2012. november 30., péntek

Carrie Conners: The Joy of Sex

i like my body when it is with your
body. It is so quite new a thing.
—e.e. cummings

Killing time before a party, I open
my friend’s copy of The Joy of Sex

while she showers and find an e.e.
cummings poem that my ex used

to get me into bed. Despite fights
and his wholesome northern accent

those words made me flush, like they
were unbuttoning my shirt. Maybe

it’s the scent of my friend’s tea
rose shower gel, but now it all

seems too sweet, artificial as latex.
Chalk it up to bitterness (it’s been

a while) but thumbing through
the sketched characters with their

unlimited flexibility, their ability
to live upside-down without risk

of oxygen deficiency, the expert
instructions of how to rub what

and where that read like a car
owner’s manual make me

wonder how I ever fell in love
with a poem especially when

Amanda’s husband stares at Fox
News for hours every night instead

of watching her body unfold
like an arched wave nearing the shore

and gym-obsessed Eileen has
forgotten what the body is for

and I haven’t been really kissed
by a man in years, making me feel

very young and very old all at once like
the first time at anything always does.

2012. november 29., csütörtök

Miriam Waddington: Someone Who Used To Have Someone

There used to be someone
to whom I could say do you
love me and be sure that the
answer would always be yes;
there used to be someone to
whom I could telephone and
be sure when the operator
said do you accept the charges
the answer would always be yes;
but now there is no one to ask
no one to telephone from the
strangeness of cities in the
lateness of nightness now there
is no-one always now no-one
no someone no never at all.

Can you imagine what it is
like to live in a world where
there is no-one now always no
no-one and never some some-
one to ask do you love me and
be sure that the answer would
always be yes? I live in a world
where only the billboards are
always they’re twenty feet tall
and they circle the city they
coax and caress me they heat
me and cool me they promise and
plead me with colour and comfort
you get to sleep with me
tonight (the me being ovaltine)
but who wants to get to sleep
with a cup of ovaltine what
kind of sleep is that for some-
one who used to have someone
to ask do you love me and
be sure that the answer
would always be yes?

2012. november 28., szerda

Gioconda Belli: Sencillos Deseos

Hoy quisiera tus dedos escribiéndome historias en el pelo
y quisiera besos en la espalda
que me dijeras las mas grandes verdades
o las mas grandes mentiras
que me dijeras por ejemplo
que soy la mujer mas linda del mundo
que me querés mucho
cosas así
tan sencillas
tan repetidas,
que me delinearas el rostro
y me quedaras viendo a los ojos
como si tu vida entera dependiera de que los míos sonrieran
alborotando todas las gaviotas en la espuma.
Cosas quiero como que andes mi cuerpo
camino arbolado y oloroso,
que seas la primera lluvia del invierno
dejándote caer despacio
y luego en aguacero.
Cosas quiero como una gran ola de ternura
un ruido de caracol
un cardumen de peces en la boca
algo de eso
frágil y desnudo
como una flor a punto de entregarse a la primera luz de la mañana
o simplemente una semilla, un árbol
un poco de hierba
una caricia que me haga olvidar
el paso del tiempo
la guerra
los peligros de la muerte.

2012. november 27., kedd

Ady Endre: The poet of the Hortobagy

He was a large-eyed, Hunnish youth,
smitten with many a fair mirage,
and with his herd he struck into
the famous Magyar Hortobágy.

Women and dreams have seized his soul
a thousand times with magic snare;
but when his heart would sprout a flower
the herds of cattle grazed it bare.

He often thought of wondrous things,
of wine and women, death and birth;
he could have been a holy bard
in any other land on earth.

But when he gazed upon the herds
and on the breeched, illiterate crowd,
straightway he buried all his songs;
he whistled or he swore aloud.


