Monday, September 27, 2010

And Because Love Battles

And Because Love Battles
by Pablo Neruda
And because love battles
not only in its burning agricultures
but also in the mouth of men and women,
I will finish off by taking the path away
to those who between my chest and your fragrance
want to interpose their obscure plant.

About me, nothing worse
they will tell you, my love,
than what I told you.

I lived in the prairies
before I got to know you
and I did not wait love but I was
laying in wait for and I jumped on the rose.

What more can they tell you?
I am neither good nor bad but a man,
and they will then associate the danger
of my life, which you know
and which with your passion you shared.

And good, this danger
is danger of love, of complete love
for all life,
for all lives,
and if this love brings us
the death and the prisons,
I am sure that your big eyes,
as when I kiss them,
will then close with pride,
into double pride, love,
with your pride and my pride.

But to my ears they will come before
to wear down the tour
of the sweet and hard love which binds us,
and they will say: “The one
you love,
is not a woman for you,
Why do you love her? I think
you could find one more beautiful,
more serious, more deep,
more other, you understand me, look how she’s light,
and what a head she has,
and look at how she dresses,
and etcetera and etcetera”.

And I in these lines say:
Like this I want you, love,
love, Like this I love you,
as you dress
and how your hair lifts up
and how your mouth smiles,
light as the water
of the spring upon the pure stones,
Like this I love you, beloved.

To bread I do not ask to teach me
but only not to lack during every day of life.
I don’t know anything about light, from where
it comes nor where it goes,
I only want the light to light up,
I do not ask to the night
I wait for it and it envelops me,
And so you, bread and light
And shadow are.

You came to my life
with what you were bringing,
of light and bread and shadow I expected you,
and Like this I need you,
Like this I love you,
and to those who want to hear tomorrow
that which I will not tell them, let them read it here,
and let them back off today because it is early
for these arguments.

Tomorrow we will only give them
a leaf of the tree of our love, a leaf
which will fall on the earth
like if it had been made by our lips
like a kiss which falls
from our invincible heights
to show the fire and the tenderness
of a true love.

Monday, May 10, 2010

Flower-sellers, Budapest

Flower-sellers, Budapest
by Kathleen Jamie

In the gardens
of their mild southern crofts, their
end-of-the-line hillside vineyards,
where figs turn blue, and peppers dry
strung from the eaves,
old women move among flowers,
each with a worn knife, a sliver
crooked in the first finger
of her right hand —
each, like her neighbours,
drawing the blade
onto the callus of her thumb,
so flowers, creamy dahlias,
fall into their arms; the stems'
spittle wiped on their pinafores.

Then, when they have enough,
the old women
foregather at the station
to await the slow, busy little train
that will take them to the city,
where families drift between mass
and lunch; and they hunker
at bus depots, termini
scented with chrysanthemums,
to pull from plastic buckets
yellows, spicy russets,
the petally nub of each flower
tight as a bee;
and from their pockets, pink ribbon
strictly for the flowers.

We must buy some,
— though they will soon wither —
from this thin-faced
widow in a headscarf, this mother
perhaps, of married daughters
down at the border —
or this old woman, sat
among pigeons and lottery kiosks,
who reaches towards us to proffer
the morning's fresh blooms;
or the woman there who calls 'Flowers!'
in several languages —
one for each invasion:

We must buy some,
because only when the flowers are dispersed
will the old women head for home,
each with her neighbours,
back where they came, with their
empty buckets and thick aprons
on a late morning train.

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Wild Geese

Wild Geese
by Mary Oliver

You do not have to be good.
You do not have to walk on your knees
for a hundred miles through the desert, repenting.
You only have to let the soft animal of your body love what it loves.
Tell me about despair, yours, and I will tell you mine.
Meanwhile the world goes on.
Meanwhile the sun and the clear pebbles of the rain
are moving across the landscapes,
over the prairies and the deep trees,
the mountains and the rivers.
Meanwhile the wild geese, high in the clean blue air,
are heading home again.
Whoever you are, no matter how lonely,
the world offers itself to your imagination,
calls to you like the wild geese, harsh and exciting—
over and over announcing your place
in the family of things.

