my grandpa waz a doughboy from Carolina
the other a garveyite from Lakewood
i got talked to abt the race & achievement
bout color & propriety/
nobody spoke to me about the moon

daddy talked abt music & mama bout christians
my sisters/ we
always talked & talked
there waz never quiet
trees were status symbols

i’ve taken to fog/
the moon still surprisin me

– Ntozake Shange. senses of heritage

_

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the long hooked poles
know the nooks and crannies
find flaws in stonework
or grappling with granite
ignite a flutter
of unexpected pigeons
and the boat is jockeyed away from
the landing

after a pair of knees
has shot up and streaked
down the mast after
the confusion of hands about
the rigging

an off-white miracle

the sail
            spreads

______________________

because a sailor waved
                                        back
to a boy

        another boy
waves to another sailor

in the clarity of air
the gesture withers for want
of correspondence and
the hand that returns to him
the hand his knee accepts
as his own
                is the hand
of an aged person
                             a hand
that must remain patient
and give the boy it’s a part of
time
               to catch up

frozen in a suit the foreman
self-conscious beside
his more self-conscious spouse
finds illegible the palm that opens
demandingly before him

the mould of his hands
broken about his right knee
he reaches for a plastic wallet
he pays the fares

along the rim of the boat
lightly the man rests his arm
without brushing against
his woman’s shoulder

                               gold
and sunlight
                      fight
for the possession of her throat
when she shifts
in the wooden seat

and the newly weds exchange
smiles for small profit

______________________

show me a foreman he says
to himself
              who knows
his centreless grinding
oilfired saltbath furnace better
than i do
              and swears
at the seagull
who invents
on the spur of the air
what is clearly the whitest inflection
known
           and what is
clearly for the seagull
over and above the waves
a matter of course

______________________

the speedboat swerves off
leaving behind a divergence of sea
and the whole harbour all
that floats must bear
the briny brunt
the sailboat
hurl its hulk over
burly rollers
surmounted soon in leaps
and bounds

a gull hitched on hump
the long trail toils on
bringing to every craft
a measure of imbalance
a jolt for a dinghy
a fillip to a schooner
a swagger to a ketch

and after the sea wall
scabby and vicious with shells
has scalped the surge
after the backwash
has reverted to the bulk of water
all things that float
resume
a normal vacillation

[…]

______________________

his wife has dismissed
the waves like a queen
a band of oiled acrobats

in her shuttered eyes
move in dark circles
they move against her will

winds
like the fingers
of an archaeologist
move across her stony face
and across the worn
edict of a smile
cut thereon

her husband in chains
is brought before her
he clanks and grovels

throw him to the wolves
she says
staring fixedly
at a hair in his right nostril.

a two-year-old renounces
his mother’s ear
and begins to cascade
down her person
rejecting her tattooed arm
denying her thighs
undaunted by her knees
and further down
her shanks
devolving
               he demands
                                    balloons
                                                   and balloons
from father to son
                             are handed
                             down

closer to keel than all
elders are
and down there
honoured among boots
chappals and bare feet
he goes into a huddle with
                                          the balloons
                                          coming to grips
with one
              being persuasive
with another
              and setting an example
              by punishing a third

______________________

two sisters
that came
last
when the boat
nearly started

seated side
by side
athwart
on a plank
have not
spoken

hands in lap
they have
been looking
past the boatman’s
profile

splicing
the wrinkles
of his saline
face

and loose ends
of the sea

[…]

______________________

the boat courses around
to sidle up
against the landing
the wall sweeps
by magisterially
superseding
the music man

an expanse of
unswerving stone
encrusted coarsely
with shells
admonishes our sight

–  Arun Kolatkar. The Boatride

_

 

His eyes did not close
When he saw the horns near,
But the terrible mothers
Lifted their heads.
And across the ranches
Went a breath of secret voices
By which the herdsmen of the pallid mist
Called to their heavenly bulls.

– Federico García Lorca. excerpt from Lament for Ignacio Sanchez Mejias

translated by A. L. Lloyd

_

The table was turned to light. I lay
my head down like meat on a scale,
my soul throbbing on a thread.
I could see myself from above:
I would have been balanced
by a stout market weight.
                                                I lay
in the middle of the snowy shield
pocked along its western side,
in a circle of never-freezing swamps,
forests with fractured legs
and split-skulled railway stations,
their snowy pates blackened
over and again.
                            On that day,


the clocks stopped, souls of trains
no longer flew along lampless levies,
upon the gray fins of steam;
neither crow weddings nor snowstorms
nor thaws penetrated this limbo
where I lay in disgrace, naked,
in my own blood, outside the future’s
magnetic pull.


But then the wheel of blinding snow
shifted and began to turn on its axle,
and a wedge of seven planes flew low
over my head, turning back,
and gauze grew hard as tree bark
all over my body, and another’s
blood flowed into my veins, and
I breathed like a fish on sand,
swallowing the hard, mica-flecked,
cold and blessed air.


My lips were covered with sores, and also
I was fed by a spoon, and also
I could not remember my name,
but the language of King David came
alive on my tongue.
                                    And then
even the snow disappeared,
and early spring, rising on tiptoes,
draped her green scarf over the trees.

1964

– Arseny Tarkovsky. Field Hospital

translated by Philip Metres and Dimitri Psurtsev

_