Friday, May 31, 2013

Killing My Metaphor

By A. J. Huffman
  
I felt guilty
as the phone book slammed
to the ground like an anvil
in some childhood animation.
The whole scene was comical
from some outside perspective,
I’m sure.  The terrifying arachnid creeping
through the kitchen, stalking its prey.  Me,
a hundred times its size, cowering in the corner of
the couch, deperately trying to hold it
together long enough to find something to defend
myself with.  Complete irrationality
reigned.  Tragic death
dealt by swift throw.  Survival,
the only sane thought
echoing over this battle site. 


A.J. Huffman is a poet and freelance writer in Daytona Beach, Florida.  She has previously published six collections of poetry all available on Amazon.com.  She has also published her work in numerous national and international literary journals.  She has is the editor for six online poetry journals for Kind of a Hurricane Press.

Thursday, May 30, 2013

Self-Portrait

By Adam Zagajewski

Between the computer, a pencil, and a typewriter
half my day passes. One day it will be half a century.
I live in strange cities and sometimes talk
with strangers about matters strange to me.
I listen to music a lot: Bach, Mahler, Chopin, Shostakovich.
I see three elements in music: weakness, power, and pain.
The fourth has no name.
I read poets, living and dead, who teach me
tenacity, faith, and pride. I try to understand
the great philosophers--but usually catch just
scraps of their precious thoughts.
I like to take long walks on Paris streets
and watch my fellow creatures, quickened by envy,
anger, desire; to trace a silver coin
passing from hand to hand as it slowly
loses its round shape (the emperor's profile is erased).
Beside me trees expressing nothing
but a green, indifferent perfection.
Black birds pace the fields,
waiting patiently like Spanish widows.
I'm no longer young, but someone else is always older.
I like deep sleep, when I cease to exist,
and fast bike rides on country roads when poplars and houses
dissolve like cumuli on sunny days.
Sometimes in museums the paintings speak to me
and irony suddenly vanishes.
I love gazing at my wife's face.
Every Sunday I call my father.
Every other week I meet with friends,
thus proving my fidelity.
My country freed itself from one evil. I wish
another liberation would follow.
Could I help in this? I don't know.
I'm truly not a child of the ocean,
as Antonio Machado wrote about himself,
but a child of air, mint and cello
and not all the ways of the high world
cross paths with the life that--so far--
belongs to me.


Translated by Clare Cavanagh

Wednesday, May 29, 2013

Boy Soldier


By Fred D'Aguiar
What a smile! One large lamp for a face,
smaller lanterns where skin stretches over
bones waiting for muscle, body all angles.
His Kalashnikov fires at each moving
thing before he knows what he drags
down. He halts movement of every 
kind and fails to weigh whom he stops
dead or maims, his bullets
like jabs thrown before the thought 
to throw them, involuntary shudders
when someone, somewhere, steps over
his shallow, unmarked, mass grave.
But his smile remains undimmed,
inviting, not knowing what hit him,
what snuffs out the wicks in his eyes.
Except that he moves and a face just like
his figures like him to stop all action
with a flick of finger on the trigger.

Tuesday, May 28, 2013

Muttered Creed

By William Stafford

Never again for any glorious thing
     Stand in unison,
     Or repeat after a leader
     Or wear an award.
Always plead guilty.
Always say "Maybe."
Always expect everything -
     But land running, and headed for cover.
Always own a burrow somewhere.
Always know the line behind  which no retreat.
Have the speech ready.
Spring all the answers.
Retire to the mountains.
Barricade the canyon.
Loose the carrier pigeons.
Call out friendliness.
Knock on wood.
Offer to hew wood, carry water.
Greet the enemy.
Fall facing homeward
     And calling out clearly:
"Forgive!"


Monday, May 27, 2013

Grass

By Carl Sandburg

Pile the bodies high at Austerlitz and Waterloo,
Shovel them under and let me work--
I am the grass; I cover all.

And pile them high at Gettysburg
And pile them high at Ypres and Verdun.
Shovel them under and let me work.
Two years, ten years, and passengers ask the conductor:
What place is this?
Where are we now?

I am the grass.
Let me work.

Sunday, May 26, 2013

In Flanders Fields

By John McCrae

In Flanders fields the poppies blow
Between the crosses, row on row,
That mark our place; and in the sky
The larks, still bravely singing, fly
Scarce heard amid the guns below.

