Tuesday, March 21, 2017

12-Line Poems for World Poetry Day

"Poetry is a window onto the breath-taking diversity of humanity."
— Irina Bokova, UNESCO Director-General

June: The Gianicolo"

Mary Jo Salter
Driven to this, the pairs of lovers roll
into the parking lot like shaken dice,
and though  they've come expressly for a vista
much grander than themselves, begin to fuse
into the other's eyes.  Oh, that fond conviction
of a match made in Heaven!
Below them, at the base
of an ancient hill, the million lamps of Rome
light up in rosy approbation, each
signalling to one chosen counterpart
among the stars the nightly freshened wish
to lie uniquely in its dazzled gaze.


Tadeusz Rozewicz
translated from the Polish by Adam Czerniawski
Who will recognize  him

mother father brothers
that other woman perhaps
whose face
in a clouded mirror
flows down like rain

and you
when you look at yourself
what do you see

I see a man created
in the image and likeness of a god
who's gone

"Best Friend Robot Poem"

Jason Christie
The best friend robot said:  "am i than 'smater'
are you but retard drater hrum!"  And my dad
wanted to take him back to Robots 'R' Us,
but I felt bad for him because he'd been
getting into my dad's really good oil stock
lately.  Normally, he'd have a few squirts on
New Year's or Christmas Morning, but lately
my Robot dad and my Robot Best Friend have
been disagreeing a lot.  Mom won't talk to either
of them.  She plays bridge with all of her online
friends once a week and I overhear her complain
when I sit quietly at the top of the escalator.

"Prodded Out of Prayer"

Margaret Avison
Stilled yet by
the gauzed withdrawingness of
midmorning sky:

lo, a sharply lit
acutely poignant
and wonderfully humorous

It was an ant
towing a grass-blade
in a bee-line, but on
rougher terrain,
to the anthill.

"The Dogwood Trees" (for Robert Slagle)

Robert Hayden
Seeing dogwood trees in bloom,
I am reminded, Robin,
of our journey through the mountains
in an evil time.

Among rocks and rock-filled streams
white bracts of dogwood
clustered.  Beyond, nearby, shrill slums
were burning,

the crooked crosses flared.  We drove
with bitter knowledge
of the odds against comradeship we dared
and were at one.


Martin Carter
These poet words, nuggets out of corruption
or jewels dug from dung or speech from flesh
still bloody red, still half afraid to plunge
in the ceaseless waters foaming over death.

These poet words, nuggets no jeweller sells
across the counter of the world's confusion
but far and near, internal or external
burning the agony of earth's complaint.

These poet words have secrets locked in them
like nuggets laden with the younger sun.
Who will unlock must first himself be locked
who will be locked must first himself unlock.

"The Yoga Exercise"

Floyd Skloot
Within a rushing stream of morning light
she stands still as a heron with one sole
held flush along the other inner thigh
and her long arms like bony wings folded
back so that when the motion of a breeze
passes through her body there is a deep

repose at its root and in an eye's blink
she has become this gently swaying tree
stirring in the wind of its breath while linked
to ground by the slow flow of energy
that brings her limbs together now in prayer
and blessing for the peace she is finding there.

"Sender's Address"

Henrik Nordbrandt
translated from the danish by Robin Fulton
The storm is rising and the buried people who lay
smouldering in me all summer are glowing
would break out in a blaze
if the wind found so much as a crack.

But the house is wind-proof.  The ash from my cigarette
falls off by itself
and the postage stamp on the window-sill lies  unmoving
although the walls shake under the force of the storm.

Here there's nothing to be sent
and nothing to be received.
The letters on my table are not going to fly.
The sender's address is too heavy.

"The Art of War"

Tony Towle
I'm sorry I was asleep when you called.
I was up till dawn
attacking the Prussians at Ligny,
and I didn't do a good job, I'm afraid, there
were still plenty left
when I pushed "save"
and shut down the computer.  I'm glad
I didn't know any of them personally
as I ordered the 12 - pounders
to concentrate on the tiny clusters of veteran brigades,
and clicked on all the available cavalry
to erase the inexperienced Landwehr from the screen.

"You lean your face on sorrow, don't even"

Eugenio de Andrade
translated from the Portuguese by Alexis Levitin
You lean your face on sorrow, don't even
hear the nightingale.  Or is it lark?
The air is hard for you to take, you, torn
between the faithfulness you owe

your mother's earth and that bleached
blueness where birds disappear.
Music, let's call it that, 
was always your wound, but also

it was exaltation in the dunes.
Do not listen to the nightingale.  Or to the lark.
It is within
that all music turns to bird.

"Beethoven's Quartet in C Major, Opus 59"

Linda Pastan
The violins
are passionately
occupied, but
it is the cellist

who seems to be
holding the music
in his arms,
moving his bow

as if it were
a dowsing rod
and the audience
dying of thirst.

"The Song of the Whisk"

Eric Ormsby
My flail demolishes
The gold of yolks;
My mesh abolishes
What it would coax.

The waterspout can frisk
While it souffles the sea;
What's the twister but a whisk
For instant entropy?

I will erect a pinnacle
Of undulant bearnaise;
With clicking quite clinical,
Paradisal mayonnaise.



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