Saturday, May 17, 2008

crying at a reading by robert bly

i went to hear robert bly read his poetry
but i was crowded by ghosts
i saw people who are still alive but dead
seated in the audience was an old english teacher
he was as dashing as when he taught composition
his name was john then but maybe not now, i didn't ask
then it was my friend robert.
he used to wear a leather bag over his shoulder
he didn't anymore but the beard was the same
i heard someone whisper there's thomas tranströmer
or someone who's face i've forgotten

olav h. hauge was there. so was rolf jacobsen. and more
old masters hidden in the water under
the frozen lake i remember canooing there in summer
the sickle smiles at all

how fickle is the boundary between the dead and
living how solidly the dead have planted their being in us
to a certain believers men are non-existent
to god
robert bly said
we are dust on the underside of grass

Sunday, January 27, 2008

Poor time for poetry

I promised (myself) not to take to translating (again). How feeble
is a heart faced with injustice. From Brecth's Svendborg collection

Poor time for poetry

I know: Only the happy is
loved. His voice is heard
gladly. His face pretty.

The yard's mutilated tree
indicates poor soil, but
those who point say rightfully:
It's a criple.

I dont' see
green boats and lusty sails at sea. I only see
fishermen with nets torn.
Why is my only concern that the
fortyyear-old maid has a hump?
The breasts of young girls are
warm as ever.

If my song rhymes it
feels like hubris.

I am torn between
joy over apple trees in bloom and
resentment over Mr Hitler's speeches.
But only the latter
drives me to my desk.