Saturday, May 21, 2011

Poem by Mebane Robertson

Before Drifting Off
I don’t think this one is ripe yet.  Like wineberries in the clearing,
It rings a lurid taint, bitter to the tongue, hard—not ready for harvest
When they brim over red plastic pails.  I have been concerned of late
That I have not kept up with technology, that my processor is a robin
That hops three steps and cocks its head to listen for worms.  Everyone else
Seems a red hawk swapping bootlegged software and knowing how
To keep funky viruses from swamping their systems.  A subject, yes,
It would be nice to have a subject, but a purpose is the thing —
Like the waves of synchronized green lights that, if you hit them right,
Just right, let you flow down the hill to The Bottom unimpeded, like you
Are in Venice, either or, and are cutting the surf all in beauty or the other
Where the black gondolas ripple your fate while your life crumbles around you.
Youth just is, it happens—green like a melon or the ‘cush’ on Cortelyou Road
My stoner friends call the ‘kind bud’ they get from the corner boys.
Does mentioning this mean I won’t get into the more conservative journals?
But life—it’s like jumping aboard a little, marble swirled dingy and trying
To make it to the middle seat while the brackish water is waving moonlit flags—
Omens to you with all the sunken galleons gathered in the vertiginous cove.
And there are stories the guide tells you and your future ex, and she
Turns around winningly to imply the sharks curving in from the bay to find
A place to breed will have no purchase with their rows of teeth after
The flower girl sprayed stray Heaven in her wake.  Here’s the news, Hon,
Our love was devoured in spats.  We, the ones who had found
The fat wineberries bitter to the tongue.  And then—I still can’t trace how—
Everything went polarized before our eyes.  And it was hard to tell
What belonged to whom as we bickered through a swath of rye.
[click here for more poems by Mebane Robertson.]

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

From the long overdue (re)readings (VII)

When I consider my own nature, my conscious, thinking self, my soul, in other words, I find that it contains the idea of the most perfect being - the idea of God. Since I myself am not perfect (the very fact of my doubting is proof of this, if proof were needed), I could not have come up with such an idea on my own, so it cannot be a figment of my imagination. But it must come from somewhere; I can only conclude, therefore, that it must have been implanted in my mind by the very being of which it is the idea, namely God. Therefore God exists.

- Leszek Kolakowski on Descartes in Why is there something rather than nothing? Trans. Agnieszka Kolakowska

Reality is not something that allows itself to be completely contained in form. Form is not in harmony with the essence of life, but all thought which tries to describe this imperfection also becomes form and thereby confirms our striving for it.

- Witold Gombrowicz, Cosmos. Trans. Danuta Borchardt

Monday, May 16, 2011

Poem by Parrish Young


Brother of mine
Where have you gone
To sing songs with the dead
Or perhaps to yawn
To trifle with us mortal folk
Trembling over the holy yoke
That you held in your
Hand, and damned it to hell
No one ever did it so well
I love you as family and always will
Please return soon,
For mine eyes are jaded
And my heart is awry
My mind is a fucking pigsty
A mess of thoughts
And swollen goodbyes
The image of seeing your mighty self cry
I weep for those tears
That eluded my sight
I long now for you with all of my might
Hold fast my friend
With your charismatic grin
Scour the beaten path
For markers leading home again

Friday, May 13, 2011

Riddles by Karen Layman

Riddles of the Fox Demon

Fox Demon 1:

The more you take, the greater I grow
The more you replace, the quicker I go
What am I?

Fox Demon 2:

You see me in the water.
You see me in the glass.
On the edge of a fine dagger,
In an instrument of brass.
What am I?

Fox Demon 3:

Dusk and dawn, I follow you
Shorter, taller, often askew—
What am I?

A Thousand Steps to the Skies

This is the riddle that Thylian gives you to get to Taran’s domain—Skyes. Taran and other divinities can simply Relocate themselves there—mortals like Min’hira are not so lucky. Since Thylian doesn’t give a straight answer to anything, for anything, the party was stuck solving (and Tei was stuck writing) something that begins like this:

For what you seek,
Look to the skies.
When the moon sets blue,
So shall you have what you need.

“But I alone cannot impart
The power that thine mortal hearts
Doth need to venture to lands in light
And step out of eternal night.”

That was what I was instructed to say
For wise, were my mentors,
And knew that there would come a day
When your kind would need to pass beyond
The shores of where Darkness is bound.

Four things you need,
One from me,
Strong souls,
A beginning,
And two blessings be.

…I told you Thylian wouldn’t give you a straight answer for anything.

answers to these riddles will be in a future post! 
for more by Karen Layman, see here, and:

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Five poems by Thom Hart

Modern Art

We are monkeys
We make things
Shiny things
We look at them

Class in the garden

I sit. The dampness of
The earth below me
The persistent knocking
Of the woodpecker
The ambient noise of
Cars. Sunshine. Nice.
Very nice. My black
Nehru blazer absorbs,
Sponges heat from
Rays. Brilliant. I shall
Seek shade.

Moon Dream

I dreamt a dream
It did not seem
To be a dream
But a pale moon beam
The light beneath
My closed eyes.


I do not know who I am
Do not try to help me
Do not define me,
Stereotype, or prescribe
To me
Some sort of form
I am shapeless
And do not know
What I look like
I do not know who I am
Do not try to help me.


I wonder what it sounds like.
Rain muted by fog
Heavy clouds, a cold breeze
Drizzle, sleet, freezing rain
A snowy day.
All of these are gray.

Friday, May 6, 2011

artwork by Danielle Tunkel
Clay feather fossil tarnished with shoe polish on a beaten and burnt board.

Thursday, May 5, 2011

Poem by Parrish Young

The Sea of Sightless Serpents

The piety of one who rules
Is punctuated by a throng of fools
Who babble about with serpent tongues
Persecuting the righteous ones
Who answered the call of sword and steel
Who worked their hands raw for every meal
I am the one who rules
The man who swims in the sea of fools
Gently though, I do not thrash or flail
For I know the mind, spirit, body
I know how soft and supple skin is
How brittle bones can be
My heart thumps like my mind
Vivid and real for all to see
As I patiently sit atop my throne
I finally am free
Free to breathe and navigate the sea
Because when I come ashore
There is only me

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

Poem by Ian Riley

Freedom Has a Stench

Ten of them move in unison,
Free to dance about.
They are happy, carefree.
Working together is an afterthought,
A sad rarity today;
But they don’t know they are rare,
So they remain content.
At least until their master coops them up again
Like they are children,
For their own “protection.”
And when they are once again set free
A stale odor begins to permeate…

Monday, May 2, 2011

from Streets. Museums by Nick Benson

these two men who were well acquainted were 
talking to each other, each in
his own hole

in the pavement
actually drilled into the substrata
comfortably leaning against the sides,

and smoking cigarettes -- well, one was -- the other
had a tall rasta hat -- cig smoker had 
an orange hard hat

tilted to the side, over
copious dreads
and around them, work was going on, or it appeared

some weren't taking their break --
a large white dude emerged
from an adjacent manhole and bounded

dangerously across the mouth
of a diner dragging cord perhaps
cheerfully? the crumbling earth didn't

collapse, the bright lights fixed
it all into place as passersby
passed by. How I would've liked

to listen forever to that space
that human station sculpted
from the debris of Seventh 

north of Fourteenth
in crushing repose, 
the city's long wick lit 

under our nose