Eireann Corrigan: He Didn't Make the Greatest First Impression

My father doesn't dislike you because you're
Jewish. My father dislikes you because
you hurt me. Way back when I was a sophomore
still writing your name inside the cover of my
geometry book. In May, right after we first met
and I thought maybe you'd ask me to the junior
prom. My mom was already eyeing dresses and
trying out different kinds of braids in my hair. But she
was on some bus trip to Niagara Falls that weekend.
It was just me and my dad and he sat in the living
room with the newspaper while I was washing dishes
in the kitchen, on the phone with Paul Caldwell,
your friend, who later you'd argue was never
your friend, who told me I'm only telling you this
for your own good, but Dan told a bunch of us guys
that he thought you were too fat to take to the prom.
And that's when I bent over, holding on to the edge
of the kitchen sink, it hurt that badly and my father
came running in, convinced I had cut myself
on a steak knife or shattered a glass in my hand.
And I couldn't breathe enough to explain so he kept
prying my hands from my belly, checking my palms
and my shirt for blood. I'm sure he wished only
for one of my big sisters to glide in, but it was just my dad
and me that night and he did the best he could.
After I fell asleep doing sit-ups on the family room
floor, he carried me upstairs to bed and he must have been
cursing you the whole heavy trip up. And later
when they caught me hiding food, when my mom
would stand me on the scale and cry at the numbers —
Those mornings, when I would bundle up at five to run
he'd creep behind me in the station wagon in case I fell
and didn't get back up. Sometimes I'd make it
home just to faint in the shower and my dad had to
listen for that tumble and rush in to swing the faucet
from hot to cold. It didn't matter that you swore you never
said it, that instead of buying anyone a corsage, you hid
at your parents' beach house, burying empty bottles
in the sand. My dad couldn't have known that the mornings
he had to look at my naked body in the tub and anyway
he wouldn't have cared. By October, my spine was outlined
in bruises on my back with nothing to stop those bones
from rubbing against skin. Who else could he blame
for what I had done to myself? You were just a polite voice
on the telephone, always calling during supper, some snot-nosed
prep school punk. I was my father's littlest girl, his hell
on wheels, running away from him each morning,
just ahead of his headlights, around and around the block.

2012. november 26., hétfő

Leonard Cohen: How Could I Have Doubted

I stopped looking for you
I stopped waiting for you
I stopped dying for you
and I started dying for myself
I aged rapidly
I became fat in the face
and soft in the gut
and I forgot that I’d ever loved you
I was old
I had no focus, no mission
I wandered around eating and buying
bigger and bigger clothes
and I forgot why I hated
every long moment that was mine to fill
Why did you come back to me tonight
I can’t even get off this chair
Tears run down my cheeks
I am in love again
I can live like this

2012. november 24., szombat

Ady Endre: A Hortobágy poétája

Kúnfajta, nagyszemű legény volt,
Kínzottja sok-sok méla vágynak,
Csordát őrzött és nekivágott
A híres magyar Hortobágynak.

Alkonyatok és délibábok
Megfogták százszor is a lelkét,
De ha virág nőtt a szivében,
A csorda-népek lelegelték.

Ezerszer gondolt csodaszépet,
Gondolt halálra, borra, nőre,
Minden más táján a világnak
Szent dalnok lett volna belőle.

De ha a piszkos, gatyás, bamba
Társakra s a csordára nézett,
Eltemette rögtön a nótát:
Káromkodott vagy fütyörészett.

2012. november 23., péntek

Stephen Dunn: From the Manifesto of the Selfish

Because altruists are the least sexy people on earth, unable
to say “I want” without embarrassment,

we need to take from them everything they give,
then ask for more,

this is how to excite them, and because it’s exciting
to see them the least bit excited

once again we’ll be doing something for ourselves,
who have no problem taking pleasure,

always desirous and so pleased to be pleased, we who above all
can be trusted to keep the balance.

2012. november 22., csütörtök

Ella Wheeler Wilcox: Winds of Fate

One ship drives east and another drives west,
With the self-same winds that blow,
’Tis the set of the sails
And not the gales
That tell them the way to go.
Like the winds of the sea are the winds of fate,
As we voyage along through life,
’Tis the set of the soul
That decides its goal
And not the calm or the strife.

2012. november 21., szerda

Mario Benedetti: In defence of joy

Defend joy as a trench
defend it from scandal and routine
from misery and miserable
from temporary absences
and from definitive ones.

Defend joy as a principle
defend it from wonder and nightmares
from neutrals and neutrons
from sweet infamies
and serious diagnoses

Defend joy as a flag
defend it from ray and melancholy
from neives and rogues
from rhetoric and cardiac attacs
from endemics and academics

Defend joy as a destination
defend it from fire and firefighters
from suicidal and homicidal
from vacations and burden
from the obligation of being happy.

