Poetry from dialogue magazine
published in dialogue
Dialogue 1986, Vol. 1, No. 1, p. 9
|Tragedy is not when the sky falls|
when the day is done
and there is no love
when the sun won’t set
I look at children
and I weep
They are just children
and there is too much in this universe
not to weep
My tears are flames
I am going, I am going
I am in the cathedral
I am at dusk
I am spilling at dawn
I am burnt now
and beauty comes
And it is molten
and it is soft
and it is His
The universe is intimate
Dialogue 1986, Vol. 1, No. 3, p. 15
These Indo-European people, all together, weaving myths.
In the Caucuses on a plain, east of the Caspian on the shore,
moving back and forth, forth and back
to the drum of the seasons,
to cowbells and the bleating of sheep.
Who are these people talking to each other,
making their sounds only together,
One day in their cities, huge cities with so many swirling figures,
with axles, electrons. One day as you look are they gone?
The cities rise in collective conquest, pointing might at the sky,
and everything is silent but the wind and all those buildings and the rain.
A hubcap singly clabbers like a dying top.
You look up from a window.
You look up, you see me, but you can not. I vanish.
I am gone like the others, or am present with them (We are together, I mean).
You are afraid.
All these people who don’t know one another, appearing and disappearing together.
We have broken our sounds in splinters.
You look up. It is raining.
You look up, it is not.
The buildings look up, they never disappear,
pointing their massive fingers to the sun.
I look up. A womb is opening with the day.
I look up. Blue dirt is filling up the last crack of yellow in our grave.
The blue dirt makes the tiny thuds of twilight, the plinks of history,
the dark blue sounds of the soul,
the tinkling of anklebells on cowherds.
A people conceived in a lump of blueness.
And there are peoples on the edge of darkness,
other people, other sounds.
Everywhere there are peoples and we are disappearing, all of us, together,
and I am you are afraid.
Flotsam, meaning, petals, slivers, sand,
sounds, in a turbid rapids rushing toward the mouth:
We have but words to bargain for our bones.
By L.B. Chase
Dialogue 1986, Vol. 1, No. 3, p. 27
|I get my shoe shined|
in a train station,
watch the sets of lights
pass through each other:
rocketing tobacco lights
and the sound
not to mention voices
but the sound of many shoes’
fabrics, steps more unique
than sifting snowflakes,
if I close my eyes it could be
the ticking of ten-thousand watches;
I listen to feet sweeping around the faces
grouping and parting with genetic efficiency
and my niece’s questions about older people:
being alone together, when they kiss,
she asks: when their eyes close
what are they thinking about?
why do they close their eyes?
The newspaper leaves its greatest trace on my fingers,
the printer’s ink must be very cheap, she says.
In the train station
I give an occasional nod
a look, indicate this or that
to my other relations.
I feel like a polishing cloth,
though given a choice
I would rather be a train,
but there is no difference: I pick up the questions
I drop off the answers;
my brother’s daughter is listening
for steps that will come for her
from that forest of cranking legs,
“given a change of scene,” she says:
“I would rather be a constellation,
watch the starships passing through.”
By Aḥmad Shamlu
Translated by Naim Nabili and Frank Lewis
Dialogue 1987, Vol. 1, No 4, p. 42
A SLIPPERY EVENING
Beyond the borders of your body, I love you.|
Give me the mirrors and the yearning moths,
the light and the wine.
Give me the tall sky and the hanging bow of the bridge,
the birds and the rainbow.
Play that last melody
in the same mode
Beyond the borders of my body
I love you.
In that far-off distance
where the ability of
limbs comes to an end
and the flame and the fervor of heartbeats and desires
and all meaning abandons the shell of words
just as a soul does the body
at the end of a journey
leaving it to the onslaught of the vultures of end.
Beyond the limits of love
I love you
Beyond veils and color
Beyond the limits
of our bodies
promise to meet me.
By Susan Pershing
Dialogue 1987, Vol. 1, No 4, p. 43
MY FATHER IS DYING
I suddenly tear myself away from|
the horde of Christmas shoppers
and bolt into the street
like some angry, hassled mare
and I can hear your footsteps
coming after me
and I feel frightened, terrified
that you'll catch me
and equally terrified that you won't.
You begin to yell, “Hey, what's the
matter with you?!”
And I keep lunging forward,
a chameleon of emotion.
I want to stop in front of the dancing animals,
all prances and smiles,
and begin my harangue on how
you never take me seriously
but my feet thrust onward as if
they had a mind of their own.
What matters are my long, striding legs
and the cool, refreshing snow upon my face.
By Gretchen Sousa
Dialogue 1987, Vol. 2, No. 1, p. 35
Thin as a distant kite|
in a gathering sky,
my father is dying
though his heart beats on
as if it had all day, as if
no one had mentioned the fact.
His eyes are wide with the knowledge
because already he has lost
which dangle and trail about him
like fragile arms and hands
that have no body
His eyes drown
in the unfamiliar landscape
of the present,
unable to decipher
what has gone before
or what will come,
as isolated in the present moment
as a fish on the end of a spear.
all we use to bind us
to the earth:
the ears, the eyes,
the grasping hands,
he cracks his jokes
like gleeful knuckles
forgetting to complain.
My father tiptoes now
as if he had no right
to put his foot down.
When we go through the hall at night
I take his arm, a sparrow’s
he walks solemnly
as down an aisle
for giving me away.
It’s you I must give away, Dad,
whose hold, so tenuous—
a silken thread that, with a small tug
snaps and you, with outstretched arms
soar out of sight.
By Gretchen Sousa
Dialogue 1987, Vol. 2, No. 1, p. 35
Some say the sickness is in things,|
progeny of machines: cars,
television sets, computer games;
the botany of ersatz lives
that die and never relax into dust.
Or the poisonous excrement of concrete plants
backed up in ocean and earth
that seeps into graves, bones and blood.
The lost sanctity of winding roads,
straightened and paved.
The sybaritic age, salt sowing,
glissading from change to change.
Januarys have never been so fragile.
Some mornings I awaken with dread,
the thud of tires in my stomach
as if I had driven too fast in my dream
and run over a child.
Those irreparable things we do in the day
that deepen our nights.
One day I understand why some people
cup their lives in their hands
and blow them out,
unable to bear the shadows
cast on the stairs they climb.
By Bruce Wells
Dialogue 1988, Vol. 2, Nos. 2 & 3, p. 33
O DESCARTES! PINEAPPLE
Will every artist see!
For to every eye revealed
Is perfect artistry
In a thousand silver slivers
Piercing a mountain canvas
At evening sunburst.
A fashioner! Forgiver!
Deliverer! — of rain
That touches children’s tongues,
You soothe dry eyes
And sting uplifted palms.
Praise! The maze will thrive
And joy will tumble down
The steep inclines
And roar across the valleys.
And the mountain gold
Will yield to tender green again.
Dialogue 1988, Vol. 2, Nos. 2 & 3, p. 41
O Descartes! Pineapple |
with its palm tree crown
and spiny diamond robe.
little beadlets arc out
and juice drenches your hands.
It glistens there on the cutting board
like wet fire on the ocean
You are Zeus:
swallow the pale nectar.
The little strands untie
on your tongue.
Pomegranates with their corpuscle lodes
pouring rubies from their vines,
Papaya and its sexual seeds
its seductive orange and red
as you open it,
Jackfruit like mango pumpkins
dripping from your chin
on the porch of a hut
just as water will
when the monsoons come,
with scarlet intoxication
in a skyblue bowl
on the wheat sands
slowly warming to the dawn
on the Baie des Anges.
your math has no proofs