Tuesday, May 21, 2013
Maurice Ravel - Bolero
with conductor Andre Rie
These poems, these poems,
these poems, she said, are poems
with no love in them. These are the poems of a man
who would leave his wife and child because
they made noise in his study. These are the poems
of a man who would murder his mother to claim
the inheritance. These are the poems of a man
like Plato, she said, meaning something I did not
comprehend but which nevertheless
offended me. These are the poems of a man
who would rather sleep with himself than with women,
she said. These are the poems of a man
with eyes like a drawknife, with hands like a pickpocket’s
hands, woven of water and logic
and hunger, with no strand of love in them. These
poems are as heartless as birdsong, as unmeant
as elm leaves, which if they love love only
the wide blue sky and the air and the idea
of elm leaves. Self-love is an ending, she said,
and not a beginning. Love means love
of the thing sung, not of the song or the singing.
These poems, she said....
You are, he said,
That is not love, she said rightly.
poem from The Beauty of the Weapons: Selected Poems 1972-1982 (Copper Canyon Press, 1982)
as posted at poetryfoundation.org
post inspired by this blog
Wednesday, April 24, 2013
with Alberto Neuman
Rain hitting the shovel
leaned against the house,
rain eating the edges
of the metal in tiny bites,
bloating the handle,
The rain quits and starts again.
There are people who go into that room in the house
where the piano is and close the door.
They play to get at that thing
on the tip of the tongue,
the thing they think of first and never say.
They would leave it out in the rain if they could.
The heart is a shovel leaning against a house somewhere
among the other forgotten tools.
The heart, it's always digging up old ground,
always wanting to give things a decent burial.
But so much stays fugitive,
where it can't be reached.
the piano is a way of practising
speech when you have no mouth.
When the heart is a shovel that would bury itself.
Still we can go up casually to a piano
and sit down and start playing
the way the rain felt in someone else's bones
a hundred years ago,
before we were born,
before we were even one cell,
when the world was clean,
when there were no hearts or people,
the way it sounded
a billion years ago, pattering
into unknown ground. Rain
hitting the shovel leaned against the house,
eating the edges of the metal.
and starts again.
from Sudden Miracles: Eight Women Poets
edited by Rhea Tregebov (Second Story Press, 1991)
Wednesday, March 21, 2012
Johann Strauss Jr. - Spring Waltz
Spring has returned! Everything has returned!
The earth, just like a schoolgirl, memorizes
Poems, so many poems. ... Look, she has learned
So many famous poems, she has earned so many prizes!
Teacher was strict. We delighted in the white
Of the old man's beard, bright like the snow's:
Now we may ask which names are wrong, or right
For "blue," for "apple," for "ripe." She knows, she knows!
Lucky earth, let out of school, now you must play
Hide-and-seek with all the children every day:
You must hide that we may seek you: we will! We will!
The happiest child will hold you. She knows all the things
You taught her: the word for "hope," and for "believe,"
Are still upon her tongue. She sings and sings and sings.
from Last and Lost Poems (Vanguard Press, 1979)
as posted at panhala.net
Tuesday, February 14, 2012
Umberto Giordano - "La Mamma Morta", Andrea Chénier, with Maria Callas
Listen. I’m really slowly dying
inside myself tonight.
And I’m not about to run down the list
of rapes and burnings and beatings and smiles
and sulks and rages and all the other crap
you’ve laid on women throughout your history
(we had no part in it -- although god knows we tried)
together with your thick, demanding bodies laid on ours,
while your proud sweat, like liquid arrogance,
suffocated our very pores.
I’m tired of listing your triumph, our oppression,
especially tonight, while two men whom I like --
one of whom I live with, father of my child, and
claim to be in life-giving, death-serious struggle with --
while you two sit at the kitchen table dancing
an ornate ritual of what you think passes for struggle
which fools nobody. Your shared oppression, grief,
and love as effeminists in a burning patriarchal world
still cannot cut through power plays of maleness.
The baby is asleep a room away. White. Male. American.
