samedi 4 juillet 2015

Grateful for Greece

Grateful Hellas / Theodoros Vryzakis
Η Ελλάς ευγνωμονούσα / Θεόδωρος Βρυζάκης, 1858

Greece never dies / Η Ελλάδα ποτέ δεν πεθαίνει





vendredi 3 juillet 2015

Trop de généraux


Le monde n'a pas de loi équitable
Le monde n'a pas de loi toute humaine
Il y a ceux qui ont et pas par chance
Il y a ceux qui n'ont pas dans la balance

Nous essayons d'être vus desaparecidos
Nous crions dans le centre tout au mundo
Cet homme-là a un nom très célèbre
Il peut parler avec tous ces généraux

A ma télévision
Trop de généraux
Trop de ces cruels
Trop de guerriers

Nous ne voulons pas nous avalons
Nous ne voulons pas de la guerre
Nous réspirons la même air
La couleur des oranges sanguines

Mais ma gorge souvent trop silencieuse
Dans la peur de trop généraux
Je veux être libre de parler et de chanter
En face la guerre sans visage

J'avale la paix comme l'eau de vie
J'avale la paix et je prie
Je n'ai jamais prié comme aujourd'hui
Dans ce temps de guerre perpetuelle

Il a un nom très célèbre
et puis ces pas-de-quoi dans les rues
qui n'ont ni nom ni visage ni demeure
seulement un veston de printemps

Ces pas-de-quoi c'est nous nos frères
Et nos sœurs tous prisonniers
Pendus entre toutes ces guerres
Qui sera le prochain?

(poème écrit en 2003)


vendredi 19 juin 2015

Quatre résolutions


Carl Olof Larsson - Modèle écrivant une carte postale, 1906

pour mon amie Annie

Numéro un
éviter les vieux ivrognes
ceux qui balladent
de bar en bar
en prétendant vous aimer
mais secrètement essayant de
séduire la femme à coté
qui est plus belle que vous et plus riche
et qui va partir en Europe demain
peut-être lui attaché

Numéro deux
ne pas couper les cheveux
même si votre ex-mari insiste
et jamais assez courts
mais plus encore
tandis que votre autre ex-
les aimait longs et rouges
avec un rouge à lèvre coordiné
et vous faisiez poupée, koukla
et plus encore... pute

Numéro trois
être discipliné sans besoin d'un
autre pour vous discipliner
vous avez 58 ans
vous n'êtes pas enfant
alors dire oui ou dire non
mais sachez que c'est votre propre choix
à prendre tout seul
et oui avec toutes ses conséquences
mais voilà la liberté

Numéro quatre
lire et lire sans cesse
car il y a tant de belles choses à
découvrir dans les livres
et ça va vous inspirer
et vous écrirez
et ces mots feront votre bonheur
jusqu'à la fin
vous ne vous abandonnerez pas
votre vie renouvelée vous attend
dans votre chambre


mercredi 10 juin 2015

Regret


Frida Kahlo: Diego and I

In the rocket

ricocheting off my skin
that deeply held regret
missing missing missing
one's ancient homeland
or our hands clasping
or throwing oneself into
the Aegean laughing
all of it, shit...
it's got to stop.

My heart keeps
opening up like a
surgical wound and
no amount of peroxide
no amount of time
is healing it.
It wasn't enough
to slam you to the floor
and send you packing:
the need for you
goes on and on
like hunger
like greed
like the opposite of mercy.

I'm a condemned woman
I condemn myself
and I bleed
perpetual regret:
it's folly.
You're gone and
I know it.
I must forgive myself
forgive you
forgive everything.

vendredi 5 juin 2015

Poem published in new book about Bashung

Today I received my copy of Bashung, chroniques intimes by the cousin of Alain Bashung and sister of my heart, Evelyne Kesselring Ravidat. Among the striking photos of Alain's childhood, illustrations by Ethel Ravidat, explications of texts in light of Bashung's history, and encounters with his fans, there is a chapter called "Laura". This is the story of my long, painful illness and the discovery of Alain's music from my couch in Oregon, specifically the album "L'imprudence"... Evelyne writes movingly and sensitively of this extraordinary period of my life, and the section concludes with my translation project after his death. Finally, my poem "Goût de citron" (Taste of Lemon) that I wrote for Alain in 2009 concludes the book, a great gift for which I will be forever grateful.

