Ulysses

ALFRED, LORD TENNYSON

It little profits that an idle king,
By this still hearth, among these barren crags,
Match’d with an aged wife, I mete and dole
Unequal laws unto a savage race,
That hoard, and sleep, and feed, and know not me.
I cannot rest from travel: I will drink
Life to the lees: All times I have enjoy’d
Greatly, have suffer’d greatly, both with those
That loved me, and alone, on shore, and when
Thro’ scudding drifts the rainy Hyades
Vext the dim sea: I am become a name;
For always roaming with a hungry heart
Much have I seen and known; cities of men
And manners, climates, councils, governments,
Myself not least, but honour’d of them all;
And drunk delight of battle with my peers,
Far on the ringing plains of windy Troy.
I am a part of all that I have met;
Yet all experience is an arch wherethro’
Gleams that untravell’d world whose margin fades
For ever and forever when I move.
How dull it is to pause, to make an end,
To rust unburnish’d, not to shine in use!
As tho’ to breathe were life! Life piled on life
Were all too little, and of one to me
Little remains: but every hour is saved
From that eternal silence, something more,
A bringer of new things; and vile it were
For some three suns to store and hoard myself,
And this gray spirit yearning in desire
To follow knowledge like a sinking star,
Beyond the utmost bound of human thought.

This is my son, mine own Telemachus,
To whom I leave the sceptre and the isle,—
Well-loved of me, discerning to fulfil
This labour, by slow prudence to make mild
A rugged people, and thro’ soft degrees
Subdue them to the useful and the good.
Most blameless is he, centred in the sphere
Of common duties, decent not to fail
In offices of tenderness, and pay
Meet adoration to my household gods,
When I am gone. He works his work, I mine.

There lies the port; the vessel puffs her sail:
There gloom the dark, broad seas. My mariners,
Souls that have toil’d, and wrought, and thought with me—
That ever with a frolic welcome took
The thunder and the sunshine, and opposed
Free hearts, free foreheads—you and I are old;
Old age hath yet his honour and his toil;
Death closes all: but something ere the end,
Some work of noble note, may yet be done,
Not unbecoming men that strove with Gods.
The lights begin to twinkle from the rocks:
The long day wanes: the slow moon climbs: the deep
Moans round with many voices. Come, my friends,
‘T is not too late to seek a newer world.
Push off, and sitting well in order smite
The sounding furrows; for my purpose holds
To sail beyond the sunset, and the baths
Of all the western stars, until I die.
It may be that the gulfs will wash us down:
It may be we shall touch the Happy Isles,
And see the great Achilles, whom we knew.
Tho’ much is taken, much abides; and tho’
We are not now that strength which in old days
Moved earth and heaven, that which we are, we are;
One equal temper of heroic hearts,
Made weak by time and fate, but strong in will
To strive, to seek, to find, and not to yield.

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Ozmandias

PERCY BYSSHE SHELLEY

I met a traveller from an antique land
Who said: “Two vast and trunkless legs of stone
Stand in the desert. Near them, on the sand,
Half sunk, a shattered visage lies, whose frown,
And wrinkled lip, and sneer of cold command,
Tell that its sculptor well those passions read
Which yet survive, stamped on these lifeless things,
The hand that mocked them and the heart that fed:
And on the pedestal these words appear:
‘My name is Ozymandias, king of kings:
Look on my works, ye Mighty, and despair!’
Nothing beside remains. Round the decay
Of that colossal wreck, boundless and bare
The lone and level sands stretch far away.”

PROSE-POETRY | NICOLETTE WONG

That Honest House Has Been Exorcised


and the buoys have sprung to time, trailing out against the snow. Having lived there once, I want to return to feathers, flunk their violet tease as my hands divide for scriptures. In that lantern of pipe dream I drew weeks, months, years on my child’s face to smudge the cage. But the mapping was wrong. It rusted into cider, maggots of a heart at the doorway. We had kept our time. We had prayed for coasts, without treads, without each other. Alone I will birth ghosts beneath waves, out in a placid ocean.


The Sky Has Sprouted A Many-Colored Void


and the brightest hue is not her body, but a bird, a swirling fireball of fur and lonely feet. I wonder who cued her nest, or if she taunted cactus-shaped pedestrians on her way to the bridge. Someone must have mistaken her for the translucent bird that carries voice wafts from the church. A crayoned faceless man, in search of fire.


I wave for the froth inside her, but she is dead and has no memory of crest. It drains me into hollow limbs of the bridge. Breaks my surf, this winter sun.


