September 30, 2007

TO, the infinitive

Less and less often am I able to say I am a poet in truth. Eventually I hope not to need any words at all. A minor trembling occurred to me just the other day, occurred in me, when I tried saying these words to myself.

Do you want these words to happen to you? They did happen when I stumbled over imagination's force without measure, whether in calamity or calm, which is how we can mean it when we mean words to say anything at all,

even god? Words, like our selves, can be lost in our assumptions. How can words let us free our selves of ourselves, let us let go here and hold onto this omnipotent and wondrously charged nothingness that happens

as we live and die?

—Scott Watson

Posted by dwaber at 12:22 PM

September 29, 2007


I believe
you when
you say
it is a
but I
with the fact
that what
is burdensome
is also productive
in other ways.

If we did not
or accept
this burden
we would
never see
or anyone else,
which is
the reason
to continue
with our own
at hand

—Scott Watson

Posted by dwaber at 12:56 PM

September 28, 2007


let it be written, what is written,
as well as what it is
written on

unmodulated breath
says nothing.
modulation makes it mean nothing:
a beautycraft that gardens
our permanent delusions.

   when we don't have to talk
   breath comes freely.
   a walk, or sit in woods,
   lungs in synch with being alone,
   a universe everything stars in stares.

   who ever is
   in their own breath
   and knows it
   to remember?

a certain measure out of our minds we are
but it's a breath's small instance that is each its life,
from birth a smacked gasp
to an bamboo whack awakening
for instance

endless beginnings,
breath taken from our own flesh and blood, which is
what but air pulsating at a wave solid to sense
the earth breeze we erupt from
somewhere formless as now
being in the body of breath we cry out of     what is

—Scott Watson

Posted by dwaber at 12:15 PM

September 27, 2007


after bathing
dog, first chance
she'd get loose 'd
go roll, lave
her sides in
grass, dirt, shit
she loved it! &
at times
would even eat
shit of other dogs--
what a
happy crazy dog!

—Scott Watson

Posted by dwaber at 01:10 PM

September 26, 2007


we have
as it is
for us
in, of, from
life itself
from us
for us
as it is.

we have it too, too obviously,
slimy institutional
school of stagnation
mass word
so many fingered.

things fresh and alive
the way they are
through blockage
things clear all over
a poem

a tree
or pool of tide, for a while
that grows
what it means to be
poem, home

—Scott Watson

Posted by dwaber at 11:30 AM

September 25, 2007

Works on Paper

It's the passion of the rhetoric gets me
The *whereas* hooking the small of my back,
a *therefore* pulling me closer—

but the stiffened snort against poetry, well,
what wouldn't I give to impair reason? A friend,
doctor of philosophy,

examines the cartoon bubble question marks
bobbing overhead like birthday balloons.
*Steer clear of the H's*

she says not unlike a psychic, her hand
held up to push my questions off my tongue
and back down to the heart

where lovers had been alphabetized by the Braille
suggestions of their thin spines instead of piled
up by the bed table's light.

But surely there must be a way to organize
a headache, a Shaker wall of drawers where herbs
hide, sealed away from air?

I browse through gracious living photographs
where a cat curls into a pouf on the stoop
outside the camera's eye

and the caterer reaches down her hand,
tsch-tsch-tsch, tiny quiches balancing
on her wide, saran-wrapped tray

listing, and still the right hand extended, index
finger first, tray slipping toward a boxwood
as the cat lifts her head.

—Kathrine Varnes
first appeared in Segue, issue 1.1

Posted by dwaber at 12:09 PM

September 24, 2007

Folding the Laundry I Think About Aesthetics

And the conventions of this poem, for instance,
the meditation pinned against the domestic
as the sleeves against the tee shirt shoulder blades

that never fit quite right but we cram
into a drawer anyway. The way slightly damp
cotton of flannel sheets should bring me

to irresistible truth, the coming together
and parting of two people holding the corners,
when in fact I fold most of our sheets by myself

in a hurried haphazard motion on the newly
cleaned carpet or bed, since he slows me down
with twisting his end in the play of an anti-folder.

I do not smile, except always on accident, to myself,
which is his favorite. Do you really want to hear
about his boxer shorts? Or what I think about them?

We could make them stand for just about anything, you and I,
or consider the sock wadded up in the pillowcase,
the tilting pile of clean laundry on the chair

onto which I will add this listing tower
of like put next to like for easy stowing.
It would be easy to fill each item with body,

mention the socks rolled into pairs that keep
their knees together, the bras that dry in the open air
no matter what anyone says and work it into a metaphor

of love and life together, a dream of the ordinary
poem that makes some laundry magic again
if not particularly moral or worthy of praise.

—Kathrine Varnes
first appeared in Segue, issue 1.1

Posted by dwaber at 11:22 AM

September 09, 2007


      Palatial hunger, poor dear and heart’s love--alas--
when January lacerates the soul, to what
will you resort? Another’s room? And dreams
of Azores, after? Who will hear your riddles--
endless--out?--the desolating nights--snow after snow?
. . . As for our acrobatics, scarce to be believed . . .
      Take these apparitions
and your temporary laughter--or pour champagne at a vulgar rate . . .
      It’s enough I am in your arms, brief welcomed guest,
breasts bared to endless promises, perfumes.

—Jane Satterfield

Mercenary Muse is a homophonic translation of Baudelaire’s “La Muse Venale.”

from Assignation at Vanishing Point (Elixir Press, 2003).
first appeared in Elixir.

