Saturday, December 31, 2016

POEM: "You remember the last year"

"You remember the last year"

You remember the last year
and the year before that
and I guess the really bad ones

if you listen, really listen hard
to all that really happened

how the eyes filled with tears
clouds washed in dirty water
love given and love rejected
the dizzy vomitus of air
now the year’s end is coming
forgotten last car on a train
bending fast by the next hill

I mean listen hard enough
one more fading set of lights
seeing the last sun set again

leaves pouring out like bubbles
how these lips were pursed
against this much damaged year

during too much love & regret
and how these eyes will hope
a new 
year stands still, waiting

© 2016 Rob Schackne

Friday, December 30, 2016

A Seamus Heaney Poem (3)

The Peninsula

When you have nothing more to say, just drive
For a day all round the peninsula.
The sky is tall as over a runway,
The land without marks so you will not arrive

But pass through, though always skirting landfall.
At dusk, horizons drink down sea and hill,
The ploughed field swallows the whitewashed gable
And you’re in the dark again. Now recall

The glazed foreshore and silhouetted log,
That rock where breakers shredded into rags,
Leggy birds stilted on their own legs,
Islands riding themselves out into the fog

And drive back home, still with nothing to say,
Except now, you will uncode all landscapes
By this: things founded clean on their own shapes,
Water and ground in their extremity.


Sunday, December 25, 2016

POEM: "Off The High Way"

Off The High Way
                                      for Stew

Do we ever see the microadjustments
being made as we move past people
their glances tilting to one side
in time with invisible particles
disguised as raucous indifference
every atom scrambling to be noticed
because maybe it’s a cellular thing?

At the indoor gym in Seaford
children are climbing with their parents
who, older and heavier, have belay duty
microadjusting their weekend charges
small bags of white flowers, sugar memories
wee boys and girls winging up through space
on ropes tight enough to be always safe.

Sure it’s cellular – I’m climbing with my son
fifteen years after buying a tiny body-harness
remembering how carefully I adjusted it for him
before he launched himself at improbable odds
and now, now he is belaying me for the first time
and damned if he doesn’t have me on a tight rope too
I climb faster and when I top out, he lets me down gently.

© 2016 Rob Schackne

Friday, December 23, 2016

POEM: "Like a Wind-up Toy"

Like a Wind-up Toy 

Cold in winter
hot in summer
time mostly moves ahead
we are astounded
men are like this
women are like that
we are born
we live
we die
maybe we live again
like a wind-up toy
on a regular basis
we eat
we eat again
we look for love
we stay out of the rain
the wind is sharp
the blankets are warm
we sleep for many years
we buy new clothes
we wear the old clothes
our shoes walk on and off
the lights go off and on
like a wind-up toy

© 2016 Rob Schackne

Wednesday, December 21, 2016

POEM: "Dawn Ropes Down The Summit"

Dawn Ropes Down The Summit

The longest night
   shortest day
its extra breath
   wake up curious

the shortest night
   longest day
overtime working
   a restless night

the shouts of pain
   fearsome things
sit here writing
   it's a brave time

solstice wednesday
   please hold on
and help me make
   the extra step

the longest night
   longest dreams
the longest day
   a long climb down

it’s waking twice
   try and sleep
the dreams will play
   let all be strong

© 2016 Rob Schackne

Monday, December 19, 2016

POEM: "Digs"


               for David Oliver

Sparks are not for keeping
air & fire equally apportioned
too light to redisturb the mind
hands now raindrops breeze
cells stretched into wilderness
winds reaching into a world
the clocks tire of themselves
ticking, ticking without time
now the band is packing up
wait, but everything pauses
language will be no help
the earth & water are parting
wait, we will dance alone.

© 2016 Rob Schackne

Sunday, December 18, 2016

POEM: "A Horsehair Whisk"

A Horsehair Whisk

Just a game of worlds
the span of universe
ready to get closer

watching a sleepy future
count time before our eyes
stop the crystal flow

it takes away our rage
maybe eighty years
turning water into ice

when the whisk is offered
carry it in plain view
the game watches or not

before this one’s over
when hearts stop beating
it’s a dead giveaway

© 2016 Rob Schackne

Tuesday, December 13, 2016

POEM: "Untitled"


Famous for a poem written
when he was quite drunk
he doesn’t like it now
its edges curled
trodden wet leaves
he takes his walk with umbrella
in ten minutes sees the marvelous
it reminds him of prayer
a great love, a missed flight
an arrow, a bed, a blister
he wishes he wasn't famous
this film is screened once
twice, three times a week
several people watching
one gentle soul claps
there's a kind of organ music
he gets up and leaves.

© 2016 Rob Schackne

Monday, December 12, 2016

POEM: "A Mountain Tale"

A Mountain Tale

                       for Yang Lei

The fan screens a scene
not unusual, not very special
two men just sit drinking
a village smokes below

They sing:

What are cares
when you’re drinking?
What are worries
when you’re laughing?

