Sunday, August 30, 2015

POEM: "The Destruction Of Palmyra"

The Destruction of Palmyra

Where vandals lay charges, no
Not charges, discharges, the
De-charges, that destroy
No, try to destroy time
Something remains
No, it never stays
Very long, but
No history’s

© 2015 Rob Schackne

Saturday, August 29, 2015

A W.S. Merwin Poem


I will tell you what he told me
in the years just after the war
as we then called
the second world war

don't lose your arrogance yet he said
you can do that when you're older
lose it too soon and you may
merely replace it with vanity

just one time he suggested
changing the usual order
of the same words in a line of verse
why point out a thing twice

he suggested I pray to the Muse
get down on my knees and pray
right there in the corner and he
said he meant it literally

it was in the days before the beard
and the drink but he was deep
in tides of his own through which he sailed
chin sideways and head tilted like a tacking sloop

he was far older than the dates allowed for
much older than I was he was in his thirties
he snapped down his nose with an accent
I think he had affected in England

as for publishing he advised me
to paper my wall with rejection slips
his lips and the bones of his long fingers trembled
with the vehemence of his views about poetry

he said the great presence
that permitted everything and transmuted it
in poetry was passion
passion was genius and he praised movement and invention

I had hardly begun to read
I asked how can you ever be sure
that what you write is really
any good at all and he said you can't

you can't you can never be sure
you die without knowing
whether anything you wrote was any good
if you have to be sure don't write


POEM: "When The City Goes Dark Brown"

When The City Goes Dark Brown

An eerie brown light tonight
gnomes churning out the coal
their feet intent on dimming
the all-clear wholesome air

The mood is heavy street lamps
the cars are stopped by rockfall
the hoodoo flags the imagination
(I think the gnomes know better)

In this deliberate night of ours
every year the same argument
where darkness gives new eyes
& the odd tear falls in deep places

We discuss the B-flat world
she said it denoted comfort
it was our first date so I demur
(it’s true I sleep better when it rains)

I don't mention the scattered love
vuvuzoolas blatting out of autos
world-wide air-conditioners dull hums
in the ordinary winds of the world

I cut back listen for another note
look at my wall at the Tibetan mask
hanging in blood ringed with skulls
what I am reminded of forgetting

Fire & wind friction of moving parts
inside the daily machinery of our lives
the message the appeal that’s lost us
this other music stored in silence.

© 2013 Rob Schackne

Friday, August 28, 2015

POEM: "I check my newsletters today"

“I check my newsletters today”

I check my newsletters today
I see the big headline question
Just how resilient is Spacetime?
Quickly I hazard a poet’s caution
And throw all science to the winds
Ships sail by the edges of the world

The fruit all sits well in the basket
Spacetime's as resilient as a banana
It’s as good as your weekend plans

Count to 10 count to 20 good luck
Then wait for the endless replies.

© 2015 Rob Schackne

Thursday, August 27, 2015

A Chard deNiord Poem

Dream of Heaven

I’d smoke cigars all day and into the night
while I wrote and wrote without
any hope or the slightest assurance
that anything I’d written actually mattered
or rose to a standard of literary merit.
I’d languish in the smoke that did me in
and call it the cloud of my unknowing,
so sweet in its taste, such as it was,
of Cuban soil. That would be paradise
in heaven that’s so overrated as endless
bliss it kills to imagine it's a place for living
forever, no less, with nothing to do
or lips to kiss. I’d curse, therefore,
with the best of them—the legion
of Saved—as I sharpened my pencils
and smoked my Punches in the simple room
that I’d be given with a desk for writing
and bed for remembering the things
I’d forgotten. And reading too, I almost
forgot. I’d read and read since I’d be done
with sleeping, but dreaming, no, still dreaming
a lot. I’d live to live again with moments
of dying to see how “lucky” I was. I’d use
my body as an eidolon with invisible wings
that fluttered in the void as if it were air
and hummed in the dark where I could see.


Wednesday, August 26, 2015

POEM: "Cave, Mastodon & Antlered Creature"

Cave, Mastodon & Antlered Creature

Crystals gleam before the night
she awakes before the others
a cave lit in both directions

Putting hands on hard stone walls
she walks beyond their last erasure
midnight of vision or dawn of sleep

She’ll walk 50 feet past the erasure
in and out again by the force of fire

surprised when the subject is the same

They call her simple they say she’s crazy
which hardly concerns her principles
toting the bag with the colors she needs.

