MARBLES

29 December 2015

ITHACA

My Translation of C.P. Cavafy's Poem Ίθάκη,
A Gift for G, a Modern Day Odysseus.


As you begin your voyage to Ithaka,
hope that the road is long,
filled with adventure, filled with enlightenment.
The Laistrygonians and the Cyclopes,
the angry Poseidon, do not fear them;
you will never find them on your road
if your thoughts remain aloft, if your spirit and your body
brush against a finer emotion.
The Laistrygonians and the Cyclopes,
the angry Poseidon, you won’t encounter them
if you don’t carry them inside your soul
if your psyche does not conjure them in front of you.

Hope that the road is long.
Many the summer mornings
when with pleasure and glad anticipation
you sail into unfamiliar harbors
or stop at Phoenician markets
to acquire beautiful things:
mother of pearl and coral, amber and ebony,
voluptuous notes of every type,
gather as many sensual aromas as you can;
may you visit many an Egyptian city,
there to learn and learn from scholars.

Always in your mind hold on to Ithaka.
The arrival there should be your purpose,
but don’t hurry your voyage in the least.
Best to continue it for many years,
and reach old age before mooring at the island,
wealthy with all you gained along the way,
and without expectation that Ithaka will give you riches.

Ithaka gave you the beautiful voyage.
Without her you would not have sought to wander.
There’s nothing more she has to give.

And, if you find her poor, Ithaka did not deceive you.
With all the wisdom you have gained, all the experience,
already you understand the meaning of an Ithaka.



   Τhe Poem in the Original Greek


Ιθάκη

Σα βγεις στον πηγαιμό για την Ιθάκη,
να εύχεσαι νάναι μακρύς ο δρόμος,
γεμάτος περιπέτειες, γεμάτος γνώσεις.
Τους Λαιστρυγόνας και τους Κύκλωπας,
τον θυμωμένο Ποσειδώνα μη φοβάσαι,
τέτοια στον δρόμο σου ποτέ σου δεν θα βρείς,
αν μέν' η σκέψις σου υψηλή, αν εκλεκτή
συγκίνησις το πνεύμα και το σώμα σου αγγίζει.
Τους Λαιστρυγόνας και τους Κύκλωπας,
τον άγριο Ποσειδώνα δεν θα συναντήσεις,
αν δεν τους κουβανείς μες στην ψυχή σου,
αν η ψυχή σου δεν τους στήνει εμπρός σου.

Να εύχεσαι νάναι μακρύς ο δρόμος.
Πολλά τα καλοκαιρινά πρωϊά να είναι
που με τι ευχαρίστησι, με τι χαρά
θα μπαίνεις σε λιμένας πρωτοειδωμένους·
να σταματήσεις σ' εμπορεία Φοινικικά,
και τες καλές πραγμάτειες ν' αποκτήσεις,
σεντέφια και κοράλλια, κεχριμπάρια κ' έβενους,
και ηδονικά μυρωδικά κάθε λογής,
όσο μπορείς πιο άφθονα ηδονικά μυρωδικά·
σε πόλεις Αιγυπτιακές πολλές να πας,
να μάθεις και να μάθεις απ' τους σπουδασμένους.

Πάντα στον νου σου νάχεις την Ιθάκη.
Το φθάσιμον εκεί είν' ο προορισμός σου.
Αλλά μη βιάζεις το ταξίδι διόλου.
Καλλίτερα χρόνια πολλά να διαρκέσει·
και γέρος πια ν' αράξεις στο νησί,
πλούσιος με όσα κέρδισες στον δρόμο,
μη προσδοκώντας πλούτη να σε δώσει η Ιθάκη.

Η Ιθάκη σ' έδωσε το ωραίο ταξίδι.
Χωρίς αυτήν δεν θάβγαινες στον δρόμο.
Αλλο δεν έχει να σε δώσει πια.

Κι αν πτωχική την βρεις, η Ιθάκη δεν σε γέλασε.
Ετσι σοφός που έγινες, με τόση πείρα,
ήδη θα το κατάλαβ
ες η Ιθάκες τι σημαίνουν.


Κωνσταντίνος Π. Καβάφης (1911) 


23 July 2015

preciseness

It hurt; it hurt beyond hurt

Where does it go when it hurts like that
One pain with multiple names

Try to keep afloat – feasible for a while – illusions
And thespian supremacy
Eventually, things begin to chip in spots
Cracked china
How many times can porcelain be mended?
Instead, drift toward the shadows of your life
The haunted corners, catalogues of arid days:
You’ll come back they said, and it was truth.

Choke it into sediment
Some vapour, cold and cloudy
Will escape from memory

     To be distilled in dreams where he is smiling
     And I am happy.
     The earth is freshly tilled
     Upturned fertile land fields of fragrance
     A lone cypress overlooks

At daylight the vivid colors slowly bleach, I am awake.