Defend joy as a certainty
defend it from oxide and dirt
from the famous brushwork of time
from dew and opportunism
from pimps of laughter

Defend joy as a Right
defend it from God and winter
from capital letters and death
from surnames and sorrows
from chance
                        and from joy itself.

Mario Benedetti: Defensa de la alegría

Defender la alegría como una trinchera
defenderla del escándalo y la rutina
de la miseria y los miserables
de las ausencias transitorias
y las definitivas

defender la alegría como un principio
defenderla del pasmo y las pesadillas
de los neutrales y de los neutrones
de las dulces infamias
y los graves diagnósticos

defender la alegría como una bandera
defenderla del rayo y la melancolía
de los ingenuos y de los canallas
de la retórica y los paros cardiacos
de las endemias y las academias

defender la alegría como un destino
defenderla del fuego y de los bomberos
de los suicidas y los homicidas
de las vacaciones y del agobio
de la obligación de estar alegres

defender la alegría como una certeza

defenderla del óxido y la roña
de la famosa pátina del tiempo
del relente y del oportunismo
de los proxenetas de la risa

defender la alegría como un derecho
defenderla de dios y del invierno
de las mayúsculas y de la muerte
de los apellidos y las lástimas
del azar
y también de la alegría.

2012. november 20., kedd

2012. november 19., hétfő

Ruth Feldman: Detour

I took a long time getting here,
much of it wasted on wrong turns,
back roads riddled by ruts.
I had adventures
I never would have known
if I proceeded as the crow flies.
Super highways are so sure
of where they are going:
they arrive too soon.

A straight line isn't always
the shortest distance
between two people.
Sometimes I act as though
I'm heading somewhere else
while, imperceptibly,
I narrow the gap between you and me.
I'm not sure I'll ever
know the right way, but I don't mind
getting lost now and then.
Maps don't know everything.

2012. november 17., szombat

Pablo Neruda: A legszomorúbb vers

A legszomorúbb verset tudnám ma éjjel írni.

Például, teszem azt, hogy "Oly csillagos az éjjel,
fönt kéken dideregnek a messzi csillagok. "

Keringve énekel az éji szél az égen.

A legszomorúbb verset tudnám ma éjjel írni.
Szerettem őt, és olykor tán ő is szeretett.

Hány ilyen éjszakán át tartottam karjaim közt.
Csókjainkkal bejártuk a végtelen eget.

Ő szeretett, és olykor talán én is szerettem.
Hogyne imádtam volna a vad, nagy szemeket.

A legszomorúbb verset tudnám ma éjjel írni.
Érezve: nem enyém már. Tudva, hogy elveszett.

Hallgatva a nagy éjt, mely nélküle még nagyobb lett.
A vers megeszi lelkem, mint harmat a füvet.

Mit számít, hogy szerelmem nem tudta megőrizni.
Oly csillagos az éjjel, s ő nincs itt - hol lehet?

Ez minden. Arra messze dalol valaki. Messze.
Lelkem nem hiszi el, hogy örökre elveszett.

Mintha csak meglelhetném, szemem kutatja egyre.
Szívem kutatja egyre, s ő nincs itt - hol lehet?

Az éj is az a régi, a holdsütötte fák is.
Csak mi, mi nem vagyunk már azok a régiek.

Persze, nem szeretem már, de akkor! hogy szerettem.
Hogy meghallhassa hangom, fürkésztem a szelet.

Másoké. Másoké lesz. Mint csókjaim előtt volt.
Hangja, tündéri teste. A végtelen szemek.

Persze, nem szeretem már, de hátha szeretem még.
Rövid a szerelem, s oly hosszú, míg feleded.

Mert annyi éjszakán át tartottam karjaim közt
lelkem nem hiszi el, hogy örökre elveszett.

Habár ez az utolsó bánat, mit érte érzek,
és most intézem hozzá utolsó versemet.

