jueves, febrero 22, 2007

Four Poems From Nathaniel Rounds


To Bob--whom everyone knows, or would like to.

(Chapter XII--Of lions habituated to seize deer, and eagles ordered to seize wolves.)


Clouds on the horizon. Six sirens wailed. Mother, in alarm, wept tears of
blood and milk. A bearded thief--baneful and watchful like the guileless
snake--removed his victim's signet ring and took to hiding in the lake.

Did he feast upon the catfish? Were his pockets full of scones? Did he
bring to water's surface gilded leopards carved from bone?


William Reuben's fight with jaundice is made obvious in this
single-surviving portrait (drawn by a street artist on Rue St. Denis) and
even in this rough oil pastel we can see that he had few days left to rework
the Táin Bó Cúailnge as a performance piece (a dining car crashes through a
supermarket window) accompanied by three minor notes plucked upon a piece of
bailing wire nailed to a knacker's door. It was just as well. The northern
lights unveiled themselves as William drove his taxi into the Montreal


Marty Volkslied sings in his mirth loving way: “Three peremptory cheers for
fine-feathered Feagh and his keeper, Fortunato!”

Fortunato opines to Feagh (between breezy inhalations of laughing gas):
“Never again shall we confide in our bought sons. One shall do one sort of
work while the other does another. The worm fence shall divide them.”
Feagh’s fat face spreads into a crapulous smile.
“Never again,” he crows. “Not ever, no never, never be it so! Not ever
again, de facto! Make the bought boys work the worm fence! Farm out the
fault line! Never again, both in poor and fine weather, never again shall we
speak them whatever!”
“Stick with me,” coos Fortunato. “Stick with me, little Feagh, like a
cockroach to turd.”
“Like a cockroach to turd,” chirps Feagh. “Like a cockroach who listens to
larvae in turd I shall act on your low-spoken, venomous word!”
Darkness lingers within bright sons.
‘Neath the eaves Noel whispers to Bo:
“Go skip-bomb the wordmongering, tinhorned Jack and hear his sad chide chime
in a flashflood of flatulent timpani over the Seven Seas.”
Meanwhile, as Bob lies browning in the noonday sun, Marty Volkslied sings
outside the door:

“Buffo’ floribunda, tabula rasa,
band organ marches and
Washington pie, our
tabourer with calfskin and fife
trolled rosy-colored,
third-hand hymnals rife
with cloying clumps of storm cloud
through homage to promised wassailer’s
third heaven.

“Three turns of the crank
as he caroled the town,
singing ‘Riddle-me-roundelay, Old Mr. Brown!’”


Two boys--one aged six, the other eight--
contest over woolly mountains
and scorched field
with aerial evocations to Popeye.

Their bed gives final warning of
while the youngest pees conspiratorially off
the edge into
making a trip to the bathroom (where Dad,
his face a
torn map of blood, alcohol and vomit)


Inside a back street car wash in New Orleans,
two bayou smithies
hold their war criminal firmly
by his coat sleeves of Scottish tweed--
a cleric pinned down in his own clipper
by the pirate boys Lafitte.

The cleric recalls a scene
from a nature program,

in which a lion devours a fawn.
Beads of red light trickle
over portholes draped in steam.

The cleric removes a breastpin--
a tree-of-life
from the Field of Gold,
asking that his life be spared.

“We’re sorry,” intone his captors
gravely, “but we cannot process your plea
at this time.”

Inside a back street car wash
in New Orleans,
a fawn nibbles on a timid lion.


Half past four/
Walking out the door/
Gonna sell a diamond
And a '57 Ford.
Oh, money….

That’s daddy striding waving smiling goodbye
into the bicentennial parade
tambourine and baton Pinto wagon papier-mâché float
Budweiser blanket spread out on the hill
and in the persistence of memory/
I unsnap my parachute
waiting for peace to bleed through

Jumped out of bed in my burning pajamas/
Swam a roaring river and jumped a train/
In six months time I might poke around in Eden/
In six months time I might be dead again




Tome 5

And Zachery Snowfield
the Incredible Breathing Speed Dancer
who earned twenty six dollars every two weeks
mopping the floor in a portrait studio
took a job in a shipyard in Kittery, Maine.
He signed on to a ship and was returning from Havana
when a storm blew him off the mainstay
and into shark infested waters.
A sharp-eyed deck hand threw him a lifeline.
Zach thanked him with a boot to the head.
"There's a mermaid out there," he growled.
"Name is Vonny Hedlund.
She was writing down her phone number
and everything. Best thing that ever happened to me
and you had to mess it up."
He was reunited with her on a second trip
and they got married in Walled Lake, Michigan
during a Hewett Theater dance marathon contest.
They were team no. 6 3/4.
The sailor groom and his mermaid bride
would go on to win thirty-two contests across the country
until they were banned from nationals
on account of Vonny’s fish tail.
Their wedding cake was ten feet tall,
850 pounds and required 2500 spectators to help eat it.
No further events are recorded until thirty-six years later
when Zach was killed in an electrical fire
at the Transcontinental Toe & Heel Tap factory.
A Harrington rod implant correcting his scoliosis
was retrieved from the ruins
and used to identify his remains.
Vonny was left penniless and took a cleaning job
in a tuna fish cannery near Gate 5 on San Francisco Bay.