Below, villagers think of the murder
of work, of hardship and freedom

Above, old poets speak of the clouds
of mist, of dreams and their next lives

They sing:

We walk for years
saluting every sacred peak
knowing the Tao
will never end
now we end up here!

The mountain shudders
a cold wind bites
the two men draw closer
before they get up
and slowly choose their way down.

© 2016 Rob Schackne

Sunday, December 11, 2016

POEM: "Fretting a severe climb"

"Fretting a severe climb"

Fretting a severe climb
on bad conglomerate
one hot bush day shirtless
after I walk back down
some joker watching me
you’ve got muscles in your shirt
yeah I say I’m a migrant too

© 2016 Rob Schackne

Saturday, December 10, 2016

POEM: "Ropes (Without Necks)"

Ropes (Without Necks)

One more reminder. Mountains
always give up their dead. Time
however, will stick differently.
The unexpected men & women
a glacier releases, slowly, like air
or sound. A tree gets the green world.
A family gets their two sons back, also
crampons and a rope that didn’t hold.
I get my heart back. I get art. I get you.
Now here’s my rope waiting for rescue.
Meditate while sitting in a crevasse.
I look into the dark. The shelf moves.

© 2016 Rob Schackne

Friday, December 9, 2016

POEM: "Elbows off the table"

"Elbows off the table"

Elbows off the table
black hole eating a galaxy
wipe your mouth

no new stars forming
the galaxy is starving
eat your vegetables

the cat’s not hungry
you’re not leaving the table
black hole seeds merging

© 2016 Rob Schackne

Thursday, December 8, 2016

POEM: "On Borges's Book Of Sand"

On Borges's Book Of Sand

In Jorge Luis Borges
we hear the falling cadence
of an obstinate man, largely blind
with maybe only 10 years to live,
fluent enough to remember horrors
and how well the will preserves
pale images of all that, and Love–
whereas we the patient learners
turn over his old stories like a field
sharp into our own stubbornness
till we too are reading by candlelight
the parables of not life, but death
and one last cruel pitiful lesson
about uncountable gruesome worlds
with as many varieties as grains of sand,
for which we thank you, muy estimado.

© 2016 Rob Schackne

Sunday, December 4, 2016

POEM: "Punchy Penado"

Punchy Penado
                   for Greg Gamage


Don’t enjoy
it much either
women boxing
better to fight
the house-dust
the closed window
the 1000 night jabs
below the belt
a faraway sound
a train is coming
the roundhouse
hard as a rail


running out of
people to eat
and next week
in the flying square
I’m wrestling
an oily swan
we are free
in a world very
much curtailed
and just a little
out of shape


strangles a cat
it comes back
end of the fifth
what was love
within without
a strangeness
stones shape
the will holds
it’s not hatred
for kindness
no reward


gloves get bigger
ring gets smaller
front row seat
in the Amazon
fishes swim
up your orifice
looking for your
last night’s dream
brain injury
still off
still here


The new face is
hanging sausage
& cheese off me
step into the ring
the crowd cheers
authentic food
no more bland
so I bleed a lot
no more dieting
free autographs
a few broken ribs
they love me


Is this body
a little temple
do all the gods
look over the sea
slammed hard by you
a kick to the head
the ref is counting
the steps to the beach
I take off my robe
run into the waves
slammed hard by me
my job I guess


This earth
and its ancestors
the hall is filling
with the years
it took to build
no tanks
to this bout
easy breezy
take ‘em all down
they don’t leave
their corner
you’re the winner


Going out
on a limb for you
a matter of
more dangerous
than upclimbing
mix the colours
make a fist
mix a halo
get it over with
anyway I can


Ever feel like
they squandered
your education
he sees sprayed
on the wall that
he’s pissed on
it’s a still night
two cats emerge
follow him home
he gets them on
his wavelength
and they glide away


Raining hard
rooftop nighttime
he always says
he sleeps better
but actually
bathed in sweat
with a gashed brow
wants to do him harm
in search of meadows
with wild flowers
downpour of noise
this storm is fixed


On again
getting ready
he is gym rat no. 1
horror leaves the skin
music just arrives
silk sheets and a cat
drills & weights
sauna room boom
the day after tomorrow
how goes the will


The last round
is too montonous
need to get happy
how you move
O you can fly
check it out
to another life
does it belong
the ancient injury
the heart is open wide
the people stand and cheer

© 2015 Rob Schackne

Thursday, December 1, 2016

POEM: "Recently a poet friend wrote"

"Recently a poet friend wrote"

Recently a poet friend wrote:

Highjacked by a book of poems, I want
to know more about my captor. What
has given rise to such intentions?

A searing mark under a burning sun
the diesel dope and the irritating mirages

Off the road from an untargeted village
was safe enough for the story and the pics

Overstepped the bounds...they’re very twitchy

And except for the camera I am unrifled
and except for my passport I’m fucked

Now I don’t care what they’re shouting

All I want to know are my options to get free.

© 2016 Rob Schackne