Posted by dwaber at 04:00 PM

September 08, 2007


For years my father’s bag stashed in the car “boot”
leather worn raw, this side of suede,

packed and ready in case--flight suit,
polished boots, an instant combat kit

signed, sealed, to be delivered due east--
the border, the base, the last battle left.

How it hummed, the air, with imminent action,
our house under the flight path, weekend

war games, the enemy out there--
always expected and just within reach

through cross hairs and radar screen.
And though it seemed unique to our age,

apocalypse now--blackout, bombardier,
passage of flame (the use of stock photos

is strictly forbidden)--really, what’s different?
Just our hands on the switch? In the old

dream of empire, in late afternoon, the story
the child saint raced into, a covert host in his cloak,

is simply a case of street violence and the body
sent into the streets--stand-in and look-out--

a shape divested of meaning. And the blows
coming down until you see you have to forego it,

reason, the right explanation, plot whispering
Did you deliver? What can be reached?

—Jane Satterfield

Instant Combat Kit During the Cold War, personnel in airlift
squadrons stationed at Andrews Air Force Base were required to sustain
military preparedness even when off duty. In the event of a national
security threat requiring sudden mobilization, squadrons could be instantly
dispatched to an unnamed base at the edge of the “free world.”

Catholic schoolchildren are often taught stories (probably apocryphal)
of youthful martyrs who carried the Eucharist from one Christian community
to another in the days of the Roman Empire, meeting their death in the
streets as a result of their refusal to give over the emblem of their faith.
from Assignation at Vanishing Point (Elixir Press, 2003).
first appeared in Massachusetts Review.

Posted by dwaber at 10:13 AM

September 07, 2007


In my time I have had to flee twice.
As I fled I knew what I was running from and why.
I was standing at the window of a train watching the platform
sail past me, thinking of the morning’s friendly telephone call,
our own clumsily crafted lives.
Who could have guessed the content of my days, whispers,
guesses, real life omitted, just faint glimmers here & there, a hint
of it, some sign, some future which was never to be--
Residue of sleepless nights, little squares of the parquet floor--
my daughter, I felt I had to stay alive for her--
What documents was I keeping and where . . . .
Sometimes, in mid-conversation, silence, followed
with something mundane--“Would you like some tea?” “You’re
very tanned,” “Autumn came early this year--”
The bookcase, the writing desk, the clock--
chiseling out of this some beautiful and mournful ritual.

—Jane Satterfield

Requiem draws on descriptions of Akhmatova’s daily life described in Lydia
Chukovskaya’s The Akhmatova Journals (Volume 1: 1938-1941).
New York: Farrar, Strauss, Giroux, 1994.

from Assignation at Vanishing Point (Elixir Press, 2003).
first appeared in Antioch Review.

Posted by dwaber at 12:20 PM

September 06, 2007


Poetry is not
an occupation but a verdict.

“Caveat emptor” the poet writes
on the bathroom wall.

He teaches us to stay awake
in the presence of so many plastic surgeons,
that live off collagen
and ignore the silence
of stones.

As long as I keep searching for words
I will not sleep,
my spirit will rebel
it will protest against that inferior death,
such a foolish tradition.

Some day I too wish to become
another recluse of Hydra,
forever caged in its long hairs,
its delta eyes.

—Flor Aguilera

Posted by dwaber at 11:57 AM

September 05, 2007


Outside Mont Royal station there is a market.

Rimes are sold, verses exchanged,
dissonances repaired and sonnets modernized.

A woman approaches, in want of inspiration.

This is all I have, she says to the poet-salesman,
her hand extended.

For that amount, he answers
you can buy at least one word.

She chooses randomly,
Twilight appears.

They congratulate her purchase.
It’s a very poetic word, they all say,
a key that will open many doors.

The woman returns home, saddened,
she feels her way in the darkness, turns on the light.

She does not want to open doors,
but to shut them hard.

She does not want to make poetry for those
who climb and fill the skies each morning, their
wide open hearts and shiny, clean hearts;
but for those who are just
learning to crawl
on the soiled streets
their eyes alert        .

—Flor Aguilera

Posted by dwaber at 12:32 PM

September 04, 2007


I begin

I stutter

 I climb onto a cloud

 I cling to the page

                                  I beg the muse

all of nature

all that is eloquent

what is movement and

fixed still,

come the dead

the alive,

But as I write

             I only discover

my own voice.

—Flor Aguilera

Posted by dwaber at 02:33 PM

September 03, 2007


Appearing in front of my eyes,
words that see for themselves,
luminous translations
of Day into Book,
of Night, full, into Letter,
a waning thought
but feelings new—
their universe complete
revealed to one—
restored as a possession
to its rightful

—Flor Aguilera

Posted by dwaber at 01:36 PM

September 02, 2007


They can’t. The desert sunflower,
the slender sunflower,
Nutall’s sunflower,
the Kansas sunflower
and the California sunflower
will all hang their heads.
Stomata will close
on diamond-shaped,
lancelike, and oval leaves.
You must help me keep
the poem intact
to let the sunflowers breathe.

—Lucille Lang Day
from the chapbook The Book of Answers, Finishing Line Press (2006)

Posted by dwaber at 01:33 PM

September 01, 2007


When the evening grosbeak emerges,
bright yellow, from a stand of pines
to fly across an open field
in the third line of the poem,
star tulips will appear
in a wet depression by the path.

Fan-shaped petals will open pink,
revealing an oblong gland
with a fringe of golden hairs.
The grosbeak will chirp loudly,
breaking the poem’s silence,
and you, my love, will take my hand.

—Lucille Lang Day
from the chapbook The Book of Answers, Finishing Line Press (2006)

Posted by dwaber at 02:27 PM