Wednesday, July 31, 2013

Dear Miss Emily (by James Galvin)

I knew the end would be gone before I got there.
After all, all rainbows lie for a living.
And as you have insisted, repeatedly,
The difference between death and the Eternal 
Present is about as far as one
Eyelash from the next, not wished upon.
Rainbows are not forms or stories, are they?
They are not doors ajar so much as far-
Flung situations without true beginnings
Or any ends--why bother--unless, as you
Suggest--repeatedly---there's nothing wrong
With this life, and we should all stop whining.
So I shift my focus now on how to end
A letter. In XOXOXO,
For example, Miss, which are the hugs
And which the kisses? Does anybody know?
I could argue either way: the O's
Are circles of embrace, the X is someone
Else's star burning inside your mouth;
Unless the O is a mouth that cannot speak,
Because, you know, it's busy.
X is the crucifixion all embraces
Are, here at the nowhere of the rainbow's end,
Where even light has failed its situation,
Slant the only life it ever had,
Where even the most gallant sunset can't
Hold back for more than a nonce the rain-laden
Eastern sky of night. It's clear. It's clear.
X's are both hugs and kisses, O's
Where stars that died gave out, gave up, gave in--
Where no one meant the promises they made.
Oh, and one more thing. I send my love
However long and far it takes--through light,
Through time, thorough all the faithlessness of men,
James Augustin Galvin,


His mark.

Sunday, July 28, 2013

He Foretells His Passing

I can imagine, years from now, your coming back
to this high, old, white house. "Home" I shouldn't say
because we can't predict who'll live here with a different
How tall the birches will be then. Will you look up
from the road past the ash for light in the study windows
upstairs and down? Go climb the black maple as first
in new sneakers you walked forty feet in air
and saw the life to come. Don't forget the cats. 

Because you grow away from a house, no matter how much you
     come back,
if the people you love are elsewhere, or if the reason is,
nostalgia, don't worry about small changes or lost names.
Sit down for a minute under the tallest birch. Look up
at the clouds reflected in the red barn's twisted window.
Lean on the wall. Hear our voices as at first
they shook the plaster, laughed, then burned in the dry air
like a wooden house. I imagine you won't forget the cats.

by F. D. Reeve

Sunday, July 21, 2013

My Grandmother's Love Letters

There are no stars tonight
But those of memory.
Yet how much room for memory there is
In the loose girdle of soft rain.

There is even room enough
For the letters of my mother's mother,
That have been pressed so long
Into a corner of the roof
That they are brown and soft,
And liable to melt as snow.

Over the greatness of such space
Steps must be gentle.
It is all hung by an invisible white hair.
It trembles as birch limbs webbing the air.

And I ask myself:

"Are your fingers long enough to play
Old keys that are but echoes:
Is the silence strong enough
To carry back the music to its source
And back to you again
As though to her?"

Yet I would lead my grandmother by the hand
Through much of what she would not understand;
And so I stumble. And the rain continues on the roof
With such a sound of gently pitying laughter.

~Hart Crane

Wednesday, July 17, 2013

When Ecstasy Is Inconvenient

Feign a great calm;
all gay transport soon ends.
Chant: who knows—
flight's end or flight's beginning
for the resting gull?

Heart, be still.
Say there is money but it rusted;
say the time of moon is not right for escape.
It's the color in the lower sky
too broadly suffused,
or the wind in my tie.

Know amazedly how
often one takes his madness
into his own hands
and keeps it.

--Lorine Niedecker

Saturday, July 13, 2013

on the beach

so let’s say i ride this giant seahorse into the ocean…
i will cross paths with a red balloon which reminds me
of the city where i was born and it will lilt and bob
over the waves so whimsically that there will be
no way for me to develop my gills. and, after that --

the waters’ wills cannot do much to convince me
of my being seaworthy and this giant seahorse will
sense something amiss and throw me as soon
as i loose my grip. not much for bridles, not much for
sympathy, this giant seahorse whinnies and grimaces.
he says, “i wanted to have your children.”

i will be able to catch the sun, in a fraction of a second,
glowing on the other side of that red balloon, so i will
curse myself for ever having laid eyes on the mirror-ball
ocean, for being so easily tempted by gigantic curlicue
hippocampus, for screaming jubilant into each crest
however many hundreds of thousands of fathoms
it took me from land:

there are no red balloons, under there and no cities
to be born in. there is no sun and no waves upon which
it could dance. were i to climb aback and ride this giant seahorse
into the ocean, i would not be able to say goodbye.

-Iris Appelquist

Wednesday, July 10, 2013

Burning the Old Year

Letters swallow themselves in seconds.
Notes friends tied to the doorknob,
transparent scarlet paper,
sizzle like moth wings,
marry the air.

So much of any year is flammable,
lists of vegetables, partial poems.
Orange swirling flame of days,
so little is a stone.

Where there was something and suddenly isn’t,
an absence shouts, celebrates, leaves a space.
I begin again with the smallest numbers.

Quick dance, shuffle of losses and leaves,
only the things I didn’t do
crackle after the blazing dies.

--Naomi Shihab Nye