Thursday, December 1, 2016

POEM: "Recently a poet friend wrote"

"Recently a poet friend wrote"

Recently a poet friend wrote:

Highjacked by a book of poems, I want
to know more about my captor. What
has given rise to such intentions?

A searing mark under a burning sun
the diesel dope and the irritating mirages

Off the road from an untargeted village
was safe enough for the story and the pics

Overstepped the bounds...they’re very twitchy

And except for the camera I am unrifled
and except for my passport I’m fucked

Now I don’t care what they’re shouting

All I want to know are my options to get free.

© 2016 Rob Schackne

Monday, November 28, 2016

MUSIC: The Shins, "Pink Bullets" (2003)

The great song from the great band, The Shins...



O let's start in deep cover
everyone from a boat of sleep
pleasure a fricative kind of thing
but no consonants no vowels
a wall of sound fast coming
one language doesn't help
move over to higher places
in advance of a cresting will
surf in the shape of the world
& now the high dance is on
many eager to participate
sibilants ah like the wind.

© 2016 Rob Schackne

Thursday, November 24, 2016

POEM: "So What"

So What
              for MD, the Prince of Darkness

The so what started slowly
whether new-born or older
after 50 years of listening

to one hope sunk down still
can't describe your entire song
maybe the so whats are bookends

down the alley of a secret library
& between them swings a little
bang of what actually matters

then so what if it matters
high low notes split the night
& the mute stops me in my tracks

© 2016 Rob Schackne

Wednesday, November 23, 2016

POEM: "Cheshire Blues"

Cheshire Blues

                 What the modern man wants is the grin
                 without the cat, the sensation without the
                 boredom of its conveyance.  
Paul Valéry

The sea without the shelf
the hat without the head
the music with no instruments
we already have that
the lovers without heartbreak
we already have that
the kiss without lips
her voice without a body

we already have that
the stops before a destination
the journey after reaching it
the white before the page
that's pretty difficult

the hot days without the sun
we already have that
conveyance without satisfaction
the grin without the cat
I'd like to see that
just once.

© 2016 Rob Schackne

Tuesday, November 22, 2016

A Les Murray Poem (3)

Self and Dream Self

Routines of decaying time
fade, and your waking life
gets laborious as science.

You huddle in, becoming
the deathless younger self
who will survive your dreams
and vanish in surviving.

Dream brings on its story
at the pace of drift
in twilight, sunless color,

its settings are believed,
a library of wood shingles,
plain mythic furniture

vivid drone of talk,
yet few loves return:
trysts seem unkeepable.

Urgencies from your time
join with the browner suits
walking those arcades with you
but then you are apart,

aghast, beside the numberless
defiling down steep fence
into an imminence —

as in the ancient burrow
you, with an ever-changing cast,
survive deciding episodes
till you are dismissed

and a restart of tense
summons your waking size
out through shreds of story.


Thursday, November 17, 2016

POEM: "Off The Old Coast Road"

Off The Old Coast Road

By the other hand off the old coast road
there’s a bend takes you back to the ocean
with a fence which I don’t think you’ll see
until you stop time enough to look past it.
Full marks if you’ve got the prescience.
But don’t get off this road till you’re ready,
the fever that was all you ever wanted
is two close lanes before and beyond. Two.
Wonder if you’ll ever get past your nerve.
And don’t fool around with the edges of this,
grandstanding like a celestial idiot. Swerve.
Your hands off the wheel for only a second,
your God will change you. Nothing’s kidding.
The car you’re driving belongs to someone else.
Some guy just called his brother about an accident.

© 2016 Rob Schackne

Wednesday, November 16, 2016

POEM: "Eyes That Pierce"

Eyes That Pierce

A shudder of intent, outside reason
eyes that pierce, you don’t ask why
whether from attraction or hatred
the spell is hurled and you catch it
dark eyes shining are the best
above lips only slightly curled
a toss of the head comes next
several glances later that know
the codes of awareness are stolen
she looked this way merely once
how do you ignore such a spy
when peddling secrets of your own
in the place where people meet
where chance is the girl in a shop
she holds your gaze like a banana
this fascinates for about an hour
like a supermoon in an empty sky
one look is enough to forget all others
when you’re stopped in your tracks
heat, sweet, in the other source of light.

