Sep 152015
 

The future was a beautiful place, once.
Remember the full-blown balsa-wood town
on public display in the Civic Hall.
The ring-bound sketches, artists’ impressions,
blueprints of smoked glass and tubular steel,
board-game suburbs, modes of transportation
like fairground rides or executive toys.
Cities like dreams, cantilevered by light.
And people like us at the bottle-bank
next to the cycle-path, or dog-walking
over tended strips of fuzzy-felt grass,
or motoring home in electric cars,
model drivers. Or after the late show –
strolling the boulevard. They were the plans,
all underwritten in the neat left-hand
of architects – a true, legible script.
I pulled that future out of the north wind
at the landfill site, stamped with today’s date,
riding the air with other such futures,
all unlived in and now fully extinct.

 Comments Off on Simon Armitage: A Vision
Sep 142015
 

Who fain would sow the fallow field,
And see the growing corn,
Must first remove the useless weeds,
The bramble and the thorn.
After ill savour, honey’s taste
Is to the mouth more sweet;
After the storm, the twinkling stars
The eyes more cheerly greet.
When night hath past, the bright dawn comes
In car of rosy hue;
So drive the false bliss from thy mind,
And thou shall see the true.

-from The Consolations of Philosophy, Bk. III. Song 1.

 Comments Off on Boethius: The Thorns of Error
Sep 102015
 

“…a book indeed sometimes debauched me from my work…”

–Benjamin Franklin

If librarians were honest,
they wouldn’t smile, or act
welcoming. They would say,
You need to be careful. Here
be monsters. They would say,
These rooms house heathens
and heretics, murderers and
maniacs, the deluded, desperate,
and dissolute. They would say,
These books contain knowledge
of death, desire, and decay,
betrayal, blood, and more blood;
each is a Pandora’s box, so why
would you want to open one.
They would post danger
signs warning that contact
might result in mood swings,
severe changes in vision,
and mind-altering effects.
If librarians were honest
they would admit the stacks
can be more seductive and
shocking than porn. After all,
once you’ve seen a few
breasts, vaginas, and penises,
more is simply more,
a comforting banality,
but the shelves of a library
contain sensational novelties,
a scandalous, permissive mingling
of Malcolm X, Marx, Melville,
Merwin, Millay, Milton, Morrison,
and anyone can check them out,
taking them home or to some corner
where they can be debauched
and impregnated with ideas.
If librarians were honest,
they would say, No one
spends time here without being
changed. Maybe you should
go home. While you still can.

 Comments Off on Joseph Mills: If Librarians Were Honest
Sep 082015
 

It may be too late to learn ancient Greek
Under a canopy of gnats
It may be too late to sail to Mozambique
With a psychotic cat
It may be too late to find a cure
Too late to save your soul

It may be too late to lose the heat
It may be too late to find your feet
It may be too late to draw a map
To the high desert of your heart
It may be too late to lose the poor
It’s never too late for rock’n’roll

It may be too late to dance like Fred Astaire 
Or Michael Jackson come to that
It may be too late to climb the stair
And find the key under your mat
It may be too late to think that you’re
Never too late for rock’n’roll

We have to believe a couple of good thieves can still seize the day
We have to believe we can still clear the way
We have to believe we’ve found some common ground
We have to believe we have to believe
We can lose those last twenty pounds

 Comments Off on Paul Muldoon: It’s Never Too Late for Rock’N’Roll
Aug 302015
 

It was a November night of wind.
Leaves tore past the window.
God had the book of life open at PLEASURE
and was holding the pages down in one hand
because of the wind from the door.
For I made their flesh as a sieve
wrote God at the top of the page
and then listed in order:

Alcohol
Blood
Gratitude
Memory
Semen
Song
Tears
Time.

 Comments Off on Anne Carson: God’s List of Liquids