Friday, October 16, 2009

Late Harvest

after Rilke's Herbsttag

by Jeredith Merrin


Time, it is time.
Summer has been
long-stretched-out, full.
Go ahead, Fall:
shrink down the days
and sugar the grapes
for late-harvest wine.

Anyone still unknown
to herself will stay,
probably, that way.
Anyone unlinked by love
will be love-
left-out now—waking,
mind-pacing
up and down
up and down,
restless as leaf-bits
and papers in the street.




I believe this will be the last poem and writing I post in a while. Perhaps forever. Who knows. With the rest of the stuff in my life that needs to get done, writing and blogging are becoming yet another task to complete, and not a respite.

I have so enjoyed meeting all of you and hearing your voices in the comments, and you may still see me lurking around some rainy Sunday afternoons. Best of life to you all and wishes for all of its blessings to you and yours. I'll be looking for you further on down the road.

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

October in Vermont

by John Lindgren

Endings are always more difficult than beginnings.
Don't ask me why I remember
lying alone in the grass at dusk, gored
by the tiny horns of snails,
filaments of spider-silk like threads
of starlight across my eyes. I was listening
to the orange and blue
leaves explain my countless lives,
so many that I could not make out a single word.
Their colors wound each of us
in unnameable, and different ways.
By day they are the splayed hands of children
held up in self-wonderment.
At night they are the flutterings of dying birds.
Lighting my way with a dandelion
I hold in one hand like a sparkler,
in the other a jar of fireflies,
I make my way through the forking darkness
as the leafless trees climb the night like stairs.

please note: art by Yayoi Kusama, Fireflies on Water

Monday, October 12, 2009

Before Dawn in October

by Julia Kasdorf

The window frame catches a draft
that smells of dead leaves and wet street,
and I wrap arms around my knees,
look down on these small breasts,
so my spine forms a curve as perfect
as the rim of the moon. I want to tell
the man sleeping curled as a child beside me
that this futon is a raft. The moon
and tiny star we call sun are the parents
who at last approve of us. For once,
we haven't borrowed more than we can return.
Stars above our cement backyard are as sharp
as those that shine far from Brooklyn,
and we are not bound for anything worse
than we can imagine, as long as we turn
on the kitchen lamp and light a flame
under the pot, as long as we sip coffee
from beautiful China-blue cups and love
the steam of the shower and thrusting
our feet into trousers. As long as we walk
down our street in sun that ignites
red leaves on the maple, we will see
faces on the subway and know we may take
our places somewhere among them.

Sunday, October 11, 2009

Lake Livin' is the Life for Me




Lonely Lake
by Joyce Kennedy

It was the name given it on our hiking map. Intrigued,
we followed a narrow, rising trail flecked with autumn,
aspen leaves beneath our feet, young trees leaning across
as if to guard the integrity of loneliness. At the end,
we found the lake, small jewel shining in space, not
obviously frequented, although there was a rickety
dock and on it, a battered rowboat and dented canoe.
No paddles. We sat, one in rowboat, one in canoe,
the loneliness of the lake pared down to bare essentials—
shore lined with thick, dark pine, intense and cloudless sky,
sun flaring on water's changing surface. A hawk dipped
down to startle the peace while two ducks rode the ripples
unperturbed. Stunned by beauty, we reached across—
boat to canoe, canoe to boat—to touch hands,
our own lonely selves connecting as lightly and effortlessly
as the dragonfly wing that earlier brushed against my face.

Saturday, October 10, 2009

Erasures

by Sharon Bryan

My best lover ever
is dead. And

the second best.
Nothing to do

with me, it was years
since I'd seen them.

Still, they took
something with them

no one else knows
about me, and if I

know it, I know
only half, like every

other line of a poem.

Thursday, October 8, 2009

Amor Fati

by Katha Pollitt

Everywhere I look I see my fate.
In the subway. In a stone.
On the curb where people wait for the bus in the rain.
In a cloud. In a glass of wine.

When I go for a walk in the park it's a sycamore leaf.
At the office, a dull pencil.
In the window of Woolworth's my fate looks back at me
through the shrewd eyes of a dusty parakeet.

Scrap of newspaper, dime in a handful of change,
down what busy street do you hurry this morning,
an overcoat among overcoats,

with a train to catch, a datebook full of appointments?
If I called you by my name would you turn around
or vanish round the corner,
leaving a faint odor of orange-flower water,
tobacco, twilight, snow?

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

Two Cats

by Katha Pollitt


It's better to be a cat than to be a human.
Not because of their much-noted grace and beauty—
their beauty wins them no added pleasure, grace is
only a cat's way

of getting without fuss from one place to another—
but because they see things as they are. Cats never mistake a
saucer of milk for a declaration of passion
or the crook of your knees for

a permanent address. Observing two cats on a sunporch,
you might think of them as a pair of Florentine bravoes
awaiting through slitted eyes the least lapse of attention—
then slash! the stiletto

or alternately as a long-married couple, who hardly
notice each other but find it somehow a comfort
sharing the couch, the evening news, the cocoa.
Both these ideas

are wrong. Two cats together are like two strangers
cast up by different storms on the same desert island
who manage to guard, despite the utter absence
of privacy, chocolate,

useful domestic articles, reading material,
their separate solitudes. They would not dream of
telling each other their dreams, or the plots of old movies,
or inventing a bookful

of coconut recipes. Where we would long ago have
frantically shredded our underwear into signal
flags and be dancing obscenely about on the shore in
a desperate frenzy,

they merely shift on their haunches, calm as two stoics
weighing the probable odds of the soul's immortality,
as if to say, if a ship should happen along we'll
be rescued. If not, not.

and you cannot have two cats without these three running about in your brain...



please note: photo by Terry Grant

Monday, October 5, 2009

Sound of the Night Train

by Pat Schneider

Only once in every twenty-four hours the train comes through
my town—in the dark, still center of the night. Sometimes I am
awake to hear it, its wail a long sound-tunnel back to another
time, another place.


