Friday, 22 March 2019

Outside by Karen McCarthy Woolf

under the arcade
and the floor-length glass shop front:
a green pop-up dome

flanked by a Burberry
suitcase and a sleeping-bag

a makeshift shelter
for Sai from Stratford
with time to invest

in a four-day queue – he’s first
in line for an iPhone 6s

no-one moves him on
or threatens arrest
as it’s not about where

but why you pitch your tent.


Date: 2017

By: Karen McCarthy Woolf (19??- )

Thursday, 21 March 2019

American Avalon by Connie Deanovich

Frankenstein naps on a golden bed
covered by a floral quilt
handstitched as he is handstitched

He dreams of making a gigantic sandwich
the tense moment of triumph coming when finally
he gets both hands to work at once

He dreams of picnicking in a glistening meadow
recently cleaned by a biology class
dreams of riding there on top a glistening Harley

He sees himself this way or else
prone in black leather
glamorously handcuffed inside his electric dungeon

Tomorrow he’ll rise arms first from his golden bed
trying to piece together the images of his dreams
into an incontestable memory

When he stumbles toward you
will you slowly teach him your name
or will you quickly distribute fire?


Date: 1997

By: Connie Deanovich (1960- )

Wednesday, 20 March 2019

Equinox by Elizabeth Alexander

Now is the time of year when bees are wild
and eccentric. They fly fast and in cramped
loop-de-loops, dive-bomb clusters of conversants
in the bright, late-September out-of-doors.
I have found their dried husks in my clothes.

They are dervishes because they are dying,
one last sting, a warm place to squeeze
a drop of venom or of honey.
After the stroke we thought would be her last
my grandmother came back, reared back and slapped

a nurse across the face. Then she stood up,
walked outside, and lay down in the snow.
Two years later there is no other way
to say, we are waiting. She is silent, light
as an empty hive, and she is breathing.


Date: 1993

By: Elizabeth Alexander (1962- )

Tuesday, 19 March 2019

Change by John Raymond Knister

I shall not wonder more, then,
But I shall know.

Leaves change, and birds, flowers,
And after years are still the same.

The sea’s breast heaves in sighs to the moon,
But they are moon and sea forever.

As in other times the trees stand tense and lonely,
And spread a hollow moan of other times.

You will be you yourself,
I’ll find you more, not else,
For vintage of the woeful years.

The sea breathes, or broods, or loudens,
Is bright or is mist and the end of the world;
And the sea is constant to change.

I shall not wonder more, then,
But I shall know.


Date: 1922

By: John Raymond Knister (1899-1932)

Monday, 18 March 2019

Preparations for the Reception of a Soul by Anne Haverty

For Swinburne, Symons
Arranged the angels
In rows of three
And organised Goethe
To be there
At the head of
The waiting party.

Bearers of Fernet Branca
Opium and turkey-legs,
Aids poets use on earth
To attain heaven
He didn’t mention.
An expert, he assumed that
After the journey
Poets would live
On the ether of each other.

To welcome in
The ordinary soul
There is the old
Assembly of kith and kin,
An auntie to take your hand,
A long-beloved’s smile
To light the path
To the Beatific Familiar.

As usual, I want everything
Ether and hearth,
Everybody to be there,
Goethe and grandmother
The young man who
Died in France on the lonely
Rack of the parallel bars
Running with Radiguet
Along our paradise shore.
And the one who is
Locked in my heart.

A perfect university
For the affectionate elect,
A blooming of my first
Stunted year at Trinity,
Uncle floating across the Square
For a word with Mary Anne
Known of course as George
To Browning.


Date: 1992

By: Anne Haverty (1959- )

Sunday, 17 March 2019

Go De Sin, Con De Sin, Nach mBainean Sin Dho* by Mary Balfour

The rose-bud its fragrance at evening may breathe,
Or sparkle with dew-drops the moonlight beneath,
Its fragrance, its beauty, its sweets I resign,
And Erin’s green shamrock alone shall be mine.
The laurel its branches triumphant may wave,
And shade with its foliage the tomb of the brave;
No blood-crimsoned chaplet my brows shall entwine,
But Erin’s green shamrock alone shall be mine.
Oh dearer by far is thy leaf to the heart,
Than all the rich bloom of the East could impart,
May Erin thy plants in her bosom enshrine,
And the sprig her affection has hallowed, be mine.

