Monday, February 29, 2016

A Dashushu Poem

Thanks For Listening

In fact I was 
sitting opposite you
you looked good
even if I did not

I didn’t know whether
to let the sand castle fall
or to honor the tide
like a fresh horse

I don’t know how you
can be so brave already abandoned
I am desperate over the death of you
I will get over it

Everyday I wonder about
peace love and understanding
I don’t know how
there is any relief from pain

I don’t understand the
flow of tears
into the sea
or how the wind and rain are cousins

Actually I am glad
that we are so distant
I’m really trying
to listen carefully.


Version by Rob Schackne (2016)

Sunday, February 28, 2016

POEM: "The Uncontacted"

The Uncontacted

                        No son Peruanos. 
                       No son desaparecidos.
                       No vienen más y no vuelven.

A bright white
plane flies over

they shout point
they throw stones
(sorry but it’s
not their god)
open eyes wide
the bird flies away
three months later
push a boat down

the throat of the
big mother river
a world of stories

never sees a cliff
eyes open wider
her hidden people
now they learn
they should have
stayed in the forest.

© 2015 Rob Schackne

Saturday, February 27, 2016

POEM: "To Cloudy Day In Beijing"

To Cloudy Day in Beijing

                                              for Yu Dan

Enough to call a poet a friend
To understand a sweet breeze
While trains go in different directions
And how looking out the windows
The world moves faster and faster
But how it eventually stops
Some old cow looks at a horse
Then the horse turns and looks at you
You hear the shout and board the train again.

© 2016 Rob Schackne

Thursday, February 25, 2016

A Duo Duo Poem


it’s morning or any time, it’s morning
you dream of waking up, you’re afraid of waking up
so you say: you’re afraid of ropes, afraid of women with faces of birds, so you dream of your father
speaking bird words, drinking bird milk
you dream of your father as a bachelor
who by chance, not in a dream
had you, you dream the dream your father dreamed
you dream your father says: this is a dream a dead man has dreamed.

you don’t believe but you’re inclined to believe
this is a dream, only a dream, and it’s yours:
it was once the handlebar of a bicycle keeping the shape squeezed by a hand now, it droops from your father’s belly
it was once a son refusing to be born
now it’s you
crawling back to that handlebar you’ve dreamed all the details
like the teeth your father dropped on the ground, glittering
and laughing at you
so you are not the death
but merely a case of death: you’ve dreamed your dream’s death.


Trans. Ming Di (2013)

Tuesday, February 23, 2016

A Lü De'an Poem

Mountains' Ecstasy

this endless range of mountains holds all of our music:
a resplendent and motionless tree
a patch of azure-intersticed cloud
an incinerated plummeting angel
its bird-wings be will liquidized, dripping on
jumbled stone heaps. therefore
we can all listen to the surging of the summits after dark,
a black and blurred dark mass
come daytime, they're back in their places, listening for orders
we can all listen to boulders borne on the mountaintops breeding
giving off starlight, while for thousands of years
that massive rock weighted down underneath mountains
looks in the gloom like some capsized earthen jar
with just the right amount of water trickling over it—
satisfying time. and yet before you know it
all these objects will be turned to nothingness.
then that music we all tried so hard to find will vanish
we will all once again lie down together
accepting dream's touching
she cares for our bodies
wanting to bear us back to the cradle
for boulders that happen to roll down from the mountains
she knows appropriate prayers to make them roll back
once more mountainwards
restored to their stony nature, o stones
we hear you: stay where you are—
this you and me of springtime

Trans. Simon Patton (2003)

Sunday, February 21, 2016

A Rachel Eliza Griffiths Poem

Seeing The Body

Not hers but mine. Not hers ever again. Ever

hers, my body pulled through, two

long windows open in the dark of birth,

the gold cord raised too in its wake. Awake,

the first morning. The first morning & all,

all the windows were closed inside. A blindness

scalding broken sight. The silence pulled through

my nostrils & veins, the ether of air failing

flesh. I get up from the shape I once was

& open the white blinds in my brother’s house.

