Friday, May 28, 2010

"Rain Delay: Toledo Mud Hens, July 8, 1994" by Martin Espada

Rain Delay: Toledo Mud Hens, July 8, 1994

Despite the rumors of rain,
the crowd spreads across the grandstand,
a hand-sewn quilt, red and yellow shirts,
blue caps.  The ballgame is the county fair
in a season of drought, the carnival
in a town of boarded factories,
so they sing the anthem as if ready
for the next foreign war.
Billboards in the outfield
sell lumber, crayons, newspapers,
oldies radio, three kinds of beer.

The ballplayers waiting for the pitch:
the catcher coiled beneath the umpire's alert leaning;
the infielders stalking with poised hands;
then the pitcher, a weathervane spinning in wind;
clear echo of the wood, a ground ball,
throw, applause.  The first baseman
shouts advice in Spanish to the pitcher,
and the pitcher nods.

The grandstand celebrates
with the team mascot
prancing pantomime in a duck suit,
a lightning bug called Louie
cheerleading for the electric company.
Men in Caterpillar tractor hats
rise from seats to yell at Louie
about their electric bills.

Ballpark lit in the iron-clouded storm,
a ghost dirigible floating overhead
and a hundred moons misting in the grey air.
A train howls in the cornfields.
When the water strikes down,
white uniforms retreat from the diamond,
but in the stands
farm boys with dripping hair
holler their hosannas to the rain.

Source of the text - Martin Espada, Imagine the Angels of Bread.  New York: W.W. Norton & Co., 1996.

TJB: This declarative lyric from baseball’s shabby beauty, from the ballpark & city I grew up in, concerns itself with surroundings not essence.

Thursday, May 27, 2010

"The Mower to the Glowworms" by Andrew Marvell

The Mower to the Glowworms

Ye living lamps, by whose dear light
The nightingale does sit so late,
And studying all the summer-night,
Her matchless songs does meditate;

Ye country comets, that portend
No war, nor princes funeral,
Shining unto no higher end
Than to presage the grass's fall;

Ye glowworms, whose officious flame
To wandering mowers shows the way,
That in the night have lost their aim,
And after foolish fires do stray;

Your courteous lights in vain you waste,
Since Juliana here is come,
For she my mind hath so displaced
That I shall never find my home.

Source of the text - Andrew Marvell, Andrew Marvell: The Complete Poems, edited by Elizabeth Story Donno.  New York: Penguin Books, 1972, p. 109.

TJB: Love-distracted mower cautions glowworms against light-waste. More powerful illumination apparently not contemplated. Why do mowers wander?

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

fragment from "The Distaff" by Erinna

fragment from "The Distaff" by Erinna

Text of fragment in Greek:

English translation of fragment by Daniel Haberman:

. . . Deep into the wave you raced,
Leaping from white horses,
Whirling the night on running feet.
But loudly I shouted, "Dearest,
You're mine!" Then you, the Tortoise,
Skipping, ran to the rutted garth
Of the great court. These things I
Lament and sorrow, sad Baucis.
These are for me, O Maiden,
Warm trails back through my heart:
Joy, once filled, smoulders in ash;
Young, in rooms without a care,
We held our miming dolls—girls
In the pretense of young brides
(And the toward-dawn-mother
Lotted wool to tending women,
Calling Baucis to salt the meat);
O, what trembling when we were small
And fear was brought by MORMO—
Huge of ear up on her head,
With four feet walking, always
Changing from face to other.
But mounted in the bed of
Your husband, dearest Baucis,
You forgot things heard from mother,
While still the littler child.
Fast Aphrodite set your
Forgetful heart. So I lament,
Neglecting though your obsequies:
Unprofaned, my feet may not leave
And my naked hair's not loosed abroad,
No lighted eye may disgrace your corpse
And in this house, O my Baucis,
Purpling shame grips me about.
Wretched Erinna! Nineteen,
I moan with a blush to grieve. . . .
Old women voice the mortal bloom. . . .
One cries out the lamenting flame. . . .
Hymen! . . . O Hymenaeus! . . .
While the night whirls unvoiced
Darkness is on my eyes . . .