*Author’s note: Pronounced…Go de shin, do te shin, nagh maynean shin ya [What’s that to one to whom’s it of no concern].

From: Miss Balfour, Hope, a Poetical Essay; with Various Other Poems, 1810, Smith and Lyons, High-Street, p. 155.

Date: 1810

By: Mary Balfour (1778-1819)

Saturday, 16 March 2019

Justice in America by John Clark Ferguson (Alfred Lee)

Justice is blind, for, next her darken’d eyes
The well-tied bandage light of heav’n denies,
And in her hands she holds those awful scales,
Whose fair and honest measure never fails;
But brib’d by Jonathan, though next her face,
The kerchief hides her beauty’s beaming grace,
Still from beneath she steals a cunning glance,
In all the crookéd beauty called askance!
Nor are her measures all the proper weight,
To meet the searching majesty of light.
O I’m asham’d l hold, Justice, hold, enough,
Such blindness will not do for blindman’s-buff!
Why does the negro not enlist your aid
You only act for him by whom you’re paid,
And in the court that bears your Grace’s name,
White versus black does still your favour claim;
There, on the bench, (if true the rumour goes,)
Your Grace’s weary eye-lids like a doze!*
Pardon your most obedient—I’m afraid
Affront and insult to my charge are laid!
No! ’tis to shew the wonders of that art,
Of which clairvoyance prov’d in you’s a part,
That I unfold to European view
Mesmeric sleep that snores and judges too!

*  Mrs. Trollope, in her work descriptive of America, gives a very ludicrous account of the manner in which justice is administered in that country—a prisoner frequently making his defence before a snoring judge.

From: Ferguson, John Clark, The Poetical Works of John Clark Ferguson. New Edition with Additional Poems, 1856, R. Groombridge & Sons: London, pp. 88-89.

Date: 1850

By: John Clark Ferguson (Alfred Lee) (?1825-????)

Friday, 15 March 2019

Black Swans on the Murray Lagoons by William Sharp

The long lagoons lie white and still
Beneath the great round Austral moon:
The sudden dawn will waken soon
With many a delicious thrill:
Between this death and life the cries
Of black swans ring through silent skies—
And the long wash of the slow stream
Moves as in sleep some bodeful dream.

From: Sharp, William, Poems by William Sharp, Selected and Arranged by Mrs. William Sharp, 1912, Duffield and Company: New York, p. 107.

Date: 1888

By: William Sharp (1855-1905)

Thursday, 14 March 2019

On the Same [her daughter] by Catherine Rebecca Grey

Little idol of my heart,
Thou to me canst joys impart
Greater than the glittering prize
To Ambition’s eager eyes:
Greater than the summer rose
To the airy bee bestows:
Greater than the youth’s despair
To the haughty fair one’s ear:
Greater than that fair one’s smile,
Skill’d her lovers to beguile,
To the enamour’d youth can give,
Should she bid him love and live.
Soon the beauty shall decay,
Soon the rose shall fade away,
Soon the lover’s flame is o’er,
Power obtain’d soon charms no more:
But nor Time, nor Fortune’s change,
Can my love from thee estrange—
That, on firmer motives plac’d,
Shall with my existence last.

From: Lady Manners, Poems, 1794, John Booth, G.G. and J. Robinson and B. and J. White: London, pp. 144-145.

Date: 1794

By: Catherine Rebecca Grey (1766-1852)

Wednesday, 13 March 2019

Life’s Illusion by Sarmad Kashani

You sleep
you forget yourself
and forgetfulness
brings no fruit but regret.
Your friends have gone ahead
you too are on the way;
Why do you not contemplate
life’s illusion?

From: Wilson, Peter Lamborn and Pourjavady, Nasrollah (eds. and transls.), The Drunken Universe: An Anthology of Persian Sufi Poetry, 1987, Phanes Press: Grand Rapids, Michigan, p. 20.

Date: 17th century (original in Persian); 1987 (translation in English)

By: Sarmad Kashani (c1590-1661)

Translated by: Peter Lamborn Wilson (1945- ) and Nasrollah Pourjavady (1943- )