Thursday, July 29, 2010

Scary Movies

Scary Movies by Kim Addonizio

Today the cloud shapes are terrifying,
and I keep expecting some enormous
black-and-white B-movie Cyclops
to appear at the edge of the horizon,

to come striding over the ocean
and drag me from my kitchen
to the deep cave that flickered
into my young brain one Saturday

at the Baronet Theater where I sat helpless
between my older brothers, pumped up
on candy and horror—that cave,
the litter of human bones

gnawed on and flung toward the entrance,
I can smell their stench as clearly
as the bacon fat from breakfast. This
is how it feels to lose it—

not sanity, I mean, but whatever it is
that helps you get up in the morning
and actually leave the house
on those days when it seems like death

in his brown uniform
is cruising his panel truck
of packages through your neighborhood.
I think of a friend's voice

on her answering machine—
Hi, I'm not here—
the morning of her funeral,
the calls filling up the tape

and the mail still arriving,
and I feel as afraid as I was
after all those vampire movies
when I'd come home and lie awake

all night, rigid in my bed,
unable to get up
even to pee because the undead
were waiting underneath it;

if I so much as struck a bare
foot out there in the unprotected air
they'd grab me by the ankle and pull me
under. And my parents said there was

nothing there, when I was older
I would know better, and now
they're dead, and I'm older,
and I know better.

"Scary Movies" by Kim Addonizio, from What is This Thing Called Love. © W.W. Norton & Company, 2004

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Gerard Manley Hopkins

The Writer's Almanac: It's the birthday of one of the greatest poets of the Victorian era, Gerard Manley Hopkins, born at Stratford, England (1844). He's known for being a technical master of poetic devices like alliteration, assonance, and sprung rhythm.

Poetry.org - Hopkins page
When will you ever, Peace, wild wooddove, shy wings shut,
Your round me roaming end, and under be my boughs?
When, when, Peace, will you, Peace? I'll not play hypocrite
To own my heart: I yield you do come sometimes; but
That piecemeal peace is poor peace. What pure peace allows
Alarms of wars, the daunting wars, the death of it?

O surely, reaving Peace, my Lord should leave in lieu
Some good! And so he does leave Patience exquisite,
That plumes to Peace thereafter. And when Peace here does house
He comes with work to do, he does not come to coo,
He comes to brood and sit.

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Forms of Love

Forms of Love by Kim Addonizio

I love you but I'm married.
I love you but I wish you had more hair.
I love you more.
I love you more like a friend.
I love your friends more than you.
I love how when we go into a mall and classical muzak is playing,
you can always name the composer.
I love you, but one or both of us is/are fictional.
I love you but "I" am an unstable signifier.
I love you saying, "I understand the semiotics of that" when I said, "I
had a little personal business to take care of."
I love you as long as you love me back.
I love you in spite of the restraining order.
I love you from the coma you put me in.
I love you more than I've ever loved anyone, except for this one
guy.
I love you when you're not getting drunk and stupid.
I love how you get me.
I love your pain, it's so competitive.
I love how emotionally unavailable you are.
I love you like I'm a strange backyard and you're running from the
cops, looking for a place to stash your gun.
I love your hair.
I love you but I'm just not that into you.
I love you secretly.
I love how you make me feel like I'm a monastery in the desert.
I love how you defined grace as the little turn the blood in the
syringe takes when you're shooting heroin, after you pull back
the plunger slightly to make sure you hit the vein.
I love your mother, she's the opposite of mine.
I love you and feel a powerful spiritual connection to you, even
though we've never met.
I love your tacos! I love your stick deodorant!
I love it when you tie me up with ropes using the knots you
learned in Boy Scouts, and when you do the stoned Dennis
Hopper rap from Apocalypse Now!
I love your extravagant double takes!
I love your mother, even though I'm nearly her age!
I love everything about you except your hair.
If it weren't for that I know I could really, really love you.  

"Forms of Love" by Kim Addonizio, from Lucifer at the Starlite. © W.W. Norton & Company, 2009.

