Tuesday, June 24, 2008

One Unsaleable Shroud

My Stars
By Abraham ibn Ezra

On the day I was born,
The unalterable stars altered.
If I decided to sell lamps,
It wouldn't get dark till the day I died.

Some stars. Whatever I do,
I'm a failure before I begin.
If I decided to sell shrouds,
People would suddenly stop dying.

~Translated by Robert Mezey

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

One Unmarriageable Nose

From Luristan to Thule
By Sarah Lindsay

Delirium was the last country she saw clearly.
Mounting its exotic, riven flanks
on the back of a patient fever,
she left with regret the land of her hosts--
divisions of snow, upended stone threaded with tracks
between the goatskin houses with goatskin beds--
then left too the regret.

For decades she'd taken pleasure in imposing
the first white profile (with its great spinster nose)
upon such places, barely named,
as lay a few days' journey beyond fable,
uplands that bore no showy gold or ziggurat,
only the shallow marks of laboring generations,
the central campfires repeated deep in their eyes.

Past rocks tipped early out of the cradle of myth,
she finally became separated from her pack
with its twenty pencils, the notorious hat,
coins and aspirin, equally useless,
and yielded to discovery of one state
that lacks the primary luxuries: return,
and the safely delivered story.


Tuesday, June 10, 2008

One Monochrome Winter

the sound of the wind
withered by
winter-one-color world

--Basho, translated by Stephen Addiss

Tuesday, June 03, 2008

One Blameless Artist

...the writer who possesses the creative gift owns something of which he is not always master - something that, at times, strangely wills and works for itself. ...Be the work grim or glorious, dread or divine, you have little choice left but quiescent adoption. As for you - the nominal artist - your share in it has been to work passively under dictates you neither delivered nor could question - that would not be uttered at your prayer, nor suppressed nor changed at your caprice. If the result be attractive, the World will praise you, who little deserve praise; if it be repulsive, the same World will blame you, who almost as little deserve blame.

--Charlotte Bronte