Tuesday, April 30, 2013

The Supple Deer, by Jane Hirschfield

The Supple Deer

The quiet opening
between fence strands
perhaps eighteen inches.

Antlers to hind hooves,
four feet off the ground,
the deer poured through.

No tuft of the coarse white belly hair left behind.

I don’t know how a stag turns
into a stream, an arc of water.
I have never felt such accurate envy.

Not of the deer:

To be that porous, to have such largeness pass through me.

by Jane Hirschfield, from Come, Thief, 2011

Monday, April 22, 2013

With Quevedo, In Springtime; by Pablo Neruda

Hello Poets,
Pablo Neruda called the Spanish Golden Age poet Francisco Quevedo (1580-1645) the greatest of them all, saying that reading his poems were a “lived experience” transcending words on a page.
With Quevedo, in Springtime was written as the gravely ill Neruda watched spring return while his own life reached its winter.

With Quevedo, In Springtime

Everything has flowered in
these fields, apple trees,
hesitant blues, yellow weeds,
and in green grass the poppies thrive.
The inextinguishable sky, the new air
of each day, the invisible shine within,
that gift of a wide and vast springtime.
But spring hasn’t come to my room.
Diseases, dubious kisses,
that stuck like the church’s ivy
to the black windows of my life,
and love alone is never enough, not even the wild
and expansive fragrance of spring.

And to you, what can these mean now:
the orgiastic light, the evidence unfolding
like a flower, the green song
in the green leaves, the presence
of the sky with its goblet of freshness?
External spring, do not torment me,
unleashing wine and snow in my arms
corolla and battered bouquet of sorrow,
just for today give me the sleep of nocturnal
leaves, the night of the dead, the metals, the roots,
and so many extinguished springtimes
that awaken to life every spring.

by Pablo Neruda, from Winter Garden, 2002
translated from the Spanish by William O’Daly

Monday, April 15, 2013

Saguaro, by Brenda Hillman


Often visitors there, saddened
by the lack of trees, go out
to the promontory.

Then, backed by the banded
sunset, the trail
of the Conquistadores,

the father puts on the camera
the leather albatross
and has the children

imitate saguaros. One
at a time they stand there smiling
fingers up like the tines of a fork

while the stately saguaro
goes on being entered
by wrens, diseases, and sunlight

The mother sits on a rock
arms folded
across her breasts. To her

the cactus looks scared
its needles
like hair in cartoons.

With its arms in preacher
or waltz position,
it gives the impression

of great efforts
in every direction,
like the mother.

Thousands of these grey-green
cacti cross the valley:
nature repeating itself,

children repeating nature,
father repeating children
and mother watching.

Later the children think
the cactus was moral,
had something to teach them,

some survival technique
or just regular beauty.
But what else could it do?

The only protection
against death
was to love solitude.

by Brenda Hillman, from Fortress, 1989

Monday, April 8, 2013

The Treasure, by Robinson Jeffers

The Treasure

Mountains, a moment's earth-waves rising and hollowing; the
            earth too's an ephermerid; the stars—
Short-lived as grass the stars quicken in the nebula and dry in
            their summer, they spiral
Blind up space, scattered black seeds of a future; nothing lives
            long, the whole sky's
Recurrences tick the seconds of the hours of the ages of the gulf
            before birth, and the gulf
After death is like dated: to labor eighty years in a notch of
            eternity is nothing too tiresome,
Enormous repose after, enormous repose before, the flash of
Surely you never have dreamed the incredible depths were
            prologue and epilogue merely
To the surface play in the sun, the instant of life, what is called
            life? I fancy
That silence is the thing, this noise a found word for it;
            interjection, a jump of the breath at that silence;
Stars burn, grass grows, men breathe: as a man finding treasure
            says "Ah!" but the treasure's the essence;
Before the man spoke it was there, and after he has spoken he
            gathers it, inexhaustible treasure.

by Robinson Jeffers, from The Selected Poetry of Robinson Jeffers, 1925

Monday, April 1, 2013

Notice, by Steve Kowit


This evening, the sturdy Levis
I wore every day for over a year
& which seemed to the end in perfect condition,
suddenly tore.
How or why I don’t know,
but there it was—a big rip at the crotch.
A month ago my friend Nick
walked off a racquetball court,
got into his street clothes,
& half-way home collapsed & died.
Take heed you who read this
& drop to your knees now & again
like the poet Christopher Smart
& kiss the earth & be joyful
& make much of your time
& be kindly to everyone,
even to those who do not deserve it.
For although you may not believe it will happen,
you too will one day be gone.
I, whose Levis ripped at the crotch
for no reason,
assure you that such is the case.
Pass it on.

by Steve Kowit, from Mysteries of the Body, 1994