Sunday, 13 June 2021

A Northern Suburb by John Davidson

Nature selects the longest way,
And winds about in tortuous grooves;
A thousand years the oaks decay;
The wrinkled glacier hardly moves.

But here the whetted fangs of change
Daily devour the old demesne –
The busy farm, the quiet grange,
The wayside inn, the village green.

In gaudy yellow brick and red,
With rooting pipes, like creepers rank,
The shoddy terraces o’erspread
Meadow, and garth, and daisied bank.

With shelves for rooms the houses crowd,
Like draughty cupboards in a row –
Ice-chests when wintry winds are loud,
Ovens when summer breezes blow.

Roused by the fee’d policeman’s knock,
And sad that day should come again,
Under the stars the workmen flock
In haste to reach the workmen’s train.

For here dwell those who must fulfil
Dull tasks in uncongenial spheres,
Who toil through dread of coming ill,
And not with hope of happier years –

The lowly folk who scarcely dare
Conceive themselves perhaps misplaced,
Whose prize for unremitting care
Is only not to be disgraced.

From: https://www.theguardian.com/books/booksblog/2011/apr/18/poem-of-the-week-john-davidson

Date: 1896

By: John Davidson (1857-1909)

Saturday, 12 June 2021

The Beast by William (Bill) Lewis

The Beast sits by the telephone
Beauty doesn’t call anymore.

Outside across the lawn a peacock
cries out like a woman being murdered.

The Beast sits inside, curtains block
the gardens where stone animals crowd.

The Beast wears a black eye patch.
Beauty stabbed him in the eye

with the slim blade of her body.
Her smile is a Stanley knife.

The delicate lines around her mouth
cut deep into his sight. His vision hurts.

She is not cruel but her face is
a loaded gun that he presses against
the temple of his memory.

He is caught in a pincer movement,
his bad body image on one side
Beauty on the other.

He reads Angela Carter novels, fairy tales
and Mother Goose and hopes that wisdom

does not go stale over the centuries.
In those stories she always returns.

To be honest he fears that a little.
He has, after all, only one eye left.

He plays records. It is the nature of
the Beast to own vinyl, not a CD collection.

Julie London cries him a river Frank Sinatra
sings, it can happen to you/ fairy tales can come true

He does not know that sentimentality
is an act of violence.

In the dark bedroom his good eye waters.

From: https://web.archive.org/web/20061111102437/http://www.endicott-studio.com/cofhs/cofbeast.html

Date: 1998

By: William (Bill) Lewis (1953- )

Friday, 11 June 2021

Sorcery by Jessica Hagedorn

there are some people i know
whose beauty
is a crime.
who make you so crazy
you don’t know
whether to throw yourself
at them
or kill them.
which makes
for permanent madness.
which could be
bad for you.
you better be on the lookout
for such circumstances.

stay away
from the night.
they most likely lurk
in corners of the room
where they think
they being inconspicuous
but they so beautiful
an aura
gives them away.

stay away
from the day.
they most likely
be walking
down the street
when you least
expect it
trying to look
ordinary
but they so fine
they break your heart
by making you dream
of other possibilities.

stay away
from crazy music.
they most likely
be creating it.
cuz when you’re that beautiful
you can’t help
putting it out there.
everyone knows
how dangerous
that can get.

stay away
from magic shows.
especially those
involving words.
words are very
tricky things.
everyone knows
words
the most common
instruments of
illusion.

they most likely
be saying them,
breathing poems
so rhythmic
you can’t help
but dance.
and once
you start dancing
to words
you might never
stop.

From: https://www.poetryfoundation.org/poems/58125/sorcery

Date: 1993

By: Jessica Hagedorn (1949- )

Thursday, 10 June 2021

A Dead March by William Cosmo Monkhouse

Play me a march, low-ton’d and slow—a march for a silent tread,
Fit for the wandering feet of one who dreams of the silent dead,
Lonely, between the bones below and the souls that are overhead.

Here for a while they smil’d and sang, alive in the interspace,
Here with the grass beneath the foot, and the stars above the face,
Now are their feet beneath the grass, and whither has flown their grace?

Who shall assure us whence they come, or tell us the way they go?
Verily, life with them was joy, and, now they have left us, woe,
Once they were not, and now they are not, and this is the sum we know.

Orderly range the seasons due, and orderly roll the stars.
How shall we deem the soldier brave who frets of his wounds and scars?
Are we as senseless brutes that we should dash at the well-seen bars?