Potentially the most powerful, deadly creature
of the species.
His hair, oh pain, curls into fragrant tendrils damp
with the sweat of his summery sleep. Not yet, and on my life
if I can help it never will be "quite a man."
But just two days ago on seeing me naked for what must be
the three-thousandth time in his not-yet two years,
he suddenly thought of
the furry creature who yawns through his favorite television program;
connected that image with my genitals; laughed,
and said, "Monster."
I want a woman’s revolution like a lover.
I lust for it, I want so much this freedom,
this end to struggle and fear and lies
we all exhale, that I could die just
with the passionate uttering of that desire.
Just once in this my only lifetime to dance
all alone and bare on a high cliff under cypress trees
with no fear of where I place my feet.
To even glimpse what I might have been and never never
will become, had I not had to "waste my life" fighting
for what my lack of freedom keeps me from glimpsing.
Those who abhor violence refuse to admit they are already
experiencing it, committing it.
Those who lie in the arms of the "individual solution,"
the "private odyssey," the "personal growth,"
are the most conformist of all,
because to admit suffering is to begin
the creation of freedom.
Those who fear dying refuse to admit that they are already dead.
Well, I am dying, suffocating from this hopelessness tonight,
from this dead weight of struggling with
even those few men I love and care about
each day they kill me.
Do you understand? Dying. Going crazy.
Really. No poetic metaphor.
Hallucinating thin rainbow-colored nets
like cobwebs all over my skin
and dreaming more and more when I can sleep
of being killed or killing.
Sweet revolution, how I wish the female tears
rolling silently down my face this second were each a bullet,
each word I write, each character on my typewriter bullets
to kill whatever it is in men that builds this empire,
colonized my very body,
then named the colony Monster.
I am one of the "man-haters," some have said.
I don’t have the time or patience here to say again why or how
I hate not men but what it is men do in this culture, or
how the system of sexism, power dominance, and competition
is the enemy, not people -- but how men, still, created that system
and preserve it and reap concrete benefits from it.
Words and rhetoric that merely
gush from my arteries when grazed
by the razoredge of humanistic love. Enough.
I will say, however, that you, men, will have to be freed,
as well, though we women may have to kick and kill you
since most of you will embrace death quite gladly
rather than give up your power to hold power.
Compassion for the suicidal impulse in our killers? Well,
on a plane ride once, the man across the aisle --
who was a World War Two paraplegic,
dead totally from the waist down,
wheeled in and out of the cabin -- spent the whole trip avidly
devouring first newspaper sports pages
and then sports magazines,
loudly pointing out to anyone who would listen
(mostly the stewardesses) which athlete was a "real man."
Two men in the seats directly behind me talked the whole time
about which Caribbean islands were the best for whoring, and
which color of ass was hotter and more pliant.
The stewardess smiled and served them coffee.
I gripped the arms of my seat more than once
to stop my getting up and screaming to the entire planeload
of human beings what was torturing us all -- stopped because I knew
they’d take me for a crazy, an incipient
hijacker perhaps, and wrestle me down until Bellevue Hospital
could receive me at our landing in New York.
(No hijacker, I understood then, ever really wants to take
the plane. She/he wants to take passengers’ minds, to turn
them inside out, to create the revolution
35,000 feet above sea level
and land with a magical flying cadre
and, oh, yes, to win.)
Stopping myself is becoming a tactical luxury,
My hives rise more frequently, stigmata of my passion.
Someday you’ll take away my baby, one way or the other.
And the man I’ve loved, one way or the other.
Why should that nauseate me with terror?
You’ve already taken me away from myself
with my only road back to go forward
into more madness, monsters, cobwebs, nausea,
in order to free you -- men -- from killing us, killing us.
No colonized people so isolated one from the other
for so long as women.
None cramped with compassion for the oppressor
who breathes on the next pillow each night.
No people so old who, having, we now discover, invented
agriculture, weaving, pottery, language, cooking
with fire, and healing medicine, must now invent a revolution
so total as to destroy maleness, femaleness, death.
