Showing posts from 2006


by Blaise Cendrars

It is an antique carcass eaten up by rust The engine repaired twenty times does not make
more than 7 to 8 knots Besides to save expenses cinders and coal waste
are its only fuel Makeshift sails are hoisted whenever there is
a fair wind With his ruddy face his bushy eyebrows his pimply nose
Master Hopkins is a true sailor Small silver rings hang from his pierced ears The ship’s cargo is exclusively coffins of Chinese
who died in America and wished to be buried
in their homeland Oblong boxes painted red and light blue or covered
with golden characters Just the type of merchandise it is illegal to ship
from the French by Monique Chefdor


by Srinivas Rayaprol
Today I am packing my library in preparation to wander unknown paths. I came across a book that I found long ago in Berkeley, Selected Poems by Srinivas Rayaprol. A poet who received a M.S. in civil engineering from Stanford. Here is what an anonymous Indian critic said: “And there are a handful of ‘lost poets, the ones we forgot about’: Gopal Honnalgere, Srinivas Rayaprol, Lawrence Bantelman. ..” Now for a taste of curry, THE JESUIT. When I read it, I laughed so hard I fell in love. I can’t toss it away.I also posted a poem dedicated to Rayaprol by Hosang Merchant.
was an able casuist. After a discourse (on various religions) he suggested intercourse.

For Srinivas Rayaprol

by Hoshang Merchant

We spoke to the same Master
-- Pound and Williams
And with their masterplans
You built your house of poems
Elegant as bridges / cunning engineer
Of mystic arches, subtle chemistry
Your fathers fixed the grammars
Of your tongues
You soared with the flight of words
Those to come after you
Had the blueprint of birdflight
But they build you a mausoleum
Brick by brick
So that your poems can sleep
In dusty library
As our women do in uneasy beds
Out of breath...
A poet too can run out of breath
But never out of words
To do so would indeed be death
And cunning geometry! Poets also only dwell on earth.

And They Obey

by Carl Sandburg
Smash down the cities.
Knock the walls to pieces.
Break the factories and cathedrals, warehouses
and homes
Into loose piles of stone and lumber and black
burnt wood:
You are the soldiers and we command you.

Build up the cities.
Set up the walls again.
Put together once more the factories and cathedrals,
warehouses and homes
Into buildings for life and labor:
You are workmen and citizens all: We
command you.



by Judith Pordon

I am an American.
I rush to be before the bullet,
as I push air out of my way.
I snap commands, advice
without request, involuntarily.
I wait only briefly for anything.
I comb my hair without looking,
as fast as possible, then
cant understand why my
strands are haphazard.
I brush past, my goal in sight,
but you, who are you?

I am an averter.
My eyes have never touched
anyone. I will rush to my grave
and even in the tomb
will be pissed, for everything
I didnt get to finish.

I am an American. I pledge allegiance
to the clock, to productivity, to the bottom line.

Posted on Election Day, 7 November 2006

God's Grandeur

by Gerard Manley Hopkins

The world is charged with the grandeur of God. It will flame out, like shining from shook foil; It gathers to a greatness, like the ooze of oil Crushed. Why do men then now not reck his rod? Generations have trod, have trod, have trod; And all is seared with trade; bleared, smeared with toil; And wears man's smudge and shares man's smell: the soil Is bare now, nor can foot feel, being shod. And for all this, nature is never spent; There lives the dearest freshness deep down things; And though the last lights off the black West went Oh, morning, at the brown brink eastward, springs— Because the Holy Ghost over the bent World broods with warm breast and with ah! bright wings.

More poems by GM Hopkins, S.J.

The Violin

by Khwajeh Shams al-Din Muhammad Hafez-e Shirazi (Hafiz) When
The violin
Can forgive the past
It starts singing

When the violin can stop worrying
About the future
You will become
such a drunk laughing nuisance
That God
Will lean down
And begin combing you into her hair

When the violin can forgive
Every wound caused by
The heart starts singing

Daniel Ladinsky, translator Thanks to Morgan Zo-Callahan who found this poem after the murder of five Amish girls.

Though wine gives delight

by Khwajeh Shams al-Din Muhammad Hafez-e Shirazi (Hafiz)

Though wine gives delight, and the wind distills the perfume of the rose,

Drink not the wine to the strains of the harp, for the constable is alert.

Hide the goblet in the sleeve of the patchwork cloak,

For the time, like the eye of the decanter, pours forth blood.

Wash the wine stain from your dervish cloak with tears,

For it is the season of piety, and the time for abstinence.

Translation by Edward Browne


by Robert Frost

The heart can think of no devotion
Greater than being shore to the ocean—
Holding the curve of one position,
Counting an endless repetition.

