Marsh Hawk Review

Marsh Hawk Review is an online poetry journal sponsored by the Marsh Hawk Press collective. Marsh Hawk Review will appear twice a year, under the revolving editorship of collective members. Each issue will offer a selection of poems solicited by the editor, in addition to new work posted by poets in the collective.

Monday, June 11, 2012

Marsh Hawk Review Spring 2012

Editor: Norman Finkelstein 


(scroll down to see the poems;
continue to "older posts") 

Thomas Fink
Thomas Fink and Maya Diablo Mason
Edward Foster
Burt Kimmelman
Sandy McIntosh
Stephen Paul Miller
Daniel Morris
Paul Pines
Mark Scroggins
Eileen Tabios
Susan Terris
Harriet Zinnes 

Thomas Fink

Dust Bowl Intimacies 25
We all know what you saw. They shared it with a doctor and the shoe guy. It’s in front of my face when I limp home, and I’m just preparing to make my eyes matter. Label everything. If it leaves their body, it should have their full name on it. She probably woulda tried to finish me by now, but I’m not going to be cheated on like this.

to sublet
a sturdy yacht.

Thomas Fink and Maya Diablo Mason

Invisible Voyeurs

The winter is empty except     
for you and me. But seven       
are swimming in it.

If you sing now, you might  
get arrested. What color is   
nothing? A combination        
of many that grows invisible   
in the mixing.
Emptiness sizes up   
our wrinkled disguises, our shapely  
conventions, ignorant burlesques.
They convene to perfect impressions. Or  

have we invented them to shiver?
To blanket egos for winter warmth?
Distant mockery in winter trees. We   
only “know” as we believe.

Comfortable Distraction

The sun watches
me rise.
Rainbow ribbons in
a garbage puddle
remind me that
someday we won’t be able to
see in color;
it will have been deemed
a beautiful distraction.
Green wind
tackles a horizon—
and I forget again,

Sunday, June 10, 2012

Edward Foster

Back to Mike

If you became invisible,
would he like you more?
That way he might read into
empty space
just what he needs.

He might see an old gazelle
or bears on ice floes in the cold.
Anything he’d want.
You could roar or
humbly kiss his wedding ring,
if that would do.

And then expect
that when the sky is dark,
he’d return to you.

Big Diomede

Looking for the Moscow
check-in booth,
I saw such lovely men
I fell in love
seven times.
The airport turned
a brilliant blue.

Not one of them
what I had seen
in them.
I wish those men
had all seen me
and liked the view.

But no, just haze and rush
until the lady
at the counter looked askew.
She studied me.

She’d seen my eyes flash blue.
I knew she knew too much.

Donskoy Monastery and the Tourist

Where were they shot?
Show me where. Or describe the spot.
Also let me know where they were burned
and how their comrades lit the fire
and justified their act.
It’s a place I need to see.

I’ve never seen such gloom.
No tears. I’m looking out this window,
and it’s cold. Would you like to look?
Perhaps you’d like to look for me.

Nothing fits, though horror
happened here. Is there anywhere
its secret can’t be known?
Keep your balance.
Look! See!

Having a Drink Alone

            “Why do you balk at that will whose intent
            can never be thwarted, which has increased
            your pains a number of times? Why butt
            against the fates?”
                        — Dante Alighieri, Cantos from Dante’s Inferno, Canto 9,
                        translated by Armand Schwerner

They’ve chosen not to hear
and do not know you stand above.

They have a celebration.
You watch them from your balcony.
The air is hot.
You can’t retreat.

Enamored, you’d
close out the sound,
and close the door.
Imaginary windows
will not shut.

The happy ones you’re watching, leave.
The joy you heard from them
is gone.
Why did they acquiesce?
Why did they do what others want?

Perhaps it gave them joy.

Each evening there are more to see.
You see them passing down below.
You cannot close the door.
The windows will not shut.
You wonder how they pass the night.

Burt Kimmelman


            On Galata Bridge

Late sun lighting houses
on the hills of Asia
crouching by the water –

we cross the Golden Horn
among thousands on foot,
in trams or cars, passing

men who bait and cast their
lines below – muezzins’ calls
behind, ahead of us.

