Saturday, April 30, 2016

POEM: "In A Darkened Room"

In A Darkened Room

It was always a lie
like nuclear energy
to be shored against
a Zen retreat in Arizona
a silent cave under attack
wildfires go unreported
run down scrubby forests
race down the tipping street
fire the least of our worries
we were crazed glass
studying on the stresses
& the many reasons of peace
the safety myth wasn't
like a lover's helicopter
so quick then how it ended.

© 2011 Rob Schackne

Friday, April 29, 2016

A Zhang Zao Poem

The Sixth Method

If all five kinds have been used up
still staying on the outside of the vastness
it can't be touched, it can't be shut
like a medicine that examines a chronic sickness
there's no hope, it's best to swim away like a comet

So the fine dust on my face will startle me awake
I see clearly a strand of gliding drunkenness
and the long ice-melting wind of a strange land
blows the light into brightness, into darkness
it makes me turn hot and cold toward you

Going through the equally blundering landscape
the verdant rocks, the nestling on the other side,
the bright moon from morning to night illuminates yesterday
and the flowing water, the endlessly flowing water
makes the displays above and below change and change again





(Trans. Eleanor Goodman and Wang Ao)

Thursday, April 28, 2016

A Shu Cai Poem

The Everything of Everything

Slowly. The everything of everything 
in the drawers of memory

will find its own place.
After lightning ends, the sky is empty again.

Thunder's accomplice will perhaps be in the next moment.
The sound of thunder doesn't necessarily know.

The hand of the river's flow that Nature extends
is also spinning the prayer wheel for emptiness.

Human beings? They have different worries.
The gaze can never rise beyond the forehead.

Just stitch one good poem, in the heart's apex—
as good as the six-word mantra.

Our train is the same spring-summer-autumn-winter train,
heading to an unnamed future.

How many peaks as tall as the sky still can't be climbed?
How many creatures anxiously wish to plunge into the mother's womb?

Slowly, everything slips toward another everything . . .
and everyone will surely make way for another.

Slowly. The everything
of everything: is nothingness!













(Trans. Jami Proctor-Xu)

Monday, April 25, 2016

A Rosemary Nissen-Wade Poem (4)


Mostly wolf
he was unlike other dogs,
the fully doggy. He was

wind-woven movement
hunter-quiet through trees,
cat-contained self-sufficiency,

deep-loving, soul-faithful
but not puppy-exuberant,
not wriggly-jerky hysterical. Never.

His distance-speak
sustained me many months.
We had good mind-talk between us:

we two heart-kin, spirit-friends
who summoned each other
with immediate vision-share

instant thought-meld, the knowing
of the vast, timeless forever-abyss
from which we'd sparked into life-light.

He wasn't my dog; there was
one dearer, skin-close, the friend
we shared and in our own ways guarded.

It's a long time ago now,
far-dwindling yet never full-gone.
Not wholly done, dead-over.

Though he is dead of course,
and our man-friend older,
well happy. He is horse-master now.

Me, I love cats. And we both have known
some other dogs. We never speak
of that one, heart-deep, unique.

The night-road, the moon-path
along which he reached me
with loving mind-touch

has taken him elsewhere,
gone in the other direction.
He did return just once

to tell me the way of it,
his death-fall. Though I had already
felt it of course, from too far away.


Sunday, April 24, 2016

POEM: "Frame by frame"

“Frame by frame”

Frame by frame
action to action
ghost in a shell
aspect to aspect
cock and pussy
the body’s mystery
invisible and still
I am hardly there
aspect to aspect
action to action
flower in a golden vase
such imagination

© 2016 Rob Schackne

Saturday, April 23, 2016

2 William Shakespeare Poems

Sonnet 50

How heavy do I journey on the way,
When what I seek, my weary travel's end,
Doth teach that ease and that repose to say,
'Thus far the miles are measured from thy friend!'
The beast that bears me, tired with my woe,
Plods dully on, to bear that weight in me,
As if by some instinct the wretch did know
His rider lov'd not speed being made from thee.
The bloody spur cannot provoke him on,
That sometimes anger thrusts into his hide,
Which heavily he answers with a groan,
More sharp to me than spurring to his side;
For that same groan doth put this in my mind,
My grief lies onward, and my joy behind.

