Archive for May, 2012

How I long to see

in the blossoms of breaking dawn

the face of a god.


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It is foolish
to let a young redwood
grow next to a house.

Even in this
one lifetime,
you will have to choose

That great calm being,
This clutter of soup pots and books —

Already the first branch tips brush against the window.
Softly, calmly, immensity taps at your life.

Jane Hirschfield
from Given Sugar, Given Salt (2002)

Many Roofed Building in Moonlight

I found myself
suddenly voluminous,
a many-roofed building in moonlight.

Thought traversed
me as simply as moths might.
Feelings traversed me as fish.

I heard myself thinking,
It isn’t the piano, it isn’t the ears.

Then heard, too soon, the ordinary furnace,
the usual footsteps above me.

Washed my face again with hot water,
as I did when I was a child.

Jane Hirshfield
in American Poet (Spring 2012)


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Last night I found my face below
the water in my cupped hands.

The mask made of copper and bone
crisscrossing to make a smirk,

a false glamour, a plated glaze.
I unwound myself from the heavy

machinery of my body’s burden.
The lute, the light, chime.

I’ll get up and partner myself
with music, the purple moon

peeling itself like a plum.
Men stand in a circle and

they will ask and ask again.
I want to pick the thick bud,

to lose myself in the body’s posture
bending in or away, to let

my majesty and birthright go
and gesture toward a waking life.

Tina Chang
from Of Gods and Strangers (2011)

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Our phone call spilled out into the dark
and glittered between the countryside and the town
like the mass of a knife-fight.
Afterwards, all night jittery and spent in the hotel bed,
I dreamt I was the needle in the compass
some orienteer bore through the forest with a spinning heart.

Tomas Tranströmer
translated by Robin Robertson
from The Deleted World (2011)

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At the little lake you knew about
we were silent
while the bloodred sun
rang down the scenic view:
white barns and a tree or two
in the flyblown water.

We would’ve cracked
its mirror with a rock,
a branch that might have lifted
something muddy to the surface.
Instead we kept on staring
and the sunset, several times.

Somewhere it keeps setting,
waits for one of us to still
the thread that hums between us,
not gossamer but steel.

Jonathan Galassi
from Left-handed (2012)

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Today, I dedicate this to you: you are so long
like the body of Chile, delicate
like an anise flower,
and in every branch you bear witness
to our indelible springtimes:
What day is today? Your day.
And tomorrow is yesterday, it has not passed,
but the day never slipped from your hands:
you guard the sun, the earth, the violets
in your slender shadow when you sleep.
And in this way, every morning
you give me life.

Pablo Neruda
translated by William O’Daly
The Sea and the Bells (2002)

*found on Pablo Neruda’s desk when he died–
this poem, in honor of his wife, Matilde

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Now available from Lulu Press:


“The very title of Jane Beal’s latest collection, JAZZ BIRDING, has been hovering within my head, wings beating with its energy and insight and affirmation of the created world– what a pizzazz of words. “Jazz bird, the whole earth is listening!” an early poem declares, and the rest of the following ample collection of poems shows how the poet, too, listens. The seeing is precise, from the “barely-budded green leaves” just sticking out from the grey sky to a “fair fox chewing” in the tall grass. And the remembering and imagining are sharp–I think here of the poem about a friend’s father’s three hundred canaries, with their heart-expanding song, back in Cuba. What we have here, ultimately, from this medievalist-poet, is a Parliament of Fowls–cardinals, barn swallows, storm crows–various birds singing heavenly names, and the poet listening all the while. As she writes, “you make me / want to know who you are.” ~ Brett Foster, Professor of English at Wheaton College, Poet and Author of The Garbage Eater and Fall Run Road

“Message to bird-lovers: be sure to carry a field guide in one pocket and Jane Beal’s wonderful JAZZ BIRDING in the other—before even lifting binoculars, you’ll sight a mourning dove silhouetted against a Chicago sky, hear a raven preach, and meet a very lovely, freckled robin.  I’m going to keep a copy on hand for instant, inspired access to that other, winged world.” ~ Cynthia Kraman, Professor of English at the College of New Rochelle, Poet and Author of Taking on the Local Color and The Mexican Murals

To enjoy more about birds, visit THE BIRD-WATCHER’S DIARY ENTRIES

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I laid my hand my heart.
I closed my eyes.
I was in darkness.


I can’t capture it, but the light
was all around me—
I had wings,


I laid my hand in my lap.
I opened my eyes.
I was illuminated.

Jane Beal

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