Source of the Greek text - H. Lloyd-Jones and P. Parsons, Supplementum Hellenisticum. Berlin: De Gruyter, 1983. Fragment 401, pp. 187-189.

Source of the translated text - Daniel Haberman, translator, from The Norton Book of Classical Literature, edited by Bernard Knox. New York: W.W. Norton & Company, 1993, pp. 572-573.

TJB; With conventional-gorgeous personified metaphors, Erinna laments that Baucis: forgot childhood, married, & died; & laments her own loss too.

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

from "The descent of Alette" by Alice Notley

from The descent of Alette, Book One

“A woman came into” “a car I rode” “about thirty-seven” “maybe
forty” “Face” “a harsh response to” “what she did” “had to do”
“face rigid” “but she was beautiful” “Was,” “we could see,”
“one of the ones who” “strip for coins” “on the subway—”

“They simply” “very quickly” (“illegally”) “remove all their
clothes” “Stand, for a moment” “Turning to face” “each end”
“of the car” “Then dress quickly,” “pass quickly” “the cup.”
“But she—this one—” “face of hating to so much that” “as she

took off her blouse,” “her face” “began to change” “Grew
feathers, a small beak” “& by the time she was naked,” “she wore the
head” “of an eagle” “a crowned eagle” “a raptor” “herself—”
“And as she stood” “& faced the car” “her body” “was changing”

“was becoming entirely” “that bird” “those wings,” “she shrank to
become the bird” “but grew wings that” “were wider” “than she had been”
“tall” “Instantly,” “instantly, a man caught her” “A cop came”
“As if ready” “as if they knew” “Her wings were clipped,”

“talons cut” “as if as quickly” “as possible” “She was released
then, to the car” “to the subway” “Perched” “on the bar the
straps hang from”

Source of the text – Alice Notley, The descent of Alette. New York: Penguin Books, 1996, p. 11.

TJB: Metro inferno. Nevermind the quote-aesthetic with its communal-individual voice, the lyric energy is in specifics & in the grammar of delay.

Monday, May 24, 2010

"Thomas Rhymer," anonymous ballad

Thomas Rhymer

1 TRUE THOMAS lay oer yond grassy bank,
     And he beheld a ladie gay,
  A ladie that was brisk and bold,
     Come riding oer the fernie brae.

2 Her skirt was of the grass-green silk,
     Her mantel of the velvet fine,
  At ilka tett of her horse’s mane
     Hung fifty silver bells and nine.

3 True Thomas he took off his hat,
     And bowed him low down till his knee:
  ‘All hail, thou mighty Queen of Heaven!
     For your peer on earth I never did see.’

4 ‘O no, O no, True Thomas,’ she says,
     ‘That name does not belong to me;
  I am but the queen of fair Elfland,
     And I’m come here for to visit thee.

      *        *         *          *          *

5 ‘But ye maun go wi me now, Thomas,
     True Thomas, ye maun go wi me,
  For ye maun serve me seven years,
     Thro weel or wae as may chance to be.’

6 She turned about her milk-white steed,
     And took True Thomas up behind,
  And aye wheneer her bridle rang,
     The steed flew swifter than the wind.

7 For forty days and forty nights
     He wade thro red blude to the knee,
  And he saw neither sun nor moon,
     But heard the roaring of the sea.

8 O they rade on, and further on,
     Until they came to a garden green:
  ‘Light down, light down, ye ladie free,
     Some of that fruit let me pull to thee.’

9 ‘O no, O no, True Thomas,’ she says,
     ‘That fruit maun not be touched by thee,
  For a’ the plagues that are in hell
     Light on the fruit of this countrie.

10 ‘But I have a loaf here in my lap,
      Likewise a bottle of claret wine,
   And now ere we go farther on,
      We’ll rest a while, and ye may dine.’

11 When he had eaten and drunk his fill,
      ‘Lay down your head upon my knee,’
   The lady sayd, ‘ere we climb yon hill,
      And I will show you fairlies three.

12 ‘O see not ye yon narrow road,
      So thick beset wi thorns and briers?
   That is the path of righteousness,
      Tho after it but few enquires.

