Friday, 24 November 2017

Station 40, Chiriu: the Poet Ariwara no Narihira at Eight Bridges by Debora Greger

What is sky but water, more water,
crossed by eight bridges?
Is the ancient poet in a rush to reach land?

No, he’s already one of the Six Immortals.
How long before the papery iris-petals
he admires wrinkle? They barely grow beards.

In a thousand years, pilgrims will come.
They will stand where he stood. Where, they will ask,
are the flowers that empurpled his poem?


Date: 2014

By: Debora Greger (1949- )

Thursday, 23 November 2017

Twilight Time by Samuel Palmer

And now the trembling light
Glimmers behind the little lulls, and corn,
Ling’ring as loth to part: yet part thou must
And though than open day far pleasing more
(Ere yet the fields and pearled cups of flowers
twinkle in the parting light),
Thee night shall hide, sweet visionary gleam
That softly lookest through the rising dew;
Till all like silver bright,
The faithful Witness, pure and white
Shall look o’er yonder grassy hill,
At this village, safe and still,
All is safe and all is still,
Save what noise the watch-dog makes
Or the shrill cock the silence breaks
Now and then —
And now and then —
Hark! — once again,
The wether’s bell
To us doth tell
Some little stirring in the fold.
Methinks the ling’ring, dying ray
Of twilight time, doth seem more fair,
And lights the soul up more than day,
When wide-spread, sultry sunshines are.
Yet all is right, and all most fair
For thou, dear God, hast formèd all;
Thou deckest ev’ry little flower,
Thou girdest every planet ball —
And markest when sparrows fall

From: Grigson, Geoffrey, Samuel Palmer: The Visionary Years, 1947, Kegan Paul: London, pp. 26-27.

Date: 1824

By: Samuel Palmer (1805-1881)

Wednesday, 22 November 2017

The Dog Itself by Helen Farish

Memory rounds this up, breathless,
like the dog herding sheep
below the bedroom window:

dropped at my feet are smells –
wool in the rain, my aunt’s
cigarette smoked on the hoof,

gorse also, firs making green
(and what it all means,
that too has a smell).

Not forgetting the dog itself,
so pleased with its work,
I must pen it in quick.


Date: 2016

By: Helen Farish (1962- )

Tuesday, 21 November 2017

Could the Sad Trembling Tenant of This Breast by Mary Blackford/Blanchford Tighe

Could the sad trembling tenant of this breast
Declare to what delicious scenes it flies,
When night, and silence seal these weary eyes,
Yielding awhile my anxious sorrows rest;
If, as I think, it then with freedom blest,
May seek the friend for whom it hourly sighs
Thro’ tedious days, that joy might well suffice,
To cheer the following morn, and when opprest
By present cares, the hopes of coming night
And sleep to free it from earth’s heavy chain,
Should sooth my soul with promise of delight;
The soft reflection might relieve the pain
Of absence, mock the transitory reign
Of fate, and scorn the bounds of space in rapid flight.


Date: 1798

By: Mary Blackford/Blanchford Tighe (1772-1810)

Monday, 20 November 2017

Dollar Bill by Michael Chitwood

Small-town AM station,
morning show,
still doing a gospel number every hour.
Who’s listening?
Bacon tenders, baby sitters.
He yucks it up for the insurance office crew,
the stop-in, mini-mart gas shacks.
He’s on the counter at The Hub,
talking coffee cups up and down.
A clown, a daily goofball,
regular as sunup and death,
he reads the obits from the local paper
and sometimes adds a personal note.
Even the disembodied here have an anecdote.
Dashboard and countertop,
new tunes and same old same old,
beer on sale, car tires, paint,
link sausage, the grind and groove
of tune. We’re coming up on noon.
Outside, in the parking lot, sparrows bathe
in the dust. Empires rise and fall. He’ll notice
and say nothing of it on the air.


Date: 2002

By: Michael Chitwood (1958- )

Sunday, 19 November 2017

Fennel by John North

I rub fennel between my fingers
and some is taken up in the breeze.
I take it up to my mouth

and chew. It is like aniseed, a universe.
And so the Benedictine draws
for his botanica

and here is my tongue;
I suggest taste is a dialogue
between man and God –

I still suggest it.
How the taste has not changed
in a thousand years.

Or perhaps it has a little,
moment by moment, here, or heaven,
for it too is written.


Date: 2016

By: John North (1990- )

Saturday, 18 November 2017

Sonnett 3 by Dudley North

I doe not Love, it is most true,
Nor know I yett where Love is due.
For Love should not its growth prepare
But when perfections past compare
Attract and cherish like the Sunn,
And seeke t’enthrall all hearts to One.
Perfection such can hardly bee
In Man, whose spring is levity,
Whose summer is in faction spent,
Whose autumns fruit is discontent,
Old age is worse, yett women place
Theyr hearts on this unhappy race.
For mee I prize my freedome deare,
And shall not till the glorious day
When a new Phenix shall appeare,
Or love or give my selfe away.

From: Randall, Dale B. J., Gentle Flame: The Life and Verse of Dudley, Fourth Lord North (1602-1677), 1983, Duke University Press: Durham, N.C., p. 131.

Date: c1660

By: Dudley North (1602-1677)

Friday, 17 November 2017

The Red and the Blue by Josephine Dickinson

You wonder, am I satisfied with you?
Some inequality you take as read.
But ravelling my hemp, your wool, my red,
your blue, we spin a single human hair.

From: Dickinson, Josephine, Silence Fell, 2008, Houghton Mifflin Co: Boston & New York, p. 12.

Date: 2007

By: Josephine Dickinson (1957- )

Thursday, 16 November 2017

A Lament by George Edward Woodberry

Dizzily dropping, to the gulf I fall,
The bright bolt in my brain!
Vainly upon the heavenly gods I call,
Murmuring a mortal’s pain.

Deep under deep receives me, and no wing
Bears up the astonished soul:—
Only the fire-eyed stars have ceased to sing.
And the gray sea to roll.

From: Woodberry, George Edward, The Roamer and Other Poems, 1920, Harcourt, Brace and Howe: New York, p. 245.

Date: 1920

By: George Edward Woodberry (1855-1930)

Wednesday, 15 November 2017

Letters from America by Jyotirmoy Datta

I have been intrigued by much
That I came across in this bewildering land
But by none more than the winged corkscrew
Bottle openers I bought at our neighborhood store.

The object looks like the skeleton
Of a man without legs
Whose spinal column
At turns of its hollow skull
Becomes its penis, which penetrates the cork.

Punctured, with loss of a little wine,
The cork is evicted from the bottle
Following a manly pumping of the outstretched
Metal arms
Which is why in the local tongue
Making love is called “screwing.”
But it’s a love even more heartless
Than that of the caliph in the Arabian Nights.

I think of all the empty spaces in the world:
The slits of my shirtsleeve buttonholes,
The hollows in the breasts of shoes
Waiting in cardboxes in the stores.
But in all the earth there is nothing emptier
Than the hole in the punctured virgin cork
Pierced by a ravisher who was cold as steel.


Date: 1969 (original in Bengali); 1969 (translation in English)

By: Jyotirmoy Datta (1936- )

Translated by: Jyotirmoy Datta (1936- )