Poem for September 2

September 6, 2012 § Leave a comment


We think of
you often
in Portland —

One night there
Mark & I
walked around

a small pond —
raindrops made
ripples. At

that moment
I said to
Mark – Somehow

this makes me
think of Cid —
and he smiled

and said he’d
been thinking
of you too.

A little rain
has begun to
fall as night falls

* * *


Quiet quiets
if we’d only
sometimes let it.

-Cid Corman, from YEA (The Lapis Press, 1989).

Poem for September 1, 2012

September 1, 2012 § Leave a comment

The Unturning

for Ben S., 1936-2010

My friend said: write about the dog in The Odyssey
four hundred pages in. I found him lying on a dungheap
where ticks sipped his blood, though in his youth
he’d taken down wild animals, eager to kill
for a man the gods favored! Who comes back
in disguise; you expect the dog to give him away
with a lick or a yip, but this is not what happens.
Instead we’re told that “death closed down his eyes,”
instant he saw his master after twenty years away.
And I wondered if my friend had played a trick–

setting me up with this dog who does not do much
but die. When the gods turn away, what can we do
but await their unturning? That means: don’t think
that after so many years of having such a hard pillow,
the dog wasn’t grateful. But I wonder
if, for the sake of the shape of the plot,
the author ought to have let him remain
for another line or two, if only to thump again his tail.

-Lucia Perillo, from On the Spectrum of Possible Deaths (Copper Canyon, 2012)

State of LBaO

August 25, 2012 § Leave a comment

I decided to end the run of poems of the day with the 90th entry (though I was mistaken – I now realize there were only 88), because it started to seem more like drudgery and less like inspiration. Not that I demand inspiration from every project I undertake, but when the drudgery hits a certain point and there’s not enough payback, there doesn’t seem to be much of a reason to keep it going.

But upon ending the series, I found out that quite a few more people than I thought (stats? what?) had been following along. And I kind of miss the discipline. So I’m going to start it up again, but this time, for sure, along with the poems of the day, there will be other entries. So look back to Looking Back for the daily poems starting September 1, and look forward to new stuff on Looking Back!

Poem of the Day, volume 2

August 25, 2012 § Leave a comment

Starting Sept. 1

Poem for August 19

August 19, 2012 § Leave a comment



Numerous singularities

slight stutter
a short letter

embrace at departure

body backward
in a tremendous forward direction

house and host



-Susan Howe, from Frame Structures: Early Poems 1974 – 1979 (New Directions, 1996)

Poem for August 18

August 18, 2012 § Leave a comment

relic / relict: some users of nails

for Divya Victor

1. take a disused verb– say : disorb– & stick
a pin in it. what is left. in the area of interest
due to age or having been relinquished
or surviving in the sense of all else is lost.
let me burden your head with firn.

2. the precision of a suffix, bereft
of all superstition & filthy lucre. (remember how
Krapp looks up ‘viduity’?)
disambiguate, revive a word
for it– say : depintrix– & count
any number of hands remaining,
a rehearsal of our best grammar.

3. objects in the category brandea do not concern the body, but rather
contact with the body. the witch Erichtho went grave-robbing specifically
for insertum manibus chalybem, iron that has passed through the hands.

4. frags, smithereens. we need
a useful word– say: the days in nowadays
or the qua in quag & its antecedent hwaet.
the orts & scraps & bits, to paraphrase,
that remain, a fraction of the body & we parse
the vernacular, unless it’s a dialect (with
or without an army.)

-Pattie McCarthy, from Table Alphabetical of Hard Words (Apogee Press, 2010)

Poem for August 17

August 17, 2012 § Leave a comment


Who remains in the city in August?
Only the poor and the insane,
Old ladies left behind,
Pensioners with Pomeranians,
Thieves, here and there an aristocrat, and cats.
Along the deserted streets
You hear a percussive beat of heels
And you see women with plastic bags
Standing in the line of shade along the walls.
Under the fountain with the turret
In the green algaed pool
There’s a middle-aged naiad
Ten and a half centimeters tall
With nothing on but a bra.

A few meters away,
Despite the well-known prohibition,
Panhandling pigeons
Set upon you
And steal the bread out of your hand.
You hear in the sky the whoosh,
In exhausted flight, of the noonday demon.


-Primo Levi, translated by Harry Thomas & Marco Sonzogni, from the anthology Counterfeits (Center for the Art of Translation, 2011; no. 17 in the Two Lines: World Writing in Translation series)

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