Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Sor Juana Inés de la Cruz / She disavows the flattery visible in a portrait

She disavows the flattery visible
in a portrait of herself, which
she calls bias
by Sor Juana Inés de la Cruz

These lying pigments facing you,
with every charm brush can supply
set up false premises of color
to lead astray the unwary eye.

Here, against ghastly tolls of time,
bland flattery has staked a claim,
defying the power of passing years
to wipe out memory and name.

And here, in this hollow artifice —
frail blossom hanging on the wind,
vain pleading in a foolish cause,

poor shield against what fate has wrought —
all efforts fall and in the end
a body goes to dust, to shade, to nought.

Sor Juana Inés de la Cruz

Procura desmentir los elogios que
a un retrato de la poetisa inscribió
la verdad, que llama pasión

Este, que ves, engaño colorido,
que del arte ostentando los primores,
con falsos silogismos de colores
es cauteloso engaño del sentido;

     éste, en quien la lisonja ha pretendido
excusar de los años los horrores,
y venciendo del tiempo los rigores
triunfar de la vejez y del olvido,

     es un vano artificio del cuidado,
es una flor al viento delicada,
es un resguardo inútil para el hado:

     es una necia diligencia errada,
es un afán caduco y, bien mirado,
es cadáver, es polvo, es sombra, es nada.

Sunday, June 24, 2012

Sharon Olds / The Borders

by Sharon Olds

To say that she came into me,
from another world, is not true.
Nothing comes into the universe
and nothing leaves it.
My mother—I mean my daughter did not
enter me. She began to exist
inside me—she appeared within me.
And my mother did not enter me.
When she lay down, to pray, on me,
she was always ferociously courteous,
fastidious with Puritan fastidiousness,
but the barrier of my skin failed, the barrier of my
body fell, the barrier of my spirit.
She aroused and magnetized my skin, I wanted
ardently to please her, I would say to her
what she wanted to hear, as if I were hers.
I served her willingly, and then
became very much like her, fiercely
out for myself.
When my daughter was in me, I felt I had
a soul in me. But it was born with her.
But when she cried, one night, such pure crying,
I said I will take care of you, I will
put you first. I will not ever
have a daughter the way she had me,
I will not ever swim in you
the way my mother swam in me and I
felt myself swum in. I will never know anyone
again the way I knew my mother,
the gates of the human fallen.

Thursday, June 21, 2012

Sharon Olds / The End

Santiago Caruso

By Sharon Olds

We decided to have the abortion, became
killers together. The period that came
changed nothing. They were dead, that young couple
who had been for life.
As we talked of it in bed, the crash
was not a surprise. We went to the window,
looked at the crushed cars and the gleaming
curved shears of glass as if we had
done it. Cops pulled the bodies out
Bloody as births from the small, smoking
aperture of the door, laid them
on the hill, covered them with blankets that soaked
through. Blood
began to pour
down my legs into my slippers. I stood
where I was until they shot the bound
form into the black hole
of the ambulance and stood the other one
up, a bandage covering its head,
stained where the eyes had been.
The next morning I had to kneel
an hour on that floor, to clean up my blood,
rubbing with wet cloths at those glittering
translucent spots, as one has to soak
a long time to deglaze the pan
when the feast is over.

Monday, June 18, 2012

Sharon Olds / Topography

by Sharon Olds

After we flew across the country we
got in bed, laid our bodies
delicately together, like maps laid
face to face, East to West, my
San Francisco against your New York, your
Fire Island against my Sonoma, my 
New Orleans deep in your Texas, your Idaho
bright on my Great Lakes, my Kansas 
burning against your Kansas your Kansas
burning against my Kansas, your Eastern
Standard Time pressing into my 
Pacific Time, my Mountain Time
beating against your Central Time, your 
sun rising swiftly from the right my 
sun rising swiftly from the left your 
moon rising slowly form the left my 
moon rising slowly form the right until 
all four bodies of the sky
burn above us, sealing us together, 
all our cities twin cities, 
all our states united, one 
nation, indivisible, with liberty and justice for all.

