Wednesday, August 31, 2016

A Ron Slate Poem (4)

Night Crossing

Back and forth is a way to move
when the visible is spacious.

But what’s the state of the last boat,
lightly loaded and unprofitable?

Tied up at the mainland dock,
the ferry shudders in its berth,

its captain consults a tide chart
and grunts. A new, possessive moon.

Late departure, a rigid beam of light
probes the sea lane for what violates or drifts.

The other shore, not far off, can leap
and hurt the hand pointing at it.

In the dark alongside—wings seen, instantly gone,
a half-thought interrupted by a heave.

Then the ferry turns hard a-port to the channel,
the parting waters make the sound of a god

murmuring for both the first and last time.
At mid-crossing, something is lacking twice over—

in this location, in the mechanism or vision of the crossing?
Two ports, both accommodating, but unmoved

by what goes on between. How many departures
does a person need, how many starts can be tolerated?

A necessary collision at the pilings
tells everyone it’s over.


(First appeared on the ‘Poem-A-Day’ feature of the Academy of American Poets)

Vincent van Gogh, "Starry Night over the Rhone", September 1888 at Arles, France

Monday, August 29, 2016

POEM: "Picasso Having a Bad Day"

Picasso Having a Bad Day

Why just the other night
listening to wine and sipping music
nursing the shadows and the light
I said to a beautiful woman:

Your face looks like half of the world's most perfect ass...

After which she slaps me
throws wine at me and walks away
some people have no imagination
some people are angry all the time

Today needing some small fingers
to crack a few dozen quail eggs for paint
I go down to the local playground
to look for some experienced children:

Let's see your hands. I'll show you how to crack my eggs...

Suddenly all the mothers are howling
they throw sand at me and chase me away
later back in my car pants down getting the sand out
a police car pulls up and starts asking questions.

© 2016 Rob Schackne

Sunday, August 28, 2016

POEM: "First blues"

"First blues"

First blues
is the sorrow
of the pain
night I was born
of the second one
the spinning
the no-traction
the repeating
of all the shit
of the third one
the moon fire red
I can barely speak it.

© 2016 Rob Schackne

Saturday, August 27, 2016

POEM: "Diary"


Today diary says meet
public confession in park
we repair to a sweet bench
only a few clouds above

Lawn mowers return
before my seed is spent
a bird lands 5 feet away
pollens insist we listen

All is come upon
the mistake of frenzy
the way we clean up after
the redoubt of small things

See the birds see the tree
I see dogs sniffing me
flowers wait two weeks
before they smell glorious

Damn near everything
I feel is gathering now
the weather will worsen

I know less than this.

© 2013 Rob Schackne

Thursday, August 25, 2016

POEM: "Found On The Old Gray Lady"

Found On The Old Gray Lady

Well-hydrated romance
defined by a legacy
he couldn’t outrun
trailing my heart
pushpin by pushpin
in patterns of coincidence
slice of life in a cave
when a dog disappears
the man seems lost
chimps eat, scratch, groom
hopscotching from one
block of ice to the next
a sketch artist animates
a fraternity of bumblers.

© 2012 Rob Schackne

Tuesday, August 23, 2016

POEM: "A Found Poem"

A Found Poem
How a philosopher
turned a writer into a poet
forward to a friend
by bardic Wiggenstein
on digital Veterans Day
to poetry off the shelf

on sound over sense
a yard beyond the moon
an intoxicated aesthetic

getting plants to write poems
in what new book sense I am I
barbershop rhetoric and notary

cut it clean off I’m through courting
and hair only gets in the way

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© 2014 Rob Schackne

POEM: "borne before the wind"

"borne before the wind"

borne before the wind
we walk out of the domestic
past tonight, clouds tomorrow
turn right through a time flap
into a wider world than this
of dreams and undone work
backdrop trees, foreground birds
where we teach classes in kindness
and somehow it's all redeemed

© 2016 Rob Schackne

Monday, August 22, 2016

POEM: "Drop the egg"

"Drop the egg"

Drop the egg.
It was burning me.

Have the monks
stopped meditating?

Trouble with

you are a Buddha
you've got to act like one

They all seem to be tweeting.
Some say this, some say that.

Say anything you want.
I eat more fish than meat.

Are strong walls made by
people who have cracked?

Say the universe is sweet.
I'll know more tomorrow.

© 2016 Rob Schackne

Saturday, August 20, 2016

A Miriam Bird Greenberg Poem

Brazilian Telephone

In the peach orchard in an old bathtub
the children are standing someone
in a bath of salt water, and one
gently attaches electrodes
to the nipples of the one
in the bath. Out of the weeds runs one
with a rescued battery from the old
motor home, which they had gotten
to rev its engine like the sad bleating
of a goat. If, later, anyone asks
how they learned to do this, in a striped shirt one
will say, Oh, I was looking for science
experiments in those old textbooks someone
got from the library book sale last year.
I have been baking all day,
and in a few minutes will start to wonder
what happened to that box of coarse kosher salt
I got just last week.
The children are all singing
some ditty from a musical
we saw at the community theater
a few days ago, and, in the tub the one
with electrodes affixed so gently
to his chest is calling
out little mews of uncertainty,
is calling and calling into the sundown
past the knotted trees with their hairy
fruits, green and hard. Hush,
hush, don’t worry, another one
is saying, fingernail following a line of text
in a complicated book. I think this one
is called the Brazilian Telephone, one
says, connecting finally,
after all this build-up, the ends of two
wires to the battery terminals
which, with steel wool stolen from the kitchen,
they had cleaned so carefully
earlier in the day.


