Originally aired: Sunday 10 June through Sunday 12 August 2007

This topic contains 464 replies, has 53,609 voices, and was last updated by  Sven2 1 year, 1 month ago.

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    –Czeslaw Milosz

    A day so happy.
    Fog lifted early. I worked in the garden.
    Hummingbirds were stopping over the honeysuckle flowers.
    There was no thing on earth I wanted to possess.
    I knew no one worth my envying him.
    Whatever evil I had suffered, I forgot.
    To think that once I was the same man did not embarrass me.
    In my body I felt no pain.
    When straightening up, I saw blue sea and sails.



    The Lamb

    Linda Gregg

    It was a picture I had after the war.
    A bombed English church. I was too young
    to know the word English or war,
    but I knew the picture.
    The ruined city still seemed noble.
    The cathedral with its roof blown off
    was not less godly. The church was the same
    plus rain and sky. Birds flew in and out
    of the holes God’s fist made in the walls.
    All our desire for love or children
    is treated like rags by the enemy.
    I knew so much and sang anyway.
    Like a bird who will sing until
    it is brought down. When they take
    away the trees, the child picks up a stick
    and says, this is a tree, this the house
    and the family. As we might. Through a door
    of what had been a house, into the field
    of rubble, walks a single lamb, tilting
    its head, curious, unafraid, hungry.



    Salinas Is On His Way

    Luis Omar Salinas

    Go, friends, quickly to your tasks and wives.
    This night I have to discover the clouds–
    talk to the galaxies.
    My parents are old
    and the road is a serpent full of ambitions.
    And what remains of me after sleep
    is sunlight entering
    like a nun into church.
    After dreams get through with me
    I shall devour books, sing arias,
    walk on snow,
    have arguments with darkness,
    and crawl into the corner of the sea
    listening to the tingle of bells.
    What remains of me after sleep
    may be a corpse.
    So send out word:

    Salinas is on his way–
    quoting verses from the Bible,
    making a mad dash through the night,
    making sure everything is secure.


    The Name of a Fish

    Faith Shearin

    If winter is a house then summer is a window
    in the bedroom of that house. Sorrow is a river
    behind the house and happiness is the name

    of a fish who swims downstream. The unborn child
    who plays the fragrant garden is named Mavis:
    her red hair is made of future and her sleek feet

    are wet with dreams. The cat who naps
    in the bedroom has his paws in the sun of summer
    and his tail in the moonlight of change. You and I

    spend years walking up and down the dusty stairs
    of the house. Sometimes we stand in the bedroom
    and the cat walks towards us like a message.

    Sometimes we pick dandelions from the garden
    and watch the white heads blow open
    in our hands. We are learning to fish in the river

    of sorrow; we are undressing for a swim.



    A Talk With Friedrich Nietzsche

    –Adam Zagajewski

    Most highly respected Professor Nietzsche,
    sometimes I seem to see you
    on a sanatorium terrace at dawn
    with fog descending and song bursting
    the throats of the birds.

    Not tall, head like a bullet,
    you compose a new book
    and a strange energy hovers around you.
    Your thoughts parade
    like enormous armies.

    You know now that Anne Frank died,
    and her classmates and friends, boys, girls,
    and friends of her friends, and cousins
    and friends of her cousins.

    What are words, I want to ask you, what
    is clarity and why do words keep burning
    a century later, though the earth
    weighs so much?

    Clearly nothing links enlightenment
    and the dark pain of cruelty.
    At least two kingdoms exist,
    if not more.

    But if there’s no God and no force
    welds elements in repulsion,
    then what are words really, and from whence
    does their inner light come?

    And from where does joy come, and where
    does nothingness go? Where is forgiveness?
    Why do the incidental dreams vanish at dawn and the
    great ones keep growing?

    –Translated by Renata Gorczynski



    Raven and the Birth of Tango

    –Janni Edwards


    Raven hates myth, unless he gets a piece of the action.
    He’s perfected the shrug, carries a knife,
    kicks ass when he needs to. When Raven shaves night,
    he leaves shadow. A trick he learned by dancing.


    Bored, Raven headed south, Buenos Aires.
    Wandered the markets, the mixed-blood arrabales
    the brothels. Cocked his head, sniffed.
    Smelled meat on the edge of spoiling,
    the bandoneonists drinking red wine, making love to their instruments.
    He watched the card games, the emigrants and compadritos
    drifting in from the country, their drinking, feuds, knives.
    Raven thought about wounds and longings.
    He listened to the ocean weight of darkness
    sifting centuries of largo and eros,
    listened to dogs barking in the night.


    Raven blew a smoke ring around the moon,
    watched dancers riffing Africa
    off the music of the arrabales,
    and when he was ready
                            Raven caught the tip
    of the dance in his beak, tugged
                              and slowl
    Raven pulled out Tango

    He twined the dark blue current of sex around
    the man’s arm winding like a snake
    around his partner’s waist—and just like that
    Raven caught the dancers
    about to break
    in two

    2. The Marriage Tango

    The old couple is dancing. Solemn,
    worn confederates of the tango. Their bodies are thick with age,
    their feet callused yet quick.
    This is an old story, like water, like flying.
    Still, each time they dance it, something new.
    The young lovers set out in a raft
    at the edge of the ocean, reckless,
    rehearsing their new names like children
    writing in the night air with burning sticks

    Husband            Wife

    They don’t yet know neither the ocean nor the sky
    cares about love or secrets or fidelity.