13 ‘And see not ye that braid braid road,
      That lies across yon lillie leven?
   That is the path of wickedness,
      Tho some call it the road to heaven.

14 ‘And see not ye that bonny road,
      Which winds about the fernie brae?
   That is the road to fair Elfland,
      Whe[re] you and I this night maun gae.

15 ‘But Thomas, ye maun hold your tongue,
      Whatever you may hear or see,
   For gin ae word you should chance to speak,
      You will neer get back to your ain countrie.’

16 He has gotten a coat of the even cloth,
      And a pair of shoes of velvet green,
   And till seven years were past and gone
      True Thomas on earth was never seen.

Source of the text - English and Scottish Popular Ballads, edited from the collection of Francis James Child by Helen Child Sargent and George Lyman Kittredge.  Boston: Houghton Mifflin Company, 1904, pp. 64-65.

TJB: Accentual dialogue, quirky rhythm & finely-modulated vowel-sounds drive this ballad on the elf-backstory of the mythical Scots poet-prophet.

Friday, May 21, 2010

Poem 20, by Princess Nukata, from Vol. 1 of the Man'yoshu

Poem attributed to Princess Nukata from the Man'yoshu

Text of the poem in Japanese:

[A transliteration of the Japanese text:]

Akane sasu
murasaki-no yuki
shime-no yuki
nomori wa mizu ya
kimi ga sode furu

[English translation by Ian Hideo Levy:]

Going over the fields of murasaki grass
that shimmer crimson,
going over the fields marked as imperial domain,
will the guardian of the fields not see you
as you wave your sleeves at me?

Note - The poems in the Man'yoshu date from approximately 600-760 A.D.

Source of the text [original Japanese text, transliteration, and English translation] - Love Songs from the Man'yoshu: Selections from a Japanese Classic, Commentary by Ooka Makoto, Translation by Ian Hideo Levy.  Tokyo: Kodansha International, 2000, p. 26.

TJB: Hear the force of sleeves not arms & of repeating fields to stress the speaker too is imperial domain. When could she say this to her lover?

Thursday, May 20, 2010

"Heartsong" by Khaled Mattawa


A bird sings from the tree. The birds sing
sending waves of desire and I stand on my roof
waiting for a randomness to storm my days. I stand
on my roof filled with the longing that sings its way
out of the bird. I am afraid that my call will break me,
that the cry blocked by my tongue will pronounce me mad.
O bird mad with longing, O balancing bar,
tight rope, monkey grunting from a roof. Fortunate bird.
I stand on my roof and wave centuries of desire.
I am the Bedouin pondering the abandoned campsite,
licking the ashes of the night fire; the American walking,
walking miles of dresses, blouses, and skirts filling them
with infinite lovers, the mystic feeling the pull swirling
in his chest, a desert of purpose expanding and burning
and yellowing every shade of green. And I stand on my roof.
And I say come like a stranger, like a feather
falling on an old woman’s shoulder, like a hawk
that comes to feed from her hands, come like a mystery,
like sunlight rain, a blessing, a bus falling off a bridge,
come like a deserting soldier, a murderer chased by law,
like a girl prostitute escaping her pimp, come like a lost horse,
like a dog dying of thirst, come love, come ragged
and melancholy like the last day on earth, come like a sigh
from a sick man, come like a whisper, like a bump on the road,
like a flood, a dam breaking, turbines falling from the sky,
come love like the stench of a swamp, a barrage of light
filling a blind girl’s eye, come like a memory convulsing
the body into sobs, like a carcass floating on a stream,
come like a vision, come love like a crushing need,
come like an afterthought. Heart song. Heart song.
The pole smashes and the live wires yellow streaks
on the lush grass. Come look and let me wonder. Someone.
So many. The sounds of footsteps, horses and cars.
Come look and let me wonder. I stand on my roof
echoing the bird’s song: Do not sleep. Do not sleep now
that you have housed your longing within the pain of words.

Source of the text – Khaled Mattawa, Amorisco. Keene, NY: Ausable Press, 2008, pp. 10-11.

TJB: Lush earnestness. The poem draws energy to itself with momentum & anaphora like a lightning rod & unlike many litanies, sticks its landing.