We are the Dead. Short days ago
We lived, felt dawn, saw sunset glow,
Loved and were loved, and now we lie
In Flanders fields.

Take up our quarrel with the foe:
To you from failing hands we throw
The torch; be yours to hold it high.
If ye break faith with us who die
We shall not sleep, though poppies grow
In Flanders fields.

Friday, May 24, 2013

Union Sundown

By Bob Dylan

Well, my shoes, they come from Singapore
My flashlight’s from Taiwan
My tablecloth’s from Malaysia
My belt buckle’s from the Amazon
You know, this shirt I wear comes from the Philippines
And the car I drive is a Chevrolet
It was put together down in Argentina
By a guy makin’ thirty cents a day

Well, it’s sundown on the union
And what’s made in the U.S.A.
Sure was a good idea
’Til greed got in the way

Well, this silk dress is from Hong Kong
And the pearls are from Japan
Well, the dog collar’s from India
And the flower pot’s from Pakistan
All the furniture, it says “Made in Brazil”
Where a woman, she slaved for sure
Bringin’ home thirty cents a day to a family of twelve
You know, that’s a lot of money to her

Well, it’s sundown on the union
And what’s made in the U.S.A.
Sure was a good idea
’Til greed got in the way

Well, you know, lots of people complainin’ that there is no work
I say, “Why you say that for
When nothin’ you got is U.S.–made?”
They don’t make nothin’ here no more
You know, capitalism is above the law
It say, “It don’t count ’less it sells”
When it costs too much to build it at home
You just build it cheaper someplace else

Well, it’s sundown on the union
And what’s made in the U.S.A.
Sure was a good idea
’Til greed got in the way

Well, the job that you used to have
They gave it to somebody down in El Salvador
The unions are big business, friend
And they’re goin’ out like a dinosaur
They used to grow food in Kansas
Now they want to grow it on the moon and eat it raw
I can see the day coming when even your home garden
Is gonna be against the law

Well, it’s sundown on the union
And what’s made in the U.S.A.
Sure was a good idea
’Til greed got in the way

Democracy don’t rule the world
You’d better get that in your head
This world is ruled by violence
But I guess that’s better left unsaid
From Broadway to the Milky Way
That’s a lot of territory indeed
And a man’s gonna do what he has to do
When he’s got a hungry mouth to feed

Well, it’s sundown on the union
And what’s made in the U.S.A.
Sure was a good idea
’Til greed got in the way.

Thursday, May 23, 2013

The Dead Girls Speak in Unison

By Danielle Pafunda

Do not pretend that you don't like it
when we threaten you.
We see you getting pheromone stink
under the collar, moaning, baldly.
Motionless, picturing decay.
When we creak your step,
when we crack your glass,
when we tap tap tap,
that is a bone
that is all we have
though we are very shiny,
and filled with beetles.
We are made entirely of bone.
Like an idol.
Like the tusk of some wonderful past.
When you cleave to us,<
your skin will fuse,
hot calcium meth,
and in the myth,
you will be named for us

Wednesday, May 22, 2013

Waiting

By Jan Schubert

Third Thursdays find us in this room
With its faded, butt-sunken chairs
Besmirched with the detritus
Of the unwell and their unruly family members
Who come along to wait.

Walkers, canes and wheelchairs
Ding and chip away at dull-hued walls
And faux scents waft from candles
In an attempt to mask the musty smell of the sick and unwashed
With contrary odors, treacly and headachy.

So different this waiting room
From the popular, pristine Chinese restaurant where we lunch,
Agog with cheerful, dapper-clothed business folk chattering,
Anticipating the salty, gingery, meaty, sesame-laced feast
That will leave them sated, socialized and food-drowsy.

In this other room, this Thursday place,
Intense anticipation also stirs the air,
Not with the promise of gracious service and exotic flavors
But the dread of deterioration, of stubborn bladders
That fail, shrinking one’s corporeal sway.

Here we seek healing along with strangers of all stripes,
Mostly older, and we avoid eye contact
Because we know the mysteries lurking behind ordinary faces
As evidenced by bulging bags beneath (and sometimes atop) pants legs
And discernable shapes nestled against ribs and bellies.

A name is called and an elderly man accompanied by his scowling caregiver
Toddles to the bespeckled nurse with clipboard in hand
While the rest of us flip magazine pages, listen to iPods,
Check e-mail and play games on our phones or snooze,
Waiting for the omniscient physician’s pronouncement.


