Wednesday, January 30, 2013

Anselm Hollo (1934-2013)

Born Today

is to be one to the one
closest to you
who shares the air
& other elements
right there    next to you

two bodies wrapped in darkness
among millions of other bodies
wrapped in darkness & smoke
war bloodshed & chaos
   voices rising out of the dirt

one to the one    without whom one
wouldn't be one
   who saves one when lost
in regions of the past
raging at bygone constellations
     pursued by a swarm of angst gnats
   who saves by her sight & sound & touch
to notice
     that gravity's strong on this planet
    there's a half-ton of apples in that tree
notice   cricket jumping on cedar branch
   feline humor   magpie elegance

in sum
     this world
born not so long ago
with maybe not that far to go
     still roaming
   the contradictory corridors
of a universe or two
wind turns pages   then shuts book
he looks up   she looks up from piano keys

     hold that frame

fr. Notes of the Possibilities and Attractions of Existence
[Coffee House Press, 2001]

Friday, January 25, 2013

Ann Lauterbach

  Gramercy Park Evening

  I am, in these instances, aware
  there is much to be desired, much left to desire,
  and the rest abided. The late hour has everything
  turned down; even the constant fleet of wheels
  is another noise: less. I was trying to sleep
  and to imagine us near the sea, the light
  skinny and unhedged, the sea
  a ribbed plate, a wide blue absolute
  into which pink is introduced like an idea in music.

  Desire is an aspect of ethics; belief is not.
  You can move a peach across the table
  without changing its color but the light, this light,
  casts a shadow of doubt. What we perceive
  is part dream, part deceit; what we want 
  touches knowledge. The park is something you
  could not know about: late afternoon, a walk,
  the walk I sometimes took towards a cadence
  of real images: the gate, the grass, the lock.
  There was a sense that things were lit
  from within, of high, shut carriages and women in hats.

  fr. Many Times, But Then (1979)
  in If in Time: Selected Poems: 1975-2000
  [New York: Penguin Poets, 2001]

Tuesday, January 22, 2013

besmilr brigham

A Day When the Bare Trees Are Full of Fluttering

birds have taken over our chicken runs

flocking back against the change
to sweep echoing wings
down the unused chimney brick rafters
they flow

beneath weather paper
a colony of usurpers screaming in the barn
and mating pairs
come back from Mexico--as we have come,

deep woods feathers
stained hard as jungle leaves
                           raging the fields
parrot sprays of color:
we sit

     cold in the house
watching their dull efforts
hunting for little left quills to put in their

--besmilr brigham

fr. Heaved from the Earth (Knopf, 1971)


Sunday, January 20, 2013

John Weiners

An Anniversary of Death

He too must with me wash his body, though
at far distant time and over endless space
take the cloth unto his loins and on his face
engage in the self same rising as I do now.

A cigarette lit upon his lips; would they were mine
and by this present moon swear his allegiance.
If he ever looks up, see the clouds and breeches
in the sky, and by the stars, lend his eyes shine.

What do I care for miles? or rows of friends lined
up in groups? blue songs, the light's bright glare.
Once he was there, now he is not; I search the empty air
the candle feeds upon, and my eyes, my heart's gone blind

to love and all he was capable of, the sweet patience
when he put his lips to places I cannot name
because they are not now the same
sun shines and larks break forth from winter branches.

--John Weiners

fr. Ace of Pentacles (1964)


Thursday, January 17, 2013

John Yau

  Stuffing yourself into a blizzard.
  The heavy brass knocker in the form
  of a laugh. The passageway leading
  from the living room to the study
  became a memory of other possibilities.
  Red piano keys of sunset.
  On a motorcycle beside a wheel
  larger than you. On one
  corner of a porch were two
  coffee cups full of rainwater
  and dust. The rope that might
  have once restrained a dog.
  Counting her gray hairs in the
  blue mirror of the polished linoleum.
  A barbarian surprise reached the gates
  of the kingdom. The light shifted among
  the leaves, like a rat. Skirted the edge
  of her smile. Another autobiography
  sinking beneath its glittering reflections.
  The sky hopes to find a new purpose, while
  hints of snow left a stain on every collar.

