Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Summer: Three Ways

By Dorothea Grossman

1.
I’ve been learning English
all my life, so I’m pretty good at it,
but every summer brings
my throat and brain
new challenges.

2.
Here, where rain is so rare,
I’ve lost my sense of smell,
but late at night,
under a sheen of oil
that feels very much like rain,
the city tastes like fish.

3.
Sometimes, in my green retreat,
the weather makes a joke,
with early falling leaves
and snowy flowers.
It’s August;
nothing will change
until we tell it to.

Monday, July 30, 2012

Dejection on a Florida Summer Afternoon

By Joseph Pacheco

On this ominous summer afternoon
I’ve had my fill of Florida,
My fill of alligator-friendly heat,
Of red weather
Bursting from the TV screen
Into a dark angry clot
Our our fail-safe houses
And alien lawns—my fill
Of violent venereal rain
Fueling the overgrowth
And overbuilding, the excess
Of Paradise paved over.

On this ominous summer afternoon
Lightning flashes
In diabolical sync
With the signs on Tamiami.
Inside my conditioned
Condo cocoon, outages blink
Off and on, off and on,
Urging me to evacuate
Before the unborn mosquitoes
Get to beat their wings
And the mouth of red weather
Swallows us whole

Sunday, July 29, 2012

As I Grew Older

By Langston Hughes

I have almost forgotten my dream.
But it was there then,
In front of me,
Bright like a sun--
My dream.
And then the wall rose,
Rose slowly,
Slowly,
Between me and my dream.
Rose until it touched the sky--
The wall.
Shadow.
I am black.
I lie down in the shadow.
No longer the light of my dream before me,
Above me.
Only the thick wall.
Only the shadow.
My hands!
My dark hands!
Break through the wall!
Find my dream!
Help me to shatter this darkness,
To smash this night,
To break this shadow
Into a thousand lights of sun,
Into a thousand whirling dreams
Of sun!

Friday, July 27, 2012

Being a Person

By William Stafford

Be a person here. Stand by the river, invoke
the owls. Invoke winter, then spring.
Let any season that wants to come here make its own
call. After that sound goes away, wait.

A slow bubble rises through the earth
and begins to include sky, stars, all space,
even the outracing, expanding thought.
Come back and hear the little sound again.

Suddenly this dream you are having matches
everyone’s dream, and the result is the world.
If a different call came there wouldn’t be any
world, or you, or the river, or the owls calling.

How you stand here is important. How you
listen for the next things to happen. How you breathe.

Thursday, July 26, 2012

Love is Not All

By Edna St. Vincent Millay

Love is not all: it is not meat nor drink
Nor slumber nor a roof against the rain;
Nor yet a floating spar to men that sink
And rise and sink and rise and sink again;
Love can not fill the thickened lung with breath,
Nor clean the blood, nor set the fractured bone;
Yet many a man is making friends with death
Even as I speak, for lack of love alone.
It well may be that in a difficult hour,
Pinned down by pain and moaning for release,
Or nagged by want past resolution's power,
I might be driven to sell your love for peace,
Or trade the memory of this night for food.
It well may be. I do not think I would.

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Epitaph On The World

By Henry David Thoreau

Here lies the body of this world, 
Whose soul alas to hell is hurled.
This golden youth long since was past,
Its silver manhood went as fast,
An iron age drew on at last;
'Tis vain its character to tell,
The several fates which it befell,
What year it died, when 'twill arise,
We only know that here it lies. 

Monday, July 23, 2012

window shopping with my words

By Claudio Roberto Veale

during the day, a raw voice

my fingers secrete a milky substance
on command

i remember holding a dandelion shoot, broken
between my secret fingers
the dirthonest sourness of a plant
taking up space in my mind.

how, no matter what words i use,
the picture comes out blurred.

Claudio Roberto Veale lives with his family in South Texas.

Sunday, July 22, 2012

The New Egypt

By Robin Becker

I think of my father who believes
a Jew can outwit fate by owning land.
Slave to property now, I mow
and mow, my destiny the new Egypt.
From his father, the tailor, he learned not
to rent but to own; to borrow to buy.
To conform, I disguise myself and drag
the mower into the drive, where I ponder
the silky oil, the plastic casing, the choke.
From my father, I learned the dignity
of exile and the fire of acquisition,
not to live in places lightly, but to plant
the self like an orange tree in the desert
and irrigate, irrigate, irrigate.

Saturday, July 21, 2012

Not every day

By Shifra Alon

Not every day does one encounter God,
And not at every moment can one give oneself to prayer;
Nor can every hour be an hour of loving kindness.
A person wanders and strays before reaching the journey’s end.
We start over again. And again we lose our way,
Groping and searching for our forgotten path.
But they – those who search and wander –
God seeks them out with candles.

