Saturday, February 14, 2015

Early Anniversary

To Wojtek

I love you like the simplicity of the air
Like the banality of the life we share
I love you like the pillows on the couch
Like your head resting on my lap
Like hot chocolate after a fight
Or a warm bath right when it was all
About to go down the drain…
I love you like five fifteen years of my life
Like our cat asleep atop the laundry basket
I love you like the wanderlust that possesses you
And like the many lives in many lands
We want to lead…
I love you like the dream I dare to dream again
Like the fear I dare to cherish again
And the certainty I feel
When I’m not too busy doubting our love…

(Originally posted on September 05, 2004)

Tuesday, January 27, 2015

Kill

Kill, kill, kill everything.

Kill the light falling on this page
like a false promise of warmth;
kill the news of a world in spiral.

Kill time, cruel time, ruthless time,
endless time, fleeting time, time
laying at your feet like a bored dog.

Kill hope, lazy hope, easy hope, hope peeking
like misguided blossoms in a snow storm.
Kill this, the need to reach out and touch,
say I am here, and you?

Kill that, the urge to call them, to hear them,
to assure them as only you want to be assured.
Kill it, kill it all, kill the want to live again, kill
the want to die, kill the want to be, to become.

Kill it and remain, not a reminder, just
a hollow shell mistaken for what was,
just an answer to a question that has
long ago given up on one.

(Originally posted on February 03, 2012)

Monday, January 19, 2015

Quartet of Endless Grey

Wipe your foggy breath off the cold bus window;
the snow-covered scape outside is darker than it.
Watch your faint reflection in the streaky glass;
the bus's harsh fluorescent lights do you no favor.

I never thought hunger could grow larger than the body,
but you don't let go of a chance to prove me wrong.
Never did I look so large as I do through your eyes;
nor have I felt so small.

I once said I'd never regret a thing--
I regret it all now, even the regret.

It's done:
no more happy endings,
no more new beginnings,
no more looking forward,
no more then...

It's all been done:
there's no tomorrow here;
there's only an endless now,
not interrupted by night or day--
an endless drone, an endless hum,
an endless pattern of downward eyes and hunched backs,
an endless silence syncopated by the static of the everyday,
an endless fog, an endless grey,
no one to save...

I forgot the taste of skin,
I forgot the smell of hair,
I forgot the feel of anticipation,
I forgot what it was all about...

Last night god killed himself;
he obviously wasn't divine enough.
Pity us men with rolls on our sides,
scars on our necks, and morning breath.
Pity us, mortals,
You, who's never lived...

Friday, January 16, 2015

Reasons for Living—or Not

It often begins with the low light of early spring:
the distant sounds of life on a chilly Sunday;
your reflection in a screen, bigger than it needs to be;
a dog nearing the end of her life, turning away
from food like only a dying animal can.
                                                            The last
to surrender is often the sense of the beginning,
that what might have been can still be. Instead
is a rigid sense of awakening, that this is all there is
and will be: a cold counting of assets, tabulating life,
seeing it on the losing end.
                                        And in the silence
connecting all—bathing you with your own thoughts
and the smelly leftovers of yesterday’s dream—
nothing much can be said or done:
not the anger, the last remnant of life;
not sweet abandon—only a persistence
as stubborn and meaningless as everything,
a refusal of the game and all it wills.
                                                      And yet
you remain unable to turn away—
not from longing, but from paralysis:
the closing of the eyes is often
harder than it appears to be.

Saturday, January 10, 2015

Condemned To Be Free

“Liberty! Liberty! Liberty!” they cried.

“Liberty! Liberty! Liberty!” I echoed.

“Our liberty,” they cried.

“My liberty,” I echoed.

“No, ours; not yours.”

“My liberty is yours, and yours is mine.”

“No, you’re not one of us.”

“I thought liberty is universal?”

“Only as long as it doesn’t conflict with ours.”

“And when it does?”

“Then our liberty trumps yours.”

“I thought we’re equal?”

“We made up this equality, so technically we’re more equal.
Besides, you don’t even believe in liberty!”

“But I do.”

“You may, but your religion doesn’t; ours does.”

“I have no religion! And I thought you were secular?”

“We like our churches; aren’t they pretty?”

“But you said: secular, human rights, etc.”

