Posts tagged ‘2004’

Wednesday, 23 October 2019

Reasons to Live by Alison Luterman

for Arlene

The guy with the beautiful waist-length Byronic hair
stands braced in black fish-nets, silver tutu, and high heels
playing his violin without a trace of irony
at the entrance of 24th and Mission
where I’m elbowing through the suits and prostitutes
to get on the 5:13 to Richmond.
Ruby music spills like the blood I’ve been carrying in test-tubes all day,
sweet as raisins and almonds at a Jewish wedding.
That, too, is a reason to live
even when the long tunnel feels endless
and the months stretch out between real kisses.
All of us commuters read so we don’t have to feel
tons of dark water, pressing down on us,
and the steel-lace bridge arcing impossible miles above,
carrying a million cars, a million tiny drivers
like a battalion of sperm aimed at the ovum of evening,
slivers of sun shooting into their tired eyes,
making them wince with beauty. Music is the day’s blood,
it weaves under and over the roar of the train,
the way thought plays its sweet percussion in our wrists and throats
even while we sit so quietly, we can hear the small sounds our hearts make
when they have finished breaking themselves
against the rock of the impossible and the beautiful.
Mother-in-law, musician, friend—you know how hard I tried
to make a bridge, to make a tunnel
between one man and one woman
or between the human and divine in both of us,
between spirit and animal. That I failed is beside the point.
Now I struggle to make the daily trek
between Oakland and the Mission,
and I’m ferried along, I’m even helped
by these currents of invisible music
and the humans who strive in the city—when I turn
to find something beautiful, it is always at my side.
Greed is also a saving grace. I still
want more, you know; another love, another
go-round, and in the meantime more
light, more freedom,
more music that gives the feeling of flying.


Date: 2004

By: Alison Luterman (1958- )

Monday, 17 June 2019

On Becoming a Poet in the 1950s by Stephen Beal

There was love and there was trees.
Either you could stay inside and probe your emotions
or you could go outside and keenly observe nature.
Describe the sheen on carapaces,
the effect of breeze on grass.

What’s the fag doing now? Dad would say.
Picking the nose of his heart?
Wanking off on a daffodil?

He’s not homosexual, Mom would retort, using her apron
as a potholder
to remove the apple brown betty from the oven.
He’s sensitive. He cares.
He wishes to impart values and standards to an indifferent world.

Wow! said Dad, stomping off to the pantry for another scotch.
Two poets in
the family. Ain’t I a lucky duck?

As fate would have it, I became one of your tweedy English
teachers, what
Dad would call a daffodil-wanker,
and Mom ended up doing needlepoint, seventy-two kneelers for
St. Fred’s
before she expired of the heart broken on the afternoon that
roared off with the Hell’s Angels.
We heard a little from Big Sur. A beard. Tattoos. A girlfriend
named Strawberry.
A boyfriend named Thor.
Bars and pot and coffeehouses, stuff like that.

After years of quotation by younger poets, admiration but no real
Dad is making the anthologies now.
Critics cite his primal rage, the way he nails Winnetka.


Date: 2004

By: Stephen Beal (1939-2010)

Monday, 31 December 2018

On the Eve of a New Year by Phillip A. Ellis

After all, this year was closing
towards another, and the passage
of time towards another set
of numbers. But in thinking this
to myself, in the thought of time
and the thought that is another
year coming towards me, I find
myself looking at time as a wind.

Once, when I was a child and walking
to school, the wind was strongly
perpendicular to the road, and called
me towards where the cars wavered
as they passed. I was almost crying
as I struggled against the wind, once
clinging to a lamp-post, frightened
and fearful of the waiting road.

My heart was beating then, I felt it
striking deeply within with hammering
pulses. But not now, caught as I am
in the winds of time that stretch me
forwards into a rapidly approaching
year, I cannot hear the pulse
that I know is dreaming under me,
under the ribs and flesh, and my skin.

And I know that the road waits
for me, and I know that at last I shall
step upon it. But I am not so afraid
as resigned, seeking to enjoy my time
in the wind a little more each day,
even though I mourn each day passing
me into oblivion. I am prepared, though,
to let go of this lamp-post, life, hope, will.

Even though I remember walking
to school, in the perpendicular wind
that was summoning me onto the road,
I may well forget that image, and may
well keep remembering it from time
to time. Funny how life is like that,
really, sometimes we remember,
and sometimes it’s lost to the wind.


