Aedh Wishes for the Cloths of Heaven
W.B. Yeats 1865-1939
Had I the heavens’ embroidered cloths,
Enwrought with golden and silver light,
The blue and the dim and the dark cloths
Of night and light and the half light,
I would spread the cloths under your feet:
But I, being poor, have only my dreams;
I have spread my dreams under your feet;
Tread softly because you tread on my dreams.
Dirt Being Dirt, by Carl Phillips
The orchard was on fire, but that didn’t stop him from slowly walking
straight into it, shirtless, you can see where the flames have
foliaged—here, especially—his chest. Splashed by the moon,
it almost looks like the latest proof that, while decoration is hardly
ever necessary, it’s rarely meaningless: the tuxedo’s corsage,
fog when lit scatteredly, swift, from behind—swing of a torch, the lone
match, struck, then wind-shut…How far is instinct from a thing
like belief? Not far, apparently. At what point is believing so close
to knowing, that any difference between the two isn’t worth the fuss,
finally? A tamer of wolves tames no foxes, he used to say, as if avoiding
the question. But never meaning to. You broke it. Now wear it broken.
You Have What I Look For
by Jaime Sabines
You have what I look for, what I long for, what I love,
you have it.
The fist of my heart is beating, calling.
I thank the stories for you,
I thank your mother and father
and death who has not seen you.
I thank the air for you.
You are elegant as wheat,
delicate as the outline of your body.
I have never loved a slender woman
but you have made my hands fall in love,
you moored my desire,
you caught my eyes like two fish.
And for this I am at your door, waiting.
Translated by W.S. Merwin
Pine Tree Tops by Gary Snyder
In the blue night
frost haze, the sky glows
with the moon
pine tree tops
bend snow-blue, fade
into sky, frost, starlight.
The creak of boots.
Rabbit tracks, deer tracks,
what do we know.
All these maneuverings to avoid
The touching of hands,
These shifts to keep the eyes employed
On objects more or less neutral
(As honor, for time being, commands)
Will hardly prevent their downfall.
Stronger medicines are needed.
Already they find
None of their strategems have succeeded,
Nor would have, no,
Not had their eyes been stricken blind,
Hands cut off at the elbow.
*That’s a link to work of mine from several years ago in Sein und Werden, check them out at kissthewitch.co.uk.
Keeping Things Whole
Mark Strand 1964
In a field
I am the absence
always the case.
Wherever I am
I am what is missing.
When I walk
I part the air
the air moves in
to fill the spaces
where my body’s been.
We all have reasons
to keep things whole.
Things to Think by Robert Bly
Think in ways you’ve never thought before.
If the phone rings, think of it as carrying a message
Larger than anything you’ve ever heard,
Vaster than a hundred lines of Yeats.
Think that someone may bring a bear to your door,
Maybe wounded and deranged; or think that a moose
Has risen out of the lake, and he’s carrying on his antlers
A child of your own whom you’ve never seen.
When someone knocks on the door,
Think that he’s about
To give you something large: tell you you’re forgiven,
Or that it’s not necessary to work all the time,
Or that it’s been decided that if you lie down no one will die.
“Far from contradicting, diluting, or diverting our revolutionary attitude toward life, surrealism strengthens it. It nourishes an impatient strength within us, endlessly reinforcing the massive army of refusals.”
—Suzanne Césaire, whose poetry mocked “Littérature de hamac. Littérature de sucre et de vanille. Tourisme littéeraire.” Her writings of dissent were banned in the forties.
by Denise Levertov
All others talked as if
talk were a dance.
Clodhopper I, with clumsy feet
would break the gliding ring.
Early I learned to
close by the door:
then when the talk began
I’d wipe my
mouth and wend
unnoticed back to the barn
to be with the warm beasts,
dumb among body sounds
of the simple ones.
I’d see by a twist
of lit rush the motes
of gold moving
from shadow to shadow
slow in the wake
of deep untroubled sighs.
munched or stirred or were still. I
was at home and lonely,
both in good measure. Until
the sudden angel affrighted me—light effacing
my feeble beam,
a forest of torches, feathers of flame, sparks upflying:
but the cows as before
were calm, and nothing was burning,
nothing but I, as that hand of fire
touched my lips and scorched my tongue
and pulled my voice
into the ring of the dance.
Witch of the Pines
Witch of the Pines put on her rabbit cloak
and fastly hopped down a near fingerboard.
A man with blue hands there was waiting for
her Bill to either put him in an oak
or see him render up her gold-filled poke.
He fared as well as those who’d tried before.
She darted from the braken and restored
herself with just a pinch of blue-white smoke.
He knowed her and looked set in sugar sand
until she pled, “You take my cloak instead.”
Now feeling pretty middling smart, he said,
“I will.” He put it on and was unmanned.
That’s when Bill shewed. He shot the rabbit true
and gave it to her proudly for a stew.
Stephen S. Power