Showing posts with label poems. Show all posts
Showing posts with label poems. Show all posts


The advantages of being a writer


You write
a house
and it’s there

You make it high
and square,
you place it
in Detroit

No, you move it
to Brooklyn

Realizing that
you have no
business there,
you move it
to Italy,
where you
currently are

You place
yourself in it,
you zoom in
one of it its

you are,

the creator
at work


You add
a desk, a screen,
a keyboard,

a computer,
a lamp,
the whirr of a
computer fan,
a rainy day

and the spike
of an event –
the slamming
of a door


The final act
is to erase
it all again

you are,

the destroyer
at work


You check
the spelling

– Johannes Beilharz (© 2013)

Originally published in The Best of Mad Swirl : 06.22.13

The photo shows part of the location the poem focuses on.


A pedestrian poem

It’s a pedestrian poem,
it walks on its feet,
someone in a shoe store
called them flat
but it keeps walking
and covering poetic
distances in
the dusty sun
of literary no man’s land.

It is what it is
and does what it does,
and if you listen
carefully, you will hear
the clop clop of its
broad-shoed feet
in the dry sunny dust
of literary no man’s land.

– Iself (© 2013)

More about pedestrian or clod-stuck poetry:
Clod-stuck poem invigorated
American Life in Poetry


Thomas Bernhard / Psalm


What I do is poorly done,
what I sing is badly sung,
therefore you have a right
to my hands
and to my voice.
I will work with all my strength.
The harvest shall be yours.
I will sing the song of peoples long gone.
I will sing my people.
I will love.
Even criminals!
Together with the criminals and the unprotected
I will found a new homeland –
Despite all this, what I do is poorly done,
what I sing is badly sung.
Therefore you have a right
to my hands
and to my voice.

Thomas Bernhard (1931-1989)

English Translation by Johannes Beilharz (© 2012)

Original found in Deutsche Lyrik / Gedichte seit 1945, edited by Horst Bingel, sonderreihe dtv, 1963. At the time this anthology was published, Thomas Bernhard had published three books and was not very well-known.


Love is a dark truck ...

Love is a dark truck.
Why does the hood work?

– Iself

Created with the help of the Poem Generator. I clicked on the Make Poem button about 6 times before anything vaguely useful popped out of the machine.

Yes, that is a serious question – why does the hood work? Or does it?


The Nosobeme

The nosobeme prances
on its quadruple nose.
Accompanying it dances
its child, also on four of those.

In Britannica it has no mention,
nor does it in Wikipedia.
It sprang from the invention
of my own private cyclopedia.

And thus the nosobeme does prance,
with child, as said before,
both doing their special dance
on noses galore.

– Felix Morgenstern (© 2012)

A rather free (and Internet-age) translation of Christian Morgenstern's poem Das Nasobem.


Animal witticism

So I say to my dog "sit!"
and he won't do it
but yawns

And I tell him
"So you think you've got wit?
But really

the only part of it
that you've got
is the nit."

– Felix Morgenstern (© 2012)

A much belated entry to Sunday Scribblings for wit.


Ode to the owner of an inkpot

Thank you, my love,
I forgive you not –
you gave me ink
in that old pot.
But on a cold day like this
it won’t make me hot.

– Felix Morgenstern (© 2011)

A demonstratively silly ditty upon instigation by One Single Impression.


An autumn poem by Max Dauthendey

The ravens scream their wounded cry;
of night and need they prophecy.
Frost has surrounded every door;
hunger’s dog barks out there for more.
We hold each other ever more tightly;
for sake of kissing we’ve spoken only lightly.
The larks have sung themselves to death,
and clouds have shooed summer with their breath.
Your head, cradled here in my arm,
no longer knows this earth ... without alarm.

– Max Dauthendey (1867-1918)

Translated from German by Johannes Beilharz.
English translation © by Johannes Beilharz 2011.
The German original of 1905 is here.


The words I don’t like poem

Why can’t I think of
any? It’s not that
they’re all the same
to me. But ever
since yesterday, when
I started thinking
the matter over,
I haven’t come up
with a single one.
Ok, so I don’t tend
to use four-letter
words that often
in poetic mode. (Real
life is different. I do
resort to expletives
regularly where
warranted. And those
warranted situations,
as you know, occur
all too often in
real life.) But now
I’m down here
in what has become
a much longer
poem than I’d
intended, and still
have not thought
of a single word
I hate. Let’s say
I’m like the
benevolent creator –
they’re all my
children – I must
love them all
whether they be
English, German,
Turkish, Malayalam,
Chinese or Urdu.

– Iself (© 2011)

Written for NaPoWriMo day 28. The task, you guessed it, was “to try writing poems using our least favorite words.”



No poem today
on Easter.

At least not so far.
I'm staying with my seester.

