Monday, February 28, 2011
In Memory of My Father: Australia
You arose―I dreamt so last night―and left for
Australia. The voice, with a triple echo,
ebbed and flowed, complaining about climate,
grime, that the deal with the flat is stymied,
pity it’s not downtown, though near the ocean,
no elevator but the bathtub’s indeed an option,
ankles keep swelling. “Looks like I’ve lost my slippers”
came through rapt yet clear via satellite.
And at once the receiver burst into howling “Adelaide! Adelaide!”―
into rattling and crackling, as if a shutter,
ripped off its hinges, were pounding the wall with inhuman power.
Still, better this than the silky powder
canned by the crematorium, than the voucher―
better these snatches of voice, this patchwork
monologue of a recluse trying to play a genie
for the first time since you formed a cloud above a chimney.
This Is Magnolia - Murmur
Wednesday, February 16, 2011
Between the computer, a pencil, and a typewriter
half my day passes. One day it will be half a century.
I live in strange cities and sometimes talk
with strangers about matters strange to me.
I listen to music a lot: Bach, Mahler, Chopin, Shostakovich.
I see three elements in music: weakness, power, and pain.
The fourth has no name.
I read poets, living and dead, who teach me
tenacity, faith, and pride. I try to understand
the great philosophers--but usually catch just
scraps of their precious thoughts.
I like to take long walks on Paris streets
and watch my fellow creatures, quickened by envy,
anger, desire; to trace a silver coin
passing from hand to hand as it slowly
loses its round shape (the emperor's profile is erased).
Beside me trees expressing nothing
but a green, indifferent perfection.
Black birds pace the fields,
waiting patiently like Spanish widows.
I'm no longer young, but someone else is always older.
I like deep sleep, when I cease to exist,
and fast bike rides on country roads when poplars and houses
dissolve like cumuli on sunny days.
Sometimes in museums the paintings speak to me
and irony suddenly vanishes.
I love gazing at my wife's face.
Every Sunday I call my father.
Every other week I meet with friends,
thus proving my fidelity.
My country freed itself from one evil. I wish
another liberation would follow.
Could I help in this? I don't know.
I'm truly not a child of the ocean,
as Antonio Machado wrote about himself,
but a child of air, mint and cello
and not all the ways of the high world
cross paths with the life that--so far--
belongs to me.
Translated by Clare Cavanagh
This Is Magnolia - New Gold Mountain
Monday, February 14, 2011
The long lines of diesels
groan toward evening
carrying off the breath
of the living.
The face of your house
it is your face, black
and fire bombed
in the first street wars,
a black tooth planted in the earth
and bearing nothing,
and the earth is black,
sick on used oils.
Did you look for me in that house
behind the sofa
where I had to be?
in the basement where the shirts
yellowed on hangers?
in the bedroom
where a woman lay her face
on a locked chest?
at windows the rain streaked
and no one told me.
I found you later
from The History of Siege,
eyes turned to a public wall
before I turned back, mouth
in mine and gone.
I found you whole
toward the autumn of my 43rd year
in this chair beside
a masonjar of dried zinnias
and I turned away.
I find you
in these tears, few,
useless and here at last.
Don't come back.
This Is Magnolia - Double Happiness
Sunday, February 13, 2011
Thursday, February 10, 2011
Albert HuffsticklerDon't Ask the Angels How They Fly
Knowing there's only so much time,
I don't rejoice less but more.
Knowing how many things will now
not happen, I wish them Godspeed
and pass them on to someone
down the line. I honor my
regrets, the part of me that
never happened or happened wrong
and proceed on course though
the course is not known. Only
the end is known and some days
it's a comfort. We live on
love, whether it's there or
not and rejoice in it even in
its absence. If I had known,
I'd have come here better equipped -
but that's another one of those
things you can't change - as we
can't alter that part of us
that lives on memory, knowing
all the while that time is not
real and that what we are we
never were in the light of that
timeless place where we really
belong, have belonged always.
And what's left then is only
to bless it all in the light of
what we don't and will never
know or at least not here where
the light is only a shadow of
that light we almost see sometimes -
that light that's really home.
On my 69th birthday - Dec 17, 1996
William Pint & Felicia Dale - Go From My Window
Wednesday, February 9, 2011
Backed myself into a dark corner one day,
Found a boy there,
Forgotten by teachers and classmates,
His shoulders slumped,
The hair on his head already grey.
Friend, I said.
While you stood here staring at the wall,
They shot a president,
Some guy walked on the moon,
Dolly, the girl we all loved,
Took too many sleeping pills and died
In a hotel room in Santa Monica.
Now and then I thought of you,
Listening to the squeak of the chalk
On the blackboard,
The sighs and whispers
Of unknown children
Bent over their lessons,
The mice running in the night.
Visions of unspeakable loveliness
Must’ve come to you in your misery:
Cloudless skies on long June evenings,
Trees full of cherries in our orchard,
To make you ache and want to be with me,
Driving a cab in New York City.
Jen Cloher & The Endless Sea - Rain