The light is specific. It is the 29th morning

of July. Last night they dragged me howling from her

body in the room. The room had a name,

number 3315, in the cardiac wing. In the room

I saw her winged shape leave, rise, forgive the

vessel that fled her. Now mine or ours, I

stare in the mirror while everyone sleeps

the aggrieved sleep of the living. Behind my eyes

a dead woman looks back at me with no trace

of recognition. I say ‘Mother’ & my own

feral mouth opens. Closes without any light.

Friday, February 19, 2016

POEM: "A Lament For When It Comes From Behind"

A Lament For When It Comes From Behind 

That someone’s life is saved by 
poetry or art, or construction
with the cranes and girders
all that rests in the sunlight
till the edifice is completed
except that the building’s flawed
and it rains like seven heavens
are bewildered by life’s lizards
pipes leaking important knowledge
and thanks, but I wasn’t saved at all.

© 2015 Rob Schackne

Thursday, February 18, 2016

POEM: "A Cloud Song"

A Cloud Song

                    pace G. Gershwin

I could cry salty tears
bread and wine, roses
for roses, an empty chair
ten thousand was drunk
that never was born...
your picture's on the wall
above an unfamiliar bed
where have I been all these years
a cloud beginning to descend
my little wow, tell me how
I won't be seeing you again
how long has this been going on?

© 2016 Rob Schackne

Monday, February 15, 2016

A Thomas McGrath Poem

Such Simple Love

All night long I hear the sleepers toss
Between the darkened window and the wall.
The madman’s whimper and the lover’s voice,
The worker’s whisper and the sick child’s call—
Knowing them all

I’d walk a mile, maybe, hearing some cat
Crying its guts out, to throttle it by hand,
Such simple love I had. I wished I might—
Or God might—answer each call in person and
Each poor demand.

Well, I’d have been better off sleeping myself.
These fancies had some sentimental charm,
But love without direction is a cheap blanket
And even if it did no one any harm,
No one is warm.


A Thomas McGrath Poem (2)


I don't belong in this century—who does?
In my time, summer came someplace in June—
The cutbanks blazing with roses, the birds brazen, and the astonished
Pastures frisking with young calves . . .
                                                                That was in the country—
I don't mean another country, I mean in the country:
And the country is lost. I don't mean just lost to me,
Nor in the way of metaphorical loss—it's lost that way too—
No; nor in no sort of special case: I mean

Now, down below, in the fire and stench, the city
Is building its shell: elaborate levels of emptiness
Like some sea-animal building toward its extinction.
And the citizens, unserious and full of virtue,
Are hunting for bread, or money, or a prayer,
And I behold them, and this season of man, without love.

If it were not a joke, it would be proper to laugh.
—Curious how that rat's nest holds together—
Distracting . . .
                         Without it there might be, still,
The gold wheel and the silver, the sun and the moon,
The season's ancient assurance under the unstable stars
Our fiery companions . . .
                                          And trees, perhaps, and the sound
Of the wild and living water hurrying out of the hills.

Without these, I have you for my talisman:
Sun, moon, the four seasons,
The true voice of the mountains. Now be
(The city revolving in its empty shell,
The night moving in from the East)
—Be thou these things.


Sunday, February 14, 2016

POEM: "A 2-Day Love Poem"

A 2-Day Love Poem

A first night of bliss

roses and chocolates
followed by showers
then it's breakfast time
we're both thinking
of something else to do
go to bed for more kisses
both fall asleep afterwards
we both wake up
it’s already dark
we're hungry again
then the showers
then it’s dinner time
candles and red wine
hold hands more kisses
both of us hungry again
back upstairs to the room
bliss follows blisses
the breakfast again
the showers again
and the taxis wait.

© 2016 Rob Schackne

Thursday, February 11, 2016

POEM: "Now I Lay Me Down To Sleep"

Now I Lay Me Down To Sleep

The mountain gives up its dead
as the old sea gives up its dead

As the new street lamps come on
the music started you kissed me

The shooting galleries opened
the clowns still walked on stilts

The rides begin to scream
once I was twelve years old

I lean towards the message
someone I believe is waiting

Nearby the streets are shining
on other screens other dreams

Now I've got to go goodnight
and if I should die before I wake

And if the birds sing all the night
and my wary eyes see no threats

I pray the Lord my soul to take
dashing out into the just light

A few debts from perfection
the world that struck me was good.

