Archive for May, 2009

My Autopsy (Excerpt)

There is a way
if we want
into everything

I’ll eat the chicken carbonara and you eat the veal, the olives, the small and
glowing loaves of bread

I’ll eat the waiter, the waitress
floating through the candled dark in shiny black slacks
like water at night

The napkins, folded into paper boats, contain invisible Japanese poems

You eat the forks
all the knives, asleep and waiting
on the white tables

What do you love?

I love the way our teeth stay long after we’re gone, hanging on despite worms
or fire

I love our stomachs
turning over
the earth
by Michael Dickman

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Vision from the Blue Plane-Window

In the round little window, everything is blue,
land bluish, blue-green, blue
(and sky)
everything is blue
blue lakes and lagoons
blue volcanoes
while farther off the land looks bluer
blue islands in a blue lake.
This is the face of the land liberated.
And where all the people fought, I think:
for love!
To live without the hatred
of exploitation.
To love one another in a beautiful land
so beautiful, not only in itself
but because of the people in it,
above all because of the people in it.
That’s why God gave us this beautiful land
for the society in it.
And in all those blue places they fought, suffered
for a society of love
here in this land.
by Ernesto Cardenal
translated by Jonathan Cohen

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Dear Sky

I’ve asked everyone,
but no one has as good a view
as you do over the comings and goings
and livings and dyings of us
here so small on this accidental planet.
I know, I should keep tabs.
Especially in light of the thick fog
the past is always slapping down among us
like deliberate roadblocks
to our obvious desires.
But I thought you might have seen her.
It strikes me this evening, as I see
you’re having a fine old draw
from your expensive cigar–I can see
the dense smoke wafting up through the sunset
from the huge old lips of this Gertrude-
Stein-type guy lounging just
over the horizon where what looks
like mountains is his skirt
between his knees–
I thought maybe you could help,
maybe send up a signal
if you see her . . .

She’s tall, for a woman.
She has a bald spot just above
her left ear that you notice when she’s lying
on her right side, say,
on Sunday mornings when the light
comes in and warms it–
It’s where her brother dared her
to touch her tongue to the spinning lathe
when she was fifteen and she only
got as far as her beautiful hair. I
was sixteen. By then she was older.
So many years older (two at least) that
kissing her was like going
to a very respectable party
where real adult things were being done,
and in the vacant parlor the sun
just sang with it, gushing
into corners that had somehow gotten dark:
the hinged collection box inside the piano bench,
even the slats of darkness
that forbade the piano strings from playing
unwritten, cacophonous songs–

Dear sky,
I keep thinking I’ll be walking through pines
and suddenly I’ll see it:
a clearing just that soft, a spot
that shy, and I’ll look to my left and where
her ear would be is all of her,
and the whole sky a patch like that,
sudden and touchable, and I’ll ask her
in its presence to forgive me now
after so much troubled time.
And because there is no God
that looked down on her that night
she was beaten and her body was consumed
four times, though somehow
she rose and stumbled back in pieces
and into my arms;
and because nothing I could do
could repair her soul
though I flew at it with cloth
with glue with bandages kisses anything
and still there was a rift
between her and her body and therefore
between us
while the criminal crouched at some
boundary of our love,

I think now that passion
should be something like sunlight
while the sky looks on and nothing
in the process asks God to raise
the least hand to bless us.
Robin Behn

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Song For the Spirit of Natalie Going

qui s’est réfugié
ton futur en moi

—Stephanie Mallarme, “A Tomb for Anatole”

Small bundle of bones, small bundle of fingers, of plumpness, of
predicate, prescient, standing and wobbling, lit up in the joy,
lachrymose GA, your bundle oh KA, the unfolding begun of the start,
of the toys, of witnessing, silly, the eyes startled and up, re-
énveloped now and fresh with the art, chordate, devoted,
sunk in dreaming of wisps and startled awake — This is morning.
This is daddy. This is the number eight
— spacey, resplendent,
in seersucker bib, overalled, astonished, in dazzling fix
on the small crawling lights in their spaceship of night and the
plug and the cord and the big one’s delight, pausing,
mezzed by mobile HEH HEH and again, stinging the shopkeepers,
the monkeyish mouth, knees, child knees — need to have the child
here—absence—knees fall—and
falling, a dream, a final
singsong UH HAH in the starkest of suns, the heat now a blanket
now a song of your soul—Such a sharp love there is! Such a loud
love there beats! Such a filled hole you leave, in the dusk in the room,
in the wobbling hours of what has refúged, your future in me.