Ghost Guards On The Beach


In deadly company we prune our disguise. We are the meteors smashing skywells, gulping wanderers like angels scorched on sand. Or we are the wounds spilling onto wrists, blood trails heaving tornadoes at the end of an infinity pool. Such frivolous inventions: badges for love’s firmament, inaugural ribbons, eyes dropping onto the ground outside a shock palace. A soundless scream clashing through the stave. A bullet shot through the ocean’s introspection. Let these bodies glide into the abyssal. On vigil, we couple up, mortal as ever.


Wong, N. (n.d.). Gone Lawn 11 : Nicolette Wong. Retrieved February 20, 2015, from http://journal.gonelawn.net/issue11/Wong.php

SNOW | MARY RUEFLE

Every time it starts to snow, I would like to have
sex. No matter if it is snowing lightly and unseri-
ously, or snowing very seriously, well on into the
night, I would like to stop whatever manifestation
of life I am engaged in and have sex, with the same
person, who also sees the snow and heeds it, who
might have to leave an office or meeting, or some ar-
duous physical task, or, conceivably, leave off having
sex with another person, and go in the snow to me,
who is already, in the snow, beginning to have sex in
my snow-mind. Someone for whom, like me, this is
an ultimatum, the snow sign, an ultimatum of joy,
though as an ultimatum beyond joy as well as sor-
row. I would like to be in the classroom — for I am
a teacher — and closing my book stand up, saying
“It is snowing and I must go have sex, good-bye,”
and walk out of the room. And starting my car, in
the beginning stages of snow, know that he is start-
ing his car, with the flakes falling on its windshield,
or, if he is at home, he is looking at the snow and
knowing I will arrive, snowy, in ten or twenty or
thirty minutes, and, if the snow has stopped off, we,
as humans, can make a decision, but not while it is
still snowing, and even half-snow would be some
thing to be obeyed. I often wonder where the birds
go in a snowstorm, for they disappear completely.
I always think of them deep inside the bushes, and
further along inside the trees and deep inside of the
forests, on branches where no snow can reach, deep-
ly recessed for the time of the snow, not oblivious
to it, but intensely accepting their incapacity, and
so enduring the snow in brave little inborn ways,
with their feathered heads bowed down for warmth.
Wings, the mark of a bird, are quite useless in snow.
When I am inside having sex while it snows I want
to be thinking about the birds too, and I want my
love to love thinking about the birds as much as I
do, for it is snowing and we are having sex under
or on top of the blankets and the birds cannot be
that far away, deep in the stillness and silence of the
snow, their breasts still have color, their hearts are
beating, they breathe in and out while it snows all
around them, though thinking about the birds is not
as fascinating as watching it snow on a cemetery, on
graves and tombstones and the vaults of the dead,
I love watching it snow on graves, how cold the
snow is, even colder the stones, and the ground is
the coldest of all, and the bones of the dead are in
the ground, but the dead are not cold, snow or no
snow, it means very little to them, nothing, it means
nothing to them, but for us, watching it snow on the
dead, watching the graveyard get covered in snow, it
is very cold, the snow on top of the graves over the
bones, it seems especially cold, and at the same time
especially peaceful, it is like snow falling gently on
sleepers, even if it falls in a hurry it seems gentle,
because the sleepers are gentle, they are not anxious,
they are sleeping through the snow and they will
be sleeping beyond the snow, and although I will
be having sex while it snows I want to remember
the quiet, cold, gentle sleepers who cannot think of
themselves as birds nestled in feathers, but who are
themselves, in part, part of the snow, which is falling
with such steadfast devotion to the ground all the
anxiety in the world seems gone, the world seems
deep in a bed as I am deep in a bed, lost in the arms
of my lover, yes, when it snows like this I feel the
whole world has joined me in isolation and silence.

TWO POEMS | NICOLETTE WONG

Inside the Bell Flowers
         —after Shuji Terayama

 

Brown wings for a wreath. For slumber at sea or mirage of an inverted sun. The clouds of her dirge cleanse me of my shame: hymns unsung, torches lit with scriptures on the rocks, homes for orphans. Her steps cutting a silver trail across the soil. A mercury fire that stirs, shadow raging its blade in the leaves.

The winter axe plots my fall out of her twilight, stark coma, etchings of youth in a home of lycrois corpses. Wake me. Free me. A skylark about to take flight. With blood in my eyes.

 

Hymn
         —after Shuji Terayama

 

Burnt by a bullet piercing through sunlight,
                   I am cluster amaryllis
blooming red along the cliffs—
                   a song of hope executing itself.

