Wednesday, January 18, 2017

Chance

Life is messy and irrational.
I make a plan, just to watch it fall apart.
So I concentrate on doable things,
sort out the dirtiness of real life
from the spotless world of my imagination,
even as these incompatible things
sow seeds of madness
in my burning, buzzing brain.
  
I try to distract myself
by looking at dancing birds,
I spend the day picnicking,
but cannot stop the seeds from sprouting.
Beautiful life and hope
are destroyed 
by a stroke of bad luck,
by lack of money,
or the cultural tide
crashing against the cliff face of reality.

I feel threatened by the power of my will
and take a break from struggle.
I listen to hit songs,
study my successful peers,
read a person’s character by his garb.
I dismiss words and smirks.
I let things pass.
Cultish servitude to the past is gone:
today I worship Chance.

I no longer mistake a coincidence
for self-conscious Providence.
I create order out of chaos,
make a superior plan
from the debris of salvaged ideas— 
and watch the new plan fall apart.
Chance is blind.


© Helen Kanevsky, 2017

Waves from the Indian Ocean crash against the cliffs of Eagle Gorge,
Kalbarri National Park, Western Australia
Photo by Gypsy Denise
from Wikimedia Commons

Monday, January 9, 2017

Giving/Receiving

Oh, the lessons we must learn
Because we have to grow.
Oh, the message given when young
That you know must be changed.
“You are to give of yourself,
So reach out and help those less fortunate.”
“Be benevolent and give a helping hand.”
“Be strong and reach down to lift others up.”
“Don’t let others see you cry
Because that means you’re weak.”
And so your life follows those paths,
Until one day a cardboard box stands in your way,
And you fall into awareness.
The depths of the hole
Feel like an upside-down world.
You must reach out and ask for help.
You must allow others to help you.
Simple chores are too much for you,
And you must sit and watch while others work for you.
You cry because you feel so vulnerable,
And you don’t know how to accept.
But you learn the lessons
Of allowing others the giving gift,
And you sit and see the rainbows
That were always there to see.
So you now can give the gift of giving
To others as you sit quietly to receive.
What a gift!


        © Hilda Ward, 2017

Nurse tending patient in Kettering hypertherm cabinet
WPA photo taken in New Orleans, U.S. Marine Hospital
from Wikimedia Commons 

Sunday, January 1, 2017

Butterfly and Flower

Butterfly loves Flower; Flower doesn’t love back.

B: They say be like the flower is:
aloof… but I need the sweetness 
over and over.
I can’t stay away 
or stop the sipping.
I am never full.

F: I cannot be the butterfly 
who insatiably worships.
I open. I give.
That’s enough for me. 
Drained, I fade inward,
notice the fullness.

Butterfly is fed; Flower is fertilized.

B: In the night I cling to tree bark,
dreaming of colors, 
sugar on my tongue
over and over.
Dreams are not enough 
and I am empty. 

F: In the night, I close. It’s peaceful.
I think I’ll not open again 
to make sweet pretense
for needy tongues.
I fill myself up
and I am changing. 


© Laura Seale, 2016

Monarch butterfly with Milkweed
Photo by Tony Russell

Monday, December 5, 2016

Little Chicago

(Milwaukee’s near north side)

Dad drove taxicab on the near north side.
He went up and down the big little town.
Some of his fares were looking to hide,

and in little Chicago, our north side,
the mob could stay if they behaved.
The socialists though, would not be bribed.

The new rock in a bay held the big guy.
Small fish rode right on like the big Muskie rode,
with face or name never applied.

Wisely, Dad returned to selling clothing instead.
Later he went back to these stomping grounds.
“They have the best hard rolls” was what he said.


© Dennis Wright, 2016


Old taxicab in Aleppo, Syria, taken 1995
Photo by Spielvogel
from Wikimedia Commons

Monday, November 28, 2016

BEFORE MY WINDSHIELD IN A TRAFFIC JAM

I SEE A WORM
DRIFTING ON THE WIND,
SUSPENDED ON A STRING,
ON A FILAMENT 
IN THE FIRMAMENT, 
FRAGILE AS A MOMENT ...
EMBRACING FUTURE NOW!
WILL WE BOTH EXPIRE
ON THIS CONCRETE BYWAY?


© Gerry Sackett, 2016

Christmas Tree Worm from the South China Sea
by Lepidlizard
from Wikimedia Commons

Monday, November 14, 2016

Like roofers

we climb over each other, slipping and catching the other’s 
hands until our feet are steady.  We check eaves, clear leaves, smooth 
wrinkles in the casing, then fall to the heat of our slate-shingled skin.

