21 December, 2010

The Valve

The one-way flow of time we take for granted,
but what if the valve is defective? What if the threads
on the stem wear thin, or the stuffing box or the bonnet
ring leaks, or the joints to the pipe ring fail,
and there's a backwash?
It happens.
And then old loves,
meeting again, have no idea what to do,
resuming or not resuming from where they were
years before. Or the dead come back to chat.
Or you are reduced for a giddy moment to childhood's
innocent incompetence. You look up
as if to see some hint in the sky's blackboard.
But then, whatever it was, some fluff or grit
that clogged the works, works free, and again time passes,
almost as before, and you try to get on with your life.

From Falling from Silence,  by David R. Slavitt. Copyright © 2001 by David R. Slavitt. Reproduced with permission of Louisiana Sate University Press. All rights reserved.

~ ~ David R. Slavitt
Winter, Ageless Time

There was a place
I’d go in winter
Before starting
Each new year
In the ageless period
After midlife wars
Before the treaty
Or the surrender
Not sure anymore
It lasted many years

When foolish decisions
Had time to recover
What had been ignored
What caused the wars
In the first place
The ageless time
Before who I am now

~ ~ Anthony Duce
The Carpenter

The gentle fears he tells me of being
afraid to climb back down each day
from the top of the unfinished building.
He says: I’m getting old
and wish each morning when I arrive
I could beat into shape
a scaffold to take me higher
but the wood I need
is still growing on the hills
the nails raw red with rust
still changing shape in bluffs
somewhere north of my mind.

I’ve hung over this city like a bird
and seen it change from shacks to towers
It’s not that I’m afraid
but sometimes when I’m alone up here
and know I can’t get higher
I think I’ll just walk off the edge
and either fall or fly
and then he laughs
so that his plumb-bob goes awry
and single strokes the spikes into the joists
pushing the floor another level higher
like a hawk every year adds levels to his nest
until he’s risen above the tree he builds on
and alone lifts into the wind
beating his wings like nails into the sky.

~ ~ Patrick Lane

From Selected Poems 1977-1997. Harbour Publishing, 1997. With permission.

which of us is subject,
        mirror ...

for all our gazing,
never coming

~ ~ Gabriella Mirollo

Photograph by Gabriella Mirollo; the lines above are an excerpt from
her poem,"To Mademoiselle Charlotte du Val d'Ognes (Artist Unknown)".
Shared here today, with her kind permission.
A Carpenter’s Gift

The carpenter stooped from his bench
gathered a nest of curled shavings,
and offered it as a metaphor of craft,
knowing I would understand his gift:
blond birch and butter yellow ash
warmed by the soft brown furls of oak.

If my stock in trade were not words,
I would choose the carpenter’s way,
and saw and sand and carve and turn,
plane and stain and polish and buff.
I would make new and wondrous poems
of hue and tint and shape and grain.

The paths and traces ordained
by time and sun and rain would impose
their rules on me - arrow-shaped
and soaring skyward,
or a blaze of liquid movement,
a voluptuous spread of watered silk.

I would listen to ancient whisperings
of bog-birthed pine, oak, elm and yew,
coaxing twisted logs of haggard wood
from their coma into sensual shapes -
their rounded forms a resurrection,
a connection of past, present and yet to come.

~ ~ Angela Hanley

05 December, 2010

Two Ways of Looking at the 
Gravity of the World



The first thing you see
In the morning
Is a falling



An uplifting
Brisk wind brings it
To land on a flying green tarmac.

~ ~ Vassilis Zambaras

Train Song

I lurk in a wooded
bend of the railroad
where I won’t be spotted.
Duffle bag — check.
Zippo lighter — check.
Deck of marked cards — check.
All my life I’ve been listening to trains
& all my life I’ve been letting them go by,
each whistle Dopplering down
from summons to wail,
followed by a thunder
as intoxicating as any heavy metal band,
graffitoed messages flying past
too fast to parse
& a poorly aligned wheel
shrieking like feedback from a speaker
all the way to Chicago.
It’s not that I want to travel, but this sky’s
too narrow, too full of murk.
It hurts to breathe.
I raise a pants leg
& here’s another goddamned tick
just starting to burrow in.
Out West, I’ve heard, there are places so empty
nobody’s even given them a name yet.
That’s why the next
slow freight & I
have a date.
Here comes
one now. Hear how
the rails are starting to sing?

~ ~ Dave Bonta
Some lines are crooked.
You cannot fix them,

cannot let them go.

~ ~ Tom Montag
To the Child I Never Had

There you are again, hollering
just for the company of the echo.
There you are wearing my genes,
bucktoothed, nearsighted
& hollow-eyed from insomnia, the family curse.
I know you, long-distance runner,
apostate, follower of game trails.
I see already your ruin, inevitable as oxygen.
I hear the birds who never spoke to me
calling to you by name,
as if the world could possibly miss
one more neurotic primate lover.
The bindweed sheds its leaves
& turns to gold filagree in the lilac,
above the graves of the strangers
whose whiskey bottles I have placed,
green & purple, in the windows
to catch the winter sun.

~ ~ Dave Bonta

The lightness of letting go.
The world falls away

like dirt from a boot.

~ ~ Tom Montag