Aujourd'hui, j'ai reçu ma copie de Bashung, chroniques intimes par la cousine d'Alain Bashung et mon âme-sœur, Evelyne Kesselring Ravidat. Parmi des photos frappantes de la jeunesse d'Alain, des beaux dessins de Ethel Ravidat, des explications de textes basées sur l'histoire de Bashung, et des rencontres avec ses fans, il y a un chapitre intitulé "Laura". Ceci est l'histoire de ma longue maladie douleureuse et la découverte de la musique d'Alain de mon divan en Oregon, précisément l'album "L'imprudence"... Evelyne écrit avec délicatesse et émotion de cette période extraordinaire de ma vie, et la section se termine avec mon projet de traduction après sa mort. Enfin, mon poème "Goût de citron" que j'ai écrit pour Alain en 2009 conclut le livre, un beau cadeau pour lequel je resterai toujours reconnaissante.

Pour commander/To order: http://www.editionslilavril.fr/medias/images/bon-de-commande-bashung-chroniques-intimes.jpg

jeudi 21 mai 2015

Of Monsters and Men in PDX tonight


"Because nothing grows when it is dark ..."

lundi 11 mai 2015

The Loneliness of the Bilingual Poet



I cannot justify
why a single poem
speaks to me in
one language over another
but it does
choosing the flat American narrative
against the metaphysical French wave
a story of shock and awe
or those philosophical ponderings


All I know is when I'm done
the words sit on a fence like
crows against a landscape
until they heckle and jeckle me
into reading them aloud
and I read them as they are writ
in that godforsaken foreign language
droning on and on and on and on
until the whole room is numb


Then try to sweep it back to life
with rapid-fire translation
but it always fails because
there is none
and my heart is hit
with that hollow dart
and I again become
the dreaded stranger
of my endlessly lonely youth

mercredi 15 avril 2015

Sestina



Once upon me I was not afraid
when the sky opened her wings
and swallowed the seabirds
and I went tumbling in that great mouth
with birds, clouds and minions of the wind
all of us flailing together as one

I counted myself as one
who of nothing was afraid
no matter the storms that came rushing on the wind
and assailed the heart's sweet span of wings
regardless I would open my mouth
and speak the truth of the seabirds

And yet dear as they are those seabirds
inclining and declining like a swoop of one
it was chaos that formed in that sky's dark mouth
and in chaos how can one not be afraid
frantically fluttering one's broken wings
and losing the battle against that wind

Oh she howled that vicious wind
and tore the feathers of the seabirds
from their delicate and salt-laden wings
as down they fell one by one
too much in despair to be afraid
whilst fire exhaled from the demon's mouth

And from my own demented mouth
I cried out unto that cruel wind
Of you, devil, I will not be afraid
although my heart beats like the seabirds
for with them I shall rise as one
on God's great protective wings

And then to shelter under those wings
and in his truth-filled mouth
all innocents may sit as one
and look into the sea's harsh wind
to fish again with the diving seabirds
never to be hungry or afraid”

My prayer on wings I send with the wind
and I sing with the mouth of the seabirds
One love, one life, never afraid

jeudi 19 février 2015

Sea Pine


I can't see it
but I can smell it
drifting on the wind
pine sap and dark brown honey
all wood perfume like deep forest
striking my yellow jacket heart
autumnal like dying leaves 
or those helicopter seeds
yet this is not leaves or seeds
but Mediterranean ambrosia.
In front of infinite turquoise
roaring with siren song
I'm searching every branch
marching miles of seawall
gypsy parks and empty tavernas
my eyes desperate to find it
to know its form, name its name
bottle it and take it home
as a memento of this moment
of my great love for Greece
to wear it on my pulse points
and grieve for years
what will never be mine again
what was always transient and ephemeral
like the scent of sea pine in November.

mardi 17 février 2015

Black Sun--Death Cab for Cutie

"There is grace within forgiveness
But it's so hard for me to find ..."


lundi 16 février 2015

I Used to Stay Alive for You, Now I Stay Alive for Me

All those years on a couch
in constant pain
often barely able to raise up
and make it to the bathroom
I thought about how
you'd never understand
if I had to leave my body
that vertiginous entity over which
I had no control except to kill 
but could not because
I didn't want to leave you
with any doubts about
how much I loved you
or how much you loved me
so I fought for 16 years
although it seemed unbelievable
that God or anyone else
could leave me like that...

So I lived for you all those years
because it seemed I owed you that
since it was no longer my mind
that was the weak link
but my body...