(Somlyó György fordítása)

Petri György: Ne mondd, hogy nem

Hogy hiányzol: nyilvánvalóan helytelen.
Valamiként az is, ha én neked.
Törölni kellene pár szubrutint.
Kikap-bekap. Az üresjáratok
helyébe: nyelvtanulás, kocogás,
elmaradt tanulmányok bepótlása:
pl. "A filmművészet kezdetei",
"Az algebra és a keres-
kedelmi arithmetika összefü-
ggése. Számrendszerek". Baromi érdekes.
Nem? Hát akkor mi? Folyton úgyse lehet.
Egy férfi résziről. Ebben a korban.
Meg nem is kell mindig.
Ámbár. Olyan szép vagy.
És nekem viszonylag
kevés időm van hátra
(ehhez viszont: nem lehet viszonyulni).
Tehát? Tehát semmi. Vársz vagy várlak.
Különben az újságok is
elég érdekesek, meg a megélénkült
reménytelenség, ami ahhoz képest,
mikor csak pangtunk, pangtunk,
mégiscsak, ugye?
Ugye? Ugye?
Azért most mégiscsak jobb?

2012. november 16., péntek

Stephen Levine: If prayer would do it

If prayer would do it
I'd pray.

If reading esteemed thinkers would do it
I'd be halfway through the Patriarchs.

If discourse would do it
I'd be sitting with His Holiness
every moment he was free.

If contemplation would do it
I'd have translated the Periodic Table
to hermit poems, converting
matter to spirit.

If even fighting would do it
I'd already be a blackbelt.

If anything other than love could do it
I've done it already
and left the hardest for last.

2012. november 14., szerda

Mario Benedetti: Lo que necesito de ti

No sabes como necesito tu voz;
necesito tus miradas
aquellas palabras que siempre me llenaban,
necesito tu paz interior;
necesito la luz de tus labios
!!! Ya no puedo... seguir así !!!
...Ya... No puedo
mi mente no quiere pensar
no puede pensar nada más que en ti.
Necesito la flor de tus manos
aquella paciencia de todos tus actos
con aquella justicia que me inspiras
para lo que siempre fue mi espina
mi fuente de vida se ha secado
con la fuerza del olvido...
me estoy quemando;
aquello que necesito ya lo he encontrado
pero aun !!!Te sigo extrañando!!!

2012. november 13., kedd

Vera Pavlova: 4

Fell in love in sleep,
woke up in tears:
never have loved anyone so much,
never has anyone loved me so.
Had no time for even a kiss,
nor to ask his name.
Now i pass
sleepless nights
dreaming of him.

2012. november 12., hétfő

Sandra Cisneros: You called me corazón

That was enough
for me to forgive you.
To spirit a tiger
from its cell.

Called me corazón
in that instant before
I let go the phone
back to its cradle.

Your voice small.
Heat of your eyes,
how I would've placed
my mouth on each.

Said corazón
and the word blazed
like a branch of jacaranda.

2012. november 10., szombat

Fodor Ákos: Túlcsorduló haiku a szépségről

Van, ki gyönyörű.
Van, kin észre kell venni.
S van, aki attól szép,
hogy hasonlít egy csúfra,
akit szeretek. 

2012. november 9., péntek

Lola Haskins: Love

She tries it on, like a dress.
She decides it doesn't fit,
and starts to take it off.
Her skin comes, too.

2012. november 8., csütörtök

Louise Glück: The Untrustworthy Speaker

Don't listen to me; my heart's been broken.
I don't see anything objectively.

I know myself; I've learned to hear like a psychiatrist.
When I speak passionately,
That's when I'm least to be trusted.

It's very sad, really: all my life I've been praised
For my intelligence, my powers of language, of insight-
In the end they're wasted-

I never see myself.
Standing on the front steps. Holding my sisters hand.
That's why I can't account
For the bruises on her arm where the sleeve ends . . .

In my own mind, I'm invisible: that's why I'm dangerous.
People like me, who seem selfless.
We're the cripples, the liars:
We're the ones who should be factored out
In the interest of truth.

When I'm quiet, that's when the truth emerges.
A clear sky, the clouds like white fibers.
Underneath, a little gray house. The azaleas
Red and bright pink.

If you want the truth, you have to close yourself
To the older sister, block her out:
When a living thing is hurt like that
In its deepest workings,
All function is altered.

That's why I'm not to be trusted.
Because a wound to the heart
Is also a wound to the mind.

