Jun 01

Hands (Cedering)

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Hands, by Siv Cedering (1939-)


When I fall asleep 
my hands leave me.

They pick up pens 
and draw creatures 
with five feathers 
on each wing.

The creatures multiply.
They say: "We are large 
like your father's 

They say: "We have 
your mother's 

I speak to them:
"If you are hands, 
why don't you 

And the wings beat 
the air, clapping. 
They fly

high above elbows 
and wrists. 
They open windows 
and leave

They perch in treetops 
and hide under bushes 

their nails. "Hands," 
I call them. 
But it is fall

and all creatures 
with wings 
prepare to fly 


When I sleep 
the shadows of my hands 
come to me.

They are softer than feathers 
and warm as creatures 
who have been close 
to the sun.

They say: "We are the giver," 
and tell of oranges 
growing on trees.

They say: "We are the vessel," 
and tell of journeys 
through water.

They say: "We are the cup."

And I stir in my sleep. 
Hands pull triggers 
and cut 
trees. But

the shadows of my hands 
tuck their heads 
under wings 
for morning,

when I will wake

three strands of hair
into one.
May 31

7th Game: 1960 Series (Blackburn)

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7th Game: 1960 Series, by Paul Blackburn (1926-1971)

Nice day,
sweet October afternoon
Men walk the sun-shot avenues,
                                                     Second, Third, eyes
                                                     intent elsewhere
ears communing with transistors in shirt pockets
                                    Bars are full, quiet,
discussion during commercials
Pirates lead New York 4-1, top of the 6th, 2
Yankees on base,    1 man out
What a nice day for all this  !
Handsome women, even
dreamy jailbait, walk
                                      nearly neglected  :
men’s eyes are blank
their thoughts are all in Pittsburgh
Last half of the 9th, the score tied 9-all,
Mazeroski leads off for the Pirates
The 2nd pitch he simply, sweetly
belts it clean over the left-field wall
Blocks of afternoon
acres of afternoon
Pennsylvania Turnpikes of afternoon  .  One
                                    diamond stretches out in the sun
                                                     the 3rd base line
                                    and what men come down
                                    The final score, 10-9
Yanquis, come home
May 30

To Persuade a Lady Carpe Diem (Benedikt)

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To Persuade a Lady Carpe Diem, by Michael Benedikt (1935-2007)

True, I have always been happy that all the things that are inside 
    the body are inside the body, and that all things outside 
    the body, are out

I'm glad to find my lungs on the inside of my chest, for example; 
    if they were outside, they'd keep getting in the way, 
    those two great incipient angel wings; besides, 
    it would be messy

I mean, how would it be if your reached out to shake someone's hand
    and there, in the palm, were a kidney and a liver complete with 

Can you imagine standing at 5 PM in a crowded subway car full of 
    empty stomachs?

What if a nice, nearsighted old lady were knitting socks and suddenly 
    her veins fell out? How would she avoid creating a substance 
    full of strangeness and pain? To the barefoot country boy 
    sitting on the edge of the bed in the morning and opening 
    Aunt Minnie's gift box, the sight of those socks would be 
    what he'd call "a real eye-opener!"

And what if our voices touched? If our mouths went out, instead of in?

If you were inside of me; or, at least, if I were inside of you?
May 29

The Diving Apprentices (Middleton)

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The Diving Apprentices, by Christopher Middleton (1926-)

Sometimes you watch them going out to sea
On such a day as this, in the worst of weathers,
Their boat holding ten or a dozen of them,
In black rubber suits crouched around the engine housing,
Tanks of air, straps and hoses, and for their feet
Enormous flippers.


                                 The bow, with such a load on board,
Hammers through the whitecaps, while they talk;
Junonian girls, Praxitelean boys, pelted on
By bursting clouds, by spray, eventually heave
The tanks upon their backs, the boat drifts at anchor,


And down they go to the sea floor, by the foggy headland.
At least, you can presume they kick the flippers
And plunge to where the water is more calm. The cool
Instructors must keep eyes and ears
Open. Accidents out there, they happen.


