26 Dec 2010

Infidelity -- Philip White


“Talking only makes me feel more alone,”
you said once in the car outside the clinic.
Two years later, you spoke the same sentence
word for word one night after friends had gone.
Within a month, you’d erased yourself    . . .
Erased? “To absent oneself,” I found scribbled on
a wrapper a year later...

        Now sunlight and tree
shadow rush over the windshield of  the car:
I’m talking with my new wife – then gone, absented.
“Sometimes I feel almost too much joy,”
you wrote from the balcony of  your cheap
hotel in Paris. “What are you thinking?” she asks.
Light shutters across us. Wherever you are
in me I’m there, though it’s not what you wanted.

Source: White, P 2008, Poetry Magazine (May 2008),

Gas Station Rest Room -- Alan Shapiro

[1952–current, American]

The present tense
is the body’s past tense
here; hence
the ghost sludge of hands
on the now gray strip
of towel hanging limp
from the jammed dispenser;
hence the mirror
squinting through grime
at grime, and the worn-
to-a-sliver of soiled soap
on the soiled sink.
The streaked bowl,
the sticky toilet seat, air
claustral with stink –
all residues and traces
of the ancestral
spirit of body free
of spirit – hence,
behind the station,
at the back end of the store,
hidden away
and dimly lit
this cramped and
solitary carnival
inversion – Paul
becoming Saul
becoming scents
and animal; hence,
over the insides
of the lockless stall
the cave-like
scribblings and glyphs
declaring unto all
who come to it
in time: “heaven
is here at hand
and dark, and hell
is odorless; hell
is bright and clean.”

Source: Shapiro, A 2008, Poetry Magazine (September 2008),

6 Aug 2010

To Dorothy -- Marvin Bell

[1937–current, American]

You are not beautiful, exactly.
You are beautiful, inexactly.
You let a weed grow by the mulberry
and a mulberry grow by the house.
So close, in the personal quiet
of a windy night, it brushes the wall
and sweeps away the day till we sleep.

A child said it, and it seemed true:
“Things that are lost are all equal.”
But it isn’t true. If I lost you,
the air wouldn’t move, nor the tree grow.
Someone would pull the weed, my flower.
The quiet wouldn’t be yours. If I lost you,
I’d have to ask the grass to let me sleep.

Source: Bell, M (2003), Nightworks: Poems 1962–2000, Copper Canyon Press. Originally published in Stars which see, stars which do not see, 1977.

22 Mar 2010

Excerpt from 'A Better Resurrection' -- Christina Rossetti

I have no wit, no words, no tears;
My heart within me like a stone
Is numb’d too much for hopes or fears;
Look right, look left, I dwell alone;
I lift mine eyes, but dimm’d with grief
No everlasting hills I see;
My life is in the falling leaf:
O Jesus, quicken me.

Source: Rossetti, C 1862, Goblin Market and other Poems, Cambridge, Macmillan.

Poem 280 (I Felt A Funeral In My Brain) -- Emily Dickinson

[1830–1886, American]

I felt a Funeral, in my Brain,
And Mourners to and fro
Kept treading – treading – till it seemed
That Sense was breaking through –

And when they all were seated,
A Service, like a Drum –
Kept beating – beating – till I thought
My Mind was going numb –

And then I heard them lift a Box
And creak across my Soul
With those same Boots of Lead, again,
Then Space – began to toll,

As all the Heavens were a Bell,
And Being, but an Ear,
And I, and Silence, some strange Race
Wrecked, solitary, here –

And then a Plank in Reason, broke,
And I dropped down, and down –
And hit a World, at every plunge,
And Finished knowing – then –

Source: Dickinson, E 1896, The Poems of Emily Dickinson: Third Series, Roberts Brothers, Boston.

21 Mar 2010

To Live Apart -- Brian Johnstone

That faint booming as cars coast across the bridge,
the ravenous slap of wind on glass
conspire to turn the thoughts in one direction:

your going. A night like any might have been
before you crossed the road, waited for the lift
that you’d been taking there for years. I watched you go,

dividing in my mind the spoils of that brief war,
taking pictures from their nails, photographs from frames
that later, in the garage, I would break. The images

I kept, buried them beneath the surface of my days,
below the passports, door keys, airline tickets,
beneath the scars.

The tissue heals, knits back. The fabric of the mind
repairs itself. I listen, waiting at the corner of the road,
wondering, what was that sound?

Source: Unknown. Approx. 1995.

1 Jan 2010

The Blindman’s Song -- Ranier Maria Rilke

[1875–1926, Czech Republic]

I am blind, you outsiders. It is a curse,
a contradiction, a tiresome farce,
and every day I despair.
I put my hand on the arm of my wife
(colorless hand on colorless sleeve)
and she walks me through empty air.

You push and shove and think that you’ve been
sounding different from stone against stone,
but you are mistaken: I alone
live and suffer and howl.
In me there is an endless outcry
and I can’t tell what’s crying, whether its my
broken heart or my bowels.

Are the tunes familiar? You don’t sing them like this:
how could you understand?
Each morning the sunlight comes into your house,
and you welcome it as a friend.
And you know what it’s like to see face-to-face;
and that tempts you to be kind.

Source: www.palace.net/~llama/poetry/ (No date. Retrieved March 2012)

Centering Prayer -- Brother Thomas More Page

There are times when I am with you
When there is no beginning or ending of time
When the day is dateless
And the rhythm of time
Has ceased to record the hours
And the calendar, the days;
When no birds sing, but rest;
And no winds blow, but breathe.
And the air is drenched
With the white silence of love
And my fingers trace
The lineaments of your face.

Source: Kieling, JT (ed.) 2005, The Gift of Prayer: A Treasury of Personal Prayer From the World’s Spiritual Traditions, EW Dwyer (Australia) Pty. Ltd., p. 55. 

Stand-off in the Kitchen of the Angry Sun -- Jamey Dunham


It’s almost too early for coffee and the sun glares at me as it pulls itself over the windowsill, but I’m happy. I’m making an omelet. I’m standing in the kitchen, whistling in my boxer shorts, and my testicles are swinging in perfect time. It’s going to be a great day. It’s already a great morning and the first egg I broke was a double yolk. The rest of the eggs are quite normal, as is the milk, and the butter, and just when I reach for an onion to liven things up, three mice appear from behind the toaster. They are dressed like Mexican bandits and they demand my cheese. They have little sombreros, little pistols, and the one in the middle has its whiskers waxed into a handlebar mustache. As I stand there pondering the intricate mechanics of their tiny firearms, they inch across the counter and repeat their demands. No one moves. The only sound is the slow suck of hot water through coffee grains. Just then the toaster goes off and we are all struck by the image of hot toast framed against a window full of angry sun.

Source: www.pith.net, 2004.