Saturday, June 16, 2012

Sharon Olds / Beyond Harm

by Sharon Olds

A week after my father died
suddenly I understood
his fondness for me was safe—nothing
could touch it. In those last months,
his face would sometimes brighten when I would
enter the room, and his wife said
that once, when he was half asleep,
he smiled when she said my name. He respected
my spunk—when they tied me to the chair, that time,
they were tying up someone he respected, and when
he did not speak, for weeks, I was one of the
beings to whom he was not speaking,
someone with a place in his life. The last
week he even said it, once,
by mistake. I walked into his room, and said “How
are you,” and he said, “I love you
too.” From then on, I had
that word to lose. Right up to the last
moment, I could make some mistake, offend him, and with
one of his old mouths of disgust he could re-
skew my life. I did not think of it,
I was helping to take care of him,
wiping his face and watching him.
But then, a while after he died,
I suddenly thought, with amazement, he will always
love me now, and I laughed—he was dead, dead!

Thursday, June 14, 2012

Sharon Olds / Sex Without Love

 by Sharon Olds
How do they do it, the ones who make love
without love? Beautiful as dancers,
gliding over each other like ice-skaters
over the ice, fingers hooked
inside each other's bodies, faces
red as steak, wine, wet as the
children at birth whose mothers are going to
give them away. How do they come to the
come to the come to the God come to the
still waters, and not love
the one who came there with them, light
rising slowly as steam off their joined
skin? These are the true religious,
the purists, the pros, the ones who will not
accept a false Messiah, love the
priest instead of the God. They do not
mistake the lover for their own pleasure,
they are like great runners: they know they are alone
with the road surface, the cold, the wind,
the fit of their shoes, their over-all cardio-
vascular health--just factors, like the partner
in the bed, and not the truth, which is the
single body alone in the universe
against its own best time.

Tuesday, June 12, 2012

Sharon Olds / I Wanted to Be There When My Father Died

I Wanted to Be There 
When My Father Died
by Sharon Olds

I wanted to be there when my father died
because I wanted to see him die—
and not just to know him, down to
the ground, the dirt of his unmaking, and not
just to give him a last chance
to give me something, or take his loathing
back. All summer he had gagged, as if trying
to cough his whole esophagus out,
surely his pain and depression had appeased me,
and yet I wanted to see him die
not just to see no soul come
free of his body, no magical genie of
spirit jump
forth from his mouth,
proving the body on earth is all we have got,
I wanted to watch my father die
because I hate him. Oh, I love him,
my hands cherished him so, his lying as if dead on the
flowered couch had pummeled me,
his silence had mauled me, I was an Eve
he took and pressed back into clay,
casual thumbs undoing the cheekbone
eye-socket rib pelvis ankle of the child
and now I watched him be undone and
someone in me gloried in it,
someone lying where he’d lain in chintz
Eden, some corpse girl, corkscrewed like
one of his amber spit-ems, smiled.
The priest was well called to that room,
violet grosgrain of his ribbon laid
down well on that bank of flesh
where the daughter of death was made, it was well to say
into other hands than ours
we commend this spirit.

Sunday, June 10, 2012

Sharon Olds / Two Poems

Sharon Olds

I Go Back to May 1937 (from The Gold Cell
I see them standing at the formal gates of their colleges,
I see my father strolling out
under the ochre sandstone arch, the
red tiles glinting like bent
plates of blood behind his head, I
see my mother with a few light books at her hip
standing at the pillar made of tiny bricks with the
wrought-iron gate still open behind her, its
sword-tips black in the May air,
they are about to graduate, they are about to get married,
they are kids, they are dumb, all they know is they are
innocent, they would never hurt anybody.
I want to go up to them and say Stop,
don't do it--she's the wrong woman,
he's the wrong man, you are going to do things
you cannot imagine you would ever do,
you are going to do bad things to children,
you are going to suffer in ways you never heard of,
you are going to want to die. I want to go
up to them there in the late May sunlight and say it,
her hungry pretty blank face turning to me,
her pitiful beautiful untouched body,
his arrogant handsome blind face turning to me,
his pitiful beautiful untouched body,
but I don't do it. I want to live. I
take them up like the male and female
paper dolls and bang them together
at the hips like chips of flint as if to
strike sparks from them, I say
Do what you are going to do, and I will tell about it.