My thanks to Michael Sierchio

Please click here to go to a page I created for more of Frost’s poems.


by Christina Rossetti Remember me when I am gone away, Gone far away into the silent land; When you can no more hold me by the hand, Nor I half turn to go yet turning stay. Remember me when no more day by day You tell me of our future that you planned: Only remember me; you understand It will be late to counsel then or pray. Yet if you should forget me for a while And afterwards remember, do not grieve: For if the darkness and corruption leave A vestige of the thoughts that once I had, Better by far you should forget and smile Than that you should remember and be sad.

Let Evening Come

by Jane Kenyon
Let the light of late afternoon
shine through chinks in the barn, moving
up the bales as the sun moves down.

Let the cricket take up chafing
as a woman takes up her needles
and her yarn. Let evening come.

Let dew collect on the hoe abandoned
in long grass. Let the stars appear
and the moon disclose her silver horn.

Let the fox go back to its sandy den.
Let the wind die down. Let the shed
go black inside. Let evening come.

To the bottle in the ditch, to the scoop
in the oats, to air in the lung
let evening come.

Let it come, as it will, and don't
be afraid. God does not leave us
comfortless, so let evening come.

Carmen 3

by Gaius Valerius Catullus
Lugete, o Veneres Cupidinesque,
et quantum est hominum venustiorum:
passer mortuus est meae puellae,
passer, deliciae meae puellae,
quem plus illa oculis suis amabat.
nam mellitus erat suamque norat
ipsam tam bene quam puella matrem,
nec sese a gremio illius movebat,
sed circumsiliens modo huc modo illuc
ad solam dominam usque pipiabat.
qui nunc it per iter tenebricosum
illuc, unde negant redire quemquam.
at vobis male sit, malae tenebrae
Orci, quae omnia bella devoratis:
tam bellum mihi passerem abstulistis
o factum male! o miselle passer!
tua nunc opera meae puellae
flendo turgiduli rubent ocelli.
Click here for an English translation of this love poem

An Arab Shepherd Is Searching For His Goat On Mount Zion

by Yehuda Amichai
An Arab shepherd is searching for his goat on MountZionAnd on the opposite hill I am searching for my little boy.An Arab shepherd and a Jewish fatherBoth in their temporary failure.Our two voices met aboveThe Sultan's Pool in the valley between us.Neither of us wants the boy or the goatTo get caught in the wheelsOf the "Had Gadya" machine.Afterward we found them among the bushes,And our voices came back inside usLaughing and crying.Searching for a goat or for a child has always beenThe beginning of a new religion in these mountains.

Dear Joanne

by Lew Welch Dear Joanne,Last night Magda dreamed that she,you, Jack, and I were driving aroundItaly.We parked in Florence and leftour dog to guard the car.She was worried because hedoesn't understand Italian.


by William Shakespeare

The expense of spirit in a waste of shame
Is lust in action; and till action, lust
Is perjured, murderous, bloody, full of blame,
Savage, extreme, rude, cruel, not to trust,
Enjoy'd no sooner but despised straight,
Past reason hunted, and no sooner had
Past reason hated, as a swallow'd bait
On purpose laid to make the taker mad;
Mad in pursuit and in possession so;
Had, having, and in quest to have, extreme;
A bliss in proof, and proved, a very woe;
Before, a joy proposed; behind, a dream.
All this the world well knows; yet none knows well
To shun the heaven that leads men to this hell.


by Philip Whalen
I praise those ancient Chinamen Who left me a few words, Usually a pointless joke or a silly question A line of poetry drunkenly scrawled on the margin of a quick Splashed picture ­– bug, leaf, Caricature of Teacher on paper held together now by little more than ink & their own strength brushed momentarily over it
Their world & several others since Gone to hell in a handbasket, they knew it – Cheered as it whizzed by – & conked out among the busted spring rain cherryblossom winejars Happy to have saved us all.

Safe Sex

by Donald Hall

If he and she do not know each other, and feel confident

they will not meet again; if he avoids affectionate words;

if she has grown insensible skin under skin; if they desire

only the tribute of another's cry; if they employ each other

as revenge on old lovers or families of entitlement and steel—

then there will be no betrayals, no letters returned unread,

no frenzy, no hurled words of permanent humiliation,

no trembling days, no vomit at midnight, no repeated

apparition of a body floating face-down at the pond's edge


by Allen Ginsberg
Everybody loves the first glimpse of naked love Everybody’s story is the most thrilling in the world Everybody tells their best friend their tale of the raw behind First time they discovered an open heart with their pants down

I Hate Incense

by Ikkyu
A master's handiwork cannot be measured But still priests wag their tongues explaining the "Way" and babbling about "Zen." This old monk has never cared for false piety And my nose wrinkles at the dark smell of incense before the Buddha.

