April 20, 2012
Yes, I remember that wall in our demolished town. It jutted almost up to the fifth floor. A mirror hung on the fourth, an impossible mirror, unshattered, firmly attached. It didn't reflect anybody's face, no hands arranging hair, no door across the room, nothing you could call a place. As if it were on vacation— the living sky gazed in it, busy clouds in the wild air, the dust of rubble washed by shining rains, birds in flight, stars, sunrises. And like any well-made object, it functioned flawlessly, with an expert lack of astonishment. —Translated by Clare Cavanagh and Stanisław Baranczak
April 20, 2012
That I can’t recall my first glimpse of my mother: Alien-eyed, wrapped in alien cloth, how could I? Once she held me she just was my mother. That’s just how it goes. This is just one of many Beautiful moments I’ve been a part of but can’t (And won’t ever) remember. That’s just life, I guess. The void. That’s just a part of life: some hidden cave Sunk deep in the mind and built for Beautiful But Can’t Remember. I saw it once: here dissolving, There reassembling like gleaned second-long seasons. And for what reason? I just don't know. Years asking Myself, Why? Why can we not remember this?
Poems and Persons
April 10, 2012
Being Numerous takes up the long and quixotic history of poets with ambitions as outsized as Yeats’s, such as George Oppen, Frank O’Hara, and a big gr
The Man of the Sword: Two Poems by Nizar Qabbani
February 10, 2012
Translator's note: Nizar Qabbani was the most popular and beloved Arab poet of the second half of the twentieth century. He was born in Damascus in 1923. He started out as a romantic poet, with daring poems of love and the heart’s adventures, but eventually he gravitated toward political subjects, and wrote unforgettable poems about the cultural and political maladies of the Arab world—he was a fierce opponent of dictatorship.
Rushing to Ruin
January 31, 2012
It was under Nero that Lucan produced the first three books of an epic poem laced with political satire, a poem devoid of divine machinery and high-mi
For the AIDS Dead
January 26, 2012
The plague you have thus far survived. They didn’t. Nothing that they did in bed that you didn’t. Writing a poem, I cleave to “you.” You means I, one, you, as well as the you inside you constantly talk to. Without justice or logic, without sense, you survived. They didn’t. Nothing that they did in bed that you didn’t. Frank Bidart is an American poet. This poem appeared in the February 16, 2012 issue of the magazine.
January 25, 2012
Lift me up, Severn, for I am dying. Do not be afraid. are good for us: beets, raspberries, tomatoes. Watermelon. Is this supposed to remind us of the blood and water of our beginning? Or of our end? Face down in a mess of noise, and light, and hair, I don’t like it. I bawl. The furball of memory and regret not yet stuck in my throat, unable to go up or down, I am an unplanted seed, all hope and striving. Later for angioplasty, ramipril, and tasteless cereal. Kashi Go Lean. My ataxia is normal.
From ‘Chinese Quatrains’
January 11, 2012
My grandpa was eighty my grandma was twenty She cried for years for the good life she was missing She faced the wall until he finished his dying Then she polished his bones for all of eternity * Throw my girl into the river she won’t drown Like her mother and her mother’s mother Stubborn reed hollow at both ends She’ll whistle and hum and float into dawn * The man from Worcester wants to eat my sister He bends her backward coats her in rice-flour Pinches her corners calls her “sweet dumpling” Fries her in deep oil then serves her on porcelain * His lovero
New Jersey Journey
January 11, 2012
Spent two hours at the end of December on the Garden State Highway In the ancient Ford’s trunk nothing but my heart grown heavier year by year A protracted catastrophe: the constant river of traffic the endless business of overtaking vicious eye-contact with total strangers in the adjacent lane Driven by yearning for its prehistoric brothers a Jumbo climbs out of Newark airport over marshes and lagoons a giant smoking mountain of rubbish and the countless lights of the refineries Mile after mile of stunted trees telegraph poles fields of blueberries a Siberian countryside colonized then run t