Jan Schubert is a freelance writer and editor. For more than 40 years, her stories, essays and other published works have raised awareness of non-profit organizations that serve the marginalized, the voiceless, the impoverished and the elderly.

Monday, May 20, 2013

Working Together

By David Whyte

We shape our self
to fit this world
and by the world
are shaped again.
The visible
and the invisible
working together
in common cause,
to produce
the miraculous.
I am thinking of the way
the intangible air
passed at speed
round a shaped wing
easily
holds our weight.
So may we, in this life
trust
to those elements
we have yet to see
or imagine,
and look for the true
shape of our own self,
by forming it well
to the great
intangibles about us.

Sunday, May 19, 2013

Money Won’t Change It (but time will take you on)

By Cornelius Eady

You’re rich, lady, hissed the young woman at
My mother as she bent in her garden.
Look at what you’ve got, and it was
Too much, the collards and tomatoes,
A man, however lousy, taking care
of the bills.

This was the reason for the early deaths
My mother was to find from that point on,
Turned dirt and the mock of roots,
Until finally, she gave her garden up.
You can’t have nothing, she tells us,
Is the motto of our neighborhood,
These modest houses
That won’t give an inch.

Thursday, May 16, 2013

He's Just A Boy

By Bob Fox

He stands at the plate
with his heart pounding fast.
The bases are loaded,
the die has been cast.
Mom and Dad cannot help him,
he stands all alone.
A hit at this moment
would send his team home.
The ball meets the plate,
he swings and he misses.
There's a groan from the crowd,
with some boos and some hisses.
A thoughtless voice cries,
"Strike out the bum."
Tears fill his eyes,
the game's no longer fun.
So open up your heart
and give him a break,
for it's moments like this,
a man you can make.
Please keep this in mind
when you hear someone forget,
He is just a little boy,
and not a man yet.

Tuesday, May 14, 2013

Have you Prayed


By Li-Young Lee

When the wind
turns and asks, in my father’s voice,
Have you prayed?

I know three things. One:
I’m never finished answering to the dead.

Two: A man is four winds and three fires.
And the four winds are his father’s voice,
his mother’s voice . . .

Or maybe he’s seven winds and ten fires.
And the fires are seeing, hearing, touching,
dreaming, thinking . . .
Or is he the breath of God?

When the wind turns traveler
and asks, in my father’s voice, Have you prayed?
I remember three things.
One: A father’s love

is milk and sugar,
two-thirds worry, two-thirds grief, and what’s left over

is trimmed and leavened to make the bread
the dead and the living share.

And patience? That’s to endure
the terrible leavening and kneading.

And wisdom? That’s my father’s face in sleep.

When the wind
asks, Have you prayed?
I know it’s only me

reminding myself
flower is one station between
earth’s wish and earth’s rapture, and blood

was fire, salt, and breath long before
it quickened any wand or branch, any limb
that woke speaking. It’s just me

in the gowns of the wind,
or my father through me, asking,
Have you found your refuge yet?
asking, Are you happy?

Strange. A troubled father. A happy son.
The wind with a voice. And me talking to no one.

Monday, May 13, 2013

Healing

By D. H. Lawrence

I am not a mechanism, an assembly of various sections.
And it is not because the mechanism is working wrongly, that I am ill.
I am ill because of wounds to the soul, to the deep emotional self
and the wounds to the soul take a long, long time, only time can help
and patience, and a certain difficult repentance long, difficult repentance,
realization of life’s mistake, and the freeing oneself
from the endless repetition of the mistake
which mankind at large has chosen to sanctify.

Sunday, May 12, 2013

Oughta Be A Woman

By June Jordan

Washing the floors to send you to college
Staying at home so you can feel safe
What do you think is the soul of her knowledge
What do you think makes her feel safe

Biting her lips and lowering her eyes
To make sure there’s food on the table
What do you think would be her surprise
If the world was as willing as she’s able.

Hugging herself in an old kitchen chair
She listens to you r hurt and your rage
What do you think she knows of despair
What is the aching of age.

The fathers, the children, the brothers
Turn to her and everybody white turns to her
What about turning around
Alone in the everyday light

There oughta be a woman can break
Down, sit down, break down, sit down
Like everybofy else call it wuits on Mondays
Blues on Tuesday, sleep until Sunday
Down, sit does, break down, sit down.

A way outta no way is flesh onto flesh
Courage that cries out of night
A way outta no way is slesh outta flesh
Bravery kept outta no way is to much to ask
Too much of a task for any one woman.

