Thursday, February 28, 2013

A Girl Who Fell In Love With An Island

By Anne Whitehouse

I thought I saw the ghost of myself
as I was at the age of 27,
standing up on a bicycle, peddling uphill,
long hair streaming behind her.
She smiled as she passed me in the twilight
and wished me a good evening.

On the back of her bike was
a milk crate for hauling things,
the same as I once had.
She was wearing flip-flops
and a loose wrapped skirt.
I had seen her on the beach,
making salutations to the setting sun
over the sea in a reflected fire
of blazing gold and rose embers.
I hadn’t wanted to interrupt her,
or show her to herself thirty years older.

I was a girl who fell in love with an island.
Each time I've left here,
something of that quiet, introspective girl
has lingered behind and never left.
On visits when I come across her
she has never gotten any older.   
                  
In August I return in search of her,
wearing my oldest clothes, ones she wore,
worn and faded, softened by use.
Once again she and I are one
when I swim in the cove’s cold waters,
gazing up at the sea and sky
or diving underwater to watch
the dark kelp waving over the rocks.


Anne Whitehouse is the author of three collections of poetry: The Surveyor's Hand, Blessings and Curses, and Bear in Mind, and a novel, Fall Love. Her poetry, short stories, essays, reviews, and articles have been widely published. She is a graduate of Harvard and Columbia. Please visit her website, www.annewhitehouse.com.

Wednesday, February 27, 2013

Erratic Fire, Erratic Passion

A Poem Assembled from Metta World Peace (aka Ron Artest) Quotes

By Jeff Parker

I don’t shake substitutions’ hands.
I lose my feet.
I’d like to thank my psychiatrist.

I felt something,
But I didn’t know it was an actual head.
I knew somebody suffered something at that point.
There were a lot of emotions in that game.
I can’t worry about that.
I have to try to get the ball.

Kobe passed me the ball.
Kobe never passed me the ball.
And I could hear Phil Jackson–
He’s the Zen master,
So you can just hear him in your head.
Saying, “Don’t shoot don’t shoot!”
And bam! I shot it.

I was lying down when I got hit with a liquid,
Ice and glass on my chest and on my face.
Nobody ever just threw anything at me
With the exception of a few times.

After that, it was self-defense.
I’ll take the blame for that. It’s my fault.
Stunned. So stunned. It’s stunning.
Erratic fire, erratic passion.

We maximize it by playing together,
Loving each other,
Caring for each other.
Kind of like the Care Bears.
You know the Care Bears?
They care for each other.

I partied in July hard.
You got to party.
You can’t just be a boring guy for 12 months, right?
You got to party hard in July.

Why are you staring at me, daughter?
Did you throw that?
Jack, you think we going to get in trouble?
Let me see
How I can answer your question
Without giving you a good quote.


Previously published in a sports blog.

Tuesday, February 26, 2013

From what they tell me

By Mario Benedetti

From what they tell me
after ten years
everything's changed
there

they tell me
the main street has no trees
and who am I to doubt it

am I not without trees
and the memory of those trees
that from what they tell me
are gone?


Eso dicen

Eso dicen
que al cabo de diez años
todo ha cambiado
allá

dicen
que la avenida está sin árboles
y no soy quién para ponerlo en duda

¿acaso yo no estoy sin árboles
que según dicen
ya no están?


Translated by Louise B. Popkin

Sunday, February 24, 2013

A Happy Birthday

By Ted Kooser

This evening, I sat by an open window
and read till the light was gone and the book
was no more than a part of the darkness.
I could easily have switched on a lamp,
but I wanted to ride this day down into night,
to sit alone and smooth the unreadable page
with the pale gray ghost of my hand.

Thursday, February 21, 2013

Hidden

By Rachel Barenblat

Vashti, the first favorite
was well before my time, though
I still wonder sometimes
why he asked her to strip.
Maybe he’d grown tired of her
and needed an excuse.
Of course I use my body
to get what I need: what woman
doesn’t? But until now
all I’ve needed were clothes,
bread, the freedom to read
in a quiet corner of the room.
The king thinks I hung the stars
but when the time comes
to make my play my hands shake.
And Haman leers. He’s thinking
casual threesome! score!
but I know karma's a bitch.
The story ends in celebration
and bloodshed, a revenge fantasy
your children will retell
for generations, but listen--
I’m not a paragon of virtue.
I’m not your blank canvas.
I was never hiding. I’m not
a Torah scroll to be concealed
behind ornate walls, then
revealed bit by bit (here a flash
of ankle, there a glimpse of hip)
for your viewing pleasure.
I’m not God, veiling My face
like the newest of moons.
I’m a dark-skinned Persian girl
raised on twisty Shushan streets
who gambled for a favor
and won.