Thursday, July 19, 2012

Instructions

By Neil Gaiman

Touch the wooden gate in the wall you never
saw before.
Say "please" before you open the latch,
go through,
walk down the path.
A red metal imp hangs from the green-painted
front door,
as a knocker,
do not touch it; it will bite your fingers.
Walk through the house. Take nothing. Eat
nothing.
However, if any creature tells you that it hungers,
feed it.
If it tells you that it is dirty,
clean it.
If it cries to you that it hurts,
if you can
ease its pain.

From the back garden you will be able to see the
wild wood.
The deep well you walk past leads to Winter's
realm
there is another land at the bottom of it.

If you turn around here,
you can walk back, safely;
you will lose no face. I will think no less of you.

Once through the garden you will be in the
wood.
The trees are old. Eyes peer from the under-<
growth.
Beneath a twisted oak sits an old woman. She
may ask for something;
give it to her. She
will point the way to the castle.
Inside it are three princesses.
Do not trust the youngest. Walk on.
In the clearing beyond the castle the twelve
months sit about a fire,
warming their feet, exchanging tales.
They may do favors for you, if you are polite.
You may pick strawberries in December's frost.
Trust the wolves, but do not tell them where
you are going.
The river can be crossed by the ferry. The ferry-
man will take you.
(The answer to his question is this:
If he hands the oar to his passenger, he will be free to
leave the boat.
Only tell him this from a safe distance.)

If an eagle gives you a feather, keep it safe.
Remember: that giants sleep too soundly; that
witches are often betrayed by their appetites;
dragons have one soft spot, somewhere, always;
hearts can be well-hidden,
and you betray them with your tongue.

Do not be jealous of your sister.
Know that diamonds and roses
are as uncomfortable when they tumble from
one's lips as toads and frogs:
colder, too, and sharper, and they cut

Remember your name.
Do not lose hope — what you seek will be found.
Trust ghosts. Trust those that you have helped
to help you in their turn.
Trust dreams.
Trust your heart, and trust your story.
When you come back, return the way you came.
Favors will be returned, debts will be repaid.
Do not forget your manners.
Do not look back.
Ride the wise eagle (you shall not fall).
Ride the silver fish (you will not drown).
Ride the grey wolf (hold tightly to his fur).


There is a worm at the heart of the tower; that is
why it will not stand.

When you reach the little house, the place your
journey started,
you will recognize it, although it will seem
much smaller than you remember.
Walk up the path, and through the garden gate
you never saw before but once.
And then go home. Or make a home.
And rest.

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

Heat

By H.D.

O wind, rend open the heat,
cut apart the heat,
rend it to tatters.

Fruit cannot drop
through this thick air--
fruit cannot fall into heat
that presses up and blunts
the points of pears
and rounds the grapes.

Cut the heat--
plough through it,
turning it on either side
of your path.

Monday, July 16, 2012

Plywood Quality Thoughts about Time

By Dan Hedges

Expressions of time are misleading, trivialize life,
and dumb us down.  For example,
‘one day’
is a common phrase that diminishes the perceived
magnitude of what actually happens
or could happen, mentally, in
‘one day’.
Note that a single glimpse at a ‘commonplace’ object
could lead to millions of instantaneous abstractions of the mind.
Then consider the multitude glimpses that occur
in
‘one day’
and hold that in consideration next
to all of the varied psychological activity that occurs in
‘one day’
In
‘one day’
the brain goes through a puzzling matrix so
profound, that to say
‘one day’
is an absurd reduction of human experience.
Let’s be honest.  The use of digits to express the passing
of time is ridiculous and misleading.   Next time you find
yourself awake
‘one day’
behold the endless depth of a single gaze, of
the\ ‘ordinary thing’, and let not your experience of
‘one day’
be reduced to an
ordinary, reductive,
oppressive,
numeration of experience.


Dan Hedges teaches English in the Sir Wilfred Laurier School Board of Quebec.  He has also taught at Sedbergh School, and the Celtic International School.  He studied English, History, and Education and Trent University and Queen’s University.  His writing appears or is forthcoming in The Monarch Review, Inertia, Coatlism Press, Whole Beast Rag, Marco Polo Arts Magazine, Kenning Journal, Wilderness House Literary Journal, Retort Magazine, Haggard and Halloo Publications, Blink Ink, Greensilk Journal, Literary Chaos, The Euonia Review, Undertow Magazine, The Legendary, Record Magazine, The Apeiron Review, The Journal, Mad Swirl, and several others.