                                        You might imagine scraps
Of cultural débris, a broken pot, a ring, a cogwheel
Come up, clutched in a palm, and interesting,
A wave pattern in it, the blade of a sword,
When a lucky diver breaks again the surface. Time,
Time and again frigate and schooner cracked
Blown against the rocks, holed below the water line.


                                        Even an inscription
Might now be coming up from those green deeps.
Yet the divers do their silent thing. On the sea floor
Expect only the sea, a multitude of sand without an hourglass.
Round somebody’s ankle idly it swarms. A diver
Hangs by a thread of breath in solitude there. Some go down
In all simplicity curious; to have tales to tell;
And who knows, what they learn
Just might, long after this, be usable.
May 29

Woman at the Window (Deppe)

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Woman at the Window, by Theodore Deppe (1950-)

Girl with Pearl Earring

This is the painting by Jan Vermeer alluded to in the poem. Jan Vermeer lived from 1632 to 1675 in Holland.

Like a woman in Vermeer, she ironed
by the kitchen window, blue towel turbaned
about wet hair, three-quarters of her face
suffused in sun. From the cellar doorway
I called to her, unwilling to descend
those nightmare stairs alone, unable to compel her 

to join me. Mother gazed out at the sky.
Ignored the televised warnings.
With terrifying calm, flapped a shirt
and spread it flat. Strange about beauty,
how it lives on the best of terms
next door to nothingness: if a twister came 

she wanted to see it.
If I could paint that 1950s scene where
nothing finally happened, I'd have to crush
her best pearl and blend the powder in my palette—
how else catch that kitchen's luster?
A tiny wisp of vapor to suggest the hiss 

as the white shirt's pressed
and the silvery iron becomes a curved mirror
in which a boy is captured and diminished as he calls.
Or perhaps I'd leave myself out, let that glossy surface
reflect only the blue plume spiraling up
(she sometimes smoked while Father traveled). 

As in a waking dream, the iron glides down a sleeve
and there's no tornado, only warnings and warm sun
on a young woman's cheek and shoulder,
only the way the ordinary light of morning
ravishes her as she stares off
at something beyond the frame.
May 27

Movie Queens (Connolly)

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Movie Queens, by Geraldine Connolly (1947-)

The sisters cut them
from empty backdrops, propped them
one atop a horse in a riding suit,
one at lunch on a cruise ship
skimming a bay in California.

Clusters of dolls leaned
against cement blocks,
a garden of pale faces
above shimmering lilts of cloth
and color, foxfur stoles,
ornaments of pearl and sequin.

The girls believed in what they could
become, as they vanished
into gowns, cashmere,
leaving sweating bodies, dim houses,
for a cold dry paradise.
Never having to earn a thing,
they’d stand, as clothes fell
from the sky in a rage of beauty.

May 27

In Praise of Dawn (Connolly)

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You can keep afternoon and its dwindling mysteries,
twilight with its seedy hauteur. You can have night
with its phony neon and rented motel rooms.
I prefer morning when the air is so quiet the rub
of a cricket’s leg sounds like wildness beckoning.

My feet pad along the carpet like bears’ paws
along a stretch of furred moss. The cherry tree
catches the first glint of gold in its deep green.
The kitchen is mine, empty and humming.
I am queen of the breakfast room, empress
of a new regime. Ideas sprout from my head

like bursts of startled blue jays. All possibilities
lie before me in the rustle of leaves at the window.
Something extraordinary is about to happen—
I could write an essay on forgiveness,
or construct an altar to Artemis with five red
maple leaves, a fish bone and a snake’s rattle.

I have imagined dawn lifting her skirt, the limousine
of night pausing to release debutantes in important
gowns. I have watched schools of light
emerge from a window’s shoreline and know that
beginning is always beginning, every midnight open
to a river of mornings, the day a fresh tributary.

Anything is possible: understanding quantum physics,
making plans for an innocent city. Pain could disappear
by sundown. Night could wear a sunlit dress.
We could start a journey to the new Jerusalem,
waving good-bye at the station where the trains pass
and dawn, blank as a newborn, floods each window.

