Showing posts from April, 2010


by Wislawa Szymborska

Look, how constantly capable
and how well maintained
in our century: hatred.
How lightly she regards high impediments.
How easily she leaps and overtakes.

She's not like other feelings.
She's both older and younger than they.
She herself gives birth to causes
which awaken her to life.
If she ever dozes, it's not an eternal sleep.
Insomnia does not sap her strength, but adds to it.

Religion or no religion,
as long as one kneels at the starting-block.
Fatherland or no fatherland,
as long as one tears off at the start.
She begins as fairness and equity.
Then she propels herself.
Hatred. Hatred.
She veils her face with a mien
of romantic ecstasy.

Oh, the other feelings --
decrepit and sluggish.
Since when could that brotherhood
count on crowds?
Did ever empathy
urge on toward the goal?
How many clients did doubt abduct?
Only she abducts who knows her own.
Talented, intelligent, very industrious. Do we need to say how many songs she has written.
How many …


by Robert Hass

If I said—remembering in summer, The cardinal’s sudden smudge of red In the bare gray winter woods—
If I said, red ribbon on the cocked straw hat Of the girl with pooched-out lips Dangling a wiry lapdog In the painting by Renoir—
If I said fire, if I said blood welling from a cut—
Or flecks of poppy in the tar-grass scented summer air On a wind-struck hillside outside Fano—
If I said, her one earring tugging at her silky lobe,
If she tells fortunes with a deck of fallen leaves Until it comes out right—
Rouged nipple, mouth—
(How could you not love a woman Who cheats at the Tarot?)
Red, I said. Sudden, red.


by Robert Hass

“Tender Little Buddha,” she said Of my least Buddha-like member. She was probably quoting Allen Ginsberg. Who was probably paraphrasing Walt Whitman. After the Civil War, after the death of Lincoln, That was a good time to own railroad stocks. But Whitman was in the Library of Congress, Researching alternative Americas, Reading up on the curiosities of Hindoo philosophy, Studying the etchings of stone carvings Of strange couplings in a book.
She was taking off a blouse, Almost transparent, the color of a silky tangerine. From Capitol Hill Walt Whitman must have been able to see Willows gathering the river haze In the cooling and still-humid twilight. He was in love with a trolley conductor In the summer of—what was it?—1867? 1868?
[from Time and Materials, Poems 1997-2005]

From: “Leaves of Grass,” Song of the Open Road

by Walt Whitman

From this hour, freedom! From this hour I ordain myself loos’d of limits and imaginary lines, Going where I list, my own master, total and absolute, Listening to others, and considering well what they say, Pausing, searching, receiving, contemplating, Gently, but with undeniable will, divesting myself of the holds that would hold me.
I inhale great draughts of space; The east and the west are mine, and the north and the south are mine.
I am larger, better than I thought; I did not know I held so much goodness.
All seems beautiful to me; I can repeat over to men and women, You have done such good to me, I would do the same to you.
I will recruit for myself and you as I go; I will scatter myself among men and women as I go; I will toss the new gladness and roughness among them; Whoever denies me, it shall not trouble me; Whoever accepts me, he or she shall be blessed, and shall bless me.
[for Frank, Leon, & Robert. The photograph of verse in Whitman's hand is…

Ecclesiastes II:I

by Richard Wilbur
We must cast our bread Upon the waters, as the Ancient preacher said,
Trusting that it may Amply be restored to us After many a day.
That old metaphor, Drawn from rice farming on the River's flooded shore,
Helps us believe That it's no great sin to give, Hoping to receive.
Therefore I shall throw Broken bread, this sullen day, Out across the snow,
Betting crust and crumb That birds will gather, and that One more spring will come.


by Robert Pinsky
[for my fellow Christians of the pagan persuasion]

Easter was the old North    Goddess of the dawn.    She rises daily in the East    And yearly in spring for the great   
Paschal candle of the sun.    Her name lingers like a spot    Of gravy in the figured vestment    Of the language of the Britains.   
Her totem the randy bunny.    Our very Thursdays and Wednesdays    Are stained by syllables of thunder    And Woden's frenzy.   
O my fellow-patriots loyal to this    Our modern world of high heels,    Vaccination, brain surgery—    May they pass over us, the old   
Jovial raptors, Apollonian flayers,    Embodiments. Egg-hunt,    Crucifixion. Supper of encrypted    Dishes: bitter, unrisen, a platter   
Compass of martyrdom,    Ground-up apples and walnuts    In sweet wine to embody mortar    Of affliction, babies for bricks.   
Legible traces of the species    That devises the angel of death    Sailing over our doorpost    Smeared with sacrifice.

This One Precious Human Life

by Ken Ireland

for Grant Dillon
“One theory says you won’t remember dying any more than being born.” – Franz Wright
At noon they sat the lama down in front of TV. Some real experience of life outside a meditation crib seemed like a simple request. Remote control in hand, he flipped to All My Children. Stop. “Stop! “Oh watch out!” he cried inside. “Amanda, you can’t hide your lies, silly bitch. “Jake knows David is the daddy. “You’ll never get away with it. “How can you be that stupid?” Where did that thought come from? These families, really? Westerners, really. Love your momma.
Flip more. One Life to Live. Now we’re getting somewhere. Better title— Too Many Lives to Live. "No—Oh no, David, don’t kiss Oliver! “Please don’t! “That Path leads in only one direction— “All the Teachings agree, male or female, “male and male, female and female, no difference,
"but... “Good luck. Looks like trouble ahead.” Real tears for imaginary men.
Can’t fast forward.
The lama begins to slum…

Outside My Window

by Ken Ireland

dedicated to Chris Wilson, head of practice at Spring sesshin, a generous, guiding spirit and friend

The constant light rain clears momentarily. 
A bird's three bare notes—
infinite variations flood over me.
Red Camilla blossoms fall upside down.

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Why Did Bodhidharma Kick Up His Heels?

by Ken Ireland

All boys of eight
Should don white gloves Clean as traffic cops, And bow before giggling girls, 'May I have the next dance?' How else stem the rush of hormones, and Pray for ease As tiny couples shyly move In the line of direction, Marching to the measured pace Of Miss Comer's spinster sister's piano waltz?
With luck, the beat of The Dragon's dance Will stay in China where it belongs.

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