Sunday, November 23, 2008

At Baia by H.D.

I should have thought
in a dream you would have brought
some lovely, perilous thing,
orchids piled in a great sheath,
as who would say (in a dream),
"I send you this,
who left the blue veins
of your throat unkissed."

Why was it that your hands
(that never took mine),
your hands that I could see
drift over the orchid-heads
so carefully,
your hands, so fragile, sure to lift
so gently, the fragile flower-stuff--
ah, ah, how was it

You never sent (in a dream)
the very form, the very scent,
not heavy, not sensuous,
but perilous--perilous--
of orchids, piled in a great sheath,
and folded underneath on a bright scroll,
some word:

"Flower sent to flower;
for white hands, the lesser white,
less lovely of flower-leaf,"


"Lover to lover, no kiss,
no touch, but forever and ever this."

Monday, November 17, 2008

Waste Management by Maurya Simon

Every night a bear comes round our house to scare up
some windfall pears or to forage for fragrant garbage,
trudging on soft-padded feet & slightly open-mouthed.
He's an ursine Tony Soprano, I think, seeking refuge

from autumnal hungers as he forages the town's alleys.
Burly as a nightclub bouncer, near-sighted, he browses
through our lives' detritus, appearing as a refugee
from day's ample shadows. Our bear noisily chases

a neighborhood cat, a disemboweler of mouses,
then he eats the worst types of underworld scum—
larval worms in day-glow trousers-food storehoused
in a huge belly that sways to & fro when he travels.

Despite his slovenly slouch, our bear's a marvel
of Mafia etiquette as he curses & wantonly carouses
in the dim byways of the forest, as he sways in raveling air
to snap the bark off trees with his tough teeth & calluses.

We curse the furry rampages of our famished bear
who's surely gotten high on gruff power as he struggles
to grip trashcan rims with iron fingers—ever roused
to action by brisk whiffs of winter or our ribald catcalls.

O made man, living drunk or dour, don't settle
for trudging on soft-padded feet, staying tight-hearted—
know, as I do, how fear & desire drive us all. Look how
nightly a bear circumambulates our lives with such ardor.

"Waste Management" by Maurya Simon from Cartographies: Uncollected Poems: 1980-2005. © Red Hen Press, 2008. (buy now)

Sunday, November 09, 2008

Music Swims Back To Me by Anne Sexton

Today, November 9, is the birthday of Anne Sexton.

Music Swims Back To Me

Wait Mister. Which way is home?
They turned the light out
and the dark is moving in the corner.
There are no sign posts in this room,
four ladies, over eighty,
in diapers every one of them.
La la la, Oh music swims back to me
and I can feel the tune they played
the night they left me
in this private institution on a hill.

Imagine it. A radio playing
and everyone here was crazy.
I liked it and danced in a circle.
Music pours over the sense
and in a funny way
music sees more than I.
I mean it remembers better;
remembers the first night here.
It was the strangled cold of November;
even the stars were strapped in the sky
and that moon too bright
forking through the bars to stick me
with a singing in the head.
I have forgotten all the rest.

They lock me in this chair at eight a.m.
and there are no signs to tell the way,
just the radio beating to itself
and the song that remembers
more than I. Oh, la la la,
this music swims back to me.
The night I came I danced a circle
and was not afraid.

--Anne Sexton. Complete Poems of Anne Sexton. Houghton Mifflin, 1981.