26 July 2015

Things which will not appear in this lullaby

                         Three poems by Traci Brimhall

Family Portrait as Lullaby

Your father is the slow dance and I am the ballad.
Or he's the nightclub and I am six tequila shots on the bar.
I am the salt and lemon, too.

I am the snake and the apple. I am the tongue that says
to your father – Take. Eat. Do this in remembrance of me.
Your father, the monologue in the music box
and I, the plastic ballerina in gold shoes.

Your father is the swaddle, the rock, the cradle.
His potbellied heart loses its socks and is learning to laugh.

You are Mars. Your father and I are its two moons orbiting.
You, stardust on the telescope's lens
and the ice in the comet's tail.

Your heart is a poppy – bright, forgetful
You are the first mayapple of spring, unripe and rising.
And this is the hallelujah I asked the first stardust to sing at the quickening.

This is the dirty Eden, stalked by envious angels,
This is the land of Isaac, and of knives.

Things Which Will Not Appear in This Lullaby

This cast iron cradle on an overburdened bough.
That stone doll with a quartz heart and agates for eyes.
A boy waving a red skirt at a girl pawing the street
         in patent leather shoes.
A pirate ship circled by a shark that feeds on moonlight.
Mermaids training with tridents.
Instead I'll sing about a kelp[ forest caressing a glass-bottomed boat
        or wild ponies bathing in a starlit river.
Your father, his sweater held open like a sling weighted with pears.
Your father, anointing my wrist with a paper corsage.
My love, the fourth-longest river in the world.
Someone else's love, between the road and the woods,
Not Job's first loss or his forty-eighth, but his wife swaddling
        the second set of sons she'd been given to replace the ones
        God had taken.
Neither never, nor Neverland, but always and here.


Lullaby with Almost All the Answers

The bridesmaids in yellow silk harvesting
pears is when. Love set you going is why.

One third of the spirit entering me is why.
Moonlight gentling the curtains is how.

The angel Gabriel is who. The husband is who.
The stranger next to me on the bus who let me

warm my hands on her thighs is who. We all
want to be broken for each other is why.

We all want to kiss our names from someone
else's mouth is why. The tongue is where.

Neck is where. Collarbone, nipple, and nave
are where. Why: winter approached and heat

was scarce or the fourth glass of wine or old-
fashioned loneliness. My blood on the white flesh

of the bitten apple is what. I wanted a child
to live long enough to call me mother is why.

From Poetry Northwest, Winter and Spring 2015.

19 July 2015

All the cameras have gone to other wars

                                                       by Wisława Szymborska

The End and The Beginning

After every war
someone has to tidy up.
Things won't pick
themselves up, after all.

Someone has to shove
the rubble to the roadsides
so the carts loaded with corpses
can get by.

Someone has to trudge
through sludge and ashes,
through the sofa springs,
the shards of glass,
the bloody rags.

Someone has to lug the post
to prop the wall,
someone has to glaze the window,
set the door in its frames.

No sound bits, no photo opportunities
and it takes years.
All the cameras have gone
to other wars.

The bridges need to be rebuilt,
the railroad stations, too.
Shirtsleeves will be rolled
to shreds.

Someone, broom in hand,
still remembers how it was.
Someone else listens, nodding
his unshattered head.
But others are bound to be bustling nearby
who'll find all that
a little boring.

From time to time someone still must
dig up a rusted argument
from underneath a bush
and haul it off to the dump.

Those who knew
what this was all about
must make way for those
who know little.
And less than that.
And at last nothing less than nothing.

Someone has to lie there
in the grass that covers up
the causes and effects
with a cornstalk in his teeth,
gawking at clouds.

From Wisława Szymborska, MAP: Collected and Last Poems, 2015.

12 July 2015

Feast on your life

                                                                 by Derek Walcott 

The Time Will Come

The time will come
when, with elation,
you will greet yourself arriving
at your own door, in your own mirror,
and each will smile at the other’s welcome,
and say, sit here. Eat.

You will love again the stranger who was your self.
Give wine. Give bread. Give back your heart
to itself, to the stranger who has loved you
all your life, whom you ignored
for another; who knows you by heart.

Take down the love letters from the bookshelf,
the photographs, the desperate notes,
peel your own image from the mirror.
Sit. Feast on your life.

05 July 2015

For the lives of the sons of daughters

                            by John Fuller

in the Golfe de Lava

The sea is as sharp as diamonds.
The sun has a flat in the Oc.
Its tread has burned up the horizon.
The clouds are pillars of rock.

The sky's the grey-orange of rosé
That signals the end of the day
When Christian, Raymond and José
Went down to the pebbles to play.

And now the sunset's a cauldron
Of grief for the passing of years,
For our lives as thoughtless children
For the thoughts that turn to tears.

For the light on the glittering waters,
For the looks that turn away,
For the lives of the sons of daughters
And for the abandoned bay.

No one will water the roses.
The hedge grows over the gate.
The sun turns over and dozes.
And one more day is too late.

The breeze from the bay grows chilly
And worries the petals to rags,
For night has darkened the lily
And closed up our dreams in her flags.

No step on the path by the curtain
Will lift up the eyes from their book
For now only one things is certain:
There will never be eyes to look

Now the moon delivers its lecture
On light to a single star
And no one is left to conjecture
Wherever it is that we are.

The shutters are closed in the villa
And latched with a swivelling key
That curls like a rusting cedilla
And softens the sound of the sea

The Times Literary Supplement, May 22, 2015.