“Moment of Perfection"

by Timothy Liu

The earth has moved forward, in a sense, or does it merely turn
against itself? The trees have moved forward, putting forth
leaves, shade. But I have not moved forward though I was surely
moved. At the St.RegisHotel, the butlers change fresh roses
that need no changing, butlers who are paid to notice the most
infinitesimal, the almost unseen, the earth turning towards
its own demise, too far off to be seen, myself all along hoping
for a longer winter to burrow in for just a few more months
instead of turning forty here in this world that you have left me
but the weather asks us to emerge, face the present conditions
we'd never have imagined, not to the dream of love returned
but of love withheld and its unsettling tensions as the earth
turns, no matter where we turn, the tension in the simultaneous
seasons moving across the face of the earth, in all the leaves
that will lose their shimmer, given time, while I wait inside
the unseen decay of a hotel room filled with a …

"August in Waterton, Alberta"

by Bill Holm
for Bonnie Johnson

Above me, wind does its best
to blow leaves off the aspen tree a month too soon. No use wind. All you succeed In doing is making music, the noise of failure growing beautiful.

Drape All the Mirrors

a poem for my aunt
by Ken Ireland

I sit by the phone and wait for word that she has died, ready to cry. But the news is still the same: she is resting comfortably. If she has lucid moment, yes, I will tell her that her nephew from California loves her.
When we last spoke I was 10. If that is how she remembers me, I will not complain or correct. She only complains that the fall had blurred her eyes. She could no longer call the pitch strike or ball. Keep you eye on the ball, you are the best aunt in the world. My last words.
It was just a spill that an ordinary person could have walked off, but it shattered her back and pelvis. Unable to speak, she pointed to the legal paper she had prepared. The priest was called. He forgave, prayed and left. An intern hauled out the tubes while my father stood expecting her last breath.
15 days later, nurses and doctors admire the body’s desire to survive while she lies waiting patiently for her hereafter now.
There is no looking back, no food, no …


by John Donne
STAND still, and I will read to thee
A lecture, Love, in Love's philosophy.
These three hours that we have spent,
Walking here, two shadows went
Along with us, which we ourselves produced.
But, now the sun is just above our head,
We do those shadows tread,
And to brave clearness all things are reduced.
So whilst our infant loves did grow,
Disguises did, and shadows, flow
From us and our cares ; but now 'tis not so.

That love hath not attain'd the highest degree,
Which is still diligent lest others see.

Except our loves at this noon stay,
We shall new shadows make the other way.
As the first were made to blind
Others, these which come behind
Will work upon ourselves, and blind our eyes.
If our loves faint, and westerwardly decline,
To me thou, falsely, thine
And I to thee mine actions shall disguise.
The morning shadows wear away,
But these grow longer all the day ;
But O ! love's day is short, if love decay.

Love is a growing, or full constant light,
And his short minute, after no…

Love Poem

by Donald Hall

When you fall in love
you jockey the horse
into the flaming barn.

You hire a cabin
on the shiny Titanic.
You tease the black bear.

Reading the Monitor
you scan the obituaries
looking for your name.

Song of Myself

by Walt Whitman
(Excerpt from the 1855 edition)

Trippers and askers surround me, People I meet….the effect upon me of my early life….of the ward and city I live in….of the nation, The latest news….discoveries, inventions, societies….authors old and new, My dinner, dress, associates, looks, business, compliments, dues, The real or fancied indifference of some man or woman I love, The sickness of one of my folks­-or of myself….or ill-doing….or loss or lack of money….or depressions or exaltations, These come to me days and nights and go from me again, But they are not the Me myself. Apart from the pulling and hauling stands what I am, Stands amused, complacent, compassionating, idle, unitary, Looks down, is erect, bends an arm on an impalpable certain rest, Looks with its sidecurved head, curious what will come next, Both in and out of the game, and watching and wondering want wondering at it. …………………………………………………………………………. I believe in you my soul….the other I must not abase itself to you, And you must n…

The Forgotten Dialect Of The Heart

by Jack Gilbert
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.…

by Emily Dickinson


I dwell in Possibility—
A fairer House than Prose—
More numerous of Windows—
Superior—for Doors—

Of Chambers as the Cedars—
Impregnable of Eye—
And for an Everlasting Roof
The Gambrels of the Sky—

Of Visitors—the fairest—
For Occupation—This—
The spreading wide of narrow Hands
To gather Paradise—


by Mary Oliver
As I was searching for poems for a memorial service, I looked through some poems by Mary Oliver, a woman I usually take to be a Buddhist poet though I have no evidence other than the way her words land in my heart, and found this gem which I want to share.

Sweet Jesus, talking
his melancholy madness,
stood up in the boat
and the sea lay down,

silky and sorry.
So everybody was saved
that night.
But you know how it is

when something
different crosses
the threshold—the uncles
mutter together,

the women walk away,
the young brother begins
to sharpen his knife.
Nobody knows what the soul is.

It comes and goes
like the wind over the water—
sometimes, for days,
you don’t think of it.

Maybe after the sermon,
after the multitude was fed,
one or two of them felt
the soul slip forth

like a tremor of pure sunlight,
before exhaustion,
that wants to swallow everything,
gripped their bones and left them

miserable and sleepy,
as they are now, forgetting
how the wind tore at the sails