Wednesday, May 17, 2017

Where Pinwheels Hide

—Poems by Tom Goff, Carmichael, CA
—Anonymous Photos



Theresa, I never witnessed your running side:
what better admission of that ignorance
in which I knew you, liked you in a trance
as one who might know the mind but miss the stride?
—by which your agile cerebral parts made glide
your lean-knit frame…rocketing from stock stance
to accelerated gazelle. This run-romance
ignited word-hoards within: where bright pinwheels hide.

As runners feel the stopping pang, the stitch,
remembrance caught, snagged on the thinking-vine
still aching toward the dark grapes of sweet speech.
I mourn your long loss of memory; question mine,
that ranges our poetry scenes, but gaping, holed:
you speak, and the lovely words come, lipped on silent film.
Yet paper revives your voice, your English time-realm:
unscrolled there, sprint of thought: you fiercely tholed.

    Symphonic poem for orchestra and chorus
    (a setting of
Prometheus Unbound, Act Two, Scene Two)

In youthful fierceness that vaults difficulty
where mortal choristers cannot hope to leap,
Bax mounts his Promethean setting high in the steep
Caucasus where the god-man must soon go free:
Pure Shelley, idealist youth and idealist youth
saturating in music together the rage
for beauty unchained, for tyrants to lose to truth,
in an orchestral poem transcending all era and age:
we hear it and feel for the singers so taxed and strained,
and yet the fine English choir to cope somehow.
Strange melodies, gorgeous ones, perfectly “sun-stained,”
obscuring the diction everywhere; words bow
to sound. Yet clarity in the soprano shout:
of how the EARTH shall be made one BROTHERHOOD.
The brightness, all Shelleyan Italy, all good,
and Davy’s empirical science, in Shelley made stout
as imagined sweet sylphs may ascend on real swamp-vapor.
What a miracle, though, to hear song reinforce the verse-paper… 


        Translation from the French

A most impudent misuse of my mind;
arrogant, too, to presume to reword
the expert translator’s rendition, to find
excuse to recalibrate, in blurred,
dulled verbiage, great C.F. MacIntyre.
Rehandling a master’s most deft, swift French-
into-English, twiddling his stove-dial for fire.
As if he left faults anywhere to retrench!
Yes, I have only one tongue to tune;
mere commonsense leaves the translator intact:
his own Corbière, his Verlaine, his Rimbaud.
I learn, though, as much as I lean on spoonfuls
he alone can dole out like fact
made good medicine; as he dictates, so I flow.
Though I spy a stiltedness, for all his lilts,
something to lightly resize, reshape,
monolingual, my measure far short by his tape,
I remember Yeats’ thoughts on the uses of stilts…


Sleep on in love, cunning blacksmith of cicadas!
There in susurrusing waves of sawgrass,
the cicada will aim his song-arrow of rasp,
joyous, his shrill finger-cymbals in cadence.
The matin comes on as the dewpoint will weep,
and the Mayday blooms wind up a pretty gravesheet.
Sleep on in love, cunning blacksmith of cicadas!
Weeping in bird-squadrons, blusters will sweep…
Here the white Muse of the Nose-Hole will stay;
forever to your blackened mouth she’ll convey
the rhymes that make bone-marrow shrivel and pale…
Sleep on in love, cunning blacksmith of cicadas!

—Tristan Corbière (translation by C.F. MacIntyre, rehandled by T.G.)


The dark’s coming on, child, the stealer of sparks!
The nights are no more, the days are no more;
sleep…and await all the ones who contend
Forever! and those who retort Now’s the end…!
Do your ears catch their footfall? Not heavy, no:
Oh, the light feet! Love, clear up to the wings!
The dark’s coming on, child, the stealer of sparks!
Do your ears catch their voice? All graves are deaf.
Sleep: they weigh nothing much, your immortelles:
those others won’t come anytime, your friends the bears,
to toss chunks of pavement at your demoiselles:
The dark’s coming on, child, the stealer of sparks!

—Tristan Corbière (translation by C.F. MacIntyre, rehandled by T.G.)


When you robbed me of power to speak up,
I knew you’d crossed my blood-brain barrier
as hypodermics or a strange potion cup
could never do. Your vintage Harrier
made intravenous jump-jet takeoff lift:
your face, your hands, your voice ascended straight
into my cranial life. Your deep red gift
then strained directly down to permeate
my sanguinary empire. So suffused
was I, when you spoke soft impulsive words
I ached to speak but might have uttered blood.
By what flight path might I arrive, leave stirred
your limbs and veins with pain and bliss confused;
what speaking tongue ignites a young red flood?


Today’s LittleNip:

Who wants to become a writer? And why? Because it’s the answer to everything. … It’s the streaming reason for living. To note, to pin down, to build up, to create, to be astonished at nothing, to cherish the oddities, to let nothing go down the drain, to make something, to make a great flower out of life, even if it’s a cactus.

—Enid Bagnold


—Medusa, with thanks to Tom Goff for today’s fine poetry! Tom will be reading with his wife, the exotic Latvian poet Nora Staklis, as part of the Speak Up series at Avid Reader in Sacramento next Thursday, May 25 (a week from tomorrow), 7-8:30pm. Tom and Nora will be joining other poets and storytellers on the theme, I Quit. Scroll down to the blue column (under the green column at the right) for info about this and other upcoming poetry events in our area—and note that more may be added at the last minute.

 Celebrate poetry, and those poets who have passed. 
For more about Pinwheels for Peace, go to 

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