Wednesday, February 28, 2007

A Discovery: Laura Kasischke

Thanks to Tony Hoagland's Real Sofistikashun: Essays on Poetry and Craft, I've discovered a number of new (to me) poets. One who's immediately impressed me is Laura Kasischke (and don't ask me how to pronounce it); Hoagland says that she is "one of the premier image-makers of my generation" (" 'Tis Backed Like a Weasel": The Slipperiness of Metaphor," Real Sofistikashun, p. 27). Here are two poems of hers I've particularly liked in reading briefly over some of her work tonight:

(from Gardening in the Dark)

The howling pretends to bring on winter,

but the howling was there all along.

In the miniature roses, in the tiny bees,

in the glittering bits of whatever that was
we called the wind when it was spring:

(Oh, remember, Sweetheart, we called it breeze.)

* * *

"Pregnant at the All-night Supermarket"
(from Fire & Flower)

Ozone spills over the frozen rolls, the whole

breathing surface of the earth, the whole

unnatural world. Outside, rusty water

yawns up from a well, while
the moon deeply sleeps in her

damp chemise of cheese, while

nurses at the hospital nearby
hover over babies
wearing white. So

much fresh and living flesh
out there -- the fish-egg stars, Christ's
mildewed shroud -- but here

not even the dim
memory of mold. Here

my hand passes over
what I once wanted to buy -- all
those cold loaves and indifferent lies -- and I

begin to believe there's nothing left
in this world
I could bear to eat

until, leaving, I see
a Luna Moth on my windshield.

Its wings are pale green.

Monday, February 26, 2007

And from Amazon.Canada --

The Ishtar Gate: Last and Selected Poems by Diana Brebner
John Thompson: Collected Poems & Translations

Saturday, February 24, 2007

Another Shipment from Amazon.Com

Domestic Work by Natasha Trethewey
Café Alibi by Todd Swift
Fata Morgana by Reginald Shepherd
Rooms Are Never Finished by Agha Shahid Ali
Call Me Ishmael Tonight by Agha Shahid Ali
Chosen by the Lion by Linda Gregg
In the Middle Distance by Linda Gregg
Ravishing DisUnities: Real Ghazals in English edited by Agha Shahid Ali

I hope to get some brief reviews of some of my recent acquisitions up in the next couple of weeks.

Wednesday, February 21, 2007

W. H. Auden's 100th Birthday


Lay your sleeping head, my love,
Human on my faithless arm;
Time and fevers burn away
Individual beauty from
Thoughtful children, and the grave
Proves the child ephemeral:
But in my arms till break of day
Let the living creature lie,
Mortal, guilty, but to me
The entirely beautiful.

Soul and body have no bounds:
To lovers as they lie upon
Her tolerant enchanted slope
In their ordinary swoon,
Grave the vision Venus sends
Of supernatural sympathy,
Universal love and hope;
While an abstract insight wakes
Among the glaciers and the rocks
The hermit's carnal ecstasy.

Certainty, fidelity
On the stroke of midnight pass
Like vibrations of a bell
And fashionable madmen raise
Their pedantic boring cry:
Every farthing cost,
All the dreaded cards foretell,
Shall be paid, but from this night
Not a whisper, not a thought,
Not a kiss nor look be lost.

Beauty, midnight, vision dies:
Let the winds of dawn that blow
Softly round your dreaming head
Such a day of welcome show
Eye and knocking heart may bless,
Find our mortal world enough;
Noons of dryness find you fed
By the involuntary powers,
Nights of insult let you pass
Watched by every human love.

Thursday, February 15, 2007

Oh Joy -- Part II

More thingies arrivéd this afternoon:

Reel, George Szirtes (winner of the 2004 T. S. Eliot Prize)
American Sonnets, Gerald Stern

Wednesday, February 14, 2007

For Valentine's Day

The Hummingbird: A Seduction
Pattiann Rogers

If I were a female hummingbird perched still
And quiet on an upper myrtle branch
In the spring afternoon and if you were a male
Alone in the whole heavens before me, having parted
Yourself, for me, from cedar top and honeysuckle stem
And earth down, your body hovering in midair
Far away from jewelweed, thistle, and bee balm;

And if I watched how you fell, plummeting before me,
And how you rose again and fell, with such mastery
That I believed for a moment you were the sky
And the red-marked bird diving inside your circumference
Was just the physical revelation of the light's
Most perfect desire;

And if I saw your sweeping and sucking
Performance of swirling egg and semen in the air,
The weaving, twisting vision of red petal
And nectar and soaring rump, the rush of your wing
In its grand confusion of arcing and splitting
Created completely out of nothing just for me,

Then when you came down to me, I would call you
My own spinning bloom of ruby sage, my funnelling
Storm of sunlit sperm and pollen, my only breathless
Piece of scarlet sky, and I would bless the base
Of each of your feathers and touch the tine
Of string muscles binding your wings and taste
The odor of your glistening oils and hunt
The honey in your crimson flare
And I would take you and take you and take you
Deep into any kind of nest you ever wanted.

Saturday, February 10, 2007

Oh Joy!

The first delivery since Christmas:

The Collected Poems 1956 - 1998, Zbigniew Herbert
Given Sugar, Given Salt, Jane Hirshfield (poems)
Nine Gates: Entering the Mind of Poetry, Jane Hirshfield (essays)
Star Dust, Frank Bidart (poems)
The Kite Runner, Khaled Hosseini (novel)

Excuse me while I go wallow.

Friday, February 09, 2007


Rattity tattity,
Baron von Richthofen
blazes away with his
Spandau 08s,

swooping on Snoopy all
holing his doghouse which
Snoopy just hates.


(mea culpa)

New Post on the Absence of New Posts

I haven't updated either The Compost Heap nor The Jackdaw's Nest recently because real life blahness has intervened. I'll try to see what I can do about this failure.

And happy 43rd anniversary of the Beatles' appearence on The Ed Sullivan Show -- February 9, 1964.