curated by Adam Fitzgerald

Saturday, January 31, 2009


Men arrive like a date on a calendar
they keep visiting once a month
men who've seen the bottom
of the deepest bottles
kings of both earth and heaven
and like the pearls from a torn necklace
trembling I scatter at their touch
their heartbeats open doors
vessels respond to their voice commands
and wind licks their faces like a crazy dog
and gallops after their train and roams
they undress me as if undressing themselves
and hold me in their arms like a saxophone
and oh this music these endless blues
like milk from breasts
those notes too high for human ears
those notes too low for gods
men who teach children to laugh
men who teach time how to run
men who love other men in club toilets
men who've kissed the hand of death herself
men who've never listened to my threats nightmares
which bound me to a chair
mama their lips fall on me
like burning planes
they are powerful patient
and when the world crashes
everyone runs for the shelters
they pause to pluck one of my lashes
mama not even mine
just anyone's mama
come back
rescue me find me
in this plane wreck

by Valzhyna Mort (b. 1981)
Translated by Franz Wright

Friday, January 30, 2009

On The Death Of Friends In Childhood

We shall not ever meet them bearded in heaven
Nor sunning themselves among the bald of hell;
If anywhere, in the deserted schoolyard at twilight,
forming a ring, perhaps, or joining hands
In games whose very names we have forgotten.
Come memory, let us seek them there in the shadows.

by Donald Justice (1925 - 2004)

Thursday, January 29, 2009


We sat at opposite ends of the table. Riffraff were all around us. The whites of his eyes glittered. A sexwoman caught, with a desperate hunger, his surgeon's gaze. That night he would tear his hands through her flesh material, her teats and the sloppy skin folds. Her herpes tongue was already smearing his jugular with fox secretion. The liplarvae writhed, dying among the butts in the ashtray. I looked on. My vulva ached. The monstrosity wound itself around the intestines, gnawed lightly on the frail surface of the belly bladder with its small nip teeth, and wanted out. Outside the window, the streets rumbled. I hallucinated a bit, saw tall trunks fall and crack far out in the woods. The rotgut throbbed venomously against the intestinal system. I downed another glass - finally the monstrosity was anesthetized on the bottom of the creek. Then we waited for weeks that never came, while the ages rolled their cogwheels over our heads.

When I came home, there was a little snail stuck to my throat. On the street corner I had seen a flock of marrowpierced, skinstarved silvercats tear a dead fox to shreds. Alba slept in the sheets, pale-blue naked. From the ceiling hung red, almost glowing spider webs. Through the water-damaged walls, condensation bubbled out. I could feel the brain scream out for mental activity, but the intestines were up to my throat and it was impossible to gather my thoughts in the heat. The drunken screams of the street devils and hooligans in the street still echoed against the windows. Suddenly Alba was awake and placed her kisses on my incomprehensibly alert, throbbing body. Her breath felt cool as a corpse, as with the lemurs. The mirrors and glass lay shattered in a pile on the middle of the floor: also here, the anxiety had burst forth.

The door opened. He came home. A bird sprawled in the sky. Now they stitched in the doll of mine, now they tore apart her mouth until her lips almost smiled. Alba bled nose-blood, I pretended to sleep, but the monstrosity woke up: I bit hard into the sheets. His hands were still soaked in female spores and fox juices, but also something else, and I understood that he had gone too far, much too far. Alba still lay on her back. I screamed into the pillow. Alba lay on her back and the thin blood ran slowly, darkly out of her nostrils. He smelled of snail acid, the white of his eyes glittered. He took out the nice, long staff; the nice, long staff of glass. It had a little prong at the tip, a little fiber beak. Then I relaxed. The booze abated; the monstrosity grew still. I smiled into the pillow, and maybe waited for the final drubbing.

by Aase Berg (b. 1967)
Translated by Johannes Göransson

Wednesday, January 28, 2009


The professors of English have taken their gowns
to the laundry, have taken themselves to the fields.
Dreams of motion circle the Persian rug in a room you were in.
On the beach the sadness of gramophones
deepens the ocean’s folding and falling.
It is yesterday. It is still yesterday.

by Mark Strand (b. 1934)

