yeah you look like someone who up and left me low.
Boy, you look like somene I used to know."

I asked the painter why the roads are colored black.
He said, "Steve, it's because people leave
and no highway will bring them back."
So if you don't want me I promise not to linger,
But before I go I gotta ask you dear about the tan line on your ring finger.

No one should have two lives,
now you know my middle names are wrong and right.
Honey we've got two lives to give tonight.

Saturday, July 18, 2015

MUSIC: The Shins, "New Slang" (2001)

Gold teeth and a curse for this town were all in my mouth
Only, I don't know how they got out, dear
Turn me back into the pet I was when we met
I was happier then with no mind-set

And if you'd a took to me like
A gull takes to the wind
Well, I'd a jumped from my tree
And I'd a danced like the king of the eyesores

And the rest of our lives would a fared well

New slang when you notice the stripes 
The dirt in your fries
Hope it's right when you die 
Old and bony
Dawn breaks like a bull through the hall
Never should've called
But my head's to the wall and I'm lonely

And if you'd a took to me like
A gull takes to the wind
Well, I'd a jumped from my tree
And I'd a danced like the king of the eyesores
And the rest of our lives would a fared well

Godspeed all the bakers at dawn 

May they all cut their thumbs
And bleed into their buns 
'Til they melt away
I'm looking in on the good life 
I might be doomed never to find
Without trust, flaming fields am I too dumb to refine?

And if you'd a took to me like
Well, I'd a danced like the queen of the eyesores
And the rest of our lives would a fared well.

Friday, July 17, 2015

POEM: "Poems For Airports"

Poems For Airports

During the mitosis of writing these, I was listening to Eno's music. Naturally I owe much to that. It's funny that while these poems were once about the friction of the air, of the ground, about the weariness of the destination, and the weariness of the way back -- they now feel like they aren't really about airports at all, but about us all getting safely to the places we're going. Godspeed. We are bees.

1. At A Remote Airport 

Black thrumming runway 
its deep core solid and cold 

there's a beach someplace
you won’t stay there long 

the minutes will look fixed
it could be a strange mess 

the sea retakes the shells

all tomorrow’s parties
must begin today. 

2. In Darkness 

                   The moon is the mother of pathos and pity. 
                    Wallace Stevens 

Finally at the baggage claim 
the humming rock the cradle 

cranked away from sight
in sortation about the system 

your electric shaver tossed
because it's a useless current 

your favourite sweater now
worn by a sweating freak 

some undecided cretin tries
to decipher your precious book 

the start of this big machine
bumps against the rubber belt 

at their carousel of waiting
a bawling toddler’s pointing 

at a chicken foot going 'round
in a fog you barely see 

ignore the lunar paraphrase
this aerodrome isn’t safe. 

3. Sura Of The Baggage Claim 

From the sky to the stun of day 
off the plane and down the ramp 

you left last week’s paper there 
a bad novel dogged at page 35 

the sun is blinding (where is this?) 

the goons you see at 4 o’clock 
control your usual breeze of air 

waiting for the big bag to come off 
Customs Customs moment coming

you’ve now forgotten al-Qur'an 
3 children and an evil mother-in-law 

you suspect your faith is wanting. 

4. The Thirdspace

A loving treatment of time 
where did it go post-nostalgia 

present serendip cool across 
the tarmac and swept away 

instead I have no more time 
sitting in this dark room alone 

no more gifts please let me sleep 
stop asking if I’m already there 

my note to self in a book of hours 
Jewel into the gift box tomorrow 

this morning in the airport pursuant 
to baggage claim you claimed nothing. 

© 2013 Rob Schackne

Photo: Yann Arthus-Bertrand

Tuesday, July 14, 2015

An Ansel Elkins Poem

Reverse: A Lynching

Return the tree, the moon, the naked man
Hanging from the indifferent branch
Return blood to his brain, breath to his heart
Reunite the neck with the bridge of his body
Untie the knot, undo the noose
Return the kicking feet to ground
Unwhisper the word jesus
Rejoin his penis with his loins
Resheathe the knife
Regird the calfskin belt through trouser loops
Refasten the brass buckle
Untangle the spitting men from the mob
Unsay the word nigger
Release the firer’s finger from its trigger
Return the revolver to its quiet holster
Return the man to his home
Unwidow his wife
Unbreak the window
Unkiss the crucifix of her necklace
Unsay Hide the children in the back, his last words
Repeal the wild bell of his heart
Reseat his family at the table over supper
Relace their fingers in prayer, unbless the bread
Rescind the savagery of men
Return them from animal to human, reborn in the long run
Backward to the purring pickup
Reignite the Ford’s engine, its burning headlights
Retreat down the dirt road, tires speeding
Backward into rising dust
Backward past cornfields, past the night floating moths
Rescind the whiskey from the guts
Unswallowed, unswigged, the tongue unstung
Rehouse the flask in the field coat’s interior pocket
Unbare the teeth, unwhet the appetite
Return the howl to its wolf
Return the shovel to the barn, the rope to the horse’s stable
Resurrect the dark from its heart housed in terror

Reenter the night through its door of mercy


Monday, July 13, 2015

POEM: "Desire"


not love
heat to body 
write it
she says
not love

and still
see tomorrow
it's true

the quill
all but the heart

© 2015 Rob Schackne

POEM: "Root Down, 1961"

Root Down, 1961 

Our new typhoon is hitting
albeit with diminished punch.
So far. They say it's a big wind
collected of three different storms.

The streets are awash with
unspeakable debris. Walk there.
The eyes are not down watching
all that the world cannot give.

Those last three meals were bad
oily gruesome running sock smells.
Brother Andrew gives me avocadoes
dark green deep earthy pebbly bark.