  #14 fr. "Scenes from the Life of BoullĂ©e"

  in Corpse and Mirror
  [New York: Holt, Rinehart, Winston, 1982]

Tuesday, January 8, 2013

Leslie Scalapino

5 sections from Hmmm

         Considering certain emotions such as falling asleep,     I said,

  (especially when one is standing on one’s feet), as being similar

  to fear, or anger, or fainting.     I do.     I feel sleep

  in me is induced by blood forced into veins

  of my brain.     I can’t focus.     My tongue is numb

  and so large it is like the long tongue of a calf or

  the tongue of a goat or of a sheep.     What’s more, I bleat.

  Yes. In private, in bed, at night, with my head

  turned sideways on the pillow. No wonder I say that I love to sleep.



  Suppose I was thinking something, say, not knowing I was thinking it,

  one day when I saw this dog before a house on the sidewalk,     he

  not really sidling toward me,     but more like loping sideways?

  Well, his tongue was lolling. And he was whining the way human heads

  loll forward in sleep and whinny.     Something so hesitant and low

  More so, because it was a nasal sound, a neigh, the way

  we neigh, not thinking, when we are nervously mimicking a horse.

  So I mimicked him, the dog, right back. Really I was being flippant

  by pretending to gallop; and all the while not moving,

  and letting my tongue slip forward between my lips, really laughing.


  I know I am sick (someone will say to you) when all I can eat

  is something sweet. Also I sweat. Foods like fruits, eggs,

  or meat, are things I can’t eat. Furthermore, my disease

  is like rabies. I can’t swallow. I am obsequious,     and

  on the other hand I fawn so easily on others, i.e. a man

  or a dog, that dogs will be led by me     silently; for instance

  by my casting them a blank although a soft look.

  For the dog and I, I’ll say this at least   (   here the person

  speaking to you purses his lips   ), do yearn for each other     .


  Isn’t     it     interesting     how     a   woman      like     me

  pursues     in     man     after     man

  the same face or even the same foot or hand. Like the man

  who loved a woman for her sheared hair.     Sure. Loved her,

  he said,     because she was like a hyena. Or, like a mongrel

  or like a short-haired dog. i.e. When in bed, the man said,

  while calling her pet names by whistling, he liked to nip her

  with his lips. And once, during intercourse, when he told her

  what he would like most from her,     the man said facetiously:

  I want you to say the word yip, as in the yelp of a young dog.


  Raising     the hand     in a certain way     to the head

  Weeks later, one day when I did see the man whom I kept thinking

  I had been seeing everywhere (think of me staring at men

  to see if they had the same walk and the same hair as he had),

  I noticed that the nod that he directed to me (as he passed me

  on the sidewalk with a woman with him) was like the bob of a head

  buoyed up, but swept along so that he seemed to be swooning. Literally.

  So I looked back, after walking a block or so, to see his back.

  And, remembering the provokingly sullen look on the face of the woman

  he was with (as if she had him on a leash), I wanted to put my fingers

  between my lips; so that, by pretending to be sullen and by

  pulling my lip down into a grimace, I would actually be saluting him

  (in the sense of someone making a gesture such as     raising

  the hand               in a certain way                 to the head  )

  fr. “hmmm” in Considering how exaggerated music is

  [San Francisco:  North Point Press, 1982

Sunday, January 6, 2013

Ron Silliman

from You
     for Pat Silliman


Old stone inn, used by the Tories to plot the assault on
Philadelphia, still serves rich veal medallions covered with crab
meat, spinach and Hollandaise sauce. Cardinals in the silver birch.
Metronome of an old wind-up mantle clock. Your body beneath
that new little night blouse, then my hand beneath that.

