Friday, February 27, 2015

And that sometimes, in a breeze

Poem for a Man with No Sense of Smell

This is simply to inform you:

that the thickest line in the kink of my hand
smells like the feel of an old school desk,
the deep carved names worn sleek with sweat;

that beneath the spray of my expensive scent
my armpits sound a bass note strong
as the boom of a palm on a kettle drum;

that the wet flush of my fear is sharp
as the taste of an iron pipe, midwinter,
on a child’s hot tongue; and that sometimes,

in a breeze, the delicate hairs on the nape
of my neck, just where you might bend
your head, might hesitate and brush your lips,

hold a scent frail and precise as a fleet
of tiny origami ships, just setting out to sea.

Kate Clanchy
from Selected Poems, Picador, 2014.

Tuesday, February 24, 2015

Seeing Truly

"You don't think in depression that you've put on a gray veil and are seeing the world through the haze of a bad mood. You think that the veil has been taken away, the veil of happiness, and that now you're seeing truly.

It's easier to help schizophrenics who perceive that there's something foreign inside of them that needs to be exorcised, but it's difficult with depressives, because we believe we are seeing the truth."

Monday, February 16, 2015

In fact I'm looking for courage

Louise Gl├╝ck

You want to know how I spend my time?

I walk the front lawn, pretending
to be weeding. You ought to know
I'm never weeding, on my knees, pulling
clumps of clover from the flower beds: in fact

I'm looking for courage, for some evidence
my life will change, though
it takes forever, checking
each clump for the symbolic
leaf, and soon the summer is ending, already

the leaves turning, always the sick trees
going first, the dying turning
brilliant yellow, while a few dark birds perform
their curfew of music.

You want to see my hands?
As empty now as at the first note.

Or was the point always
to continue without a sign?

Sunday, February 15, 2015

These days, I am an open wound

Over It

Now the splinter-sized dagger that jabs at my heart has
lodged itself in my aorta, I can’t worry it
anymore. I liked the pain, the
dig of remembering, the way, if I
moved the dagger just so, I could
see his face, jiggle the hilt and hear his voice
clearly, a kind of music played on my bones
and memory, complete with the hip-hop beat
of his defunct heart.

Now what am I
supposed to do? I am dis-
inclined toward rehab. Prefer the steady
jab jab jab that reminds me I’m still
living. Two weeks after he died,
a friend asked if I was “over it.”
As if my son’s death was something to get
through, like the flu.

Now it’s past the five-year slot.
Maybe I’m okay that he isn’t anymore,
maybe not. These days,
I am an open wound. Cry easily.
Need an arm to lean on.

You know what I want?
I want to ask my friend how her only daughter
is doing. And for one moment, I want her to tell me she’s
dead so I can ask my friend if she’s over it yet.
I really want to know.

Alexis Rhone Fancher

Tuesday, February 10, 2015

To be held in that line of force, however briefly

Lines of Force

The pleasure of walking a long time on the mountain
without seeing a human being, much less speaking to one.

And the pleasure of speaking when one is suddenly there.
The upgrade from wary to tolerant to convivial,
so unlike two brisk bodies on a busy street
for whom a sudden magnetic attraction
is a mistake, awkwardness, something to be sorry for.

But to loiter, however briefly, in a clearing
where two paths intersect in the matrix of chance.
To stop here speaking the few words that come to mind.
A greeting. Some earnest talk of weather.
A little history of the day.

To stand there then and say nothing.
To slowly look around and past each other.
Notice the green tang pines exude in the heat
and the denser sweat of human effort.

To have nothing left to say
but not wanting just yet to move on.
The tension between you, a gossamer thread.
It trembles in the breeze, holding
the thin light it transmits.

To be held in that
line of force, however briefly,
as if it were all that mattered.

And then to move on.
With equal energy, with equal pleasure.

Thomas Centolella

This snow, this transformation

How snow falls

Like the unshaven prickle
of a sharpened razor,
this new coldness in the air,
the pang
of something intangible.

Filling our eyes,
the sinusitis of perfume
without the perfume.

And then love's vertigo,
love's exactitude,
this snow, this transfiguration
we never quite get over.

Craig Raine

Monday, February 9, 2015

The great opportunity is where you are

“Look underfoot. You are always nearer to the true sources of your power than you think. The lure of the distant and the difficult is deceptive. The great opportunity is where you are. Don't despise your own place and hour. Every place is the center of the world.”

John Burroughs

Eventually we will be dust together

Promise of Blue Horses

A blue horse turns into a streak of lightning,
then the sun -
relating the difference between sadness
and the need to praise that which makes us joyful,

I can't calculate how the earth tips hungrily
toward the sun - then soaks up rain -
or the density of this unbearable need
to be next to you.

It's a palpable thing - this earth philosophy
and familiar in the dark, like your skin under my hand.
We are a small earth. It's no simple thing.
Eventually we will be dust together;

can be used to make a house, to stop
a flood or grow food
for those who will never remember who we were,
or know that we loved fiercely.

Laughter and sadness eventually become the same song
turning us toward the nearest star -
a star constructed of eternity and elements of dust barely visible
in the twilight as you travel east.

I run with the blue horses of electricity who surround the heart
and imagine a promise made
when no promise was possible.

Joy Harjo, 'How We Become Human'

Once intoxicated

Dreams and Poetry
Hu Shih (1891-1962)

It’s all ordinary experience, 
All ordinary images.
By chance they emerge in a dream,
Turning out infinite patterns.

It’s all ordinary feelings,
All ordinary words.
By chance they encounter a poet,
Turning out infinite new verses.

Once intoxicated, one learns the strength of wine,
Once smitten, one learns the power of love:
You cannot write my poems
Just as I cannot dream your dreams.

Meet me in Istanbul

Next Time

I'll know the names of all of the birds
and flowers, and not only that, I'll
tell you the name of the piano player
I'm hearing right now on the kitchen
radio, but I won't be in the kitchen,

I'll be walking a street in
New York or London, about
to enter a coffee shop where people
are reading or working on their
laptops. They'll look up and smile.

Next time I won't waste my heart
on anger; I won't care about
being right. I'll be willing to be
wrong about everything and to
concentrate on giving myself away.

Next time, I'll rush up to people I love,
look into their eyes, and kiss them, quick.
I'll give everyone a poem I didn't write,
one specially chosen for that person.
They'll hold it up and see a new
world. We'll sing the morning in,

and I will keep in touch with friends,
writing long letters when I wake from
a dream where they appear on the
Orient Express. "Meet me in Istanbul,"
I'll say, and they will.

Joyce Sutphen

But I don't want comfort

"But I don't want comfort. I want poetry. I want danger. I want freedom. I want goodness. I want sin."

Aldous Huxley, 'Brave New World'

For this once let me go


The buzz subsides. I have come on stage.
Leaning in an open door
I try to detect from the echo
What the future has in store.

 A thousand opera-glasses level
The dark, point-blank, at me.
Abba, Father, if it be possible
Let this cup pass from me.

I love your preordained design
And am ready to play this role.
But the play being acted is not mine.
For this once let me go.

But the order of the acts is planned,
The end of the road already revealed.
Alone among the Pharisees I stand.
Life is not a stroll across a field.

Boris Pasternak,  trs. Jon Stallworth and Peter France
from Selected Poems (Penguin, 1983)

Sunday, February 8, 2015

The Path

"Ali said: None may arrive at the Truth until he is able to think that the Path itself may be wrong."

'Thinkers of the East, Studies in Experientialism'. Page 38.
Idries Shah

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