Posts Tagged 'Poetry'

Zhu Tou

She calls me
zhu tou
and stares at me–
expecting an answer.
I blink,
lean closer.
“Zhu tou,” she says again,
pointing at me.
Am I supposed to know
what this means?
Did I learn it in class?
Did she teach it to me recently?
My smile is confusion.
I nod politely.
“You,” pointing at me,
“Zhu tou.”
What the fuck?
She explains:
It means
head of the pig.
I’m more confused.
Why is she
making fun of me?
She says it’s a cute name,
for very close friends
or more.
Well, that makes sense,
but I don’t like it.
It’s not a good name.
She looks confused now.
I explain:
I’m Jewish–
pigs aren’t kosher,
and “pig headed”
isn’t a good thing
in English.
She won’t call me
zhu tou again.

Matthew Lubin


Willow Tree Poem

Wind dancers
dancing to the
willow wind,
leaves swaying
right to left
all day long.
I’m depressed.
Birds hanging on-
bleaching feathers
out into
the sun.

Michael Lee Johnson

Time Traveler

You grew and you grew until you stopped growing
And there they planted a tree to mark your height;
Existence was measured in feet and inches,
Infancy meted out with a yardstick..

When you were tall enough, you walked away forever
Returning occasionally for holidays or a wedding
But soon not even those. You lost track of the tree
Standing alone in the yard, an orchard of one.

Then everyone else walked away, too. House and porch
Belong to others now. The cemetery
Is still there at the end of the road, beyond the curve
near the communal gardens, cramped and overgrown.
The dead don’t walk away so easily.

Occasionally, you still pass by. Between the tall pines
Your father planted, you spy on other lives
Unfolding as yours once did. You wave politely. Smiling 
They wave back, welcoming you: stranger, time traveler.

Marc Alan Di Martino

This poem was published in a slightly different version here.

The Rubiyat of mm Lutibelle

The typing finger having hit
<return> moves on;
Nor all your groans nor careful wit
can <del> one bit.
Colleagues, it’s gone.

Louie Crew


(The media invasion after the Virginia Tech massacre on April 16, 2007)

Center focus, zoom in
I can feel them burning into the back of my neck with oversized eyes and fame
seeking hunger
The tears spilling down my cheeks can’t be shielded, and I’ve tried before
They fall freely and gracefully down past my freckles and the lenses drink them
The mascara under my eyes is a target, the pain that can be wiped away unlike
the suffering in my eyes
It shines out through the water glass that coats my eyelids and they think its
The blood that runs from my lips as I bite it to keep from crying only merits a
new roll of film to catch the reddest drop
An arm around you only invites an invasion
They are cold stones that were planted when you took a moment to blink
As soon as you can see again they’re there, everywhere, surrounding you with
black, soulless faces
The push and click and whir and most of the time don’t say a word
They aren’t after you, they’re after your misery
If you kneel, or sit, or light a candle, if you cry, or squirm, or hug, or kiss,
if you bend, bow, stumble, curtsey, salute, shake hands, hate, love, they watch
and follow and chase and click
They are stones that will surround you, you can kick them but will only break a
toe, you can yell but stones cannot hear, you beg and plead and bargain, but
stone has no heart
They will center focus, zoom in, catch the new zit on your cheek as a tear runs
by it to escape the soulless eye
Tears don’t want fame and fortune, they want solace and privacy, they are meant
to grieve and not be exploited, they go as fast as they can but its never
Our pain is plastered on the WebPages and newsreels all over the world for
people to watch while mom cuts up the meatloaf and dad feeds the dog
they’ll shake their heads and say, that’s too bad, while little Timmy swings a
baseball bat at his sisters head
They’ll cover their food in ketchup and then change the channel to wheel of
Our pain didn’t come with a dial, we can’t change the channel, or wait for the
program to end
What we fall asleep with is what we wake up with, and there are enough images
burned into our hears so that we will never need a photograph to remember it
But just in case we do…
There’s another one that will be on CNN in an hour

