Sunday, November 29, 2015

POEM: "Women Boxing"

Women Boxing

Don’t enjoy 
it much either
better to fight
the house-dust

the closed window
the 1000 night jabs
below the belt
a faraway sound
a train is coming
the roundhouse
hard as a rail.

© 2015 Rob Schackne

Saturday, November 28, 2015

POEM: "A robot convention"

"A robot convention"

A robot convention. Doesn’t matter
they pick a mango. Pick their nose
you know I go as far as I can.
Come in, he says. A person leaves.
Everyone so hungry. My idiom for idiots
it's illegal to operate without permission
I hold the door for the poem. That’s all.
Just float through a window in the roof
maybe you hear one hand clapping
maybe you can see your original face.
How different the sky is when you don’t look up.

© 2015 Rob Schackne

Friday, November 27, 2015

A Yi Sha Poem

A Brief Record of Kongtong Mountain

The feeling of going up and the feeling of coming down
are completely unalike—

going up
the mountain appears half-hidden through thick mist

coming down
the mountain is laid bare in bright sunlight

it's as if there are two mountains
and I don't know which is more Kongtong

regardless which it is
I'll love Kongtong just the same

because this mountain is
the first in many years

that I have climbed
on my own two legs


(Trans. Heather Inwood)

Thursday, November 26, 2015

POEM: "For Once"

For Once
                               pace R.L.F.

Over Mr Frost's well-curb
Peering down into the deep
Echoes of the past, for once
They look well-meaning
And only then a flash of white
I say this is more than truth
More than well-whiskered cloud
But if two worlds why not three?
My heart's drumming like crazy
Dreams visit, a dizziness comes
Now what you see is what you get
They never thought to warn you.

© 2011 Rob Schackne

Wednesday, November 25, 2015

A Howard Altmann Poem

Paris Winter

That we can breathe and not forget
our dreams entirely. In the cold sun

the warmth of timelessness. There is
panic, rest assured, so much beauty

stirring, I want to touch all that
contains me. We know the questions

and the light shifts without a word.
In the clouds, a philosopher’s chair

rocks. In the riverbed, the buff
and lathe of stones, change glistening

past. And from the afternoon, drops
of her monthly blood drip down

the stairs, the kitchen table, all of her
unopened bills, a cold floor that timed

us. O, the ins and outs of memory
breathe, too, images at rest in the dark

chambers, the gilded daylight whir
a heart’s dusting—one walkup,

one post storm quiet blinking at
infinity. Who shot the moon

and claimed victory in the morning?
The constellations touch down;

the years collapse; the boom
and bust of love lowers the crane

at dawn: in what earth, in what sky
will the soul find its keeper?


Monday, November 23, 2015

POEM: "Act 1, Scene 3"

Act 1, Scene 3

The night succesfully prosecuted. The band excellent.
A little friction. A misunderstanding. Nothing bad.
Sitting with the lead singer's husband. He writes songs.
I remember we talked about ancient history. How sad.
We raised our children. How happy. Their lives go on.
Then we surveyed the future. There are words enough.
Johna with a pad and a pen. I requested Anita Baker.
Anna Lee didn't know the singer. I danced.
Good night. It's still raining.

© 2015 Rob Schackne

Sunday, November 22, 2015

POEM: "Summer Crept Silently To Rest"

"Summer Crept Silently To Rest"

Of the body, the belly, both the legs
That get in first, then the dick, the balls
Follow (she's away, but nothing happened)
The hot head is sort of a problem, actually
It’s a big problem, it’s such a Spanish night
The fincas and the ferias, her lustrous hair
Under imaginary stars and the flamenco
Relax the breathing, start thinking of rain
Like the next holy day that is waiting for

Those crystal palaces riding high in the sky
But no, because you see the waves emerging
Out of the moon's eye and turn over again.

© 2015 Rob Schackne

Friday, November 20, 2015

POEM: "A Post Office"

A Post Office

In China there's a post office
unmarked on maps, cellar-deep
where you can mail your dreams
(though you might wait for years)

True, they go out without a stamp
or an address, but someone gets them
and you know they get read, even
discussed before they vanish

And of course it costs plenty
a boatload of poetry and music
several galleries of good paintings
skillful dancing and love-making

But no one can ever know
the true excellence of this secret
how far it reaches into the soul
or how much it wishes to be silent.

