Thursday, 20 September 2018

Touch Me by Stanley Jasspon Kunitz

Summer is late, my heart.
Words plucked out of the air
some forty years ago
when I was wild with love
and torn almost in two
scatter like leaves this night
of whistling wind and rain.
It is my heart that’s late,
it is my song that’s flown.
Outdoors all afternoon
under a gunmetal sky
staking my garden down,
I kneeled to the crickets trilling
underfoot as if about
to burst from their crusty shells;
and like a child again
marveled to hear so clear
and brave a music pour
from such a small machine.
What makes the engine go?
Desire, desire, desire.
The longing for the dance
stirs in the buried life.
One season only,
and it’s done.
So let the battered old willow
thrash against the windowpanes
and the house timbers creak.
Darling, do you remember
the man you married? Touch me,
remind me who I am.

From: https://www.theatlantic.com/past/docs/unbound/poetry/antholog/kunitz/touchme.htm

Date: 1995

By: Stanley Jasspon Kunitz (1905-2006)

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Wednesday, 19 September 2018

Middle Age by Jason Shinder

Many of my friends are alone
and know too much to be happy
though they still want to dive
to the bottom of the green ocean
and bring back a gold coin
in their hand. A woman I know wakes
in the late evening and talks
to her late husband,
the windows blank photographs.
On the porch, my brother,
hands in pockets,
stares at the flowing stream.
What’s wrong? Nothing.
The cows stand
in their own slow afternoons.
The horses gather
wild rose hips in the sun
the way I longed for someone
long ago. What was it like?
The door opening
and no one on either side.

From: https://www.poetryfoundation.org/poems/54031/middle-age

Date: 2009 (published)

By: Jason Shinder (1955-2008)

Tuesday, 18 September 2018

As the Ruin Falls by Clive Staples Lewis

All this is flashy rhetoric about loving you —
I never had a selfless thought since I was born.
I am mercenary and self-seeking through and through;
I want God, you, all friends merely to serve my turn.

Peace, re-assurance, pleasure are the goals I seek;
I cannot crawl one inch outside my proper skin;
I talk of love — a scholar’s parrot may talk Greek,
But self-imprisoned, always end where I begin.

Only that you now have taught me (but how late!) my lack,
I see the chasm; and everything you are was making
My heart into a bridge by which I might get back
From exile and grow man. And now the bridge is breaking.
For this I bless you as the ruin falls. The pains
You give me are more precious than all other gains.

From: http://www.thehypertexts.com/Best%20Elegies%20Dirges%20Laments%20and%20Poems%20of%20Mourning.html

Date: 1964 (published)

By: Clive Staples Lewis (1898-1963)

Monday, 17 September 2018

Condolence by Noël Peirce Coward

The mind, an inveterate traveller
Journeys swiftly and far
Faster than light, quicker than sound
Or the flaming arc of a falling star
But the body remains in a vacuum
Gagged, bound and sick with dread
Knowing the words that can’t be spoken
Searching for words that must be said
Dumb, inarticulate, heartbroken.
Inadequate, inhibited.

From: Coward, Noël, Payn, Graham and Tickner, Martin (eds.) Noël Coward: Collected Verse, Bloomsbury: London, p. 65.
(https://books.google.com.au/books?id=BIkIBAAAQBAJ)

Date: 1967

By: Noël Peirce Coward (1899-1973)

Sunday, 16 September 2018

Lament Not, Wayfarer by Carphyllidas

Lament not, wayfarer, that passest by my tomb;
not even in death have I any cause for tears.
Children’s children do I leave:
with one wife was I blessed, whose years were as my own.
Three sons I gave in marriage,
and oft have I rocked their children on my breast.
Nor death nor sickness of one of them all have I bewailed,
but they have given me due rites of funeral, and sent me
to sleep the sleep delectable, in the land of the leal.

From: Tomson, Graham R. (ed.), Selections from the Greek Anthology, 1895, Walter Scott: London, p. 95.
(https://archive.org/details/selectionsfromgr00wats)

Date: 1st century BCE (original in Greek); 1895 (translation in English)

By: Carphyllidas (1st century BCE)

Translated by: Andrew Lang (1844-1912)

Saturday, 15 September 2018

Ballade of Middle Age by Andrew Lang

Our youth began with tears and sighs,
With seeking what we could not find;
Our verses all were threnodies,
In elegiacs still we whined;
Our ears were deaf, our eyes were blind,
We sought and knew not what we sought.
We marvel, now we look behind:
Life’s more amusing than we thought!

Oh, foolish youth, untimely wise!
Oh, phantoms of the sickly mind!
What? not content with seas and skies,
With rainy clouds and southern wind,
With common cares and faces kind,
With pains and joys each morning brought?
Ah, old, and worn, and tired we find
Life’s more amusing than we thought!

Though youth “turns spectre-thin and dies,”
To mourn for youth we’re not inclined;
We set our souls on salmon flies,
We whistle where we once repined.
Confound the woes of human-kind!
By Heaven we’re “well deceived,” I wot;
Who hum, contented or resigned,
“Life’s more amusing than we thought”!