Oh mother, I am tired and sick.
One sister, new to this pain called feminist consciousness
for want of a scream to name it, asked me last week
"But how do you stop from going crazy?"
No way, my sister.
This is a pore war, I thought once, on acid.
And you, men. Lovers, brothers, fathers, sons.
I have loved you and love you still, if for no other reason
than that you came wailing from the monster
while the monster hunched in pain to give you the power
to break her spell.
Well, we must break it ourselves, at last.
And I will speak less and less and less to you
and more and more in crazy gibberish you cannot understand:
witches’ incantations, poetry, old women’s mutterings,
schizophrenic code, accents, keening, firebombs,
poison, knives, bullets, and whatever else will invent
May my hives bloom bravely until my flesh is aflame
and burns through the cobwebs.
May we go mad together, my sisters.
May our labor agony in bringing forth this revolution
be the death of all pain.
May we comprehend that we cannot be stopped.
May I learn how to survive until my part is finished.
May I realize that I
...........................monster. I am
I am a monster.
And I am proud.
Poem in Monster, Melbourne Radical Feminists, 1973, pp. 81-86
Music from Very Best of Maria Callas
Sunday, December 18, 2011
Johannes Brahms - Sonata No.3 D Minor, Allegro
with Itzhak Perlman, violin & Daniel Barenboim, piano
(for Jean Cook, on learning of her mother's death)
Mostly we occupy ocular zones, clinging
only to what we think we can see.
We can't see wind or waves of thought,
electrical fields or atoms dancing;
only what they do or make us believe.
Look on all of life as color -
vibratile movement, heart-centered,
from invisibility to the merely visible.
Never mind what happens when one of us dies.
Where were you before you even get born?
Where am I and all the unseeable souls
we love at this moment, or loathed
before birth? Where are we right now?
Everything that ever happened either
never did or always will with variations.
Let's put it another way: Nothing ever
happened that wasn't dreamed, that wasn't
sketched from the start with artful surprises.
Think of the dreamer as God, a painter,
a ham, to be sure, but a divine old master
whose medium is light and who sidesteps
tedium by leaving room both inside and outside
this picture for subjects and scenery to wing it.
Look on death as living color too: the dyeing
of fabric, submersion into a temporary sea,
a spectruming beyond the reach of sensual
range which, like time, is chained to change;
the strange notion that everything we've
ever done or been in until now is past
history, is gone away, is bleached, bereft,
perfect, leaving the scene clean to freshen
with pigment and space and leftover light.
from Soul Food, ed. by Neil Astley and Pamela Robertson-Pearce (Bloodaxe Books Ltd, 2007)
as posted on panahala.net
Saturday, November 26, 2011
Franz von Vecsey (Vecsey Ferenc) - violinist and composer - Valse Triste
So we were together
though I did not think of you
for ten years;
it is more than ten years
and the long time after;
I was with you in Calypso's cave?
no, no - I had never heard of her,
but I remember the curve of honey-flower
on an old wall, I recall
the honey-flower as I saw it
or seemed to see it
for the first time,
its horn was longer, whiter -
what do I mean?
"bite clear the stem
and suck the honey out,"
a child companion or old grandam
taught me to suck honey
from the honey-flower;
what is Calypso's cave?
that is your grotto, your adventure;
how could I love again, ever?
repetition, repetition, Achilles, Paris, Menelaus?
but you are right, you are right,
there is something left over,
the first unsatisfied desire -
the first time, that first kiss,
the rough stones of a wall,
the fragrance of honey-flowers, the bees,
and how I would have fallen but for a voice,
calling through the brambles
and tangle of bay-berry
and rough broom,
Helen, Helen, come home;
there was a Helen before there was a War,
but who remembers her?
from Hermetic Definition (New Directions, 1972)
Saturday, October 29, 2011
Niccolò Paganini - Cantabile, with Leonid Kogan
We don’t look as young
as we used to
except in the dim light
the soft warmth of candlelight
when we say
in all sincerity
You’re so cute
You’re my cutie.