High School Senior (from The Wellspring)
For seventeen years, her breath in the house
at night, puff, puff, like summer
cumulus above her bed,
and her scalp smelling of apricots
--this being who had formed within me,
squatted like a bright tree-frog in the dark,
like an eohippus she had come out of history
slowly, through me, into the daylight,
I had the daily sight of her,
like food or air she was there, like a mother.
I say "college," but I feel as if I cannot tell
the difference between her leaving for college
and our parting forever--I try to see
this house without her, without her pure
depth of feeling, without her creek-brown
hair, her daedal hands with their tapered
fingers, her pupils dark as the mourning cloak's
wing, but I can't. Seventeen years
ago, in this room, she moved inside me,
I looked at the river, I could not imagine
my life with her. I gazed across the street,
and saw, in the icy winter sun,
a column of steam rush up away from the earth.
There are creatures whose children float away
at birth, and those who throat-feed their young
for weeks and never see them again. My daughter
is free and she is in me--no, my love
of her is in me, moving in my heart,
changing chambers, like something poured
from hand to hand, to be weighed and then reweighed.

Friday, June 8, 2012

Charles Bukowski / Girl In A Miniskirt Reading The Bible

Girl In A Miniskirt Reading The Bible 
Outside My Window
by Charles Bukowski

Sunday, I am eating a
grapefruit, church is over at the Russian 
Orthadox to the

she is dark
of Eastern descent,
large brown eyes look up from the Bible
then down. a small red and black
Bible, and as she reads
her legs keep moving, moving,
she is doing a slow rythmic dance
reading the Bible. . .

long gold earrings;
2 gold bracelets on each arm,
and it's a mini-suit, I suppose,
the cloth hugs her body,
the lightest of tans is that cloth,
she twists this way and that,
long yellow legs warm in the sun. . .

there is no escaping her being
there is no desire to. . .

my radio is playing symphonic music
that she cannot hear
but her movements coincide exactly
to the rythms of the
symphony. . .

she is dark, she is dark
she is reading about God.
I am God.

Wednesday, June 6, 2012

Charles Bukowski / To The Whore Who Took My Poems

some say we should keep personal remorse from the 
stay abstract, and there is some reason in this,
but jezus;
twelve poems gone and I don't keep carbons and you have
paintings too, my best ones; its stifling:
are you trying to crush me out like the rest of them?
why didn't you take my money? they usually do
from the sleeping drunken pants sick in the corner.
next time take my left arm or a fifty
but not my poems:
I'm not Shakespeare
but sometime simply
there won't be any more, abstract or otherwise; 
there'll always be mony and whores and drunkards
down to the last bomb,
but as God said,
crossing his legs,
I see where I have made plenty of poets
but not so very much

Monday, June 4, 2012

Charles Bukowski / I Made A Mistake

by Charles Bukowski

I reached up into the top of the closet
and took out a pair of blue panties
and showed them to her and
asked "are these yours?" 
and she looked and said,
"no, those belong to a dog." 
she left after that and I haven't seen
her since. she's not at her place.
I keep going there, leaving notes stuck
into the door. I go back and the notes
are still there. I take the Maltese cross
cut it down from my car mirror, tie it
to her doorknob with a shoelace, leave
a book of poems.
when I go back the next night everything
is still there. 
I keep searching the streets for that
blood-wine battleship she drives
with a weak battery, and the doors
hanging from broken hinges. 
I drive around the streets 
an inch away from weeping,
ashamed of my sentimentality and
possible love. 
a confused old man driving in the rain
wondering where the good luck