Conjugal Love

April 3, 2013 § Leave a comment

amo
amas
amat
amamus
amatis
a mantis

– Alan Riddell

This is a found poem from a Latin textbook. I saw. I came. I consumed.

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Summer Poem

March 31, 2013 § 4 Comments

In midsummer
the way between our homes
is blocked

the streets snowed up
and neither of us
wants to be the first
to clear away the snow

I remember that you were
not too keen on toil

and I have always
been fond of
snow

– Gerður Kristný

Kristný is Icelandic, which explains the snow in summertime. I like this poem for what it doesn’t say; the relationship between the narrator and the other is as presumed as the path beneath the snow.

[Poem first published in KIN]

Richard the Third in a Fourth of a Second

February 5, 2013 § Leave a comment

The Essential Shakespeare, Volume I
Rapid-retrieval editions in rhymed hemimeter

ACT I

Clop.

Clop-
clop.

But
look
what
Hop-
toad
did.

Wid-
ow’d,

ACT II

woo’d,

took

this
lewd
and
stin-
king
thing
this
En-
gland.

ACT III

Clop-
pit-
y
clop
he
swap
it
fer
some
horse.

ACT IV

Flum-
mer-
y
of
course.

Cov-
er
stor-
y
for
the
hoi-
po-
lloi.

ACT V

Good;

we
would-
n’t
want
the
slu-
bbered
herd

ACT VI

thin-
king
which
nerd
murd-
ered
Rich-
ard
Third.

– George Starbuck

A bare bones exhumation of Shakespeare’s deform’d, unfinish’d king?

A syllable is nothing more than the smallest phonetical unit of a word, a vocalic boulder with consonantal tufts of grass sprouting before and after. As Starbuck shows, syllables do funny things when cleft from their crags: thinking breaks to thin king, stinking becomes stin king oozing from the odiferous En gland. Eek. But then everything ends in a landslide of -urds, -erds, and words, reburying the body.

Sawmill Haiku

January 28, 2013 § Leave a comment

  An ancient frog
in an ancient outhouse
    Plop!

– Lawrence Ferlinghetti

Ferlinghetti is my No. 1 Beat poet even when writing about No. 2.

Hymn to a Jeddart-Justicer

January 23, 2013 § Leave a comment

The convicks sail the Reid Sea, pechin,
oarin the galley through,
rairin abune the shackle-nicherin
a sang of their hame — Peru.

Peru-fold, yowlin o Peru — their Paradise
the burdies, the jiggin, the tarts,
the croons o orange-flooers ticed
wi the baobab heavenwarts.

Bananas, ananas! Sic a tass o pleesures!
Wine in the bosie o the jaur…
Till the judged tuk Peru, like Caesars,
— guid kens for why, or frae whaur!

And the burdies and the jiggin and the she-Peruvians
were aa umbeset wi decreets.
The een o the judge are twin tin-cannikins
skancin in a midden. He treats

a blue-and-orange peacock to a luik,
a fish-cauld, lenten glaff —
the grand renbow on the tail o the peacock
like winkie groosit aff!

And nixt to Peru, fleein owre the prairie
are thae wee hummin-burdies:
the judge claucht wan puir colibri
and shaved it to the hurdies.

And nae strath noo has burnin bens
wi fierce volcanic lowe.
The judge tuk up his strathfu pen:
“Nae smokin in the Howe.”

My verse anaa in puir Peru
‘s unlawfu: penalty, torture.
The judge said: “Ye’ll no sell sic a brew
o liquor in this quarter.”

The equator grues as the shackles ring.
Peru’s loast wings and folk…
aa bar the judge, harsk, thrawn, mingein
cooerin in the law’s cope.

D’ye see the peety o the man o Peru?
Aff-loof they gied him to the galleys.
And the burdies and the jiggin, Peru, me, you —
The judge shak aa wi their malice.

– Vladimir Mayakovsky
translated by Edwin Morgan

Undoubtably more Morgan than Mayakovsky, this translation turns the futurist’s slang-lang into Scots. Another Vladimir (Nabokov) would have detested Morgan’s freedom with the translation (see Eugene Onegin or “The Art of Translation”), if one could call this a translation at all. “Patische” might be the better word; Mayakovsky’s poem (which I cannot find dressed in its original Russian garb) might be untranslatable. However, M & M were both defenders of the avant-guade, both wildly innovative and formidably formal, both interested in the sonic texture of language, both swimmers in the underground’s undercurrent — Mayakovsky’s experimental verse and ties to futurism, Morgan’s native Scots dialect fused with concrete poetry — that carried them away from the mainstream’s stream, so that Morgan’s stylistic flourishes contain Mayakovsky’s spirit even if only tangentially related to the original.

ottos mops

December 28, 2012 § Leave a comment

ottos mops trotzt
otto: fort mops fort
ottos mops hopst fort
otto: soso

otto holt koks
otto holt obst
otto horcht
otto: mops mops
otto hofft

ottos mops klopft
otto: komm mops komm
ottos mops kommt
ottos mops kotzt
otto: ogottogott

– Ernst Jandl

This lipogram about Otto and his dog has no great English translation, so I’ve left it in German. Since the sound is the sense, one only has to listen to appreciate the story (it ends in pug puke):

Love

December 26, 2012 § Leave a comment

Love bade me welcome. Yet my soul drew back
  Guilty of dust and sin.
But quick-eyed Love, observing me grow slack
  From my first entrance in,
Drew nearer to me, sweetly questioning,
  If I lacked any thing.

A guest, I answered, worthy to be here:
  Love said, You shall be he.
I the unkind, ungrateful? Ah my dear,
  I cannot look on thee.
Love took my hand, and smiling did reply,
  Who made the eyes but I?

Truth Lord, but I have marred them: let my shame
  Go where it doth deserve.
And know you not, says Love, who bore the blame?
  My dear, then I will serve.
You must sit down, says Love, and taste my meat:
  So I did sit and eat.

– George Herbert

In Catholicism, the Eucharist is the taking of the body and blood of Christ in the form of bread and wine. I suppose there are some old-school Catholics who believe that the bread and wine are literally the flesh and blood of Christ, and not symbolic gestures, in what amounts to holy cannibalism. It is unclear whether “Love” is love personified or Christ himself in Herbert’s poem (probably the latter), but when Love instructs the speaker to taste its meat, the invitation resonates as a spiritual and possibly physical feast.