Thursday, August 21, 2008

Nothing in Heaven Functions as It Ought

XJ Kennedy: Nothing in Heaven Functions as It Ought

Nothing in Heaven functions as it ought:
Peter's bifocals, blindly sat on, crack;
His gates lurch wide with the cackle of a cock,
Not turn with a hush of gold as Milton had thought;
Gangs of the slaughtered innocents keep huffing
The nimbus off the Venerable Bede
Like that of an old dandelion gone to seed;
And the beatific choir keep breaking up, coughing.

But Hell, sleek Hell, hath no freewheeling part:
None takes his own sweet time, none quickens pace.
Ask anyone, "How come you here, poor heart?"—
And he will slot a quarter through his face.
You'll hear an instant click, a tear will start
Imprinted with an abstract of his case.

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

The door

Go and open the door.

Maybe outside there's
a tree, or a wood,
a garden,
or a magic city.

Go and open the door.
Maybe a dog's rummaging.
Maybe you'll see a face,
or an eye,
or the picture
of a picture.

Go and open the cdoor.
If there's a fog
it will clear.

Go and open the door.
Even if there's only
the darkness ticking,
even if there's only
the hollow wind,
even if
nothing
is there.

At least
there'll be
a draught.

Miroslav Holub
translated from the Czech by Ian Milner

Happiness

by Raymond Carver

So early it's still almost dark out.
I'm near the window with coffee,
and the usual early morning stuff
that passes for thought.
When I see the boy and his friend
walking up the road
to deliver the newspaper.
They wear caps and sweaters,
and one boy has a bag over his shoulder.
They are so happy
they aren't saying anything, these boys.
I think if they could, they would take
each other's arm.
It's early in the morning,
and they are doing this thing together.
They come on, slowly.
The sky is taking on light,
though the moon still hangs pale over the water.
Such beauty that for a minute
death and ambition,
even love,
doesn't enter into this.
Happiness. It comes on
unexpectedly. And goes beyond, really,
any early morning talk about it.

Friday, August 15, 2008

Famous Blue Raincoat - Leonard Cohen

Its four in the morning, the end of december
Im writing you now just to see if youre better
New york is cold, but I like where Im living
Theres music on clinton street all through the evening.

I hear that youre building your little house deep in the desert
Youre living for nothing now, I hope youre keeping some kind of record.

Yes, and jane came by with a lock of your hair
She said that you gave it to her
That night that you planned to go clear
Did you ever go clear?

Ah, the last time we saw you you looked so much older
Your famous blue raincoat was torn at the shoulder
Youd been to the station to meet every train
And you came home without lili marlene

And you treated my woman to a flake of your life
And when she came back she was nobodys wife.

Well I see you there with the rose in your teeth
One more thin gypsy thief
Well I see janes awake --

She sends her regards.
And what can I tell you my brother, my killer
What can I possibly say?
I guess that I miss you, I guess I forgive you
Im glad you stood in my way.

If you ever come by here, for jane or for me
Your enemy is sleeping, and his woman is free.

Yes, and thanks, for the trouble you took from her eyes
I thought it was there for good so I never tried.

And jane came by with a lock of your hair
She said that you gave it to her
That night that you planned to go clear

-- sincerely, l. cohen

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

Dare you see a Soul at the 'White Heat'?

Dare you see a Soul at the 'White Heat'?
Then crouch within the door—
Red — is the Fire's common tint—
But when the vivid Ore
Has vanquished Flame's conditions—
It quivers from the Forge
Without a color, but the Light
of unannointed Blaze—

Least Village, boasts it's Blacksmith—
Whose Anvil's even ring
Stands symbol for the finer Forge
That soundless tugs — within —

Refining these impatient Ores
With Hammer, and with Blaze
Until the designated Light
Repudiate the Forge—

******************

Click to read about the new biography of Dickinson and Wentworth - White Heat

Sunday, August 10, 2008

Crossroads

Crossroads

The second half of my life will be black
to the white rind of the old and fading moon.
The second half of my life will be water
over the cracked floor of these desert years.
I will land on my feet this time,
knowing at least two languages and who
my friends are. I will dress for the
occasion, and my hair shall be
whatever color I please.
Everyone will go on celebrating the old
birthday, counting the years as usual,
but I will count myself new from this
inception, this imprint of my own desire.

The second half of my life will be swift,
past leaning fenceposts, a gravel shoulder,
asphalt tickets, the beckon of open road.
The second half of my life will be wide-eyed,
fingers shifting through fine sands,
arms loose at my sides, wandering feet.
There will be new dreams every night,
and the drapes will never be closed.
I will toss my string of keys into a deep
well and old letters into the grate.

The second half of my life will be ice
breaking up on the river, rain
soaking the fields, a hand
held out, a fire,
and smoke going
upward, always up.

Joyce Sutphen

Thursday, August 7, 2008

Halley's Comet

Halley's Comet by Stanley Kunitz

Miss Murphy in first grade
wrote its name in chalk
across the board and told us
it was roaring down the stormtracks
of the Milky Way at frightful speed
and if it wandered off its course
and smashed into the earth
there'd be no school tomorrow.
A red-bearded preacher from the hills
with a wild look in his eyes
stood in the public square
at the playground's edge
proclaiming he was sent by God
to save every one of us,
even the little children.
"Repent, ye sinners!" he shouted,
waving his hand-lettered sign.
At supper I felt sad to think
that it was probably
the last meal I'd share
with my mother and my sisters;
but I felt excited too
and scarcely touched my plate.
So mother scolded me
and sent me early to my room.
The whole family's asleep
except for me. They never heard me steal
into the stairwell hall and climb
the ladder to the fresh night air.

Look for me, Father, on the roof
of the red brick building
at the foot of Green Street—
that's where we live, you know, on the top floor.
I'm the boy in the white flannel gown
sprawled on this coarse gravel bed
searching the starry sky,
waiting for the world to end