 

Wong, N. (n.d.). Nicolette Wong – Poetry. Retrieved February 18, 2015, from http://www.connotationpress.com/poetry/2210-nicolette-wong-poetry

THE RUNAWAY CONDUCTOR | NICOLETTE WONG

wraps the memories of her in sawdust snow. Lips to wet asphalt, gold pins for tears on the statues across the altar. The gods have always been waiting. The sum of wind and divine will is a hollow mirror. In the mountain. At the flick of his wrist. Before the wrong train and the percussions in metal. For another man she raced through infinite wounds and fists in a monsoon forest. Hands tied to her lover’s for a dance, a roulette of paper cranes exploding across the sky. Cascaded into the sea of black eyelashes. How they shutter around the glass bottom boat as he throws the frayed ropes. This is the country of an older name for her departure, an eternal maze he would never exit. This his reward for abandoning the train.

Wong, N. (n.d.). September 2012 nicolette wong. Retrieved February 17, 2015, from http://www.thrushpoetryjournal.com/september-2012-nicolette-wong.html

FOUR POEMS | NICOLETTE WONG

The Glassblower

nurses the fragments of a thousand skies in him. Furnace for the nearest sun, ornaments in the vacuum of memoirs. Tainted flesh of his mother, her mother, and the mothers before them swept into cobalt. Must wash in sand. Melt puddles flow yellow. He has carried the hollow through countless deserts. When his childhood friends morphed into characters of tombstone chants. The crows cry, pierce burning films to stir baubled lies. To forge in silence. To trade lips for the glob of glass around a metal pipe. His beloved are paper-thin when he blows into the free end. Green tint from copper. Scores the glass into wings of hummingbirds with a chisel. Breaks it apart. His is the shape of all souls.

Hinamatsuri

(The Doll’s Festival)

Sleep tight, my daughter, in the sheaf boat floating down the river. Remember the whirring spring on the day you were born, and my warmth around you rising on its crests. To guard your breakage I buried my comb in the paddy, safe from the country’s razing yaw. There is no room for pliancy, levitated love in a girlhood laid in soil. Give me back my land. Give me back my youthful face, my tambourine shaking frost and wind in our house.

Your cadence scries only the new moon.
I’m alone again. I’m the doll shrine
floating behind you in crimson water.

Your talisman will breed frantically across the field. Songs of pathos. Songs of veils. Songs of blood chestnuts blooming over the Girls’ Day parade. You will be dressed in the prettiest kimono, riding a white goat, your laughter a filigree leaf. Tell me, what do you see in the pastoral hide and seek? For your inheritance I have nothing but slats in every part of my body. You have left me. Come back, little bird. Let me speak to you one more time.

Treehouse

You build libraries, cities, or just a treehouse with your name engraved on the trap door that opens when you jump out of your dreams. From your assorted maps I steal broken sheets of skies. As if your wastelands were smoke: the pouring words, gaping-holes into Las Vegas shadows. For adventure you stride the musk so hot of night, cyclones lapsed in whispers, faces drawn in water like thick moss on branches. You cannot be stopped. The rooms are orphans you fumble. Adamant. Nameless. The bottle caps in sawdust. In your pockets.

Pith

I cleave by the window-screen, waiting for the wind that blinds. Similitude of fear, or my dark veracities. The hand to lift through the flint of rain, alight in your poems’ nocturnal rings. The dowsing world unbinds, in conjunction, words seeping through the skin as pith. Writing, as only you can write, of how your innocence has come to a vainglorious end. I am tonight’s pantomime conductor. I am the fresco of your atlas, lands receding into an allotted sun. Tatter your past on my inked arm. In another life, you would be any kind of sinner.

Wong, N. (n.d.). Nicolette Wong. Retrieved February 17, 2015, from http://www.escapeintolife.com/poetry/nicolette-wong/

PATAGONIA | KATE CLANCHY

I said perhaps Patagonia, and pictured
a peninsula, wide enough
for a couple of ladderback chairs
to wobble on at high tide. I thought

of us in breathless cold, facing
a horizon round as a coin, looped
in a cat’s cradle strung by gulls
from sea to sun. I planned to wait

till the waves had bored themselves
to sleep, till the last clinging barnacles,
growing worried in the hush,
had paddled off in tiny coracles, till

those restless birds, your actor’s hands,
had dropped slack into your lap,
until you’d turned, at last, to me.
When I spoke of Patagonia, I meant

skies all empty aching blue. I meant
years. I meant all of them with you.