Tuesday, January 31, 2017

A Lisel Mueller Poem


It hovers in dark corners
before the lights are turned on,
it shakes sleep from its eyes
and drops from mushroom gills,
it explodes in the starry heads
of dandelions turned sages,
it sticks to the wings of green angels
that sail from the tops of maples.

It sprouts in each occluded eye
of the many-eyed potato,
it lives in each earthworm segment
surviving cruelty,
it is the motion that runs
from the eyes to the tail of a dog,
it is the mouth that inflates the lungs
of the child that has just been born.

It is the singular gift
we cannot destroy in ourselves,
the argument that refutes death,
the genius that invents the future,
all we know of God.

It is the serum which makes us swear
not to betray one another;
it is in this poem, trying to speak.


Monday, January 30, 2017

POEM: "Spend ten minutes"

"Spend ten minutes"

Spend ten minutes
writing a poem, easy breeze
and palm trees, every
word comes naturally
like a posse of cats
or a plaintive song
wearing silk pyjamas
hurtling through the jungle
and what have I got
a cartoon finish
a deck of cards
these aces high as always.

© 2017 Rob Schackne

Sunday, January 29, 2017

POEM: "Come closer"

“Come closer”

Come closer
look away from they
who want dominion
over all the pretty things
let’s put them off the trace
with beautiful extremes
an old ship’s mast
an old log of claims
a poem hard to fathom
many hours on the phone
some thorny music
some priapic joy
a list as long as a waterfall
the trees on a ridge
the birds are singing
and there’s so much light
it all zips itself in you.

© 2017 Rob Schackne

Saturday, January 28, 2017

POEM: "Delivered by her coming"

“Delivered by her coming”

Delivered by her coming
sealed up when she left
it’s like old Willie McTell
searching the desert for the blues
while he wanders blind in a dirty city
trying to stay in the outside lane
& why single out the female form
now she's someone's angel child
mirrors are turned in everywhere
these clothes are their clothes
there's a squatter in your house
turn back the clock in haste
the world saw us coming
leave enough time for love.

© 2017 Rob Schackne

Friday, January 27, 2017

POEM: "The Body"

The Body

               "Are you really Doctor Wu?"

Its horrible politics
the practice of the body
how desire twists

an octopus cooked alive
till a small girl is horrified
the things she has to eat

from a cavity she whispers
how true is this desire

baby baby baby
gimme a private room
how much to consume her

girls in a cage
swimming in a sauce
a fat fuck paycheck

controls then destroys
destroys & disappears
none of it exists

before truth
where is our desire

a boy in a uniform
a dream of killing big ones
then the fever takes him

then a cavity from
the family screams
till they're empty

© 2017 Rob Schackne

Wednesday, January 25, 2017

POEM: "One Bad Man"

One Bad Man

                        (after a photograph by Jack Picone)

A body stinks a cycle of change
after which it quickly goes to hell
the victims stay keening to the side

one Bad Man swims to its next life
in a giant sardine thrown in with the dirt
warlord rapist murderer pimp

spitting of course derides the horror
there is chanting and there is silence
and there are drums to alert the spirits

there is shame it wasn't sooner stopped
sorrow they couldn't punish it enough
what it did and what it may do again

some hope their tears are not wasted
as they wonder why it earned a plot
in this earth where it caused so much pain

the people throw rubbish and piss
all the shit they no longer want
into the empty hole

© 2017 Rob Schackne

Wednesday, January 18, 2017

A William Butler Yeats Poem (6)

The Song of Wandering Aengus

I went out to the hazel wood,
Because a fire was in my head,
And cut and peeled a hazel wand,
And hooked a berry to a thread;
And when white moths were on the wing,
And moth-like stars were flickering out,
I dropped the berry in a stream
And caught a little silver trout.

When I had laid it on the floor
I went to blow the fire aflame,
But something rustled on the floor,
And some one called me by my name:
It had become a glimmering girl
With apple blossom in her hair
Who called me by my name and ran
And faded through the brightening air.

Though I am old with wandering
Through hollow lands and hilly lands,
I will find out where she has gone,
And kiss her lips and take her hands;
And walk among long dappled grass,
And pluck till time and times are done
The silver apples of the moon,
The golden apples of the sun.


Tuesday, January 17, 2017

POEM: "Translate"


                  for Romaine Scott

How a poet turns
another poet's translation
into another poem
sinking a shaft
no weakness or cracks
no reference to the original
or the translation of it
imagine that
there are parts to assemble
flecks of gold here and there
so language will get off
the late Sunday train
in a little country town
there's no one there to meet it
except (I think) a patient horse
waiting for its rider
who seems to have disappeared
it has just started to rain
the words are getting soaked
there’s no shelter anywhere
a man emerges from the night
asks where they’re going
and the damn things don't know.

© 2017 Rob Schackne

Friday, January 13, 2017

POEM: "Ákos"


Might as well be daybreak
the big nets stringed with knots
the ropes, a rats nest of fingers
glass balls that floated the catch
the fishermen asleep under boats
who always shouted ven aquí guapo
we have sardines for breakfast
a dim grey beach stretched for miles
sand sprints against wind and memory
with old Ákos my Hungarian coach
ex-Olympian, ex-police chief, ex-prisoner
steely teeth, stories and stop-watch
who taught me how to win races
how I had to get underneath the wind
for I was a falcon too, in those complexities.

