Saturday, September 6, 2008

I Could Not Tell

Sharon Olds (2002)

I could not tell I had jumped off that bus,
that bus in motion, with my child in my arms,
because I did not know it. I believed my own story:
I had fallen, or the bus had started up
when I had one foot in the air.

I would not remember the tightening of my jaw,
the irk that I’d missed my stop, the step out
into the air, the clear child
gazing about her in the air as I plunged
to one knee on the street, scraped it, twisted it,
the bus skidding to a stop, the driver
jumping out, my daughter laughing
Do it again.

I have never done it
again, I have been very careful.
I have kept an eye on that nice young mother
who lightly leapt
off the moving vehicle
onto the stopped street, her life
in her hands, her life’s life in her hands.

Friday, September 5, 2008

Beast Brutality

Mary Jo Bang (2008)

The caption read,
"He and she standing quietly next to a dog."

The prompt queen sat with her crown on,
The insets between each Gothic arch providing a measure

Of what can be
Done with architecture.

She said, "We built it long ago.
And then we knocked it down."

And then she looked away.
"And then we looked away."

Thursday, September 4, 2008


Robert Creeley (1990)

I’ve thought of myself
as objective, viz,
a thing round which
lines could be drawn–

or else placed by years, the average
some sixty, say, a relative
number of months, days,
hours and minutes.

I remember thinking of war
and peace and life
for as long as I can remember.
I think we were right.

But it changes, it thinks
it can all go on forever
but it gets older.
What it wants is rest.

I’ve thought of place
as how long it takes
to get there and of where
it then is.

I’ve thought of clouds, of water
in long horizontal bodies, or
of love and women and the children
which came after.

Amazing what mind makes
out of its little pictures,
the squiggles and dots,
not to mention the words.

Wednesday, September 3, 2008

from The Life of Towns

Anne Carson (1990)

A Town I Have Heard of

"In the middle of nowhere."
Would that be?
Nice and quiet.
A rabbit.
Hopping across.
On the stove.

Pushkin Town

When I live I live in the ancient future.
Deep rivers run to it angel pavements are in use.
It has rules.
And love.
And the first rule is.
The love of chance.
Some words of yours are very probably ore there.
Or will be by the time our eyes are ember.

Memory Town

In each one of you I paint.
I find.
A buried site of radioactive material.
You think 8 miles down is enough?
15 miles?
140 miles?

September Town

One fear is that.
The sound of the cicadas.
Out in the blackness zone is going to crush my head.
Flat as a piece of paper some night.
Then I'll be expected.
To go ahead with normal tasks anyway just because.
Your head is crushed flat.
As a piece of paper doesn't mean.
You can get out of going to work.
Mending the screen door hiding.
Your brother from the police.

Entgegenwartigung Town

I heard you coming after me.
Like a lion through the underbrush.
And I was afraid.
I heard you.
Crashing down over flagpoles.
And I covered my ears.
I felt the walls of the buildings.
Sway once all along the street.
And I crouched low on my wheels.
In the middle of the room.
Staring hard.
Then the stitches came open.
You went past.

Emily Town

"Riches in a little room."
Is a phrase that haunts.
Her since the voltage of you.
Snow or a library.
Or a band of angels.
With a message is.
Not what.
It meant to.

Town of the Dragon Vein

If you wake up too early listen for it.
A sort of inverted whistling the sound of sound.
Being withdrawn after all where?
Does all the sound in the world.
Come from day after day?
From mountains but.
They have to give it back.
At night just.
As your nightly dreams.
Are taps.
Open reversely.

Tuesday, September 2, 2008

Victim of Himself

Marvin Bell (1990)

He thought he saw a long way off the ocean
cresting and falling, bridging the continents,
carrying the whole sound of human laughter
and moans—especially moans, in the mud of misery—
but what he saw was already diluted, evaporating,
and what he felt were his teeth grinding
and the bubbles of saliva that broke on his tongue.

He was doomed to be a victim of himself.
He thought he saw, in the future, numberless, cavernous
burials—the outcome of plagues, of wars,
of natural disasters created by human beings—
and what he felt was the normal weakness displayed
by droopy eyes and muscles that bleated meekly.

He thought he saw from Earth up to the stars
and from any one moment back to the hour of his birth
when desire produced, in the slush of passionate tides,
a citizen of mud and ash, of lost light and dry beds,
but what he saw was already distorted, moving away,
and what he felt was a sense of loss that so often
he had been at peace in her arms when he did not intend to be.