Sonnet 59

If there be nothing new, but that which is
Hath been before, how are our brains beguiled,
Which, lab'ring for invention, bear amiss
The second burthen of a former child!
O that recórd could with a backward look,
Ev'n of five hundred courses of the sun,
Show me your image in some ántique book,
Since mind at first in character was done,
That I might see what the old world could say
To this composèd wonder of your frame;
Whether we are mended, or where better they,
Or whether revolution be the same.

O sure I am the wits of former days
To subjects worse have giv'n admiring praise.

POEM: "This Knowledge"

This Knowledge

I never knew each mark of the season
(Secret signs of go and come I don’t know)
Would have a different address in my heart
Or, in traffic buzz supermarkets, a racing beauty
That strange birds would speak the song I heard
Still, my life is dimmed & I wonder what the fuck
What taught us to make the wrong decisions?
Sure, everything sucks from the big remorse
Sure kid, dreadful times take your breath away
Hope is a broken guitar in a garbage dump
Loopy birds land on the strings for a minute
Occasionally you hear it on the winds, I know
That it's not much to go on, on the big back of love
But as Will Shakespeare said, there is always this.

© 2014 Rob Schackne

POEM: "The Words"

The Words

The Buddha is tied down 
in the back of a truck
the countryside rolls by
and it looks like rain

I shall enter the cave of my heart
discard unneeded appurtenances
set myself to face the sun
build a fire, rub my hands
and read a little Shakespeare

Remember outrageous fortune
and nothing new under the sun
how could I not penetrate
these exhausted dreams?

Lear, Macbeth, Othello, Julius Caesar
the kings, the knaves and villains
watch them all watch the Buddha
thunder down the oily road
a word for highway on his lips

© 2016 Rob Schackne

POEM: "Chance"


She travels alot by air on business 
where the dial of luck is reset each time 

Infinity crashing infinity till infinity 
stacks on the last unsurprising possibility 

Shrivelled Shakespearean monkeys
there’s nothing can chance forever 

Croesus doubling his bets every game 
27 people in the same happy room

Two keep on sharing the same birthday
mad roads as slippery as a jetstream 

Might as well despise a white Ferrari
I always bet she gets home safe. 

© 2013 Rob Schackne

Friday, April 22, 2016

A Duo Duo Poem (2)


It once lingered in a place of misery
Leaving unconscious and indecipherable black spots on the memory
It was sleepless, like a poet, tossing and turning
Passing in and out of ancient rooms of dreams…


Trans. Mai Mang

Wednesday, April 20, 2016

A Peter Balakian Poem

Here and Now

The day comes in strips of yellow glass over trees.
When I tell you the day is a poem
I’m only talking to you and only the sky is listening.
The sky is listening; the sky is as hopeful
as I am walking into the pomegranate seeds
of the wind that whips up the seawall.
If you want the poem to take on everything,
walk into a hackberry tree,
then walk out beyond the seawall.
I’m not far from a room where Van Gogh
was a patient — his head on a pillow hearing
the mistral careen off the seawall,
hearing the fauvist leaves pelt

the sarcophagi. Here and now
the air of the tepidarium kissed my jaw
and pigeons ghosting in the blue loved me
for a second, before the wind
broke branches and guttered into the river.
What questions can I ask you?
How will the sky answer the wind?
The dawn isn’t heartbreaking.
The world isn’t full of love.


Tuesday, April 19, 2016

POEM: "Frames"


The painting’s rolled out
flat on the table. On the floor
there’s a wire it’ll hang on
one day at the back. Perhaps.
Anticipating what rises.
Rosewood from forest trees.
Glass from the sea sand.
Heavy paper that seals in
all the air it took to breathe.
No. Something isn’t right.