Yes I do like food. And single-malt
whiskey and unpebbly imported beer.
But see this old dream that wants more
than food. And probably more than love.

© 2015 Rob Schackne

POEM: "Mock"


At the core of desire
A woman stops and turns
And says I waited for so long

It’s not my age we laugh
I say you aren’t the face
You say I’m not the heel

The fruit eventually ripens
Split pomegranate in two
A little light gets through

The moth mocks the flame
All burns bright for a day
And the sun sets with a puff

Later the dust is scattered 
The world opens and shuts
We eat the blood and bone.

© 2015 Rob Schackne

Sunday, July 12, 2015

MUSIC: 4 Non Blondes, "What's Up?" (1992) / POEM: "Wish"

Yes. Bigger, better, faster...



To hell with the mousetrap
I'd like to build a better planet
put my best team on it yessir
the materials are outdated
the springs are all worn out
and the critters just wander in
and take whatever they want.

© 2015 Rob Schackne

Friday, July 10, 2015

An E.B. White Poem

Natural History

The spider, dropping down from twig,
Unwinds a thread of his devising;
A thin, premeditated rig
To use in rising.

And all the journey down through space,
In cool descent, and loyal-hearted,
He builds a ladder to the place
From which he started.

Thus I, gone forth, as spiders do,
In spider's web a truth discerning,
Attach one silken strand to you
For my returning.


Thursday, July 9, 2015

A James Tate Poem

The Blue Booby

The blue booby lives
on the bare rocks
of Galápagos
and fears nothing.
It is a simple life:
they live on fish,
and there are few predators.
Also, the males do not
make fools of themselves
chasing after the young
ladies. Rather,
they gather the blue
objects of the world
and construct from them

a nest—an occasional
Gaulois package,
a string of beads,
a piece of cloth from
a sailor’s suit. This
replaces the need for
dazzling plumage;
in fact, in the past
fifty million years
the male has grown
considerably duller,
nor can he sing well.
The female, though,

asks little of him—
the blue satisfies her
completely, has
a magical effect
on her. When she returns
from her day of
gossip and shopping,
she sees he has found her
a new shred of blue foil:
for this she rewards him
with her dark body,
the stars turn slowly
in the blue foil beside them
like the eyes of a mild savior.


Monday, July 6, 2015

PAINTING: Georges Seurat, "Alfalfa Fields, Saint-Denis" (1885-6)

You might wonder 
how you could get out of this. 
And if you could, whether 
you'd ever be the same afterwards. 
(But yeah, probably not.)

Sunday, July 5, 2015

A Ravi Shankar Poem (2)

Double Rainbow

Speeding, without destination, after dark
torrents have poured & been returned
at home, the skies above mirror my mood,

windshield wipers knifing through sheets,
back roads slick with pooling, when a shard
of cloudlessness opens. Pulling over, cutting

the ignition, I unstitch myself from the humid
seat, still fuming, to greet a full spectrum
of color arcing past the treetops in lockstep

with its fainter inverse. Archer's bow, hem
of the sun god's coat, bridge between worlds,
reconciliation & pardon. They don't last.


Saturday, July 4, 2015

POEM: "Thirty-Three And A Bird"

Thirty-Three And A Bird

I'd be amazed too if other animals couldn't do it

Why only yesterday in Oz
the chestnut-crowned babbler bird
came clean something never before
seen in animals first sign

Outside of the human
an animal can use they
use meaningless sounds
in a different way

3 months ago Rabbit Angstrom ran out to buy his wife cigarettes. 
He hasn't come home yet.

Another monkey poem
that is not a game of chess

Thunder thirty-three and a bird

Even the smoke is attracted to him

It follows after he leaves the fire

Why do I bother?

© 2015 Rob Schackne

PHOTO: F.A. Loumis, "Independence Day, 1906"

OK about let's not blow up some shit today.

Friday, July 3, 2015

A Michael Robbins Poem

To The Drone Vaguely Realizing Eastward

This is a poem for President Drone.
It was written by a camel.
Can I borrow your phone?
This is for President Mark Hamill.

Newtown sounds a red alert.
Mark Hamill asks is Ernie burnt?
Every camel’s a first-person shooter.
The Prez’s fez is haute couture.

It seems strange that he should be offended.
The same orders are given by him.
Paging Pakistan and Yemen.
Calling all the drone-dead children.

The camel can’t come to the phone.
This is for the drone-in-chief.
Mumbai used to be Bombay.
The bomb bay opens with a queef.


A Michael Robbins Poem (2)

Lust For Life

The elephants ate each other then they dreamed
of eating elephants till their captors came
to feed them. Then they died. My meth lab
tends to explode. I move to a new one
like a hermit crab. I give the gift of gab.
The truth gets me hard. Song selection
is key. The idiot Swedes do a number on me.
They invent refrigeration and sleep in shifts.
I’m tired of being compared to Britney Spears.
She’s so pretty. I’m covered in petroglyphs.
That sorcerer bewitched my penis!
I’m speed and space, an Aztec princess.
The truth makes me hurl, the truth’s a mistake.
John Milton jumps out of my birthday cake.
The psyched Mohican oils the beaver.
Fruit Stripe gum soon loses flavor.
Everything’s flammable. Everything’s flash.
Postmen like doctors and doctors like cash.


Wednesday, July 1, 2015

A Guy Laramée Poem

I carve landscapes out of books 

and I paint romantic landscapes 

Mountains of disused knowledge 

return to what they really are 


they erode a bit more and they become hills 

Then they flatten and become fields 

where apparently nothing is happening 

Piles of obsolete encyclopedias return to that 

which does not need to say anything 

                                       that which simply is

Fogs and clouds erase everything we know

                          which is everything we think we are.