Wednesday, February 20, 2013

First Love

By Damien Echols

In those days you were something
felt but not seen
as you handed me love letters
written in dead languages.

The chain link fence behind me
made cold diamonds on my back
and your head was on my shoulder
with only one breath between us.

Your hair against my face
smelled like woodsmoke and chocolate,
your lust was raw and new,
as jagged and dangerous as rocks beneath the waves.

Now I’m trapped here like a ghost
haunting places that no longer exist,
feeding on frost and hummingbirds
during long November nights.


Previously published in Rattle, August 25, 2008

Tuesday, February 19, 2013

The Edges of Time

By Kay Ryan

It is at the edges
that time thins.
Time which had been
dense and viscous
as amber suspending
intentions like bees
unseizes them. A
humming begins,
apparently coming
from stacks of
put-off things or
just in back. A
racket of claims now,
as time flattens. A
glittering fan of things
competing to happen,
brilliant and urgent
as fish when seas
retreat.

Monday, February 18, 2013

View of the Capitol from the Library of Congress

By Elizabeth Bishop

Moving from left to left, the light
is heavy on the Dome, and coarse.
One small lunette turns it aside
and blankly stares off to the side
like a big white old wall-eyed horse.

On the east steps the Air Force Band
in uniforms of Air Force blue
is playing hard and loud, but - queer -
the music doesn't quite come through.

It comes in snatches, dim then keen,
then mute, and yet there is no breeze.
The giant trees stand in between.
I think the trees must intervene,

catching the music in their leaves
like gold-dust, till each big leaf sags.
Unceasingly the little flags
feed their limp stripes into the air,
and the band's efforts vanish there.

Great shades, edge over,
give the music room.
The gathered brasses want to bo
boom - boom.

Saturday, February 16, 2013

Theory on Extinction

(or what happen to the dinosaurs? for my son, thomas)

By Kenneth Carroll

they were crushed by a gigantic meteor
they froze to death
they starved to death
they didn't wash their hands
they didn't brush their teeth
they got really bad report cards
they believed in gods that did not look like them
they evolved
they assimilated
they died waiting for john brown/jesus christ/& forty acres & a mule
they died fighting someone else's war
they didn't eat their vegetables
they used porcelana & faded to death
they overdosed on activator
they wanted to be white or arab or greek
they wanted to be anything but dinosaurs
they never read dinosaur history
they never read dinosaur literature
they read ebony and thought they had it made
they read jet and thought they had made it
they joined the republican party
they kept shooting at their own reflections
they got nose jobs/lip jobs/hip jobs
they would do anything for a job
they were scared of revolution
they thought malcolm x was a fashion statement
they stopped shouting in church
they were mis-educated
they pissed off the great dinosaur gods
they wanted to be like the people who despised them
they were, when they were here, a strange species
they are long gone son,
but you can see them
at the smithsonian
just ask for the
great
negrosaurus wrecks.

Tuesday, February 12, 2013

The Applicant

By Sylvia Plath

First, are you our sort of a person?
Do you wear
A glass eye, false teeth or a crutch,
A brace or a hook,
Rubber breasts or a rubber crotch,

Stitches to show something's missing? No, no? Then
How can we give you a thing?
Stop crying.
Open your hand.
Empty? Empty. Here is a hand

To fill it and willing
To bring teacups and roll away headaches
And do whatever you tell it.
Will you marry it?
It is guaranteed

To thumb shut your eyes at the end
And dissolve of sorrow.
We make new stock from the salt.
I notice you are stark naked.
How about this suit----

Black and stiff, but not a bad fit.
Will you marry it?
It is waterproof, shatterproof, proof
Against fire and bombs through the roof.
Believe me, they'll bury you in it.

Now your head, excuse me, is empty.
I have the ticket for that.
Come here, sweetie, out of the closet.
Well, what do you think of that ?
Naked as paper to start

But in twenty-five years she'll be silver,
In fifty, gold.
A living doll, everywhere you look.
It can sew, it can cook,
It can talk, talk , talk.