2012. november 7., szerda

Gioconda Belli: Uno no Escoge

Uno no escoge el país donde nace;
pero ama el país donde ha nacido.
Uno no escoge el tiempo para venir al mundo;
pero debe dejar huella de su tiempo.
Nadie puede evadir su responsabilidad.
Nadie puede taparse los ojos, los oidos,
enmudecer y cortarse las manos.
Todos tenemos un deber de amor que cumplir,
una historia que nacer
una meta que alcanzar.
No escogimos el momento para venir al mundo:
Ahora podemos hacer el mundo
en que nacerá y crecerá
la semilla que trajimos con nosotros.

2012. november 6., kedd

2012. november 5., hétfő

Robert Creeley: For Friendship

For friendship
make a chain that holds,
to be bound to
others, two by two,

a walk, a garland,
handed by hands
that cannot move
unless they hold.

2012. november 3., szombat

Nicole Blackman: It Is In the Leaving

it is in the leaving that the agony begins
—— hope and skin stretched too far

time enough for words
borrowed and weighty

eyes that glisten in the knowing of what comes
always comes

train stations
bus stops
take us apart

but we keep knitting together
strangely inevitably
even we don't question it anymore

it is not in the reuniting that we are together

no kind of kiss binds us
each greeting
each meeting
is new is full of searching
of notsureifitwillbethesame

it is not in the continuing

not in the birthdays anniversaries new years
(although they're very grand)
nor in the letters calls poems

the miss you's are careless because they are common

it is not in the waiting

the day-counting
the trip-planning
the bag-packing
no kind of agony that shreds days makes us together
(calendars are cruel)

it is in the leaving

in the last look
last touch
last kiss
one more
will I ever see you again
that makes me sure
that makes him sure
that this is a great love

it is in the leaving

Elizabeth Hobbs: Slow Dancing on the Highway: The Trip North

You follow close behind me,
for a thousand miles responsive to my movements.
I signal, you signal back. We will meet at the next exit.

You blow kisses, which I return.
You mouth "I love you," a message for my rearview mirror.

We do a slow tango as we change lanes in tandem,
gracefully, as though music were guiding us.
It is tighter than bodies locked in heat,
this caring, this ardent watching.

Anna Kamieńska: In a Hospital

By the side of an old woman
who is dying in a corridor
no one stands

Staring at the ceiling
for so many days already
she writes in the air with her finger

There are no tears no laments
no wringing of hands
not enough angels on duty

Some deaths are polite and quiet
as if somebody gave up his place
in a crowded tram

Mario Benedetti: Las Palabras

No me gaste las palabras
no cambie el significado
mire que lo que yo quiero
lo tengo bastante claro

si usted habla de progreso
nada más que por hablar
mire que todos sabemos
que adelante no es atrás

si está contra la violencia
pero nos apunta bien
si la violencia va y vuelve
no se me queje después

si usted pide garantías
sólo para su corral
mire que el pueblo conoce
lo que hay que garantizar

no me gaste las palabras
no cambie el significado
mire que lo que yo quiero
lo tengo bastante claro

si habla de paz pero tiene
costumbre de torturar
mire que hay para ese vicio
una cura radical

si escribe reforma agraria
pero sólo en el papel
mire que si el pueblo avanza
la tierra viene con él

si está entregando el país
y habla de soberanía
quién va a dudar que usted es
soberana porquería

no me gaste las palabras
no cambie el significado
mire que lo que yo quiero
lo tengo bastante claro

no me ensucie las palabras
no les quite su sabor
y límpiese bien la boca
si dice revolución.

Alicia Partnoy: Comunicación

Yo te hablo de poesía y vos me preguntás
a qué hora comemos.
Lo peor es que
yo también tengo hambre.

Alicia Partnoy: Communication

I am talking to you about poetry
and you say
when do we eat.
The worst of it is
I'm hungry too.

Elizabeth Bishop: Conversation

The tumult in the heart
keeps asking questions.
And then it stops and undertakes to answer
in the same tone of voice.
No one could tell the difference.

Uninnocent, these conversations start,
and then engage the senses,
only half-meaning to.
And then there is no choice,
and then there is no sense;

until a name
and all its connotation are the same.