Shining Steel Tempered in the Fire

Wrote the only literate bobbin boy from #7 room:

“Dear Mr. Henry Quackenbush, Factory Overseer:

I’m leaving this note to inform you

that the loom fixer, the sample weaver,

the mill right and the finish percher

have gone home.

“We have stripped your bobbins,

cleaned off your looms,

swept your floors,

turned off your boilers

and overhead lights,

padlocked your file drawers and cabinets,

boarded your windows and barred your doors.

“We have spread storage cloths over

your mill housing furniture,

torn the final page

from the company calendar.

“We have blotted our names

from the final census

of the United States.

“We’re boarding a fast train

fueled with mummies from antiquity,

and are heading home to

Quebec, County Clare

and the tribe of Reuben.

“Our attorney, Mr. Moyse,

shall plague you by requesting

an independent audit on your heart.”

Thought the old overseer,

pulling at his stiff collar

while reading this note,

“My last sol has passed through my hands!

May the spent purple dyes from the dye house

pour down

into the mighty river of water of life

and poison their last fish.

I’ll spend my days weaving baskets

while imbibing Rod McKuen

in paperback,

Schlitz beer on ice and Perry Como

singin’ Dirty Old Town with a

western swing,

then have my cracked nut fastened

to the house of Dagon.”

A Canadian/American filmmaker and poet, Nathaniel Rounds has appeared in Scrivener, Pottersfield Portfolio, and presented numerous experimental movies in films fests. He's currently involved in preserving the lost video tapes of poet Milton Acorn.

domingo, febrero 18, 2007

Three Poems by Li Po (李白) in New English Translations

Inscribed At Summit Temple

Night, I stay at Summit Temple
I lift my hand and touch the stars
I dare not raise my voice
For fear of disturbing the occupants of heaven



Before Wine

In gold cups
A beauty from Wu, 15, on a dwarf horse
Her lashes painted indigo, her boots of red brocade
She stumbles on the words, but sings coquettishly
At the banquet, drunk, she presses against me --
"Behind the curtain of nenuphar, I could never resist you"



Autumn, Leaving Qingmen

Frost falls on Qingmen, into the river trees empty themselves
Plain cloth sails in autumn wind
Fine sliced perch not journey's end
For my love of famous mountains I go to the land of Shan



Translated by Andrew Haley

Li Po (李白) the Banished Immortal, celebrated Tang Dynasty poet, was born in 701 in present day Kyrgyzstan to Chinese exiles. He achieved great acclaim before his death, despite a life of itinerant wandering. One of the Eight Immortals of Wine, he was a legendary drinker and is said to have drowned drunk in the Yangtze trying to embrace the reflection of the moon. He was returning to his childhood home in Sichuan Province after a thirty-five year absence. He was 61.

viernes, febrero 16, 2007

Four Poems From David McLean

the bolts (after Hölderlin)

if i could also stand there
like him under god’s grayest thunder-heaven
not only bare-headed but totally naked
as a child born to die again, after
life’s brief morning of pain, and if i
could catch with my bare fingers
the rays and bolts themselves, naked too,
i would indeed wrap them lovingly in song
as he wanted, but not to give the people
as god’s forwarded love,
but humble to lay them under your feet,
for only from your earth
grows my heart’s tree truly green.

Psalm (after Trakl)

god's golden eyes opened so slowly in our skulls
and all the madmen are dead in our lost paradise
where the son's of Pan do not labour
except through the laborious twitching love of panic
that swoops black onto the shoulders
of your suffering, faithful as a dog
and homeless as every resounding sound of glasgow.

and we work together to bury the stranger
with the gaunt giant she chose to lay so close beside her,
and here the old asylum grows ever bleaker
remnants of humanity scarred and scored
by the fishwives of psychiatry
inscribing another's sad stumbling nothing on loving yellow,
the raiment of sudden pain fraying away her hemmed days.