May 27

Lydia (Connolly)

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Lydia, by Geraldine Connoly (1947-)

There was life before us

my sister and I discovered
looking at photographs

we shouldn’t have been looking at
of the English girl my father

was engaged to during the war.
Here she is right in front of our eyes,

the woman before my mother,
in a black lace cocktail dress,

a cigarette in a holder,
pensive, earthy—waiting

in front of the carved wooden radio,
for news from the front.
This is the war, after all,
and here she is again, somewhere

on an English beach, draped
across my father’s shoulder

all of her silky skin radiant
above the soft folds of sun dress.

They stand in front of a sign
that reads ‘Seaside Cottages,

two dollars.’ And here she is
again, painted onto the cockpit

of my father’s plane with hardly
anything on at all, and here he is

in his flight jacket, looking
in fact, happy. My sister and I each

lift our pencils like cigarettes,
taking long sultry drags to puff
out invisible rings. They rise
in the air like silver nooses

that will catch our father
and hold him to us.

May 27

Entropy of Pleasure (Connolly)

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The Entropy of Pleasure, by Geraldine Connolly (1947-)

By the time you walk up to the ocean
the wave has already disappeared,
replaced by another wave, another sadness
as in passion or the light dying at dusk

or the shell split under your foot, another
scar made in the sand. You can’t remember
exactly what you need to remember. White fluttering
wings arrive in the sweet grass like letters

from someone you loved who has abandoned you
for another city. And all the signs
read ‘Dangerous Currents’, ‘Sea Forest’.
It’s so difficult to keep track of the tracks
that are leading to unexpected places.

Change is a way we can’t easily follow,
the water disappearing; even the dunes
have shifted and right when you are about to lose
your way into the wild oats, shuddering,
there are the stars in the center of sand dollars

that make you remember what you spend is spent,
the entropy of pleasure a wave’s body
you can’t hold in your hands for long. You
know the only way out is landmarks

you can’t even imagine, the way we are drawn,
pulled by the tides, the first step
into happiness, its dangerous pleasure,
licked by the water’s green flames

May 23

First Love (Dorcey)

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First Love, by Mary Dorcey (1950-)

You were tall and beautiful.

You wore your long brown hair

wound about your head,

your neck stood clear and full

as the stem of a vase.

You held my hand in yours

and we walked slowly, talking

of small familiar happenings

and of the lost secrets of

your childhood.  It seems it was


Always autumn then.

The amber trees shook. We laughed

in a wind that cracked the leaves

from black boughs and set them scuffling

about our feet, for me to trample still

and kick in orange clouds

about your face.  We would climb dizzy

to the cliff’s edge and stare down

at a green and purple sea, the


Wind howling in our ears, as it

tore the breath from white cheeked waves.

You steadied me against

the wheeling screech of gulls, and i

loved to think that but for your strength

i would tumble to the rocks below

to the fated death, your stories made me

dream of.  I don’t remember

that i looked in your eyes or that we

ever asked an open question. Our thoughts


Passed through our blood, it seemed,

and the slightest pressure of our hands

decided all issues wordlessly.

We watched in silence by the shore

the cold spray against our skin,

in mutual need of the water’s fierce,

inhuman company, that gave promise

of some future, timeless refuge from

all the fixed anxieties of our world.

As we made for home


We faced into the wind, my thighs

were grazed by its icy teeth, you

gathered your coat about me and i

hurried our steps towards home, fire

and the comfort of your sweet, strong tea.

We moved bound in step.

You sang me songs of Ireland’s sorrows

and of proud women, loved and lost.

I knew then, they set for me

a brilliant stage of characters, who


Even now, can seem more real

than my most intimate friends.

We walked together, hand in hand.

You were tall and beautiful,

you wore your long brown hair wound

about your head, your neck stood

clear and full as the stem of a vase.

I was young — you were my mother

and it seems, it was always

autumn then.

Words That Burn