Dorianne Laux: Dust

Someone spoke to me last night
told me the truth. Just a few words,but I recognized it.
I knew I should make myself get up,
write it down, but it was late,
and I was exhausted from working
all day in the garden, moving rocks.
Now, I remember only the flavor --
not like food, sweet or sharp.

More like fine powder, like dust.
And I wasn't elated or frightened,
but simple rapt, aware.
That's how it is sometimes --
God comes to your window,
all bright and black wings,
and you're just too tired to open it. 

Pat Mora: In the Blood

The brown-eyed child
and the white-haired grandfather
dance in the silent afternoon.
They snap their finger
to a rhythm only those
who love can hear.

Pat Mora: En la Sangre

La niña con ojos cafés
y el abuelito con pelo blanco
bailan en la tarde silenciosa.
Castañetean los dedos
a un ritmo oido solamente
por los que aman.

Gustavo Adolfo Bécquer: Rima XLIX

Alguna vez la encuentro por el mundo,
y pasa junto a mí;
y pasa sonriéndose, y yo digo:
?¿Cómo puede reír?

Luego asoma a mi labio otra sonrisa,
máscara del dolor,
y entonces pienso: ?Acaso ella se ríe,
como me río yo.

Anna Akhmatova

Yes, I had loved them, those meetings of the nights -
Upon small table a glass filled with ice,
Above black coffee thick and smelly steam,
From the red heater heavy winter heat,
The stinging mirth of literary parable
And first look of the friend, helpless and terrible.

Marge Piercy: For the young who want to

Talent is what they say
you have after the novel
is published and favorably
reviewed. Beforehand what
you have is a tedious
delusion, a hobby like knitting.

Work is what you have done
after the play is produced
and the audience claps.
Before that friends keep asking
when you are planning to go
out and get a job.

Genius is what they know you
had after the third volume
of remarkable poems. Earlier
they accuse you of withdrawing,
ask why you don’t have a baby,
call you a bum.

The reason people want M.F.A.’s,
take workshops with fancy names
when all you can really
learn is a few techniques,
typing instructions and some-
body else’s mannerisms

is that every artist lacks
a license to hang on the wall
like your optician, your vet
proving you may be a clumsy sadist
whose fillings fall into the stew
but you’re certified a dentist.

The real writer is one
who really writes. Talent
is an invention like phlogiston
after the fact of fire.
Work is its own cure. You have to
like it better than being loved.

Arkaye Kierulf: Textbook Statistics

On average, 5 people are born every second and 1.78 die.
So we’re ahead by 3.22, which is good, I think.

The average person will spend two weeks in his life
waiting for the traffic light to change.

Pubescent girls wait two to four years
for the tender lumps under their nipples to grow.

So the average adult has over 1,460 dreams a year,
laughs 15 times a day. Children, 385 more times.

So the average male adult mates 2,580 times with five different people
but falls in love only twice in his life—possibly

with the same person. Seventy-nine long years for each of us,
awakened to love in our twenties, so more or less

thirty years to love our two lovers each. And if, in a lifetime,
one walks a total of 13,640 miles by increments,

Where are you headed, traveler?
is a valid philosophical question to pose to a man, I think, along with

Why does the blood in your veins travel endlessly?
on account of those red cells flowing night and day

through the traffic of the blood vessels, which if laid out
in a straight line would be over 90,000 miles long.

The great Nile River in Egypt is 4,180 miles long.
The great circle of the earth’s equator is 24,903 miles.

Dividing this green earth among all of us
gives a hundred square feet of living space to each,

but our brains take only one square foot of it,
along with the 29 bones of the skull, so

if you look outside your window with your mind only,
why do you hear the housefly hum middle octave, key of F?

If you listen to the cat on the rug by the fire with
the 32 muscles in your ear, you will hear

100 different vocal sounds. Listen to the dog
wishing for your love: 10 different sounds.

