28 December 2014

Amorgos, Parts 2 & 3

They say the mountains tremble and the pines rage
when night bites off the pins of the roof tiles so the kalikantzari
        can get in
when the underworld sucks in the frothing scum of the torrents
or when the hairline on the pepper tree is hammered by the north wind

Only, the bullocks of the Achaians in the lush meadows of Thessaly
pasture lustily, with the incessant sun glaring down
eat green grass poplar leaves wild celery, drink clear water
       from the channels
smell of the sweat of the earth and afterwards fall deep asleep
      in the shade of the willows.

throw out your dead, said Heraclitus and he saw the sky turn pale
he saw in the mud two small cyclamen kissing
and he fell down to kiss his own dead body in the welcoming earth
just as the wolf comes down out of the oaks to see the dead dog
      and to howl

What does it matter, the drop that shines on your forehead?
I know the thunder wrote its name on your lips
I know an eagle built its eyrie in your eyes
but here on this marshy bank there is one road only
only one treacherous road and you must cross it
you must soak in blood before time catches up with you
and you must cross to the other side to see your companions again
flowers birds deer
to find another sea another kindness
to grasp Achilles' horses by their reins
instead of sitting mutely blaming the river
like Kitsos' mother when she stoned the river
because you will have become lost and your beauty grown old.
In the branches of a willow I see drying a shirt you wore as a child

take the flag of life to shroud death
let your heart not give way
let not your tear be lost on the unyielding earth
as the tear of the penguin was lost in the icy wastes
Lamentation is worthless
Life everywhere will be the same with the flute of snakes in the land
        of phantoms
with the song of thieves in the spice trees
with the knife of desire in the face of hope
with the sadness of spring in the leafy heart of an owl
It is enough if a plow is found, a keen sickle in a cheerful hand
it is enough if a only little wheat ripens
a little wheat for the holiday a little wine for remembrance a little water
        for the dust . . .

In the yard of the embittered the sun does not rise
only worms come up to taunt the stars
only horses sprout on ant hills
and the bats eat birds and piss seed

In the yard of the embittered the night does not fade
only the leaves throw up a river of tears
when the devil slips in to ride the dogs
and the black birds swim in a well of blood

In the yard of the embittered the eye has run dry
the brain has frozen and the heart has turned to stone
the flesh of frogs hangs in the spider's teeth
the unfed locusts scream at the vampire's feed

In the yard of the embittered the grass grows dark
only one evening in May a wind breaks in
a light step like the skipping of the field
a kiss from the white crests of the sea.

If you are thirsty for water we will wring out a cloud
and if you are hungry for bread we will butcher a nightingale
only the bitter herb waits a moment to open
the dark sky to lighten the mullein to flower

Yet it was a wind that fled a lark that was lost
it was the face of May the pale face of the moon
a light step like skipping in a the field
a kiss from the white crests of the sea. 

Trans, DGW.

For the complete Amorgos with the Greek: http://www.nauplion.net/Gatsos-AMORGOS.pdf

21 December 2014

O body become Bot

                                               By Heidi Lynn Staples

                                                O Anti O Antiphons

O man-made machine who fakes man as Thing and Foresaker, the rope
              shipped around our neck of the woods, Come to enslave us to
              our owned hours, O body become Bot

O Smart Phone, who flames from the mount if a screen, waiting in the
              pockets, lights in the mall's smallest darkness, Come, recognize
              our vices.

O keyboard O Facebook, and Social Media, and WWW, whose ever-
             widening “Buyer!” has been let loose and pawned the words:
             Come and bring forth “Friend,” let us bow together before your

O keyboard and clicker of the Digital Age, who can recognize my face
             from among the masses and hunt me down and destroy me from
             any remote location: Come, come and watch over us.

O biotech implant, over become lover, O biotech Virus of Neural
             Plaquing, how skull no longer offers isolation.

O Predator Drone, O Hummingbird Drone, O bee Drone Swarm how
             hovers: Come, and let us watch a man-made machine unmake a
             man unto forsaken thing, Come into the classrooms of our youth
             and hear how we laugh.

O robotic nurse, who can sing, who can dance, who stands ready with
             outstretched metal rubber-encased arms and movement-tracking
             tearless eyes before our bodily suffering she shall not waver:
             Come and deliver into their beds our soft bodies, pliable babies,
             into your arms, into your arms, into your arms, forever more

             and more . . .  

From The American Poetry Review, November-December 2014.

14 December 2014

Music that stains the silence remains

                                                   by Lawrence Durrell


Nothing is lost, sweet self,
Nothing is ever lost.
The unspoken word
Is not exhausted but can be heard.
Music that stains
The silence remains
O echo is everywhere, the unbeckonable bird!


           Song from a Play

The Pleiades are sinking cool as paint,
And earth's huge camber follows out,
Turning in sleep, the oceanic curve:

Defined in concave like a human eye
Or cheek pressed warm on the dark's cheek,
Like dancers to a music they deserve.

This balcony, a moon-anointed shelf
Above a silent garden holds my bed.
I slept. But the dispiriting autumn moon,

In her slow expurgation of the sky
Needs company: is brooding on the dead,
And so am I now, so am I.


Love on a leave-of-absence came,
Unmoored the silence like a barge,
Set free to float on lagging webs
The swan-black wise unhindered night.

(Bitter and pathless were the ways
Of sleep to which such beauty led.)


A song in the valley of Nemea:
Sing quiet, quite quiet here.

Song for the brides of Argos
Combing the swarms of golden hair:
Quite quiet, quiet there.

Under the rolling comb of grass,
The sword outrusts the golden helm.

Agamemnon under tumulus serene
Outsmiles the jury of skeletons:
Cool under cumulus the lion queen:

Only the drum can celebrate,
Only the adjective outlive them.

A song in the valley of Nemea:
Sing quiet, quiet, quiet here.

Tone of the frog in the empty well,
Drone of the bald bee on the cold skull.

Quiet, Quiet, Quiet.

From Lawrence Durrell, Selected Poems, 1956.

07 December 2014

The presence of some small god

                                             by Mary Oliver


The slippery green frog
that went to his death
in the heron's pink throat
was my small brother,

and the heron
with the white plumes
like a crown on his head
who is washing now his great sword-beak
in the shining pond
is my tall thin brother.

My heart dresses in black
and dances.


I don't want eventual,
I want soon.
It's 5 a.m. It's noon.
It's dusk falling to dark.
I listen to music.
I eat up a few wild poems
while time creeps along
as though it's got all day.
This is what I have.
The dull hangover of waiting,
the blush of my heart on the damp grass,
the flower-faced moon.
A gull broods on the shore
where a moment ago there were two.
Softly my right hand fondles my left hand
as though it were you.


Angels are wonderful but they are so, well, aloof.
It's what I sense in the mud and the roots of the
trees, or the well, or the barn, or the rock with
its citron map of lichen that halts my feet and
makes my eyes flare, feeling the presence of some
spirit, some small god, who abides there.

If I were a perfect person, I would be bowing
I'm not, though I pause wherever I feel this
holiness, which is why I' often so late coming
back from wherever I went.

Forgive me.

From Mary Oliver, Blue Horses, 2014.