as it were our childhood again
every church gapes ever open
this drugged sunday school that taught a generation
my thousand dead secrets
and love still just dust-balls behind god's fridge
where your truth has found me
still dreaming fragile beauty

and inscribing legends for your blind girl's eyes,
for i am the student who stood behind you on the staircase,
the expressive wrinkles on the night's lonely face
a change of time, a change of place

born a man

(i) was never born a man (i) was born a baby
the man came later with the brackets and the loneliness
and now (i) lives in a gym -
an (i) is always homeless

remembering dismembering

tattered fragments flown as proud as the bravest banners
in self-dismissive missives, our pauper's remittance
where we are all desolate stuffed men, miserly in our misery,
our remembered carapaces leaning together hollow as time,
hollow as the idiot ticking seconds of love's tacky alarm-clock
like a million cockroaches chuckling their way to death's pay day
when the glowing soil shall be rewarded for the roots we grubbed
with our decay's dark love.

another lover's lonely "Aubade" tolls the knell of whining this decaying day
as god's convenient rot subvenes on the only eternal,
that cold diurnal round of complacent complaint
waiting the iterative disdain of another generation of impatient patients
dreaming charity, the distant fingers falling mourning on life's alien shore,
(this girl still, this planet)
and only time travel is in our bloods, the hour's tortoise hosting
shelly courage, each painful pace our path's patent disgrace;

and we prop up our meanings on piles of lies, sifted through the maternal filters
thick as sedge, those viennese wafers of vision he gives us still,
the child's blind eye unseeing everything, the little pitcher's pictures
stamped on our grafted skeins of dying where the cordial seeps
freely through the baby's, always already ageing, withered veins,
and our life is a runaway carriage and some It seems to hold the reins.
It gives, Being gives, and we are never there to witness
and give what we should give, only our testimony, solely truthfully

but still your wisdom grows like dusty wine in some Israel's best vineyard
where words ferment their lament through years instilled suffering
listed in your every word, the ones i whisper at night silent by your side
our lives on pause, unseen, unheard,
and we deem a meaning therein, that foreign soil we suppose
our bodies may, some latter day, having died, laying, lie in,
a time for death in love's black and luscious loam, a time for final truth
for reason's unbelieving eschatology, for only Death says sooth.

and Death shall open his great black book that records the sad and final things,
for Everyman rides forth his thirsty day as life's only known knight at arms
and lives a love alone and palely loitering, for at death's door we loiter all
here in this winsome world where the sedge is still withered on the lake,
still withered drier on love's empty lake, and no birds are heard to sing.

David McLean was born in Wales in 1960. He attended Balliol College in Oxford where he took a BA in history in 1982. After working for a lawyer's firm in Brixton, south London, he moved to Sweden in 1987, having become father to a daughter with a Swedish woman. Leaving her in 1990, he remained in Sweden until the present. He worked for many years in health care with older people, the senile, and cancer patients. After this McLean studied philosophy and history of ideas at Stockholm University, taking an MA in 1999 with practical philosophy (ethics) as major. Phenomenology and existentialism are primary interests in that field. At present he lives with his partner Amanda Boschetto who is half-Italian, though she writes poems in Swedish and sometimes English. They have no children but many kittens. Both suffer from the personality disorder known as borderline, although McLean no longer shows any symptoms.

miércoles, febrero 14, 2007

Four Graphomuñecos From Vadim Bystritski

te encontré en el parque de noche
donde del mármol te erguiste
pisoteé tus flores
y tiré piedras
que a veces
tu rostro eludió
a-a-a patadas
quebré un banco
y con un madero
de nuevo te combatí
mezclando insultos
a la lista de asesinados
sequé a sorbos todo el agua
de tu fuente
me oriné a tus pies
me abondané a otras decadencias
hasta despertar los pájaros
después te acerqué
para cerciorarme
si había vida
entre tus párpados

abracé a mis padres y vecinos
al contar este cuento
del largo viaje
de los niños de Hamelín
como embrujado
seguía el gaitero
a aquellos lejanos lugares
hasta que acalló
su intrumento musical
aún sin poder tornar
para huir
en esta dirección
y cuando aprendí
a andar así
cómo podría atravesar
la misma distancia al revés
y así llevé
una mala noticia
que otros niños
no volverán

quiero ser un huérfano
o un eneano
con todo mi caudal
apretado en un gran bolso
dondequiera andar
de vez en cuando
de en él huir

yo que sé
por qué la luna
no tiene nada más que hacer
que esparcir su luz
sobre una pierna solitaria
que no sabe más
que dar un paso
y otro

Born in 1966 in Kazakhstan, Vadim grew up in Azerbaijan and was educated in Russia (Saratov State University, Philology of Romance and Germanic Languages). Since 1989 he has resided in Los Angeles, California where he attended Pasadena City College and Cal Poly (Pomona). It was at Cal Poly that Bystritski wrote his manuscript Graphomuñecos. The poems appearing here are some of the few surviving poems from that book. In those days Vadim understood graphomania as an aesthetic notion opposed to that of voice: graphomaniacs write not with another voice, but in another language. It is a new language that is responsible for changes in writing style.