© 2012 Rob Schackne

Sunday, April 17, 2016

POEM: "13 Lines for Fei"

13 Lines for Fei

Go to bed in Buenos Aires
wake up in Chile
in a narrow bed
surrounded by fools
my window has bars
and it seems that
the gate is locked
I pull out a book
from my trousers
and read some Qin Fei
they smile like turtles
and ask me to read
her poem about prisons

© 2016 Rob Schackne

Saturday, April 16, 2016

POEM: "Blame the passing train"

“Blame the passing train”

Blame the passing train
stirring memory and dust
steel rails a poet bending
the direction of a small cough
brother poet stands still
there's a train heading
god knows where with
half a percentage gain
probably behind schedule
and a few are wishing
they could stop and listen
to the poem of a poet’s cough
the health of a nation being
such a complicated thing

© 2016 Rob Schackne

Wednesday, April 13, 2016

POEM: "Baby"


I can't hold it much longer
there's no sexual healing
no graduated improvement
no tender beauty to change your life
from frog to swan, tiger or wolf

Come to me like yourself, yes
a woman who knows her mind
who has grown as big as she'll get
yes, make me a wonder like her
send me someone to hold

And I guess we'll try hard to love
talk of all of the animals we've been
of the things that came out wrong
waiting fifty years for love, and
twenty years for a great song

I walk a dark and dusty road
I come to a crossroads
there are two ways to go
(I cannot go back)
one way is the right way

The other is the right way too
the wind rustles in the trees
I spin around, eyes closed
I walk down a dark road
and go in another direction.

© 2016 Rob Schackne

Monday, April 11, 2016

POEM: "In Orbit, Across The Void"

In Orbit, Across The Void

Perfect pitch
admirable tone
in orbit, across the Void

Don’t play what’s there, play what isn’t there

(I’m being navigated out of this world)

Might tempo also hitch a ride
on the gathering flight of emphasis?

Who seeks maturity
along special paths of pain
to avoid the order of blunt notes?

(Puzzle me the right answer to that one)

Fire out of the fire, smoke
out of the smoke, a woman
who confesses her own delight

Birds quiet after the fireworks 
stars almost seen behind the moon

This question, a perennial one
phrased in weariness, doesn't end
when the answer comes

A deep conversation
floats across this dark field
the joy is thunderous.

© 2015 Rob Schackne

Sunday, April 10, 2016

POEM: "Sestina for Stuart, Grace & Millie"

Sestina for Stuart, Grace & Millie

Wait for the subway, dream of the sea
The birds and gathering genius of waves
Nothing cares what beaches wear
Lessening frowns of farewell, less the sand
That finds its way into my bed, as good sense
Fills the pond, as into the hills good birds fly

Madmen say that to die is to fly
Seagulls will raid a bag of crisps by the sea
They make no play and they make no sense
A beat-up car full of strangers waves
Takes a turn, leaves behind in the sand
The old clothes they never wear

A century's bad plan is what they wear
Threadworn and dirty, pretending to fly
It’s crazy love that comes from the sand
Changing winds, the endless cascade of the sea
Lands freight, imports treasure, brings waves
As it continues to teach imperfect sense

The stars have the right idea, cosmic sense
Is just in time for what they wear
Down the billion years of explosive waves
Worlds colliding, a billion fragments fly
Through space, and every other extinct sea
Is a lost dream of water turned to sand

Stretch the bones of words, work the sand
Sensibility, sensitivity, insomnia, sense
The crap in what you throw away, the sea
Wants to remake every tide you wear
To walk in or stride through, run or fly
Looking at the water playing in the waves

The big sun above, moved by waves
Swimming in currents, schools over sand
Insensitive tribes that need to fly
To electrical impulse or sense
For a moment or two they wear
The hopes and monsters of the sea

And we all bounce on the sea like waves
Wondering about this sad sand we wear
While we fly like the fishes, dreaming sense

© 2016 Rob Schackne

Friday, April 8, 2016

POEM: "To Be A Wolf"

To Be A Wolf

                                for Zheng Xiaoqiong

He runs barefoot, the snow and ice
Heaven and earth, mother between
The boy falls asleep.
His father is missing for 3 days
Searching in the hills and meadows
His mother carries the babies
Heavy rain. 8 years old.
His father's body.
What you learn from that
To be a wolf. Think like a wolf
The mountains are small.
A mother's kiss.

