Friday, September 30, 2016

POEM: "Posted On The Scaffold, 1729"

Posted On The Scaffold, 1729

Go and Get Hanged, it's Goodbye
I’ll Wait upon the Better Portions
Denied me of the Past, You Viper
A Clear and Vibrant Future awaiting
Allow me a Moment to Celebrate
Nevermore the Lice and Itchy Groin
The Laughter of Babbling Gossips
Nor all the Carnal Sport I Missed
Which you Freely Gave to Strangers
Pigeon-milker, this is my Last Posting
I’ll put the Children to Serve Our Lord
Give them back their Huckle-bones & Toys
While you Mount, Ride Hard and Be Damned.

© 2016 Rob Schackne

Thursday, September 29, 2016

POEM: "Another Fine Mess"

Another Fine Mess

Then welcome the ghost
who brought the mystery
install in the easy chair
supply with food and drink
put on some Shostakovich
show some recent poems

refrain from asking questions
let it be for at least an hour
you've always felt that right?
do you mean we should be awed?
write the answers in invisible ink
ask her if she wants a shower

watch awhile from the other room
then go about your business.

© 2014 Rob Schackne

Tuesday, September 27, 2016

MUSIC: Leonard Cohen, "You Want It Darker" (2016)

You Want It Darker

If you are the dealer
I'm out of the game
If you are the healer
Means I'm broken and lame
If thine is the glory
Then mine must be the shame
You want it darker
We kill the flame

Magnified sanctified
Be Thy Holy Name
Vilified crucified
In the human frame
A million candles burning
For the help that never came
You want it darker
We kill the flame

Hineni Hineni
I’m ready, my Lord

There's a lover in the story
But the story's still the same
There’s a lullaby for suffering
And a paradox to blame
But it’s written in the scriptures
And it’s not some idle claim
You want it darker
We kill the flame

They’re lining up the prisoners and
The guards are taking aim
I struggled with some demons
They were middle-class and tame
I didn’t know I had permission
To murder and to maim
You want it darker
We kill the flame

Hineni Hineni
I'm ready, my Lord

Magnified sanctified
Be Thy Holy Name
Vilified crucified
In the human frame
A million candles burning
For the love that never came
You want it darker
We kill the flame

If you are the dealer
Let me out of the game
If you are the healer
I'm broken and lame
If thine is the glory
Mine must be the shame
You want it darker
We kill the flame

Hineni Hineni
I'm ready, my Lord

Monday, September 26, 2016

A Pablo Neruda Poem

The Poet

That time when I moved among happenings
in the midst of my mournful devotions; that time
when I cherished a leaflet of quartz,
at gaze in a lifetime's vocation.
I ranged in the markets of avarice
where goodness is bought for a price, breathed
the insensate miasmas of envy, the inhuman
contention of masks and existences.
I endured in the bog-dweller's element; the lily
that breaks on the water in a sudden
disturbance of bubbles and blossoms, devoured me.
Whatever the foot sought, the spirit deflected,
or sheered toward the fang of the pit.
So my poems took being, in travail
retrieved from the thorn, like a penance,
wrenched by a seizure of hands, out of solitude;
or they parted for burial
their secretest flower in immodesty's garden.
Estranged to myself, like shadow on water,
that moves through a corridor's fathoms,
I sped through the exile of each man's existence,
this way and that, and so, to habitual loathing;
for I saw that their being was this: to stifle
one half of existence's fullness like fish
in an alien limit of ocean. And there,
in immensity's mire, I encountered their death;
Death grazing the barriers,
Death opening roadways and doorways.


(Trans. Ben Belitt)

Sunday, September 25, 2016

POEM: "Five Pieces, Not Easy"

Five Pieces, Not Easy

1. Rondelet Aux Apaches

Get this thing on
maybe he struggles to keep up
get this thing on
she’s leaning over the table
he feels his future wed to breasts
her mind reaches for big monkey
get this thing on.

2. The Afternoon

Why you were an hour late
planning to shuck your husband
to meet me later in the room
I felt strangely neutral like I was
your husband wanting to know
why it takes 2 hours to buy rice
afterwards when I was a bag of rice
and we were just a pair of stomachs

we looked out of the window
there was a man painting
his balcony red the sky
mostly grey rain was coming
not much chance of getting up.