© 2016 Rob Schackne

Tuesday, November 15, 2016

POEM: "Ways It Could Be"

Ways It Could Be

Old questions crazy pauses no answers back
a few ways it could be roar in ominous winds
cries sound like an invitation to a locked door

the mad shouting their executions of purpose
while the hallowed desire of our knowledge
founders on unseen rocks beneath the surface

to what end is it pursued questions and men
mirrors that merely reflect reflecting tire us
of reflection of the eternal shine of others

to what end is help our last effort these tears
the hands that reached in to save now pulled in
so that now we are suddenly in great danger

curating the fall into big tropical trouble
but I only meant to help goes the old refrain
played loudly to whoever looked most helpless

forget the wreckage now the oil upon the water
the broken life-boat we watch it all slowly go down
and then begin another hard swim in another direction.

© 2016 Rob Schackne

Monday, November 14, 2016

POEM: "Everybody Knows, A Long-Stemmed Rose"

Everybody Knows, A Long-Stemmed Rose

Aches pain from bumps and grinds
which age negotiates with experience
the scars you see plain upon a face
the oranges that say it doesn't matter
but we're not speaking yet of love

What will it profit a man to dance
less than his own two feet, a partner
who also ages at a chance of seasons
who won't speak of sitting this one out
who saw the future (maybe it is murder)

Body goes south before going west
before that last foolish indigence
but not speaking of indifference yet
lying once in a bed for months
listening to my book of longing

Even the old will climb mountains
lungs and legs pounding to a point
I heard you a whole hospital away
while we're not talking yet of miracles
I felt you, there's still no cure for love.

© 2016 Rob Schackne

Sunday, November 13, 2016

POEM: "Dear Lazarus Brought Back From A Dream"

Dear Lazarus Brought Back From A Dream 

Because it didn’t matter
the latent heat walked away
sure you shot the universe
in dark matter I mean of course
this transfer it’s no steady law
there are problems in space & time
my lovers will the music to go on
solid to the liquid of the day to day
the scientists call it entropy
remembering the kabbalah tree the birds
always meant to ask that tree of life
another one and then another one
and the mountain sang of its ocean
and again all the waters sang of the sky

© 2016 Rob Schackne

Saturday, November 12, 2016

POEM: "She Said"

She Said

She said piss is a mild antiseptic
bad weather won’t make you sick
cigarettes probably won’t kill you
like the smoke they smoke in your head

To be high she said is mighty
I will love you as long as we know
that unprovables are consistent
with what we know we know to be true

Put a car in reverse it goes backwards
put a life on the skids it goes down
though nothing that is will be altered
I still love the way that way can

I love the dreams you walk through
the chaos you command to go back
the strength that draws on your muscles
the violence that lets itself go

She said there’s no real difference
where we come from or why we weep
if tonight she can feel me in her arms
if when it’s raining she can watch me sleep

And though time will always intrude
whenever the dawn comes round
my lines wait for tomorrow my love
waking first listening to your stilling heart.

© 2016 Rob Schackne

Friday, November 11, 2016

MUSIC: Leonard Cohen, "Never Mind" (2005)

The war was lost
The treaty signed
I was not caught
I crossed the line

I had to leave
My life behind
I had a name
But never mind

Your victory
Was so complete
That some among you
Thought to keep

A record of
Our little lives
The clothes we wore
Our pots our knives

The games of luck
Our soldiers played
The stones we cut
The songs we made

Our law of peace
Which understands
A husband leads
A wife commands

And all of this
Expressions of
The High Indifference
Some call Love

The High Indifference
Some call Fate
But we had Names
More intimate

Names so deep
and Names so true
They're lost to me
And dead to you

There is no need
That this survive
There's truth that lives
And truth that dies

There's truth that lives
And truth that dies
I don't know which
So never mind

I could not kill
The way you kill
I could not hate
I tried I failed

No man can see
The vast design
Or who will be
Last of his kind

The story's told
With facts and lies
You own the world
So never mind


Tuesday, November 8, 2016

POEM: "Writing is against us"