Thursday, August 18, 2016

POEM" "A Poem for the Hungry Ghosts"

A Poem for the Hungry Ghosts

I won't wear red to draw attention,
sing or whistle my favourite melody.
I won't linger near the shadowed walls
to stir or fret the hungry ghosts,
unrested souls trying to recall a life
without fear or violence or tragic luck.
Their whispers are all sighs and envy
as I walk home in open lamplight.

                                          Zhongyuanjie 2016

© 2016 Rob Schackne

Tuesday, August 16, 2016

POEM: "A good strong boat"

"A good strong boat"

                          for Li Tianjing

A good strong boat
and a good crew
is needed

for we are poets
and we will be
eaten by the fishes

the dock is faraway
if people fear
the other side

but never mind
there is a beautiful mist
upon the lake

and there are mountains
by the water
and birds play in the clouds

no boat
swim if we can

no swim
eat till we sink

when full
we will float ashore

                               Duanwujie 2016

© 2016 Rob Schackne

Saturday, August 13, 2016

POEM: "Many Times Did I Slip Through"

"Many times did I slip through"

Many times did I slip through
cave slot a just-delivered thought
back bearings in the old dryness
and I even once believed I'd stay
in the thousand years of pain
in animal bones & faint paintings
ten thousand years fast in the rock
a new shadow on old shadows

living a little show of fire
as I watched me dying.

© 2012 Rob Schackne

Friday, August 12, 2016

An Ouyang Yu Poem

Listening to the Chinese audience

After I finished reading
At don bank museum
In napier street, north Sydney
That cost me 18 bucks to taxi to
From soho galleries
In cathedral street
That had cost me 20-odd minutes in my search
This Chinese woman stood up in the audience
And spoke:

Your poetry is so dark, depressive
So pessimistic
Poetry is meant to be enlightening, uplifting
It should be beautiful, about beautiful things
Life already misery enough
You should give us some light, more light
With your poetry
You should, in a word
Write something to make us feel better
About ourselves, about the world around us
You should avoid using abusive language

She kept talking without giving me a chance to
Defend, offend, myself
So I stood there, in front of the listening audience
Watching the light burning
With smoke on a standing lamp
Which drew everyone’s attention
But hers
Finally, I said
To myself
Looking around the well-lit poetry reading room
And well-lit faces
“there is enough light
outside my book”


Thursday, August 11, 2016

POEM: "I read today"

"I read today"

I read today that 17 people
are confirmed born in Antarctica.
Frigid air is forever a fond mother
in a place we think unknown to original language
where there's no word for the midnight sun.
Three wise penguins each carry an egg
to slip in with the infant. They wave
to the plane that takes them away.
The little girl raises the birds as her own
and every morning before school she opens
the fridge and waits while they stand there.

© 2016 Rob Schackne

Wednesday, August 10, 2016

POEM: "Sex, Sleep, Eat, Drink, Dream"

Sex, Sleep, Eat, Drink, Dream

                                      They're fishing in the kitchen
                                     but they haven't caught up to me
                                     King Crimson (1995)

So long a portion of our lives
one turmoil over in a few seconds
a seed of an idea that keeps you up
till it's half-grown-over with bark
though nothing is forgotten faster
we still look forward to the smell
sure once I thought I'd had my fill
then I only wanted more of the same
sure Martha damn thing is just a dream
but it's the only one we can afford.

© 2016 Rob Schackne

Tuesday, August 9, 2016

POEM: "In Berlin Before I Noticed"

In Berlin Before I Noticed

Because I would as soon
be in Berlin as be here now
don’t talk to me from afar
about wingtip vortices

or the science of your life
that fractures the sky
or that birds fly like that
to reduce the drag force

that each bird compares
to when it flew alone
because so now you know
because so now I know

but how they know
when a storm is coming
has to do with little changes
to the magnetic memory

it shears the speed right back
and informs your plummet
takes your motorized brain
and turns it into stall

one feeling lost wandering
suddenly in a forest of ghosts
lately full of fallen birds
waiting for collection.

© 2012 Rob Schackne

Thursday, August 4, 2016

POEM: "The hand-held device"

"The hand-held device"

                               for Susan Hawthorne

The hand-held device
I hold is the mind itself
mine by accident, whose

signals cross all the time
like a crocodile or the wind
it could well be holding me

and sometimes I'll know
who or what it's calling
(I will answer for them both)

for somewhere in the mind
near the thick edge
there is a little music

and a flower
(always a flower)
in the rain.

© 2016 Rob Schackne