Monday, May 21, 2007

Series #22 (white) by Page Starzinger

Oil and gesso on canvas    Robert Ryman, 2004


As if it were still the 17th century, when conscious
just entered the English language, meaning secret and shameful:


the whitewash of brushstrokes over black. It was like erasing
to put white over it,
Ryman says, but gives no hint of what—


everything we have words for is dead.
No wonder, Nietzche said, I forget; so it repeats, like a series


of couplets: In Hebrew darkness is not unrelated to childlessness.
Being 47, unmarried, without children and in love with men who don’t


is not a choice. It’s a compulsion. Last night I dreamt that I was a little
dressed in white, running behind a boy, down a dirt road,


searching for a home, and because we couldn’t tell which was best
we stopped at any house. It was owned by a blind man.


In Jane Eyre, it is after Rochester is blind in a fire that burns his house
      to the ground
that he is finally free to marry Jane. And in the paintings,


what is present is what matters. And what is present
is not white paint, but paint that reflects white,


a lightwave, a stream of minute packets of energy photons.

first appeared in Colorado Review, Spring 2007
republished with author's permission

Monday, May 14, 2007

Memoria Historikoa, or Historical Memory, by Kirmen Uribe, translated from the Basque by Elizabeth Macklin

Londres. Brixton auzoa. Eskuot batean hiru japoniar.
Afaria egin dugu. Bihar hegaldia daukat Bilbora.
Te beroaz Bigarren Mundu Gerra hizpide.
Japoniako zaharrek horri buruz ez dute ezer esaten,
kontatu du batek. Are gehiago, eskola-liburuetan
ez da gerrari buruz ia aipamenik agertzen.
Gutxi gorabehera, esaldi bakar hau:
“Bigarren Mundu Gerra
1942-1945 urteetan gertatu zen eta
Hiroshima eta Nagasakiko bonbekin amaitu”.

Hegaldian noa Bilbora.
Txiki-txikiak dira hemendik Bizkaiko etxeak.

London. Brixton. Three Japanese in a squat.
We’ve had supper. Tomorrow I fly to Bilbao.
Over hot tea, speaking of the Second World War:
The old people of Japan tell nothing about it,
one says. What’s more, in the schoolbooks
there’s nearly no mention at all of the war.
Or, more or less, this lone sentence:
“The Second World War
took place between 1942 and 1945 and
ended with the bombs at Nagasaki and Hiroshima.”

Now on the flight to Bilbao.
The houses of Vizcaya are minute from here.

published with author's permission

Monday, May 7, 2007

Useful Advice by Carl Dennis

Suppose you sat writing at your desk
Between days, long before dawn,
The only one up in town,
And suddenly saw out the window
A great star float by,
Or heard on the radio sweet voices
From wandering Venus or Neptune,
A little hello from the voids.
Who would believe you in the morning
Unless you'd practiced for years
A convincing style?
So you must learn to labor each day.
Finally a reader may write he's certain
Whatever you've written or will write is true.
Then all you need is the patience to wait
For stars or voices.

published with author's permission