3. Rehearsal

Alright I’ve said it the ass
depends upon the legs like
a clock on a minute’s notice
the banjax awaits the band
there’s nothing new under
the sun except the sunlight
we’re roaring like monsters
dammit you didn’t know it
now I say it that form waits on
an invisible quiet thing.

4. Aside

You read about a fellow who wrote
a novel of 80 thousand pages
who couldn’t work out the ending
even so he managed to say it
and ​he even mentioned this too
the deficiencies you’re feeling
in the rose garden the doubt
the arc and mise-en-scène
a dog’s old toy in the yard.

5. Overcast

Of the moments
that restored my
faith in humanity
I think I'll remember
one or two of them
and this second one just
left me wondering whether
she was really better off
(she didn't listen to me
now she lives in Germany)
first one's hidden
sorry it's the terms
of my dumb faith
just starting to rain
take it with a lick of salt
take it with a grain of blood.

© 2016 Rob Schackne

Wednesday, September 21, 2016

POEM: "Ghosts Read The Papers"

Ghosts Read The Papers

As smart a comment as I've heard all week 
The hand that points the bone points each way
(A breathtaking shard of common sense)

Archimedes says "Don't disturb my circles"
Which only means if you had a place to stand
You'd watch the screws take you up and up

Advantage moved, circles grew higher
Look here, far from the centre, and now

The wrong powers are too close for comfort

It may be that not all progress is forward
And dead men say let go the bloody switch
And make our day, ghosts say, tell us when to stop.

© 2016 Rob Schackne

Monday, September 19, 2016

POEM: "I saw cruelty"

“I saw cruelty” 

What's a border to the poor? 
Late night, I guess no moon
silent as the little wind
a wire, a noise, gunfire

Carry your wife
carry your husband
a dead child is heavier
the stragglers stretch behind

I saw cruelty
applied without effort
kindness to the power of ten
and every step away from truth

Every step away from truth?

The line makes no sense
objects move from their places
maybe the search party’s missing

Now I'm in an F1 bar
fan force and silly cars
tyres are big pearls first lap
might as well be Godzilla.

© 2016 Rob Schackne

Saturday, September 17, 2016

POEM: "A, B, C for China"

A, B, C for China
              (after Jack Picone & Kit Kelen)

The ascent to heaven
midnight, lunar eclipse
occluded by typhoon cloud
suddenly in the southern sky
(between the tail of Cetus
and the water jar of Aquarius)
it appears behind our longing
a dress rehearsal (there’s no end)
for the famed knife-throwing act
before the common folk tomorrow
as these soft targets take their turns
to know the distance of lament, to see
in Mid-Autumn Festival, Li Bai, you, me.

© 2016 Rob Schackne

Friday, September 16, 2016

POEM: "Calling"


Across the oceans
in my country
morning dawns bright.

The sunlight
fractures the leaves.
Our eyes gleam.

Has love given me
this thick fog
reaching for your hand?

Fort da, fort da
fall so we will rise.
I am close.

© 2013 Rob Schackne

Tuesday, September 13, 2016

POEM: "After Sarah Rice's "Hardangerfjord"

After Sarah Rice's "Hardangerfjord Waterfall"

What I have isn’t what I’ve got
the planet lacks a ring, anything
wasn’t here before it was there
I make up an atmosphere

Far beneath this surface
lies town from waterfall
the cracks off the mountains

under things I cannot see

After six days of the shivers
and the seven nights of horror
(it's a rather ghostly town)
everything is going over

Imagination is a working thing
like a root or the benthic algae
and the mountain is falling
like a kitchen and a meal

Always a pleasure walking out
afterwards to look inwards
often the places we are in
are the places we're not.

© 2016 Rob Schackne

Monday, September 12, 2016

POEM: "Night Walk"

Night Walk

Down these mean streets
some real monks must go

they are not mean men
although they are hard men

ancient lanes divide
a lonely presence

the great circle plots
a whisky course

walking out with smoke
soaked by the storm

we too prowl the streets
reflexes sometimes slow

writer, reasonable crab
it depends on the season.

© 2015 Rob Schackne

Sunday, September 11, 2016

A Merv Lilley Poem

Brumby Jones

Over the sticks and over the stones,
Where will they lay your illiterate bones?
With the brumbies, Brumby Jones.
Where do you come from, Brumby Jones?
Out where the lonely wild wind moans,
Lived in the backblocks, Brumby Jones.

