Why this?

The occasional poem of my own and a generous helping of work by others that I find inspiring. Site is named for a beloved book by one of my favorite writers, Italo Calvino, whose fanciful work lights--and delights--my soul.

Sunday, November 28, 2010

Eternity

He who binds to himself a joy
Does the winged life destroy
He who kisses the joy as it flies
Lives in eternity's sunrise

--William Blake

(Hi from Reykjavik! --k10)

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Green Street Grill: First Date

During the silence
I look down at the table,
see our hands and the hook
of the umbrella's handle,
bent to form a question mark,
a set place to hold on to.
I turn away not wanting to notice
the frailness of collective fingers,
the unanimous pleas to be touched.
For one moment all four hands seem brilliant
as stones that live in sea water--
our wrists exposed, calling
like an empty beach.

It's over so quickly
I can't tell if you've seen
me watching, trying to decipher
if our hands could reach--
clasp themselves dangerously
inside each other.
Or should the palms' imbedded heart lines
vote against contact,
choose to remain uncharted,
resplendent as the separate bodies
at this restaurant tonight;
the umbrella swaying on the table's edge,
waiting to comply with the weather.

--Susan Rich

Seat Mate

I hate the way the inside of his nostrils twitch.
How they open wider as he leans forward,
holding the ice cream treat--his Its-It
in two plump swelling hands;
his short thick fingers curving to catch the drips.
He hunches his shoulders
and his square neck disappears--
all of his face falling deep into vanilla cream.
I am moved by my seat mate;
the way he flosses his teeth
in front of me. I'd like to
shoot this man, his veined and hairy
legs, his right arm exploding
over to my side of the seat.
I hear kissing noises
as he cleans his mouth with Listerine,
spits it into a paper cup.
He sports a stained multicolored jacket
on our flight from Boston to St. Paul.
How can I hate so readily
a man I don't even know?
Despise the elbow that jabs me regularly,
loathe the cloying way he keeps attempting conversation,
alternately talking to himself and then,
the video screen above our heads.
He wipes his mouth with a magazine,
seems to enjoy the friction it creates.
And by now I am fascinated with his ways.
How he pushes silver aviator glasses
up the slide of his nose. Hums as if
he's almost happy. And what is it he sees
sitting next to him? A woman in leather jacket
and jeans scratching notes in judgment of a stranger?
What does it mean to hate so readily? To burn with it?
The crumbs in his crotch, the bright pink skin,
a gold plated medallion and matching ring.
Is there any way to love
his body, to shift my shoulder on to the center
armrest, lean into his sleeve and say
"So where did you start today? Connecticut?
Vermont?" Our conversation would wander
until I could meet his gaze
unrevulsed. I'd smile into his blue-gray eyes,
touch his salt and pepper hair,
and put everything else behind us, clear away.
But I can't. Instead, I am silent as we cross
mountains, wheat fields, waterways. While Warren Beatty
tangos Annette Benning on some Technicolor island.
And when we de-plane I pray he's not headed for gate C3.
I move purposefully, knowing it is pitiful to be elated;
so pathetic to think I'm free.

--Susan Rich

The Scent of Gasoline

As a child I'd inhale deeply the scent of gasoline,
open the back seat window and lift my chin to the wind.

My life shone with petroleum products:
paint thinner, shoe polish, amber jars of shellac.

High test my father would order
and while we checked the mileage chart

fumes would enter our bodies, the lightness
burnishing our capillaries,

investing us with longing
for Rhode Island, Maine, Vermont.

For my birthday I asked for a sky blue bottle
of cologne, Eau de Esso;

but instead he brought me smoky gray glasses,
oven-ware plastic tubs, the limited time offer of nostalgia.

What I needed was a burning sense across my skin,
gas stains on my scarf.


In Gaza City, I found excuses
to frequent the "Gas Palace," the chrome pillars

rinsed in florescent greens and shades of blue.
I loved to watch the arched pumps with their reckless

slot machine eyes, their loaded guns.
My friend Amjad would fill the tank and sing a little to himself--

greet the employees smoking cigarettes
and fixing cars; men who worked extra hours,

their bodies like scraps of metal
taking their place among the stars.

I sent my father postcards edged in lighter fluid,
Greetings from Gaza no Quaker State, no bars.


Why mythologize bitter coffee
and squalid rest rooms?

BP for Niger, Senegal, and Mail.
I'd ride my mobilette up to the island,

uncap the tank. And more often times
than not, the sweet liquid would overflow

onto the body of my bike, splash
the braceleted knobs of my wrists,

and give the attendant and me
a soft rag of conversation.

A filling station. A place to to
to get filled up.


I miss the flying horse,
the nether worlds of Gulf and Texaco.

I miss the road maps, key chains, Rubbermaid cups;
the belief blossoming behind the words fill 'er up.

My father's world is gone now,
his body returning to the oil fields underground.

And to conjure him I breathe in
the dangerous, clock the miles to the gallon

before the needle stops traveling backward--falls
unencumbered, empty, lost.

--Susan Rich

Monday, November 22, 2010

Crane

Paper creased is
with a touch
made less by half,
reduced as much

again by a second
fold--so the wish
to press our designs
can diminish

what we hold.
But by your hand's
careful work,
I understand

how this unleaving
makes of what's before
something finer
and finally more.

--David Yezzi here

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Feeling Sorry for Myself Two or Three Weeks after Returning Home from Portugal

Miles above the Carole Lombard Memorial Bridge,
miles above the brown, dimpled water

of the St. Mary's River, miles above my pocketful
of unspent escudos, the contrail

of a west-bound jet, tinted a very artificial-looking

orange by the setting sun, dissolves in the pink sky
almost as soon as it appears, like
somebody else

and their faraway piece of the world's best candy.

--Michael Derrick Hudson here

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

The Overlay

The light again: it interferes
with matter. In some cases, as in Monet's
Seine, the objects vanish
before that shimmering. No poplars, no
water but a density stuck before them.
It's what I wished for:
that something would intervene between
my friend and her dying. My error was
in confusing ground with figure: the fog, gauze,
little dark spots I was distracted by
were her dying, not some overlay.
The way the poplars were the light.

--Ann Keniston here

Wednesday, November 3, 2010