"Writing is against us"

Writing is against us. To be loved
for what we ourselves won't ever love
to read the poems written when I was 21
I laugh. Some poetry was trying to get out
sure I didn’t yet know the truth, so if judged
I could only just be hated for the things I knew
my maximal emotions pinned on a line like socks
a single fragile cassette played over and over again
and if I were loved for the poems that spoke no truth
I could spend a lifetime damned. I'm probably laughing
now that the stuff is pouring out of me. Writing when I’m 63
I hardly care what this means anymore, or what it meant to me.

© 2016 Rob Schackne

Sunday, November 6, 2016

POEM: "that's no way to paint ravens'"

“that’s no way to paint ravens”
                          after Mikaela Castledine

that's no way to paint ravens
at night on the roadside
in the headlights

past the silent graves
that’s no way to end a life
there’s a small hotel

in the balance of the dip
you’re just a bit behind
too late for turning

that’s no way to shoe a horse
with carrot and lump of sugar
the story of your travels

that’s no way to hit a nail
sanding the heavy handle
look at the reflection

that’s no way to hear the wind
headstall and volume
a brain full of fray

with ears with tears
those years those fears
you’re listening too slow

that’s no way to reach the light
maybe it’s thick with heaven
sweet grace with dark

bending left always left
outside in the rain
all colours running

© 2016 Rob Schackne

Painting: "Nighthawks", Edward Hopper (1942)

Saturday, November 5, 2016

A John Agard Poem


Excuse me
standing on one leg
I’m half-caste.

Explain yuself
wha yu mean
when yu say half-caste
yu mean when Picasso
mix red an green
is a half-caste canvas?
explain yuself
wha yu mean
when yu say half-caste
yu mean when light an shadow
mix in de sky
is a half-caste weather?
well in dat case
england weather
nearly always half-caste
in fact some o dem cloud
half-caste till dem overcast
so spiteful dem don’t want de sun pass
ah rass?
explain yuself
wha yu mean
when yu say half-caste
yu mean tchaikovsky
sit down at dah piano
an mix a black key
wid a white key
is a half-caste symphony?

Explain yuself
wha yu mean
Ah listening to yu wid de keen
half of mih ear
Ah looking at yu wid de keen
half of mih eye
an when I’m introduced to yu
I’m sure you’ll understand
why I offer yu half-a-hand
an when I sleep at night
I close half-a-eye
consequently when I dream
I dream half-a-dream
an when moon begin to glow
I half-caste human being
cast half-a-shadow
but yu must come back tomorrow
wid de whole of yu eye
an de whole of yu ear
an de whole of yu mind.

an I will tell yu
de other half
of my story.


Friday, November 4, 2016

A Simon Armitage Poem

"In July I'm walking the Pennine Way. It's usually walked from south to north, but I'm attempting it the other way round, because that way it will be downhill all the way, right? I'm doing the walk as a poet. Wherever I stop for the night I'm going to give a reading, for which there will be no charge, but at the end of the evening I'll pass a hat around and people can give me what they think I'm worth. I want to see if I can pay my way from start to finish on the proceeds of my poetry alone. So it's basically 256 miles of begging."

Friday, October 28, 2016

POEM: "Untitled Beetles"

Untitled Beetles
                               for Patterson

I too believe that beetles speak from longing
loved by a God that never speaks to them
that after looking around for somebody
else to do the work finally it's up to them
the beetle people the beetle poets
to examine the record very carefully
for the ones closest to the inner bark
and listen for the scratches near its heart
scrying and carving a message no one else can hear
except you and me and that little kid over there
also loved by a God that won't clean up his mess
this one encouragement is our commonality
as we see small souls gathered in all their places
under the sky in the trees standing up in the wind

© 2016 Rob Schackne

MUSIC: Ludovico Einaudi, "Elegy for the Arctic" (2016)

The fine composer-pianist tries playing the Arctic.

