Liveforever

by Robin Blaser

‘Where is Abraham buried?’ you ask. Well, in the Kabbalah, God has a terrible time getting Abraham to agree to die. In the Zohar, where Abraham is initiate and David calls God by the name ‘Midnight,’ the splendour is woven in the energies of the Hebrew alphabet, a creation in language that is never still. Now, looking at the three religions of Abraham – Hebrew, Christian, and Muslim – I would say that Abraham, though very much changed since 1700 BCE, is not dead. There’s only so much that a post-Catholic, polytheist exodic can say just now.

for Samuel Truitt
August 1996

from Correspondences / The wet earth

by Anne Michaels

The wet earth. I did not imagine
your death would reconcile me with
language, did not imagine soil
clinging to the page, black type
like birds on a stone sky. That your soul – yes,
I use that word – beautiful,
could saturate the bitterness from even
that fate, not of love
but its opposite, all concealed
in a reversal of longing.

In Praise of the Healer

by Sandra Ridley

Wet by the shallows – our willow.

 

 

 

You do not cry because you cannot. I will not cry because you do not.

 

 

 

You give my hands the weight of your body.

 

Rest in me.

 

What I mean is this is where I choose to die.

 

The Ugly

by John Glenday

I love you as I love the Hatchetfish,
the Allmouth, the Angler,
the Sawbelly and Wolf-eel,
the Stoplight Loosejaw, the Fangtooth;

all our sweet bathypelagic ones,
and especially those too terrible or sly
even for Latin names; who staple
their menfolk to the vagina’s hide

like scorched purses, stiff with seed;
whom God built to trawl
endless cathedrals of darkness,
their bland eyes gaping like sores;

who would choke down hunger itself,
had it pith and gristle enough;
who carry on their foreheads
the trembling light of the world.

Car Dealership at 3 A.M.

by Alan Shapiro

Over the lot a sodium aura
within which
above the new cars sprays
of denser many-colored brightnesses
are rising and falling in a time lapse
of a luminous and ghostly
garden forever flourishing
up out of its own decay.

The cars, meanwhile, modest as angels
or like angelic
hoplites, are arrayed
in rows, obedient to orders
they bear no trace of,
their bodies taintless, at attention,
serving the sheen they bear,
the glittering they are,
the sourceless dazzle
that the showcase window
that the showroom floor
weeps for
when it isn’t there –

like patent leather, even the black wheels shine.

Here is the intense
amnesia of the just now
at last no longer longing
in a flowering of lights
beyond which
one by one, haphazardly
the dented, the rusted-through,
metallic Eves and Adams
hurry past, as if ashamed,
their dull beams averted,
low in the historical dark they disappear into.

Come Back

by Eiléan Ní Chuilleanáin

Although there is no paper yet, no ink
There is already the hand
That moves, needing to write
Words never shouted from balconies of rock
Into the concave hills
To one far away, whose hair
On a collarbone resembles
That break in the dunes, that tufted ridge
He must have passed, faring away.

If the railway does not exist yet, there is, even
Now, a nostril to recognize
The smells of fatigue and arrival,
An ear cocked for the slow beginning,
Deliberated, of movement, wheels rolling.

If the telephone has not been invented
By anyone, still the woman in the scratchy shirt,
Strapped to her bed, on a dark evening,
With rain beginning outside, is sending
Impulses that sound and stop and ask
Again and again for help, from the one
Who is far away, slowly
Beginning her day’s work,
Or, perhaps, from one already in his grave.

January

by Hoa Nguyen

January long light
Janus     I see you
God of locks and doorways

two-faced looking in Capricorn
Capricious like the snowy owl
      irruption

We fear heavy body collisions

January     time of doors
time looking back on itself
    God of gates

    spelt and salt

They say when you
walk through a door

you can forget what
   you came for

from Venus Velvet No. 2

by Gjertrud Schnackenberg

How could I turn and say: but this is him.
How could I say: he bounded when he walked.
How could I say: when he came home at night,
A gust of snowy air around his coat,
I drew him closer, holding his lapels;
He caught me by the wrists and closed his eyes.

How could I say I tried to memorize
The truthful face, his smile a truthful blaze
Untrammeled still. I tried to learn by heart
The light-brown gaze: unguarded chrysolite
From such another world that heaven made.
Left iris, with a comet-fleck of gold.
How could I memorize his gentle ways.
The way he mingled friendliness with passion,
Plain dealing, open-handed, unafraid.
The swift, reflexive generosity.

His striking conversation, magic ease
In seeking what the other could, then more,
In understanding, warmly understood;
A quest for truth but not certainty.

And the integrity I idolized:
Another’s mystery never trifled with.
No one was belittled in those eyes.

Nothing denied, held back, or kept apart.
And never lost his gentle ways with me.
And wanted power over no one else,
But master of his heart, and of himself,
A mind that never darkened, mastermind,
Fountain of pulsing energy at play,
Unshackled, unentangled, unconfined.

Beneath the reading light, his pillowed head
A crimson-outlined silhouette at night,
His profile marble-carved, noble, sun-warmed,
Even at night, in winter, ruddy-tinged.
Red-gold of Titian’s pigment-laden brush.

The red-lit aureate curving of his ear,
Warm-blooded velvet, made for lips to find.
I kissed his brow good night and felt the touch
Of lashes brush my chin before they closed.
Untroubled love. Unmarred. And quiet sleep,

His head a silken weight against my chest,
Velvet inner elbow, dangled foot,
Voluptuous surrender, unarmed Mars,
Even in sleep, composed. Even in sleep
Possessive of my hand. Still self-possessed.

Never again our idyll-nights of peace,
Never again to have him to myself.

from The Prodigal Son

by Spencer Reece

The bishop places a paperweight atop my reports on his desk,
our professional talk is measured by the silence of the dead
who are always flinging open their shutters,
religion being the work of the living and the dead,
the hope and release of children turning to their parents –
all that business in life that remains unrehearsed.

from Houses (Plural); Love (Singular)

by Chana Bloch and Chana Kronfeld, translating from the Hebrew by Yehuda Amichai

2
We lived in many houses and left remnants of memory
in every one of them: a newspaper, a book face-down, a crumpled map
of some faraway land, a forgotten toothbrush standing sentinel in a cup –
that too is a memorial candle, an eternal light.