© 2015 Rob Schackne

Wednesday, November 18, 2015

POEM: "After Du Fu"

After Du Fu

I signal the emptiness
I will take leave of you
I watch the passing of time
The speaker is erased
Absence fills with memory
Everyone is the same
Everyone is lonely.

© 2015 Rob Schackne

POEM: "After Han Shan"

After Han Shan

No taxis to Cold Mountain
No trains, no buses, no horses
The way is clear, there is no path
Dark clouds point at nothing
The wind says Don’t stop!
I have eaten enough today
Now it rains because I’m thirsty
See you on Cold Mountain!

© 2015 Rob Schackne

Monday, November 16, 2015

PHOTO: Turtles Beached

Sea turtles arriving to lay their eggs on Playa Ostional, 180 miles north-west of San Jose, the capital of Costa Rica. More than 250,000 olive ridley turtles came ashore on the beach in a mass nesting known as an arribada.

Sea turtles arriving to lay their eggs on Playa Ostional, 180 miles north-west of San Jose, the capital of Costa Rica. More than 250,000 Olive Ridley turtles came ashore on the beach in a mass nesting known as an arribada. Xinhua Press/Corbis

...and sure that's a lovely sight of them all come ashore to the beach all looking the same like that and they driving forward with an olive ridley energy you don't know anything about and there you are walking amongst them like a ________.

Sunday, November 15, 2015

A Louis Simpson Poem

I Dreamed that in a City Dark as Paris

I dreamed that in a city dark as Paris 
I stood alone in a deserted square.
The night was trembling with a violet
Expectancy. At the far edge it moved
And rumbled; on that flickering horizon
The guns were pumping color in the sky.

There was the Front. But I was lonely here,
Left behind, abandoned by the army.
The empty city and the empty square
Was my inhabitation, my unrest.
The helmet with its vestige of a crest,
The rifle in my hands, long out of date,
The belt I wore, the trailing overcoat
And hobnail boots, were those of a poilu.
I was the man, as awkward as a bear.

Over the rooftops where cathedrals loomed
In speaking majesty, two aeroplanes
Forlorn as birds, appeared. Then growing large,
The German Taube and the Nieuport Scout,
They chased each other tumbling through the sky,
Till one streamed down on fire to the earth.

These wars have been so great, they are forgotten
Like the Egyptian dynasts. My confrère
In whose thick boots I stood, were you amazed
To wander through my brain four decades later
As I have wandered in a dream through yours?

The violence of waking life disrupts
The order of our death. Strange dreams occur,
For dreams are licensed as they never were.


Saturday, November 14, 2015

POEM: "Friday 13th"

Friday 13th

There's more fossil fuel in reserve
now than can ever be inhaled

There's more hatred in supply
than anyone could ever need

Wake up roll out of bed put down
feet on the carpet of a flayed man

Play a little bit of Clifford Brown shave
shit shower and shampoo it’s just jazz

Happy Friday I tell them on the Thursday
just in case you don’t show up tomorrow

Sweet Tooth tells the story of how his youth
went to work and just blew up dead just blues

I remind the students of all the other work
remains to be done and better done well.

© 2015 Rob Schackne

Friday, November 13, 2015

A Jane Kenyon Poem

Afternoon in the House

It's quiet here. The cats
sprawl, each
in a favored place.
The geranium leans this way
to see if I'm writing about her:
head all petals, brown
stalks, and those green fans.
So you see,
I am writing about you.

I turn on the radio. Wrong.
Let's not have any noise
in this room, except
the sound of a voice reading a poem.
The cats request
The Meadow Mouse, by Theodore Roethke.

The house settles down on its haunches
for a doze.
I know you are with me, plants,
and cats - and even so, I'm frightened,
sitting in the middle of perfect


Tuesday, November 10, 2015

An Anne Sexton Poem

Her Kind

I have gone out, a possessed witch,
haunting the black air, braver at night;
dreaming evil, I have done my hitch
over the plain houses, light by light:
lonely thing, twelve-fingered, out of mind.
A woman like that is not a woman, quite.
I have been her kind.

