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Monday, October 21, 2002

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  • Jerry Katz
    [Image] issue #1234 - Monday, October 21, 2002 - Edited by Jerry More poetry. _____________________________________________________ Conversation with Jeanne
    Message 1 of 1 , Oct 22, 2002


      issue #1234 - Monday, October 21, 2002 - Edited by Jerry

      More poetry.

      Conversation with Jeanne
      Czeslaw Milosz

      Let us not talk philosophy, drop it, Jeanne.
      So many words, so much paper, who can stand it.
      I told you the truth about my distancing myself.
      I've stopped worrying about my misshapen life.
      It was no better and no worse than the usual human tragedies.

      For over thirty years we have been waging our dispute
      As we do now, on the island under the skies of the tropics.
      We flee a downpour, in an instant the bright sun again,
      And I grow dumb, dazzled by the emerald essence of the leaves.

      We submerge in foam at the line of the surf,
      We swim far, to where the horizon is a tangle of banana bush,
      With little windmills of palms.
      And I am under accusation: That I am not up to my oeuvre,
      That I do not demand enough from myself,
      As I could have learned from Karl Jaspers,
      That my scorn for the opinions of this age grows slack.

      I roll on a wave and look at white clouds.

      You are right, Jeanne, I don't know how to care about the salvation of my soul.
      Some are called, others manage as well as they can.
      I accept it, what has befallen me is just.
      I don't pretend to the dignity of a wise old age.
      Untranslatable into words, I chose my home in what is now,
      In things of this world, which exist and, for that reason, delight us:
      Nakedness of women on the beach, coppery cones of their breasts,
      Hibiscus, alamanda, a red lily, devouring
      With my eyes, lips, tongue, the guava juice, the juice of la prune de Cythère,
      Rum with ice and syrup, lianas-orchids
      In a rain forest, where trees stand on the stilts of their roots.

      Death, you say, mine and yours, closer and closer,
      We suffered and this poor earth was not enough.
      The purple-black earth of vegetable gardens
      Will be here, either looked at or not.
      The sea, as today, will breathe from its depths.
      Growing small, I disappear in the immense, more and more free.



      From Lightenings
      Seamus Heaney

      From Lightenings (Streaming Audio at


      Shifting brilliancies. Then winter light
      In a doorway, and on the stone doorstep
      A beggar shivering in silhouette.

      So the particular judgement might be set:
      Bare wallstead and a cold hearth rained into--
      Bright puddle where the soul-free cloud-life roams.

      And after the commanded journey, what?
      Nothing magnificent, nothing unknown.
      A gazing out from far away, alone.

      And it is not particular at all,
      Just old truth dawning: there is no next-time-round.
      Unroofed scope. Knowledge-freshening wind.


      Yusef Komunyakaa

      Blue Light Lounge Sutra for the Performance Poets at Harold Park Hotel

      the need gotta be
      so deep words can't
      answer simple questions
      all night long notes
      stumble off the tongue
      & color the air indigo
      so deep fragments of gut
      & flesh cling to the song
      you gotta get into it
      so deep salt crystalizes on eyelashes
      the need gotta be
      so deep you can vomit up ghosts
      & not feel broken
      till you are no more
      than a half ounce of gold
      in painful brightness
      you gotta get into it
      blow that saxophone
      so deep all the sex & dope in this world
      can't erase your need
      to howl against the sky
      the need gotta be
      so deep you can't
      just wiggle your hips
      & rise up out of it
      chaos in the cosmos
      modern man in the pepperpot
      you gotta get hooked
      into every hungry groove
      so deep the bomb locked
      in rust opens like a fist
      into it into it so deep
      rhythm is pre-memory
      the need gotta be basic
      animal need to see
      & know the terror
      we are made of honey
      cause if you wanna dance
      this boogie be ready
      to let the devil use your head
      for a drum

      (Hear it read at http://www.ibiblio.org/ipa/komunyakaa/bluelight.html)


      Moshe Benarroch


      No matter what I do or where I go
      merchants keep giving me
      too much change

      I give them a twenty
      and they give me change
      for a fifty

      The best one was in the
      Mahane Yehuda market
      gave him twenty
      and he gave me change for a hundred

      I told him
      I gave you twenty
      and he shouted at me
      You are in the clouds
      you gave me a hundred

      I discussed again
      until he noticed it was the man near me
      who gave him the one hundred bill.