© 2014 Rob Schackne

Tuesday, August 25, 2015

A Nathaniel Mackey Poem

Song of the Andoumboulou: 166 ½

Decapitism stuck to the end of my
   tongue. What to do but call it names
I thought. It wasn’t thought I was  
   ing I’d have answered had I been
asked, not even thinking I thought…
  I sat brooding, tracking a feather’s
    plummet my lush regard. I sat
brooding, hen’s heat yogic so bent
   my hickory legs were, hickory
  transcendent so flexed it was. So it
    will have been said absentmindedly
rolled off my tongue. Least thought,
       thought I mock made-believe I
  believed, prophet shod in castoff
   tread… Profitry rolled off as well,
jelly-coated pill I bit. Bitness rolled
   it or might as well have, qu’ahttet’s
broken jaw. Change was the law I
  sat reflecting, right foot nested on
     left inner thigh, left leg pointed
  straight ahead. I sat, Buddhistic
   hurdler, musing, mouth open, ip-
seities arrayed in a row… I sat, I
    thinking thought’s province re-
 ceded, beauty’s provocation revoked
  as our loins contracted, Itamar,
 cio, all us men. Tantric hoist I was
  thinking, thought’s adumbration,
what ached and what resigned itself,
    placed… We sat checking out the
 yogis in leotards, Ahdja, Eleanoir,
   Anuncia, Sophia, every womanly
wisp under the sun. I dreamt again we
   away with no way home, this or that
     plane waiting, this or that takeoff
 missed, sweet crease loaded with ore
   to be absconded with, gold we’d’ve
     otherwise been. Bent intonation inter-
vened, a reed off away in the distance,
    sanet’s name I no sooner gave than
was given back, Brother B’s wild ox
  moan… I sat dejected, thought’s
    pointment missed, disappointed,
 abscondity’s eviscerate redoubt. I
  was thinking thought had yet to be-
gin, thought’s far emblem a star too
  for sight, leotarded crux and cur-
    vature’s ignition, thought’s due ad-
vent I thought no such arrival, what come-
 liness it wore wore thin. No ideas but
    them I thought, cloak and conni-
 vance the lords of that house, abode


Monday, August 24, 2015

POEM: "The Message"

The Message

I lean towards the message
I'm waiting for something
the skies are filled with fire
everywhere the streets are lit
by other screens, by dreams
we march and none can see
I've got to go now, goodnight

© 2015 Rob Schackne

Sunday, August 23, 2015

POEM: "Far more crap than"

"Far more crap than"

Far more crap than 
I can shake a stick at
knowledge and poems
don’t help flush away

Point, shout all you like
many won't be looking
it could be true, wanting
but listening like a bird

Bend, twist everything
that includes the strange
shaped by anything, we–
I try to relax and breathe

Sound waves, light waves
exit through the gift shop
over the fence, down the lane
all goes through the mirror.

© 2015 Rob Schackne

Saturday, August 22, 2015

A Heather McHugh Poem (3)

Language Lesson 1976

When Americans say a man
takes liberties, they mean

he's gone too far. In Philadelphia today I saw
a kid on a leash look mom-ward

and announce his fondest wish: one
bicentennial burger, hold

the relish. Hold is forget,
in American.

On the courts of Philadelphia
the rich prepare

to serve, to fault. The language is a game as well,
in which love can mean nothing,

doubletalk mean lie. I'm saying
doubletalk with me. I'm saying

go so far the customs are untold.
Make nothing without words,

and let me be
the one you never hold.


Friday, August 21, 2015

POEM: "Yearn"


In a room that has no corners
on a bend that sees no lights

like a dripping cave with claws
it's trying to expel something

out of the past — a malignant
forgiveness, an axial flexor

a branch line or terminus-fret
these are forests without trees

seas without shipping bubbles
only a nausea that's like noise

oil sickness, fumes & machinery
you would expel it all willingly

for one night's steady beacon
a pure melody above the drum

sure, but everyone must have it
caveat emptor, diddle-dee-dum

entry was below a bridge this time
its structure looked solid enough.

© 2012 Rob Schackne

Thursday, August 20, 2015

POEM: "First Nights Of A Chinese Autumn"

First Nights Of A Chinese Autumn 

I wish I had a mood
About autumn instead of
A sore back, a hangover

Memories of love like
Cicadas drop from trees
Washed in hot rain

I wish I had an autumn
About a mood instead of
Noisy insects, the summer

Still whistles, not autumn yet
It mumurs with fans and sweat
Days are long, calm is rare 

I’m a long horse-tail
Swatting at the flies
I try to order more wine

© 2015 Rob Schackne

Wednesday, August 19, 2015

POEM: "Trust In Me (If You Can)"

Trust In Me (If You Can)

                                        for Jack Heseltine

No referees in a game that
Has no beginning and no end

On a scrambled field of hope
After half-time or just before

Ex-Croatian national team
Not just another sack of shit

When 2 years later I played
Elbows and feet to his 6 foot 3

Now these words on a page
Is a poem like a bee sting?