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

from "My Life" by Lyn Hejinian

from My Life

Source of the text - Lyn Hejinian, My Life.  Los Angeles: Sun & Moon Press, 1987.

TJB: Dense-referential. Paratactic sentences & fragments tease toward narrative but yield to associations: luck, ideas, daughters, clover, dogs.

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

"Similes" by Charles Reznikoff


Indifferent as a statue
to the slogan
scribbled on its pedestal.

The way an express train
snubs the passengers at a local station.

Like a notebook forgotten on a seat in the bus,
full of names, addresses and telephone numbers:
important no doubt, to the owner —
but of no interest whatever
to anyone else

Words like drops of water on a stove —
a hiss and gone.

Source of the text - Charles Reznikoff, The Poems of Charles Reznikoff, 1918-1975, edited by Seamus Cooney. Boston: Black Sparrow Books, David R. Godine, 2005, p. 261.

TJB: Do these 4 similes, 3 of which lack subjects, modify the same thing [poetry?], something indifferent-arrogant, not for everyone, ephemeral?

Monday, May 17, 2010

from "Essay on Criticism" by Alexander Pope

from Essay on Criticism II, ll. 337-373

But most by Numbers judge a Poet's song;
And smooth or rough, with them is right or wrong:
In the bright Muse though thousand charms conspire,
Her Voice is all these tuneful Fools admire;
Who haunt Parnassus but to please their ear,
Not mend their minds; as some to Church repair,
Not for the doctrine, but the music there.
These equal syllables alone require,
Though oft the ear the open vowels tire;
While expletives their feeble aid do join;
And ten low words oft creep in one dull line:
While they ring round the same unvaried chimes,
With sure returns of still expected rhymes;
Where'er you find "the cooling western breeze,"
In the next line, it "whispers through the trees:"
If crystal streams "with pleasing murmurs creep,"
The reader's threatened (not in vain) with "sleep:"
Then, at the last and only couplet fraught
With some unmeaning thing they call a thought,
A needless Alexandrine ends the song,
That like a wounded snake, drags its slow length along.
Leave such to tune their own dull rhymes, and know
What's roundly smooth, or languishingly slow;
And praise the easy vigor of a line,
Where Denham's strength, and Waller's sweetness join.
True ease in writing comes from art, not chance,
As those move easiest who have learned to dance.
'Tis not enough no harshness gives offence,
The sound must seem an Echo to the sense:
Soft is the strain when Zephyr gently blows,
And the smooth stream in smoother numbers flows;
But when loud surges lash the sounding shore,
The hoarse, rough verse should like the torrent roar:
When Ajax strives some rock's vast weight to throw,
The line too labours, and the words move slow;
Not so, when swift Camilla scours the plain,
Flies o'er th' unbending corn, and skims along the main.

Source of the text - Alexander Pope, Alexander Pope: Selected Poetry & Prose, edited with an introduction by William K. Wimsatt, Jr.  New York: Holt, Rinehart and Winston, 1966, p. 73.

TJB: This critique of poetry-of-ear-alone, judgmental in adverbs & adjectives, uses each technique it mocks & does make sound an echo to sense.

Thursday, May 13, 2010

"Poetry, a Natural Thing" by Robert Duncan


       Neither our vices nor our virtues
further the poem.  “They came up
       and died
just like they do every year
       on the rocks.”

       The poem
feeds upon thought, feeling, impulse,
       to breed    itself,
a spiritual urgency at the dark ladders leaping.

This beauty is an inner persistence
       toward the source
striving against ( within ) down-rushet of the river,
       a call we heard and answer
in the lateness of the world
       primordial bellowings
from which the youngest world might spring,

salmon not in the well where the
       hazelnut falls
but at the falls battling, inarticulate,
       blindly making it.

This is one picture apt for the mind.

A second: a moose painted by Stubbs,
where last year’s extravagant antlers
       lie on the ground.
The forlorn moosey-faced poem wears
       new antler-buds,
       the same,
“a little heavy, a little contrived”,

his only beauty to be
       all moose.