I have found the warm caves in the woods,
filled them with skillets, carvings, shelves,
closets, silks, innumerable goods;
fixed the suppers for the worms and the elves:
whining, rearranging the disaligned.
A woman like that is misunderstood.
I have been her kind.

I have ridden in your cart, driver,
waved my nude arms at villages going by,
learning the last bright routes, survivor
where your flames still bite my thigh
and my ribs crack where your wheels wind.
A woman like that is not ashamed to die.
I have been her kind.


Sunday, November 8, 2015

POEM: "Ladders"


                        "You say you don't know, but you do know."

Incy-wincy wake up in the dark
go outside to the expansion
piss and look up at the stars

walk around the orchard 
it’s a kind of animal park 
working around the clock

the fruit was as dangerous 
as we once picked for knowledge
(the evil pastoral grins)

screw you a life on the land
working three months of Mondays
one rung up and two more down

with heigh-ho and awful rash
sweat and concentrated bugs
the fork-lift collects the bins

a shotgun resting underneath
apple-pickers worse than bad apples
economics of loss and flowers

© 2015 Rob Schackne

POEM: "How A Japanese Farmhouse Changed Their Lives"

How A Japanese Farmhouse Changed Their Lives

First, the execrable outhouse, unlettered haste to go,
a lingering pong stuck in the clothes. Then, the bug life.
More bugs than tried out for the moon shoot. But ambitious.
The noises started to make them crazy after the first week.

Groaning wood had to settle differently in every weather,
the scratchy music of the bamboos could never be stilled.
No electricity was a big problem, before they turned in early
to gaze for hours at the happy lizards going after the bugs.

There was a nauseating stench they couldn’t locate.
They talked to each other, sure, it was as boring as fuck.
They took turns reading aloud, but it became a farce.
Time passed very slowly. Arguments. The third month.

Sure, they drank the local hooch. Yes, it had a nasty kick.
They took back their old smoking habits and lost condition
tooting as they struggled to draw water from the well.
They got rashes. The water started tasting a little funny.

The books they brought to read grew attached to the shelves
like ruined lizards. Odd mould. They walked down to the village
that could not understand them and returned with garbage
they had to dig holes for and bury, swatting at the horseflies.

They bathed in natural water in a small natural wooden tub
in the icy water that each determined almost killed the other one.
When the time came to sell up, there were twenty sweaty farmers
watching them get screwed, happy their lives were changed.

© 2013 Rob Schackne

Saturday, November 7, 2015

POEM: "After A Poem By Guan Guan"

After A Poem By Guan Guan
                                                for Anna

The nightgardener 
under moonlight
the sleeping blossoms
shadows lengthened
there was a lake
a lake of mud
this was the ground
a ground of lotus
and now this room
once rooms of marsh
somewhere near here
there was a pond

was it really a pond
that is now a pond
that is now a house
once a house of lotus?

© 2013 Rob Schackne

Friday, November 6, 2015

POEM: "Confirmation"


Fifty years ago today
On the island of Barbados
That smelled of rum and mangoes
Running from wild dogs that scared me
Climbing trees where I could be safe
(Thanking God for His gift of life)
I am having Confirmation lessons
In a small parish chapel made of wood

Of the colonial Church of England
It is hot mid-summer, hot no fans
In the presence of beautiful black girls
Dressed in best Sunday school white
I'm probably eight they're so worldly
As they radiate that little girl frenzy
Nervous I'm the only white boy there
And they tease me, You so ma-lee-shus!
So fa-cee-shus! How you gwan get Hay-van?
Lord I didn’t know, but they laughed so much
I just kept falling in love, they looked so pious.

© 2015 Rob Schackne

Thursday, November 5, 2015

A Ron Slate Poem (3)

Naked City

Apprehended in Herald Square carrying the head of his sister-in-law
by her sprung hair. Hoop earrings. He said, I’m trapped in a story I heard.
Unsure of motive, the DA couldn’t say where the accused,
striding through the streets, was going.