Monday, July 26, 2010

Robert Browning - Two in the Campagna

TWO IN THE CAMPAGNA
                                      I
    I WONDER do you feel to-day
        As I have felt since, hand in hand,
    We sat down on the grass, to stray
        In spirit better through the land,
    This morn of Rome and May?
                                      II
    For me, I touched a thought, I know,
        Has tantalized me many times,
    (Like turns of thread the spiders throw
        Mocking across our path) for rhymes
    To catch at and let go.
                                      III
    Help me to hold it!  First it left
        The yellowing fennel, run to seed
    There, branching from the brickwork’s cleft,
        Some old tomb’s ruin: yonder weed
    Took up the floating weft,
                                      IV
    Where one small orange cup amassed
        Five beetles,—blind and green they grope
    Among the honey-meal: and last,
        Everywhere on the grassy slope
    I traced it.  Hold it fast!
                                      V
    The champaign with its endless fleece
        Of feathery grasses everywhere!
    Silence and passion, joy and peace,
        An everlasting wash of air—
    Rome’s ghost since her decease.
                                      VI
    Such life here, through such lengths of hours,
        Such miracles performed in play,
    Such primal naked forms of flowers,
        Such letting nature have her way
    While heaven looks from its towers!
                                      VII
    How say you?  Let us, O my dove,
        Let us be unashamed of soul,
    As earth lies bare to heaven above!
        How is it under our control
    To love or not to love?
                                      VIII
    I would that you were all to me,
        You that are just so much, no more.
    Nor yours nor mine, nor slave nor free!
        Where does the fault lie?  What the core
    O’ the wound, since wound must be?
                                      IX
    I would I could adopt your will,
        See with your eyes, and set my heart
    Beating by yours, and drink my fill
        At your soul’s springs,—your part my part
    In life, for good and ill.
                                      X
    No.  I yearn upward, touch you close,
        Then stand away.  I kiss your cheek,
    Catch your soul’s warmth,—I pluck the rose
        And love it more than tongue can speak—
    Then the good minute goes.
                                      XI
    Already how am I so far
        Out of that minute?  Must I go
    Still like the thistle-ball, no bar,
        Onward, whenever light winds blow,
    Fixed by no friendly star?
                                      XII
    Just when I seemed about to learn!
        Where is the thread now?  Off again!
    The old trick!  Only I discern—
        Infinite passion, and the pain
    Of finite hearts that yearn.

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

The Finger

the finger by Charles Bukowski

the drivers of automobiles
have very little recourse or
originality.
when upset with
another
driver
they often give him the
FINGER.

I have seen two adult
men
florid of face
driving along
giving each other the
FINGER.

well, we all know what
this means, it's no
secret.

still, this gesture is
so overused it has
lost most of its
impact.

some of the men who give
the FINGER are captains of
industry, city councilmen,
insurance adjusters,
accountants and/or the just plain
unemployed.
no matter.
it is their favorite
response.

people will never admit
that they drive
badly.

the FINGER is their
reply.

I see grown men
FINGERING each other
throughout the day.

it gives me pause.
when I consider
the state of our cities,
the state of our states,
the state of our country,
I begin to
understand.

the FINGER is a mind-
set.
we are the FINGERERS.
we give it
to each other.
we give it coming and
going.
we don't know how
else to respond.

what a hell of a way
to not
live.

"The Finger" by Charles Bukowski, from Bone Palace Ballet. © Black Sparrow Press, 2002.

Friday, July 2, 2010

Proud Error

by Vasko Popa (1922-1991)
translated by Charles Simic

Once upon a time there was an error
So ridiculous so minute
No one would have paid attention to it

It couldn't stand
To see or hear itself

It made up all sorts of nonsense
Just to prove
That it really didn't exist

It imagined a space
To fit all its proofs in
And time to guard its proofs
And the world to witness them

All that it imagined
Was not so ridiculous
Or so minute
But was of course in error

Was anything else possible