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

My Babysitters

Most of my babysitters came of age during the fisting revolution of the late seventies. My brothers the clams were shot in their bungalows on channel 11. During the investigation Eddie and I discovered God's calf massager. Eight feet wide and thirty feet long, surrounded by sand pipers. My dad said he'd fuck anyone who thought he was terrific. Prageeta advises against becoming a man who uses poetry to prove he still has sex. Eddie said pretend you thought it was a neurotic poetry reading. Two of my babysitters took pictures of naked guy poets in order to learn their fluffing techniques. I saw all the pictures when I was nine on a calendar. "As good as Beethoven and Patti Smith in their garter belts," Mom said. Kevin likes to say "Anselm's fisting Chee-tos" in his poems a lot, but I meant feasting cheetahs. I want to do boring things with my lover like trying the blender on low. Eddie said he'd have sex with Colorado but not New York. I said I wouldn't steal his lines anymore. Facing the other way on top was too ab-ex: obscurity does not please my lover. I used to think I'd be good at being either a groupie or a therapist. As a poet with lower-case p I get to be both. "The way you keep your eyes to the ground when you wander into traffic totally turns me on" I heard one of my babysitters say. I liked the way they let me stay up in 1982. I learned from another babysitter couple how unimpressive nudity could be. Sometimes I think of my babysitters as a community. Sometimes I'm not sure that becoming cynical about sexual transgression before reaching puberty was such a good thing for my development. The idea of me and Bowie sleeping together was such a gas we laughed for days and he painted my nails. To quit smoking I imagined I was Eleanor of Acquitaine gathering troubadors in the 12th century. Once one of my babysitters told me I shouldn't talk about my babysitters because I'd never be taken seriously if I did. Then he said the first definition of pedophile is one who loves children and I ran and ran. I remember freaking out one of my babysitters by showing him how the mobile of a flasher that my sister sent us worked. My favorite babysitter bit the back of the rat who bit her back, scattering the thirty other rats on her back. Then she taught me how to hurl circles.

by Anselm Berrigan (b. 1972)

Monday, January 26, 2009


As you set out for Ithaka
hope the voyage is a long one,
full of adventure, full of discovery.
Laistrygonians and Cyclops,
angry Poseidon—don’t be afraid of them:
you’ll never find things like that on your way
as long as you keep your thoughts raised high,
as long as a rare excitement
stirs your spirit and your body.
Laistrygonians and Cyclops,
wild Poseidon—you won’t encounter them
unless you bring them along inside your soul,
unless your soul sets them up in front of you.

Hope the voyage is a long one.
May there be many a summer morning when,
with what pleasure, what joy,
you come into harbors seen for the first time;
may you stop at Phoenician trading stations
to buy fine things,
mother of pearl and coral, amber and ebony,
sensual perfume of every kind—
as many sensual perfumes as you can;
and may you visit many Egyptian cities
to gather stores of knowledge from their scholars.

Keep Ithaka always in your mind.
Arriving there is what you are destined for.
But do not hurry the journey at all.
Better if it lasts for years,
so you are old by the time you reach the island,
wealthy with all you have gained on the way,
not expecting Ithaka to make you rich.

Ithaka gave you the marvelous journey.
Without her you would not have set out.
She has nothing left to give you now.

And if you find her poor, Ithaka won’t have fooled you.
Wise as you will have become, so full of experience,
you will have understood by then what these Ithakas mean.

by C.P. Cavafy (1863 - 1933)
translated by Edmund Keeley and Philip Sherrard

Sunday, January 25, 2009

Man and Woman Go Through the Cancer Ward

The man:
Here in this row are wombs that have decayed,
and in this row are breasts that have decayed.
Bed beside stinking bed. Hourly the sisters change.

Come, quietly lift up this coverlet.
Look, this great mass of fat and ugly humours
was precious to a man once, and
meant ecstasy and home.

Come, now look at the scars upon this breast.
Do you feel the rosary of small soft knots?
Feel it, no fear. The flesh yields and is numb.

Here's one who bleeds as though from thirty bodies.
No one has so much blood.
They had to cut
a child from this one, from her cancerous womb.

They let them sleep. All day, all night.---They tell
the newcomers: here sleep will make you well.---But Sundays
one rouses them a bit for visitors.---

They take a little nourishment. Their backs
are sore. You see the flies. Sometimes
the sisters wash them. As one washes benches.---

Here the grave rises up about each bed.
And flesh is leveled down to earth. The fire
burns out. And sap prepares to flow. Earth calls.---

by Gottfried Benn (1886-1956)
Translated by Babette Deutsch

Saturday, January 24, 2009

In Memory of Sigmund Freud

When there are so many we shall have to mourn,
when grief has been made so public, and exposed
     to the critique of a whole epoch
   the frailty of our conscience and anguish,

of whom shall we speak? For every day they die
among us, those who were doing us some good,
     who knew it was never enough but
   hoped to improve a little by living.

Such was this doctor: still at eighty he wished
to think of our life from whose unruliness
     so many plausible young futures
   with threats or flattery ask obedience,

but his wish was denied him: he closed his eyes
upon that last picture, common to us all,
     of problems like relatives gathered
   puzzled and jealous about our dying. 

For about him till the very end were still
those he had studied, the fauna of the night,
     and shades that still waited to enter
   the bright circle of his recognition

turned elsewhere with their disappointment as he
was taken away from his life interest
     to go back to the earth in London,
   an important Jew who died in exile.

Only Hate was happy, hoping to augment
his practice now, and his dingy clientele
     who think they can be cured by killing
   and covering the garden with ashes.

They are still alive, but in a world he changed
simply by looking back with no false regrets;
     all he did was to remember
   like the old and be honest like children.

He wasn't clever at all: he merely told
the unhappy Present to recite the Past
     like a poetry lesson till sooner
   or later it faltered at the line where

long ago the accusations had begun,
and suddenly knew by whom it had been judged,
     how rich life had been and how silly,
   and was life-forgiven and more humble,

able to approach the Future as a friend
without a wardrobe of excuses, without
     a set mask of rectitude or an 
   embarrassing over-familiar gesture.