© 2016 Rob Schackne

Tuesday, February 9, 2016

A Rebecca Hazelton Poem

In the Room Where We Are Human

I don’t want to live in the time of the lumbering dinosaurs.
Not even the quick, feathered ones whose discovery
revised out of existence the plodding walnut brained
behemoths I colored with crayons. Why did I memorize
the Latin names—why thunder lizard at all?
Once there was the animatronic neck of the sad mother
discovering her ravaged nest with a terrible slowness.
It took almost an hour for the loss to reach her.
Mammals are the ones that steal, again and again.
First they are rats and then they grow larger and then
they walk upright. This stays the same.
The measured mother is replaced with a swifter model,
and it is inaccurate, scientifically, for humans
to ride dinosaurs, saddled or otherwise,
even if one wears a bikini made of skins
or sports an impressive tan. With faith, however,
all things are possible, and so in the Creationist museum
humans and dinosaurs live together, but not well.
There are many battles until the Lord comes.
It seems like an exciting time. In this world,
we make due with the maps of paths not taken,
extra organs, a smidge of tail, but with our nerves—
those pathways of astonishing speed—we feel pain
not just in the moment it begins, but before, and ever after.


Monday, February 8, 2016

POEM: "A Letter to Kay"

A Letter to Kay

Sure. And you’ve got nothing better to do
than to read about poets in the madhouse
(whereas I’ll admit I’m quite delighted
there are a number of better situations
I’d rather be in) even though it’s true people
are not the same. The same! Delete immediately.

And I know the moments you’re teaching
the younger adults how to think. To think!
Delete immediately. And it gives me hope
& broad pleasure (spread across my face)
to share a similar pejorative employment
searching for words & books that are not there.

Sure. And how it’s strange when poets
forget everything they know. The poets!
And I remember the sun on my fountain pen
when I daydreamed in class! Delete immediately.
Nothing better (I thought) than smart shapely women
and (failing that) the thousand poems they would read.

© 2016 Rob Schackne

Sunday, February 7, 2016

POEM: "To All The Poets"

To All The Poets


Keep the sunrises
We are where we sit
The chair sits behind
We take the warmth with us

Beneath our feet the earth boils
The sound of drumming
The blessings of the good
Night sleeping in the yaodong.


Who ends your poem?
Only the night. Only sleep
Don’t despair! You’ll be rich
(Invisible. Maybe)

What cannot be said
Weighs heavier than the night
A mere poem is a leaf in the wind
Waiting for a storm.

© 2016 Rob Schackne

Saturday, February 6, 2016

A Jack Spicer Poem

"Any fool can get into an ocean"

Any fool can get into an ocean
But it takes a Goddess
To get out of one.
What’s true of oceans is true, of course,
Of labyrinths and poems. When you start swimming
Through riptide of rhythms and the metaphor’s seaweed
You need to be a good swimmer or a born Goddess
To get back out of them
Look at the sea otters bobbing wildly
Out in the middle of the poem
They look so eager and peaceful playing out there where the
water hardly moves
You might get out through all the waves and rocks
Into the middle of the poem to touch them
But when you’ve tried the blessed water long
Enough to want to start backward
That’s when the fun starts
Unless you’re a poet or an otter or something supernatural
You’ll drown, dear. You’ll drown
Any Greek can get you into a labyrinth
But it takes a hero to get out of one
What’s true of labyrinths is true of course
Of love and memory. When you start remembering.

(c. 1960)

Friday, February 5, 2016

POEM: "Two Poets In China, 744 AD"

Two Poets In China, 744 AD

How did all these voices get into me
A moon with 2 faces, one of them useless
A poet who looked like a servant, a butcher
A street sweeper, a sweetheart, a burglar
A poet to be a horse’s ass, two poets to be us
A glass of wine, wrinkled clothes, the smiles
How do you ever know what someone knows
Waving at the children, this parade of river
Skipping along, the old crossing, the leap year
And one of them was a wrong one, a murderer
And one was alright (he looked mentally defective)
They were dear to me, I travelled with them both.