An enclosed front porch converted to language. Each person I
meet insists on telling me their "California story." Restaurant on
main floor of old municipal building: the workers stash their
belongings downstairs in the jail. Elf-like, a porcelain imitation of
Santa's wife, the woman warns us of the "colored" districts (this is
1995). Cat stops to stare at me, then turns and glides away.

Read me. Full moon in the dogwood. In St. Petersburg and
Moscow, a gang (eight young men, two women) has been
murdering apartment owners in order to sell their apartments. I set
the pager to vibrate. Driving endlessly along Bethlehem Pike,
seeming to get no closer to familiar landmarks, I notice the sun
starting to set in the East. Don't look!

In the next room, the large formal dining room table is covered
with thousands of pieces of an unfinished jigsaw puzzle (little more
than the rectangular outer rim is complete, an echo of the shape of
the table, though two of the corners have begun to be filled in,
clusters of two and three joined pieces dotting the center), but in
this light (at this angle and distance), it's impossible to tell what the
image is, or even that one exists. Crow screaming in the trees.
Gypsy curse: May you have a lawsuit in which you know you're

The problem with poetry is poets. Bone spurs grab the heart. First
shrill roar of cardinals. This storm doesn't so much arrive and pass
as it does gather and dissolve.

The writhing lesson. The dog's paws as it crosses the hardwood
floor. The rain stops but the trees still have to shed their water.
House with two fire places (in sight of one another). Telescope in
the dining room. We imagine the bird's song as an expression of

Paragraph is burning. Alone in the playground, dressed in a suit
that doesn't quite fit, red shirt, black tie, stands the
developmentally disabled boy atop the tall slide, vomiting. 


Friday, January 4, 2013

Kenneth Rexroth

On What Planet 

Uniformly over the whole countryside
The warm air flows imperceptibly seaward;
The autumn haze drifts in deep bands
Over the pale water;
White egrets stand in the blue marshes;
Tamalpais, Diablo, St. Helena
Float in the air.
Climbing on the cliffs of Hunter's Hill
We look out over fifty miles of sinuous
Interpenetration of mountains and sea.

Leading up a twisted chimney,
Just as my eyes rise to the level
Of a small cave, two white owls
Fly out, silent, close to my face.
They hover, confused in the sunlight,
And disappear into the recesses of the cliff.

All day I have been watching a new climber,
A young girl with ash blond hair
And gentle confident eyes.
She climbs slowly, precisely,
With unwasted grace.
While I am coiling the ropes,
Watching the spectacular sunset,
She turns to me and says, quietly,
"It must be very beautiful, the sunset,
On Saturn, with the rings and all the moons."

[Thanks go to David Graham for passing this along.]

Wednesday, January 2, 2013

James McManus


What's a ghost? I overhear him say
with tingling energy. One word
or less. One who will not fade away

through radical time or chord
changes, bad manners, or death.
Not even from too-minty breath.

Plus that weird Alec Guinness
premonition, or early deja 
vu, that James Dean totals his Porsche

at noon the afternoon before
it happens? Good
reason for Shane to drink Guinness.

Photographing, dating, painting
or naming ghosts helps, but once
she waves bye-bye everything

follows with most unfair
certainty, like a prayer
almost, goosing the market for art

stars. Take Moira's fisheater farts
in the kitchen or, worse, under
our blue Ramberg quilt: void where

prohibited. Women!
Those richards! Those wearers of certain
underwear! I mean how dare they?

Yet such things do have a way
of turning out to be pretty
much what we will make of them

anyway. Like am I wanton
or wanted or wonton
I wonder. I cancer us,

in Japanese, I'm on my knees
to cancel us. But please
don't be putting my pretty

big head into that little git hat
just yet. I've done my duty,
Mack, so that's enough of that.

Face it. I'm grotty. My hair's way
too long. Paint it black, '69,
speedballs and crunchy. Amen.

fr. Great America

[New York: HarperCollins, 1993]