Wednesday, February 22, 2012

February. Take Ink and Weep

by Boris Pasternak

February. Take ink and weep,
write February as you're sobbing,
while black Spring burns deep
through the slush and throbbing.

Take a cab. For a clutch of copecks,
through bell-towers' and wheel noise,
go where the rain-storm's din breaks,
greater than crying or ink employs.

Where rooks in thousands falling,
like charred pears from the skies,
drop down into puddles, bringing
cold grief to the depths of eyes.

Below, the black shows through,
and the wind's furrowed with cries:
the more freely, the more truly
then, sobbing verse is realized.

Winter Night

Snow, snow over the whole land
across all boundaries.
The candle burned on the table,
The candle burned.

BIO: Boris Pasternak, author of the acclaimed novel Dr. Zhivago,was born January 29, 1890. The book was banned in the USSR but copies smuggled out of the country earned him the Nobel Prize for Literature in 1958. He was forced to decline the award by the Soviet government and died of lung cancer two years later.  Although initially admiring Lenin and the "splendid surgery" of the Bolshevik Revolution of 1917, he later denounced Soviet Communism as inhumane.

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Cat and Ghost Game

by Dawn Pisturino

It was strange
The way the candle light
Seemed to bounce across the ceiling,
In leaps and bounds,
Like a playful poltergeist
Putting on a show.
In the background,
Where we sat,
The eerie black shadows
Seemed to lie in wait,
Like a big black cat,
Ready to pounce
At any moment
On the poor elusive spirit.
We waited anxiously on the sofa,
A silent audience,
And watched the cat and ghost
Game before us.
The cat lay still before the dancing ghost,
Licked its lips as it watched its prey
Dance closer and closer to Death,
Raised its haunches, flicked its tail,
And with one subtle gust of breath,
Pounced suddenly and completely
Atop the overconfident ghost,
Extinguishing it forever.
We smiled, then closed our lips, drew close,
And pressed them hard together.
Beneath the warm black darkness
Which covered us, like a blanket.
Alone at last, we sniffed
The lingering odor of scented wax
And began a new game, called love.


Copyright 2012 Dawn Pisturino. All Rights Reserved.

Tuesday, February 7, 2012

Young Love, Undying Love

by Dawn Pisturino
When I was fourteen years old, I fell in love with my algebra teacher. Teaching silly high school students earned him a living. His real goal? To complete his PhD. in physics.

His curly dark hair shimmered with dandruff, detracting from his coffee-stink breath. He wore wrinkled blue seersucker suits in warm weather and corduroy jackets with patched elbows in cold. Nervous and shy, his hands and voice trembled when he stood in front of the blackboard explaining algebraic formulas to a bunch of disinterested teenagers.

He seemed young and old at the same time. And he had violet eyes—I kid you not! The most beautiful eyes I had ever seen behind a pair of dark-rimmed glasses.

My heart burned with love for this nervous nerd. I adored him throughout algebra and again during Life Sciences. I worshipped the ground he walked, waiting expectantly to catch glimpses of him between classes and after school.

I even wrote him a poem. I forgot it for many years, and suddenly, one day, I remembered part of it.

Bitter Fragment of a Beautiful Dream

My love, thou hast hearkened to my sorrows
Ere the night as ere the day;
Among the grasses of these meadows
Hast thou hearkened to my laughter
Clearly echoing the joy bound in thine heart.
Beyond the hill hath mine hand wept in thine:
Thou wip-ed away the tears.
Beside the stream—how sweetly flows the rivulet wine!—
Thou rejoiced as mine;
We wept for the years,
Since-parted, we knew each other not.
Belov-ed, thou hast planted deep the seed of love,
And how it grows!—
Reaching, reaching for the height of its passion,
But endlessly reaching—
I love thee.
My sweet, thou hast made pure of me a lover.
A burning fire scorches the flesh and tendons of my soul,
Melting fast the waxen candle:—
I love thee as myself,
For I love thee as thyself,
And as one should we destine,
Striving for the highest and deepest aspirations
Of Life!—
Or Death . . .

(Beginning of poem written Spring, 1970 for R.B, remembered Spring, 1986)

You see here, of course, the influences of the great Romantic poets, with whom I was obsessed: Shelley, Keats, Tennyson, Byron, and especially, Elizabeth Barrett Browning. How the world burned with love, passion, and death! For love had to end in a tragic, prolonged death. Young love, undying love. Romeo and Juliet. Catherine and Heathcliff.

I found a photo of R.B. in an old high school yearbook. Examining the greasy hair, weak chin, thin body, I could only exclaim: WHAT WAS I THINKING BACK THEN? Romeo and Juliet? Hardly. Catherine and Heathcliff? No way!

I often wonder if he achieved his goal. Is he a Doctor of Philosophy now in Physics? Does he still teach? And I still remember his deep, soul-sinking violet eyes. But not my cup of tea. No, definitely not! But he was my love, my very first love, and I treasure that memory. Always.

Copyright 2012 Dawn Pisturino. All Rights Reserved.