1934. Early March in southern Missouri, northern Arkansas.
The air cold, the night wind hard in the open doorway of a
boxcar headed south toward Louisiana.
My mother told me this in the winter of her dying. Always
she said my father was just no good—her Ozark accent persisting
to the end: a woman warshed and rinched the clothes. A man
who didn't treat a woman right was just no good.
It was the heart of the Depression, she said. I never did tell this
to anyone—I was so ashamed. We wanted to go to see Papa and
Mama in the Socialist Colony down in Louisiana, but we didn't
have any money. So we rode the rails. One night a man in the
boxcar with us said, "If y'all know what's good for you, you'll jump
right now." We were scared; we jumped. And me six months pregnant
with you. Isn't that awful?
She lay very still then on her high hospital bed, the wedding
ring quilt she had pieced when her eyes were good pulled up
around her shoulders. What made me sad, listening to this story,
was the strangeness of my mother's not saying, He was just no
good. For the first time in her eighty-six years she said, He was
good to me then. I was cold, and we were sleeping on the ground. He
covered me with leaves. He covered her—covered me—with
leaves.

Sunday, October 4, 2009

Ghost Stories on a Beautiful October Sunday in CinCity

Letter I

To Mrs. Saville, England

"...I am already far north of London; and as I walk in the streets of Petersburgh, I feel a cold northern breeze play upon my cheeks, which braces my nerves, and fills me with delight. Do you understand this feeling? This breeze, which has travelled from the regions towards which I am advancing, gives me a foretaste of those icy climes. Inspirited by this wind of promise, my day dreams become more fervent and vivid.



I try in vain to be persuaded that the pole is the seat of frost and desolation; it ever presents itself to my imagination as the region of beauty and delight. There, Margaret, the sun is for ever visible, its broad disc just skirting the horizon, and diffusing a perpetual splendour. There--for with your leave, my sister, I will put some trust in preceding navigators--there snow and frost are banished; and, sailing over a calm sea, we may be wafted to a land surpassing in wonders and in beauty every region hitherto discovered on the habitable globe. Its productions and features may be without example, as the phenomena of the heavenly bodies undoubtably are in those undiscovered solitudes. What may not be expected in a country of eternal light?"

Indeed. What may not be expected? To be continued...

please note: excerpt from Frankenstein by Mary Shelley, page 1.
photo by Alexey Titarenko

Saturday, October 3, 2009

Friday, October 2, 2009

Durum wheat

by Lisa Martin-Demoor

Memory at its finest lacks corroboration
—no photographs, no diaries—
nothing to pin the past on the present with, to make it stick.
Just because you've got this idea
of red fields stretching along the tertiary roads
of Saskatchewan, like blazing, contained fires —
just because somewhere in your memory
there's a rust-coloured pulse
taking its place among canola yellow
and flax fields the huddled blue of morning azures—
just because you want to
doesn't mean you can
build a home for that old, peculiar ghost.

Someone tells you you've imagined it,
that gash across the ripe belly of summer,
and for a year, maybe two, you believe them.
Maybe you did invent it, maybe as you leaned,
to escape the heat, out the Pontiac's backseat window
you just remembered it that way
because you preferred the better version.

Someone tells you this.
But what can they know of faith?
To ask you to leave behind this insignificance.
This innocence that can't be proved: what the child saw
of the fields as she passed by, expecting nothing.

You have to go there while there's still time.
Back to the red flag of that field, blazing in the wind.
While you're still young enough to remember
a flame planted along a road. While you're still
seeing more than there is to see.


please note: art by Ken Cosgrove

Thursday, October 1, 2009

Intake Interview

by Franz Wright


What is today's date?

Who is the President?

How great a danger do you pose, on a scale of one to ten?

What does "people who live in glass houses" mean?

Every symphony is a suicide postponed, true or false?

Should each individual snowflake be held accountable for the
avalanche?

Name five rivers.

What do you see yourself doing in ten minutes?

How about some lovely soft Thorazine music?

If you could have half an hour with your father, what would you
say to him?

What should you do if I fall asleep?

Are you still following in his mastodon footsteps?

What is the moral of "Mary Had a Little Lamb"?

What about his Everest shadow?

Would you compare your education to a disease so rare no one
else has ever had it, or the deliberate extermination
of indigenous populations?

Which is more puzzling, the existence of suffering or its frequent
absence?

Should an odd number be sacrificed to the gods of the sky, and an
even to those of the underworld, or vice versa?

Would you visit a country where nobody talks?

What would you have done differently?

Why are you here?