Counting Sheep

Counting Sheep
by Russell Edson
A scientist has a test tube full of sheep. He
wonders if he should try to shrink a pasture
for them.
They are like grains of rice.
He wonders if it is possible to shrink something
out of existence.
He wonders if the sheep are aware of their tininess,
if they have any sense of scale. Perhaps they think
the test tube is a glass barn …
He wonders what he should do with them; they
certainly have less meat and wool than ordinary
sheep. Has he reduced their commercial value?
He wonders if they could be used as a substitute
for rice, a sort of wolly rice …
He wonders if he shouldn’t rub them into a red paste
between his fingers.
He wonders if they are breeding, or if any of them
have died.
He puts them under a microscope, and falls asleep
counting them...

Letter to a Stranger

Letter to a Stranger
by Tina Chang

Dear Father,

I drifted on the bouquet of your red tongue
for two years. It was a kingdom, the stadium
of your face. I took sweets from a sealed jar
when mother wasn't looking. I grew up on the back steps of St. Mary's
where I learned to scream at kitten boys that didn't do
what I said. We took the body and the blood in time. It is possible
to be divine in one afternoon.

A girl kneels on pebbles to feel the roughness that will change her destiny.

When you died, Vincent started his fascination with glass:
its world of definites. Cut or uncut. Severed or whole. It is the year 2000
and all our failures are tangible. Vincent is 30 and carries a pistol
wrapped in a powder-blue handkerchief. He will use it
on the clocks, the countenance of apples, the delicate house
of some girl's throat still dripping with wine.

Let me sleep now, in the shelter, in the halt. Stop.

At your burial, I dropped carnations into the big earth. Mother pulled
me along by the sleeve. Now there is the sound of great thunder
as the brothers come running through the house, their boots cracking
the surface of things, fuck you's dropping from their fat lips.

One organ persists alone. Three notes repeating and repeating.

I am governed by terror, sleeplessness, nostalgia.
Mother of God helps me out with my daily chores. I capture heat
in a rusted pot, smooth the bed sheets with a hammer, take up the hours
with my veined hands. Father, there are magnificent shadows
engraving themselves onto the dinner table. I keep thinking
that you are telling me to go. Let me sleep
and dream of the falling architecture of this house, transform it
into an imitation of heaven. My eyes are closed, two razors.

Dear Father, What kind of music is coming from me? What kind?

Chopin Bukowski

Chopin Bukowski
By Charles Bukowski

this is my piano.

the phone rings and people ask,
what are you doing? how about
getting drunk with us?

and I say,
I’m at my piano.


I’m at my piano.

I hang up.

people need me. I fill
them. if they can’t see me
for a while they get desperate, they get

But if I see them too often
I get sick. it’s hard to feed
without getting fed.

my piano says things back to

sometimes the things are
scrambled and not very good.
other times
I get as good and lucky as

sometimes I get out of practice
out of tune. that’s
all right.

I can sit down and vomit on the
but it’s my

it’s better than sitting in a room
with 3 or 4 people and
their pianos.

this is my piano
and it is better than theirs.

and they like it and they do not
like it.

Final Night at the Sunset Drive-In

Final Night at the Sunset Drive-In
by Kristy Bowen

And what else to do with a girl
with a mouth like a dirty book,
a burnt-out car. Blue limbs

tangling the windshield and every-
thing tilted and still. This isn’t porno,
it’s a love story--tongues everywhere

and desultory lines. A woman on
the screen keens like a broken radio.
This one tastes like Americana,

the burnished chrome of dashboard
instruments. Flip-flopped hat-check girl,
her skirt fussy and florid over her face.

Her breath, all orange crush and flicker.

Theme for English B

Theme for English B
by Langston Hughes

The instructor said,
Go home and write
a page tonight.
And let that page come out of you---
Then, it will be true.
I wonder if it's that simple?
I am twenty-two, colored, born in Winston-Salem.
I went to school there, then Durham, then here
to this college on the hill above Harlem.
I am the only colored student in my class.
The steps from the hill lead down into Harlem
through a park, then I cross St. Nicholas,
Eighth Avenue, Seventh, and I come to the Y,
the Harlem Branch Y, where I take the elevator
up to my room, sit down, and write this page:
It's not easy to know what is true for you or me
at twenty-two, my age. But I guess I'm what
I feel and see and hear, Harlem, I hear you:
hear you, hear me---we two---you, me, talk on this page.
(I hear New York too.) Me---who?
Well, I like to eat, sleep, drink, and be in love.
I like to work, read, learn, and understand life.
I like a pipe for a Christmas present,
or records---Bessie, bop, or Bach.
I guess being colored doesn't make me NOT like
the same things other folks like who are other races.
So will my page be colored that I write?
Being me, it will not be white.
But it will be
a part of you, instructor.
You are white---
yet a part of me, as I am a part of you.
That's American.
Sometimes perhaps you don't want to be a part of me.
Nor do I often want to be a part of you.
But we are, that's true!
As I learn from you,
I guess you learn from me---
although you're older---and white---
and somewhat more free.

