“Modern Times” – Nicanor Parra

These are calamitous times we’re living through
you can’t speak without committing a contradiction 
or keep quiet without complicity with the Pentagon.
Everyone knows there’s no alternative possible
all roads lead to Cuba
but the air is dirty
breathing is a futile act.
The enemy says
the country is to blame
as if countries were men.
Accursed clouds circle accursed volcanos 
accursed embarkations launch accursed expeditions
accursed trees crumble on accursed birds:
it was all polluted to begin with.

“Diary [The First Seed]” – Rachel Zucker

He gives me the wedding band of the real world
a story with pockets and mirrors

woos me with music that could kill insects
its frequency

reveals men in the distance forging the bridge
between nether and either

when night sets, the stones return to the earth

and in the morning, work again:
swimming through chaos to find the world

 

 

 

 

From Eating in the Underworld. Copyright © 2003 Rachel Zucker.

“Anthracite” – Saeed Jones

A voice mistook for stone,
jagged black fist

thrown miles through space, through
doors of dark matter.

Heard you crack open the field’s skull
where you landed.

Halo of smoke ruined the sky
and you were a body now

naked and bruised in the cratered cotton.
Could have been a meteorite

except for those strip-mined eyes, each
a point of fossilized night.

Bringing water and a blanket,
I asked, “Which of your lives is this,

third or fifth?” Your answer, blues
a breeze to soak my clothes

in tears. With my palm pressed
to your lips, hush. When they hear

you, they will want you. Beware
of how they want you;

in this town everything born black
also burns.
 

From Prelude to Bruise. Copyright © 2014 Saeed Jones.

“Nothing Gold Can Stay” – Robert Frost

Nature’s first green is gold,
Her hardest hue to hold.
Her early leaf’s a flower;
But only so an hour.
Then leaf subsides to leaf.
So Eden sank to grief,
So dawn goes down to day.
Nothing gold can stay.

“Door in the Mountain” – Jean Valentine

Never ran this hard through the valley

never ate so many stars

 

I was carrying a dead deer

tied on to my neck and shoulders

 

deer legs hanging in front of me

heavy on my chest

 

People are not wanting

to let me in

 

Door in the mountain

let me in

James Baldwin said (2)

“I read everything. I read my way out of the two libraries in Harlem by the time I was thirteen. One does learn a great deal about writing this way. First of all, you learn how little you know. It is true that the more one learns the less one knows. I’m still learning how to write. I don’t know what technique is. All I know is that you have to make the reader see it. This I learned from Dostoyevsky, from Balzac.”