“You poor kid; you believe everything we say?
Why don’t you go back home, back to your people…”

“But I left my people; I live here now!
My clothes are here; my cats are here…”

“Oh, tant pis… Schade… Next!”


Saturday, January 03, 2015

In Their Shape

To Teta, once again...

We die, they say
But we never die, they say
We carry our dead in our hearts,
They live in us, they say

They say so much, they say so little…

She was here, they say
I remember her, they say
It was a long time ago, they say
It was like yesterday...

I hear so much, I say so little…

She’s somewhere, they say
Looking over you, they say
I look over my shoulder,
Still searching…

One day she’s at the beach
Collecting shells, they say
And years later I’m back here
Collecting my breath…

I won’t go back, I say
I’m done, I say
I moved on…

But moving on, a part of me snags
Dragging behind like a dead limb.
Is it me? I say
Is it her? I say

They say nothing; they only nod.
I guess that’s how we carry our dead, I say:
Our heart, dragging behind, looking like them…

Friday, January 02, 2015

Perduto

“You’ll never be great,” he said.
“And I am fine with that,
“But you are not.”

I sleep
But wake up like I haven’t
The skyline looks at me
Grey and cold
The same green windows
That soon won’t be there

I sit
I stare
I breathe deep
And suffocate
A beam, check where it is
Erase
Damn, it’s gone
Irretrievable

Songs rush through my head
In tiny white tubes
I am numb
Numb is good

I revolt
Against good
Against beautiful
Against my own ill-defined self
But I don’t have the energy
So I let it be

Perduto…”
She sings in my head
Like memories of our life there
Like the train tracks we waited in front of
And the night wrapped us with a dream
Flavored of hazelnut gelato

On it goes
We laugh together again
It is snowing
I can’t wait to be home
With you

(Originally posted on JANUARY 20, 2005)

Tuesday, December 30, 2014

Glass

To Troy

Every now and then, you let the curtain drop.
Your hands, grown tired of holding tight
To the ropes, let go. It's alright sometimes
To feel the burn of the rope running hurriedly
Under the weight of what's falling. It's alright
Sometimes to see the emptiness beyond,
to hear the silence, to admit your reticence
And the cold that's taken hold so long ago
It's become inseparable from you.

But your dreams tell a different story still,
Tell of a hunger far deeper than the cold.
Will it as you may, you remain human
Under the glass: thirsty, mad, and yearning.
Will they one day, too, turn colorless as glass?
Colorless, cold--but always--breakable.

(Originally posted on October 3, 2013)

Wednesday, December 24, 2014

No Fault

It was my fault
I wanted you to be my revenge on life
It was my fault

It was my fault
I wanted you to be all that I couldn't
It was my fault

It was my fault
I wanted too much, I wanted too little
It was my fault

It was my fault
I bowed at the knees, I bowed too deep
It was my fault

It was my fault...

It was my fault
I looked away when I bit into you
It was my fault

It was my fault
You didn't bleed when I died at your feet
It was my fault

It was my fault
I keep dying the same way
Again and again and again and again
It was my fault

It was my fault
I turned out to be human, all too human
It was my fault

And it was my fault
You turned out to be human, so very human
It was my fault

It was my fault, it was my fault
It was my fault, it was my fault

No fault, but my own
No fault, not my own
No fault...

Sunday, November 30, 2014

In Memoriam: Mark Strand, 1934–2014


The Remains

I empty myself of the names of others. I empty my pockets.
I empty my shoes and leave them beside the road.
At night I turn back the clocks;
I open the family album and look at myself as a boy.
What good does it do? The hours have done their job.
I say my own name. I say goodbye.
The words follow each other downwind.
I love my wife but send her away.
My parents rise out of their thrones
into the milky rooms of clouds.
How can I sing? Time tells me what I am.
I change and I am the same.
I empty myself of my life and my life remains.