But Venus is brilliant in the evening sky

One, two, flying low to ground, June fireflies.
Tomorrow will be very hot.
The garden is mulched and watered
I have a garden
The rose bushes trimmed after their first flush.
There was no mail I checked multiple times.
I’ve been wearing my straw hat it’s good protection
From the sun.  Sometimes I forget I have it on,
I wear it late into the night.
Half past midnight.  Going out to check on Venus gone

So late.  Where are you?
Strawberry moon, cloud swaddled moon,
Alight on the wings of heaven, sleep.
Tonight is 
Is alabaster is blind.

I stand marveling at the spear’s preciseness
Each revolt was ruinous
My alliances have been ruinous.
From the sepulcher 
From flesh and stone enclosures
I will salvage one memory – my treasured gift:

     The intimate whispers of a soft wind

All else can stay.


Now home is here
In any garden, any grove
A bed of kelp, bouquets of seaweed
A hearth apart from tooth and claw
The polished warriors
Do they know me that I exist still

I exist
Where reason and order evolve and modify
Here I stand, set free
I abide


30 June 2015

GARDEN, MINE

I garden my remembrances
My roses are speared with thorns
My arms bruised,
My arms welcoming and soft.

A crescent cove, that crease where
Your smile breaks,
A wave unfolding tranquil to shore.

As I plant a bulb or mulch a thirsty root
The long ago casual glances—
No, that’s not true, write true.

Furtive is true, with longing, a sadness, regret
All those are true, never casual, never ordinary.

Always I search for it
In the topography of your face

To go back or reach forward
See you smile into crescent moonlight cove
Linger there for the softest kiss
Hear the sibilant calm wave
Temper the dissonance of time

Its unfolding into sand and silk, and your breath is close.

This if plausible, this wish if granted,

What enchanted flowers grow here.


06 June 2015

THE SACRIFICIAL

The goat was injured.

A winsome, all white
Or all black, smooth fur.
A head injury
A small swollen spot
Covering the sanguine rush

She died.

We got ready to bury her
Some bones were shattered
Not ours

Cuddling into it her death 
Soon she passed out of memory

It's more peaceful this way,
The goat telephoned to say.


05 June 2015

SYNTHESIS

Hard.
Under earth chambers
Stairs and carved stone
The sphinx waited, each morsel of soil brushed
Despite the unbearable heat, hot heat descending surface
Even river water is boiling desire heat, lips lips melt,
I want
Do you know, that heat.
But,
The powerless sphinx with chiseled face, and in awe
We kist in the sleeping room: “I am resting my bones”
Said the general, a real general, a commander of
A lot.
“I don’t give a fuck,” vibrated the voice of infinity
“Your names, your silk and gold upon mattresses,
The titles of a crowning halo,
All fineries, all spoils, bishops and queen,  
Checkmate.”

          It always ends in checkmate.

“Move that pawn like it’s her majesty if you have the guts,
Don’t wait a promotion, stay
Awake, alert and who cares how it’s oriented the
Only rules that apply are mine,
Permanent suffering
And,
Everyone’s are gonna get brittle eventually.
Deossification? Diagenesis? Dust?
I love the energy.
Inconsequential Subatomic Infinitesimal
Dusting of particles in my back yard
The weaklings hunting,
The strong needing weaker game,
Electrifying.”

          It
          Has
          Been
          This
          Way
          And will continue to be.
          What change? 
          What change?
         
          Never change
          This is the way I love you.

          It
          Has
          Been
          This
          Way
          And will continue to be.
          What change? 
          What change?

          Never a change

This is the way to Olympus

“The tumulus curves like a wedding cake with
A lion on top!
Who swallowed the bride and groom?
These things happen, no need to be innocent about it, why are you crying little girl,
Old girl why are you crying, below as beyond
Turbulence and chaos and a black hole.
The buried virgins tall and amply carved, turned into marble.
The matriarch  was mortal after all.
The general’s family was bludgeoned to death.
The horse was cremated but its spirit lives on.
The baby died.  Megalocephaly.
It was a beauty to behold.  For the noble and
Courageous in grand style,
Who did it and for whom?

But I’ll remember you,” promised us infinity,
“I will make sure you get a workout, particle
By particle by particle by particle by particle
By particle by particle by particle by particle
By particle by parti…
Parts in synthesis, you do you understand me?

It will be magnetic but without purpose

Purpose
Exists where gravity,” twisted the shape of infinity before moving through static. 

                               
            “There is no limit to infinite love
            There are not boundaries to boundless patience
            There is no limit to infinite love.”
     “Oh, that’s such a lovely song!  Sing it again!”
     “There is no limit to infinite love
            There are not boundaries to boundless patience
            There is no limit to infinite love.”





04 June 2015

WEATHERING

Philly

Where do they sleep?
A hovel? Perhaps a shelter.
Underneath a bridge or an overpass.
On cardboard.                     
         
His words were jumbled and the odour
Of ammonia cleaved to his skin
He didn't ask for food
But he took it.        
I gave him two dollars fare
A twenty spot for whatever, and
A piece of cardboard, replacement
For the shredded one he clung to.

I pointed toward town.
"Philly," he said in answer, Philly.

