Saturday, February 26, 2011

Therese Becker: "Lunch With the Dalai Lama"

In a dream he is standing in line
in a busy high school cafeteria
blending in, (even with his shaved head,
prayer beads, red robe and sandals)
waiting as if he were just another student.

When he asks me to have lunch with him,
I begin to excitedly invite everyone else to join us,
but we are invisible inside the hungry crowd
rushing to their place in the food line,
and so we sit alone at a long wooden table
where he proposes no mantra, no meditation or prayer;

instead, he reaches inside his robe and brings out
an old radio which he places on the table
as if it were the cafeteria's main selection of the day.
He begins to show me how to work the dials
and I feel like a child just beginning to walk
or a bird about to sing its first song.

As he works the dials, he looks toward me
to be sure I'm paying attention.
His hands appear brilliant as the sun,
his eyes like water in a still pond
that holds an endless wave of being
transmitted and received.

He reaches out, holds
my trembling hand, places it
so gently on the radio's dials
where I begin to feel the song inside
of everyone awakening, a song of hope
I've always known, but yet forgotten,
that is now right here as I awake
inside the middle of the night singing.

(previous credit to Oberon Magazine)

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Sheila Ryan: "Crossroads"

The night was gone for good.  Then he heard a door open upstairs.  Someone came down the stairs, and Elizabeth stood before him.  She touched his arm, she moved her lips, but he heard nothing.

In a moment, she said, “You’ll never come back.  I know it.  Don’t say you will.  You’ll never come back.”

“No, I never will,” he said.

She dropped her hand and said nothing more.  She was standing, motionless, at the very same spot as before, looking at him through lifeless eyes.  He took one step toward her, opened his arms, and then, wrenching himself violently, he thrust himself outside.  The world was alight with morning; the dew entangled in the spider webs gleamed in the first sunlight.  He never looked back.  Behind him the peaceful farm slowly dissolved; and in front of him rose the great, wide world.”

- Theodor Storm, from Immensee

Sunday, February 20, 2011

Brad Liening: "Beyond the Sea"

In this landscape of flowering skulls
You turn to me to tell me of
Great octopi forming letters
Beneath the sea,
A desperate message for whom
And who taught octopi how to spell?
Spells cast and broken daily.
That’s the last I see of you!
In the back of the hearse, a smaller hearse,
One million unique snowflakes
Edging closer to the flame,
One phase moving into another.
Transmogrifications abound:
I’m a French millipede
Understanding the underside
To French shoes and stiletto boots,
Everything else Greek to me
Except for the ruins, universal language
That makes a lot of money.

Saturday, February 19, 2011

Dead leaves, coffee grounds, grenadine, tabac Maryland, mental expectation,--perfumes of the Nord-Sud; autumn arrivals at Pigalle, or sorties from Notre-Dame-des-Champs into the lights of Montparnasse, where the chestnuts, glowing red by the metro entrance, live in a warmer climate than other trees....
     Our memories are card-indexes consulted, and then put back in disorder by authorities whome we do not control.

-Cyril Connolly, from The Unquiet Grave

(photo: "Mushroom" by contributor Eric Burke)

Thursday, February 17, 2011

Marge Simon: "When the Moon Explodes"

They’d planned to tour Greece this summer, but now that’s out.
They put the last of their pot in the Ford pickup, take I-95 to Daytona. 
It’s Vera’s idea.  She says she wants watch the moon explode.

“Do you remember when we got this high?” Vera says.
“Crazy times, the seventies,” her friend agrees. 
She wipes the hair from her eyes.
Tonight they walk along the sand. Moonlight makes divinity of the fog. 
There is a sudden rush of wind and colors that are not colors
but multiples of blue and silver. The sea is on their lips 
and the whole white night sings aloud.

Vera laughs and steps into the waves, extends her hand. 
"You’ve not enough strength. Take mine.”