      The big chains always make mistakes
      and forget to debit for this or that
      always in my favor

      It's like of the whole world
      wants to give me money
      and I just don't know what to
      do with it.

      I made a deal with God
      a few years ago
      and told him
      "This is it!
      until the end of this year
      I return the money
      if they give me too much,
      from then on
      I feel free to keep it."

      The year ended and things got somehwhat better
      for a few months
      but then it started again.

      I divided the world into two camps
      the small merchant
      and the big sharks
      I keep the money of the big ones
      but my god I am sorry
      I can't live with the money of the small ones.

      I go into Zcharya's yemenite restaurant
      in Tel Aviv,
      One of the best and cheapest restaurants in the world
      where you eat a meal for less than 30 sheqels (6 $)
      and he keeps giving me too much change
      his wife always forgets to count something in my bill
      and they are always fighting with their son

      and I say to Zcharya
      who has come all the way
      from Zan'a in Yemen
      and should be given the Israel prize:
      "Aiwa Zcharya
      you are cheaper than anybody else
      your food is better than the others
      and still
      you keep making mistakes in my bills
      and always give me 10 sheqels
      more change than you should.

      I hope you don't do this too often
      and it's only with me."

      And he says to me:
      "You are a saint!
      a saint!..."

      and I feel
      a round cloud
      above my head.


      from <http://www.poets.org/poems/poems.cfm?prmID=1583>

      The Great Wheel

      Paul Mariani

      In the Tuileries we came upon the Great Wheel
      rising gargantuan above the trees. Evening
      was coming on. An after-dinner stroll, descending
      by easy stages toward the river, a bridge of leaves
      above us, broken here and there by street lights
      coming on. Our time here nearly over, our return

      home a shadow hovering. Paris, city of returns,
      you said, for the pleasure of it, like the Great Wheel
      looming there above us, all steel & light
      & music, daredevil daunting, against the evening
      sky with the tower in the distance winking. The leaves
      still held firmly, the unthinkable descending

      of what lay ahead undreamt of still, death descending
      inevitably as the Great Wheel in its return,
      (a descent first through summer's golden leaves
      and then bare ruined branches), the Great Wheel
      turning & returning. As then, with the all but evening
      over us, our wives laughing by the entrance lights,

      we rose above the mansard roofs, the trees, the lights,
      lifting in a vertiginous ascent before descending,
      as we chattered on against the coming on of evening,
      our seat creaking in the rising wind, anxious to return
      now to earth's solidities. Instead, the Great Wheel
      merely sighed and lifted, stopping at the top, leaving

      each of us alone now with our thoughts. The leaves
      below, green, graygreen, gray, the dollhouse roofs, lights
      like diamonds winking, aloof & distant, the Great Wheel
      playing us, two middle-aged men, each descending
      toward the Wheel's one appointed end, the Great Return
      to earth, as the books all have it, come our evening.

      For all our feigned bravado, we could feel the evening
      over us, even as we stared down upon the blur of leaves,
      our wives, our distant children, on all we would return
      to, the way shipwrecked sailors search for lights
      along a distant shore, as we began the last descent,
      leaving the tents and Garden with its Great Wheel

      to return, my dear dead friend, to the winking lights
      along the boulevard, leaves lifting & descending,
      as now the evening air took mastery, it & the Great Wheel.

      From The Great Wheel, published by W. W. Norton &
      Company, 1996. Copyright © 1996 by Paul Mariani.
      Reprinted by permission of the author. All rights

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