Wednesday, October 26, 2016

A POEM: "Be There In A Minute"

Be There In A Minute

Eros, I see you over there
In the writer’s standard pose
(I could be there in a minute)
Write, pause, ponder, and erase
Gaze off into the inner galaxies
Wonder why it was all born so daft
You go back to the pretty good idea
That was causing you so much trouble
Though of course I'm presuming alot
You might not be writing a poem at all.

© 2016 Rob Schack

Monday, October 24, 2016

POEM: "The Sharp Knife Shadows"

The Sharp Knife Shadows
              after Sarah St Vincent Welch, Kit Kelen & Chris Mansell

The sharp knife shadows
the patient horrors surface
from the sea of mind, sea of night
on my zoo animal days, I feel

degrees of attractiveness
gibbering incoherent demands
pointing through the ceiling
at the blue things, the blue sky

forgives my language, the shades
the gerunds, particles of meaning
deflected as if by semi-trailer, doom
typhoon, the busted brakes of love

soft forms beneath the counter wait
shotgun, club, machete or stun gun
and if there ever be a metallic song
a metallic you, I guess a metallic me.

© 2016 Rob Schackne

Sunday, October 23, 2016

A Marianne Moore Poem #2


Under a splintered mast,
torn from ship and cast
           near her hull,

a stumbling shepherd found
embedded in the ground,
            a sea-gull

of lapis lazuli,
a scarab of the sea,
          with wings spread—

curling its coral feet,
parting its beak to greet
          men long dead.


Friday, October 21, 2016

POEM: "Knife/Open Hand"

Knife/Open Hand 

Jumped in the alley way
today some students asked me
to talk to them about Dylan
best not separate the music from the words
he's a modern blues jazz troubadour
myth bible the beats French symbolists
music dust bowl struggle
rain value dada love art faith
versus big pharma big oil big business
big banks big brother big greed
versus unflinching uncaring
big arms big conflicts
big chemical big food
versus profits before people
50 years of the other history
of our protest and dissent
they are still trying to silence
best not separate that time from today
teacher what means troubadour
someone who makes things up
teacher what means establishment
teacher what means big arms
teacher what means black is the color
lyrics let's listen to blowin' in the wind
these lyrics listen to hard rain's a-gonna fall
let's listen to the masters of war these lyrics
a song can't change the world but it could
forget the nobel prize that's not where it's at
no direction the powerless know that--
nobody listening awful hunger
black is not the color
how does it feel?

© 2016 Rob Schackne

Wednesday, October 19, 2016

POEM: "It's Space, Archy!"

It’s Space, Archy!

                    The poll asked, “If you won a free trip
                    On a private company’s rocket ship into space,
                    Would you take the trip, or not?”

naturally it turns out that since most people
prefer to stay home and work on their project
the majority ixnay this decision to send their self
into space which after all is as dark as your pocket
i send this to some of my international friends
brave souls sometimes they even say wise things
and some are considerably in favor of translation
although one person says she will gladly give up
her space so that another can boldly go et cetera
and it wont matter at all if he doesnt come back
another says he thinks he has to think some more
about who else is likely to be there with him to share
the occasion with so maybe in the end probably no
and one says its pretty dim out there gazing at the stars
we crow about history but we wave from very far away
and she only wants to go if she can keep on going
and me brave me who knows a little about the danger
of this machine i think ill stay here and keep writing

© 2016 Rob Schackne

Monday, October 17, 2016

POEM: "Another Rissole? Thanks, I Think I Will"

Another Rissole? Thanks, I Think I Will

                                  for Myron Lysenko

And not only at suburban BBQs
we say every nation is a narcissist
tho' it seems that most people aren’t
the day the Souls and the No-Souls
finally go to war against each other
I'm moving to the country, I want me
to teach my own kids and raise chooks
‘cause it’s all be going to hell post haste
already the Un-Souled and the As-Souled
ah told they’re busy talking up a storm
they’re about moving to another planet
yes I want me a piece of that action, but
it’s hard to know what to think today
Another rissole? Thanks, I think I will
and doesn’t it almost look like rain.