two old people
behaving like this.
to make you happy.
poem from poets.org
Thursday, August 25, 2011
Pyotr Iliych Tchaikovksy - Souvenir D'un Lieu Cher, Meditation
with Miron Polyakin (violin)
Just when you seem to yourself
nothing but a flimsy web
of questions, you are given
the questions of others to hold
in the emptiness of your hands,
songbird eggs that can still hatch
if you keep them warm,
butterflies opening and closing themselves
in your cupped palms, trusting you not to injure
their scintillant fur, their dust.
You are given the questions of others
as if they were answers
to all you ask. Yes, perhaps
this gift is your answer.
from Sands of the Well (New Directions Publishing Corporation, 1996)
Giacomo Puccini - "In questa reggia," from Turandot
with Joan Sutherland & London Philharmonic Orchestra (1972)
Maybe in a million years
a better form of human
being will come, happier
and more intelligent. A few already
have infiltrated this world and lived
to very much regret it,
I'd prefer to have come
in the form of that hawk, floating over
the mirroring fire
hill, my gold
skull filled with nothing
but God's will
the whole day through, instead
of these glinting voices incessantly
unerringly guiding me
what makes me sick, and not
what makes me glad. And yet
I am changing: this three-pound lump
of sentient meat electrified
by hope and terror has learned to hear
His silence like the sun,
and sought to change!
on earth at the same time
as me, listen: from the sound of those crickets
last night, Rene Char said
must have been sweet -
each voice perhaps also a star
in that night
we won't be
interrupted anymore - but
fellow monsters while we are still here, for one minute, think
about this: there is someone right now who is looking
to you, not Him, for whatever
love still exists.
from God's Silence (Knopf, 2006)
posted at panhala.net
Friday, July 1, 2011
Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky - Symphony No. 5 in E minor, Op. 64, Finale
with Leonard Bernstein
There’s the poverty of the cockroach kingdom and the rusted toilet bowl
The poverty of to steal food for the first time
The poverty of to mouth a penis for a paycheck
The poverty of sweet charity ladling
Soup for the poor who must always be there for that
There’s the poverty of theory poverty of the swollen belly shamed
Poverty of the diploma mill the ballot that goes nowhere
Princes of predation let me tell you
There are poverties and there are poverties
There’s the poverty of cheap luggage bursted open at immigration
The poverty of the turned head, the averted eyes
The poverty of bored sex of tormented sex
The poverty of the bounced check the poverty of the dumpster dive
The poverty of the pawned horn the poverty of the smashed reading glasses
The poverty pushing the sheeted gurney the poverty cleaning up the puke
The poverty of the pavement artist the poverty passed-out on pavement
Princes of finance you who have not lain there
There are poverties and there are poverties
There is the poverty of hand-to-mouth and door-to-door
And the poverty of stories patched-up to sell there
There’s the poverty of the child thumbing the Interstate
And the poverty of the bride enlisting for war
There’s the poverty of prescriptions who can afford
And the poverty of how would you ever end it
There is the poverty of stones fisted in pocket
And the poverty of the village bulldozed to rubble
Princes of weaponry who have not ever tasted war
There are poverties and there are poverties
There’s the poverty of wages wired for the funeral you
Can’t get to the poverty of the salary cut
There’s the poverty of human labor offered silently on the curb
The poverty of the no-contact prison visit
There’s the poverty of yard sale scrapings spread
And rejected the poverty of eviction, wedding bed out on street
Prince let me tell you who will never learn through words
There are poverties and there are poverties
You who travel by private jet like a housefly
Buzzing with the other flies of plundered poverties
Princes and courtiers who will never learn through words
Here’s a mirror you can look into: take it: it’s yours.
post inspiration from Behind the Lines: Poetry, War, & Peacemaking
poem first appeared in Monthly Review
from Adrienne Rich's recent book Tonight No Poetry Will Serve (W. W. Norton & Company, 2011)