Source of the text - Robert Duncan, The Opening of the Field [revised edition].  New York: New Directions Publishing Corp., 1973, p. 50.

TJB: The poem makes a startling poem-as-salmon metaphor, then an even more startling because so understated metaphor of poem, painting, & moose.

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

"Doll Ritual" by Daisy Fried

Doll Ritual

Spanking the bad, kissing the good ones, that’s a thrill,
poor things. Mornings I lay out all the teds and dollies
with their bald spots, coy looks, rag bodies, hysterical eyes.
Some with chewed-off noses. Some, patches where snot,
pee, has dried. The one I name Ti-Anne, my favorite, my doll
afraid of all the others, with broken eyelids supposed to flip up
stuck shut? Her I sit to one side to watch the whippings.
Her namesake, Ti-Anne (don’t ask), my best enemy (I have
lots of enemies, she’s the only one I name a doll for) has eyes
those same types of hysterical colors, changes them daily.
She licks her fingers before she tries to stick them in my eyes.
No one yells but someone sings ha ha. “Ti-Anne, Ti-Anne,”
I call, “you stink!” and you know the bad girl smashes my lunchbox
thinking it’s my face. I’m thinking about this, I see my pattern:
incitement, paralysis, incitement, paralysis. Why can’t you
ever handle what you start, little girl? See, I have never
been poor at all, except just an indigence, also
a mendacity, of heart; and the way I think it’s otherwise.

Source of the text - Daisy Fried, My Brother Is Getting Arrested Again.  Pittsburgh: University of Pittsburgh Press, 2006, p. 5.

TJB: Talky-immediate poem to watch the whippings. The child speaks & acts, smart, funny, then at “I’m thinking,” the poet realizes what it means.

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

from "Lycidas" by John Milton

from “Lycidas” lines 1-22

Yet once more, O ye Laurels, and once more
Ye myrtles brown, with ivy never sere,
I come to pluck your berries harsh and crude,
And with forced fingers rude,
Shatter your leaves before the mellowing year.
Bitter constraint, and sad occasion dear,
Compels me to disturb your season due:
For Lycidas is dead, dead ere his prime,
Young Lycidas, and hath not left his peer:
Who would not sing for Lycidas? He knew
Himself to sing, and build the lofty rhyme.
He must not float upon his wat’ry bier
Unwept, and welter to the parching wind,
Without the meed of some melodious tear.
    Begin, then, Sisters of the sacred well,
That from beneath the seat of Jove doth spring;
Begin, and somewhat loudly sweep the string.
Hence with denial vain, and coy excuse;
So may some gentle muse
With lucky words favor my destined urn,
And as he passes turn,
And bid fair peace be to my sable shroud.

Source of the text – John Milton, The Complete Poetry and Essential Prose of John Milton, edited by William Kerrigan, John Rumrich, and Stephen M. Fallon. New York: Modern Library, 2007, pp. 100-101.

TJB: Exactness! Why once more? Why harsh berries? Why forceful? Why constraint & occasion? What good IS weeping? Why somewhat; & not lucky words?

