Leslie Marmon Silko, “How to Write a Poem about the Sky” …

•September 2, 2015 • Leave a Comment

Leslie Marmon Silko--LagunaW
 
 
 
 
 
Leslie Marmon Silko
 
 
 
 
“How to Write a Poem
about the Sky”
 
 
 
 
 
         For the students of the Bethel Middle
         School, Bethel, Alaska – Feb. 1975

 
You see the sky now
colder than the frozen river
so dense and white
little birds
walk across it.

You see the sky now
but the earth
is lost in it
and there are no horizons.
It is all
a single breath.

You see the sky
but the earth is called
by the same name
                        the moment
                        the wind shifts
sun splits it open
and bluish membranes
push through slits of skin.

You see the sky
 
 
 
***
 
 
 

Amiri Baraka, “Legacy” …

•August 24, 2015 • Leave a Comment

amiri baraka b4
 
 
 
 
Amiri Baraka
 
 
 
“Legacy”

       (For Blues People)

In the south, sleeping against
the drugstore, growling under
the trucks and stoves, stumbling
through and over the cluttered eyes
of early mysterious night. Frowning
drunk waving moving a hand or lash.
Dancing kneeling reaching out, letting
a hand rest in shadows. Squatting
to drink or pee. Stretching to climb
pulling themselves onto horses near
where there was sea (the old songs
lead you to believe). Riding out
from this town, to another, where
it is also black. Down a road
where people are asleep. Towards
the moon or the shadows of houses.
Towards the songs’ pretended sea.
 
 
 
***
 
 
 

Lydia Davis, three stories… “The Mice,” “Negative Emotions” & “How Difficult”

•August 23, 2015 • Leave a Comment

lydia_davisLydia Davis

“The Mice”

Mice live in our walls but do not trouble our kitchen. We are pleased but cannot understand why they do not come into our kitchen where we have traps set, as they come into the kitchens of our neighbors. Although we are pleased, we are also upset, because the mice behave as though there were something wrong with our kitchen. What makes this even more puzzling is that our house is much less tidy than the houses of our neighbors. There is more food lying about in our kitchen, more crumbs on the counters and filthy scraps of onion kicked against the base of the cabinets. In fact, there is so much loose food in the kitchen I can only think the mice themselves are defeated by it. In a tidy kitchen, it is a challenge for them to find enough food night after night to survive until spring. They patiently hunt and nibble hour after hour until they are satisfied. In our kitchen, however, they are faced with something so out of proportion to their experience that they cannot deal with it. They might venture out a few steps, but soon the overwhelming sights and smells drive them back into their holes, uncomfortable and embarrassed at not being able to scavenge as they should.

 
~
 

“Negative Emotions”

A well-meaning teacher, inspired by a text he had been reading, once sent all the other teachers in his school a message about negative emotions. The message consisted entirely of advice quoted from a Vietnamese Buddhist monk:

Emotion, said the monk, is like a storm: it stays for a while and then it goes. Upon perceiving the emotion (like a coming storm), one should put oneself in a stable position. One should sit or lie down. One should focus on one’s abdomen. One should focus, specifically, on the area just below one’s navel, and practice mindful breathing. If one can identify the emotion as an emotion, it may then be easier to handle.

The other teachers were puzzled. They did not understand why their colleague had sent a message to them about negative emotions. They resented the message, and they resented their colleague. They thought he was accusing them of having negative emotions and needing advice about how to handle them. Some of them were, in fact, angry.

The teachers did not choose to regard their anger as a coming storm. They did not focus on their abdomens. They did not focus on the area just below their navels. Instead, they wrote back immediately, declaring that because they did not understand why he had sent it, his message had filled them with negative emotions. They told him that it would take a lot of practice for them to get over the negative emotions caused by his message. But, they went on, they did not intend to do this practice. Far from being troubled by their negative emotions, they said, they in fact liked having negative emotions, particularly about him and his message.

 
~
 

“How Difficult”

For years my mother said I was selfish, careless, irresponsible, etc. She was often annoyed. If I argued, she held her hands over her ears. She did what she could to change me but for years I did not change, or if I changed, I could not be sure I had, because a moment never came when my mother said, “You are no longer selfish, careless, irresponsible, etc.” Now I’m the one who says to myself, “Why can’t you think of others first, why don’t you pay attention to what you’re doing, why don’t you remember what has to be done?” I am annoyed. I sympathize with my mother. How difficult I am! But I can’t say this to her, because at the same time that I want to say it, I am also here on the phone coming between us, listening and prepared to defend myself.
 
 
 
***
 
 
 

Frank Stanford, “Wanted” …

•August 22, 2015 • Leave a Comment

stanford 3
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
Frank Stanford
 
 
 
“Wanted”
 

      Luis Buñuel

A white bull, a cassock, an antique mirror
The famous ones have passed hours in front of,
A midnight blue tuxedo, a fainting couch, a key
To a box of lewd photographs, a swastika,
Twelve bales of hay, three grave plots, a statue
Of Christ holding a heart pierced by a dagger,
A black patch, all kinds of utensils for the sick—
Including thirty-nine feet of catheter tubing,
A houseboat, a dog, a baby grand, an oar
Said to have been carved from a lovely river
And a woman’s hat by Alfred Jarry, a mattress,
A shotgun, a diving helmet, an essay on The Art
Of Taxidermy and a clitoris mounted on a ring
Like quartz, a crescent wrench, a bulldozer.
 
 
 
***
 
 
 

Anne Carson, “[fr. 286 as p. 47 of Endgame by Samuel Beckett]” …

•August 11, 2015 • Leave a Comment

Anne Carson

“[fr. 286 as p. 47 of Endgame by Samuel Beckett]” – from “A Fragment of Ibykos Translated Six Ways”

In your kitchen, on the one hand,
bright corpses
starting to stink of having an idea,
where one of my legs [is]
and beneath sooner or later
the whole universe
doesn’t ring and won’t work.
On the other hand, I shouldn’t think so.
Nay rather,
like a speck in the void,
pacing to and fro,
accompanied by the alarm,
frankly,
angrily,
impatiently,
not very convinced,
[it] kisses me goodbye. I’m dead. (Pause).anne carson 5d2d16b8-c9dc-41bd-8383-03c1a6fe4d4d

 
 
 
***
 
 
 

Tomas Tranströmer, “Outskirts” …

•August 10, 2015 • Leave a Comment

Tomas-Transtr-mer-Nobel-l-007
 
 
 
Tomas Tranströmer
 
 
 
“Outskirts”
 
 
 
Men in overalls the same color as earth rise from a ditch.
It’s a transitional place, in stalemate, neither country nor city.
Construction cranes on the horizon want to take the big leap,
       but the clocks are against it.
Concrete piping scattered around laps at the light with cold tongues.
Auto-body shops occupy old barns.
Stones throw shadows as sharp as objects on the moon surface.
And these sites keep on getting bigger
like the land bought with Judas’ silver: “a potter’s field for
       burying strangers.”

 
(Trans. by Robert Bly)
 
 
 
***
 
 
 

Lucille Clifton, “the garden of delight” …

•August 8, 2015 • Leave a Comment

Lucille Clifton

“the garden of delight”lucille clifton pic

for some
it is stone
bare smooth
as a buttock
rounding
into the crevasse
of the world

for some
it is extravagant
water    mouths wide
washing together
forever    for some
it is fire
for some air

and for some
certain only of the syllables
it is the element they
search their lives for

eden

for them
it is a test
 
 
 
***
 
 
 

 
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