            Ferry on the Bosphorous

We press onto gangplanks,
head to our seats, order
tea, the gulls following

the ship across, outside
our windows, minarets
and domes, hills and water.

            Tea in the Grand Bazaar

City of passageways,
lights of lamps, jewels, rugs,
meat roasting, spices – one

way, another – we stroll
along in the crowds, young
men cutting through, their

trays of tea for people
in their shops, curved glasses,
each with its tiny spoon.

            Early Morning

Clouds over the dark hills,
birds in twos and threes cross
the sea as slowly as

the ships below — the train
coming by, cars hugging
the shore — day beginning.

            Café, Blackout

We sit by the wood stove,
reading by candlelight, sip
tea until the music,

slow and sobbing, comes back
on — a man smoking his
hookah in time, long pulls

of smoke, then the muezzins'
prayers broadcast through the streets,
announcing the evening.

            Sea of Marmara

Light across the water –
far off a ship waiting
its turn to steam into

the Bosphorus – on shore
a man rests on a park
bench, watching the dark sea.

Sandy McIntosh

Four Problems of Translation

 I. A Lecture From the Bartender at Grand Hotel, Oslo 

Translation is difficult.
We don't expect our American tourists to speak Norwegian so we learn English.
One language can do violence to the other. Pick its pocket, so to speak.
For instance, Oslo gets many meters of snowfall. Knut Hamsun, in Hunger, has his character sleeping in the snowed-in streets of Kristiania. (Oslo used to be Kristiania in 1899.) Hamsun knew those streets. But then your Robert Bly comes along with his egregious English translation and messes up the map so that it neither resembles Kristiania nor Oslo.  A tourist could get lost in the snow and die following Bly's map!
Knut Hamsun was our breakthrough novelist and maybe deserves more respect, though he was often down and out.
Henrik Ibsen was our breakthrough dramatist--hardly down and out!--but you wouldn't know it from the English translations. 
For instance, in Ghosts, Mrs. Alving refers to her husband lying around reading "bank journals," which doesn't make any sense in English.
But Norwegians know instantly that "bank journals" really means "pornography." 
Ibsen drank and dined at the Cafe every night. His dinner was always an open sandwich, beer and schnapps. And often a pjolter, which is our word for Whisky and Soda.
And he could get drunk!
Hamsun and Ibsen lived here in Kristiania at the same time, and I think they met only once, poverty and wealth being discrete languages.
One night Ibsen was too drunk to sit. He insulted the waiters and we had to translate him into the street.
Hamsun was down and out, living in a wooden crate outside the Cafe. Ibsen landed next to him and decided to take a little nap. Then you could see Hamsun's arm reach out of the box and pick Ibsen's pocket!
Then Hamsun translated himself into the Cafe and ordered a splendid supper!

 II. James Boswell's Life of Samuel Johnson, LL.D. published in 1791

They meet at a bookstore, but it doesn't go well. Boswell: "I apologize for being a Scot. I cannot help it." Johnson: ''That, Sir, I find, is what a very great many of your countrymen cannot help.''
See "Bozzy" of a morning enjoying a public hanging, darting down an alley for quick sex, and later, a fervid night in public or private house playing the buffoon or worse, worse for drink. How could this besotted poltroon produce such a work of light and intelligence?
Well, Macaulay says in 1831, that dolt didn't exactly write the Life, he merely took it down: faithful, mindless stenographer. The Biography has merits, he concludes, but only a fool could have written it.
Later, though, attics and closets of Boswell descendants in Scotland and Ireland open. Manuscript caches take flight, caught up by the universities. Boswell is recognized an exigent writer, not at all vapid, prepared by life for the great work, the superb Biography.
Johnson, moral and intellectual touchstone, now slumps in a grubby corner, mistranslated into something else: Hapless literary marionette.
"Do us a little dance, will ye?" leers lubricious Bozzy.
Johnson arises, clears his throat--ever ready with a pithy quotation.

