Sunday, 2 October 2022

Distances by Steven Ratiner

“Between this anchored pain
and the white-capped vial,
standing like a lighthouse on
the bedside table: an arm’s length,
a thousand nautical miles.
Water, water, everywhere and not
a drop to drink.
I call out
and my daughter strides across
the waves, a brimming glass and
two chalky tablets, her cupped palm
bobbing like a toy boat.
Down I go, fathom after fathom,
shafts of weak sun my Mercator.
But I am not alone. Wrecked hulls
and split masts litter the bottom.
All these broken hearts choked by silt.
And now you are calling me again, my sea-girl,
wreathed in seaweed red and brown.
What lovely syllables. My name
is a white sail somewhere, luffing in the wind.
But the distance, love, between your pale lips
and my wet pillow: unfathomable.”

From: https://pleaseseeme.com/issue-2/poetry/two-poems-steven-ratiner/

Date: 2019

By: Steven Ratiner (19??- )

Saturday, 1 October 2022

Abuela, Mi Muerta by Amaris Diaz

I find you here,
In the gardening section at Lowe’s.
Not the house where my mother learned her silence
Or the backyard with water hose for sprinkler.
Not the crippled languages of my youth
Or the eight-house-long walk to stained glass windows.

You, clearance rose bush.
No longer a myth.
Not ghost or bone,
Only wilt. No drown or surrender
But ungrowing.

Today, my own unbecoming.
I cannot make promises on blood anymore, Abuela.
I’ve stopped asking the trees permission to climb them.
I’ve forgotten to water the plants
To call each flower by name.

Today, your own death in another body.
I’ve nowhere to bury you.

From: https://www.theparisamerican.com/amaris-diaz-poetry.html

Date: 2013

By: Amaris Diaz (1995- )

Friday, 30 September 2022

SONNET FOR SILVIA FEDERICI by Anne Boyer

HOW DO WE COLLECTIVIZE REPRODUCTIVE LABOR?
IS THE FAMILY ENOUGH FOR YOU?
IS THE COUPLE ENOUGH FOR YOU?
WHAT WILL YOU DO WHEN YOU ARE OLD OR INFIRM?

WHAT STANDS BETWEEN YOU AND THE COMMUNE?
WHAT WOULD YOU HAVE IF YOU HAD WHAT YOU NEEDED?
WHAT IS OURS?
HOW TO GET IT?

HOW TO LIVE LIKE ELEPHANTS WITH ARCHITECTURE?
HOW MANY CHILDREN WOULD YOU CARE FOR IF THEY DIDN’T
HAVE TO BE YOURS?
HOW MANY MOTHERS, SISTERS, BROTHERS, and LOVERS WOULD
YOU LOVE IF THEY DIDN’T HAVE TO BE YOURS?

HOW DO WE END THE TRAGEDY OF OUR ATOMIZATION?
HOW DO WE END THE TRAGEDY?

From: https://jacket2.org/poems/sonnet-silvia-federici

Date: 2018

By: Anne Boyer (1973- )

Thursday, 29 September 2022

Each in His Own Tongue by William Herbert Carruth

A fire-mist and a planet,
A crystal and a cell,
A jelly-fish and a saurian,
And caves where the cave-men dwell;
Then a sense of law and beauty
And a face turned from the clod, —
Some call it Evolution,
And others call it God.

A haze on the far horizon,
The infinite, tender sky,
The ripe, rich tint of the cornfields,
And the wild geese sailing high;
And all over upland and lowland
The charm of the golden-rod, —
Some of us call it Autumn,
And others call it God.

Like tides on a crescent sea-beach,
When the moon is new and thin,
Into our hearts high yearnings
Come welling and surging in:
Come from the mystic ocean,
Whose rim no foot has trod, —
Some of us call it Longing,
And others call it God.

A picket frozen on duty,
A mother starved for her brood,
Socrates drinking the hemlock,
And Jesus on the rood;
And millions who, humble and nameless,
The straight, hard pathway plod, —
Some call it Consecration,
And others call it God.

From: Carruth, William Herbert, Each in His Own Tongue and Other Poems, 1908, G. P. Putnam’s Sons: New York and London, pp. 2-3.
(https://archive.org/details/eachinhisowntong0000carr/page/2/mode/2up)

Date: 1902

By: William Herbert Carruth (1859-1924)

Wednesday, 28 September 2022

The Answer Quhilk Schir David Lindesay Maid to the Kingis Flyting by David Lyndsay with rough rendering into more modern English and notes by flusteredduck

Redoutit roy, your ragment I have red,
Quhilk dois perturb my dull intendement:
From your flyting, wald God that I wer fred,
Or ellis sum tygerris toung wer to me lent.
Schir, pardone me thocht I be impacient,
Quhilk bene so with your prunyeand pen detractit,
And rude report, from Venus court dejectit.