No wonder the ancient cultures of conceit
in his technique of unsettlement foresaw
     the fall of princes, the collapse of
   their lucrative patterns of frustration:

if he succeeded, why, the Generalised Life
would become impossible, the monolith
     of State be broken and prevented
   the co-operation of avengers.

Of course they called on God, but he went his way
down among the lost people like Dante, down
     to the stinking fosse where the injured
   lead the ugly life of the rejected,

and showed us what evil is, not, as we thought,
deeds that must be punished, but our lack of faith,
     our dishonest mood of denial,
   the concupiscence of the oppressor.

If some traces of the autocratic pose,
the paternal strictness he distrusted, still
     clung to his utterance and features,
   it was a protective coloration

for one who'd lived among enemies so long:
if often he was wrong and, at times, absurd,
     to us he is no more a person
   now but a whole climate of opinion

under whom we conduct our different lives:
Like weather he can only hinder or help,
     the proud can still be proud but find it
   a little harder, the tyrant tries to

make do with him but doesn't care for him much:
he quietly surrounds all our habits of growth
     and extends, till the tired in even
   the remotest miserable duchy

have felt the change in their bones and are cheered
till the child, unlucky in his little State,
     some hearth where freedom is excluded,
   a hive whose honey is fear and worry,

feels calmer now and somehow assured of escape,
while, as they lie in the grass of our neglect, 
     so many long-forgotten objects
   revealed by his undiscouraged shining

are returned to us and made precious again;
games we had thought we must drop as we grew up,
     little noises we dared not laugh at,
   faces we made when no one was looking.

But he wishes us more than this. To be free
is often to be lonely. He would unite
     the unequal moieties fractured
   by our own well-meaning sense of justice,

would restore to the larger the wit and will 
the smaller possesses but can only use
     for arid disputes, would give back to
   the son the mother's richness of feeling:

but he would have us remember most of all 
to be enthusiastic over the night,
     not only for the sense of wonder
   it alone has to offer, but also

because it needs our love. With large sad eyes
its delectable creatures look up and beg
     us dumbly to ask them to follow:
   they are exiles who long for the future

that lives in our power, they too would rejoice
if allowed to serve enlightenment like him,
     even to bear our cry of 'Judas', 
   as he did and all must bear who serve it.

One rational voice is dumb. Over his grave
the household of Impulse mourns one dearly loved:
     sad is Eros, builder of cities,
   and weeping anarchic Aphrodite.

by W.H. Auden (1907 - 1971)

Friday, January 23, 2009

My Hero Bares His Nerves

My hero bares his nerves along my wrist
That rules from wrist to shoulder,
Unpacks the head that, like a sleepy ghost,
Leans on my mortal ruler,
The proud spine spurning turn and twist.

And these poor nerves so wired to the skull
Ache on the lovelorn paper
I hug to love with my unruly scrawl
That utters all love hunger
And tells the page the empty ill.

My hero bares my side and sees his heart
Tread, like a naked Venus,
The beach of flesh, and wind her bloodred plait;
Stripping my loin of promise,
He promises a secret heat.

He holds the wire from the box of nerves
Praising the mortal error
Of birth and death, the two sad knaves of thieves,
And the hunger's emperor;
He pulls the chain, the cistern moves.

by Dylan Thomas

Thursday, January 22, 2009


I've been ill amongst my fellow kind
And yet have borne with me joys
That few sought its indulgence, bind
As dreams that press meditation's
Wanton coys o'er desired revelation.
Religion's chariot halted for my thought
Art bowed, showed its infinite tongues
Of charm; science hailed its width
Of symmetry, doubting the conscience's
Concentration and behave; the beam
Of fire from the sun cast mine own
To slumber in imagination of spheres.
Under the heavens of moon-like shapes
Mine eyelids shut; I fell into unfelt realms.

by Samuel Greenberg (1893 - 1917)

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Ceiling at Dawn

Afloat in oval of unclosing eye

white-washed shadow-drifts
of indoor dawn
film idle clouds--

a Cinema-Nirvana
pallid ideograms
and epitaphs of dreams

upon a white slab slanted.

Visual echoes
in blanched rows

--the dissolved, derouted
traffic of slumber--

an acrid air-flower
adrowse in the etiolate pasture
of our arousing

as droning day
in early light
the spectral acre

under the sunless artiface
of this four-cornered sky,

lingering flies
convolve their slim-winged circles

by Mina Loy (1882-1966)

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

The Summer Image

(From a Persian Carpet)

