Monday, October 31, 2011

Nearly A Valediction, a poem by Marilyn Hacker.

Post 642 - Marilyn Hacker (born 1942) is an American poet, translator and critic. She is Professor of English at the City College of New York. Her books of poetry include Going Back to the River (1990), Love, Death, and the Changing of the Seasons (1986), and Presentation Piece (1974), which won the National Book Award and was also a Lamont Poetry Selection of the Academy of American Poets. Winter Numbers (1996), details the loss of many of her friends to AIDS and her own struggle with breast cancer, garnered a Lambda Literary Award and The Nation's Lenore Marshall Poetry Prize. In 2009, Hacker won the PEN Award for Poetry in Translation for King of a Hundred Horsemen by Marie Étienne, which also garnered the first Robert Fagles Translation Prize from the National Poetry Series. In 2010, she received the PEN/Voelcker Award for Poetry.

 Nearly A Valediction by Marilyn Hacker.

 You happened to me. I was happened to
like an abandoned building by a bull-
dozer, like the van that missed my skull
happened a two-inch gash across my chin.
You were as deep down as I've ever been.
You were inside me like my pulse. A new-
born flailing toward maternal heartbeat through
the shock of cold and glare: when you were gone,
swaddled in strange air I was that alone again,
inventing life left after you.

 I don't want to remember you as
that four o'clock in the morning eight months long
after you happened to me like a wrong
number at midnight that blew up the phone
bill to an astronomical unknown
quantity in a foreign currency.
The U.S. dollar dived since you happened to me.
You've grown into your skin since then; you've grown
into the space you measure with someone
you can love back without a caveat.

 While I love somebody I learn to live
with through the downpulled winter days' routine
wakings and sleepings, half-and-half caffeine-
assisted mornings, laundry, stock-pots, dust-
balls in the hallway, lists instead of longing, trust
that what comes next comes after what came first.
She'll never be a story I make up.
You were the one I didn't know where to stop.
If I had blamed you, now I could forgive
you, but what made my cold hand, back in prox-
imity to your hair, your mouth, your mind,
want where it no way ought to be, defined
by where it was, and was and was until
the whole globed swelling liquefied and spilled
through one cheek's nap, a syllable, a tear,
was never blame, whatever I wished it were.
You were the weather in my neighborhood.
You were the epic in the episode.
You were the year poised on the equinox.

Thursday, October 20, 2011

The Ball, a poem by Wislawa Szymborska.

Post 641 - Here's a poem by the Polish Nobel Laureate Wislawa Szymborska. which was published in the New Yorker in 2003. From Monologue of a Dog: New Poems, translated by Stanislaw Baranczak and Clare Cavanagh.


As long as nothing can be known for sure (no signals have been picked up yet), as long as Earth is still unlike the nearer and more distant planets, as long as there’s neither hide nor hair of other grasses graced by other winds, of other treetops bearing other crowns, other animals as well-grounded as our own, as long as only the local echo has been known to speak in syllables, as long as we still haven’t heard the word of better or worse mozarts, platos, edisons, elsewhere, as long as our inhuman crimes are still committed only between humans, as long as our kindness is still incomparable, peerless even in its imperfection, as long as our heads packed with illusions still pass for the only heads so packed, as long as the roofs of our mouths alone still raise voices to high heavens – let’s act like very special guests of honour at the district firemen’s ball, dance to the beat of the local oompah band and pretend that it’s the ball to end all balls. I can’t speak for other – for me this is misery and happiness enough: just this sleepy backwater where even the stars have time to burn while winking at us unintentionally.

Monday, October 17, 2011

We Are Always Too Late, a poem by Eavan Boland.

Post 640 - Eavan Boland was born in Dublin in 1944. Her father was a diplomat and her mother was an expressionist painter. At the age of six, Boland and her family relocated to London. She later returned to Dublin for university and received her B.A. from Trinity College in 1966. She was also educated in London and New York.
Her awards include a Lannan Foundation Award in Poetry, an American Ireland Fund Literary Award, a Jacob's Award for her involvement in The Arts Programme broadcast on RTÉ Radio, and an honorary degree from Trinity. She's taught at Trinity College, University College, Bowdoin College, and was a member of the International Writing Program at the University of Iowa. She's also a regular reviewer for the Irish Times.
Boland and her husband, the author Kevin Casey, have two daughters. She's currently a professor of English at Stanford University where she directs the creative writing program.

We Are Always Too Late by Eavan Boland.

Is in two parts.

First the re-visiting:

the way even now I can see
those lovers at the café table. She is weeping.

It is New England, breakfast time, winter. Behind her,
outside the picture window, is
a stand of white pines.

New snow falls and the old,
losing its balance in the branches,
showers down,
adding fractions to it. Then

The re-enactment. Always that.
I am getting up, pushing away
coffee. Always I am going towards her.

The flush and scald is
to her forehead now, and back down to her neck.

I raise one hand. I am pointing to
those trees, I am showing her our need for these
beautiful upstagings of
what we suffer by
what survives. And she never even sees me.

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

RAIN, a poem by Don Paterson.

post 639 - for Alysia.

RAIN by Don Paterson

I love all films that start with rain:
rain, braiding a windowpane
or darkening a hung-out dress
or streaming down her upturned face;

one long thundering downpour
right through the empty script and score
before the act, before the blame,
before the lens pulls through the frame

to where the woman sits alone
beside a silent telephone
or the dress lies ruined on the grass
or the girl walks off the overpass,

and all things flow out from that source
along their fatal watercourse.
However bad or overlong
such a film can do no wrong,

so when his native twang shows through
or when the boom dips into view
or when her speech starts to betray
its adaptation from the play,

I think to when we opened cold
on a rain-dark gutter, running gold
with the neon of a drugstore sign,
and I’d read into its blazing line:

forget the ink, the milk, the blood—
all was washed clean with the flood
we rose up from the falling waters
the fallen rain’s own sons and daughters

and none of this, none of this matters.

Friday, October 7, 2011

Is it a month? a poem by J. M. Synge.

Post 638 - Is it a month? by J. M. Synge

Is it a month since I and you

In the starlight of Glen Dubh

Stretched beneath a hazel bough

Kissed from ear to throat to brow,

Since your fingers, neck and chin

Made the bars that fenced me in,

Till Paradise seemed but a wreck

Near your bosom, brow and neck

And stars grew wilder, growing wise

In the splendor of your eyes!

Since the weasel wandered near

Whilst we kissed from ear to ear

And the wet and withered leaves

Blew about your cap and sleeves,

Till the moon sank tired through the edge

Of the wet and windy hedge?

And we took the starry lane

Back to Dublin town again.