No, we are here, with feet unfix’d, but ever as if with lead
Drawn from the orbs which shine above to the orb on which we tread,
Down to the dust from which we came and with which we shall mingle dead.

No, we are here to wait, and work, and strain our banish’d eyes,
Weary and sick of soil and toil, and hungry and fain for skies
Far from the reach of wingless men, and not to be scal’d with cries.

No, we are here to bend our necks to the yoke of tyrant Time,
Welcoming all the gifts he gives us—glories of youth and prime,
Patiently watching them all depart as our heads grow white as rime.

Why do we mourn the days that go—for the same sun shines each day,
Ever a spring her primrose hath, and ever a May her may;
Sweet as the rose that died last year is the rose that is born to-day.

Do we not too return, we men, as ever the round earth whirls?
Never a head is dimm’d with gray but another is sunn’d with curls;
She was a girl and he was a boy, but yet there are boys and girls.

Ah, but alas for the smile of smiles that never but one face wore;
Ah, for the voice that has flown away like a bird to an unseen shore;
Ah, for the face—the flower of flowers—that blossoms on earth no more.

From: https://mypoeticside.com/show-classic-poem-19631

Date: 1890

By: William Cosmo Monkhouse (1840-1901)

Wednesday, 9 June 2021

Cousin Coat by Sean O’Brien

You are my secret coat. You’re never dry.
You wear the weight and stink of black canals.
Malodorous companion, we know why
It’s taken me so long to see we’re pals,
To learn why my acquaintance never sniff
Or send me notes to say I stink of stiff.

But you don’t talk, historical bespoke.
You must he worn, be intimate as skin,
And though I never lived what you invoke,
At birth I was already buttoned in.
Your clammy itch became my atmosphere,
An air made half of anger, half of fear.

And what you are is what I tried to shed
In libraries with Donne and Henry James.
You’re here to bear a message from the dead
Whose history’s dishonoured with their names.
You mean the North, the poor, and troopers sent
To shoot down those who showed their discontent.

No comfort there for comfy meliorists
Grown weepy over Jarrow photographs.
No comfort when the poor the state enlists
Parade before their fathers’ cenotaphs.
No comfort when the strikers all go back
To see which twenty thousand get the sack.

Be with me when they cauterise the facts.
Be with me to the bottom of the page,
Insisting on what history exacts.
Be memory, be conscience, will and rage,
And keep me cold and honest, cousin coat,
So if I lie, I’ll know you’re at my throat.

From: http://www.stosvet.net/12/o_brien/index.html

Date: 1987

By: Sean O’Brien (1952- )

Tuesday, 8 June 2021

While We Are Still Alive by William Heyen

“Why don’t we find each other, and go home, while we are still alive?” – James Wright

I ease my seat back to try to doze,
and do, almost. A stewardess
brushes by in her cloud perfume.
How long before I’m home?

Terminal . . . . I stand in a circle
for my suitcase. Paranoid eyes
jump from one suspect to another.
When was I ever home?

Businessmen in black wingtips
click along corridors to waiting cars.
At least my line is busy:
someone must be home.

Something went wrong somewhere
in our lives, or we would not be here.
I try the phone again. This time,
the right number, no one home.

I sit down, untie my shoes,
close my eyes to think something through,
but what’s the use when a numb brain
droops from its stem?

I life my suitcase to my lap,
drum it with my fingers, hum,
stand too fast, dizzy, a dream
cut through by the clear ache for home.

Automatic doors buzz
but open only half way.
I bang into plate glass panes,
step back again.

Inside, outside the door,
I stand invisible in this form.
Why don’t we find each other,
and go home?

From: Heyen, William, ‘While We Are Still Alive’ in Southern Humanities Review, Volume 20.4, Fall 1986, p. 316.
(http://www.southernhumanitiesreview.com/william-heyen-while-we-are-still-alive.html)

Date: 1986

By: William Heyen (1940- )

Monday, 7 June 2021

[He Would Not Stay for Me, and Who Can Wonder?] by Alfred Edward Housman

He would not stay for me, and who can wonder?
He would not stay for me to stand and gaze.
I shook his hand, and tore my heart in sunder,
And went with half my life about my ways.