If you think loneliness is beyond calculation,
think of the mole digging a tunnel underground

ninety-eight miles long to China
in one single night. If you think beauty escapes you

or your entire genealogical tree, consider the slug
with its four uneven noses, or the chameleon shifting colors

under an arbitrary light. Think of the deepest point
in the deepest ocean, the Marianas Trench in the Pacific,

do you think anyone’s sadness can be deeper? In 1681,
the last dodo bird died. In the 16th century,

Queen Elizabeth suffered from a fear of roses.
Anne Boleyn had six fingers. People fall in love

twice. The human heart beats 3 billion times — only — in a lifetime.
If you attempt to count all the stars in the galaxy, one

every second, it’ll take 3 thousand years, if you’re lucky.
As owls are the only birds that can see the color blue

the ocean is bluish, along with the sky and the eyes
of that boy who died alone by that little unnamed river

in your dreams one blue night of the war
of one of your lives. (Do you remember which one?)

Duration of World War 1: four years, 3 months, 14 days.
Duration of an equatorial sunset: 128 seconds, 142 tops.

A neuron’s impulse takes 1/1000 of a second,
a morning’s commute from Prospect Expressway

to the Brooklyn Bridge, about 90 minutes,
forty-five without traffic.

Time it takes for a flower to wilt after it’s cut from the stem: five days.
Time left our sun before it runs out of light: five billion years.

Hence the number of happy citizens under the red glow
of that sun: maybe 50% of us, 50% on good days, tops.

Number who are sad: maybe 70% on the good days—
especially on the good days. (The first emotion’s more intense, I think,

when caught up with the second.) So children grow faster in the summer,
their bright blue bodies expanding. The ocean, after all, is blue

which is why the sky now outside your window is bluish
expanding with the white of something beautiful, like clouds.

Fact: The world is a beautiful place—once in a while.
Another fact: We fall in love twice. Maybe more, if we’re lucky.

Tony Hoagland: Phone Call

Maybe I overdid it
when I called my father an enemy of humanity.
That might have been a little strongly put,
a slight overexaggeration,

an immoderate description of the person
who at the moment, two thousand miles away,
holding the telephone receiver six inches from his ear,
must have regretted paying for my therapy.

What I meant was that my father
was an enemy of my humanity
and what I meant behind that
was that my father was split
into two people, one of them

living deep inside of me
like a bad king, or an incurable disease-
blighting my crops,
striking down my herds,
poisoning my wells – the other
standing in another time zone,
in a kitchen in Wyoming,
with bad knees and white hair sprouting from his ears.

I don’t want to scream forever,
I don’t want to live without proportion
like some kind of infection from the past,

so I have to remember the second father,
the one whose TV dinner is getting cold
while he holds the phone in his left hand
and stares blankly out the window

where just now the sun is going down
and the last fingertips of sunlight
are withdrawing from the hills
they once touched like a child.

Paulette Jiles: She Writes in Spanish to Someone She Knew

She writes in Spanish to someone she knew, but she never knew him very well at all. At her side are a list of words that are supposed to mean what she wants to say, along with a picture of the last time she saw him and a Coleman lamp. I am far away, she writes, importantly. All over the village lamps are coming on, people turn up their evening mentality and light themselves, they shine around car games and food.

Actually, I am not so far away, she writes. I am extremely close.

Kenneth Rexroth: The Love Poems of Marichiko (excerpt)

You ask me what I thought about
Before we were lovers.
The answer is easy.
Before I met you
I didn't have anything to think about.

Mario Benedetti: Corazón coraza

Porque te tengo y no 
porque te pienso 
porque la noche está de ojos abiertos 
porque la noche pasa y digo amor 
porque has venido a recoger tu imagen 
y eres mejor que todas tus imágenes 
porque eres linda desde el pie hasta el alma 
porque eres buena desde el alma a mí 
porque te escondes dulce en el orgullo 
pequeña y dulce 
corazón coraza

porque eres mía
porque no eres mía
porque te miro y muero
y peor que muero
si no te miro amor
si no te miro

porque tú siempre existes dondequiera
pero existes mejor donde te quiero
porque tu boca es sangre
y tienes frío
tengo que amarte amor
tengo que amarte
aunque esta herida duela como dos
aunque te busque y no te encuentre
y aunque
la noche pase y yo te tenga
y no.

Harvey Shapiro: The Uses of Poetry

This was a day when I did nothing,
aside from reading the newspaper,
taking both breakfast and lunch by myself
in the kitchen, dozing after lunch
until the middle of the afternoon. Then
I read one poem by Zbigniew Herbert
in which he thanked God for the many beautiful
things in this world, in a voice so absurdly
truthful, the entire wrecked day was redeemed.