We are a choir, ensemble of song, just two mouths earnest in 
harmony.  We make mice in the walls weep, our voices pound 
tympani, take captive the inner ear of all who stand near.

We are Isabella Bird in Kurdistan, Nelly Bly circling earth, Marco Polo 
riding Mongol empires. We navigate by planets and stars, by the dark 
pulse of our organs, by pupils meeting pupils, grasses’ murmur at our feet –   

With no permission, seven decades in, we hike up stairs, climb to highlands, 
walk inclines foreign to our peers, heights newly reached to see Bar-headed 
Geese cross the Himalayas four miles up, to hear a bank of trumpets shout.  

We scale high level ├ętage, Mares’ tails frozen above, countryside 
spread out like a toy town, gray and brown squares, dots of green, living 
bodies too small to see, some wet in wombs, some soon to die.  

I turn on the radio 
will myself to hear the news – 
only stories of us.

© Marti Snell, 2016


Mares' Tails by Nicholas A. Tonelli
from Wikimedia Commons

Tuesday, November 8, 2016

Still Life

Verra la morte e avra i tuoi occhi.
( Death will come and it will look with your eyes. )
Cesare Pavese


1

Things and humans
surround us.  Both
torture the eye.
Better to live in darkness.

I am on a bench
in the park, following with my eyes
a family passing by.
I am fed up with light.

It is January – winter,
according to the calendar.
When I am fed up with darkness,
then I shall speak.

2

It is time now.  I am ready to begin.
No matter with what.  To open
my mouth.  I can be silent.
But it’s better that I speak.

What about?  Of days and nights.
Or rather of nothing.
Or about things.
About things – 

not about people.  They will die.
All of them.  I will die too.
This is futile,
like pissing against the wind.

3

My blood is cold.
Its coldness is colder
than a river frozen in its bed.
I do not like people.

I do not like their looks.
Their faces impart 
some unforsakable
look.

Something in their faces
is disgusting to the mind.
Is flattering
who knows whom.

4

Things are more pleasant. They
mean neither good nor harm,
on the face of it. But if you probe
into them – into their innards – 

objects are dust inside.
Ashes.  A woodboring beetle.
Walls.  A dried bloodworm.
Unpleasant for your hands.

Dust.  Turn on the light  
and it will shine on only dust.
Even if the object 
is sealed tight.

5

An old cupboard looks
the same inside and out,
reminding me
of Notre-Dame de Paris.

The cupboard’s entrails are dark.
A mop, a rag
will not wipe off dust.
A thing itself is generally dust

that does not strive to overcome,
that does not raise the brow.
Because dust is the flesh
of time; it is flesh and blood.

6

Lately I’ve begun
to sleep in the daytime.
It seems my death
puts me to the test,

holding a mirror to my mouth
even if I breathe,
to see how I withstand
non-existence in the daylight.

I am immobile.  My two
thighs are as cold as ice.
Their venous blue flesh
looks like marble.

7

Surprising us
with the sum of its angles,
the thing stands out
from the common ways of words.

The thing is not at a standstill.  And
it does not move.  It is a delusion.
A thing is a space, outside of which
there isn’t a thing.

A thing can be banged down, burned,
eviscerated, broken.
Dropped. The thing
will not exclaim: ”What the fuck?!”

8

A tree.  Shade.  Dirt
under the tree for the roots.
Knotty monograms.
Clay.  A pile of rocks.

Roots.  Their entanglement.
A rock whose personal weight
liberates it from
the nexus of knots.

It is immobile.  It cannot be
moved or taken away.
Its shadow.  A man in its shade
is like a fish in the net.

9

A thing. The brown color
of the thing. Whose outlines are blurred.
Dusk.  No more
anything.  A still life.

Death will come and find
a body whose smoothness
will reflect death’s visit like
the coming of a woman.

It is absurd, a lie:
a skull, a skeleton, a scythe.
‘Death will come, and it
will look with your eyes.’

10

Says the mother to Christ:
Are you my son or my 
God?  You are nailed to the cross.
How can I go home?

How can I step over the sill
if I can’t understand or decide
whether you are my son or God?
That is, are you dead or alive?

He says in response:
“Dead or alive -
it doesn’t matter, woman.
Whether I am your son or God, I am yours.”

by Joseph Brodsky
Translated from the Russian by Leonid Gornik



The Vorona River frozen in its bed
Winter in Borisoglebsk
Oil painting by Alexey Bogolyubov
from Wikimedia Commons