Date: 2004

By: Phillip A. Ellis (19??- )

Wednesday, 7 March 2018

Excerpt from “Rhapsody of the Two Capitals (Liangdu Fu)” by Ban Gu

[This passage describes a part of the imperial hunt in the great Shanglin Park outside Chang’an during Former Han.]

And then the Sharpshooters and the Guards of the Gates,
Each with sharp swords and whistling arrows,
Running from their vantage points and hastening in pursuit.
Birds are frightened and fly into silk,
Beasts in their panic run upon spears.
No bolt from a cross-bow fires in vain,
No bowstring draws twice to the mark.
The arrows do not kill singly
But pierce and hit two at a time.
Confusion of movement, a medley of chaos,
Arrows with marker-strings crossing in flight.
A wind of feathers and a rain of blood
Poured on the ground and spread in the sky.
… Snaring lions and leopards,
Roping boars and dragons,
Dragging buffalo and oxen,
Beating down elephants and bear.
Leaping ravines and gullies,
Crossing cliffs and crags,
Striding hill-sides and mountains.
Great boulders overthrown,
Pines and cedars uprooted,
Woods and forests destroyed.
Nothing remains of the grass and the trees,
The birds and the animals have all been killed.


Date: 1st century (original); 2004 (translation)

By: Ban Gu (32-92)

Translated by: Rafe de Crespigny (1936- )

Sunday, 7 January 2018

The Glass-hulled Boat by Kathleen Jamie

First come the jellyfish:
mauve-fringed, luminous bowls
like lost internal organs,
pulsing and slow.

Then in the green gloom
swaying sideways and back
like half-forgotten ancestors
– columns of bladderwrack.

It’s as though we’re stalled in a taxi
in an ill-lit, odd
little town, at closing time,
when everyone’s maudlin

and really, ought just to go
home, you sorry inclining
pillars of wrack, you lone,
vaguely uterine jellyfish

– whom I almost envy:
spun out, when our engines churn,
on some sudden new trajectory,
fuddled, but unperturbed.


Date: 2004

By: Kathleen Jamie (1962- )

Tuesday, 10 January 2017

Falling Rain by Stephen Kenneth Kelen

Clouds bring the news from where they’ve been
the rain birds feel and warble the rain song
and the rain song hung in the air like skywriting
the smell of rain and the cloud’s soft taste
the serious duty to make rain welcome
at least to watch the drops fall onto a page
of a book about clouds and falling rain —
see the trees are happy the first time in months
far thunder laughs (chariot) a few rain drops
lightning wind when the sky floods us
there’s only the song of the rain and the lawn
is a green hymn to water falling from the sky.


Date: 2004

By: Stephen Kenneth Kelen (1956- )

Wednesday, 14 December 2016

Annunciation by Jean Valentine

I saw my soul become flesh     breaking open
the linseed oil breaking over the paper
running down     pouring
no one to catch it     my life breaking open
no one to contain it     my
pelvis thinning out into God.


Date: 2004

By: Jean Valentine (1934- )

Friday, 22 April 2016

To the Reader by Joachim du Bellay

Reader, this little book we bring
is flavoured of honey and gall and more
than a dash of salt. Should this delight
your palate, lovely; come and dine.
But should you find it’s not your thing,
then leave. The meal was not meant for
the likes of you. It’s quite all right.
You go your way, and I’ll go mine.

From: du Bellay, Joachim, The Regrets. A Bilingual Edition. Translated from the French and Latin, 2004, Northwestern University Press: Evanston, Illinois, p. 3.

Date: 1558 (original); 2004 (translation)

By: Joachim du Bellay (c1522-1560)

Translated by: David R. Slavitt (1935- )

Monday, 4 April 2016

I Stand Alone at the Foot by William Charles Kloefkorn

I stand alone at the foot
Of my father’s grave,
Trembling to tell:
The door to the granary is open,
And someone lost the bucket
To the well.


Date: 2004

By: William Charles Kloefkorn (1932-2011)

Saturday, 21 June 2014

Unshaded by John Grey

Didn’t realize
the world’s as black and white
as this newspaper.
Until the politicians
opened their mouths,
the letter writers took to their pens,
the editorialists, columnists,
shared their sureties,
I didn’t know that
what’s not one thing
has to be its opposite.
If you’re not for,
you’re against.
If you don’t love,
you hate.
Didn’t realize
the world’s so black and white,
I can buy its truths for fifty cents,
page through them
in less than a half hour.
I tap my brow,
mutter to my brain,
don’t worry,
the newspaper’s already
done your job.
Then I think…mmm…
gray matter…
now why the hell
do they call it that?


Date: 2004

By: John Grey (19??- )