Natalie Joy Hertel-Voisine, 1994-1995

by Susan Wheeler

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This Nest, Swift Passerine [excerpt]

But how find how as it flew onward
& the mountains gave back the sound
to say what I mean the call of the bird
& the echoe after to say I’ve seen?

Raven hungers and calls and the mountain
Hungers back and calls
The whole range of peaks in the bird’s beak.
Raven lonely and the mountain rings
Loneliness & the echoe after we could see
him no longer

The echo after we could see Light in echo the eye sees
also through the ear a double infinity
by Dan Beachy-Quick

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Psychoanalysis: An Elegy

What are you thinking about?

I am thinking of an early summer.
I am thinking of wet hills in the rain
Pouring water. Shedding it
Down empty acres of oak and manzanita
Down to the old green brush tangled in the sun,
Greasewood, sage, and spring mustard.
Or the hot wind coming down from Santa Ana
Driving the hills crazy,
A fast wind with a bit of dust in it
Bruising everything and making the seed sweet.
Or down in the city where the peach trees
Are awkward as young horses,
And there are kites caught on the wires
Up above the street lamps,
And the storm drains are all choked with dead branches.

What are you thinking?

I think that I would like to write a poem that is slow as a summer
As slow getting started
As 4th of July somewhere around the middle of the second stanza
After a lot of unusual rain
California seems long in the summer.
I would like to write a poem as long as California
And as slow as a summer.
Do you get me, Doctor? It would have to be as slow
As the very tip of summer.
As slow as the summer seems
On a hot day drinking beer outside Riverside
Or standing in the middle of a white-hot road
Between Bakersfield and Hell
Waiting for Santa Claus.

What are you thinking now?

I’m thinking that she is very much like California.
When she is still her dress is like a roadmap. Highways
Traveling up and down her skin
Long empty highways
With the moon chasing jackrabbits across them
On hot summer nights.
I am thinking that her body could be California
And I a rich Eastern tourist
Lost somewhere between Hell and Texas
Looking at a map of a long, wet, dancing California
That I have never seen.
Send me some penny picture-postcards, lady,
Send them.
One of each breast photographed looking
Like curious national monuments,
One of your body sweeping like a three-lane highway
Twenty-seven miles from a night’s lodging
In the world’s oldest hotel.

What are you thinking?

I am thinking of how many times this poem
Will be repeated. How many summers
Will torture California
Until the damned maps burn
Until the mad cartographer
Falls to the ground and possesses
The sweet thick earth from which he has been hiding.

What are you thinking now?

I am thinking that a poem could go on forever.
by Jack Spicer

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Sixty five pounds of honeycomb
my apartment manager tells me when I move in.
That’s how many buckets they carried from my walls
after killing the colony.
A friend tells me it is bad luck to kill honey bees.
She learns this after fogging her son’s room.
Then comes the long story,
how they are bitten by bats
and the many trips to and from the doctor
for rabies shots.
Bees have always brought me good luck.
The yellow gold liquid that pours through my walls
is not something I want to be rid of,
but something I want to be surrounded by
to live within
as if being in the apartment
is my passage into the waxy cells of the hive.
The dead bees lie on my back deck for weeks.
I cannot touch them,
don’t want them to know I am their killer.
They remain on the boards through winter,
covered with snow.
I think of what I know of them,
how a single bee cannot survive
apart from the hive. Isolate her
and however abundant the food
or favorable the temperature,
she will die in a few days
not of hunger or cold
but of loneliness.
How can I touch them,
how can I sweep them away?
How do you remain married to one person
when you’re in love with someone else?
These are my questions,
they surround me as if words
are lodged in the walls
in a kind of twisting thrum.
I tiptoe around, trying not to step on the bodies.

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