On victory night, when celebrations erupt,
young men rock a pizza delivery van, striving for something
unprecedented but find no means, no proper subject.
Meanwhile, a videographer shooting a blocked intersection,
violence in her viewfinder, makes
no remark, here where photographers wearing fedoras
once belittled the corpses with tart epithets:

A Bottom Feeder was one who plummeted into a river from a bridge.
A Roast was the shape carried from a blaze.
A man lying in the street after a hit and run was a Flat Mammal.
A Dry Diver leapt from a ledge into the street.

Against the density of darkness, grotesque angle of neck to torso,
the flashgun’s light was so intrusive and swift
the police were printed in odd, feckless positions
as if they’d relinquished control of their bodies.


Even after decades of seeing these things,
explicated with captions of gangland hits and strangled hookers,
the city still gave rise to libidinous visions, couplings
on rooftop gardens, giddy spillage in limousines.
But it was the few words passed quickly,
conventional gestures between strangers,
newspaper vendor and his customer,
that barely kept a timed routine in place.


In the street, below streaming headlines (retaining their own light)
across the façades of commerce, the slightest lapse
of syntax between us could lead to ruin.
Stand back, say nothing for a moment.


We were walking up Broadway — a cab swerved
to avoid another cab and jumped the curb, harming no one,
but knocked in the side of a newspaper stall and startled the seller within.
A man took his child in his arms, we’ve been saved
he said as a page of newsprint shrouded his feet.


Zoom in on a cop’s son crushed under the overturned pizza van.
Everyone move back, move back, move back!


A city is coming,
not the city of the future or the world to come,
but the city of our glimpse and tread.
A city that may not ever be our city.
So proclaims a soiled evangelist with a sign
misspelled with sins as crowds leave
the stadium after a season-ending win.
High spirits, someone tosses him a bag of nuts.


A few inches in today’s paper:
An ancient river has been found, not in our city
but beneath Toronto. A cap blew off an artesian well.
While workers repaired it, another top blew nearby —
the Laurentian River, long surmised
in a soaking valley of bedrock debris,
had exposed itself at last.

Hydrologists could only speak of it, there are no images.
It’s drinkable, with a ferrous tang,
but the water is not its fine excess.
The rumor of discovery is.


Published in Plume Poetry #52 (Oct/Nov 2015)

Wednesday, November 4, 2015

POEM: "The Osprey"

The Osprey

                                    Guan guan cry the ospreys
                                    On the islet in the river.

                                    from Shi Jing (The Book Of Songs) 7th cent. BCE

Athena carries King Pandion to safety in Megara
A rehabber rescues an osprey fallen prey to our debris

A rest from the shit the oil slick the plastics the DDT
She should be mesmerizing fish with her razor feet

Greetings from the Blancan the seas are getting colder
A cousin’s claw fossil 2½ million years old says hello

She asks you if hubris is the left side of madness
Whether it brings ruin to the “sovereignty of nature”

Like grabbing hold of a fish so heavy it will drown me
The waters rising over my old heart getting colder

The sun shines in her eyes she shades them with a wing
Tomorrow the shoals of decent fish who dream of light

99% of the moon illuminated and the waters are calm
The sky big & clear tonight who knows how late this is

                                                         for Charles Causey in Islamorada

© 2013 Rob Schackne

photo: Charles Causey

Tuesday, November 3, 2015

POEM: "Chest Fever"

Chest Fever

You say chest fever won't last 
Now I wonder if you're right. But
No, you'll have to plan the get-away

The side-entrance, the alleyways and exits 
Remove the extensions and anxiety 
(A relief when you're last in line) 

A single life is sad, she said, legs over mine
Everyone's chest fever is waiting everyplace 
In our ultimate marrow the other one never comes 

Chest fever, a day that rejects us 
Chest fever, a line on an X-ray 
Chest fever, leaving our glasses behind.

© 2012 Rob Schackne

Sunday, November 1, 2015

MUSIC: Tears For Fears (1985) / The Bad Plus (2007), "Everybody Wants To Rule The World"

The great TFF and the great Bad Plus. "Welcome to your life/There's no turning back". It won't make Patti Smith very happy, but the song reminds me a bit of Babelogue"I haven't fucked much with the past/But I've fucked plenty with the future." Let's all just try to be punctual, OK?