Thursday, January 28, 2010

answer for the shuttered heart

The Poet's Obligation
by Pablo Neruda
(translated by Alistair Reed, in On The Blue Shore of Silence)

To whoever is not listening to the sea
this Friday morning, to whoever is cooped up
in house or office, factory or woman
or street or mine or harsh prison cell:
to him I come, and, without speaking or looking,
I arrive and open the door of his prison,
and a vibration starts up, vague and insistent,
a great fragment of thunder sets in motion
the rumble of the planet and the foam,
the raucous rivers of the ocean flood,
the star vibrates swiftly in its corona,
and the sea is beating, dying and continuing.

So, drawn on by my destiny,
I ceaselessly must listen to and keep
the sea's lamenting in my awareness,
I must feel the crash of the hard water
and gather it up in a perpetual cup
so that, wherever those in prison may be,
wherever they suffer the autumn's castigation,
I may be there with an errant wave,
I may move, passing through windows,
and hearing me, eyes will glance upward
saying, "How can I reach the sea?"
And I shall broadcast, saying nothing,
the starry echoes of the wave,
a breaking up of foam and of quicksand,
a rustling of salt withdrawing,
the grey cry of sea-birds on the coast.

So, through me, freedom and the sea
will make their answer to the shuttered heart.

Saturday, January 23, 2010

Time for a classic

The Road Not Taken

by Robert Frost

Two roads diverged in a yellow wood,
And sorry I could not travel both
And be one traveler, long I stood
And looked down one as far as I could
To where it bent in the undergrowth;
Then took the other, as just as fair,
And having perhaps the better claim,
Because it was grassy and wanted wear;
Though as for that the passing there
Had worn them really about the same,
And both that morning equally lay
In leaves no step had trodden black.
Oh, I kept the first for another day!
Yet knowing how way leads on to way,
I doubted if I should ever come back.
I shall be telling this with a sigh
Somewhere ages and ages hence:
Two roads diverged in a wood, and I—
I took the one less traveled by,
And that has made all the difference.

Monday, January 18, 2010

some things to think about

"Think of days of those scarlet-breasted, blue-winged birds above you.
Think of me in the garden, humming
Quietly to myself in my blue dress,
A blue darker than the sky above us, a blue dark enough for storms,
Though cloudless.

At what point is something gone completely?"

-from "The Troubadours etc." by Mary Szybist

Saturday, January 9, 2010

listening to the owls


by W.D. Snodgrass — for Camille

Wait; the great horned owls
Calling from the wood's edge; listen.
There: the dark male, low
And booming, tremoring the whole valley.
There: the female, resolving, answering
High and clear, restoring silence.
The chilly woods draw in
Their breath, slow, waiting, and now both
Sound out together, close to harmony.

These are the year's worst nights.
Ice glazed on the top boughs,
Old snow deep on the ground,
Snow in the red-tailed hawks'
Nests they take for their own.
Nothing crosses the crusted ground.
No squirrels, no rabbits, the mice gone,
No crow has young yet they can steal.
These nights the iron air clangs
Like the gates of a cell block, blank
And black as the inside of your chest.

Now, the great owls take
The air, the male's calls take
Depth on and resonance, they take
A rough nest, take their mate
And, opening out long wings, take
Flight, unguided and apart, to caliper
The blind synapse their voices cross
Over the dead white fields,
The dead black woods, where they take
Soundings on nothing fast, take
Soundings on each other, each alone.

Friday, January 8, 2010

quoth the redhead...

A rockin gift from my super cool sister.

Wednesday, January 6, 2010



by C.K. Williams

All night, snow, then, near dawn, freezing rain, so that by morning the whole city glistens
in a glaze of high-pitched, meticulously polished brilliance, everything rounded off,
the cars submerged nearly to their windows in the unbroken drifts lining the narrow alleys,
the buildings rising from the trunklike integuments the wind has molded against them.
Underlit clouds, blurred, violet bars, the rearguard of the storm, still hang in the east,
immobile over the flat river basin of the Delaware; beyond them, nothing, the washed sky,
one vivid wisp of pale smoke rising waveringly but emphatically into the brilliant ether.
No one is out yet but Catherine, who closes the door behind her and starts up the street.