The war zone and the refugees
Games played with brutal rope

The electricity was lethal
I had misjudged my step

Did Plato ever guarantee
The one authentic voice?

Did Thamus actually believe
That Thoth of the sacred ibis

Invented writing as a whip
Or martial football, any game?

I wouldn’t trust any poem
Farther than I could throw it.

© 2012 Rob Schackne

Tuesday, August 18, 2015

A Sam Ross Poem


I believe this is
as real as anything
but safe. It’s like
Puccini: we’re so close
to the moon up here
let me tell you who
I am — and guess
about you: do you like
to fable — I mean
danke — I mean
dance? What I like
is not knowing
what we look like
to each other. Isn’t it
that way anyway?
I saw silverberries
so high atop stones
they were black
against the sky.
Limbs, finger-thin.
More evidence
never hurt a case
for handsome but
by the time you
reach me, I may be
somewhere else.
You might not
even know — like
sleeping in a tent
on a dune moving
miles through
the night. Or now
when I’m close. Are you


Sunday, August 16, 2015

A Christina Rossetti Poem

The Heart Knoweth Its Own Bitterness

When all the over-work of life
Is finished once, and fast asleep
We swerve no more beneath the knife
But taste that silence cool and deep;
Forgetful of the highways rough,
Forgetful of the thorny scourge,
Forgetful of the tossing surge,
Then shall we find it is enough?
How can we say "enough" on earth--
"Enough" with such a craving heart?
I have not found it since my birth,
But still have bartered part for part.
I have not held and hugged the whole,
But paid the old to gain the new:
Much have I paid, yet much is due,
Till I am beggared sense and soul.
I used to labour, used to strive
For pleasure with a restless will:
Now if I save my soul alive
All else what matters, good or ill?
I used to dream alone, to plan
Unspoken hopes and days to come:--
Of all my past this is the sum--
I will not lean on child of man.
To give, to give, not to receive!
I long to pour myself, my soul,
Not to keep back or count or leave,
But king with king to give the whole.
I long for one to stir my deep--
I have had enough of help and gift--
I long for one to search and sift
Myself, to take myself and keep.
You scratch my surface with your pin,
You stroke me smooth with hushing breath:--
Nay pierce, nay probe, nay dig within,
Probe my quick core and sound my depth.
You call me with a puny call,
You talk, you smile, you nothing do:
How should I spend my heart on you,
My heart that so outweighs you all?
Your vessels are by much too strait:
Were I to pour, you could not hold.--
Bear with me: I must bear to wait,
A fountain sealed through heat and cold.
Bear with me days or months or years:
Deep must call deep until the end
When friend shall no more envy friend
Nor vex his friend at unawares.
Not in this world of hope deferred,
This world of perishable stuff:--
Eye hath not seen nor ear hath heard
Nor heart conceived that full "enough":
Here moans the separating sea,
Here harvests fail, here breaks the heart:
There God shall join and no man part,
I full of Christ and Christ of me.


Saturday, August 15, 2015

POEM" "After Reading A Poem"

After Reading A Poem 

Because it is a poem again 
despite the stretch of darkness
and there is echidna, octopus and cat
and so long as there’s that in the world
sealed bags will not go around the head.
There will be more quarrels with the self
that will demand more meaning, while
the profound self adjusts to the search for it.
Although, as always, I suppose there may
come a time when enough is fair enough
and to give it no more never more
will be the better, yes, alternative.

© 2015 Rob Schackne

Friday, August 14, 2015

POEM: "Untilted"


It’s said that one word writ
upon a wall is not a poem, that
a leopard may not know its spots
whether behind or with or during
and some new love only requires that
an old love jumped the fence – so today
I can talk about how we frame things
and I speak of being released by history
by gender and neglect and all the dreams
of the poor and the angry 
 then I see
six bored students I’d put in a sacred circle.

© 2015 Rob Schackne

Thursday, August 13, 2015

POEM: "She Saved My Ass"

She Saved My Ass

During an altercation
in a bar one night
she saved my ass
my back was turned
he came up with a knife
she hit him with a bottle
she was from the mountains
they believe in hard things
it was then I fell in love
big arms and shoulders
every inch of her 6 foot tall
it was such a simple thing
when we were leaving
she stomped hard on his hand
after that the graceful years
lord she was so tender
her feet were lovely &
she loved me very well.