 III. Goethe Writes Aus meinem Leben: Dichtung und Wahrheit (1811-1833)

Goethe's friends entreat him to write the autobiography. One friend: "We try to guess many a riddle, to solve many a problem." But they've reached an impasse. They beg him: "Yet a little assistance here and there would not be unacceptable." "This desire," writes Goethe, "so kindly expressed, immediately awakened within me an inclination to comply with it." But how? One cannot simply write everything that has happened. One needs method. "It must be a very agreeable and re-animating task to treat former creations as new matter, and work them up into a kind of Last Part." He cannot include everything, so he selects incidents, compresses or expands others, eliminates many.

He feels the danger, diddling with history, but he has an honest end to achieve. He declares the title of his autobiography: Dichtung und Wahrheit, Poetry and Truth.

Immediately, it is misconstrued in the press. Dichtung is understood as meaning Fiction. "What has Goethe given us?" they ask. "Is it part fiction, part truth? And indeed, which part is which?"

"No, no no!" Goethe screams. [I translate freely here.] "It was my endeavor to present and express to the best of my ability the actual basic truths that controlled my life as I understood them." The work is translated into English as Lies and Truth in My Life. "Scheiße Kopf!" shrieks Goethe [in my free translation]. "Lies? Are they all idiots? I wanted the word Dichtung understood not in the sense of fabrication but as the revelation of higher truths. Doesn't anyone see this?"

"They say your novel, The Sorrows of Young Werther is secretly autobiography," I tell him. "But that was a fiction!” he protests. “Certainly the structure contains autobiographical elements, but I made everything else up!" "Well," I say. "Maybe it was easier reading. I mean, after all, your autobiography is, what? Thirteen volumes?" "That's what you need to get to the truth," he answers. "And, possibly," I suggest, "Young Werther is what you need to get to the poetry."

"Ach," he shakes his head. "Perhaps we shall never resolve this."

"Well then," I say, stretching after a long sit down. "Möchten Sie ein paar Bier trinken? Would you like to drink a few beers?"
"Ja. Natürlich. A brilliant idea! Wir zu den Biergarten gehen."
Arm in arm we stroll to the beer garden, and as we stroll we sing: Du, du liegst mir im Herzen, the song about the man whose heart breaks because his great love cannot take him seriously.

 IV. According To My Mother (6)

My mother was frightened. It had been
fifty years since she'd visited the home country.
"I don't think I remember the language!" she fretted.
But she got on the airplane, an old woman
pacing the Jetway hesitantly.

We heard nothing from her for a month.
Then a telegram: "Returning tonight."

We were surprised when we saw her: her face radiant,
her steps full of life.
"It was a wonderful trip," she gushed
as we drove away in the car.
"At first I couldn't communicate with my sisters.
But, after awhile, I began to remember the words.

Stephen Paul Miller

The Kisses

He doesn’t like small talk
but what is life but small talk
and out of small talk
great things come.


He was a boy despair hid from.
He wasted himself on a zero amount of food.
This will sigh of freedom on the soup.
I don't appreciate, you, for example.

But these commodities, they are suitable
as the velvet streaks out of hand
you clearly are made from images and not believing them.
In them was a clear parcel—

the usual complex business without attitude
and candy bars I didn’t care if you ate.
I was comparing them to Ed who killed himself.
He had a lot of Irish prepared.

The horn honks my name.
A diet in time is a cook forever.
Is it serious backing into
or just a mainstream conservative

that tramples the discourse on the river bank to bank to bank?
He is fuller than open in the night.
The light dial spins.
No reason to be jealous.

This was a day you might remember for the weather.
In Vermont they just let it rain.
In Germany during the winter they count sheep.
Elephants inhabit this Germany.
Elephants personify cartoon bubbles.
He got sick of having nothing to eat
and that was when he got this sonnet to do
and sliced it.

With humble heart and glad face
tell me what Baba says about suicide.
For certainly I have naught to do in this matter.
Destroying myself is a detachable subject
that night when a person is leaving.

Something stayed around for a while which was the text.
I am driven by passionate insight into the brevity of
  all human things.
One, a professional musician, overshadows
  everything upon waking.
I take Algebra and drop—society-at-large
  fixes me.
I get self-conscious with all my good and bad
My hopes are far away and that's fantastic.

            Experiments are not to hide behind.  I might be hiding
                        something good that’s fantastic.
Slow steps gradually move me back.
The floor of the subway car is wood. The whole town
          goes to speed-listening class.
One cardboard ramification does not go up swinging
            but determined and digging.

