21 June 2015

Imagined beloved voices

                                                                                  By C. P. Cavafy

But Wise Men Apprehend What is Imminent

                                          The gods perceive what lies in the future, and mortals, what occurs in the                                                         present, but wise men apprehend what is imminent. Philostratus.

Mortal men perceive things as they happen.
What lies in the future the gods perceive,
gull and sole possessors of all enlightenment.
Of all the future holds, wise men apprehend
what is imminent. Their hearing,

sometimes, in moments of complete
absorption in their studies, is disturbed. The secret call
of events that are about to happen reaches them..
And they listen to it reverently. While in the street
outside, the people hear nothing at all.


Imagined voices, and beloved, too,
of those who died, or of those who are
lost unto us like the dead.

Sometimes in our dreams they speak to us:
sometimes in its thought the mind will hear them.

And with their sound for a moment there return
sounds from the first poetry of our life –
like music, in the night, far off, that fades away.

Come Back

Come back often and take hold of me,
beloved feeling come back and take hold of me,
when the memory of the body reawakens,
and old longing once more passes through the blood;
when the lips and skin remember,
and the hands feel like they're touching once again.

Come back often and take hold of me at night,
when the lips and skin remember . . .

Translations by Daniel Mendelsohn.

14 June 2015

Things appear, glow, suddenly vanish

                                      by Marius Kociejowski

Heat and Light

Things appear, glow, suddenly vanish.

A tree, for instance, can be so intense
It appears surrounded with dark light,
And just as the mind is trained to it
The prospect of certainty is yanked away,

A cut sapling gripped in the hand
And swung through air.

The distant explosions of a star –
The boy and his magnifying glass
Could set this whole scene ablaze.

The trees drop their leaves prematurely.

The path each leaf flows in motionless air
Is skilled by shape and weight,
In this stillness is itself wind.

A bucket is slung over a fence-post,
Its bottom a lacework of thinning rust.

The proximity of each object,
How each outshadows or is outshadowed
By its neighbor or else stands alone
           in exacting light –

There is no chronology.

The luminous signals are spread
Flat against the surface of memory,
As stars are discerned
Only by their brightness.

In the cracked geometry of the field,
A grasshopper climbs a dead stalk.

An empty bucket set
To rust on a fence-post –
That which extended the meaning of a river
Is a dead tunnel,

Holds nothing
But the bitter heat of intention
Soured by neglect.

The clanging emblems burn in mid air.

Marius Kociejowski, So Dance the Lords of Language, 2003.

07 June 2015


  by Linda Pastan

To a Daughter Leaving Home

When I taught you
at eight to ride
a bicycle, loping along
beside you
as you wobbled away
on two round wheels,
my own mouth rounding
in surprise when you pulled
ahead down the curved
path of the park,
I kept waiting
for the thud
of your crash as I
sprinted to catch up,
while you grew
smaller, more breakable
with distance,
pumping, pumping
for your life, screaming
with laughter,
the hair flapping
behind you like a
handkerchief waving

                            by Wyatt Prunty

Learning the Bicycle

The older children pedal past
Stable as little gyros, spinning hard
To supper, bath, and bed, until at last
We also quit, silent and tired
Beside the darkening yard where trees
Now shadow up instead of down.
Their predictable lengths can only tease
Her as, head lowered, she walks her bike alone
Somewhere between her wanting to ride
And her certainty she will always fall.
Tomorrow, though I will run behind,
Arms out to catch her, she’ll tilt then balance wide
Of my reach, till distance makes her small,
Smaller, beyond the place I stop and know
That to teach her I had to follow
And when she learned I had to let her go.