Frank Stanford, “Their Names Are Spoken” … “I found the place you bear east”…

•August 13, 2018 • Leave a Comment


 
 
 
Frank Stanford

 
 
“Their Names Are Spoken”

 
 
Where the saplings come up
In the belly of the road
Nobody has traveled for so long
I found the place you bear east

And walk over the hills
Until the sun goes down
And come onto smoke and goats
And the music of no socks

For a gate they use the stead
Of a tarnished brass bed
The little winds that came up
Like a child soaping a saddle

We dream on
Now night a cool moss
On the undersides of the cold ground
Keeps growing on the stones
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
***
 
 
 
 

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Lisel Mueller, “Palindrome” … “Things I will need in the past” …

•August 9, 2018 • Leave a Comment

 
 
 
 
 
Lisel Mueller

 
 
 
 

“Palindrome”

 
 
 
 
 
           There is less difficulty—indeed, no logical difficulty at all—in
           imagining two portions of the universe, say two galaxies, in which
           time goes one way in one galaxy and the opposite way in the
           other. . . . Intelligent beings in each galaxy would regard their own
           time as “forward” and time in the other galaxy as “backward.”
                                 —Martin Gardner, in Scientific American
 

Somewhere now she takes off the dress I am
putting on. It is evening in the antiworld
where she lives. She is forty-five years away
from her death, the hole which spit her out
into pain, impossible at first, later easing,
going, gone. She has unlearned much by now.
Her skin is firming, her memory sharpens,
her hair has grown glossy. She sees without glasses,
she falls in love easily. Her husband has lost his
shuffle, they laugh together. Their money shrinks,
but their ardor increases. Soon her second child
will be young enough to fight its way into her
body and change its life to monkey to frog to
tadpole to cluster of cells to tiny island to
nothing. She is making a list:
           Things I will need in the past
                        lipstick
                        shampoo
                        transistor radio
                        Sergeant Pepper
                        acne cream
                        five-year diary with a lock
She is eager, having heard about adolescent love
and the freedom of children. She wants to read
Crime and Punishment and ride on a roller coaster
without getting sick. I think of her as she will
be at fifteen, awkward, too serious. In the
mirror I see she uses her left hand to write,
her other to open a jar. By now our lives should
have crossed. Somewhere sometime we must have
passed one another like going and coming trains,
with both of us looking the other way.
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
***
 
 
 
 

Tomas Tranströmer, “Allegro” …

•August 4, 2018 • Leave a Comment

 
 
Tomas Tranströmer

 
 
“Allegro”
 
 

I play Haydn after a black day
and feel a simple warmth in my hands.

The keys are willing. Soft hammers strike.
The resonance green, lively and calm.

The music says freedom exists
and someone doesn’t pay the emperor tax.

I push down my hands in my Haydnpockets
and imitate a person looking on the world calmly.

I hoist the Haydnflag – it signifies:
“We don’t give in. But want peace.’

The music is a glass-house on the slope
where the stones fly, the stones roll.

And the stones roll right through
but each pane stays whole.

         (Trans. Robin Fulton)
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
***
 
 
 
 

Gwendolyn Brooks, “The Bean Eaters” …

•August 2, 2018 • Leave a Comment


 
Gwendolyn Brooks

 
 
“The Bean Eaters”

 
They eat beans mostly, this old yellow pair.
Dinner is a casual affair.
Plain chipware on a plain and creaking wood,
Tin flatware.

Two who are Mostly Good.
Two who have lived their day,
But keep on putting on their clothes
And putting things away.

And remembering . . .
Remembering, with twinklings and twinges,
As they lean over the beans in their rented back room that
          is full of beads and receipts and dolls and cloths,
          tobacco crumbs, vases and fringes.
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
***
 
 
 
 

Wisława Szymborska, “The End and the Beginning” …

•July 30, 2018 • Leave a Comment


 
 
Wisława Szymborska

 
 
“The End and the Beginning”

 

After every war
someone has to clean up.
Things won’t
straighten themselves up, after all.

Someone has to push the rubble
to the side of the road,
so the corpse-filled wagons
can pass.

Someone has to get mired
in scum and ashes,
sofa springs,
splintered glass,
and bloody rags.

Someone has to drag in a girder
to prop up a wall.
Someone has to glaze a window,
rehang a door.

Photogenic it’s not,
and takes years.
All the cameras have left
for another war.

We’ll need the bridges back,
and new railway stations.
Sleeves will go ragged
from rolling them up.

Someone, broom in hand,
still recalls the way it was.
Someone else listens
and nods with unsevered head.
But already there are those nearby
starting to mill about
who will find it dull.

From out of the bushes
sometimes someone still unearths
rusted-out arguments
and carries them to the garbage pile.

Those who knew
what was going on here
must make way for
those who know little.
And less than little.
And finally as little as nothing.

In the grass that has overgrown
causes and effects,
someone must be stretched out
blade of grass in his mouth
gazing at the clouds.

 
         (Trans. Joanna Trzeciak)
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
***
 
 
 
 

Jack Gilbert, “The Forgotten Dialect of the Heart” …

•July 27, 2018 • Leave a Comment


 
A poem from The Great Fires:
 
 
 
 
Jack Gilbert

 
 
 
“The Forgotten Dialect of the Heart”

 
 
 
How astonishing it is that language can almost mean,
and frightening that it does not quite. Love, we say,
God, we say, Rome and Michiko, we write, and the words
get it all wrong. We say bread and it means according
to which nation. French has no word for home,
and we have no word for strict pleasure. A people
in northern India is dying out because their ancient
tongue has no words for endearment. I dream of lost
vocabularies that might express some of what
we no longer can. Maybe the Etruscan texts would
finally explain why the couples on their tombs
are smiling. And maybe not. When the thousands
of mysterious Sumerian tablets were translated,
they seemed to be business records. But what if they
are poems or psalms? My joy is the same as twelve
Ethiopian goats standing silent in the morning light.
O Lord, thou art slabs of salt and ingots of copper,
as grand as ripe barley lithe under the wind’s labor.
Her breasts are six white oxen loaded with bolts
of long-fibered Egyptian cotton. My love is a hundred
pitchers of honey. Shiploads of thuya are what
my body wants to say to your body. Giraffes are this
desire in the dark. Perhaps the spiral Minoan script
is not language but a map. What we feel most has
no name but amber, archers, cinnamon, horses, and birds.
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
***
 
 
 
 

Natasha Trethewey, “After Your Death” … “I twisted a ripe fig loose from its stem”

•July 25, 2018 • Leave a Comment


 
 
A poem from Natasha Trethewey’s brilliant collection Native Guard:

 
 
“After Your Death”

 
 
 
First, I emptied the closets of your clothes,
threw out the bowl of fruit, bruised
rom your touch, left empty the jars

you bought for preserves. The next morning,
birds rustled the fruit trees, and later
when I twisted a ripe fig loose from its stem,

I found it half eaten, the other side
already rotting, or—like another I plucked
and split open—being taken rom the inside:

a swarm of insects hollowing it. I’m too late,
again, another space emptied by loss.
Tomorrow, the bowl I have yet to fill.
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
***