Thursday, May 9, 2013

Jerusalem is a Spinning Carousel

By Yehuda Amichai
 
Jerusalem is a carousel spinning round and round
from the Old City through every neighborhood and back to the Old.
And you can’t get off. If you jump you’re risking your life
and if you step off when it stops you must pay again
to get back on for more turns that never will end.
Instead of painted elephants and horses to ride
religions go up, down and around on their axes
to unctuous melodies from the houses of prayer.
Jerusalem is a seesaw: Sometimes I go down,
to past generations and sometimes up, into the sky,
then like a child dangling on high, legs swinging, I cry
I want to get down, Daddy, Daddy, I want to get down,
Daddy, get me down.
And like that, all the saints go up into the sky.
They’re like children screaming, Daddy, I want to stay high,
Daddy don’t bring me down, Our Father Our King,
leave me on high, Our Father Our King!

Translated from Hebrew by Vivian Eden

Wednesday, May 8, 2013

Trees

By Joyce Kilmer

I think that I shall never see
A poem lovely as a tree.

A tree whose hungry mouth is prest
Against the earth's sweet flowing breast;

 A tree that looks at God all day,
And lifts her leafy arms to pray;

A tree that may in Summer wear
A nest of robins in her hair;

Upon whose bosom snow has lain;
Who intimately lives with rain.

Poems are made by fools like me,
But only God can make a tree.

Monday, May 6, 2013

Promiscuity

By ani difranco

Promiscuity is nothing more than traveling
There's more than one way to see the world
And some of us like to stick close to home
And some of us are Columbus
What can I say?

Nature always gets her way
Nature always gets her way

And seeing the world through another's eyes
Is like busting a window in a house of lies
And in the end you make up your own mind

And there's wide open spaces
And little cornered off places
And check 'em out
Check 'em out
Take your time

How far is too far?
How much is enough?
You gotta test this stuff

I mean how you gonna know
What you need
What you like
Till you been around the block
A few times on that bike

I mean how you gonna know
Who you are
What you feel
Till you feel a few things
That just don't feel real

And promiscuity is research and development
Evolution begs embellishment
And baby you're a star

And you got two invisible eyes on society
And when society gets cruel
Make like you're nature's tool
Which you are

And nature always gets her way
Nature always gets her way

And monogamy is that carnival trophy you earn
When you throw that ball into that urn
It's somewhat dumb luck, somewhat learned
And you just know when it's your turn

And honesty is the hardest part
Yeah honesty is the highest art
And honestly i myself just started
And eureka I'm less broken hearted

I mean how you gonna know
What you need
What you like
Till you been around the block
A few times on that bike

I mean how you gonna know
Who you are
What you feel
Till you feel a few things
That just don't feel real

Friday, May 3, 2013

Dawning

By Karmelo Irribarren

That cat -
Black,
large,
slow -
Walking toward
the wall,
Turned
the corner
and took
the night
with it.

Translated by Lawrence Schimel


Thursday, May 2, 2013

Edge


By Sylvia Plath 
The woman is perfected.
Her dead
Body wears the smile of accomplishment,
The illusion of a Greek necessity
Flows in the scrolls of her toga,
Her bare
Feet seem to be saying:
We have come so far, it is over.
Each dead child coiled, a white serpent,
One at each little
Pitcher of milk, now empty.
She has folded
Them back into her body as petals
Of a rose close when the garden
Stiffens and odors bleed
From the sweet, deep throats of the night flower.
The moon has nothing to be sad about,
Staring from her hood of bone.
She is used to this sort of thing.
Her blacks crackle and drag.

Wednesday, May 1, 2013

May Day

By Phillis Levin

I've decided to waste my life again,
Like I used to: get drunk on
The light in the leaves, find a wall

Against which something can happen,
Whatever may have happened
Long ago—let a bullet hole echoing

The will of an executioner, a crevice
 In which a love note was hidden,
Be a cell where a struggling tendril

Utters a few spare syllables at dawn.
I've decided to waste my life
In a new way, to forget whoever

Touched a hair on my head, because
It doesn't matter what came to pass,
Only that it passed, because we repeat
Ourselves, we repeat ourselves.

I've decided to walk a long way
Out of the way, to allow something
Dreaded to waken for no good reason,

Let it go without saying,
Let it go as it will to the place
It will go without saying: a wall

Against which a body was pressed
For no good reason, other than this.

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