Ash and strewments, the first moth-wings, pale
Ardour of brief evenings, on the fecund wind;
Or all a wing, less than wind,
Breath of low herbs upfloats, petal or wing,
Haunting the musk precincts of burial.
For the season of newer riches moves triumphing,
Of the evanescence of deaths. These potpourris
Earth-tinctured, jet insect-bead, cinder of bloom—
How weigh while a great summer knows increase,
Ceaselessly risen, what there entombs?—
Of candour fallen from the slight stems of Mays,
Corrupt of the rim a blue shades, pensively:
So a fatigue of wishes will young eyes.
And brightened, unpurged eyes of revery, now
Not to glance to fabulous groves again!
For now deep presence is, and binds its close,
And closes down the wreathed alleys escape of sighs.
And now rich time is weaving, hidden tree,
The fable of orient threads from bough to bough.
Old rinded wood, whose lissomeness within
Has reached from nothing to its covering
These many corymbs’ flourish!—And the green
Shells which wait amber, breathing, wrought
Towards the still trance of summer’s centering,
Motives by ravished humble fingers set,
Each in a noon of its own infinite.
And here is leant the branch and its repose
of the deep leaf to the pilgrim plume. Repose,
Inflections brilliant and mute of the voyager, light!
And here the nests, and freshet throats resume
Notes over and over found, names
For the silvery ascensions of joy. Nothing is here
But moss and its bells now of the root’s night;
But the beetle’s bower, and arc from grass to grass
For the flight in gauze. Now its fresh lair,
Grass-deep, nestles the cool eft to stir
Vague newborn limbs, and the bud’s dark winding has
Access of day. Now on the subtle noon
Time’s image, at pause with being, labours free
Of all its charge, for each in coverts laid,
Of clement kind; and everlastingly,
In some elision of bright moments is known,
Changed wide as Eden, the branch whose silence sways
Dazzle of the murmurous leaves to continual tone;
Its separations, sighing to own again
Being of the ignorant wish; and sways to sight,
Waked from it nighted, the marvelous foundlings of light;
Risen and weaving from the ceaseless root
A divine ease whispers toward fruitfulness,
While all a summer’s conscience tempts the fruit.

by Léonie Adams (1899 - 1988)

Monday, January 19, 2009

Ghostly Stances

I don't attach any importance to life
I don't pin life's least butterfly to importance
I'm unimportant to life
But branches of salt white branches
All the bubbles of shadow
And sea anemones
Go down and breathe deep inside my thought
They come from tears I don't shed
From steps I don't take which are steps twice over
And which sand remembers when the tide rises
The bars are inside the cage
And birds come from high up to sing in front of these bars
An underground passage connects all perfumes
One day a woman entered it
That woman grew so radiant I couldn't see her
With these eyes that have even seen me burning
I was already as old as I am now
And I watched over myself over my thoughts like a night
     watchman in an immense factory
The only watchman
The traffic circle still cast its spell over the same trolleys
The expressions on the plastic figurines hadn't changed
They were chewing the smile's rye
I know of a cloth in a vanished city
If I felt like appearing before you draped in that cloth
You'd think your end was drawing near
Just like mine
Fountains would finally understand that they shouldn't
     say Fountain
Wolves are lured with snow mirrors
I own a boat that isn't moored to any climate
I'm swept along by an ice floe with flaming teeth
I chop and split the wood of the tree that will always be
A musician gets caught in the strings of his instrument
The Jolly Roger from the time of any children's story
Boards a vessel which is only the ghost of itself
Maybe there's a hilt on that sword
But in that hilt there's already a duel
During which the two opponents disarm each other
The dead one is the less-offended party
It's never the future

Curtains that have never been opened
Float at the windows of houses yet to be built
Beds made of all lily beds
Slide under lamps of dew
An evening will come
Nuggets of light roll to a stop under blue moss
The hands that tie and untie love-knots and air-knots
Keep all their transparency for those who see
They see palms on hands
Crowns in eyes
But the brazier of crowns and palms
Catches fire just barely catches fire at the deepest part of
     the forest
There where stags take aim at the years as they lower
     their heads
Now all you can hear is a dull thud
From which comes a thousand noises more faint or muffled
And this thud goes on
There are dresses that quiver
Quivering to the beat of this thud
But when I want to see the faces of the women who wear
A huge fog rises from the ground
At the foot of steeples behind the most elegant reservoirs
     of life and wealth
In gorges that grow dark between two mountains
On the sea at the hour when the sun cools down
The beings who signal to me are separated by stars
And yet the carriage traveling at a gallop
Carries away my very last hesitation
Which waits for me over there in the city where the
     statues of bronze and stone have changed places with
     the wax statues
Banyans banyans

by Andre Breton
Translated by Bill Zavatsky & Zack Rogow

Sunday, January 18, 2009

Child on Top of a Greenhouse

The wind billowing out the seat of my britches,
My feet crackling splinters of glass and dried putty,
The half-grown chrysanthemums staring up like accusers,
Up through the streaked glass, flashing with sunlight,
A few white clouds all rushing eastward,
A line of elms plunging and tossing like horses,
And everyone, everyone pointing up and shouting!

by Theodore Roethke (1908 - 1963)

Saturday, January 17, 2009

From the Inner Side of the Lips

oil. die and. Let
peace flow to your lips
may I
no longer be on them

or I will, from that amorphous soil,
with every breath of my dying
flesh, grow white
into you, be extinguished

until this white paper
is bedewed with words, until I come here

with the tip of the kiss
whipped, let peace grow
thorns on your lip, die and, flow, peace

let the door made of soil slam shut,
oil, may you die and, be so that I can be

where there is, first pierced, then sewed up
by your lips endlessly, peace
the white flesh of my voice, you sleep,
do not pull to pieces the darkness on my lips

by Anka Zagar (b. 1954)
Translated by Sibila Petlevski

Friday, January 16, 2009

I envy Seas, whereon He rides —

I envy Seas, whereon He rides —
I envy Spokes of Wheels
Of Chariots, that Him convey —
I envy Crooked Hills

That gaze upon His journey —
How easy All can see
What is forbidden utterly
As Heaven — unto me!