Sunday, July 15, 2012

Kol Nidrei, September 2001

By Grace Schulman

All vows are cancelled now,
all words undone like chains
that snap, their lockets smashed.
All sentences cut short,
main clauses powerless
to govern their dependents
or lead the voice in prayer.
All syllables annulled.
Verbs lag. All images
envisioned by blind eyes.
All pencilled lines erased
that trembling hands composed.
My court, a grove at sundown:
Sunrays pour through stiff branches,
unearthly yet of earth;
stump of a fallen oak
whose mate once flourished green
and now looms red and yellow
like towers burst into flame.
No ark with scrolls, no benches,
no prayer-shawls, holy books
or ram's-horn. Only trees
stand witness in this silence
and autumn's humid air
blurs a bark's crevices.
As this cloud turns to vapor,
all forms circle in smoke,
all promises unravel,

all pages torn to shreds
and blown to drift in wind
whose words cannot reveal
the truth of what I've seen.

Friday, July 13, 2012

When a Woman Loves a Man

By David Lehman

When she says margarita she means daiquiri.
When she says quixotic she means mercurial.
And when she says, "I'll never speak to you again,"
she means, "Put your arms around me from behind
as I stand disconsolate at the window."

He's supposed to know that.

When a man loves a woman he is in New York and she is in Virginia
or he is in Boston, writing, and she is in New York, reading,
or she is wearing a sweater and sunglasses in Balboa Park and he
          is raking leaves in Ithaca
or he is driving to East Hampton and she is standing disconsolate
at the window overlooking the bay
where a regatta of many-colored sails is going on
while he is stuck in traffic on the Long Island Expressway.

When a woman loves a man it is one ten in the morning
she is asleep he is watching the ball scores and eating pretzels
drinking lemonade
and two hours later he wakes up and staggers into bed
where she remains asleep and very warm.

When she says tomorrow she means in three or four weeks.
When she says, "We're talking about me now,"
he stops talking. Her best friend comes over and says,
"Did somebody die?"
When a woman loves a man, they have gone
to swim naked in the stream
on a glorious July day
with the sound of the waterfall like a chuckle
of water rushing over smooth rocks,
and there is nothing alien in the universe.

Ripe apples fall about them.
What else can they do but eat?

When he says, "Ours is a transitional era,"
"that's very original of you," she replies,
dry as the martini he is sipping.

They fight all the time
It's fun
What do I owe you?
Let's start with an apology
Ok, I'm sorry, you dickhead.
A sign is held up saying "Laughter."
It's a silent picture.
"I've been fucked without a kiss," she says,
"and you can quote me on that,"
which sounds great in an English accent.

One year they broke up seven times and threatened to do it
         another nine times.
When a woman loves a man, she wants him to meet her at the
         airport in a foreign country with a jeep.
When a man loves a woman he's there. He doesn't complain that
          she's two hours late
and there's nothing in the refrigerator.

When a woman loves a man, she wants to stay awake.
She's like a child crying
at nightfall because she didn't want the day to end.

When a man loves a woman, he watches her sleep, thinking:
as midnight to the moon is sleep to the beloved.
A thousand fireflies wink at him.
The frogs sound like the string section
of the orchestra warming up.
The stars dangle down like earrings the shape of grapes.

Thursday, July 12, 2012

Untitled

By Calvin Trillin

Scott Walker said that he was just a bloke
Who, knowing that his state was going broke,
Saw saving measures that he must invoke.
But then, when he obsequiously spoke
To someone who he thought was David Koch
(It wasn’t Koch; a guy had played a joke),
The phone pals made it clear they’d like to choke
Off unions’ rights, and saw this as the stroke–
A stoke disguised within a budget cloak–
To start the unions’ going up in smoke.
No surprise there.

Wednesday, July 11, 2012

Grammar

By Tony Hoagland

Maxine, back from a weekend with her boyfriend,
smiles like a big cat and says
that she's a conjugated verb.
She's been doing the direct object
with a second person pronoun named Phil,
and when she walks into the room,
everybody turns:
some kind of light is coming from her head.
Even the geraniums look curious,
and the bees, if they were here, would buzz
suspiciously around her hair, looking
for the door in her corona.
We're all attracted to the perfume
of fermenting joy,
we've all tried to start a fire,
and one day maybe it will blaze up on its own.
In the meantime, she is the one today among us
most able to bear the idea of her own beauty,
and when we see it, what we do is natural:
we take our burned hands
out of our pockets,
and clap.

Tuesday, July 10, 2012

Entrance

By Odysseas Elytis

SOMETIMES IT'S NOTHING BUT

a flash behind the mountains - there, by the island-littered sea.
Sometimes again a strong wind suddenly stops outside the harbors.
And those who understand grow tearful

Gold wind of life why don't you reach us?

No one hears, no one. Everyone walks with an icon, and on it, fire.
And not a day, a moment in this place without injustice, murder

Why don't you reach us?

