Wednesday, September 20, 2017

An Amanda Joy Poem

Your Ground

Its tongue
is the only thing moving
A striking distance
from your face
Sharp arc of snake
head flared with venom
A totemic weight
posted darkly in
suddenness of
grizzled air between you
Your body in mirrored freeze
still on your knees
swiveled from a lizard
you were attempting to capture
on a fistful of phone
Your jaws both clamped
over a rising silence
Wind is a litany of hiss
through grass and it arrives
at your eyeballs and the blink
brings release
snake melts toward the earth
its wilding light
shines and slides
A spilled surface of black
slick on the grit
The anthropologist
you were walking with
is bounding up behind you
and again the snake rears
yellow belly showing no fear
withers into twisting away
through underscrub
like an escape but slower
The luminous trance stays
for more than months
(you still cant remember
The psychologist says
your ego died (for
a few unsplit seconds)
Your friend, an elder
from Broome explains the snake
is your guardian
painting its likeness in repose
on bark you once fed a red
tailed cockatoo from
You hang it above
your writing desk
And for a while
it all makes sense
The brute matter
how dangerous you are
how safe
the circuitous journey
Then one morning you get it~
That paired wisdom
your bodies made

Snake says
Be still
Stand your ground
It’s the only protection
we have


Monday, June 26, 2017

POEM: "Falling"


Good night, dear friend
Surrounded by words
And forgotten chengyu
Listen to what the birds say
Good night unchanged
Tomorrow’s on the road
What will soon be written
The day's already different
Asleep last thought falling
Collecting the firewood
Walking the way of silence

©2017 Rob Schackne

Tuesday, March 7, 2017

POEM: "My Indian Restaurant"

My Indian Restaurant

My Indian restaurant
finally got around
to oiling the back door
beautiful action
the ragas morning
the ragas evening
it's quite irregular
but me none yet knows
served another helping
how much appetite remains
Krishna to Arjuna
victor upon this plain
popular fella
hell has three gates
give them up
pay at the counter and leave

© 2017 Rob Schackne

Monday, March 6, 2017

POEM: "Grimace (Take 2)"

Grimace (Take 2)

One more lesson
don’t daydream in taxis
shenanigans everywhere
especially where I sit
the world senses
the gravity
of the situation
high jinks in cahoots
with the setting sun
car tyres burning
a film still in production
leave your phone on the seat
your expat groceries
the expensive umbrella
the new laptop
your new haircut
never coming back
she’s still shouting in
the back of some other taxi

© 2017 Rob Schackne

Sunday, March 5, 2017

POEM: "Several Moments Of Intensity"

Several Moments Of Intensity

Several moments of intensity
anytime in the next 7 years
before squirrels lose their paws
and the Milky Way waltzes away
like before a canvas or a page
we'll come and go together
this masterpiece of love
picture a harmonious display
an astronomers' party with stars
a helium balloon to lift us up
you'll be on time for once
and I'll be racing to catch you
when we leave this planet laughing

© 2017 Rob Schackne

Saturday, March 4, 2017

POEM: "In The Crackle Of Dreams"

In The Crackle Of Dreams

In the crackle of dreams
the swirl of the sore heart
guns be fired everywhere
let it never be anyone here
there is not, or me, children
after a street scene, a battle
that didn't end all battles
there is not, shit on a wall
a future happening, or tyres
they're burning like leaves
or the personal bullets, I run
the shells ripped up like the sun
the night I was losing my mind
god, we go anywhere we can.

© 2017 Rob Schackne

Friday, March 3, 2017

POEM: "We Do Love Each Other Feast"

We Do Live Each Other Feast

Believe it now you writing
my eye and body the same
please translate this for me
rock a meditation till it sleep
the word coming at speed
yes that when I love it
prayer flag and prayer wheel
watch a drop of butterfly
charmed thing inoculated
(but let's no talk of blood)
the fighter be the artist
she live along the battlefield
she fight for other not herself
how the wizard still love you
see I let compassion flow
we go on this last few minute
we do live each other feast
sunset softing on the meadow
this world still unchanging
that all I have tonight
genius this to figure out

© 2017 Rob Schackne

Monday, February 6, 2017

POEM: "What we hope for"

“What we hope for”

Lived once near a
small town named Roadkill
where years ago the
fencing was taken down
and where all the
people looked well-fed…

What we hope for
so capable of happiness
instead the infantile rage
takes us and braces
down into the ground
the unhappiness and despair

can poetry complete the
circle we can wonder
all we want about
how our language betrays
good notes and sense
gets carried far away

ground me in love
connect me back up
connect it like electricity
all the extra apples
good men and women
some art that saves

the alien and other
the fear it won’t
get any better and
the hope it will
so tired of questions
the interrogations and sins

© 2017 Rob Schackne

Wednesday, February 1, 2017

POEM: "Becalmed"


He becomes a writer
a thousand years waiting
and for some reason

for a harmless detonation
he writes odd poems
of hearts and souls

(by all means, sweet love
transfer those cultures
Astérix to Astro Boy)

he starts off on the Mekong
a thousand years waiting
for the wind to pick up

a kite gets caught
between the gust & the air
and falls at the border

he watches a boat
by a slow silver river
play an old game in the mind

the inklings to scatter
from blows and the hot wire
sparks fly off the thousand words

the kite goes as high
as it can, one eye spotting
the dangers below

looks like soldiers
in a thousand fields sow hearts
marked in land mines dark

a poem comes grudgingly
like a body pulled along the ground
and silent people stare

© 2017 Rob Schackne

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

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