An experiment is an accomplishment—since there is no       
            progress it has to be.
Now what about an idea as an experiment? The book bounced
            up to the ceiling.

Articulation is an experiment in a world of values. Casper
            cares only what people think.
Life is the true experiment, the ghost looks up at me like
            a kitchen sink…
            a bed of earrings, a glove.
Not being a professional musician it’s just so pretty to me.

The Day the Mets Stood Still

You've heard about the broken book....
It's mostly feeling. 
“Feeling,” says Pete,
“is the eye of the needle
through which any given
sense might pierce
through what momentarily
finds itself on the river surface
bringing it over the top, a little bit
bothered by the noise the capacity filled
river mails in. That Dick Van Dyke workplace
format replaces any up-close and personal
                                         under-the-bottom stuff.

Other people are no longer this slightly
amorphic myth. You play
one more game than us but
we start out together

before passing through each other’s
horizon with enough money to trigger each other’s analysis.
Our beauty is the death of convention in its Marriott.
You needn't spend another night on that old mattress. 


Stripping is a home run of so-called nature. For Emerson, nature’s
staticy feedback of grounded moral sentiments we initially ascribe to. 
Nature, in other words, reverses our images to shake their memoirs loose.
We might be due cash compensation and nothing after all, except for the tie,
is really broken. It goes without saying, too,
that I am a non-hierarchical trace hardly saying this. Who would?


The can hits the floor,
a joke, not to be taken seriously.
I watch an explosion from a ferry but can't
see a thing in the West River that night
except for the low level pyrotechnics and innovative refractions,
   which are really enough. 


There are a lot of things outside of baseball that go into your eyes—
my resiliency in you is almost like a playoff
but in a good way and wireless. How is your
signal? Is it still funny? Okay, I’m listening now….


The game was on the line in those days.
They were difficult decisions that Abe
Beame, that fucking hippy, had to make.
If it wasn't one problem it was a million of them.
The whole idea was that there was this firmament
from which every discrete thing escapes
with a string and cherry on it, as in fact it all has
seeped, taking the firmament along with it and meeting up again
in each other’s clothes near Andy’s place in Pittsburgh.

    It goes without saying too that if, because of this,
we don't have our hands on the means of production, we need to conjure
somewhere we do. And thank God for the Sparta-Athens-Persia reverse
spin cycle. Is happiness surrender to happiness or other way around? 
Well, of course the two go hand in hand but
more to the point, what am I to you and who are we to happiness
and our bed to the pathos standing on it? Only the sun and the moon,
....Everything comes out a nervous laugh...
the space between us the funniest money I've ever seen.

We’re in a snag but okay,
I didn't do anything wrong.
  Any thing that seems
wrong is on the roof
where you still can change it
before the fact. “Fine, how far should
I follow the tracings on this one?”  You're such
a total genius it really doesn't matter. 
You play almost any song any time.
We're happy just to listen—your music
an example to live by.

FDR’s FDR, Jefferson, and the Bigger
Than Watergate Operations Against Them

Similar operations go the route
when we need money we put
            ourselves through the change
into a lifetime of stream-
            lined living.

They had only one machine
            to take care of themselves,
in the house across the street
similar operations go the route

into a lifetime of stream-
            lined living
I was one of your
            regular customers
You knew me by my

the strangest sense of
            which came afterwards
as a copy of a copy
into a lifetime of stream-
            lined living

He stuck his foot out
As a big job was done
            for his customer
similar operations go
            the route.

Paying to play the part of a minimal
             copy job for a master charge
unstamped, unwept
similar operations go the route
into a lifetime of stream-
            lined living.


Moses enjoys
Peggy Cyphers’
animal acrylics,
getting so lost in them
he sees all he’s not
stir Peggy’s garden
and shade Monument Valley
with several balancing foci. 
A void fades out of Peg’s brush.
My name hides from me
on a hike with several
Hudson River paintings tagging along.
Father knows best all over them
on a ledge near the public library reading room.

The innings in Cyphers’ painting
make a circle and fire.
A first pitch says
you’re alive.