© 2013 Rob Schackne

Wednesday, August 12, 2015

A Louise Bogan Poem

Song for the Last Act

Now that I have your face by heart, I look 
Less at its features than its darkening frame
Where quince and melon, yellow as young flame,
Lie with quilled dahlias and the shepherd's crook.
Beyond, a garden. There, in insolent ease
The lead and marble figures watch the show
Of yet another summer loath to go
Although the scythes hang in the apple trees.

Now that I have your face by heart, I look.

Now that I have your voice by heart, I read
In the black chords upon a dulling page
Music that is not meant for music's cage,
Whose emblems mix with words that shake and bleed.
The staves are shuttled over with a stark
Unprinted silence. In a double dream
I must spell out the storm, the running stream.
The beat's too swift. The notes shift in the dark.

Now that I have your voice by heart, I read.

Now that I have your heart by heart, I see
The wharves with their great ships and architraves;
The rigging and the cargo and the slaves
On a strange beach under a broken sky.
O not departure, but a voyage done!
The bales stand on the stone; the anchor weeps
Its red rust downward, and the long vine creeps
Beside the salt herb, in the lengthening sun.

Now that I have your heart by heart, I see.


Tuesday, August 11, 2015

A Jennifer Chang Poem

Patsy Cline

She’s in the desert
releasing the ashes of her father,
the ashes of her child,
or the ashes of the world. She is not

what she observes. The rare spinystar.
It does not belong to her. Bright needle threading
a cloud through the sky. There’s sun enough,
there’s afterlife. Her own body, a pillar of ash.
I fall to pieces, she says. Faithless

nimbus, faithless thought. In my life,
I have lost two men. One by death,
inevitable. One

by error: a waste. He wept
from a northern state,
hunger too cold
for human knowledge.

Once I was a woman with nothing to say.

Never did I say ash to ash.
Never has the desert woken me up.
I said
who releases whom?

Inevitably, all have known
what the desert knows. No one
will count the lupine when I’m gone.

No one looks to the sun
for meaning. For meat
I’ve done so much less.

Cattle in the far basin, sagebrush, sage.

I live in the city where I loved that man.
The ash of him, the self’s argument.

Now and then, I think of his weeping,
how my body betrays me:
I am not done with releasing.


Monday, August 10, 2015

POEM: "Reach the top of the mountain, keep climbing"

"Reach the top of the mountain, keep climbing"

Imagine a ladder into the clouds
After the wealth of all that sweat
You’re climbing for what? Heart
Or endurance, ¿flaco o flojo? Stars
Ever closer to the gateway of your soul.
You finally get there. All around it
Looks forlorn it took you so long.

© 2015 Rob Schackne

POEM: "Sign Of The Times"

Sign Of The Times

Gruesome reminder, the mountain
Always gives up its dead. Time
However, ticks a little differently.
All kinds of unexpected men & women
A glacier releases, slowly, like gold
Or a butterfly. A tree gets green leaves.
I get my heart back. I get art. I get you.
A family gets their sons back, plus
Old boots and a rope that couldn't hold.
Meditate on this when sitting in a crevasse.
Look down, listen, as your dark shelf moves.

© 2015 Rob Schackne

Sunday, August 9, 2015

A Robert Herrick Poem

To His Dying Brother, Master William Herrick

LIFE of my life, 'take not so soon thy flight,
But stay the time till we have bade good-night.
Thou hast both wind and tide with thee; thy way
As soon despatch'd is by the night as day.
Let us not then so rudely henceforth go
Till we have wept, kissed, sigh'd, shook hands, or so.
There's pain in parting, and a kind of hell,
When once true lovers take their last farewell.
What! shall we two our endless leaves take here
Without a sad look or a solemn tear?
He knows not love that hath not this truth proved,
Love is most loath to leave the thing beloved.
Pay we our vows, and go; yet when we part,
Then, even then, I will bequeath my heart
Into thy loving hands; for I'll keep none
To warm my breast when thou, my pulse, art gone.
No, here I'll last, and walk (a harmless shade)
About this urn, wherein thy dust is laid,
To guard it so as nothing here shall be
Heavy to hurt those secret seeds of thee.

(Ca. 1652)

Thursday, August 6, 2015

POEM: "The hell to be inside"

“The hell to be inside” 

The hell to be inside
the mind of a racist
marked by his old code
shaping an angry world
yes I too am marked
by my old codes by
what is human man
is an important signpost
we take our bearings from
that we wander not too far
from reason else our conviction
destroys us liberal dream broke.

© 2015 Rob Schackne

Wednesday, August 5, 2015

A Gerard Manley Hopkins Poem (3)

"No worst, there is none."