© 2017 Rob Schackne

Thursday, January 12, 2017

POEM: "Crapped out, he said"

“Crapped out, he said”

Crapped out, he said
looking down at the sea
you lost every single bet
against the cliff, the sun
job market, supermarket
your educational promise
a bicycle next to a freeway
a shudder against a shock
says now it’s probably over
all the exits are barred, says
something like an octopus
once had a tight hold of you.

© 2017 Rob Schackne

Wednesday, January 11, 2017

POEM: "They came from the middle part"

"They came from the middle part"

They came from the middle part
they'd been mostly hollowed out
the rebels, killers, the survivors
scavengers who when I took
them into the bush would taste
every plant and remember it
the other biggest bunch came
from the Horn of Africa, and
they were not so hollowed out
also killers, rebels, the survivors
of course, but with their joy
which was naturally delightful
to teach, and then to learn from
miming how to hold the pen
and how to draw the alphabet
those unschooled Somali women
head-scarves and multicoloured robes
smiling, laughing, very relieved
at what and who and where they were
still prohibited from natural touching
in the end I taught most of them to read
most of them to write, who wrote me
a letter of sorts when they left
which I know now was a kiss.

© 2017 Rob Schackne

Tuesday, January 10, 2017

POEM: "A restaurant proposition"

"A restaurant proposition"

A restaurant proposition
has all the tables in a row
the eaters are nonchalant
ordering from a slim volume
of old poems they recite
from their fans or panels
a curvaceous Chinese girl
treats the room to her display
around me they're looking
at what's generally happening
but stranger things than food
stranger than a lifetime later
a bicycle barely carried us
a car narrowly missed us
it seemed to last for hours
never mother's old recipe

© 2017 Rob Schackne

Sunday, January 8, 2017

POEM: "In Moonlight"

In Moonlight

Bumping along
this horse before a cart
this thought this song
the head before the heart
a strange feeling in the air
exoplanets and atmosphere
sleepy roos and sand
telescope delivered late
at the ditch where it stops
pencil paper calculations
the next heaven is immense
the name of one true love
hanging on the stars
tea and damper hunger
the homestead lights

© 2017 Rob Schackne

Saturday, January 7, 2017

An Anne Porter Poem


When I was a child
I once sat sobbing on the floor
Beside my mother's piano
As she played and sang
For there was in her singing
A shy yet solemn glory
My smallness could not hold

And when I was asked
Why I was crying
I had no words for it
I only shook my head
And went on crying

Why is it that music
At its most beautiful
Opens a wound in us
An ache a desolation
Deep as a homesickness
For some far-off
And half-forgotten country

I've never understood
Why this is so

Bur there's an ancient legend
From the other side of the world
That gives away the secret
Of this mysterious sorrow

For centuries on centuries
We have been wandering
But we were made for Paradise
As deer for the forest

And when music comes to us
With its heavenly beauty
It brings us desolation
For when we hear it
We half remember
That lost native country

We dimly remember the fields
Their fragrant windswept clover
The birdsongs in the orchards
The wild white violets in the moss
By the transparent streams

And shining at the heart of it
Is the longed-for beauty
Of the One who waits for us
Who will always wait for us
In those radiant meadows

Yet also came to live with us
And wanders where we wander.


Friday, January 6, 2017

POEM: "String Haiku in Five Parts, for John Cage R.I.P."

String Haiku in Five Parts, for John Cage R.I.P.

A piece of my mind
a billion bits and pieces
after the hoodwink
they were scattered everywhere
trucks thundering past
the music schools and factories
that irresponsible bomb
invited today to feel
someone's space cotton
my grandmother's cheek
the sound of wings
the last notes of a city
how dramatical
once the music fades away
I don't really care
to be healed again

© 2017 Rob Schackne

Wednesday, January 4, 2017

POEM: "She taught me gentle"

"She taught me gentle"

She taught me gentle
I'm forever grateful
for how she laughed
when I said I love you
and how I remember
whenever I am brutal
her big blonde body
riding high above me
her dear nordic face
smiling while I came.

© 2017 Rob Schackne

Tuesday, January 3, 2017

POEM: "Anyway You Want It"

Anyway You Want It

Slam it
judder it
hard against
the tunnel
upside down it
spinning scythes
sleep well child
a foreign mist
zooms like Alice
there is a hole
avoids the blades
anyway you want it
there is a dream
of chainmail
strange songs
why do you ask
and who would you ask
the everlasting tongue
slides down the throat

the private thing
goes to work

© 2017 Rob Schackne

Monday, January 2, 2017

POEM: "Is consent"

"Is consent"

Is consent

a form

of contract

the flower

and the bee

the norms

of power

the sunset

this small poem

and me?

© 2017 Rob Schackne

Sunday, January 1, 2017

POEM: "O Cantador"

To paraphrase JG Ballard, the best time to re-write history is when it's fresh. So, yeah.

O Cantador
              for Elis Regina

Like a lover
I turn my pockets out
then I find you
you were always there
so let it be me
the sunset for an hour
butterflies everywhere
like a lover
I walk for hours
vaguely in the direction
of your heart
mine is beating wildly
let it be me
like a lover
who sings of perfection
how the world fades away
when you're in my arms again
please let it be me
let it be me

© 2017 Rob Schackne