The Kindness – Cid Corman

corman
Cid Corman

The American poet, Cid Corman (1924-2004), a translator and founder and editor of the literary magazine Origin, was a key figure in the history of American poetry in the second half of the 20th century. Corman lived for much of his adult life in Japan and maintained his friendship with Louis Zukofsky and Lorine Niedecker, among many others, through extensive correspondence.

A prolific writer, the influence of Japanese poetry is evident throughout his work. Introducing a volume of his poetry entitled Word for Each Other (1967), Corman wrote: “Something in them, in the sounded meanings joined here, should feed something in you that merits sharing—a little life that feels beyond itself, the dying implied in every word, in every thing, in every legend man has devised, in ache in ache in ache, invoking the only judgment man is worthy of: love.”


The Kindness

the man dying
loved red roses
like those he grew

you looked for some
everywhere
in the city

and finally
brought him the best
carefully so

he shouldn’t know
you picked them
from his own garden

Cid Corman


For an interesting profile of Cid Corman, see the following link http://jacket2.org/article/man-who-always-was


 

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Blessings

song sparrow
The song sparrow

Blessings

Rainy day
          In the silence
         yellow warblers
and wild canaries
                  Bushes in bloom
                  honeysuckle
                  dogwood
                  Japanese quince

A lawn full of dandelions
Two rows of lettuce
         sown today
I get song sparrows
         wrens
                  cardinals
northern yellow-throats

From the kitchen
casement window
         I see fireflies at night
The shade of the Sugar Maple
                  is a blessing

                  one of many

John Lyons


The above poem draws data from two letters written by Lorine Niedecker to Louis Zukofsky.


 

 

Dailies

Dailies

Bone by infant bone
     we live it out in the moment
dragging our conscript dust
     from place to place
each daily numbered
     one rush spliced
into the other
     permitting merely
the briefest foxtrot of recollection
      until in restless nightsleep
the day’s untidy dealings
      are unravelled

The miniature rings she wore
     about her neck
the cold dry sand
     accumulated in the gutter
the rapture of dawn to dusk
     Who heard the pounding sea that day ?
Who saw the sun trace
     its weary arc in the molten sky ?
These are the perennials
     breath and the heartbeat
within the singing cathedral
     the rise and fall of it all
as the moon wanes
     and the years draw on
Whatever dice you cast
     the ciphers are known
and the flesh recalls every fibre
     of flesh it ever touched
in tender admiration
     just as the journey
of every tear you ever cried
     is recorded in the journals
of sorrow and dismay
     every moan ever uttered
consoled or unconsoled

In the flat fields where hops
     rise and fall or where
sheep in unwitting innocence
     graze the land
there is our paradise
     if only we knew
Time is our probation
     our trial and our error
: pale pearls
     will outlive us both
life does not abate
     nor unsated love 
even when it is driven 
     deep into the ground

John Lyons

Out of words


Out of words

Out of words
     a life made out of words
words that bind us
     to the people
and the things around us
     and within us
words transformed
     into actions
actions transformed
     into words
in the beginning
     was the word
was consciousness
     of the world
the word-world :
     the sounds are immaterial
by any other name
     love shines through
as does the rose
     or the beauty
of the hummingbird
     no bigger than a thumb
that flits back and forth
     supping nectar
from the bright blooms
     the warm air vibrating
from the buzz of its wings

How insatiable is life
     and love – and appetite
is a glorious virtue
     Time and the world
are ever in flight
     but the word is bedrock
my word is my bond
     and even as the stars
dwindle above the chimney pots
      on Doughty Street
I will love you to the ends
     of the universe
you have my word

John Lyons

A poem

A poem

A poem
     a seed planted in the dust
of your dreams
     a space and a possibility
fenced with words
     that leap over boundaries
that simply will not
     be contained

Silently
     she held me in those blue
engaging eyes
     my tight-lipped love
In this wide universe
     there will be other frosts
other days and other nights
     but no other us

The mind too
     is a place of cultivation
where the rose
     and the rhododendron
may flourish
     What beauty in those names
the lily and the marigold
     gardenia and wild cherry

Winter will pass
     Sparrows will refresh the nest
new voices to enrich
     the dawn chorus :
in truth
     beauty much more
than a backdrop to love
     is its essence

John Lyons

Capital snow

Capital snow

Star-feathers
     f-f-f-f-falling
softly
     softly
a light litter dusting
     the streets of London
coffee and indecision
     life catching its breath
left dangling in the moment
     the unrepentant pulse of life
that lives through us
     and in and around us
the flotsam fluff
     of icy condensation
teach yourself to be simple
     the simpler the better
make the music
     poetry to my ears

today is anyone’s guess
     shall I go
shall I eat a peach
     shall I take a stroll
on Whitstable beach
     it’s all hard-core Hamlet
down to the shore
     street snow is cheap insulation
but a reality check all the same
     perhaps too nature’s make-up
blush that masks the blemish
     blinkers us to a multitude of sins
and the birds curiously
     sensibly silent on the subject

     the eye enthralled
     by her shape
     a lover’s kiss
     I want no other

what now – we ask
     and for how long ?
a blanket of urban snow
     – paws – pause –
a peripatetic time for reflection
     time to watch our step
“I’ll watch mine
     if you’ll watch yours”
_____________________

discarded lines :

what angel wakes me
     in the dead hours ?
small talk
     apparently
of no consequence
     go back to sleep

a thin dusting of snow
     on her heart –
the snow long gone
     her heart too –
this wintry drizzle
     will soon fizzle out
roll on summer

John Lyons

Insofar

Insofar

Insofar as you are near
     I reach out to you
with my dreams :
     how many candles
have I burned
     to your name ?
Plans we made
     have gone awry
but there is always
     another day
and the dust
     that is to settle
has yet to settle

Time – you say
     but time is a sword
a rapier with which we fence
     and sooner or later
one of us will
     get nicked and the blood
of your or my complexion
     will flow and there will be
no staunching it

Time flows
     through our veins
though we may not be
     synchronized
Observe the birds
     how each species
appears to inhabit
     its own particular
dimension and though
     the different planes
intersect
     each world is
absolutely discrete
     no more a rose
than a lily or gardenia

Two parrots atop
     a phone mast
each using the technology
     to signal to each other
parallel technologies
     a morse pecking
ringing out
     across the deserted
station platform
     zero degrees
and nobody listening
     except me

Insofar as you and I
     I dream out to you
I hold my breath
     and pray for you
to pray for me
     but not parrot fashion
:  the north wind
     winds around my body
sensation is slowly draining
     out of my feet

Last night I thought
     I had found a path
in the winter sky
     arms outstretched
my eyes raised
     to the heavens
feeling my way
     in the darkness
among the stars
     until I could put
my hand on the plough

Last night I thought
     I had finally
found a way home
     but my hand slipped

John Lyons