I said I'll leave. Now. With whatever, travel sack on my shoulder;
guidebook in my pocket; camera in my hand. I'll go deep in the soil and
deep in my body to find out who I am. What I give, what I am given,
and still injustice has the greater part

Gold wind of life...


Translated by Olga Broumas

Monday, July 9, 2012

The Seventh Sense

By Audre Lorde

Women
who build nations
learn
to love
men
who build nations
learn
to love
children
building sand castles
by the rising sea.

Sunday, July 8, 2012

For My Daughter on Her Twenty-First Birthday

By Ellen Bass

When they laid you in the crook
of my arms like a bouquet and I looked
into your eyes, dark bits of evening sky,
I thought, of course this is you, 
like a person who has never seen the sea
can recognize it instantly.

They pulled you from me like a cork
and all the love flowed out. I adored you
with the squandering passion of spring
that shoots green from every pore.

You dug me out like a well. You lit
the deadwood of my heart. You pinned me
to the earth with the points of stars.

I was sure that kind of love would be
enough. I thought I was your mother.
How could I have known that over and over
you would crack the sky like lightning,
illuminating all my fears, my weaknesses, my sins.

Massive the burden this flesh
must learn to bear, like mules of love.

Thursday, July 5, 2012

Changing Diapers

By Gary Snyder


How intelligent he looks!
     on his back
     both feet caught in my one hand
     his glance set sideways,
     on a giant poster of Geronimo
     with a Sharp's repeating rifle by his knee.

I open, wipe, he doesn't even notice
     nor do I.
Baby legs and knees
     toes like little peas
     little wrinkles, good-to-eat,
     eyes bright, shiny ears
     chest swelling drawing air,

No trouble, friend,
     you and me and Geronimo
     are men.

Wednesday, July 4, 2012

America, I Do Not Call Your Name without Hope

By Robert Bly

When I hold the sword against the heart,
when I live with the faulty roof in the soul,
when one of your new days
pierces me coming through the windows,
I am and I stand in the light that produces me,
I live in the darkness which makes me what I am,
I sleep and awake in your fundamental sunrise:
as mild as the grapes, and as terrible,
carrier of sugar and the whip,
soaked in the sperm of your species,
nursed on the blood of your inheritance.



Tuesday, July 3, 2012

Sleeping and Waking

By Naomi Shihab Nye

1.
All night someone is trying to tell you something.
The voice is a harbor, pulling you from underneath.

Where am I, you say, what's this and who are you?

The voice washes you up on the shore of your life.
You never knew there was land here.

2.
In the morning you are wakened by gulls.
Flapping at the window, they want you to feed them.
Your eyes blink, your own hands are pulling you back.

All day you break bread into small pieces,
become the tide covering your straight clear tracks.

Monday, July 2, 2012

A Noise Full of Deep

By A. J. Huffman

I am between.
Where breath ends
and air begins.
You cannot escape me.
I am in control
of everything.
Your life.
Your lips.
Your sin.
I know you.
I own you.
So let me in.
I will fill you
fuller than light.
But be careful
if I turn.
My other side
is a vacuum.
Sucking.
Sucking.
Sucking.
Until all you are.
Is gone.


A.J. Huffman is a poet and freelance writer in Daytona Beach, Florida.  She has previously published four collections of poetry: The Difference Between Shadows and Stars, Carrying Yesterday, Cognitive Distortion, and . . . And Other Such Nonsense.  She has also published her work in national and international literary journals such as Avon Literary Intelligencer, Writer's Gazette, and The Penwood Review.  

Sunday, July 1, 2012

February 8, 1980: And no one has warned me

By Stanislaw Baranczak

And no one has warned me that freedom
may also consist of the fact that
I sit in a police station with a notebook of my own poems
hidden (what foresight) in the leg of my winter underwear,
while five civilians with a higher education
and even higher pay waste time
analyzing junk from my pocket:
streetcar tickets, a laundry receipt, a dirty
handkerchief and a mysterious (I'll die laughing) scrap of paper:
                                                          "greens
                                                            can of peas
                                                            tomato paste
                                                            potatoes";
and no one has warned me that slavery
may also consist of the fact that
I sit in a police station with a notebook of my own poems
hidden (how grotesque) in the leg of my winter underwear,
while five civilians with a higher education
and even higher foreheads have the right
to paw the innards wrenched out of my life:
streetcar tickets, a laundry receipt, a dirty handkerchief
and above all (no, this is more than I can take) that scrap of paper:

                                                          "greens
                                                            can of peas
                                                            tomato paste
                                                            potatoes"; 
and no one has warned me that my entire globe
is the space separating the opposing poles
between which there really is no space. 


Translated by Magnus J. Krynski

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