Friday, February 8, 2013

Snow Day

By Billy Collins

Today we woke up to a revolution of snow,
its white flag waving over everything,
the landscape vanished,
not a single mouse to punctuate the blankness,
and beyond these windows

the government buildings smothered,
schools and libraries buried, the post office lost
under the noiseless drift,
the paths of trains softly blocked,
the world fallen under this falling.

In a while, I will put on some boots
and step out like someone walking in water,
and the dog will porpoise through the drifts,
and I will shake a laden branch
sending a cold shower down on us both.

But for now I am a willing prisoner in this house,
a sympathizer with the anarchic cause of snow.
I will make a pot of tea
and listen to the plastic radio on the counter,
as glad as anyone to hear the news

that the Kiddie Corner School is closed,
the Ding-Dong School, closed.
the All Aboard Children’s School, closed,
the Hi-Ho Nursery School, closed,
along with—some will be delighted to hear—

the Toadstool School, the Little School,
Little Sparrows Nursery School,
Little Stars Pre-School, Peas-and-Carrots Day School
the Tom Thumb Child Center, all closed,
and—clap your hands—the Peanuts Play School.

So this is where the children hide all day,
These are the nests where they letter and draw,
where they put on their bright miniature jackets,
all darting and climbing and sliding,
all but the few girls whispering by the fence.

And now I am listening hard
in the grandiose silence of the snow,
trying to hear what those three girls are plotting,
what riot is afoot,
which small queen is about to be brought down.

Thursday, February 7, 2013

It is the time of rain and snow

By Izumi Shikibu

It is the time of rain and snow
I spend sleepless nights
And watch the frost
Frail as your love
Gathers in the dawn.


Translated by Kenneth Rexroth

Wednesday, February 6, 2013

Leave-taking

By Louise Bogan

I do not know where either of us can turn
Just at first, waking from the sleep of each other.
I do not know how we can bear
The river struck by the gold plummet of the moon,
Or many trees shaken together in the darkness.
We shall wish not to be alone
And that love were not dispersed and set free—
Though you defeat me,
And I be heavy upon you.

But like earth heaped over the heart
Is love grown perfect.
Like a shell over the beat of life
Is love perfect to the last.
So let it be the same
Whether we turn to the dark or to the kiss of another;
Let us know this for leavetaking,
That I may not be heavy upon you,
That you may blind me no more.

Tuesday, February 5, 2013

On Request for a Poem

By Qiu Jin

Do not tell me women
are not the stuff of heroes,
I alone rode over the East Sea's
winds for ten thousand leagues.
My poetic thoughts ever expand,
like a sail between ocean and heaven.
I dreamed of your three islands,
all gems, all dazzling with moonlight.
I grieve to think of the bronze camels,
guardians of China, lost in thorns.
Ashamed, I have done nothing
not one victory to my name.
I simply make my war horse sweat.
Grieving over my native land
hurts my heart. So tell me:
how can I spend these days here?
A guest enjoying your spring winds?

Monday, February 4, 2013

Love-Letter-Burning

By Daniel Hall

The archivist in us shudders at such cold-
blooded destruction of the word, but since
we're only human, we commit our sins
to the flames. Sauve qui peut; fear makes us bold.

Tanka was bolder: when the weather turned
from fair to frigid, he saw his way clear
to build a sacrificial fire
in which a priceless temple Buddha burned.

(The pretext? Simple: what he sought
was legendary Essence in the ash.
But if it shows up only in the flesh --?
He grinned and said, Let's burn the lot!)

Believers in the afterlife perform
this purifying rite. At last
a match is struck: it's done. The past
will shed some light, but never keep us warm.

Sunday, February 3, 2013

Football

By Louis Jenkins

I take the snap from the center, fake to the right, fade back...
I've got protection. I've got a receiver open downfield...
What the hell is this? This isn't a football, it's a shoe, a man's
brown leather oxford. A cousin to a football maybe, the same
skin, but not the same, a thing made for the earth, not the air.
I realize that this is a world where anything is possible and I
understand, also, that one often has to make do with what one
has. I have eaten pancakes, for instance, with that clear corn
syrup on them because there was no maple syrup and they
weren't very good. Well, anyway, this is different. (My man
downfield is waving his arms.) One has certain responsibilities,
one has to make choices. This isn't right and I'm not going
to throw it.

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