I envy Nests of Sparrows —
That dot His distant Eaves —
The wealthy Fly, upon His Pane —
The happy — happy Leaves —

That just abroad His Window
Have Summer's leave to play —
The Ear Rings of Pizarro
Could not obtain for me —

I envy Light — that wakes Him —
And Bells — that boldly ring
To tell Him it is Noon, abroad —
Myself — be Noon to Him —

Yet interdict — my Blossom —
And abrogate — my Bee —
Lest Noon in Everlasting Night —
Drop Gabriel — and Me —

by Emily Dickinson (1830 - 1886)

Thursday, January 15, 2009

Day Book


In the pouch of pens is the tooth brush amber in the plastic wrap but
won't write. I pull out the blue one creamy and cold. At are
newspapers and a clear cup with cubes is in the magazine net.
"Shouldn't they have cleaned that out for me? He is gone a long
time and he will bring something back. "It's bad to love tightly."
My feet. "Your shoes are so retro." Then was then he brought me
aspirin. It was for the fever I made not to work. He's putting a
napkin in my lap pulling my tray down.


After dinner there might be something I want to write while you
separate suits. A new deck. You teach me Cheat. The back of the
cards is a photo of a field and track, train and white Amtrack
arrow in the corner. Your legs cross. "Don't you want to put
your legs across me?" "I do but let me get my coat." From
the Hook of Holland to Amsterdam they check tickets. From here to D.C.
Won't he be surprised. All the times i made plans to visit and here
comes the woman whose son must be blond think-skinned cold nose
as his feet are sweating in ski boots. Your foot folds a magazine. I
lick my lips.


I call him Varsity. I write his name in orange. I rub his belly
under striped sweater. Everything is going so well for him. He
drops his pants and I embrace him trying in the poem to get away
from this new stanza. It was meant to be a stanza of his name to
me. If I take care of myself forever what will you give to me?


It is seven o'clock there is a small piece of cellophane on your
white sock. It's making my dick hard. We've stopped somewhere. I
am reminded by men's voices that we have a new vice-president
and a new president.


There is no writing in front of T.V. on the first morning in D.C.
I will sit at the table on the patio under that tree wearing all
the ivy, naked branches up from its dress and later cross out
everything I write under tree. But the air feels right the color
blue over Watergate building. None of it hits the paper well but
the coffee hit my palate o.k. To complete this scene of me: cold
flowers kind sunny day in D.C.


what am I feeling
he said to sit in the last/back car
that it was cruisy
but all the wrong people are in this car
maybe this is the front
lights go out all train noise stops
I look to the sky
see emerald moving light
turn right in framed space open building
light and motors again
take off my shoes
air my dogs
Tim said when I kicked off
my shoes and sighed after the longest day in D.C.
"Dogs are barkin" felt
right then sounds right now
I love trains
the boy near me is reading a book
by C.S. Lewis
called Mere Christianity
glasses sweeten his face
dark socks in sneakers endearing
he crosses his leg
opens the book
I wish they'd turn out these long lights
I'm glad I'm alive


Everything in D.C. is there
for everyone who reads this poem
so go to go
it's not my job to tell it
I had great fun
with great friends old and new
and rode with emotional gear
strapped on tight
through my kind of hell
one night
But I'm back now
I'll call you whoever you are
and say I'm ready getting
then say good bye now take care now
good night now


Is there anyone on this train
wondering about this last car
cruise business
some other young man
who might find it exciting
to find another young man me in this wondering
He pushes the back of his seat
book and face are out of sight
the stretch from knee
over crotch and front split tail
of flannel shirt either side
of his rise


the warmth when words satisfy
I scratch more flakes
on to white

for Bobby Miller

by Gerard Rizza (1959-1992)

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Antony and Cleopatra (from Act 1. Scene iii)

What's the matter?

I know, by that same eye, there's some good news.
What says the married woman? You may go:
Would she had never given you leave to come!
Let her not say 'tis I that keep you here:
I have no power upon you; hers you are.

The gods best know,—

O, never was there queen
So mightily betray'd! yet at the first
I saw the treasons planted.


Why should I think you can be mine and true,
Though you in swearing shake the throned gods,
Who have been false to Fulvia? Riotous madness,
To be entangled with those mouth-made vows,
Which break themselves in swearing!

Most sweet queen,—

Nay, pray you, seek no colour for your going,
But bid farewell, and go: when you sued staying,
Then was the time for words: no going then;
Eternity was in our lips and eyes,
Bliss in our brows' bent; none our parts so poor,
But was a race of heaven: they are so still,
Or thou, the greatest soldier of the world,
Art turn'd the greatest liar.

How now, lady!