Monday, February 14, 2011

He seemed to be quite unexpectedly (for human despair seldom leads to great truth) on the verge of a simple solution to the universe but was interrupted by an urgent request.  A squirrel under a tree had seen Pnin on the path.  In one sinuous tendril-like movement, the intelligent animal climbed up to the brim of a drinking fountain and, as Pnin approached, thrust its oval face toward him with a rather coarse spluttering sound, its cheeks puffed out.  Pnin understood and after some fumbling he found what had to be pressed for the necessary results…

The water father continued upon his way, came to the end of the path, then turned into a side street where there was a small bar of log-cabin design with garnet glass in its casement windows.

-Vladimir Nabokov, from Pnin 

Sunday, February 13, 2011

Janet Brennan: from "New Colors"

....Only the green haze that engulfed the city permeated my consciousness on that dreary day in September. The leaves should have been standing out against a turquoise sky as gold and red-rust. Rather, they were hidden among the thick haze that threatened to choke all of humanity. Most sane people were huddled together in the basements of their homes after diligently, albeit a bit late, boarding the windows and cracks of their homes. Quick streaks of electricity sparked and crackled across the sky, snapping branches of dead trees as a thunder storm threatened to purge the decaying city. It would either rain or set it on fire again.... 

Homage a Hokusai

Friday, February 11, 2011

    When he stepped out into the street,  the afternoon was ailing; a plague of light was blighting the radiance of the sun; an epidemic of boils and rashes spread and erupted across the sky, infecting the clouds, which wilted and sagged in their faltering progress.... 
....And there in the distance, along the scabby skyline, Suk's spent days shone blue, small, and healthy, devoid of calendar names in the happily vanishing herd, free of him and his worries, leaving dust in their wake....

-Milorad Pavic, from Dictionary of the Khazars

Thursday, February 10, 2011

All at first was the fremitus of things, the jigger of gnats, drum of the blood, fidget of leaves, shiver of light, boom of the wind.  The tremor of my cry may have had something to do with choosing this threshold.  There are other sills, empty places with intolerable glare, presences, noon quiet, lonely desperate desert wastes.  I have died again in them.  Those who go to the inhuman to place their hopes upon its alien rhythms, its bitter familiarity with nothing, its constant retreat from all that we can love, are hostages to vastation.

-Guy Davenport, from C. Musonius Rufus

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

Doug Draime: "War Mall"

There could be time
enough, and even
energy enough,
but the will stumbles back
into unrepairable
The lungs have inhaled
marijuana, and the
day is dark, moving like
a snail uphill in fog.
Everywhere there is
preparation for war ...
where the big countries
bomb the little countries.
The mall is full
of robots called American Consumers,
blind and dull
as door jams. 
I forget where I parked my car,
and almost desperately
search one row at a time.
And I find  my beat-up, ‘92 Ford Tempo
at the end of the 5th row.
Some days I can’t walk into a mall
without being overwhelmed by the
mentality of war.
There is something blatantly
ostentatious, something 
bellowing greed and arrogance,
that disgusts me!
On other days I am better.
I can come with my wife shopping for family
and friends, and be a regular guy.
Yeah, it must be the ganga, or the gloomy
dark Oregon  day,
as I speed down the freeway for
home, like an army deserter 
running from the front lines, 
and more than happy to be one.

(this poem first appeared in The American Dissident)

Saturday, February 5, 2011

Anssi Seppänen: “to do”

what to do in life,
 spiders & flies.

what to do,
  in life,
  cartoon strips,

something to do,
 Chagall, Modigliani,

  sleep in life,
 follow the tide.

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

Howie Good: “Art of This Century”

Black lines of paint veil
the troubled queen.
A dagger-tongued horse peeks in.
The man in overalls has begun
to drink heavily again.
With the arrival of summer,
a flower is a fox in a hole.
Such winds!
Sounds in the grass disturb
the neighborhood’s grief.

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

…and life went on and on and on, like a necklace of rice grains, on each grain of which a landscape had been painted, tiny grains and microscopic landscapes, and I knew that everyone was putting that necklace on and wearing it, but no one had the patience or the strength or the courage to take if off and look at it closely and decipher each landscape grain by grain, partly because to do so required the vision of a lynx or an eagle, and partly because the landscapes usually turned out to contain unpleasant surprises like coffins, makeshift cemeteries, ghost towns, the void and the horror, the smallness of being and its ridiculous will…

-Robert Bolano, from By Night In Chile