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The Poems of Dennis Nurkse

ae dennisEditor’s note:  Dennis Nurkse is the author of numerous collections of poetry, including “The Rules of Paradise” (2001), “The Fall” (2003), and “The Border Kingdom” (2008). Nurkse lives in New York and has been named poet laureate of Brooklyn. In free-verse, lyric poems, Nurkse explores subjects both intimate and political: children, families, love, and the effects of war.  He has received a Whiting Writers’ Award, the Bess Hokin Prize from Poetry, grants from the National Endowment for the Arts, and a Tanne Foundation Award. He has taught at Sarah Lawrence College, the Stonecoast MFA Program in Creative Writing, and Rikers Island Correctional Facility.

Central Brooklyn

Behind the tenements lay wild gardens;

a swaddled fig tree, a Muscat arbor.

I propped my forty-foot ladder against a shim

and climbed and began searing the high porches

with a butane torch. I gouged away dead bees,

resin, gum, soot from forges, caulk. Once

the lovers opened their blind and watched

with pursed lips, hand in hand, her breasts

swaying slightly, his penis limp, their gaze

imperious and forgiving, and I missed a spot.

Then I painted white on white, when I finished

those streets were empty, no one lived there

except the rich, chalk-faced in their long divorce.

 

Making Shelves

In that lit window in Bushwick

halfway through the hardest winter

I cut plexiglass on a table saw,

coaxing the chalked taped pane

into the absence of the blade,

working to such fine tolerance

the kerf abolished the soft-lead line.

I felt your eyes play over me

but did not turn-–dead people

were not allowed in those huge factories.

I bargained: when the bell rang

I would drink with you on Throop

under the El, quick pint of Night Train

but you said no.  Blood jumped

from my little finger, power

snapped off, voices summoned me

by name, but I waved them back

and knelt to rule the next line.

 

Waking In Greenpoint in Late August

We wanted so much that there be a world

as we lay naked on our gray-striped mattress,

staring up at a trowel mark on the eggshell blue ceiling

and waiting, waiting for twilight, darkness, dawn,

marriage, the child, the hoarse names of the city—

let there be a universe in which these lovers can wash

at the pearling spigot, and lick each other dry.

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Chinese New Year of the Red Fire Monkey

Monday, Feb. 8, is Aquarius new moon (19 degrees) and Chinese New Year of the Red Fire Monkey (an imaginative, intelligent and vigilant creature). Monkey is bright, quick, lively, quite naughty, clever, inquiring, sensible, and reliable. Monkey loves to help others. Often they are teachers, writers and linguists. They are very talented, like renaissance people. Leonardo Da Vinci was born in the year of Monkey. Monkey contains metal (relation to gold) and water (wisdom, danger). 2016 will be a year of finances. For a return on one’s money, invest in monkey’s ideas. Metal is related to wind (change). Therefore events in 2016 will change very quickly. We must ponder with care before making financial, business and relationship changes. Fortune’s path may not be smooth in 2016. Finances and business as usual will be challenged. Although we develop practical goals, the outcomes are different than hoped for. We must be cautious with investments and business partnership. It is most important to cultivate a balanced and harmonious daily life, seeking ways to release tension, pressure and stress to improve health and calmness. Monkey is lively, flexible, quick-witted, and versatile. Their gentle, honest, enchanting yet resourceful nature results often in everlasting love. Monkeys are freedom loving. Without freedom, Monkey becomes dull, sad and very unhappy. During the Spring and Autumn Period (770 - 476 BC), the Chinese official title of Marquis (noble person) was pronounced ‘Hou,’ the same as the pronunciation of ‘monkey’ in Chinese. Monkey was thereby bestowed with auspicious (favorable, fortunate) meaning. Monkey years are: 1920, 1932, 1944, 1956, 1968, 1980, 1992, 2004, 2016.  

 

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