No worst, there is none. Pitched past pitch of grief,
More pangs will, schooled at forepangs, wilder wring.
Comforter, where, where is your comforting?
Mary, mother of us, where is your relief?
My cries heave, herds-long; huddle in a main, a chief
Woe, wórld-sorrow; on an áge-old anvil wince and sing —
Then lull, then leave off. Fury had shrieked 'No ling-
ering! Let me be fell: force I must be brief."'

    O the mind, mind has mountains; cliffs of fall
Frightful, sheer, no-man-fathomed. Hold them cheap
May who ne'er hung there. Nor does long our small
Durance deal with that steep or deep. Here! creep,
Wretch, under a comfort serves in a whirlwind: all
Life death does end and each day dies with sleep.

(Ca. 1870)

Tuesday, August 4, 2015

MUSIC: Jim James, "State Of The Art (A.E.I.O.U.)" (2013)

Daylight come
Daylight go
How far will it reach?
Ain't nobody know

And when the dawn breaks
The cradle will fall
And down will come baby
Cradle and all

And now I know you need the dark
Just as much as the sun
But you're signing on forever
When you ink it in blood

A.E.I.O.U., A.E.I.O.U.
I use the state of the art
Suppose to make for better living
Are we better human beings?
We got our wires all crossed
The tubes are all tied
And I'm straining to remember
Just what means to be alive

A life worth living
Now you can feel it in your chest
Building like the little birds
Just building up the nest
And you build it up strong
And you fill it up with love
And you pray for good rain
All from the Lord above

A.E.I.O.U., A.E.I.O.U.

I use my state of the art
Now don't you forget it
It ain't using me
'Cause when the power goes out
I got other means
'Cause when the power's going out
I hear the power's going out
I mean it the power's going out
I really mean it the power's going out

Jim James

Monday, August 3, 2015

A Philip Levine Poem (4)

What Work Is

We stand in the rain in a long line
waiting at Ford Highland Park. For work.
You know what work is—if you're
old enough to read this you know what
work is, although you may not do it.
Forget you. This is about waiting,
shifting from one foot to another.
Feeling the light rain falling like mist
into your hair, blurring your vision
until you think you see your own brother
ahead of you, maybe ten places.
You rub your glasses with your fingers,
and of course it's someone else's brother,
narrower across the shoulders than
yours but with the same sad slouch, the grin
that does not hide the stubbornness,
the sad refusal to give in to
rain, to the hours wasted waiting,
to the knowledge that somewhere ahead
a man is waiting who will say, 'No,
we're not hiring today,' for any
reason he wants. You love your brother,
now suddenly you can hardly stand
the love flooding you for your brother,
who's not beside you or behind or
ahead because he's home trying to
sleep off a miserable night shift
at Cadillac so he can get up
before noon to study his German.
Works eight hours a night so he can sing
Wagner, the opera you hate most,
the worst music ever invented.
How long has it been since you told him
you loved him, held his wide shoulders,
opened your eyes wide and said those words,
and maybe kissed his cheek? You've never
done something so simple, so obvious,
not because you're too young or too dumb,
not because you're jealous or even mean
or incapable of crying in
the presence of another man, no,
just because you don't know what work is.


Sunday, August 2, 2015

POEM" "From The Three-Self Movement"

From The Three-Self Movement

I too would be all gunfighter
And explain how death hits
The floor, except that the floor
Is constructed with the sweat
Of many workers, mostly men
And some don’t much mind death,
But in the early morning they lay

The foundations of the rest of us.

And I too would be all Casanova
And explain love and how it smells
The body, except that this body
Is constructed of the serial fears
Of unknown lovers, who don’t know
That heartbreak isn't the end of life,
But still take their chances, even though
It's late in the afternoon of the rest of us.

And I too would be all Zen master
And explain how old dust accords
To new dust, that hitting the wall
Is dripping with the mind of billions
While the Three-Self Movement cries
Wisdom won't take your life on the street,
But please come take a late walk by the river
While the moon waits there for the rest of us.

© 2015 Rob Schackne

Saturday, August 1, 2015

POEM: "On The Edge Of Joy"

On The Edge Of Joy 

                          This art of behavior.
                          Poetry into the ground.

                               Qin Fei

When we barely know
we're     going down
the clouds are beautiful

in the sweet curves
of our deliverance
a few degrees of angels

if only she stopped
screaming     her beauty
could start the engines

on the edge of joy
we weigh nothing
except our hearts

we yearn to be birds
like birds yearn to be
butterflies     clearly

it is impossible

we are going home

© 2015 Rob Schackne