Archive for the Poetry Category

Posted in Poetry on June 28, 2012 by Eugene

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The Quiet World

In an effort to get people to look
into each other’s eyes more,
and also to appease the mutes,
the government has decided
to allot each person exactly one hundred
and sixty-seven words, per day.

When the phone rings, I put it to my ear
without saying hello. In the restaurant
I point at chicken noodle soup.
I am adjusting well to the new way.

Late at night, I call my long distance lover,
proudly say I only used fifty-nine today.
I saved the rest for you.

When she doesn’t respond,
I know she’s used up all her words,
so I slowly whisper I love you
thirty-two and a third times.
After that, we just sit on the line
and listen to each other breathe.

–Jeffrey Mcdaniel

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Imagine you are driving

Posted in Poetry on November 8, 2010 by Eugene

At importune times amidst the madness that is curriculum planning , you have the great luck of being oh so quietly stunned by one of the poems that falls into your lap. That one piece that says the most, that represents what you were trying to capture all your life, the destination that you are also hurtling towards with that metaphorical dead dog in your boot.

Imagine you are driving

nowhere with no one beside you;

with the empty road unravelling and ravelling

in sympathy as the road turns in your hands.

On either side the wheatfields go shimmering

past in an absence of birdsong, and the sky

decants the shadows of the weather from itself.

So you drive on, hopeful of a time

when the ocean will rise before you like dusk

and you will make landfall at last –

some ancient, long-forgotten mooring

which both of you, of course, will recognise;

though as I said before, there is no one beside you

and neither of you has anywhere to go.

– John Glenday

“few are awake”

Posted in Poetry on May 12, 2010 by Eugene

I must collate all these little pieces, all the signboards of one’s peculiar gnosis through life and make meaning out of them. It’s funny how when I look back the all the past posts, you can pinpoint with such sharpness, the key to an emotion at that particular time.

The singer of owls wandered off into the darkness.
Once more he had not won a prize.
It was like that at school.
He preferred dim corners, camouflaged himself
with the hair and ears of the others,
and thought about long vowels, and hunger,
and the bitterness of deep snow.
Such moods do not attract glitter.

What is it about me? he asked the shadows.
By this time they were shadows of trees.
Why have I wasted my lifeline?
I opened myself to your silences.
I allowed ruthlessness
and feathers to possess me.
I swallowed mice.
Now, when I’m at the end, and emptied
of words, and breathless,
you didn’t help me.

Wait, said the owl soundlessly.
Among us there are no prices.
You sang out of necessity,
as I do. You sang for me,
and my thicket, my moon, my lake.
Our song is a night song.
Few are awake.

– as usual, Margaret Atwood, unsettler of things.

Change your life

Posted in Poetry on January 22, 2010 by Eugene

If you believe in the magic of language,

then Elvis really Lives,

and Princess Diana foretold I end as car spin.

If you believe the letters themselves

contain a power within them,

then you understand

what makes outside tedious,

how desperation becomes a rope ends it.

The circular logic that allows senator to become treason,

and treason to become atoners.

That eleven plus two is twelve plus one,

and an admirer is also married.

That if you could just re-arrange things the right way

you’d find your true life,

the right path, the answer to your questions:

you’d understand how the Titanic

turns into that ice tin,

and debit card becomes bad credit.

How listen is the same as silent,

and not one letter separates stained from sainted.

Rough weather, Sublime Poetry

Posted in Poetry on February 1, 2009 by Eugene

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To share with you this rough, divisive weather
And not to grieve because we have to share it,
Desire to wear the dark of night together
And feel no colder that we do not wear it,
Because sometimes my sight of you is clearer,
The memory not clouded by the sense,
To know that nothing now can make you dearer
Than does the close touch of intelligence,
To be the prisoner of your kindnesses
And tell myself I want you to be free,
To wish you here with me despite all this,
To wish you here, knowing you cannot be—
This is a way of love in our rough season,
This side of madness, the other side of reason.

–James Reeves (1909-1978 )

I was confounded by the syntax of this sonnet at first, but then realized a way round it was to divide its train of thought in 2s. (the commas are indicative of this) So this is my rusty attempt at paraphrase:

Lines 1-2: To share with you our woes is not an occasion for grief.

Lines 3-4:
You and I are cold despite the absence of grief.

Lines 5-6: (The “because” is perplexing because it does not answer a previous query; I can surmise that raw emotion is breaking through here as it seems like a recollection of love)
I remember you best through memory untouched by the senses.

Lines 7-8: Nothing can bring you back except cold rationality of these lines?

Lines 9-10: This is a very confusing line to a mere mortal like me. I am entrapped by your qualities (ie kindness) but I want you to be free from me, but ironically i am not free from you. A paradox or some impossible wish the speaker is making?

Lines 11-12: I wish you were here (x2), but it is impossible.

Lines 13-14: These are the strange currents of our love. Binaries: Madness/Reason, Absence/Presence, You and I. Don’t you just love complicated relationships and the madness that comes from it? There is simply no resolution and you wonder why poetry indeed makes NOTHING happen.

Up

Posted in Poetry on May 31, 2008 by Eugene

Give dear Margaret Atwood a chance a explain why you cannot get out of bed, and what needs to be done to haul you up. Up you go..

You wake up filled with dread.
There seems no reason for it.
Morning light sifts through the window,
There is birdsong.
You can’t get out of bed.It’s something about the crumpled sheets
Hanging over the edge like jungle
Foliage, the terry slippers gaping
Their dark pink mouths for your feet,
The unseen breakfast—some of it
In the refridgerator you do not dare
To open—you will not dare to eat.

What prevents you? The future. The future tense
Immense as outer space.
You could get lost there.
No. nothing so simple. The past, its density
And drowned events pressing you down,
Like sea water, like gelatin
Filling your lungs instead of air.

Forget all that and let’s get up.
Try moving your arm.
Try moving your head.
Pretend the house is on fire
And you must run or burn.
No, that one’s useless
It’s never worked before.

Where it is coming from, this echo?
This huge No that surrounds you,
Silent as the folds of the yellow
Curtains, mute as the cheerful

Mexican bowl with its cargo
Of mummified flowers?
(you chose the colours of the sun,
Not the dried neutrals of the shadow,
God knows you tried)

Now here’s a good one:
You’re lying on your deathbed.
You have one hour to live.
Who is it, exactly, you have needed
All these years to forgive?

Re-discovery

Posted in Poetry on May 22, 2008 by Eugene

I was looking at some of my old pictures of Italy and there was this amazing outpouring of images that prompted me to put them in words. Of course, there is a a deep cathartic value in this for me, because Italy reminds me of Yat. And there’s this picture that I chanced upon, seeing her in the only way I can, of her in a sunlit terrace in San Gimigiano. And somehow the phrase “as clear as the light of day” seemed so appropriate to my sense of direction, and that I had to wrest some lines from memories that were choking me. So to my dear Yat, to whom some places in the middle of Italy mean little, but mean everything in the world to me…

In some half-imagined scene of mine,
Perhaps in a sunit piazza in Trieste,
I am thinking most deeply of you again.

I squint at these soft lines that say
mai piu ritornerai, mai piu”, which sound like
the begging of all thirty good years of me
to return no more, no more to you.

Why these lines have loitered
Half-heeded in one’s throat, no one can say.
Not in this vast, ruinously classical urban space
Where the Italian afternoon goes on forever,
marked by long shadows.

The old Italians like Galilei and Columbus
were feted for mapping starry-eyed point to point.
Then why did I want to be re-discovered by you
In this cobbled square, when I caught in a lowered gaze,
that piazza really meant insurrection,
not connection.