-from Darker (1970):
http://www.nytimes.com/2014/11/30/nyregion/mark-strand-80-dies-pulitzer-winning-poet-laureate.html


I

I am writing from a place you have never been,
Where the trains don’t run, and planes
Don’t land, a place to the west,

Where heavy hedges of snow surround each house,
Where the wind screams at the moon’s blank face,
Where the people are plain, and fashions,

If they come, come late and are seen
As forms of oppression, sources of sorrow.
This is a place that sparkles a bit at 7 P.M.,

Then goes out, and slides into the funeral home
Of the stars, and everyone dreams of floating
Like angels in sweet-smelling habits,

Of being released from sundry services
Into the round of pleasures there for the asking—
Days like pages torn from a family album,

Endless reunions, the heavenly choir at the barbecue
Adjusting its tone to serve the occasion,
And everyone staring, stunned into magnitude.

-from "After Our Planet" (1992):
http://www.theparisreview.org/blog/2014/11/29/mark-strand-1934-2014


Coming to This

We have done what we wanted.
We have discarded dreams, preferring the heavy industry
of each other, and we have welcomed grief
and called ruin the impossible habit to break.

And now we are here.
The dinner is ready and we cannot eat.
The meat sits in the white lake of its dish.
The wine waits.

Coming to this
has its rewards: nothing is promised, nothing is taken away.
We have no heart or saving grace,
no place to go, no reason to remain.

-from Selected Poems (1990):
http://www.poetryfoundation.org/poem/179131


In Celebration

You sit in a chair, touched by nothing, feeling
the old self become the older self, imagining
only the patience of water, the boredom of stone.
You think that silence is the extra page,
you think that nothing is good or bad, not even
the darkness that fills the house while you sit watching
it happen. You’ve seen it happen before. Your friends
move past the window, their faces soiled with regret.
You want to wave but cannot raise your hand.
You sit in a chair. You turn to the nightshade spreading
a poisonous net around the house. You taste
the honey of absence. It is the same wherever
you are, the same if the voice rots before
the body, or the body rots before the voice.
You know that desire leads only to sorrow, that sorrow
leads to achievement which leads to emptiness.
You know that this is different, that this
is the celebration, the only celebration,
that by giving yourself over to nothing,
you shall be healed. You know there is joy in feeling
your lungs prepare themselves for an ashen future,
so you wait, you stare and you wait, and the dust settles
and the miraculous hours of childhood wander in darkness.

-from Selected Poems (1990):
http://www.poetryfoundation.org/poem/179137


Lines for Winter

Tell yourself
as it gets cold and gray falls from the air
that you will go on
walking, hearing
the same tune no matter where
you find yourself—
inside the dome of dark
or under the cracking white
of the moon's gaze in a valley of snow.
Tonight as it gets cold
tell yourself
what you know which is nothing
but the tune your bones play
as you keep going. And you will be able
for once to lie down under the small fire
of winter stars.
And if it happens that you cannot
go on or turn back
and you find yourself
where you will be at the end,
tell yourself
in that final flowing of cold through your limbs
that you love what you are.

-from New Selected Poems (2007):
http://www.poetryfoundation.org/poem/181380


My Life

The huge doll of my body
refuses to rise.
I am the toy of women.
My mother

would prop me up for her friends.
“Talk, talk,” she would beg.
I moved my mouth
but words did not come.

My wife took me down from the shelf.
I lay in her arms. “We suffer
the sickness of self,” she would whisper.
And I lay there dumb.

Now my daughter
gives me a plastic nurser
filled with water.
“You are my real baby,” she says.

Poor child!
I look into the brown
mirrors of her eyes
and see myself

diminishing, sinking down
to a depth she does not know is there.
Out of breath,
I will not rise again.

I grow into my death.
My life is small
and getting smaller. The world is green.
Nothing is all.

-from Selected Poems (1990):
http://www.poetryfoundation.org/poem/179136


The End

Not every man knows what he shall sing at the end,
Watching the pier as the ship sails away, or what it will seem like
When he’s held by the sea’s roar, motionless, there at the end,
Or what he shall hope for once it is clear that he’ll never go back.

When the time has passed to prune the rose or caress the cat,
When the sunset torching the lawn and the full moon icing it down
No longer appear, not every man knows what he’ll discover instead.
When the weight of the past leans against nothing, and the sky

Is no more than remembered light, and the stories of cirrus
And cumulus come to a close, and all the birds are suspended in flight,
Not every man knows what is waiting for him, or what he shall sing
When the ship he is on slips into darkness, there at the end.

-from The Continuous Life (1990):
http://www.poetryfoundation.org/poem/182871