life as they say goes on

from my balcony
I watch the set-up
of tables
in the open market
a block away
a Monday ritual
here in Maltepe
and soon
I’ll have coffee
with a new friend
watch his son
practice his skills
in football camp
and as the sun
heats up the day
whatever state of emergency
exists here
does not impact
on daily rituals
in neighborhoods
all over this city
this country
as they say
goes on

a thousand years ago on some coastline in the fall

there were dead fish
that crunched
under our feet
and a smell
that reminded me
of sardines
you were saying something
I couldn’t hear
because you were talking
into the wind
and now
a thousand years later
I think if I heard
what you said
it would have been different
then and now
but there were dead fish
distracting me
and that wind
a thousand years ago
on some coastline
in the fall

The Frog by Francis Ponge

Leonard Durso

When rain like metal tips bounces off the sodden pastures, an amphibious dwarf, an Ophelia with empty sleeves, barely as large as a fist, rises at times from around the poet’s feet, and then hurtles herself into the nearest pool.
Let this nervous one flee. How beautiful her legs are. A glove impermeable to water envelops her body. Barely flesh at all, her long muscles in their elegance are neither animal nor fish. In order to escape from my fingers, the virtue of fluid allies in her with the battle of the life force. She puffs, widely goitered. . .And this heart that beats so strongly, the wrinkly eyelids, the old woman’s mouth, move me to set her free.

translated by Robert Bly

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how many

how many hours
must I spend
to write a letter
to the one
I love
how many days
must I endure
to hear the voice
of the one
I love
how many seas
must I cross
to see the eyes
of the one
I love
how many how many
how many

To A Traveler by Su Tung P’o

Leonard Durso

Last year when I accompanied you
As far as the Yang Chou Gate,
The snow was flying, like white willow cotton.
This year, Spring has come again,
And the willow cotton is like snow.
But you have not come back.
Alone before the open window,
I raise my wine cup to the shining moon.
The wind, moist with evening dew,
Blows the gauze curtains.
Maybe Chang-O the moon goddess,
Will pity this single swallow
And join us together with a cord of light
That reaches beneath the painted eaves of your home.

translated by Kenneth Rexroth

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How shall I begin my song? by Owl Woman

Leonard Durso

How shall I begin my song
In the blue night that is settling?

In the great night my heart will go out,
Toward me the darkness comes rattling.
In the great night my heart will go out.

Brown owls come here in the blue evening,
They are hooting about,
They are shaking their wings and hooting.

Black Butte is far.
Below it I had my dawn.
I could see the daylight
coming back for me.

The morning star is up.
I cross the mountains
into the light of the sea.

translated by Frances Densmore

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