Tuesday, October 17, 2017

Tuesday Poem: "U Boat Morning, 1914" by Alan Gould

will come as we perform the mundane toil,
say, tossing the breakfast scraps astern,

or washing down the maindeck under the oblongs

of sail-shadow. The morning sun

will mint its coins across a lazy sea,

the weather tacks and sheets will rise and fall

in languid intersectings of the sea-rim.

And there, so sudden, ordinary, too close

to dodge, or do anything about but wait for

with quiet interest, will be the thing of hearsay,

cigar profile, stub tower, little gun, so credible,

for all that it will be the first such vessel

we will have seen outside some journal's

crude picture.

Through his loudhailer,

the officer will be polite, but firm,

reading the English translation from a card.

Fifteen minutes. We'll stow such extra food,

water, charts, as time will allow,

also oilskins, a mouth organ, a piece

of unfinished scrimshaw perhaps, but not clothes,

then lower the boats, and stand off from the barque

at the distance we will have been directed to.

Oddest for our sense of what is proper

will be the sight of the helm unmanned out there

in open sea.

And this will be the manner

a moment in time will surface to say, Of course

your lives are free, of course they are compelled,

as we watch, quiescent, attentive, the lifeboats,

gentle as hammock-sway in the swell beneath us,

the little gun puffing its little smoke,

and thin smoke oozing from somewhere on board.

Gradually our home will lean into

its odd stricken angle, and spill wheatgrain

from the holes in her side, slipping under,

natural as a sleeper turning under blankets.

When it is done, the captain will salute us

just once, the submarine chug away, routine

as a mailboat.

And without undue hardship

we will survive, but no-one there will serve

in sailing ships again. This is how

an ancient confidence will vanish

casually like a fashion in jokes. Instead

we'll live into a time strange to us,

we'll live aware of how the unborn have

their faces turned away from all we took

for granted, as, stubborn or quizzical, we will

submit to someone else's scheme of what

is pressing, waste on the floor of life's renewal.

And if this quiet impending morning leaves

one thought in mind, it might be wheatgrain

fanning from a ship across the ocean's dark

like brassy beads, like fabulous golden blood.

by Alan Gould

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Tuesday, September 19, 2017

Tuesday Poem: "At Days Bay" by James K. Baxter

To lie on a beach after
looking at old poems: how

slow untroubled by any

grouch of mine or yours, Father

Ocean tumbles in the bay

alike with solitary


divers, cripples, yelling girls

and pipestem kids. He does what

suits us all; and somewhere — there,

out there, where the high tight sails

are going — he wears a white

death flag of foam for us, far


out, for when we want it. So

on Gea’s breast, the broad nurse

who bears with me, I think of

adolescence: that sad boy

I was, thoughts crusted with ice

on the treadmill of self-love,


Narcissus damned, who yet brought

like a coal in a hallow

stalk, the seed of fire that runs

through my veins now. I praise that

sad boy now, who having no

hope, did not blow out his brains.

by James K. Baxter

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Tuesday, September 12, 2017

Tuesday Poem: "Dream of a Slave" by Gavin Ewart

I want to be carried, heavily sedated,
into a waiting aircraft.

I want to collapse from nervous exhaustion.

I want to bow my head like Samson

and bring down with me

the top ten advertising agencies.

I want to see the little bosses

vanish like harmless fairies.

I want the pantomime to be over,

the circus empty.

I want what is real to establish itself,

my children to prevail,

to live happy ever after

in this world that worships the preposterous.

It is better to be a scribe

than hacking at the salt mines,

heaving the building blocks.

Everybody wants to be a scribe.

But I want out. I want non-existence.

A passive dream, a future for my children.

by Gavin Ewart

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Tuesday, September 5, 2017

Tuesday Poem: "Afternoons" by Jorge H. Aigla

Those afternoons, the Saturdays of my tender childhood
in Mexico City

were just lovely.

It was the time when fathers

were one on one with their sons,

and took them to see friends, have an ice,

talk in the park, or to intriguing stores

from their youth.

I remember going to a store

that sold mountain climbing equipment:

my father knew “The Goat,”

one of the climbers of the great Popocatepetl,

and he would show us boots, ropes, and hammers,

and photographs of the Valley of Mexico and of snow.

Another place in my fantast was a corner

in the old section of the city,

where they sold model airplanes

with gasoline engines;

I would watch the wealthy kids buy

and we in our dreams would fly.

Another place was the small shop of the Japanese man, Osawa,

who sold shells, butterflies, spiders, beetles,

and other vermin and dried creepers;

for a few pesos one could well

enlarge a modest collection.

A labyrinth in the basement of a mansion

led one to the abode of the Old Catalán

who sold stamps and postal seals;

he had in his possession the first stamp of Juárez,

and promised never to sell it,

though perhaps, he might give it to me some day.

In a garage Don Leopoldo sold supplies for engineers:

slide rules with many rows, squares,

fine pens, india ink, complicated compasses,

and with all this my father’s friend

traced a world for me.

Those crammed afternoons, already abandoned,

shadowed by death,

undone by a fast and coarse world,

taught me what it is to fill out

the alertness of time.

by Jorge H. Aigla

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Tuesday, August 29, 2017

Tuesday Poem: "Happily Planting the Beans Too Early" by Jack Gilbert

I waited until the sun was going down
to plant the bean seedlings. I was

beginning on the peas when the phone rang.

It was a long conversation about what

living this way in the woods might

be doing to me. It was dark by the time

I finished. Made tuna fish sandwiches

and read the second half of a novel.

Found myself out in the April moonlight

putting the rest of the pea shoots into

the soft earth. It was after midnight.

There was a bird calling intermittently

and I could hear the stream down below.

She was probably right about me getting

strange. After all, Bashō and Tolstoy

at the end were at least going somewhere. 

by Jack Gilbert

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Tuesday, August 22, 2017

Tuesday Poem: "The Second Going" by Philip Levine

Again the
day begins, only

no one wants its sanity

or its blinding clarity. Daylight is

not what we came all this way for. A

pinch of salt, a drop of schnapps in our cup

of tears, the ticket to the life to come, a short life of

long nights & absent dawns & a little mercy in the tea.

by Philip Levine
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Tuesday, August 15, 2017

Tuesday Poem: "America" by Claude McKay

Although she feeds me bread of bitterness,
And sinks into my throat her tiger’s tooth,
Stealing my breath of life, I will confess
I love this cultured hell that tests my youth!
Her vigor flows like tides into my blood,
Giving me strength erect against her hate.
Her bigness sweeps my being like a flood.
Yet as a rebel fronts a king in state,
I stand within her walls with not a shred
Of terror, malice, not a word of jeer.
Darkly I gaze into the days ahead,
And see her might and granite wonders there,
Beneath the touch of Time’s unerring hand,
Like priceless treasures sinking in the sand.

by Claude McKay

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