September 6, 2012 § Leave a comment
We think of
in Portland —
One night there
Mark & I
a small pond —
I said to
Mark – Somehow
this makes me
think of Cid —
and he smiled
and said he’d
of you too.
A little rain
has begun to
fall as night falls
* * *
if we’d only
sometimes let it.
-Cid Corman, from YEA (The Lapis Press, 1989).
September 1, 2012 § Leave a comment
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)
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!
August 19, 2012 § Leave a comment
Excerpt from SECRET HISTORY OF THE DIVIDING LINE (1978)
a short letter
embrace at departure
in a tremendous forward direction
house and host
-Susan Howe, from Frame Structures: Early Poems 1974 – 1979 (New Directions, 1996)
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)
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,
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)