I would I had thy inches; thou shouldst know
There were a heart in Egypt.

by William Shakespeare (1564 - 1616)

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Spilled Blood

The ashes which are the cigar's malady
imitate the concierges rushing down the stairs
after their broom that fell from the fifth floor
killed the gasman
that employee resembling a bug in a salad
The bird lies in wait for a bug and it's the broom that got you gasman
Your wife's hair will be white as sugar
and her ears will be unpaid bills
unpaid because you are dead
But why didn't this gasman have feet shaped like a three
why didn't he have the lucid look of a glovestore
why didn't he have his mother's dried-up breast hanging from his belly
why didn't he have flies in the pockets of his jacket
He would have passed away damp and cold like a smashed porcelain vase
and his hands would have caressed the bars of his prison
But the sun in his pocket had put on its cap

by Benjamin Peret (1899-1959)
Translated by Keith Hollaman

Monday, January 12, 2009

A Broken Appointment

You did not come,
And marching Time drew on, and wore me numb.
Yet less for loss of your dear presence there
Than that I thus found lacking in your make
That high compassion which can overbear
Reluctance for pure loving kindness' sake
Grieved I, when, as the hope-hour stroked its sum,
You did not come.

You love me not,
And love alone can lend you loyalty;
—I know and knew it. But, unto the store
Of human deeds divine in all but name,
Was it not worth a little hour or more
To add yet this: Once you, a woman, came
To soothe a time-torn man; even though it be
You love me not.

by Thomas Hardy (1840 - 1928)

Sunday, January 11, 2009

Squatter in the Foreground

--—for Ann Lauterbach

We rake the past, down to an ounce of wants.
Meant to begin in haybarn dorm of overall kerchiefs,
an empire of cow sphincters on the hook by May.
I think I’ll stare at the muss to endure
all I am: nonstop strands, new dues to pay up.

Air dense with leavings, fridge hum clicks off.
Nothing on the easel, so nothing melts.
The story thus far: pair of angels swish across grass
into dim room. Wrestlers. Big mirrors, stacks of ‘em.
White walls lift. An Anglo-Saxon pause for identification.

by Kenward Elmslie (b. 1929)

Saturday, January 10, 2009


A touch of cold in the Autumn night –
I walked abroad,
And saw the ruddy moon lean over a hedge
Like a red-faced farmer.
I did not stop to speak, but nodded,
And round about were the wistful stars
With white faces like town children.

by T.E. Hulme (1883 - 1917)

Friday, January 9, 2009

De Profundis

There is a stubble-field where a black rain is falling.
There is a brown tree that stands alone.
There is a hissing wind that encircles the empty shacks.
How melancholy this evening is.

Near the village
A gentle orphan gathers sparse corn.
Her eyes widen, round and golden in the dusk,
and her womb awaits the heavenly bridegroom.

On their way home
The shepherds found her sweet body
Rotting in the bushes.

I am a shadow far from dark villages---
I drank the silence of God
from a spring in the woods.

Cold metal steps on my forehead.
Spiders search for my heart.
There is a light that dies out in my mouth.

At night I found myself in a pasture,
Rigid with refuse and the dust of stars.
In the hazelbush
Crystal angels kept on ringing.

by Georg Trakl
Translated by Daniel Simko

Thursday, January 8, 2009

To Night

So thou art come again, old black-winged night,
Like an huge bird, between us and the sun,
Hiding, with out-stretched form, the genial light;
And still, beneath thine icy bosom's dun
And cloudy plumage, hatching fog-breathed blight
And embryo storms, and crabbéd frosts, that shun
Day's warm caress. The owls from ivied loop
Are shrieking homage, as thou cowerest high;
Like sable crow pausing in eager stoop
On the dim world thou gluttest thy clouded eye,
Silently waiting latest time's fell whoop,
When thou shalt quit thine eyrie in the sky,
To pounce upon the world with eager claw,
And tomb time, death, and substance in thy maw.

by Thomas Lovell Beddoes (1803 - 1818)

Wednesday, January 7, 2009

* * *

Epic endangerment of the heart
which is broken, of the soul
which is broken, of the cracked
indistinguishable persona
which is cracked and broken,
everyone wanting, everyone falling asleep
and to everyone who is cracked,
no sneakers can help you,
not their rubber, not their rubber,
not a knowledge of smallness or
wish to be covered. It is
callous to say there are a thousand
spotted owls and only one of me.
Maybe it's stupid to say such things
about extinction. Birds were falling
from the sky and this pornographer
I know was running around talking
about an angle I don't feel comfortable
mentioning. Maybe in a way I'm a
prude, and he says you know people
they're people. A Polish couple precise
with their memory and a junkie
with a tiny bit of etiquette. I fell
asleep on the pasalla. I was weak
taking off. Someone put my loafers
to the side, and the waves, only the wealthy
can afford such waves. Cuban cigars. You know,
some of the greatest men never had vacations.
I wrote PASCAL IN CANCUN. A boring book,
I admit, but that part where the girls
start rocking their heads back and forth.
That part where the sun just washes
over her forehead, and then a cheek
and then another and then the first again, etc.
That's all I cared about, but explain that
to a publisher. One rocky sea and the water
just splashes out of its glass. "Fantastic."
"Fantastic." Do it again cry the children.
I'm cracked. I'm done. I'm as a bell. I'm
aboard these rubber sneakers bound for destruction.
So, my little ones, next time you see me
coming by, scream out "die" "die" "die"
then you'll have fantastic.

by Joshua Beckman (b. 1971)

Tuesday, January 6, 2009

Go and Catch a Falling Star

Go and catch a falling star,
Get with child a mandrake root,
Tell me where all past years are,
Or who cleft the devil's foot,
Teach me to hear mermaids singing,
Or to keep off envy's stinging,
And find
What wind
Serves to advance an honest mind.

