Tony Hoagland, Parade

Peter says if you’re going to talk about suffering
you have to mention pleasure too.
Like the way, on the day of the parade, on Forbes Avenue,
one hundred parking tickets flutter
under the windshield wipers of one hundred parked cars.
The accordion band will be along soon,
and the famous Flying Pittsburgettes,
and it’s summer and the sun is shining on the inevitable flags—
Something weird to admire this week on TV:
the handsome face of the white supremacist on trial.
How he looks right back at the lawyers, day after day
—never objecting, never making an apology.
I look at his calm, untroubled face
and think, That motherfucker is going to die white and right,
disappointing everyone like me
who thinks that punishment should be a kind of education.
My attitude is like what God says in the Bible:
Love your brother, or be destroyed.
Then Moses or somebody says back to God,
If I love you,
will you destroy my enemies?
and God says—this is in translation—, No Problemo.
Here, everyone is talking about the price of freedom,
and about how we as a people are united in our down payment.
about how we will fight to the very bottom of our bank account.
And the sky is so blue it looks like it may last forever
and the skinny tuba player goes oompahpah
and everybody cheers.
In the big store window of the travel agency downtown,
a ten-foot sign says, WE WILL NEVER FORGET.
The letters have been cut with scissors out of blue construction paper
and pasted carefully to the sign by someone’s hand.
What I want to know is, who will issue the ticket
for improper use of the collective pronoun?
What I want to know is, who will find and punish the maker
of these impossible promises?
.

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Tony Hoagland, Parade

Agha Shahid Ali, The Dacca Gauzes

. . . for a whole year he sought to accumulate the most exquisite Dacca gauzes.
-Oscar Wilde, The Picture of Dorian Gray

Those transparent Dacca gauzes
known as woven air, running
water, evening dew:

a dead art now, dead over
a hundred years. “No one
now knows,” my grandmother says,

“what it was to wear
or touch that cloth.” She wore
it once, an heirloom sari from

her mother’s dowry, proved
genuine when it was pulled, all
six yards, through a ring.

Years later when it tore,
many handkerchiefs embroidered
with gold-thread paisleys

were distributed among
the nieces and. daughters-in-law.
Those too now lost.

In history we learned: the hands
of weavers were amputated,
the looms of Bengal silenced,

and the cotton shipped raw
by the British to England.
History of little use to her,

my grandmother just says
how the muslins of today
seem so coarse and that only

in autumn, should one wake up
at dawn to pray, can one
feel that same texture again.

One morning, she says, the air
was dew-starched: she pulled
it absently through her ring.

Agha Shahid Ali, The Dacca Gauzes

Robert Frost, Reluctance

Out through the fields and the woods
   And over the walls I have wended;
I have climbed the hills of view
   And looked at the world, and descended;
I have come by the highway home,
   And lo, it is ended.
The leaves are all dead on the ground,
   Save those that the oak is keeping
To ravel them one by one
   And let them go scraping and creeping
Out over the crusted snow,
   When others are sleeping.
And the dead leaves lie huddled and still,
   No longer blown hither and thither;
The last lone aster is gone;
   The flowers of the witch hazel wither;
The heart is still aching to seek,
   But the feet question ‘Whither?’
Ah, when to the heart of man
   Was it ever less than a treason
To go with the drift of things,
   To yield with a grace to reason,
And bow and accept the end
   Of a love or a season?
Robert Frost, Reluctance

Faiz Ahmed Faiz, Bol ke lab azaad hai tere

Bol, ke lab azaad hai tere:
Bol, zabaan ab tak teri hai,
Tera sutwan jism hai tera –
Bol, ke jaan ab tak teri hai.

Dekh ke aahangar ki dukaan mein
Tund hai shu’le, surkh hai aahan,
Khulne-lage quflon ke dahane,
Phaila hare k zanjeer ka daaman.

Bol, ye thora waqt bahut hai,
Jism o zabaan ki maut se pahle;
Bol, ke sach zinda hai ab tak –
Bol, jo kuchh kahna hai kah-le!

Faiz Ahmed Faiz, Bol ke lab azaad hai tere

Stanley Kunitz, Touch Me

Summer is late, my heart.
Words plucked out of the air
some forty years ago
when I was wild with love
and torn almost in two
scatter like leaves this night
of whistling wind and rain.
It is my heart that’s late,
it is my song that’s flown.
Outdoors all afternoon
under a gunmetal sky
staking my garden down,
I kneeled to the crickets trilling
underfoot as if about
to burst from their crusty shells;
and like a child again
marveled to hear so clear
and brave a music pour
from such a small machine.
What makes the engine go?
Desire, desire, desire.
The longing for the dance
stirs in the buried life.
One season only,
and it’s done.
So let the battered old willow
thrash against the windowpanes
and the house timbers creak.
Darling, do you remember
the man you married? Touch me,
remind me who I am.

Stanley Kunitz, Touch Me

Mahmoud Darwish, Another Day Will Come

Another day will come, a womanly day
diaphanous in metaphor, complete in being,
diamond and processional in visitation, sunny,
flexible, with a light shadow. No one will feel
a desire for suicide or for leaving. All
things, outside the past, natural and real,
will be synonyms of their early traits. As if time
is slumbering on vacation… “Extend your lovely
beauty-time. Sunbathe in the sun of your silken breasts,
and wait until good omen arrives. Later
we will grow older. We have enough time
to grow older after this day…”

Another day will come, a womanly day
songlike in gesture, lapis in greeting
and in phrase. All things will be feminine outside
the past. Water will flow from rock’s bosom.
No dust, no drought, no defeat.
And a dove will sleep in the afternoon in an abandoned
combat tank if it doesn’t find a small nest
in the lovers’ bed.

Mahmoud Darwish, Another Day Will Come