© 2016 Rob Schackne

Sunday, October 16, 2016

MUSIC: Bob Dylan "A Hard Rain's A-Gonna Fall" lyrics

A Hard Rain's A-Gonna Fall

Oh, where have you been, my blue-eyed son?
Oh, where have you been, my darling young one?
I’ve stumbled on the side of twelve misty mountains
I’ve walked and I’ve crawled on six crooked highways
I’ve stepped in the middle of seven sad forests
I’ve been out in front of a dozen dead oceans
I’ve been ten thousand miles in the mouth of a graveyard
And it’s a hard, and it’s a hard, it’s a hard, and it’s a hard
And it’s a hard rain’s a-gonna fall

Oh, what did you see, my blue-eyed son?
Oh, what did you see, my darling young one?
I saw a newborn baby with wild wolves all around it
I saw a highway of diamonds with nobody on it
I saw a black branch with blood that kept drippin’
I saw a room full of men with their hammers a-bleedin’
I saw a white ladder all covered with water
I saw ten thousand talkers whose tongues were all broken
I saw guns and sharp swords in the hands of young children
And it’s a hard, and it’s a hard, it’s a hard, it’s a hard
And it’s a hard rain’s a-gonna fall

And what did you hear, my blue-eyed son?
And what did you hear, my darling young one?
I heard the sound of a thunder, it roared out a warnin’
Heard the roar of a wave that could drown the whole world
Heard one hundred drummers whose hands were a-blazin’
Heard ten thousand whisperin’ and nobody listenin’
Heard one person starve, I heard many people laughin’
Heard the song of a poet who died in the gutter
Heard the sound of a clown who cried in the alley
And it’s a hard, and it’s a hard, it’s a hard, it’s a hard
And it’s a hard rain’s a-gonna fall

Oh, who did you meet, my blue-eyed son?
Who did you meet, my darling young one?
I met a young child beside a dead pony
I met a white man who walked a black dog
I met a young woman whose body was burning
I met a young girl, she gave me a rainbow
I met one man who was wounded in love
I met another man who was wounded with hatred
And it’s a hard, it’s a hard, it’s a hard, it’s a hard
It’s a hard rain’s a-gonna fall

Oh, what’ll you do now, my blue-eyed son?
Oh, what’ll you do now, my darling young one?
I’m a-goin’ back out ’fore the rain starts a-fallin’
I’ll walk to the depths of the deepest black forest
Where the people are many and their hands are all empty
Where the pellets of poison are flooding their waters
Where the home in the valley meets the damp dirty prison
Where the executioner’s face is always well hidden
Where hunger is ugly, where souls are forgotten
Where black is the color, where none is the number
And I’ll tell it and think it and speak it and breathe it
And reflect it from the mountain so all souls can see it
Then I’ll stand on the ocean until I start sinkin’
But I’ll know my song well before I start singin’
And it’s a hard, it’s a hard, it’s a hard, it’s a hard
It’s a hard rain’s a-gonna fall


MUSIC: Bob Dylan, "When The Ship Comes In" (1963)/ The Pogues (1996)

When The Ship Comes In

Oh the time will come up
When the winds will stop
And the breeze will cease to be breathin’
Like the stillness in the wind
’Fore the hurricane begins
The hour when the ship comes in

Oh the seas will split
And the ship will hit
And the sands on the shoreline will be shaking
Then the tide will sound
And the wind will pound
And the morning will be breaking

Oh the fishes will laugh
As they swim out of the path
And the seagulls they’ll be smiling
And the rocks on the sand
Will proudly stand
The hour that the ship comes in

And the words that are used
For to get the ship confused
Will not be understood as they’re spoken
For the chains of the sea
Will have busted in the night
And will be buried at the bottom of the ocean

A song will lift
As the mainsail shifts
And the boat drifts on to the shoreline
And the sun will respect
Every face on the deck
The hour that the ship comes in

Then the sands will roll
Out a carpet of gold
For your weary toes to be a-touchin’
And the ship’s wise men
Will remind you once again
That the whole wide world is watchin’

Oh the foes will rise
With the sleep still in their eyes
And they’ll jerk from their beds and think they’re dreamin’
But they’ll pinch themselves and squeal
And know that it’s for real
The hour when the ship comes in