Now that I am well
and you will not speak to me
blaming me for the things
that were out of my hands
during your childhood
when doctors fed me antipsychotics
antidepressants and neuroleptics
and told me that my own
brain chemistry was at fault 
that I would never be well
without those toxic cocktails
and how could I know better
I who was grieving more
than you will ever comprehend?
If they had only asked me
"What are you grieving for?"
I might have told them...

Now that I am living for myself
and celebrating a new life
standing on my own two feet
and recovering from all forms
of addiction and codependency
I am proud of myself
and I am happy.

mardi 13 janvier 2015

Miami, Miami, 1974

for Luis Cataldo

If I ran into you
after all these years
If I ran like I ran
then, running now
from your goodness
I was too young
to know what was
good for me
the way your eyes
sparkled when you
talked to me
the way you held me
when we slept
the way you loved sex
the way you came home
from your cooking job
just to make me
Puerto Rican ink and rice
the way you made me laugh
the way you avoided cockroaches
the way you played the sax
I understood none of it at 17
I was just sad and angry
I wanted to hide in the dark
and eat Sara Lee cheesecake
I could barely talk
It was my first psychosis
You even moved the furniture
when I said you could stay
but only in half the apartment
and after you set it all up
the way I wanted
the couch as a barrier
I told you to get out
to just get out
and you left
taking your music and your smiles
to another homeland

I met your daughter
yesterday on facebook
She is a lovely girl and talented
She told me you have six children
two who still live with you in Zion
and blessings upon you
you are still blowing that sax
playing backup to her vocals
ever supportive, ever sweet
a lover for all seasons
a man you would be proud
to have known


Miss Florida, Delta Burke, 1974:






jeudi 8 janvier 2015

Je suis Charlie



Je suis Charlie, toujours Charlie, je vivrai toujours.



 


mercredi 24 décembre 2014

Letter to Santa


Dear Santa, where have you been all my life? I have a picture of you with my little brother Paul when he was two years old, then four. He was so adorable, blond hair with straight-across bangs, lips pursed tightly together. I even named my own son after him. My brother is now a captain for Southwest Airlines. Perhaps he'll fly over Alaska again and put out fires...

Santa, if you live, will you deliver my brother and my sons home to me for Christmas? I've got a fire burning in the heartland of my heart, I've got tons of love and forgiveness and goodwill towards men and women, I've got poems galore to welcome in the New Year. Now all I need are my two Pauls, a Joseph, and the pitter-patter of little hooflets on my rooftop and the year will be complete.

Oh dear Santa, I got my two front teeth in Greece, I got a little studio in Gresham, Oregon last December, I've got many friends. But, oh Santa, can't you bring back my family? I'm praying, I'm hoping, I'm full of fatalistic hope. I can't help myself: it's all I've got left.

Merry Christmas and Happy New Year to everyone. xoxoxooxox

mardi 4 novembre 2014

Fée


"Midsummer Eve" by Edward Robert Hughes

If I follow her light
will I find myself in a forest
birch and brattle
fern and folly?

She turns quickly in the air
shining her smile on me
then disappears
in a wisp of willow.

Does she beckon or taunt
letting me know
she is uncatchable?

Ay ay ay!
I chase like Diana
after the wild deer.

She is something
to be desired but
never possessed.

samedi 25 octobre 2014

Untitled

(a draft from a few years ago...)

zoot anon
i'm caught between then and now
and not an arthritic knuckle
but real angst and repression

seeds of revolution

true enough
i'm selfish
i'm a shellfish allergic to myself
decidedly blanched and strung out

petrified artifact

café noir
i can't wake up
my eyelids are strung with
cat gut and threads of lilac

ritual abuse

tonight the moon
and then mars and venus
the brilliant orbs remind me
how far i am from you

pornographic magazine

if i could speak
i'd scream
i'd read all the names i call you
when you are not around

sniffing bloodhounds

i'd be revealed
among fiery demons
and all your sacred vows
would not count anymore

absolve yourself

i'd drown
in your open hands
i'd flounder like salmon
when they reach bonneville dam

forgetting goodness

lundi 20 octobre 2014

Nothing Is True Fantasy


I didn't wake up this morning. The sky remained a deep black hole in my consciousness, taking into itself all the matter at hand and out of hand. The moon rose and set, moving through its phases in a fit of broken rem sleep... I jerked from left to right, sat up, went rigid, fell out bed, slept on the floor, walked to the bathroom, peed in my sleep.