He is 10. Already
He takes care of those who love him.
He learns to sing the mountains
Where his father died
One thousand years of tears and stars
He sings that.
Many years later he sings that.
I am a bucket.
My water is in the bucket.
The bucket is you.
Carry the sorrow and joy together.
Make me a good life.

A good night that brings the next day.
A good day that lets us sleep in peace.
We come from the mountains
And we walk the streets like the mountain paths
Our jobs are canyons
Our boss is a ridge
And the salary is just a river to cross.
I walk everywhere like a stranger.
I pick my steps carefully
Perfect flowers I sometimes see in boxes.
Her kiss tasted like wild honey.
I am alone. I sing.

© 2016 Rob Schackne

Thursday, April 7, 2016

POEM: "Rains Against The Machine"

Rains Against The Machine

                                           for Dashushu

Sweet dreams in the rain tonight
Tomorrow will bring joy
Who needs sunshine when there are showers
Who needs the moon when there is love
Sometimes it rains against the machine
Sometimes it's the machine that wins
A good day follows a good night
The showers end and sunshine comes again.

© 2016 Rob Schackne

Monday, April 4, 2016

A Zheng Xiaoqiong Poem


Daybreak was rubbed into a drop of rusted tears
She bent down as if to hear a slight sound

April walks outside the window, lychee trees are blooming
Lilac is less than love, under the shade of iron
A rusted moon, someone who believes in love
Patiently shoulders endless grief

The past gradually fades, and memory falls into disorder
What is left inside spring’s furnace
Illuminates the cold, bare blueprint

Corrosion digests the dark’s recessed details
Exposed on the machine table by time’s passing, her humble thoughts
In April grow dark green as if seen from above, her love lying
On the exhausted factory floor. From Sichuan to Hunan
And more distant places, ideas arrive like products
A single green certification slip appears with her tears

In the illuminated factory daybreak stirs its wings
A splinter of rust wounds her heart. Outside the window
Love’s dew casts a luminous shadow over April
All of this forces her, like iron, to stiffly cling to
Her sliver of rushing love, this fragment of the rising sun


Trans. Jonathan Stalling

Sunday, April 3, 2016

A Guo Jinniu Poem

On a Building Site, Thinking Of A Length Of Old Timber

If I’m not at the site, I’m at the bothy.

Joiner, male, 30 years old. Stroking a length of old timber,
unlike the poet Liu Yong, forlorn,
the brothel banister.

The third floor chick is the cutest. Years ago
she was the one I wanted most to marry.
Held hands. Wept. Choked on unspoken words.
In the song ‘Bells in the Downpour’,
I chased her to the Song Dynasty,
phoned Liu Seven.

Brother Seven, Brother Seven,
every time the Plum Rains come,
the joiner’s hand touches some bit of the Song lyrics, an old love
impossible to curb.

Green plum. Bamboo horse. Old timber like that, a faint aroma in its heart.
No matter how many years go by,
she, she’ll never grow new branches, new leaves,
or blossom.


Trans. Brian Holton

Saturday, April 2, 2016

A Stuart Rawlinson Poem


Corner to corner, warping
Fabric ‘til position is lost
And the folds mismatch on
Their uniform graphs.

The taut gauze finds its own
Missing dead-ends. We grab
Our own corners and
Shake the stitches out from

The unseeable serrations of
Soft eider down.
Once left and right;
Once propagating waves

Towards each other which
Clash and thud like silencers
And spray at the coast halfway.
The new dressing, tight and snug

Holds sleep in a soporific
Sling. The night gently floats
Down and fits square over each limb.
The moon, keeping its distance, dims.