© 2016 Rob Schackne

POEM: "Swing"


I remember the swing
The wind the chain the rattle
The seat the trees and the children
Pumping so far forward to sail back again
Knowing I could jump off at the nearest cloud
Years later and doubt dropped by for a little visit 

I was on another ride, invisible, maybe inside
Knowing how easy it is to be pushed away
Lean too far forward fall back so soon
The seat the trees and the flies
The wind the chain the hills
I remember the swing

© 2015 Rob Schackne

Thursday, February 4, 2016

POEM: "Sometimes fast is good"

“Sometimes fast is good”

Sometimes fast is good
riding the passion that got you there
no time to think right or wrong
making love to a ghost
she leaves just as you begin to snore
in your dream you follow her
she floats to the Gucci shop and helps herself to everything
you’re sorry you ever let her into the apartment
ghosts are lousy lovers
you wake up
it smells of cats and old fish and cabbage
you can’t eat lunch
every street full of ghosts
you can see through your own hand 

your teeth fall out one at a time
lousy lovers are ghosts
they used to be monsters
when they were attractive.

© 2016 Rob Schackne

Tuesday, February 2, 2016

POEM: "A Short Ballad, 5 Foot 9½"

A Short Ballad, 5 Foot 9½

Young, gifted and usually unused
that day he scored the goals that won
the final game that won the season
the other champions lifted him up
in the street the cars were honking
he was famous throughout Melbourne
the people cheered all his moves after that
when he sobered up he'd had enough
his knees were shot his body just said no
he went bush and sat among the trees
the abstraction was finally put to rest
came down the mountain took another look
at last got back all his breath grew his hair long
started to write his stories and poems
and he started a printing business
mostly young poetry risking it all.


A Bruce Dawe Poem

Life Cycle (for Big Jim Phelan)

When children are born in Victoria
they are wrapped in club-colours, laid in beribboned cots,
having already begun a lifetime’s barracking.

Carn, they cry, Carn… feebly at first
while parents playfully tussle with them
for possession of a rusk: Ah, he’s a little Tiger! (And they are …)

Hoisted shoulder-high at their first League game
they are like innocent monsters who have been years swimming
towards the daylight’s roaring empyrean

Until, now, hearts shrapnelled with rapture,
they break surface and are forever lost,
their minds rippling out like streamers

In the pure flood of sound, they are scarfed with light, a voice
like the voice of God booms from the stands
Ooohh you bludger and the covenant is sealed.

Hot pies and potato-crisps they will eat,
they will forswear the Demons, cling to the Saints
and behold their team going up the ladder into Heaven,

And the tides of life will be the tides of the home-team’s fortunes
– the reckless proposal after the one-point win,
the wedding and honeymoon after the grand final …

They will not grow old as those from the more northern states grow old,
for them it will always be three-quarter time
with the scores level and the wind advantage in the final term,

That passion persisting, like a race-memory, through the welter of seasons,
enabling old-timers by boundary fences to dream of resurgent lions
and centaur-figures from the past to replenish continually the present,

So that mythology may be perpetually renewed
and Chicken Smallhorn return like the maize-god
in a thousand shapes, the dancers changing

But the dance forever the same – the elderly still
loyally crying Carn... Carn… (if feebly) unto the very end,
having seen in the six-foot recruit from Eaglehawk their hope of salvation.

(c. 1975)

Monday, February 1, 2016

POEM: "Of Dances And Distance"

Of Dances And Distance

                       "Can you put words to an inchoate desire." 
                         C.D. Wright

Of dances and distance
Don't talk about climbing
Or kumite four nights a week
Now you're singing very softly
Somewhere you shouldn't be
That once was a man and wife
She as beautiful as honey
She as beautiful as fuck
Pow the many blows of love
Those tender preoccupations

And it was only our glances
That made this poem.

© 2016 Rob Schackne