Then they’ll raise their hands
Sayin’ we’ll meet all your demands
But we’ll shout from the bow your days are numbered
And like Pharoah’s tribe
They’ll be drownded in the tide
And like Goliath, they’ll be conquered


Wednesday, October 5, 2016

A Mark Twain Poem

Poem To Margaret

Be good, be good, be always good,
And now & then be clever,
But don’t you ever be too good,
Nor ever be too clever;

For such as be too awful good
They awful lonely are,
And such as often clever be
Get cut & stung & trodden on by persons of lesser mental capacity, for this kind do by a law of their construction regard exhibitions of superior intellectuality as an offensive impertinence leveled at their lack of this high gift, & are prompt to resent such-like exhibitions in the manner above indicated — & are they justifiable? Alas, alas they

(It is not best to go on; I think the line is already longer than it ought to be for real true poetry.)

Tuesday, October 4, 2016

POEM: "For Good"

For Good

                      “One hundred and fifty thousand people die every day,” he continues. 
                       “And a lot of them have dinner plans.” 
                            Anthony Martin, Escape Artist

                         So, teach us to number our days, that we may gain a heart of wisdom. 
                              Psalms 90:12

Be it counsel against hating
the strong and clean and good
sunlight words with promise
admits our blood covers it all
and everyday shows us pain
it's rotten and it's desperate
can't be fixed, will never work
we die because there is no choice
we live to spite there is so little
teach us to number our moons
by the fine beeswarming of night
we'll figure it out, cost us nearly nothing
study evil till there's evil no more

© 2016 Rob Schackne

Monday, October 3, 2016

POEM: "Fake, The Original"

Fake, The Original

Glut of magnificent forgeries
Duped experts adding value
Originals tired of being one-offs
The field looked very strong
Favourites given strange odds
On the home stretch all is silent
Punters tear up their forms
No one wins back the farm
With a forged betting slip
Canned music in the street
Sunset reproduced on the news
This poem is already written
In a hundred identical ways
This conversation has a used air
Sorry the subject is second-hand
Clearly I failed in originality
I only paint what I see, my dear
Just come to me now and tell me
Everything good will be copied.

© 2016 Rob Schackne

Saturday, October 1, 2016

POEM: "Short Notes On A Disappearing Act"

Short Notes On A Disappearing Act
                          for Robbie Verdon

Anonymize yourself
to the last green light
quiet till last call
in a muted sunset

Anonymize yourself
to darkness and temor
the invisibility
waits in the mirror

Anonymize yourself
to the stairs of death
when the night is over
whisper it all away.

© 2016 Rob Schackne

Painting: Mark Rothko

Friday, September 30, 2016

POEM: "Posted On The Scaffold, 1729"

Posted On The Scaffold, 1729

Go and Get Hanged, it's Goodbye
I’ll Wait upon the Better Portions
Denied me of the Past, You Viper
A Clear and Vibrant Future awaiting
Allow me a Moment to Celebrate
Nevermore the Lice and Itchy Groin
The Laughter of Babbling Gossips
Nor all the Carnal Sport I Missed
Which you Freely Gave to Strangers
Pigeon-milker, this is my Last Posting
I’ll put the Children to Serve Our Lord
Give them back their Huckle-bones & Toys
While you Mount, Ride Hard and Be Damned.

© 2016 Rob Schackne

Thursday, September 29, 2016

POEM: "Another Fine Mess"

Another Fine Mess

Then welcome the ghost
who brought the mystery
install in the easy chair
supply with food and drink
put on some Shostakovich
show some recent poems

refrain from asking questions
let it be for at least an hour
you've always felt that right?
do you mean we should be awed?
write the answers in invisible ink
ask her if she wants a shower

watch awhile from the other room
then go about your business.