– Felix Morgenstern

Posted for NaPoWriMo day 24. The task would have been to "write a bouts-rimes. The bouts-rimes is a sort of poetic parlor game: you write a poem using the rhyming end words from another poem. They’re usually done with sonnets in English. So today I challenge you to write a bouts-rimes sonnet, using the end words from either K. Silem Mohammad’s poem You White White Teatime Teen, which was itself constructed anagrammatically from Shakespeare’s Sonnet VI, or from Robert Frost’s The Silken Tent. So your end words are either:
rage, doom, age, tomb, sighs, breast, thighs, west, mad, blues, plaid, shoes, fail, mail
tent, breeze, relent, ease, pole, heavenward, soul, cord, bound, thought, round, taught, air, aware."
This did not inspire me at all. I read both poems quickly, but neither did anything for me.
As the above silly ditty says, I was at my sister's place in the country for Easter, and I only had time to go online briefly in the morning.

PS: The following transpired after all...

Sonnet written in an hour of poetic darkness

As after midnight I rage,
I feel only doom,
and my age
appears close to the tomb.

Thick sighs
alight from my breast,
not thighs,
you idiot off there in the west.

Call me mad,
give me the blues,
wear preppy plaid,
step on my shoes –

whatever you do, you'll definitely fail
to get any more of my mail.


Not having the atomic pie but selling it

Nuclear power plants are oh so bad
is what German politicians suddenly said
after the Fukushima event in Japan.
But are they bad enough to ban
German exports of such plants
to people in other lands?

– Felix Morgenstern (© 2011)

Written as the requested short, satirical poem for NaPoWriMo day 23. Some of the rhymes limp, but what’s a little poetic stumble compared to the big tumble of some nuclear power plants?


What he needed from me I have no idea

The places cats won't go. The climbing out onto the banks. The naked man
in the glaring white gap

Hot black dunes in the air—we slept
the chill of closed eyelids,
not April and the magnolias

The trick is to make it personal:
let silence drill its hole,
sleepily indifferent

– Johannes Beilharz

Collated for NaPoWriMo day 22. The task was to participate in the cento contest organized by Danielle Pafunda (who has been posting her NaPoems over at the Bloof Books website). What’s a cento? It’s a poem composed entirely of lines from other poems.
The above poem is composed entirely of lines tweeted today by Danielle through the twitter feed of the Academy of American Poets.
The authors of the lines I chose are, in the sequence of the appearance of the lines: Anne Carson Nox, Catie Rosemurgy, Medbh McGuckian, Henri Cole, Marina Tsvetaeva, James Schuyler, Khaled Mattawa, Daniel Johnson, William Carlos Williams


Celebrity spotlight & other exiles

For you

“Everything that happens is for the best,”
you said on the way from work last week,
and when I read “I thought of you
with the passion of exile”* this morning
while taking the day's initial piss this
was therefore probably also for the best,
as well as reading my horoscope,
which was asking me if I'd thought
of living in another country, preferably
one where the action is in my field,
instead of going dry in the desert.
Add to that the advertisement for
Catherine Zeta Jones' treatise on a
disorder that is “characterized by
high and low moods” and the
recognition that I also must have
this, except that I used to think
it was fairly normal, it all falls
into place, don't it. Sometimes
I have an inkling that I need to take
life in my own hands instead of
standing by and letting it happen.
But what could I do, about you,
for example, other than exile myself?
“Everything that happens is for
the worst,” it could also be said,
because you can't really tell
the best from the worst, can you,
once it’s happened.

– Iself (© 2011)

Written for NaPoWriMo day 20 along the lines of “Today’s challenge is to write a poem inspired by something you’ve overheard.”
*I've slightly misquoted this. In The Return of the Soldier by Rebecca West, a novel from 1918 which I've been reading for the last two weeks, it actually says “I thought of him with the passion of exile.”
And the title, where did that come from? From this:


Profile of my best friend

He goes out,
drinks with his buddies,
but never gets wasted.

He falls in love regularly
with complicated women
who somehow like him
but never enough.

He works because
he needs the money.
Work gives him structure.

Occasionally he even works well
because he takes pride in what he does.

He expects this to go on and on
until death do him part.

– Iself (© 2011)

Written for NaPoWriMo day 18. The idea was to do a portrait of someone, which I did.


A dream

For P.

A bad dream arisen
from distortion,
not quite the truth,
having been left
with incorrect
impressions not
corrected on
purpose. It took
on surprising
proportions as a
animal assaulting
me, like Tipu
Sultan’s tiger
the English soldier.
Such fierceness
my feelings must
have. Perhaps
not for you.
About you –
about you and me,
about being goaded
and lied to.

