Archive for literature

06.03.2008

Posted in Poetry with tags , , , , , , , on June 4, 2008 by Ryan Sanford Smith

Agrippa (an excerpt from the poem by novelist William Gibson — see details on the Agrippa art piece here)

VI.

There must have been a true last time
I saw the station but I don’t remember
I remember the stiff black horsehide coat
gift in Tucson of a kid named Natkin
I remember the cold
I remember the Army duffle
that was lost and the black man in Buffalo
trying to sell me a fine diamond ring,
and in the coffee shop in Washington
I’d eavesdropped on a man wearing a black tie
embroidered with red roses
that I have looked for ever since.

They must have asked me something
at the border
I was admitted
somehow
and behind me swung the stamped tin shutter
across the very sky
and I went free
to find myself
mazed in Victorian brick
amid sweet tea with milk
and smoke from a cigarette called a Black Cat
and every unknown brand of chocolate
and girls with blunt-cut bangs
not even Americans
looking down from high narrow windows
on the melting snow
of the city undreamed
and on the revealed grace
of the mechanism,
no round trip.

They tore down the bus station
there’s chainlink there
no buses stop at all
and I’m walking through Chiyoda-ku
in a typhoon
the fine rain horizontal
umbrella everted in the storm’s Pacific breath
tonight red lanterns are battered.

laughing,
in the mechanism.

Advertisements

05.30.2008

Posted in Poetry with tags , , , , , on May 31, 2008 by Ryan Sanford Smith

Once I was girls and boys (a poem by Jean Valentine)

Once I was girls and boys—now

Now who I love are the wild-
worn drifters, not of the town—

cooking their supper out by the side of the road, kisses kisses

—And one especially, my mother’s
father, lost, glare blue and shaved,

at his own work—
unknown—

on your behalf        child, window
staring for you.

05.29.2008

Posted in Poetry with tags , , , , , on May 31, 2008 by Ryan Sanford Smith

The Easel of Mantegna (a poem by Kelly Grovier)

Empty-armed, like a soldier
waiting for the deposition
still to happen, watching

as the rough skin is stretched
across the squat square ribs
and stapled, scraped with a palette-

knife before the morbid under-
taking of the gesso and the paint;
or say instead you always were

inclined to play an active role
in this, our cruellest fiction:
empty-angled and pristine save

where you were brushed
with the death and cleansed
with the dizzy stench of spirit.

You are the awkward ladder,
the hallowed steps, the endless
air forever drifting through

the thin rafters of an unroofed
steeple—on or in or out of
whom the wide sound of resurrection

still remains for us a thing
we listen for in silence:
untolled, unrunged.

05.28.2008

Posted in Poetry with tags , , , , , , on May 28, 2008 by Ryan Sanford Smith

Prepare (a poem by Danielle Grace Warren)

Nilsa cleans the fish
grates the scales with the blunt edge of her knife—
those slim disks of light
flicking the silver—the bloodmarsh—of the bowl

& plating her arms like mail.
With her blade-point she crosses
the throat and the gullet—
fish-back firm in her palm

And like the Harpy she
tears out the gills—
with the crack of tooth extraction—
scoops out the ventral dark

& rinses in a basin of less red water—
the scales, so many coins.

05.27.2008

Posted in Poetry with tags , , , , , on May 28, 2008 by Ryan Sanford Smith

What We Get (a poem by Katie Ford)

I waited for a silence with its boards stripped off,
its sills pried away, all glasswork, all September light
with no latch. And when it came,

sometimes it was easy to think of nothing at all, have no question
at all, to sit and stare at the cracked, orange house next door
where the rodents scurried in and out, storing

green bulbs dropped from our trees—olive nuts, our choked-back eyes—
for the mild southern winter in which nothing dies,
only goes a way a while.

I wanted the far away. I wanted not to feel
caught. Look at the myrtle tree pulling up the yard.
Look at the belief I can’t live by, how it didn’t follow
but was here before me like the fields of tall, planted cane

where anything can be hidden. I think this is
what we get when we ask to be saved:
a land where everything grows, and there are many killings.

05.24.2008

Posted in Poetry with tags , , , , , , , , , on May 26, 2008 by Ryan Sanford Smith

The Old Fools (an excerpt from the poem by Philip Larkin)

Perhaps being old is having lighted rooms
Inside your head, and people in them, acting.
People you know, yet can’t quite name; each looms
Like a deep loss restored, from known doors turning,
Setting down a lamp, smiling from a stair, extracting
A known book from the shelves; or sometimes only
The rooms themselves, chairs and a fire burning,
The blown bush at the window, or the sun’s
Faint friendliness on the wall some lonely
Rain-ceased midsummer evening. That is where they live:
Not here and now, but where all happened once.
This is why they give

An air of baffled silence, trying to be there
Yet being here.

05.23.2008

Posted in Poetry with tags , , , , , , on May 24, 2008 by Ryan Sanford Smith

The Remains (a poem by Mark Strand)

I empty myself of the names of others. I empty my pockets.
I empty my shoes and leave them beside the road.
At night I turn back the clocks;
I open the family album and look at myself as a boy.

What good does it do? The hours have done their job.
I say my own name. I say goodbye.
The words follow each other downwind.
I love my wife but send her away.

My parents rise out of their thrones
into the milky rooms of clouds. How can I sing?
Time tells me what I am. I change and I am the same.
I empty myself of my life and my life remains.