May 2nd, 2011

"Not Everyone Can See the Truth, But He Can Be It," Charles Wright

Sunday. It’s always Sunday.

                                                Rifts and seams of dark birds

Right-flank and wheel across a darker December sky

Southwest and so wide.

Winter solstice again,

                                    Burnt end of a narrow road.

The lawn chairs gutter and glare in their white solitude.

How short the days are.

How imperceptibly we become ourselves—

                                                            Like solstice-diminishing light

Devolving to one appointed spot,

We substitute and redress

In predetermined degrees we’ve neither a heart nor hand in.

How slowly the streetlights come on.

                                                            How shrill the birds are

Take off your traveling clothes and

                                                            Lay down your luggage,

Pilgrim, shed your nakedness.

Only the fire is absorbed by the Holy of Holies.

                                                                             Let it shine.

The Journey, Mary Oliver

One day you finally knew
what you had to do, and began,
though the voices around you
kept shouting
their bad advice—
though the whole house
began to tremble
and you felt the old tug
at your ankles.
"Mend my life!"
each voice cried.
But you didn’t stop.
You knew what you had to do,
though the wind pried
with its stiff fingers
at the very foundations,
though their melancholy
was terrible.
It was already late
enough, and a wild night,
and the road full of fallen
branches and stones.
But little by little,
as you left their voices behind,
the stars began to burn
through the sheets of clouds,
and there was a new voice
which you slowly
recognized as your own,
that kept you company
as you strode deeper and deeper
into the world,
determined to do
the only thing you could do—
determined to save
the only life you could save. 

April 30th, 2011

Careless Water, Gertrude Stein

No cup is broken in more places and mended, that is to say a plate is broken and mending does do that it shows that culture is Japanese. It shows the whole element of angels and orders. It does more to choosing and it does more to that ministering counting. It does, it does change in more water. 

Supposing a single piece is a hair supposing more of them are orderly, does that show that strength, does that show that joint, does that show that balloon famously. Does it. 

April 29th, 2011

Question, May Swenson

Body my house
my horse my hound
what will I do 
when you are fallen

Where will I sleep
How will I ride
What will I hunt

Where can I go
without my mount
all eager and quick
How will I know
in thicket ahead
is danger or treasure
when Body my good
bright dog is dead

How will it be
to lie in the sky
without roof or door
and wind for an eye

With cloud for shift

how will I hide?

April 28th, 2011

The Woman at the Washington Zoo, Randall Jarrell

The saris go by me from the embassies.

Cloth from the moon. Cloth from another planet.    

They look back at the leopard like the leopard.

And I…. 

               this print of mine, that has kept its color   

Alive through so many cleanings; this dull null   

Navy I wear to work, and wear from work, and so   

To my bed, so to my grave, with no

Complaints, no comment: neither from my chief,   

The Deputy Chief Assistant, nor his chief—

Only I complain…. this serviceable

Body that no sunlight dyes, no hand suffuses

But, dome-shadowed, withering among columns,   

Wavy beneath fountains—small, far-off, shining   

In the eyes of animals, these beings trapped   

As I am trapped but not, themselves, the trap,   

Aging, but without knowledge of their age,

Kept safe here, knowing not of death, for death—

Oh, bars of my own body, open, open!

The world goes by my cage and never sees me.    

And there come not to me, as come to these,

The wild beasts, sparrows pecking the llamas’ grain,   

Pigeons settling on the bears’ bread, buzzards   

Tearing the meat the flies have clouded….


When you come for the white rat that the foxes left,

Take off the red helmet of your head, the black

Wings that have shadowed me, and step to me as man:

The wild brother at whose feet the white wolves fawn,

To whose hand of power the great lioness

Stalks, purring….

                              You know what I was,

You see what I am: change me, change me!

April 27th, 2011

Ape, Russell Edson

You haven’t finished your ape, said mother to father,
who had monkey hair and blood on his whiskers.

I’ve had enough monkey, cried father.

You didn’t eat the hands, and I went to all the
trouble to make onion rings for its fingers, said mother.

I’ll just nibble on its forehead, and then I’ve had enough,
said father.

I stuffed its nose with garlic, just like you like it, said

Why don’t you have the butcher cut these apes up? You lay
the whole thing on the table every night; the same fractured
skull, the same singed fur; like someone who died horribly. These
aren’t dinners, these are post-mortem dissections.

Try a piece of its gum, I’ve stuffed its mouth with bread,
said mother.

Ugh, it looks like a mouth full of vomit. How can I bite into
its cheek with bread spilling out of its mouth? cried father.

Break one of the ears off, they’re so crispy, said mother.

I wish to hell you’d put underpants on these apes; even a
jockstrap, screamed father.

Father, how dare you insinuate that I see the ape as anything
more than simple meat, screamed mother.

Well what’s with this ribbon tied in a bow on its privates?
screamed father.

Are you saying that I am in love with this vicious creature?
That I would submit my female opening to this brute? That after
we had love on the kitchen floor I would put him in the oven, after
breaking his head with a frying pan; and then serve him to my husband,
that my husband might eat the evidence of my infidelity … ?

I’m just saying that I’m damn sick of ape every night,
cried father.

April 26th, 2011

Variations On A Theme By William Carlos Williams, Kenneth Koch

I chopped down the house that you had been saving to live in next summer.
I am sorry, but it was morning, and I had nothing to do
and its wooden beams were so inviting.

We laughed at the hollyhocks together
and then I sprayed them with lye.
Forgive me. I simply do not know what I am doing.

I gave away the money that you had been saving to live on for the
next ten years.
The man who asked for it was shabby
and the firm March wind on the porch was so juicy and cold.

Last evening we went dancing and I broke your leg.
Forgive me. I was clumsy and
I wanted you here in the wards, where I am the doctor! 

April 25th, 2011

The Deconstruction of Emily Dickinson, Galway Kinnell

April 24th, 2011

spring song, Lucille Clifton

the green of Jesus

is breaking the ground

and the sweet

smell of delicious Jesus

is opening the house and

the dance of Jesus music

has hold of the air and

the world is turning

in the body of Jesus and

the future is possible

April 23rd, 2011

For the dead, Adrienne Rich

I dreamed I called you on the telephone

to say: Be kinder to yourself 

but you were sick and would not answer

The waste of my love goes on this way

Trying to save you from yourself

I have always wondered about the leftover

energy, water rushing down a hill

long after the rains have stopped

or the fire you want to go to bed from

but cannot leave, burning-down but not burnt-down

the red coals more extreme, more curious

in their flashing and dying

than you wish they were

sitting there long after midnight.