Though what struck me was the lack of birdsong... where did they go, those early morning harbingers, calling light from darkness? Then again, where did the morning go, tumbling down a hill, out of control, head over toe over and over: morning, not morning, full, half, quarter. Nothing was relevant, nothing was certain.



Time was warped and speeded up, and all the creatures great and small couldn't hold on. I was sending them on a dream voyage, on an electric ship, far away from the known and the half-known, from grand theories to the waking life where dream and reality intermix and produce orphan children. There was one of every age of me in the layers of time, every second of my life bumping up against another... I felt like Stanley Kubrick and Keir Dullea, making a psychedelic movie.



At the center of it all, an exploding sun, the great and final flare, an eclipsed God and a universal law. Everything must end. I didn't wake up this morning, and neither did you.

lundi 6 octobre 2014

Last Laugh


Octobre
Mille neuf cent quatre-vingt sept
je ne savais rien
auparavant ou encore


Je me suis mariée
avec un oeuf
dur à cuire
qui m'a promis la lune

Il m'a dit
"Je veux une famille
Laisse-moi t'aider
avec toutes tes tâches"

Et je me suis fondue
le blanc avec le jaune
J'avais besoin d'assistance
avec mes deux enfants

Alors il a prit
sa bicyclette et conduit
jusqu'à la montagne
et il est rentré plat

Et tout son argent
(et le mien aussi)
est gaspillé pour des discus
dans un bel aquarium

Ils sont tous mort un jour
quand il a mélangé les eaux
avec un grand cuillère
en bois

Aujourd'hui je peux rire
mais à cet époque
j'ai craqué dans une chambre
d'un hôpital mental

Ah la vie est comédie
rira bien qui rira le dernier
Ah la vie est absurdité
mais je veux survivre

lundi 8 septembre 2014

Moineau's September Song

snowy cheer
hot toddies
white white hope
with bells pealing
an exchange of gifts
with St Nicholas
it's all cheap tyranny--

green buds
so what
then orange blossoms
a maypole
for the peasant
girls and boys
let them have it--

beauty queens on
red beaches
burning in the sun
jellyfish mob the shoreline
just give me an espresso
a big shady oak
and leave me alone--

but in September
en septembre
to septemvrios
when I have to dig deep
under the cover of
new darkness
under the changing colors

when everything
is dying
when everything
has given up and
given in
to rain and worms
and the end of poems

when the mistral
whips through Provence
and drives the locals
mad with sound
when olives ripen and rot
and birds scatter
in great wave patterns

there you will find me
unearthing my heart
resurrecting my great body
and then flying
starting over
one more time
ad infinitum



mardi 26 août 2014

lonely with, lonely without

if only you were here
i would pull you inside me
as easily as a breath
and then i would exhale

jasmine descends
from the vines overhead
late in the summer
it is overly pungent

i watch i soferina
and fall in love with
aliki vougiouglaki
how silly of me 

lonely with you
lonely without you
what i thought i had
was an illusion

as i sleep you are
passing through the
streets of lamia
searching for almonds

when i wake it will be 
your turn to dream
crossing the threshold
of unfulfilled desire

 

mardi 12 août 2014

jeudi 7 août 2014

Wormwood


10,000 lightyears later
and I'm still sucked down into
the wormhole of your hatred.
I will not grab that silver thread
winding from the exalted place
you claim to be your birthright:
Your narrative doesn't wash
and the food you eat is poison.

mardi 5 août 2014

Calling Margaret

Just before dawn on August 4, 2014, a cool breeze blew through the house. It brushed across the sheets, ruffled your hair, but did not wake you. It spoke into your ear, calling your name: "Margaret, Margaret, God loves you."

You smiled in your sleep; the fear you felt the day before subsided and your face relaxed. Yes you loved them, all of them, with the kind of love that only saints know, unconditional, infinite. That love would never die.