This is my page for English B.

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

someone should write me a love poem, but i'm stuck doing it myself

someone should write me a love poem, but i'm stuck doing it myself
by Daphne Gottleib

1. when i was in high school, i had to memorize the
conjugation of the latin verb "to love."

2. i have no idea what happened to my mother's wedding
ring. last night at 12:17 am, i really needed to know.

3. "beautiful" and "amazing" just mean "beautiful" and
"amazing." nothing more.

4. i memorized the latin verb by singing the forms to the
tune of "the mexican hat dance":



5. someone called at 1:19 in the morning. the area code is
from somewhere in arizona. i don't think i know anyone
in arizona. there wasn't a message.

6. if someone lets you sleep over and has to go to work while
you're still asleep and they let you sleep in even though though
they don't really know you, it's nice to leave a thank you
note. or make their bed.

7. i haven't been beautiful in days and i need more sleep.
don't think about it too much. it doesn't mean a thing.

8. i have had my shirts altered so i can wear my heart on my

9. told me i'm beautiful and amazing and where are you,
who told me i'm beautiful and amazing, next time please
write it down, i will be beautiful all day after i make the
bed, amazing after i throw the latex away; how is it, the
everywhere of our hands and no trace of handwriting

10. i still sing:



watch your tense and case

watch your tense and case
by daphne gottlieb

oh baby
i want to be your direct object.
you know, that is to say
i want to be on the other
side of all the verbs i know
you know how to use.

i've seen you conjugate:
i touch
you touched
you heard
she knows
who cares

i'm interested in
a few decent prepositions:
above, over, inside, atop,
below, around and
i'm sure there are more
right on the tip of
your tongue.

i am ready to spend
the present perfect
splitting your infinitive
there's an art to the way you
dangle your participle and

since we're being informal it's okay to
use a few contractions, like
wasn't (going to)
shouldn't (have)
and a conjunction:
but (did it anyway)

and i'm really really glad
you're not into dependent
clauses since all i'm really
interested in is your
bad, bad grammar
and your exclamation point.

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Dithyramb of a Happy Woman

Dithyramb of a Happy Woman
by Anna Swir

Song of excess,
strength, mighty tenderness,
pliant ecstasy.
lovingly dancing.

I quiver as a body in rapture,
I quiver as a wing,
I am an explosion,
I overstep myself,
I am a fountain,
I have its resilience.
a thousand excesses,
song of gushing strength.

There are gifts in me,
flowerings of abundance,
curls of light are sobbing,
a flame is foaming, its lofty ripeness
is ripening.
Oceans of glare,
rosy as the palate
of a big mouth in ecstasy.

I am astonished
up to my nostrils, I snort,
a snorting universe of astonishment
inundates me.
I am gulping excess, I am choking with fullness,
I am impossible as reality.

The Door is Open

The Door is Open
by Anna Swir

No, I don't want to tame you,
you'd lose your animal charm.
Your wiliness and nervousness
excite me,
they belong to your exotic breed.

You can't escape me
because the door is always open.
You can't betray me
because I don't demand fidelity.

Give me your hand,
we'll dance
through the laughing darkness.
With sacred bells
on our arms and legs,
the movement of the dance
as supple as ancient Arabic writing,
our hair singing
like a Greek chorus.

Elemental bliss
organised into a mystery play.
Only just domesticated,
like you.

Sunday, January 17, 2010

Report on Human Beings

Report on Human Beings
by Michael Goldman

You know about desks and noses,
proteins, mortgages, orchestras,
nationalities, contraceptives;
you have our ruins and records,
but they won't tell you
what we were like.

We were distinguished
by our interest in scenery;
we could look at things for hours
without using or breaking them--
and there was a touch of desperation, not to be found
in any other animal,
in the looks of love we directed
at our children.