If thou be'st born to strange sights,
Things invisible to see,
Ride ten thousand days and nights,
Till age snow white hairs on thee,
Thou, when thou return'st, wilt tell me,
All strange wonders that befell thee,
And swear,
No where
Lives a woman true, and fair.

If thou find'st one, let me know,
Such a pilgrimage were sweet;
Yet do not, I would not go,
Though at next door we might meet;
Though she were true, when you met her,
And last, till you write your letter,
Yet she
Will be
False, ere I come, to two, or three.

by John Donne (1572 - 1631)

Monday, January 5, 2009

Spermal Chimney

Haunch under the whip of douches in the slime—
no, no behind the curtain in the women's convent.
The body's symbolic golden cerams
dribble a cross atop their buttocks.
O Jesus my kingpin of astronomy,
his heart is chiseled in over his tit
like a ruby in the public pawn shop,
gobbles his bloodred-orange down.
Fantastic priests like sexual desserts
your wellheeled clientele laces its human boots.
My penis in the shape of my own heart
rests on the pillows.
to fondle it 's some kind of sickness
but you'll be lining up for more soon, won't you?
a naked man is never poor—
all the more so if he sweetly loses sleep.
You've got to bounce, my honey, give your son a bang
onanism is pure semiotics
O Joan of Arc my murky inkbottle.
I really want to tease you reader
but not too much.
I never saw a bunch of women underneath a bed
could tuck their legs between their breasts.
I'm begging you to let it be
I want you to ungird your literarily
pathetically cockteasing loins
so I can whip some feeling into them.
I'm panting underneath the covers
I'm snuffing out the cat that's wrapped around my hand
I really don't know why this scenery's like garbage.
I kiss your mouth while vomiting.
Death ought to be exquisite.
I only drag it out.

by Francis Picabia (1879-1953)
Translated by Jerome Rothenberg

Sunday, January 4, 2009

Hen Woman

The noon heat in the yard
smelled of stillness and coming thunder.
A hen scratched and picked at the shore.
It stopped, its body crouched and puffed out.
The brooding silence seemed to say “Hush. . .”

The cottage door opened,
a black hole
in a whitewashed wall so bright
the eyes narrowed.
Inside, a clock murmured 'Gong...' (what a line!)

(I had felt all this before.)

She hurried out in her slippers
muttering, her face dark with anger,
and gathered the hen up jerking
languidly. Her hand fumbled.
Too late. Too late.

It fixed me with its pebble eyes
(seeing what mad blur).
A white egg showed in the sphincter;
mouth and beak opened together;
and time stood still.

Nothing moved: bird or woman,
fumbled or fumbling - locked there
(as I must have been) gaping.


There was a tiny movement at my feet,
tiny and mechanical; I looked down.
A beetle like a bronze leaf
was inching across the cement,
clasping with small tarsi
a ball of dung bigger than its body.

The serrated brow pressed the ground humbly,
lifted in a short stare, bowed again;
the dung-ball advanced minutely,
losing a few fragments,
specks of staleness and freshness.


A mutter of thunder far off
- time not quite stopped.
I saw the egg had moved a fraction:
a tender blank brain
under torsion, a clean new world.

As I watched, the mystery completed.
The black zero of the orifice
closed to a point
and the white zero of the egg hung free,
flecked with greenish brown oils.

It fell and turned over slowly.
Dreamlike, fussed by her splayed fingers,
it floated outward, moon-white,
leaving no trace in the air,
and began its drop to the shore.


I feed upon it still, as you see;
there is no end to that which,
not understood, may yet be noted
and hoarded in the imagination,
in the yolk of one’s being, so to speak,
there to undergo its (quite animal) growth,

dividing blindly,
twitching, packed with will,
searching in its own tissue
for the structure
in which it may wake.
Something that had – clenched
in its cave – not been
now was: an egg of being.

Through what seemed a whole year it fell
– as it still falls, for me,
solid and light, the red gold beating
in its silvery womb,
alive as the yolk and white
of my eye; as it will continue
to fall, probably, until I die,
through the vast indifferent spaces
with which I am empty.


It smashed against the grating
and slipped down quickly out of sight.
It was over in a comical flash.
The soft mucous shell clung a little longer,
then drained down.

She stood staring, in blank anger.
Then her eyes came to life, and she laughed
and let the bird flap away.