Envoy.
O nate mecum, worn and lined
Our faces show, but that is naught;
Our hearts are young ’neath wrinkled rind:
Life’s more amusing than we thought!

From: Lang, Andrew, Ballades & Rhymes: From Ballades in Blue China and Rhymes à la Mode, 1911, Longmans, Green and Co: London, New York and Calcutta, pp. 147-148.
(http://www.gutenberg.org/files/3138/3138-h/3138-h.htm)

Date: 1885

By: Andrew Lang (1844-1912)

Friday, 14 September 2018

Rain Crow by Bobby Caudle Rogers

rain•bird (rān´bûrd´), n. any of several birds, esp. the black-billed cuckoo (Coccyzus erythropthalmus) and the yellow-billed cuckoo (C. americanus), that are said to call frequently before a rainstorm. [1910-15; RAIN + BIRD]

—Random House Dictionary of the English Language, 2nd Ed., Unabridged

Until I learned better, the song of a mourning dove could make me homesick. I might be walking
to breakfast down Melrose Avenue
in Knoxville, my first weeks up at school, and a wind-slurred call would startle me homeward. I
must have still believed
the town I’d forsaken was the only place that could produce a sad sound. Why shouldn’t the rest of
the world harbor a wild bird or two
with mournful songs to sing? That fall whenever the phone rang, some voice from home came on
the line to describe the circumstances surrounding
the death of another high school classmate. A dangerous time, those first stridings into the world,
not knowing what you’ll need to fear or even the name

it went by. More than one suicide that fall. And then Kirby was killed driving home at 3:00 in the
morning after playing bass guitar
in a nameless bar band. I had almost stopped thinking about it every single second when The
McKenzie Banner
 arrived with its hometown news
and gossip. There above the fold on page one was a picture of a volunteer fireman pointing a hose
at the burning car to cool it down
so he and his help might get at it with the hydraulic cutter, in no particular hurry. People who care
more about these things will tell you
the rain crow is a species of cuckoo, secretive and rarely seen save in the heat before a storm hits,
but where I come from

the rain crow was the mourning dove, its coo-coo-coo heard as plaintive whether it is or not.
Outside of hunting season, one was perched
on every fencepost, flocks of them evenly spaced along sagging power lines. When the sky grew
cloudy and made ready to rain the birds would take wing
to dart and converse with added urgency as the wind kicked up. Their fair weather singing had
been so much practice: now they dared us to write
consolation onto the notes of their song. I could love the folk wisdom handed me even if I couldn’t
believe it was true. The world doesn’t need a bird’s singing
to make it any sadder, but what harm trying to match a few words to the dove’s breathy triplets?
The rain will come—if not just now, then soon enough.

From: http://crr.trevecca.edu/article/rain-crow

Date: 2016

By: Bobby Caudle Rogers (19??- )

Thursday, 13 September 2018

Getting By by David Harris Ebenbach

At boring jobs I used to calculate
how much I made per minute, keeping track
of the day, twelve cents by twelve cents, as it
deposited its small worth in the bank.
Once, doing temp work, I passed this along
to my equally bored supervisor,
who did her own math, compared it to mine,
and stomped off to the office manager.
She came back with a raise, and somehow I
wasn’t fired. We got back to the work of
ordering envelopes by zip code, by
a labor of something other than love.
A labor of minutes, and here’s the thing
about minutes: they just keep on passing.

From: https://workmagazinearchives.wordpress.com/back-issues/davidharrisebenbach4172011/

Date: 2011

By: David Harris Ebenbach (1972- )

Wednesday, 12 September 2018

The Ever Changing by Alice Brown

Three things I know that greatly range
Through an infinitude of change:
The moving tumult of the sea,
Clouds limned in mutability,
That awful magic men call fire—
High priest at permanency’s pyre—
Pulsing to coal and flowered in flame,
Yet never, through unnumbered years, the same.

A hand there was that hurled the sun
In his encircling road to run,
And drew the lineaments of those
Men call the lilac and the rose,
And set the crystals of the air
In form on form most brightly fair,
But wearied of the lasting line,
The form unaltered through the type divine.

O loveliness of lavishment!
O flower of godhead’s discontent!
Dear ebb and flux of death and birth,
Tumultuous rhythm of air and earth,
Beauty pursued, herself pursuing,
In evanescence and renewing,
Vast, glad caprice of frolic will
Sporting with changes, yet unchanging still.

From: https://en.wikisource.org/wiki/The_Ever_Changing

Date: 1921

By: Alice Brown (1857-1948)

Tuesday, 11 September 2018

Mad Exit by Vasile “Vasko” Popa

They scare me by saying
There’s a screw loose in my head

They scare me more by saying
They’ll bury me
In a box with the screws loose

They scare me but little do they realise
That my loose screws
Scare them

The happy crazy from our street
Boasts to me.

From: http://www.beyond-the-pale.co.uk/vaskopopa.htm

Date: c1975 (original in Serbian); 1996 (translation in English)

By: Vasile “Vasko” Popa (1922-1991)

Translated by: Anthony Weir (1941- )