Sunday, January 13, 2013

Sample Poems: Volume 13

by Donald W. Baker


It's a wide, wide sea.
Forty-odd years of cold surf between now
and the cumulo-nimbus of '44.
Twenty-one, hunched over a Mercator,
the Bay of Biscay spanned
by a pair of dividers, you broke
out of undercast over a convoy,
fired the flare, hedge-hopped
through snow-squalls into St. Mawgan,
ETA three minutes off.
You were lucky.
Unlike Harry Dickos and Blalock.
What woman knows she's not Harry's wife,
what boy he's not Ben's grandson?
If you were a child you'd daydream of them,
twenty-two, twenty-three, maybe,
sacked out on a cloud over K'un-ming,
smoking and swigging.
But you're over sixty, sweating it out,
a smear on a peak, a lump in the jungle.
Or the cabin tanks blew at Ascension
and burned you to cinders.


The first warm day,
when the colors of redbud
drift through the library window,
and the eyes, those aging mechanics,
take you methodically, line after line,
down the page of Shakespeare, the verse
more powerful than a Pratt and Whitney,
electrons the same in the ink
and the gasoline, hunger the same
in the rhymes and the pistons-
you are groping for sequences, shapes,
spring, sunrise, Easter.


Or over the fresh grass
color floats from the forsythia
golden as Mozart, and the dust
of ten thousand books scintillates
in the mind at the window.
Gentleness, joy, a passionate wonder
play through the eyes, the fingertips
turning a page
the spinsters and the knitters in the sun
and the free maids that weave their thread with bones
do use to chant it
or, in the carrel
the hands of your watch
measuring lectures, lunch, a letter delivered,
at last, after forty years, a skull
flushed down a mountainside out of a jungle,
white gleam under thunder, bounced
in the torrent from boulder to boulder,
sunk again into Asia, the Irriwaddy.
Midmorning. Coffee. The book closes.
The names: Ben. Harry. Your own.


At slack tide, in waders, you rake
the bottom of Parker's River.
The tines sink into sand,
clink against pebbles. Here and there,
now and then, they scrape living shell,
and you pry, and lift, and the quahog
shines in the wind, dripping sand.
Out of a morning rippling silver,
tonight, in a scarlet bowl, a chowder,
creamy, steaming, fragrant with onion.
The shells, iridescent, purple,
mother-of-pearl, will border the phlox.
The river will swell with the moon.
You put on your paradox, ask:
What measures the knowledge of shell from stone?
Gulls wheel and cry at the river's mouth.
How much truth lies in a bowl of chowder?
Blue crabs are mating under the peat.
Clear, simple, and true.

THE FOURTH OF JULYby Christopher Millis

A dog got hit in front of our house.
For days it lay in the gutter.
When it rained, the white intestines
made a trail toward the storm drain.
I would cross the street
to watch it.

The difference between a poet and a murderer
is that murderers are more creative.
They do not wait for accidents.
They are not content with one dog
lying dead for days in a gutter.
They're ambitious, and they bore easily.

by Friendrich Hoelderlin
Translated by Francis Golffing

Wege des Wanderers!
Denn Schatten der Baeume
Und Huegel, sonnig, wo
Der Weg geht
Zur Kirche,

Regen, wie Pfeilenregen,
Und Baeume stehen, schlummernd, dort.
Eintreffen Schritte der Sonne,
Denn eben so, wie sie heissem
Brennt ueber der Staedte Dampf,
So gehet ueber des Regens
Behamgene Mauren die Sonne

Wie Efeu naemlich haenget
Astlos der Regen herunter. Schoener aber
Bluehn Reisenden die Wege
in Freien wechselt wie Korn.
Avignon waldig, ueber den Gotthard
Tastet das Ross, Lorbeern
Rauschen um Virgilius und, dass
Die Sonne nicht
Unmaennlich suchet, das Grab. Moosrosen
Auf den Alpen. Blumen fangen
Vor Toren der Stadt an, auf geebneten Wegen unbeguenstiget
Gleich Kristallen in der Wueste wachsend des Meers.
Gaerten wachsen um Windsor. Hoch
Ziehet, aus London,
Der Wagen des Koenigs.
Schoene Gaerten sparen die Jahrzeit.
Am Kanal. Tief aber liegt
Das ebene Weltmeer, gluehend.

English Translation
Greece (1st version)

Routes of the wanderer!
For shadows of trees
And hills, sunny, where
The path winds
To the church.

Rain, like a shower of arrows,
And trees in a drowse yet
Sun-treads are seen to advance,
For just as it turns hotter above the vapor of cities
So the sun moves
Above hung walls of rain

Branchless as ivy the rain droops earthward
But roads show fairer bloom to the traveler
In open terrain, forever changing like wheat.
Avignon wooded; beyond the Gotthard
The horse picks his way, laurel rustles
About Virgil and, lest the sun search it out unmanly,
The grave. Moss roses grow
On the Alps. Flowers begin
At the gates of the city, on roadways, untended
As crystals grow in the waste of the sea.
Parks flourish around Windsor. Proudly
The king's carriage drives up from London.
Lustrous gardens husband the season.
By the canal. But far down stretches
The level main, incandescent.

by Johannes Bobrowski
Translated by Francis Golffing
                        fuer OJ Tauschinski
Es ist eine Welt,
die hat mich gefangen,
Baender, glaenzend, und Dunkel, ich bin
aber im Licht, ich geh
ueber die Lichtung, fahl,
mit Augen der Ferne,
es kommt eine Hand und sagt:
Ich seh dich, due kamst.
Und ich sage: Due siehst,
meine Haende
tragen nicht, ueber mein Haar
ist der Frost gegangen, mein Ohr
lauscht hinab auf die Schritte,
die sich naehern, sie stehn
unter der Tuer mit den Woolfen.
Hoer mich, ich geh,
du bleibst.
English Translation
                             for O.J. Tauschinski

It is a world
which has caught me,
ribbons, shiny, and darkness, yet
I am clear, I walk
through the clearing, pale,
with distancing eyes,
a hand comes and says:
I see you; you've come.
And I say: You see
my hands
cannot carry, across my hair
frost has passed, my ear
hearkens downward to footfalls
as they approach, they stand
under the door with the wolves.
Hear me! I'm going;
you stay.

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