We were treacherous of course.
Like anything here--
winds, dogs, the sun--
we could turn against you unexpectedly,
we could let you down.
But what was remarkable about us
and which you will not believe
is that we alone,
with the exception of a few pets
who probably learned it from us,
when betrayed
were frequently surprised.

We were one of a million species
who continually cried out
or silently wept with pain.
I am proud that we alone resented
taking part in the chorus.

Yes, some of us
like to cause pain.
Yes, most of us
liked to cause pain,
but I am proud that most of us
were ashamed

Our love of poetry would have amused you;
we were so proud of language
we thought we invented it
(and thus failed to notice
the speech of the animals,
the birds' repeated warnings,
the whispered intelligence
of mutant cells).

We did invent boredom,
a fruitful state.
It hid the size of our desires.
We were spared many murders,
many religions
because we could say, "I am bored."
A kind of clarity
came when we said it
and we could go to Paris or the movies,
give useful parties, master languages,
rather than sink our teeth in our lover's throat
and shake till things felt right again.

Out of the same pulsing world
you know,
out of gases, whorls,
fronds, feelers, jellies,
we devised hard edges,
strings of infinite tension stretched
to guide us.
The mind's pure snowflake
was our map.
Lines, angles, outlines
not to be found in rocks or seas
or living matter
or in the holes of space,
how strange these shapes must look to you,
at odds with everything,
uncanny, broken from the flow,
I think they must be for you
what we called art.

What was most wonderful about us
was our kindness,
but of this it is impossible to speak.
Only someone who knows our cruelty,
who knows the fears we always lived with,
fear of inside and outside, smooth and rough,
soft and hard, wet and dry, touch and no touch,
only someone who understands the great palace we built
on the axis of time
out of our fear and cruelty and called history,
only those who have lived in the anger
of a great modern city,
who saw the traffic in the morning
and the police at night
can know how heartbreaking
our kindness was.

Let me put it this way.
One of us said, "I think
our life is not as good
as the mind warrants,"
another, "It is hard
to be alone and alive at the same time."
To understand these statements
you would have to be human.

Our destruction as a species
was accidental.
we blamed it on ourselves,
which neither the eagle
nor the dinosaur would do.

Look closely around you,
study our instruments,
scan the night sky.
We were alien.
Nothing in the universe
resembles us.

Tuesday, January 5, 2010


by Ruth Stone

We pop into life the way
Particles pop in and out
Of the continuum.
We are a seething mass
Of probability.
And probably I love you.
The evil of larva
And the evil of stars
Is a formula for the future.
Some bodies can
Thrust their arms into
a flame and be instantly
cured of this world,
while others sicken.
Why think, little brother
Like the moon, spit out like
A broken tooth.
"Oh," groans the world.
The outer planets,
The fizzing sun, here we come
With our luggage.
Look at the clever things
We have made out of
A few building blocks—
O, fabulous continuum.

Sunday, January 3, 2010

The Ivy Crown

The Ivy Crown
by William Carlos Williams

Romance has no part in it.
The business of love is
cruelty which,
by our wills,
we transform
to live together.
It has seasons,
for and against,
whatever the heart
fumbles in the dark
to assert
toward the end of May.
Just as the nature of briars
is to tear the flesh,
I have proceeded
through them.
the briars out,
they say.
You cannot live
and keep free of


At our age the imagination
across the sorry facts
lifts us
to make roses
stand before thorns
love is cruel
and selfish
and totally obtuse
at least, blinded by light,
young love is.
But we are older,
I to love
and you to be loved,
We have
no matter how,
by our wills survived
to keep
the jeweled prize
at our finger tips.
We will it so
and so it is
past all accident.

Asphodel, That Greeny Flower

Asphodel, That Greeny Flower
by William Carlos Williams

I cannot say
that I have gone to hell
for your love
but often
found myself there
in your pursuit.
I do not like it
and wanted to be
in heaven. Hear me out.
Do not turn away.
I have learned much in my life
from books
and out of them
about love.
is not the end of it.


Silence can be complex too,
but you do not get far
with silence.


What power has love but forgiveness?
In other words
by its intervention
what has been done
can be undone.


Having your love
I was rich.
Thinking to have lost it
I am tortured
and cannot rest.


Don't think
that because I say this
in a poem
it can be treated lightly
or that the facts will not uphold it.
Are facts not flowers
and flowers facts
or poems flowers
or all works of the imagination
Which proves
that love
rules them all, for then
You will be my queen
my queen of love
forever more.