Monday, May 10, 2010

"I'm an Old-Fashioned Girl" by Radmila Lazic

I'm an Old-Fashioned Girl

by Radmila Lazic
Translated from Serbian by Charles Simic

I'm an old-fashioned girl.
I like low houses with pock-marked walls
With yards full of junk
Instead of skyscrapers and apartment houses
Where I wake and sleep.
Geraniums on windowsills in polka-dot cans,
I prefer to artificial flowers.
I'm an old-fashioned girl,
That likes a scotter better than an automobile,
The rattle of a street car,
The rumble of a steam locomotive,
More than a whistle of a jet.
Footpaths instead of avenues and boulevards
Where my heels go clicking.
I'm an old-fasioned girl,
That likes the smell of clean laundry
The wind brings to my face, over my nose,
Everything that falls like snow in my previous life.
I'm an old-fashioned girl,
I still listen to long playing records
And type on an Olivetti.
I say thank you, please excuse me.
I like when a gentleman gives me light,
Opens the door for me,
Holds my coat, offers me a chair.
And takes my clothes off garment by garment.
I'm an old-fashioned girl,
That likes kitsch landscapes with sunsets,
Fashion magazines and family albums.
Close dancing is the only kind I understand.
I watch the new movies in the old way
Sitting in the half-dark,
Practicing French-kissing in the last row.
I'm an old-fashioned girl,
I don't go buzzing around
I'm always to be found at home
Like a clay pot drying in the draft
Of solitude and contentment,
Hangover from all the dreaming.
I'm an old-fashioned girl,
That's cooking in her own casserole
Called I-want-I-don't-want.
I know little about love and passion,
A widow born with a virgin's heart
Under whose feet life pours out
Like steam out of a manhole
Which I avoid with my quick steps.
I'm an old-fashioned girl,
I buy nothing at bargain rates,
Neither smiles nor rolls of silk.
I don't wear mini skirts and low cut dresses
To make it easy for whoever
Wants to steal a kiss.
I'm an old-fashioned girl.
I don't cuss, complain or rage.
You can spread me on your toast,
Although honey always comes with a bit of poison,
Love in fatal doses
I'm an old-fashioned girl,
My old boyfriend pinches me like a new shoe
Which I need to take off, replace
With someone as comfortable as a slipper,
Or broken in like my neighbor's husband.
I'm an old-fashioned girl,
Nice to all the guys
As I am to all those who are afraid of the dark,
Afraid of elevators
And crossing the street where it's not allowed.
I'm an old-fashioned girl,
As ancient as Carthage,
Minimally damaged by the tooth of time.
A museum piece that is not at auction.
Touching is not permitted.
Take it or leave it!

Original text of the poem in Serbian:

Source of the text, in Serbian and English - Radmila Lazic, "I'm an Old-Fashioned Girl," translated by Charles Simic, from Circumference: Poetry in Translation, vol. 1, issue 1, 2003, pp. 18-21.

TJB: Pose-poem. This stoic-feminine litany in 12 parts toggles between simple declaration of stuff the “poet” likes; & lyrical flights-of-fancy.

Friday, May 7, 2010

"Song" by Christina Rossetti


When I am dead, my dearest,
    Sing no sad songs for me;
Plant thou no roses at my head,
    Nor shady cypress tree:
Be the green grass above me
    With showers and dewdrops wet;
And if thou wilt, remember,
    And if thou wilt, forget.

I shall not see the shadows,
    I shall not feel the rain;
I shall not hear the nightingale
    Sing on, as if in pain:
And dreaming through the twilight
    That doth not rise nor set,
Haply I may remember,
    And haply may forget.

Source of the text - Christina Rossetti, The Complete Poems of Christina Rossetti, edited by Rebecca W. Crump. New York: Penguin Classics, 2001, p. 52.

TJB: Expecting to die first, the poet provides tough lyrical instructions for her lover & makes only safe predictions. Why worry what he will do?

Thursday, May 6, 2010

"leadbelly vs. lomax at the modern language association conference, 1934" by Tyehimba Jess


TJB: Consonant stew. These symbiotic speech-acts can be read down-column as artist & impresario, or across, as one complex apposed account.

Wednesday, May 5, 2010

"Sonnet 2" by William Shakespeare

Sonnet 2

When forty winters shall besiege thy brow,
And dig deep trenches in thy beauty's field,
Thy youth's proud livery, so gazed on now,
Will be a tattered weed of small worth held:
Then being asked, where all thy beauty lies,
Where all the treasure of thy lusty days,
To say, within thine own deep-sunken eyes,
Were an all-eating shame and thriftless praise.
How much more praise deserved thy beauty's use
If thou couldst answer, 'This fair child of mine
Shall sum my count, and make my old excuse',
Proving his beauty by succession thine:
    This were to be new made when thou art old,
    And see thy blood warm when thou feel'st it cold.

Source of text text - William Shakespeare, Shakespeare's Sonnets, edited by Katherine Duncan-Jones.  London: Arden Shakespeare, 1997, p. 115.

TJB: Risk-benefit. Arguing against youthful indulgence & for future investment, hypotaxis & long vowels make youth sound sweet & old age awful.

