Monday, June 29, 2009

793. Mud Trail - Scott Cairns

I'd been walking the mud trail, the mud
leaping out the sides of my boots for hours.
I was thinking I was alone, surrounded
only by the high reach of douglas fir
and cedar. I think it was a change
in the air I noticed first, a warmer,
heavier scent of animal, I was
alone in a small clearing,
then I was not alone and was
surrounded by a hundred elk rising,
or a single elk rising a hundred
times. And the forest was a moving river
of elk, none of them hurrying away, but all
slowly feeling ahead, and beginning
their journey to the east, a hundred times
the same journey.
Miles from there,
they would rest, bed down among
huckleberry and salal, all of them
pulling in their hundred sets of hooves, lowering
a hundred velvetted heads, waiting
for whatever sign of word that calls them
all together to rise again.

Monday, June 22, 2009

792. The Wounded Wilderness Of Morris Graves - Lawrence Ferlinghetti

The wounded wilderness of Morris Graves
is not the same wild west
the white man found
It is a land that Buddha came upon
from a different direction
It is a wild white nest
in the true mad north
of introspection
where 'falcons of the inner eye'
dive and die
glimpsing in their dying fall
all life's memory
of existence
and with grave chalk wing
draw upon the leaded sky
a thousand threaded images
of flight

It is the night that is their 'native habitat'
these 'spirit birds' with bled white wings
these droves of plover
bearded eagles
blind birds singing
in glass fields
these moonmad swans and ecstatic ganders
trapped egrets
charcoal owls
trotting turtle symbols
these pink fish among mountains
shrikes seeking to nest
whitebone drones
mating in air
among hallucinary moons

And a masked bird fishing
in a golden stream and an ibis feeding
'on its own breast'
and a stray 'Connemara Pooka'
(life size)
And then those blown mute birds
bearing fish and paper messages
between two streams
which are the twin streams
of oblivion
wherein the imagination
turning upon itself
with white electric vision
refinds itself still mad
and unfed
among the Hebrides

Friday, June 19, 2009

791. The Tall Figures of Giacometti - May Swenson

We move by means of our mud bumps.
We bubble as do the dead but more slowly.

The products of excruciating purges
we are squeezed out thin hard and dry.

If we exude a stench it is petrified sainthood.
Our feet are large crude fused together

solid like anvils. Ugly as truth is ugly
we are meant to stand upright a long time

and shudder without motion
under the scintillating pins of light

that dart between our bodies
of pimpled mud and your eyes.

Monday, June 15, 2009

790. The Great Wave - Donald Finkel

The Great Wave at Kamagawa
Katsushika Hokusai (1823)

But we will take the problem in its most obscure manifestation, and suppose that our spectator is an average Englishman. A trained observer carefully hidden behind a screen, might notice a dilation in his eyes, even an intake of his breath, perhaps a grunt. (Herbert Read, The Meaning of Art)

It is because the sea is blue,
Because Fuji is blue, because the bent blue
Men have white faces, like the snow
On Fuji, like the crest of the wave in the sky the color of their
Boats. It is because the air
Is full of writing, because the wave is still: that nothing
Will harm these frail strangers,
That high over Fuji in an earthcolored sky the fingers
Will not fall; and the blue men
Lean on the sea like snow, and the wave like a mountain leans
Against the sky.

In the painter's sea
All fishermen are safe. All anger bends under his unity.
But the innocent bystander, he merely
'Walks round a corner, thinking of nothing': hidden
Behind a screen we hear his cry.
He stands half in and half out of the world; he is the men,
But he cannot see below Fuji
The shore the color of sky; he is the wave, he stretches
His claws against strangers. He is
Not safe, not even from himself. His world is flat.
He fishes a sea full of serpents, he rides his boat
Blindly from wave to wave toward Ararat.

Monday, June 08, 2009

789. Landscape With The Fall of Icarus - William Carlos Williams

According to Brueghel
when Icarus fell
it was spring

a farmer was ploughing
his field
the whole pageantry

of the year was
awake tingling

the edge of the sea
with itself

sweating in the sun
that melted
the wings' wax

off the coast
there was

a splash quite unnoticed
this was
Icarus drowning

Saturday, June 06, 2009

788. Ithaca - C. P. Cavafy, 5th translation

Translated from the Greek by Theoharis C. Theoharis

As you set out toward Ithaca,
hope the way is long,
full of reversals, full of knowing.
Laistrygonians and Cyclops,
angry Poseidon you should not fear,
never will you find such things on your way
if your thought says lofty, if refined
emotion touches your spirit and your body.
Laistrygonains and Cyclops,
savage Poseidon you will not meet,
if you do not carry them with you in your soul,
if your soul does not raise them up before you.

Hope the way is long.
May there be many summer mornings when,
with what pleasure, with what joy,
you shall enter first-seen harbors;
may you stop at Phoenician bazaars
and acquire the fine things sold there,
nacre and coral, amber and ebony,
and sensual perfumes, every kind there is,
as much as you can abundant sensual perfumes;
may you go to many Egyptian cities
to learn and learn again from those educated.

Keep Ithaca always in your mind.
Arriving there is what has been ordained for you.
But do not hurry the journey at all.
Better if it lasts many years;
and you dock an old man on the island,
rich with all that you've gained on the way,
not expecting Ithaca to give you wealth.
Ithaca gave you the beautiful journey.
Without her you would not have set out.
She has nothing more to give you.

And if you find her poor, Ithaca has not fooled you.
Having become so wise, with so much experience,
you will have understood, by then, what these Ithacas mean.