A door opened up in the corner of the room, as you big as you needed. You blew a kiss to your family, to all humanity, and ascended. In the morning, they found your body but you were gone.



mardi 29 juillet 2014

The Echoes

Frank Howell - New Mexico Echo


With even one glance
at the Ecstatic,
we swear we will do anything,
anything at all
to keep it.
In that moment,
we do not lie:
The Ecstatic projects itself forward
like an echo,
and all we see before us is
the Ecstatic, the Ecstatic, the Ecstatic,
the Most Beautiful,
the Most Compassionate,
Beyond Joy and Sadness,
Supreme Peace,
Absolute Consciousness.
Yet like every echo,
this one fades too
from our failing eyes,
our distracted ears,
our feeble, fickle hearts,
and though we've pledged all actions,
we cannot deliver:
No one can sustain that vision
and not go insane,
and thus are we left with the echoes,
with our humanness.

mardi 15 juillet 2014

"I'm flying!"

Pieter Pauwel Rubens: The Fall of Icarus

Long fall into this poem
I've been slipping and sliding so long
it feels like home
Dignity is no longer an option
No I must laugh at myself
flailing my arms alongside Daedalus
then light up like the sun
and sparkle like the final flourish
on a Hammond B3
Ta-da-da-da-da-dah!
Here I come, darling
Fall or fly with me in this 
free-for-all of love

samedi 12 juillet 2014

I'll fight you with my mind

I don't have a muscle left
to fight you with
so I'll fight you with
my mind:
I'll renounce your
sweet nothings
in deference to
logical arguments
and though you already
think you've won
because you had a
superior education
corresponding skull size
and an ancient cave dwelling
from the younger Dryas
I've butted heads
with the best poets
and have loved them
amidst the rubble of
battered futures
I couldn't invest
but I've slept with them
and it was worth it

When the market crashed
I hitchhiked across an ocean
thinking I had escaped
but it was a mistake:
The market had not crashed
volcanic winter had not started
and flowers were still growing
out of American garbage
I returned and planted
seeds of self-love
and though I had
plenty of doubt
I chose to believe in myself
something you could not
do or give me
not a house above ground
In spite of your superior knowledge
in spite of your charts and graphs
and the vast undeniable
romance of Hellas
I had to come back
turn my back on everything
and begin again

I will have to remind myself
a thousand times before I'm done
I will have to exercise
my muscle mind
even as the jasmine blooms
even as the winter comes
even as the sun rises ...


Daphne by Hubert von Herkomer

dimanche 6 juillet 2014

The End of Everything

Frederic Leighton: The Fisherman and the Siren

I left my glasses
on a bench
next to the Mediterranean:
I haven't been able
to see anything since.
I was blinded by
orange blooms,
blazing turquoise,
white morning light
breaking on mountains,
village songs,
Macedonian dances,
and your hands
all over my body.
I will never recover;
I will never see again.
My heart is a broken drum
on a broken sea floor,
the spoils of an internal war
and the end of everything.

Never give yourself away
to the Mediterranean.
Never do it.
Afterward, nothing else exists.



vendredi 27 juin 2014

Dans le jardin


Toujours ces clés d'antiquité
Les pleurs viennent
on ne peut pas les empêcher
Les reines fières
souriantes en masques d'albâtre
leurs robes longues, les cheveux serrés
Mais leurs filles sont nues
chassées, emportées, violées
par les dieux et les fils de dieux 
en formes d'animaux


let it go

the broken places in me
move in and out of french,
icelandic, greek and italian
sometimes it's better
not to know the language
but how my curious mind
wants to know, wants to relive
wants the pain to wash over
it never cleanses, never relieves
just replenishes
it the curse of memory
the human gift
and it's viscious

samedi 14 juin 2014

Hospital Visit

originally written in June, 2009

he's asleep in the

northwest corner of the room
we knock softly, calling out
his name... nothing but silence
there's one old man in pyjamas
sleeping soundly, the third
bed is empty, it is neatly made
with hospital corners, i wonder
about the man that was in it

we said 6, it is 7:30
we enter tentatively, not wanting
to take him by surprise and
round the drawn white curtain
he's sitting up on piled-up pillows
i notice his hair is all gray, what
remains of it after the treatments
it looks soft and thin, and i see that
he's lost weight since last week

he wakes, opening his right
eye––the left is paralyzed––and
he's surprised to see us, "oh, hi,"
and then, "they're trying a new pill"
"what kind?" i ask. "chemo..."
the first thing he does is
bring out fading pictures from the
50s, there's a photo of him at
thirteen, round and handsome
i go to the desk and ask for a xerox

we bring out the book we
bought on the story of the
coast guard, and figure out
where we last left off
we joke about the coastie motto:
"you have to go out but you
don't have to come back"
and then read about katrina

he sinks back into his
pillows, nodding out to the
monotony of my voice