Bei Dao, [Stretch out your hands to me] …

•April 26, 2016 • Leave a Comment

A poem I first read in Against Forgetting, a powerful anthology by Carolyn Forché…also included in The Rose of Time: New and Selected Poems

Bei Dao

[Stretch out your hands to me]

Stretch out your hands to me
don’t let the world blocked by my shoulder
bei-dao-articleInlinedisturb you any longer
if love is not forgotten
hardship leaves no memory
remember what I say
not everything will pass
if there is only one last aspen
standing tall at the end of the road
like a gravestone without an epitaph
the falling leaves will also speak
fading paling as they tumble
slowly they freeze over
holding our heavy footprints
of course, no one knows tomorrow
tomorrow begins from another dawn
when we will be fast asleep
      [Trans. Bonnie S. McDougall]

[A heavy cart] by Yosa Buson …

•April 20, 2016 • Leave a Comment

Yosa Buson

      A heavy cart rumbles by
and the peonies
yosa buson img-davidson-japense-screens-_113041660205

[Landscape in Mi Style,, screen / ink on paper; (Trans. Robert Hass)]

“Conversation with a Ladybug” by Doris Davenport

•April 14, 2016 • Leave a Comment

doris davenport (1)Doris Davenport

“Conversation with a Ladybug (Good luck if you see one, if one lights on you.)”

an orange-red tinyspot of comatosity,
on my airless desk in this
sunbaked, stale aired classsroom,
she seemed unconscious, dead

until I prodded her, politely, with a left index finger. then tiny black
feeler feet emerged, moved,
weakly she pulled herself up my finger

like it was a rubber raft lifesaver in a rough ocean
floating wood in the debris
of her own mini Titanic, like
my finger was a lost & feared

gone forever friend she’d waited so long for,
she clung tenaciously to my
finger, roamed slowly its
surface as i lifted her tenderly

outside to air but
she held tight had to
prise her off & onto the
shrub-tree deep orange autumn
leaf outside Holley Hall suddenly
she flew. away.

      – from Ascent, Davenport’s collection of poetry

“Hum” by Ann Lauterbach … “Here is the hate / That does not travel.”

•March 22, 2016 • Leave a Comment

Ann Lauterbach Lauterbach-Ann-Ch-Bernstein_12-08_NYC-smlAnn Lauterbach


The days are beautiful
The days are beautiful.

I know what days are.
The other is weather.

I know what weather is.
The days are beautiful.

Things are incidental.
Someone is weeping.

I weep for the incidental.
The days are beautiful.

Where is tomorrow?
Everyone will weep.

Tomorrow was yesterday.
The days are beautiful.

Tomorrow was yesterday.
Today is weather.

The sound of the weather
Is everyone weeping.

Everyone is incidental.
Everyone weeps.

The tears of today
Will put out tomorrow.

The rain is ashes.
The days are beautiful.

The rain falls down.
The sound is falling.

The sky is a cloud.
The days are beautiful.

The sky is dust.
The weather is yesterday.

The weather is yesterday.
The sound is weeping.

What is this dust?
The weather is nothing.

The days are beautiful.
The towers are yesterday.

The towers are incidental.
What are these ashes?

Here is the hate
That does not travel.

Here is the robe
That smells of the night

Here are the words
Retired to their books

Here are the stones
Loosed from their settings

Here is the bridge
Over the water

Here is the place
Where the sun came up

Here is a season
Dry in the fireplace.

Here are the ashes.
The days are beautiful.

“Ghost Dance” by Sara Littlecrow-Russell

•March 14, 2016 • 1 Comment

Sara_Littlecrow-RussellSara Littlecrow-Russell

“Ghost Dance”

Two hundred seventy
Ghost Dancers died dreaming
That humanity would drown
In a flood of White sins.

Then the renewed earth
Would reclaim city and town,
Leaving only Ghost Dancers
And those who lived by nature’s laws.

History books say the threat is gone.
The Ghost Dance died with the ancestors—
Wovoka and his sacred dream
Were destroyed.

Each time it rains,
I go out to the sidewalk,
Where the tree roots
Have broken the concrete
Listening to the water’s whispering:

“It is coming soon.”

        – from The Secret Powers of Naming

“Bringing to Boil” … a poem originally published in Necessary Fiction

•March 9, 2016 • Leave a Comment

“Bringing to Boil” is a poem of mine that appeared as one section of “Appalachian Silence among the Dark Selves,” a suite – complete with soundtrack – published in Necessary Fiction. My Mother and Father, as well as a few friends, are central to the work. “Appalachian Silence” is a work that is the ground I walk – the people close to me – the loss that refuses to let go.


“Bringing to Boil”

This morning, mid-September,
the rooms of my house asleep,
I’m reading Ecstatic Occasions,
Expedient Forms
, drinking coffee
from the mug Mary gave me –
a perfect heavy to my hand – 120 (2)
glancing out my door, looking
for something hidden, maybe,
something careless. I spooned
jelly over a halved piece of toast
left from last night’s supper.
The sweetness of the grape
in my mouth – but there’s an edge
of sour, and that’s the beauty
of my Mother coming through –
in the swill of her kitchen,
in the heat of her stove,
such a clash of disparate things,
such a rumble of the smooth.

Carolyn Forché, “Letter to a City Under Siege”

•February 21, 2016 • Leave a Comment

carolyn forche bw
Carolyn Forché
“Letter to a City Under Siege”
Turning the pages of the book you have lent me of your wounded city,
reading the Braille on its walls, walking beneath ghost branches
of chestnuts, past fires that turn the bullet-shattered windows bronze,
flaring an instant without warming the fallen houses
where you sleep without water or light, a biscuit tin of nothing between you,
or later in the café ruins, you discuss all night the burnt literature
borrowed from a library where all books met with despair,
I wanted to give your notes back to you, so they might be
published in another language, not yours or mine but a tongue
understood by children who make bulletproof vests out of cardboard.
We could then lie down in the cemetery where violets grew in your childhood
before snipers fired on the city using gravestones for cover.
Friend, absent one, exile, I can tell you that your tunnel is still there,
mud-walled and hallowed of earth, through which you smuggled
oranges into the city—oranges!—bright as winter moons by the barrow-load.
So let’s walk further up the street, to the hill where one could see
the city woven in fog, roofs filled with sky, uprooted bridges
and a shop window where a shard of glass hung over the spine of a book.
The library burns on page sixty, as it burns in all the newspapers of the world,
and the clopping of horses’ hooves isn’t the sound of clopping horses.
This is where, through snow, a dog finds his way with, in its mouth, a human bone.
Quiet are the ruins of the houses of God. All the houses.
And what else, what more? No food no light no water. Even clocks aren’t spared.
But, my good friend, the tunnel! The oranges!

       – published in Boston Review


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