Sunday, April 30, 2017

1010. Good Bones - Maggie Smith

Good Bones by Maggie Smith

Life is short, though I keep this from my children.
Life is short, and I've shortened mine
in a thousand delicious ill-advised ways
I'll keep from my children. The world is at least
fifty percent terrible, and that's a conservative
estimate, though I keep this from my children.
For every bird there is a stone thrown, bagged,
sunk in a lake. Life is short and the world
is at least half terrible, and for every kind
stranger, there is one who would break you,
thought I keep this from my children. I am trying
to sell them the world. Any decent realtor,
walking you through a real shithole, chirps on
about good bones: This place could be beautiful,
right? You could make this place beautiful.

Wednesday, April 12, 2017

1009. And - Shuntarō Tanikawa

Translated from the Japanese by William I Elliott and Kazuo Kawamure

When summer comes
the cicadas
sing again.
in my memory.
Distant countries are dim
but the universe
is right in front of your nose.
What a blessing 
that people
can die
leaving behind
only the conjunction

Tuesday, April 04, 2017

1008. What Is Lost - Jorge Luis Borges

Translated from the Spanish by Stephen Kessler

I wonder whee my life is, the one that could
have been and never was, the daring one
or the one of gloomy dread, that other thing
which could as well have been the sword or shield
but never was? I wonder where is my lost
Persian or Norwegian ancestor,
where is the chance of my not being blind,
where is the anchor, the ocean, where the forgetting
to be who I am? I wonder where the pure
night is that the unlettered working day
entrusts to the rough laborer so that he
can also feel the love of literature
I also think about a certain mate
who waited for me once, perhaps still waits.

1007. First Sight - Philip Larkin

Lambs that learn to walk in snow
When their bleating clouds the air
Meet a vast unwelcome, know
Nothing but a sunless glare.
Newly stumbling to and fro
All they find, outside the fold,
Is a wretched width of cold.

As they wait beside the ewe,
Her fleeces wetly caked, there lies
Hidden round them, waiting too,
Earth's immeasurable surprise.
They could not grasp it if they knew,
What so soon will wake and grow.

Thursday, March 09, 2017

1006. And Now You - Kate Miller

From The Observances, Kate Miller’s debut collection Carcanet, 2015.

And now you
outside the royal room of blood you occupied
and – without being shown –
can close a fist or yawn.
Practised, you look
already. Hopskip and bowing,
treading measure in a dance.
You only took to unfamiliar air
with your first taste of dust
yesterday as evening fell. All the falling,
all the flow around you,
hair and water, will become familiar:
mother, father: skin-to-skin.
You’ve swum the sea of welcome,
been lifted on the swell,
slipped waxy through the crowd of hands.
Your own breath sounded
the all-clear,
all’s well,
when you sang out a first
exclamatory note
about the cord that tied you
being cut,
the tying-off, your separate knot.

Sunday, February 26, 2017

1005. Italy to Lord - Jane Draycott

(From:  The Occupant)

It’s dark in here and forest green: Britannica,
sixteen oak trees in a London living room,
the little girl, my mother, in the bookcase glass.
Italy, Ithaca, Izmail, Japan, each page a mainsail,
turning, HMS Discovery – none of the rivers
of southern Italy is of any great importance.
Like birds on a long-haul flight, let not seas
or deserts, cliffs or icy mountain-tops
impede you. Jews, Kabȋr, Kabul, Kaffir,
from up here all seems clear (all evil in the world’s
ascribed to Maya or illusion), then home at last
returned from all those navigable miles
to Lichen, Linnet, Logic, London, to find
a century has passed, the forest’s cleared,
the animals all bared and scorched, the gold
all brought to light. I look into the glass,
discover there myself in dense shade, deep

and shadowy as on any wooded island.

Tuesday, February 21, 2017

1004. Labyrinth - Jorge Luis Borges

Translated from the Spanish by Stephen Kessler

There’ll never be a door. You are inside
and the fortress contains the universe
and has no other side nor any back
nor any outer wall nor secret core.
Do not expect the rigor of your path,
which stubbornly splits into another one,
which stubbornly splits into another one,
to have an end. Your fate is ironclad
like your judge. Do not expect the charge
of the bull that is a man and whose strange
plural form fills the thicket of endless
interwoven stone with your own horror.
It does not exist. Expect nothing. Not

even the beast obscured by the black dusk.

Saturday, February 11, 2017

1003. The Lake of Memories - Robert Altmann

Voices sit
like broken chairs
in a room.
A room stands
for the ceremony
of impermanence.
Impermanence cracks
the façade
of self.
The self builds
its walls
of healing.
Healing frames
the house
of wounds.
Wounds bridge
darkness and light
over time.
Time winds through
the lake of memories

in frozen tongue.

Saturday, January 14, 2017

1002. Meeting Point - Louis MacNeice


Time was away and somewhere else,
There were two glasses and two chairs
And two people with the one pulse
(Somebody stopped the moving stairs):
Time was away and somewhere else,

And they were neither up nor down;
The stream’s music did not stop,
Flowing through heather, limpid brown,
Although they sat in a coffee shop
And they were neither up nor down.

The bell was silent in the air
Holding its inverted poise –
Between the clang and clang a flower,
A brazen calyx of no noise:
The bell was silent in the air.

The camels crossed the miles of sand
That stretched around the cups and plates;
The desert was their own, they planned
To portion out the stars and dates:
The camels crossed the miles of sand.

Time was away and somewhere else.
The waiter did not come, the clock
Forgot them and the radio waltz
Came out like water from a rock:
Time was away and somewhere else.

Her fingers flicked away the ash
That bloomed again in tropic trees:
Not caring if the markets crash
When they had forests such as these,
Her fingers flicked away the ash.

God or whatever means the Good
Be praised that time can stop like this,
That what the heart has understood
Can verify in the body’s peace
God or whatever means the Good.

Time was away and she was here
And life no longer what it was,
The bell was silent in the air
And all the room a glow because

Time was away and she was here.

Sunday, January 08, 2017

1001. The Dog Itself - Helen Farish

Memory rounds this up, breathless,
like the dog herding sheep
below the bedroom window:
dropped at my feet are smells –
wool in the rain, my aunt’s
cigarette smoked on the hoof,
gorse also, firs making green
(and what it all means,
that too has a smell).
Not forgetting the dog itself,
so pleased with its work,

I must pen it in quick.

Wednesday, January 04, 2017

1,000 !!!!! Burning the Old Year - Naomi Shihab Nye

Letters swallow themselves in seconds.
Notes friends tied to the doorknob,
transparent scarlet paper,
sizzle like moth wings,
marry the air.
So much of any year is flammable,
lists of vegetables, partial poems.
Orange swirling flame of days,
so little is a stone.
Where there was something and suddenly isn’t,
an absence shouts, celebrates, leaves a space.
I begin again with the smallest numbers.
Quick dance, shuffle of losses and leaves,
only the things I did’t do
crackle after the blazing dies.