Meredith Vallee

Circa 1965

My mother’s baking cookies while I read
a Hawkman comic in the living room.
Behind his newspaper Father’s fallen
asleep in his chair in the corner. My
sisters are upstairs with Elvis Presley,
his music, anyway, and my brother
sits on the front porch with the girl next door.
I want to put the comic down, announce
that we’re a happy family, and life
has meaning, but I don’t know how. Tonight
we’ll watch Ed Sullivan together, and
the Beatles, for their second appearance.
My sisters will sway and smile to the beat.
My brother will take his comb from his hip
pocket and try to stretch his buzz below
the tops of his ears. Father will nod off
but I’ll wake him for the animal act,
if there is one. If not, I’ll let him doze.
Mother will read something called The Bell Jar
and sneak looks over the top, at Paul, John,
and George, then say, I still like Ringo best.
Later that night I’ll dream I have a band,
my three best friends and I, and we sing
and play and everywhere we go girls try
to get our autographs and rip our clothes.
But tomorrow I go to school again
–English, Arithmetic, History, Health,
Science, and PhysEd, and some drawing.
And maybe a filmstrip. And some singing.
But for now the future is the future
though I move from panel to panel, and
Father will snort himself awake and turn
the newspaper pages, and the King’s song
will come to the end of another groove.
Mother will take the cookies from the stove
and let them cool, then spill them on a plate.
These things take time and that’s what’s sacrificed
that we may live. There’s no going back now
even if we wanted to. I can’t stop
my first tear. More come. Now I’m sobbing and
Father wakes. What the damn’ hell, he says. Why
are you crying, boy
? I dunno, I say.
I can’t help myself, Sir–there is a God.
Mother comes in from the kitchen–I thought
I heard something
, she says. What’s the matter?
Brother and his gal look in the window
while Elvis croons Are you lonesome tonight?
See here, Father says. You’re a big boy. Too
big to cry. Nine years old if you’re a day.
, Mother says. The cookies are burning!
She runs back into the kitchen. Fifteen
minutes of weeping and I feel better.
I’m sorry, I say, but God bless us all.
Well, yes, Father says, picking up the sports.
What you said. He clears his throat as he hides
behind the paper again. Mother beats
another batch of dough–I hear the spoon
rub against the sides of the bowl. Brother
is kissing his girlfriend. Right smack on the lips.
Upstairs the Beatles sing From Me to You.
One day we’ll all be skeletons–I mean
without flesh and blood at all. We’ll be just
what holds it all together, thanks to God.
Now we’re not dead. Now we live forever.
I finish Hawkman–the bad guy lost. For
Father, stocks are up and the home team won.
Mother hasn’t burned another cookie
and Brother looks happy, as if he knows
what love is and always will. My sisters
are singing A Hard Day’s Night. We’re never
going to die, even when we do. God
bless us all–but this time I don’t say it.
When I’m home, everything seems to be right.
Gale Acuff

Else Lasker-Schuler

Franz Marc Grazing Horses

“This was the Black Swan, the Prince of Thebes, Jussuf, Tino of Baghdad.” So wrote German poet Gottfried Benn about his ex-lover Else Lasker-Schuler, the erratic, impoverished, fantastical German-Jewish poet. Lasker-Schuler, one of interwar Berlin’s most prominent poets, fled Germany in 1933 after being beaten by Nazi thugs with an iron rod. She was sixty-four. She fled to Switzerland and, eventually, Israel. She looked, in the memorable words of Jerusalem friend Heinz Politzer, “…like a solitary, exotic nightbird, with enormous eyes in an ageless face. The whole of her seemed as if carved from a mandrake root.”  At her funeral on the Mount of Olives, her poem “I Know” was recited in German, unheard of in the Jerusalem of 1945.

O God

Everywhere only brief sleep
in man, in green leaves, in the chalice of the wind.
Each turns homeward into his dead heart.

Would that the world were still a child–
and could tell me of its very first breath.

Long ago there was a great goodness in heaven,
the stars gave each other the Bible to read.
If only once I could grasp God’s hand,
or see the moon perched on his finger.

O God, O God, how far I am from thee!

Translation and biographical notes taken from the volume Else Lasker-Schuler, Selected Poems, Green Integer 2002.

Contrasting Views

"Literalism is a feature of boorish translators." Cicero "The clumsiest literal translation is a thousand times more useful than the prettiest paraphrase." Nabokov

The Faerie Queene

"John Ashbery said reading the Faerie Queene was like reading an endless beautiful comic strip." Kenneth Koch

Sigmund Freud

"Everywhere I go, I find a poet has been there before me."


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