"The trolley stop is that way. 
It'll take you into Philly,
Philadelphia."

Who in hell's name did I think I was?
So what if he was leather-skinned
Drunk-eyed and disheveled,
At sixes and sevens
With the spinning world
This homeless man?
So what if his mangled presence frightened?
I practically ordered him out of the neighborhood.
Take this food, here's some money,
Not even quantity enough for the pauper that you are,
But leave. 
You have been hanging around haunting for too long.
You aren't safe on our street,
Not if the pigs get wind of your stink.

Here we have rose gardens.
I am a rose gardener myself.
This winter's ice air they succumbed,
My rose bushes.  Gone!
It was one cold motherfucking winter,
Wasn't it? 
How did you make it through, sleeping on cardboard?
Did you have blankets hidden somewhere?
Inside a trash bag inside a cart behind a dumpster?


Duet

Spines
On withered branches
Are rubbing against an artery.
Soon somewhere soon
In the middle of my chest
At the site without roses,
A rift—
It's what comes from the push and pull,
The hope and the relinquishing.
                                                                                                                                                                                                 
Those sweet approximations we're used to,
Whisper them
Lavish me with cardboard promises
I'll find reveries to exorcise fever

       the fragrance of lilacs will enter through half-shut windows

       softly plunging white lilacs flowering waterfalls
       lilac cascades displayed on the nightstand
       joyful, intoxicating
       fingertips playing with fingertips stroking    
       gentler than breeze  
       gently awakening


Locked Out

Easter day, April thirtieth

By then the troops were gone,
But the asphalt was scarred where tanks had been
We walked huddled together, taking the backstreets
The thin air of springtime
Redolent with the acrid scent of steel.
Low-lying clouds approached,
They were polluted, filling us with dread.

Even before then I had learned to expect the onslaught
Home never represented safety,
And the concept of hearth was something to sneer at.
Now, front doors were locked at my knocking                                                      
Friends became fearful, inhospitable
Too busy always, compartmentalizing always
"No, no, everything is fine," they would run

"I can sniff out pretext in my sleep," I told them
"Pretext is mother's hearth to me
Tell the truth and slice the jugular."


Joe

I see myself standing by the roadside.
From the expanse of marshes adjoining I-95
Wild geese have come to graze.
A small congregation of homeless gathers to beg.
Cars are speeding by, passengers avert their gaze.
I shout:
"Where are you going it's a hard life living on the streets it's scary"
Blue-eyed boy homeless Joe walks away from me.
"You gotta be nice if you wanna make a buck,"
He says. 
He's got business savvy, does Joe,
Got the smarts of a CEO. 
Too bad he's an addict.
No, not Joe,
Joe's just a dreamer caught in a nightmare
It's the CEO who's an addict.
"There is no place like home," said Dorothy.
If you have one, says I.   


Antithesis

A stumbling window shopper, that’s me. 
A spare meant to become superfluous 
Quixotic knight
There is a moat surrounding your house.
Even yesterday when you loved me
There was.

How was I to know,
You could have knocked me over with a feather—
But  today when you no longer love me
After I swore to you the wellspring cannot run dry

Now the spigot drips ever slowly
Too slowly to even be annoying.
In parting
Leaving takes place long before departure,
Before the chokehold of awareness  
And the loss to silence.

You’ll  jump beyond,
To the bare-nipple crest of the searise hill
Tender from rain and the brackish mist


She

I bent down to kiss her cheek

As always, she pulled away,
My hug repelled by spears in her elbows.
“Stay a while longer,” she asked on the Wednesday before she died.
A farmer’s daughter,
She knew how to pull up weeds.
Myself, I am a stubborn weed. 
She never conquered me,
Not even at the end, when she betrayed me.

She grew white roses, a penchant I inherited from her,
But smashing into storms is my own attribute, somehow.     


Wilderness

Growing where they aren’t wanted,
At the wrong address,
People beat them back
Weeds,
Useless as my words.

A lily isn’t home in a wheat field
Roses are roses because we turned them into such,
Once upon a time they were bramble at the edge.

From the rocky track, observing yet unobserved
I don’t need loamy soil to sustain me.
On the sidewalk across, a skirmish is played.   
Watching from paved wilderness
Weathering.

No loamy soil, no, instead a patch of dust, on dust
All I needed I asked a patch, only a patch
And worth it, so worth it, love from weeds
The wild purity, the quiet love for you, the want,

But adrift also, adrift,
Language adrift
Untruth against heart and spirit
Adrift from despair—
Forgive me
Though if too late, forgive that I love.
                                                                                                            
And the torture of this wandering wondering pounding
Pounce with smoothest balm of purple-red fire, cumulus steam
Beneath which homeless weeds,
Love bold as a weed
I love you,
And each day I revel as I reveal I love you
Mine and yours, each eccentricity
I love you,
Today, which is each day.

     in time

     tomorrow's sun will clear shadows
     the light beautiful
     beaming upon cuts so deep
     we will humble into bravery.