– Iself (© 2011)

Written for NaPoWriMo, day 17. Actually, today's task would have been to reduce a passage from Annie Dillard’s The Writing Life, but I could not get into it, try as I might. (I tried 4 versions, calling them Curtain calls / Exercises in elimination and conversion.) But I still had the remnants of a dream to chew on, and they went into the poem above. Last night I found out, more or less by chance, that someone I care about has been dishonest with me, telling me things about herself that are not true, the greatest puzzle being the reason for this dishonesty.

Tippoos's Tiger – a life-size 18th century automaton on display at the Victoria and Albert Museum in London.


The Matapedia

What is it?
A road somewhere in Canada?

Shreds from a song
to form an inaccurate picture

"And we raced the Matapedia –
and we were not afraid"

But there is also an unexpected meeting
with room for ample speculation

"He said, 'Oh my God, it's Kate!'
'No, I'm the daughter of Kate.
My name is Martha.
Who are you?
Ma never told me about you.'"

And on they race the Matapedia,
with minutes to spare.

I imagine to board a ferry –
a ferry to somewhere or nowhere.

– Iself (© 2011)

Written for NaPoWrimo day 7 in response to the following: "Today’s prompt is one of musical ekphrasis. Ekphrastic poetry comments upon or is inspired by another work of art in a different medium. Most people think of it as a poem inspired by a painting or a sculpture. But it could also be music!"

Lest this remain too cryptic...
As pointed out by vivinfrance in her comment, the Matapedia is a river in Québec, Canada. I still think, however, that the song by Kate and Anna McGarrigle on the album of the same name I'm alluding to must refer to a road running along the river, but I could be wrong. I would assume that the Kate and Martha characters mentioned in the song are Kate McGarrigle and her daughter Martha Wainwright.

Here's a link to the song on Youtube:


The 2011 Francisco Cabrera Revolution

We almost missed the revolution.
– Paul Hughes
In a nightmarish café
(garish, gaudy lights,
smoke twirls, drone,
laughter, cackling)
in which I'd long given up
trying to listen to anyone
in particular, somebody
raised a glass and shouted
above the din, "Long live
the revolution!"

All I remember after that
is feeling guilty about not
knowing which revolution
this was about. But I did
not dare ask for fear of
appearing uninformed.

Which I am, about most
revolutions nowadays.

– Iself (© 2011)

Written for NaPoWriMo day 5.

The challenge today was to take another participant's poem and riff off of it. The one I riffed off of was one by Paul Hughes titled subway talk part ii (to be read here).


Time Waist

time waist time waist
time waist time waist
ime waist time wais
me waist time wai
e waist time wa
waist time
e waist time wa
me waist time wai
ime waist time wais
time waist time waist

 – Iself

A concrete poem for NaPoWriMo #4.

Not quite a 1-word poem (along the lines of Aram Saroyan's lighght, see NaPoWriMo blog), but the best I could come up with.



For L.

"There are three fields I work in,"
she said, "performance, video
and drawing." (Her father prompted
with proper suggestions to go on.)

"The performances are exhausting;
they all have to do with ropes,
climbing and descent. I'm not sure
whether they are Apollinian or

Dionysian, something else I have
been interested in. In one, I cut
a bowling alley in half, making holes
in the walls left and right at about

half height to hold the rings
for my rope. I went along towards
my audience, it was both strenuous
and exhilarating. Sometimes

I caught myself wanting to laugh:
what were all these people doing,
watching me with serious eyes
as I went along." Her father prompted,

"And one of your videos was..."
"... dancing along an ugly street
in funny yellow pants. I did many
iterations of this, varying my steps,

arm movements and behavior.
A friend of mine did the filming.
Mostly the people seemed per-
plexed, not knowing what to think

of this crazy person doing this,
making way, moving aside. Not
stopping." "Is there any money
in this?" somebody asked.

"In the videos? – I suppose
they could be sold. Or the drawings
I do – that's my third field
of activity." "And how do you

do them?" her father prompted.
"I make myself rules, I restrict
myself. One drawing might be
only boxes, for example, in only

five colors, but with other rules,
to increase complexity." "And
these you would sell, there is
a market for that?" her father said.

"There is a market, and, once
it has found you, it wants you
to repeat yourself. I could become
the colored box lady,

or the rope performer, or
the hip-hop dancer of dreary
streets, both Apollinian and
Dionysian." Thus ended Lou,

to soon perform an acte
morpheusien for a change.

– Iself (© 2011)

A freewheeling act for NaPoWriMo #3, concocted fresh from the lips of Lou herself last night.



That purple haze
finally appears to be lifting.
Jimi chords are coming closer,
the distortion is ebbing away.
Soon there will only be one sound left –
that of one clear, springy string.

– Iself (© 2011)

NaPoWriMo 2011 #1

Written based on the suggestion "Use a color as your title."
The color that immediately came to my mind was "hazy" – because I've been in a haze of sorts. And then, of course, it became clearer right away, because of Purple Haze.