© 2014 Rob Schackne

Tuesday, September 27, 2016

MUSIC: Leonard Cohen, "You Want It Darker" (2016)

You Want It Darker

If you are the dealer
I'm out of the game
If you are the healer
Means I'm broken and lame
If thine is the glory
Then mine must be the shame
You want it darker
We kill the flame

Magnified sanctified
Be Thy Holy Name
Vilified crucified
In the human frame
A million candles burning
For the help that never came
You want it darker
We kill the flame

Hineni Hineni
I’m ready, my Lord

There's a lover in the story
But the story's still the same
There’s a lullaby for suffering
And a paradox to blame
But it’s written in the scriptures
And it’s not some idle claim
You want it darker
We kill the flame

They’re lining up the prisoners and
The guards are taking aim
I struggled with some demons
They were middle-class and tame
I didn’t know I had permission
To murder and to maim
You want it darker
We kill the flame

Hineni Hineni
I'm ready, my Lord

Magnified sanctified
Be Thy Holy Name
Vilified crucified
In the human frame
A million candles burning
For the love that never came
You want it darker
We kill the flame

If you are the dealer
Let me out of the game
If you are the healer
I'm broken and lame
If thine is the glory
Mine must be the shame
You want it darker
We kill the flame

Hineni Hineni
I'm ready, my Lord

Monday, September 26, 2016

A Pablo Neruda Poem

The Poet

That time when I moved among happenings
in the midst of my mournful devotions; that time
when I cherished a leaflet of quartz,
at gaze in a lifetime's vocation.
I ranged in the markets of avarice
where goodness is bought for a price, breathed
the insensate miasmas of envy, the inhuman
contention of masks and existences.
I endured in the bog-dweller's element; the lily
that breaks on the water in a sudden
disturbance of bubbles and blossoms, devoured me.
Whatever the foot sought, the spirit deflected,
or sheered toward the fang of the pit.
So my poems took being, in travail
retrieved from the thorn, like a penance,
wrenched by a seizure of hands, out of solitude;
or they parted for burial
their secretest flower in immodesty's garden.
Estranged to myself, like shadow on water,
that moves through a corridor's fathoms,
I sped through the exile of each man's existence,
this way and that, and so, to habitual loathing;
for I saw that their being was this: to stifle
one half of existence's fullness like fish
in an alien limit of ocean. And there,
in immensity's mire, I encountered their death;
Death grazing the barriers,
Death opening roadways and doorways.


(Trans. Ben Belitt)

Sunday, September 25, 2016

POEM: "Five Pieces, Not Easy"

Five Pieces, Not Easy

1. Rondelet Aux Apaches

Get this thing on
maybe he struggles to keep up
get this thing on
she’s leaning over the table
he feels his future wed to breasts
her mind reaches for big monkey
get this thing on.

2. The Afternoon

Why you were an hour late
planning to shuck your husband
to meet me later in the room
I felt strangely neutral like I was
your husband wanting to know
why it takes 2 hours to buy rice
afterwards when I was a bag of rice
and we were just a pair of stomachs

we looked out of the window
there was a man painting
his balcony red the sky
mostly grey rain was coming
not much chance of getting up.

3. Rehearsal

Alright I’ve said it the ass
depends upon the legs like
a clock on a minute’s notice
the banjax awaits the band
there’s nothing new under
the sun except the sunlight
we’re roaring like monsters
dammit you didn’t know it
now I say it that form waits on
an invisible quiet thing.

4. Aside

You read about a fellow who wrote
a novel of 80 thousand pages
who couldn’t work out the ending
even so he managed to say it
and ​he even mentioned this too
the deficiencies you’re feeling
in the rose garden the doubt
the arc and mise-en-scène
a dog’s old toy in the yard.

5. Overcast

Of the moments
that restored my
faith in humanity
I think I'll remember
one or two of them
and this second one just
left me wondering whether
she was really better off
(she didn't listen to me
now she lives in Germany)
first one's hidden
sorry it's the terms
of my dumb faith
just starting to rain
take it with a lick of salt
take it with a grain of blood.

© 2016 Rob Schackne

Wednesday, September 21, 2016

POEM: "Ghosts Read The Papers"

Ghosts Read The Papers

As smart a comment as I've heard all week 
The hand that points the bone points each way
(A breathtaking shard of common sense)

Archimedes says "Don't disturb my circles"
Which only means if you had a place to stand
You'd watch the screws take you up and up

Advantage moved, circles grew higher
Look here, far from the centre, and now

The wrong powers are too close for comfort

It may be that not all progress is forward
And dead men say let go the bloody switch
And make our day, ghosts say, tell us when to stop.