Where is the woman who shared your bread?
Never a woman was in your bed,
Never a breast to cradle your head,
Man of the spirit was always dead.
Out in the sticks and out in the stones
Lived like a warrigal Brumby Jones.

Knew the sound of the warrior cry
When the grass was dead and the creeks run dry;
Only a man can learn to sigh:
Where will they bury you when you die?
Under the sticks and under the stones
There they will lay your illiterate bones,
And a bloody good feller was Brumby Jones!

Wednesday, September 7, 2016

POEM: "Assumptions We Carried"

Assumptions We Carried

                           for Lesley Boland

The carelessness of others
treasure is buried everywhere
school educates
learning can help
this love will last
and this love won’t
I am smarter than you think
things are not as bad as they look
I could have been a great sax player
in a smoke-filled room
I will never lose my mind
sunlight is not important
I can do without sleep forever

© 2016 Rob Schackne

Tuesday, September 6, 2016

A Robert Pinsky Poem (2)


The back, the yoke, the yardage. Lapped seams,
The nearly invisible stitches along the collar
Turned in a sweatshop by Koreans or Malaysians

Gossiping over tea and noodles on their break
Or talking money or politics while one fitted
This armpiece with its overseam to the band

Of cuff I button at my wrist. The presser, the cutter,
The wringer, the mangle. The needle, the union,
The treadle, the bobbin. The code. The infamous blaze

At the Triangle Factory in nineteen-eleven.
One hundred and forty-six died in the flames
On the ninth floor, no hydrants, no fire escapes—

The witness in a building across the street
Who watched how a young man helped a girl to step
Up to the windowsill, then held her out

Away from the masonry wall and let her drop.
And then another. As if he were helping them up
To enter a streetcar, and not eternity.

A third before he dropped her put her arms
Around his neck and kissed him. Then he held
Her into space, and dropped her. Almost at once

He stepped to the sill himself, his jacket flared
And fluttered up from his shirt as he came down,
Air filling up the legs of his gray trousers—

Like Hart Crane’s Bedlamite, “shrill shirt ballooning.”
Wonderful how the pattern matches perfectly
Across the placket and over the twin bar-tacked

Corners of both pockets, like a strict rhyme
Or a major chord. Prints, plaids, checks,
Houndstooth, Tattersall, Madras. The clan tartans

Invented by mill-owners inspired by the hoax of Ossian,
To control their savage Scottish workers, tamed
By a fabricated heraldry: MacGregor,

Bailey, MacMartin. The kilt, devised for workers
To wear among the dusty clattering looms.
Weavers, carders, spinners. The loader,

The docker, the navvy. The planter, the picker, the sorter
Sweating at her machine in a litter of cotton
As slaves in calico headrags sweated in fields:

George Herbert, your descendant is a Black
Lady in South Carolina, her name is Irma
And she inspected my shirt. Its color and fit

And feel and its clean smell have satisfied
Both her and me. We have culled its cost and quality
Down to the buttons of simulated bone,

The buttonholes, the sizing, the facing, the characters
Printed in black on neckband and tail. The shape,
The label, the labor, the color, the shade. The shirt.


Monday, September 5, 2016

POEM: "A Poem for Nada"

A Poem for Nada

I too wish that certain moments
be removed cleanly from my life
a layer here and a layer there
scraped clean with a sharp knife
so fresh depictions might appear
like blues to classical or hip hop to jazz
although I suspect that the garland
around my spine would say otherwise

© 2016 Rob Schackne

Sunday, September 4, 2016

POEM: "A Hundred Feet"

A Hundred Feet

Nothing there that wasn’t before
a horse head in a drum of fire
smoke floating on bone and fat

A hundred feet above the grotto
a hundred chances to get higher
I walk to the summit to be thrilled

(It wants me killed a hundred times)
I spy a piece of honeyed glass
I take it and dive into the green

Below love clear deep water
those old white walls so shining
a hundred people sit in the theatron

The chorus wears a mask
and they all look up to the surface
waiting to be thrilled

Beauty says it isn’t love
the sun sets in another sky
love says splash doesn’t matter

© 2016 Rob Schackne