Thursday, July 21, 2016

Saturday, July 09, 2016

a feast of Saint Benedict

the ear of my heart inclined to listen
i see a song of morning voices
the color of sun in trees outside
an open window. caged bird two
floors below replies in kind.
chatter streams on and off on
the street, brush barely touching
paper taking ink on where it rises,
little mulberry memories still here
and there. truck speeds south on
a northbound street bold dark
stroke of a wide brush that makes
high places low leaves no gaps
to mind. cyclists see precepts as options
for the slow and faint of heart. waiting is
weakness of time lost. the future, now, is
agile local small scarlet turning. truck turns. no
silence, but for a moment there are robins
singing right before my eyes, a school,
i hear, for the service of some god.

©Steven Schroeder
[from we're open, come in, 2014]

Wednesday, June 29, 2016

Curriculum Vitae


There is good

to believe

indicative of future



The past is
one thing after
another, one thing

at a time, and one
thing (a Swallow, say) does
not make Spring. But turning and

turning and turning is
another thing.

In time, this thing and that is all one
needs to draw a line. And where

there is a line, there is
no end to the points
to be made in passing.


Everybody knows
the past is not



It all comes back
to me. When I
was fifty, I

went to Lhasa. On
the way, I

passed the hut
where Du Fu lived. I

circled Jokhang Temple
the year after I

returned to
Karelia looking

for cold clear light.


and time

again. I
was forty when

I wandered



before Wenceslas
Square, which brings

to mind lines
that never

meet and lines
that make a point

of passing through, what
makes a Spring. Who

says we

in Euclidean space?

I was not
thirty when

I stood in Highgate

after Red

after the Castle
Church in Wittenberg

after a party in Weimar
to begin my thirtieth year.


to begin

the third ten
the Black Hills

thinking myself
on the moon

passing through
the Badlands

on the way
to Colorado.

Later, I heard
the war had really

ended after
I had passed

through the desert
on the way to some mountain.

have been

unpaving the road
outside my

since seven
this morning.

The window
is open, Gwendolyn,

because everybody knows
by now there is a poem out there.


The past
returns, the future

is theater. No
promise but Spring,

no idea what we
mean by we, where

I will find myself
this time tomorrow.

Chicago, 28 June 2013

©Steven Schroeder
[from the moon, not the finger, pointing. Lamar University Press, 2016]
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Thursday, June 23, 2016

Turing Test

Eavesdropping in a language you
don’t really know is an etude
for imagination, an elementary
exercise you run through
again and again as a beginner
on the instrument until
the fragments you master
resemble wholes long after
the people you live with are
tired of hearing them repeated —
to have a familiar ring, a theme
you can make new on your
own instrument.

                    Like a conversation
in an imperfect tongue. You keep
your part to yourself so it sounds
for all the world like silence, like
you’re not there, like your presence is
nothing more than an interval between
strange words. You know as much when
you overhear as when you are expected
to play a part. The role is acting

absent, catching bits and pieces so
you can pretend you know
what’s going on.

©Steven Schroeder

Saturday, June 18, 2016


Celebration of
syncopation, two
years late stutterstep
proclamation says

Makes you want to shout
Texas is undeniable.

Texas is undeniable.

Undeniable slow
like a stone in
the pocket of a
suicide who
takes the ocean in
her arms and waits.

Slow the way it dawns
on us to own human
human. Texas two step
everywhere. Celebrate
with something slow
like barbecue.

Lincoln, yes, and Gordon
Granger in Galveston. Carry
their proclamation in your
pocket. But never forget,
never forget that old man
down by Navasota:

You know
, he said, you know,
you still got the disease, honey.

I know you think you’re cured,
but you ain’t cured. Talkin’
‘bout givin’ me this, givin’ me
that, givin’ me somethin’ I was
born with same as you.

You cain’t give me the right to be
a human being. You cain’t give me
the right to be human. You can
keep it from me with your
police and your armies
and your dogs and your
money and your power.
But you cain’t

give it to me. You cain’t
give me somethin’I was
born with same as you.
You cain’t give me

somethin’ that’s already mine.

Texas two step
everywhere, slow
as a stone in the pocket
of a suicide waiting on water.
Slow as barbecue. Remember.

©Steven Schroeder

[the italicized quotation is from Remembering Slavery. Edited by Ira Berlin, Marc Favreau, and Steven F. Miller. The New Press, 1998, Appendix I, p.330, transcript of Smithsonian Production's radio documentary of the same title, produced by Jacquie Gales Webb and Kathie Farnell.]

Tuesday, June 07, 2016

Friday, June 03, 2016

at the Union Miners Cemetery

Standing in this field of tombstones in a rising wind
on the road from Alabama to the promised land,
you'd think the whole damn planet
was a burial ground waiting

for what will be left
after the next massacre.

Every little inch, every
grain of dirt, every spot I walk,
the dead more present than the living.

Pray for the courage
to pray like hell

for the dead,
the serenity to fight

like hell for the living,
the wisdom to know

when it might make a difference.

©Steven Schroeder
[from turn, virtual artists collective, 2012]

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