© 2016 Rob Schackne

Monday, September 19, 2016

POEM: "I saw cruelty"

“I saw cruelty” 

What's a border to the poor? 
Late night, I guess no moon
silent as the little wind
a wire, a noise, gunfire

Carry your wife
carry your husband
a dead child is heavier
the stragglers stretch behind

I saw cruelty
applied without effort
kindness to the power of ten
and every step away from truth

Every step away from truth?

The line makes no sense
objects move from their places
maybe the search party’s missing

Now I'm in an F1 bar
fan force and silly cars
tyres are big pearls first lap
might as well be Godzilla.

© 2016 Rob Schackne

Saturday, September 17, 2016

POEM: "A, B, C for China"

A, B, C for China
              (after Jack Picone & Kit Kelen)

The ascent to heaven
midnight, lunar eclipse
occluded by typhoon cloud
suddenly in the southern sky
(between the tail of Cetus
and the water jar of Aquarius)
it appears behind our longing
a dress rehearsal (there’s no end)
for the famed knife-throwing act
before the common folk tomorrow
as these soft targets take their turns
to know the distance of lament, to see
in Mid-Autumn Festival, Li Bai, you, me.

© 2016 Rob Schackne

Friday, September 16, 2016

POEM: "Calling"


Across the oceans
in my country
morning dawns bright.

The sunlight
fractures the leaves.
Our eyes gleam.

Has love given me
this thick fog
reaching for your hand?

Fort da, fort da
fall so we will rise.
I am close.

© 2013 Rob Schackne

Tuesday, September 13, 2016

POEM: "After Sarah Rice's "Hardangerfjord"

After Sarah Rice's "Hardangerfjord Waterfall"

What I have isn’t what I’ve got
the planet lacks a ring, anything
wasn’t here before it was there
I make up an atmosphere

Far beneath this surface
lies town from waterfall
the cracks off the mountains

under things I cannot see

After six days of the shivers
and the seven nights of horror
(it's a rather ghostly town)
everything is going over

Imagination is a working thing
like a root or the benthic algae
and the mountain is falling
like a kitchen and a meal

Always a pleasure walking out
afterwards to look inwards
often the places we are in
are the places we're not.

© 2016 Rob Schackne

Monday, September 12, 2016

POEM: "Night Walk"

Night Walk

Down these mean streets
some real monks must go

they are not mean men
although they are hard men

ancient lanes divide
a lonely presence

the great circle plots
a whisky course

walking out with smoke
soaked by the storm

we too prowl the streets
reflexes sometimes slow

writer, reasonable crab
it depends on the season.

© 2015 Rob Schackne

Sunday, September 11, 2016

A Merv Lilley Poem

Brumby Jones

Over the sticks and over the stones,
Where will they lay your illiterate bones?
With the brumbies, Brumby Jones.
Where do you come from, Brumby Jones?
Out where the lonely wild wind moans,
Lived in the backblocks, Brumby Jones.

Where is the woman who shared your bread?
Never a woman was in your bed,
Never a breast to cradle your head,
Man of the spirit was always dead.
Out in the sticks and out in the stones
Lived like a warrigal Brumby Jones.

Knew the sound of the warrior cry
When the grass was dead and the creeks run dry;
Only a man can learn to sigh:
Where will they bury you when you die?
Under the sticks and under the stones
There they will lay your illiterate bones,
And a bloody good feller was Brumby Jones!

Wednesday, September 7, 2016

POEM: "Assumptions We Carried"

Assumptions We Carried

                           for Lesley Boland

The carelessness of others
treasure is buried everywhere
school educates
learning can help
this love will last
and this love won’t
I am smarter than you think
things are not as bad as they look
I could have been a great sax player
in a smoke-filled room
I will never lose my mind
sunlight is not important
I can do without sleep forever

© 2016 Rob Schackne