September 4, 2012

Jack Vian

LIKE AN AMERICAN PRINCESS

Rubbing the Buddha’s
Golden Belly in a Chinese
Restaurant, the pig-tailed
Girl claps her hands and drops
The flimsy fortune, already
As forgotten as the cookie
Crumbs her father brushed
From her cheek with the calloused
Thumb of a busman’s
Hard-earned holiday,
And then she skips
Out the strip mall door
And into the blaring light
Of another blazing, migrant sun.

And all is right, he thinks,
And ever will be. But how
Could he ever know
How often she would remember
How often he forgot
To smile.

from Rattle #36, Winter 2011
Tribute to Buddhist Poets

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August 31, 2012

Chase Twichell

SOON

When I say the word walk, or even spell it,
the dogs leap up with flailing tails.
Since they don’t understand the concept
of “later” or “soon,” I say it only
when I’m almost out the door.

Soon there will be no words for my slow
meanders in the woods in search of chanterelles,
while they run miles of scent trails,
nostrils flared, circling back to keep me in their ken.
No whistle even deaf old Nan can hear.
Just ash, scant handful of the world’s one body.
Soon—still in the future, for now.

from Rattle #36, Winter 2011
Tribute to Buddhist Poets

__________

Chase Twichell: “I have a very low tolerance for decoration in poems. And some people love it; they want to read pages and pages of how the everglades look in a storm and so on and so forth. But I increasingly am of the school or the belief that we don’t have very much time and poems should do their work fast and get out.” (webpage)

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August 29, 2012

Chase Twichell

DEAD LEAF BOUQUET

What a strange thing to give someone
just out of the hospital! But here comes Maeve
with four brown leaves and a spiky twig
bound with blue yarn. The twig for measuring.
Measuring what? How quickly I’ll get better,
of course, and do I know what an abacus is?
Another way of measuring. And Roman numerals.
She doesn’t feel at all sorry for me because
I can write a poem in bed about the dead leaf bouquet,
while she has to go to school, so goodbye.

from Rattle #36, Winter 2011
Tribute to Buddhist Poets

__________

Chase Twichell: “I have a very low tolerance for decoration in poems. And some people love it; they want to read pages and pages of how the everglades look in a storm and so on and so forth. But I increasingly am of the school or the belief that we don’t have very much time and poems should do their work fast and get out.” (webpage)

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August 28, 2012

Tony Trigilio

FOUR GUYS AND A TRUCK

The rooms were stolen
by four guys who joked
about everything I owned,
talked and shrink-wrapped
my bookshelf at the same time.
I bought them pizza for lunch.
They hulked at the table
without their knees touching,
one pepperoni one plain,
argued about the Bears-Packers
game tomorrow. The mood
was muscular. I watched
the whole time (my excuse:
lower lumbar vertebrae).
The rooms crowded with couches,
mirrors, sconces, the droopy
desert painting I bought
the last year of my marriage—
what looks, lashed in bubble-wrap,
like a very large waffle. Could be
just another boring Saturday.
How they got the desk through
the kitchen. How they wrapped
a mattress. A ladder
in the living room where
my television used to be.

from Rattle #36, Winter 2011
Tribute to Buddhist Poets

__________

Tony Trigilio: “Within a two-year period, I got divorced, moved twice, and lost two close family members: ‘Four Guys and a Truck’ emerged from the awe and exhaustion of impermanence.” (web)

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August 27, 2012

Robert Tremmel

EARLY 21ST CENTURY

There is a naked man
sitting in his pick-up
parked on a promontory
overlooking the ocean.

He has been there
a long time, facing
west, or maybe east
with the engine running
and his foot on the gas.

From time to time
for no apparent reason
he presses
the accelerator
all the way
to the firewall
and holds it there, making
the engine scream
at majorpsychosisthreshold.

Then, maybe for days
he backs off
and just lets it idle
as clouds blow over him
and the sun either rises
or sets and the air
around him boils with exhaust.

from Rattle #36, Winter 2011
Tribute to Buddhist Poets

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August 26, 2012

Anne Swannell

STUDY IN MINDFULNESS

Plums, heavy
in a copper bowl.

A copper bowl,
heavy with plums.

from Rattle #36, Winter 2011
Tribute to Buddhist Poets

__________

Anne Swannell: “I am a mosaicist with Zen Buddhist leanings. I become the plate and the china teapot I smash with a hammer. Then I put myself back together again in the form of a flower, of many flowers arranged in a vase and framed in square-cut tile.” (web)

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August 24, 2012

Sarah Pemberton Strong

FISH TANK

My daughter has dropped two slices
of her plum into the fish tank.
The black molly, after circling around,

is nibbling at the sticker I neglected
to remove: Product of Mexico.
I’m on the phone long distance

with my teacher in England,
who suggests I might begin
each session of meditation

(Buddhist, from India) with a bit
of appreciation for my body.
Not for the cleverness

of my fingers, or the back handspring
I could turn at the distant
and limber age of thirteen.

Consider your organs,
he says; the liver, the kidneys,
the spleen, all doing their work

so perfectly together. Right now
that work is taking place
at a kitchen table in Connecticut,

where I’m watching my sweet girl
with her fish, and drinking tea
grown in the Yunnan province of China.

A China that is everywhere,
just as is—my teacher says—compassion.
And I believe him,

though mostly I forget it,
just as I forget the factories
inside me, how they work

throughout the night without pause,
becoming visible
only when something goes wrong,

as the glass wall of the fish bowl
is visible to the fish
only by the green bloom of algae

across it. Through which
my daughter’s eyes and mine
now gaze through the water at

her offering, dropped down
from another world
that is this world.

from Rattle #36, Winter 2011
Tribute to Buddhist Poets

__________

Sarah Pemberton Strong: “The poem ‘Fish Tank’ grew out of my experience of having to radically shift my definition of dharma practice. Before I became a mother, ‘practice’ meant ‘time spent in sitting meditation.’ The first few years of parenthood forced me to turn my attention to the many hours spent off the cushion as well. I have been blessed with a wonderful teacher in the Insight/Vipassana tradition, who appears in this poem—as in my life—to remind me of the wisdom of the body, and that compassion connects us all.”

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