Tuesday, May 4, 2010

from "White Trash" by Valzhyna Mort

from "White Trash"

original Belarusian text:

English translation:


I remember how she was screaming, how she was screech-
ing.  Vova, oh why, Vova!  Vovaaaaaaaaaaaaa!  Oh,
whyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyy!  As if a huge vehicle were starting.
Vova! As if it were a tractor ready to plow through the
whole country.  Starting, starting, like tell me that I've got
more than Natasha! Starting, starting, Vova, like tell me
tha-eaeaeaeaeaeat! Roaring, thundering, tell me that like
you love me more! Then suddenly breaking down. Breaking
in anguish. Vo-va! Oh Vo-va! Vo-va. As if vo is here and va is
on the other side of the city. As if vo is in the north and va is
in the south. As if vo and va are two different names. As if
vo and va are two different people. As if vo and va are two
plantets that will never meet. As if vo was yesterday, and va
will happen only tomorrow. As if vo is lost somewhere in
the previous life, and va is stuck in her throat like a fish-
bone. Vo-va. Breaking down, choking like a drowning
man. And again, in a moment — turn of the keys, clutch
and gas. Vo-va! You swore on your mother yesterday, you
swore on your own mother that you loved me more than
Natasha! You swore on fucking God yesterday, you prick!
You swore, like you swore, you son of a bitch! Rushing
ahead, rushing around. Dear residents! Comrade tenants!
Please, do not panic. Do not leave your apartments, do not
go outside, do not send your children to school. An uncon-
trollable vehicle is rushing around the neighborhood. An
uncontrollable vehicle. An uncontrollable vehicle.

— Oh my god, you swore to me yesterday!
— And did I swear today?
— No, you didn't swear today.
— So why are you bitching?
— You swore to me yesterday...
— But today I'm not swearing

Ran over, ran over a whore with cherries. Ran over, ran
over a whore with pears. Ran over, ran over a whore with
pastry. Ran over, ran over a whore from a monastery. Ran
over, ran over a whore with carrots. Ran over, ran over two
kids with parents. Ran over, ran over two old farts. Ran
over, ran over a chick with fruit. Ran over, ran over a chick
in boots. Ran over, ran over a young moron. Ran over, ran
over a man with an ax. Ran over, ran over a man with a
knife. Ran over, ran over a man with a bottle. Ran over,
ran over a man that was bound. Ran over, ran over a man
with a bomb.


Source of the text - Valzhyna Mort, The Factory of Tears.  Translated from Belarusian by the author and Elizabeth Oehlkers Wright and Franz Wright.  Port Townsend, Washington: Copper Canyon Press, 2008, pp. 48-53.

TJB: In a prose chant of rhythm & dialogue & simile-wit, the poet unleashes big energy in wryly observing a wronged lover’s uncontrollable rage.

Monday, May 3, 2010

from "The Book of Nightmares" by Galway Kinnell

from The Book of Nightmares

from Chapter X - 'LASTNESS'


A black bear sits alone
in the twilight, nodding from side
to side, turning slowly around and around
on himself, scuffing the four-footed
circle into the earth. He sniffs the sweat
in the breeze, he understands
a creature, a death-creature
watches from the fringe of the trees,
finally he understands
I am no longer here, he himself
from the fringe of the trees watches
a black bear
get up, eat a few flowers,trudge away,
all his fur glistening
in the rain.

And what glistening! Sancho Fergus,
my boychild, had such great shoulders,
when he was born his head
came out, the rest of him stuck. And he opened
his eyes: his head out there all alone
in the room, he squinted with pained,
barely unglued eves at the ninth-month's
blood splashing beneath him
on the floor. And almost
smiled, I thought, almost forgave it all in advance.

When he came wholly forth
I took him up in my hands and bent
over and smelled
the black, glistening fur
of his head, as empty space
must have bent
over the newborn planet
and smelled the grasslands and the ferns.

Source of the text - Galway Kinnell, The Book of Nightmares. Boston: Houghton Mifflin Company, 1971, pp. 71-72.

TJB: Grub-visionary. Fur, fluids, & pheromones unify the apposed grandiosity of images of watching a black bear, childbirth, & the Creation.

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