National Poetry Month and Robin Clarke

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April 7, 2015 – Robin Clarke

clarkephoto

Robin Clarke

Robin Clarke is a poet, activist and teacher in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. She is a non-tenure-track faculty member at the University of Pittsburgh and a member of the Adjunct Faculty Association of the United Steelworkers. She is the author of Lines The Quarry (Omnidawn, 2013), winner of the Omnidawn 1st/2nd book prize for poetry, and Lives of the Czars (nonpolygon, 2011), a chapbook co-authored with the poet Sten Carlson. 

Who’s Who

Tomaž Šalamun

Tomaž Šalamun you are a genius
you are wonderful you are a joy to behold
you are great you are a giant
you are strong and powerful you are phenomenal
you are the greatest of all time
you are the king you are possessed of great wealth
you are a genius Tomaž Šalamun
in harmony with all creation we have to admit that
you are a lion the planets pay homage to you
the sun turns her face to you every day
you are just everything you are Mount Ararat
you are perennial you are the morning star
you are without beginning or end
you have no shadow no fear
you are the light you are the fire from heaven
behold the eyes of Tomaž Šalamun
behold the brilliant radiance of the sky
behold his arms behold his loins
behold him striding forth
behold him touching the ground
your skin bears the scent of nard
your hair is like solar dust
the stars are amazed who is amazed at the stars
the sea is blue who is the sky’s guardian
you are the boat on the high seas
that no wind no storm can destroy
you are the mountain rising from the plain
the lake in the desert
you are the speculum humanae salvationis
you hold back the forces of darkness
beside you every light grows dim
beside you every sun appears dark
every stone every house every crumb every mote of dust
every hair every blood every mountain every snow
every tree every life every valley every chasm
every enmity every lamb every glow every rainbow

Contributor’s Note: Tomaž Šalamun died in Decmber 2014, a loss felt by many, including his students, of which I was one.


April 8, 2015 – Robin Clarke

For Emily

Sten Carlson

Oh there are swims in the waves where the eyes shine bright
Where the blood wavers
Alive & not alone like some mortally wounded bird
Teaching the young to be young
The old to be old (gold)
The tender & bold to leave the long fall between us
Fruiting.

Jesus,
Multifarious life
The Universe is still young &
Deep as I am in for you.

*

All those years spent wedded
To our topiaries—
We can’t buy them back.
Matter our infallible judge now.
The mayor’s coffers
Full while ghosts of former residents
Cough up real lungs for realty
Play taps for Chinese workers
Who make the bugles
Decry the bugles
About how they make the workers
Out of parts. How the poets—
Estranged from our labor, sung in time
In parts. My favorite:
The song with all the tender
Insensitivities coming nearer
This song is
For us.
Its promiscuity
For love & to make of matter plus
Our angels in
A crude circle of chairs
At the borders of
The common room amid
The chicken coop or kitchen shelves
Plus possibility, a cake
With a saw inside our child
Can cut
His teeth upon. His first words
Unspoken

Til the gong bells appreciate.
As if much of what once was still is
Now only more,
Til the demos are mastered.

While the gongs rang
I dropped change
Are dangerous & though the mouth & nose are covered nothing
The eyeball tries lazy meat thermometer mowing it down
& now this schwag
Of the radiator neighborhood dance floor is all
“Welcome
Vacancies”
& good sun, the even row of it
Fit to raise peas,
Children.

We will count beans,
We will stay in the midst of them,
We will know the card games to play with the dead when they come,
we will hear them
In a narrow dug-out at the stump in the paw-paw grove near
Highland Ave. & East Liberty Blvd.

In the tender mock-seriousness
A child is born.
In the garden precarity
Of telepathic delights
With the arrival of real ruination
At the order of global finance
A child is born.
Saint Roach
Saint Odell Brown
Virgin Mobile
Queer Saint Julian
He loses his manners.
The color white. He walks
Over a city garden patch made white
By common footraffic
Over time
Without eyes or thumbs
He suffers shapeshifts by fiat
But the salamander delivers
In the planned endlessness.

How to keep it open, how rare a wound
His future left.

Blue-rooted heron, six-hectare lake monster
Birthing song. Like me no whammy
Taking a traveler’s rest, loose-winged water bird
Too stoned to vote really
I stand upon the breakwater to party
Like him no whammy
Knowledge of the beatbox, dangling on dank stuff
Aching for flight, for rest.
To put out for the night & take my rest.

All pancaked in here together
In the humid garden haze,
Poached.
The challenge to be always setting out.

No rain
For weeks
We walk across the grass it jags our feet
Then rains for weeks
They swamp the cellars.
Queen of my years
Queer of my tears,
Had it in for you sunken & suddenly in my heart from the first
In love
& now
It’s like
Our things type aquarium poems.


April 9, 2015 – Robin Clarke

I Am What It Says I Am, I Can Do What It Says I Can Do

(Poem Written with Twitter-Splicing App “That Could be My Next Tweet”)

Robin Clarke

Lines-Quarry-Cover-200x300-Pixel-RGB-2

Available now from Omnidawn

the thing about children is
when you drop them
they tend to bounce
forever, Terry Gilliam
here is your account
for another film about suffering

WILL WARREN BUFFETT
STOP THESE 22,000 PEOPLE FROM ORGANIZING

Maybe the question is how to
make art while suffering
Lucille Clifton ironing poems
with the clothes, how many children
carry life-destroying music in the gut?

for you I’ll write child-line-like
won’t you walk down these
five
giant
foam
orange
steps?

ROB ROGERS’ CARTOONS SHOCKING THAT EXPOSED THE RAPISTS FACES
10 YEARS IN?

BIG UNION!!!! SOLIDARITY!! WE NEED MORE
using of our illusion
swimming through hay fields
when parents can’t be trusted with fertile language

Jeliza-Rose, Secret Hero of these poems
put a tourniquet on Dad’s arm
for heroin vacation
weren’t you a little too young for that

ROBIN CLARKE:
MOST LIVE BELOW THE WORKERS WHO MAKE.

It’s embarrassing how good this app is
at doing the police in different voices,
Precious Jones
secret hero of these poems
a crab at the bottom of the ocean
contains everything
a child needs to know
about suffering we were never right

WE NEED MORE.

Adults are afraid to enter your mirror
of brutalized Barbies
like Tina Turner
we never do it nice and easy
the neglect of a child
the Monsanto of the farmer
the dispossession of a people
we always do it rough
until your childhood blooms
under the table
in one extreme close-up
after another

SO MANY EXPLOIT THEIR FAIR SHARE?

TAKE A BEAR MARKET FOR PELOSI, or a bear
will thrash your dreams

The elementary school water fountain
used to run in my brain
‘til I finally found the simpleton
dribbling down the drain.

I WANT TO BE SMART, NOT JUST NOT-DUMB.

WE ALL FACE REJECTION
AND ARE THEREFORE ALL ORPHANS

A cruise ship in a bathtub
you’re trying to drag over a mountain
childhood, corporations, are like that.

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