"It's all the one.
There's plenty more where that came from!"

by Thomas Kinsella (b. 1928)

Saturday, January 3, 2009

My Interior

One bordello, three suites in the ass.
One two-bit nightery with chessboard in the back.
A snare drum, a pump, the rubble pile of a palace.
Siamese traps, and pink cocktail umbrellas
for the little blowsy ones who tramp the boulevards
and blue byways of my interior, tapping the asphalt

with their parasol tips, unfurling their wings
to fly the Queen, tipping their fedoras to show their holes.
All day they pull cotton from inhalers that come down my conveyor.
But in my night, they bolt home and lock it tight, and move inward,
and begin to sniff by their basins, and whimper
We feel a first liquid now coming down the fuchsia

We hear Opal, we feel the bloodpump slow
Our lice awaken and slide to the wings
We nurse them with our holes, we love in his marrow
We snake out pipes, make rounds with caulk guns

Before dawn, debauched,
they try to stroke me to sleep in the bath . . .

High noontide in my interior: the red deer
wends out of my ravine when I wave, the gilled goat.
The shadows of my Frenchmen annihilate my little night-womps.
In my back-of-the-eyelid cinema: arabesques.
My best records are each hiss or moan or tremolo.
Your shadow annihilates my little day-womps.

Languor keeps my body from the desk.
Languor keeps the stockings on your legs.
Glare keeps the little ones at the conveyor
and out of the head . . . but then, from way off, with cranking
comes my night, and when it arrives
I go to it like a callboy to a C-note.

by Jeff Clark (b. 1971)

Friday, January 2, 2009

The Absent

They are not here. And we, we are the Others
Who walk by ourselves unquestioned in the sun
Which shines for us and only for us.
For They are not here.
And are made known to us in this great absence
That lies upon us and is between us
Since They are not here.
Now, in this kingdom of summer idleness
Where slowly we the sun-tranced multitudes dream and wander
In deep oblivion of brightness
And breathe ourselves out, out into the air –
It is absence that receives us;
We do not touch, our souls go out in the absence
That lies between us and is about us.
For we are the Others,
And so we sorrow for These that are not with us,
Not knowing we sorrow or that this is our sorrow,
Sorrow for loss of that which we never possessed,
The unknown, the nameless,
The ever-present that in their absence are with us
(With us the inheritors, the usurpers claiming
The sun and the kingdom of the sun) that sorrow
And loneliness might bring a blessing upon us.

by Edwin Muir (1887 - 1959)

Thursday, January 1, 2009

Meditations in an Emergency

Am I to become profligate as if I were a blonde? Or religious as if I were French?

Each time my heart is broken it makes me feel more adventurous (and how the same names keep recurring on that interminable list!), but one of these days there'll be nothing left with which to venture forth.

Why should I share you? Why don't you get rid of someone else for a change?

I am the least difficult of men. All I want is boundless love.

Even trees understand me! Good heavens, I lie under them, too, don't I? I'm just like a pile of leaves.

However, I have never clogged myself with the praises of pastoral life, nor with nostalgia for an innocent past of perverted acts in pastures. No. One need never leave the confines of New York to get all the greenery one wishes—I can't even enjoy a blade of grass unless I know there's a subway handy, or a record store or some other sign that people do not totally regret life. It is more important to affirm the least sincere; the clouds get enough attention as it is and even they continue to pass. Do they know what they're missing? Uh huh.

My eyes are vague blue, like the sky, and change all the time; they are indiscriminate but fleeting, entirely specific and disloyal, so that no one trusts me. I am always looking away. Or again at something after it has given me up. It makes me restless and that makes me unhappy, but I cannot keep them still. If only i had grey, green, black, brown, yellow eyes; I would stay at home and do something. It's not that I'm curious. On the contrary, I am bored but it's my duty to be attentive, I am needed by things as the sky must be above the earth. And lately, so great has their anxiety become, I can spare myself little sleep.

Now there is only one man I like to kiss when he is unshaven. Heterosexuality! you are inexorably approaching. (How best discourage her?)

St. Serapion, I wrap myself in the robes of your whiteness which is like midnight in Dostoevsky. How I am to become a legend, my dear? I've tried love, but that hides you in the bosom of another and I am always springing forth from it like the lotus—the ecstasy of always bursting forth! (but one must not be distracted by it!) or like a hyacinth, "to keep the filth of life away," yes, there, even in the heart, where the filth is pumped in and slanders and pollutes and determines. I will my will, though I may become famous for a mysterious vacancy in that department, that greenhouse.

Destroy yourself, if you don't know!

It is easy to be beautiful; it is difficult to appear so. I admire you, beloved, for the trap you've set. It's like a final chapter no one reads because the plot is over.

"Fanny Brown is run away—scampered off with a Cornet of Horse; I do love that little Minx, & hope She may be happy, tho' She has vexed me by this Exploit a little too.—Poor silly Cecchina! or F:B: as we used to call her.—I wish She had a good Whipping and 10,000 pounds."—Mrs. Thrale.

I've got to get out of here. I choose a piece of shawl and my dirtiest suntans. I'll be back, I'll re-emerge, defeated, from the valley; you don't want me to go where you go, so I go where you don't want me to. It's only afternoon, there's a lot ahead. There won't be any mail downstairs. Turning, I spit in the lock and the knob turns.

by Frank O'Hara (1926-1966)