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Showing posts from October, 2010

The Chinese Peaks

by Robert Bly For Donald Hall
I love the mountain peak but I know also its rolling foothills half-invisible in mist and fog. The Seafarer gets up long before dawn to read. His soul is a whale feeding on the Holy Word. The soul who loves the peak also inhales the deep breath rising from the mountain buried in mist.

The Past

by Max Reif

The past is an interest-bearing investment,
an estate enclosing more territory each day,
a delta always creating land.

Now, in my 60s,
I'm a great landowner,
a don unable to survey
all my holdings at once,
even from the highest hill.

To do so, I have to take
to the winding back roads.
Whole years I'd forgotten
come into view.
Everything is growing,
rooted in soil.
I didn't know the past blossomed
with such passionate, poignant flowers
or yielded such succulent fruit.

Blossoms have faces and speak.
Resurrected old homes straddle valleys.
Memories graze on hillsides.
I return from such excursions knowing
there are still more such loops. How
did the tiny sharecropper's yard
I knew as a young man
ever accrue to this? What Hand
has watered the once-arid precincts
and made them fertile?

I wonder, hearing people say,
“the past is dead”, when I find it so alive,
nearly as unknown, at times,
as what has not yet been dreamed,
and though I do not live…

On the Day the Last Drag Queen Leaves Town

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by Eric Leigh























for Issan
The boys downstairs huff gasoline off strips of Mother’s emerald gown, making what joy they can out of fume and a knockoff Halston. No note, no explanation, only thing she left is a hole where reason should be. You grow a heart and feed it leftovers: stray earrings, scuffed-out pumps, the soft pink flame of her first feather boa. How it curled around her shoulders when she did the lucky snake dance, the one with the shimmy, where her hands dangled at her side and slapped her hips. And then she’d wave her hand across the air just as she did every morning when you’d wake her with an orange for breakfast, a bowl of milk for her facial, and she’d give you a word: banana, somehow transformed by the dissonance of painted lips and baritone. Truth is you’ll be just fine. Remember a girl in high heels can still win a race. You’re just missing the way she knew you— the way the tree stump loves the ax, because the blade still sees a use in an old piece of oak. Drive int…

Miracle Fair

Image
by Wislawa Szymborska


Commonplace miracle:
that so many commonplace miracles happen.

An ordinary miracle:
in the dead of night
the barking of invisible dogs.

One miracle out of many:
a small, airy cloud
yet it can block a large and heavy moon.

Several miracles in one:
an alder tree reflected in the water,
and that it’s backwards left to right
and that it grows there, crown down
and never reaches the bottom,
even though the water is shallow.

An everyday miracle:
winds weak to moderate
turning gusty in storms.

First among equal miracles:
cows are cows.

Second to none:
just this orchard
from just that seed.

A miracle without a cape and top hat:
scattering white doves.

A miracle, for what else could you call it:
today the sun rose at three-fourteen
and will set at eight-o-one.

A miracle, less surprising than it should be:
even though the hand has fewer than six fingers,
it still has more than four.

A miracle, just take a look around:
the world is everywhere.

An additional miracle, as eve…

Possibilities

by Wislawa Szymborska

I prefer movies.
I prefer cats.
I prefer the oaks along the river.
I prefer Dickens to Dostoyevsky.
I prefer myself liking people
to myself loving mankind.
I prefer keeping a needle and thread on hand, just in case.
I prefer the color green.
I prefer not to maintain
that reason is to blame for everything.
I prefer exceptions.
I prefer to leave early.
I prefer talking to doctors about something else.
I prefer the old fine-lined illustrations.
I prefer the absurdity of writing poems
to the absurdity of not writing poems.
I prefer, where love’s concerned, nonspecific anniversaries
that can be celebrated every day.
I prefer moralists
who promise me nothing.
I prefer cunning kindness to the over-trustful kind.
I prefer the earth in civvies.
I prefer conquered to conquering countries.
I prefer having some reservations.
I prefer the hell of chaos to the hell of order.
I prefer Grimms’ fairy tales to the newspapers’ front pages.
I prefer leaves without flowers to flowe…

Could Have

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by Wislawa Szymborska

It could have happened.
It had to happen.
It happened earlier. Later.
Nearer. Farther off.
It happened, but not to you.
You were saved because you were the first.
You were saved because you were the last.
Alone. With others.
On the right. The left.
Because it was raining. Because of the shade.
Because the day was sunny.

You were in luck -- there was a forest.
You were in luck -- there were no trees.
You were in luck -- a rake, a hook, a beam, a brake,
A jamb, a turn, a quarter-inch, an instant . . .

So you're here? Still dizzy from
another dodge, close shave, reprieve?
One hole in the net and you slipped through?
I couldn't be more shocked or
speechless.
Listen,
how your heart pounds inside me.





from View With a Grain of Sand, trans. Stanislaw Baranczak and Clare Cavanagh
To read more of her poems that I admire!

The Three Oddest Words

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by Wislawa Szymborska



When I pronounce the word Future,
the first syllable already belongs to the past.

When I pronounce the word Silence,
I destroy it.

When I pronounce the word Nothing,
I make something no non-being can hold.



Translated by S. Baranczak & C. Cavanagh
To read more of her poems that I admire!