    How they are bold with each other.
    How like a kite she agrees to be led.
    How he learns not to be afraid of her.
    How the magnet of desire pulls in and at them.
    How dangerous they become for each other.
    How close they sail to the edge of the flat world,
    how they long for the flying plunge.
    How they learn to read each other’s weather.
    How they bear children, work and weep and laugh.
    How they count the casualties.
    How they make love:
    How they sleep each night for decades spooned around each other,
    wake to tell their dreams.
    How they carry on.
    How they haunt each other.

    How strange to find themselves old and still dancing
    quick and slow under the crooked smile of the moon.
    How they sail closer and closer to death.
    How, somehow, their raft becomes an ark,

    Raven their dark dove.



    One Reason I Like Opera

    –by Marge Piercy

    In movies, you can tell the heroine
    because she is blonder and thinner
    than her sidekick. The villainess
    is darkest. If a woman is fat,
    she is a joke and will probably die.

    In movies, the blondest are the best
    and in bleaching lies not only purity
    but victory. If two people are both
    extra pretty, they will end up
    in the final clinch.

    Only the flawless in face and body
    win. That is why I treat
    movies as less interesting
    than comic books. The camera
    is stupid. It sucks surfaces.

    Let’s go to the opera instead.
    The heroine is fifty and weighs
    as much as a ’65 Chevy with fins.
    She could crack your jaw in her fist.
    She can hit high C lying down.

    The tenor the women scream for
    wolfs down an eight course meal daily.
    He resembles a bull on hind legs.
    His thighs are the size of beer kegs.
    His chest is a redwood with hair.

    Their voices twine, golden serpents.
    Their voices rise like the best
    fireworks and hang and hang
    then drift slowly down descending
    in brilliant and still fiery sparks.

    The hippopotamus baritone (the villain)
    has a voice that could give you
    an orgasm right in your seat.
    His voice smokes with passion.
    He is hot as lava. He erupts nightly.

    The contralto is, however, svelte.
    She is supposed to be the soprano’s
    mother, but is ten years younger,
    beautiful and Black. Nobody cares.
    She sings you into her womb where you rock.

    What you see is work like digging a ditch,
    hard physical labor. What you hear
    is magic as tricky as knife throwing.
    What you see is strength like any
    great athlete’s. What you hear

    is still rendered precisely as the best
    Swiss watchmaker. The body is
    resonance. The body is the cello case.
    The body just is. The voice loud
    as hunger remagnetizes your bones.



    Obama edits Emma Lazarus poem on Statue of Liberty

    “In his immigration speech today, President Obama cited the most prominent symbol of America’s immigrant tradition: The Statue of Liberty.

    He also quoted famous lines from the Emma Lazarus poem inscribed at the base of the statue — at least some of them.

    Read on, and see if you can spot the difference (and we credit our friends at Politico for noticing this).

    Here’s Obama, according to the White House website:


    Give me your tired, and your poor,

       Your huddled masses yearning to be free …

       Send these, the homeless, tempest-tossed to me,

       I lift my lamp beside the golden door!

    And here’s the Lazarus poem:


    Give me your tired, your poor.

       Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free,

       The wretched refuse of your teeming shore.

       Send these, the homeless, tempest-tossed to me,

       I lift my lamp beside the golden door!

    Yes, the president left out the section about “the wretched refuse of your teeming shore.”

    Politically correct? Or did he just overlook the line?”



    The New Colossus

    — Emma Lazarus

    Not like the brazen giant of Greek fame,
    With conquering limbs astride from land to land;
    Here at our sea-washed, sunset gates shall stand
    A mighty woman with a torch, whose flame
    Is the imprisoned lightning, and her name
    Mother of Exiles. From her beacon-hand
    Glows world-wide welcome; her mild eyes command
    The air-bridged harbor that twin cities frame.
    “Keep, ancient lands, your storied pomp!” cries she
    With silent lips. “Give me your tired, your poor,
    Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free,
    The wretched refuse of your teeming shore.
    Send these, the homeless, tempest-tost to me,
    I lift my lamp beside the golden door!”



    A Blade of Grass

    –Brian Patten

    You ask for a poem.
    I offer you a blade of grass.
    You say it is not good enough.
    You ask for a poem.

    I say this blade of grass will do.
    It has dressed itself in frost,
    It is more immediate
    Than any image of my making.

    You say it is not a poem,
    It is a blade of grass and grass
    Is not quite good enough.
    I offer you a blade of grass.

    You are indignant.
    You say it is too easy to offer grass.
    It is absurd.
    Anyone can offer a blade of grass.

    You ask for a poem.
    And so I write you a tragedy about
    How a blade of grass
    Becomes more and more difficult to offer,

    And about how as you grow older
    A blade of grass
    Becomes more difficult to accept.

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