From: https://poets.org/poem/he-would-not-stay-me-and-who-can-wonder

Date: 1939 (published)

By: Alfred Edward Housman (1859-1936)

Sunday, 6 June 2021

[By What Mistake Were Pigeons Made So Happy] by James Henry

By what mistake were pigeons made so happy,
So plump and fat and sleek and well content,
So little with the affairs of others meddling,
So little meddled with? say, a collared dog,
And hard worked ox, and horse still harder worked,
And caged canary, why, uncribbed, unmaimed,
Unworked and of its will lord absolute,
The pigeon sole has free board and free quarters,
Till at its throat the knife, and pigeon pie
Must smoke ere noon upon the parson’s table;
Say, if ye can; I cannot, for the life o’ me;
But, whersoe’er I go, I find it so;
The pigeon of all things that walk or fly
Or swim or creep, the best cared-for and happiest;
Ornament ever fresh and ever fair
Of castle and of cottage, palace roof
And village street, alike, and stubble field,
And every eye and volute of the minster;
Philosopher’s and poet’s and my own
Envy and admiration, theme and riddle;
Emblem and hieroglyphic of the third
Integral unit of the Trinity;
Not even by pagan set to heavier task
Than draw the cart of Venus; since the deluge
Never once asked to carry in the bill,
And by the telegraph and penny-post
Released for ever from all charge of letters.

From: https://www.berfrois.com/2014/09/by-what-mistake-were-pigeons-james-henry/

Date: 1866

By: James Henry (1798-1876)

Saturday, 5 June 2021

Post It by Gig (Elizabeth Anne Martina) Ryan

Technique whittled to a spear prongs earth 
as tabby night filters a soaped waterfall of recollected words 
jammed in a shoe, prudently 
It passes on a cloud 
and can’t fit in the photo 
that dissolves trusty leaves 
that feather bright and soft, as if a picture’s jarred time 
where unlit books ramble into dream, sleep’s pillion 
levering The Anthology of Fireside Chats 
away from the grate with an heirloom poker 
or more exactly, some crimp heater sloughed by the street 
Fill the chute’s leftovers, a mug’s trail of relenting principles 
wired to ankle, currency lass in a jumper times the curfew 
a ball of discomfort on a vintage beanbag 
while daffodils recite – preamble: body-as-quest 
tougher than a table of elements in pin-drop pause 
Adjust the sigh track near a convocation of analysts 
A remix swims over a screen 
Talk: plastic 
 
From: Ryan, Gig, ‘Post It’ in Cordite Poetry Review48.0: Constraint, 20 December 2020, p. [unnumbered]. 
(https://webarchive.nla.gov.au/awa/20141220030158/http://pandora.nla.gov.au/pan/14234/20141220-0000/cordite.org.au/poetry/constraint/post-it/index.html) 
 
Date: 2014 
 
by: Gig (Elizabeth Anne Martina) Ryan (1956- )

Friday, 4 June 2021

Wearing Corks by Thomas Henry Wilson

There’s a pesky sort o’ glimmerin‘ in the thin white track ahead, 
And the salt lake seems a-shimmerin‘ like a sea o’ melted lead. 
Ain’t a blessed twig a-stirrin‘—ain’t a livin thing but flies; 
They keep buzzin‘ and a-whirrin‘ at the corks afore my eyes. 
Yes; I’ve got them on at last, 
An’ they’re just the things as talks. 
Don’t give tuppence for the past— 
Wearin‘ Corks. 
 
From Fremantle out to Morgans, and from Morgans further back, 
Where the desert ends the goldfields and the devil ends the track, 
Swallowing mullock from the shaker, gettin fat on cyanide, 
An’ a gettin‘ through it somehow—p’rhaps where better men have died. 
Bet I often got weak-hearted; 
Pretty nigh wiped off me chalks; 
All broke up—until I started 
Wearin‘ Corks! 
 
In the days of wine and women that we always say we’ve had, 
Guess it wasn’t always swimmin‘; sometimes sinking took us bad. 
If we supped off stout and oysters, took a woman to the play, 
We’d a “head” an’ empty pockets—she’d another chap—next day. 
But the night has never fled, 
And, the morrow never baulks, 
And you’ve women, wine, and bed— 
Wearin‘ Corks! 
 
Here’s the “soak”; I’ll light a fire; nicest day I ever felt . 
(Handy piece of fencing wire; do me nicely for a belt.) 
Think I hear a dingo howling—that sounds homely, just alright. 
Guess I know some chap in Sydney’d like to be with me to-night, 
In the city some may scoff, 
But I know—experience talks— 
There’d be thousands better off 
Wearin‘ Corks. 
 
From: ‘Rhymers’ Refuge’ in Sunday Times (Perth, WA : 1902-1954), Sunday, 8 March 1903, p. 10. 
(https://trove.nla.gov.au/newspaper/article/57221289#) 
 
Date: 1903 
 
By: Thomas Henry Wilson (1867-1925)