Lustie ladyis, that your libellis lukis
My cumpanie dois hald abhominable,
Commandand me beir cumpanie to the cukis;
Moist lyke ane devill, thay hald me detestable.
Thay banis me, sayand I am nocht able
Thame to compleis, or preis to thare presence.
Apon your pen I cry ane loud vengeance!

Wer I ane poeit, I suld preis with my pen
To wreik me on your vennemous wryting.
Bot I man do as dog dois in his den —
Fald baith my feit, or fle fast frome your flyting.
The mekle devil may nocht indure your dyting.
Quharefor cor mundum crea in me I cry,
Proclamand yow the prince of poetry.

Schir, with my prince pertenit me nocht to pley.
Bot sen your grace hes gevin me sic command
To mak answer, it must neidis me obey.
Thocht ye be now strang lyke ane elephand,
And in till Venus werkis maist vailyeand,
The day wyll cum, and that within few yeiris,
That ye wyll draw at laiser with your feiris.

Quhat can ye say forther, bot I am failyeit
In Venus werkis, I grant schir, that is trew;
The tyme hes bene, I wes better artailyeit
Nor I am now, bot yit full sair I rew
That ever I did mouth thankles so persew.
Quharefor tak tent and your fyne powder spair,
And waist it nocht bot gyf ye wit weill quhair.

Thocht ye rin rudelie, lyke ane restles ram,
Schutand your bolt at mony sindrie schellis,
Beleif richt weill, it is ane bydand gam.
Quharefore bewar with dowbling of the bellis,
For many ane dois haist thair awin saule knellis,
And speciallie quhen that the well gois dry,
Syne can nocht get agane sic stufe to by.

I give your counsale to the feynd of hell
That wald nocht of ane princes yow provide,
Tholand yow rin schutand frome schell to schell,
Waistand your corps, lettand the tyme overslyde.6
For lyke ane boisteous bull ye rin and ryde
Royatouslie, lyke ane rude rubeatour,
Ay fukkand lyke ane furious fornicatour.

On ladronis for to loip ye wyll nocht lat,
Howbeit the caribaldis cry the corinoch.
Remember how, besyde the masking fat,
Ye caist ane quene overthort ane stinking troch?
That feynd, with fuffilling of hir roistit hoch,
Caist doun the fat, quharthrow drink, draf and juggis
Come rudely rinnand doun about your luggis.

Wald God the lady that luffit yow best
Had sene yow thair ly swetterand lyke twa swyne!
Bot to indyte how that duddroun wes drest —
Drowkit with dreggis, quhimperand with mony quhryne —
That proces to report, it wer ane pyne.
On your behalf, I thank God tymes ten score
That yow preservit from gut and frome grandgore.

Now schir, fairwell, because I can nocht flyte,
And thocht I could, I wer nocht tyll avance
Aganis your ornate meter to indyte.

Bot yit, be war with lawbouring of your lance:
Sum sayis thar cummis ane bukler furth of France,
Quhilk wyll indure your dintis, thocht thay be dour.
Fairweill, of flowand rethorik the flour!

Quod Lindesay in his flyting
Aganis the Kingis dyting.

The Answer which Sir David Lindsay made to the King’s Scolding

Redoubtable king, your composition I have read,
Which does perturb my dull understanding:
From your scolding, would God that I were freed,
Or else that a tiger’s tongue were to me lent.
Sir, pardon me though I be impatient,
Who is being with your sharpened pen detracted,
And rude report, from Venus’ court dejected.

Lovely ladies, that your letters consult
My company do hold abominable,
Commanding me bear company to the cooks;
Most like a devil, they hold me detestable.
They banish me, saying I am not able
Them to please, or hasten to their presence.
Upon your pen I cry a loud vengeance!

Were I a poet, I should strive with my pen
To avenge me on your venomous writing.
But I must do as a dog does in his den—
Fold both my feet, or flee fast from your scolding.
The great devil may not endure your writing.
Wherefore “cor mundum crea in me” I cry,
Proclaiming you the prince of poetry.

Sir, with my prince it befits me not to contend.
But since your grace has given me such a command,
To make answer, it must needs me to obey.
Though you be now strong like an elephant,
And in all Venus’ works most valiant,
The day will come, and that within a few years,
That you will be at leisure with your friends.

What can you say further, but I am a failure
In Venus’ works, I grant, sir, that is true;
The time has been, I was better armed
Nor I am now, but yet full sore I rue
That ever I did mouth thankless so pursue.
Wherefore take heed and your fine powder spare,
And waste it not but well you know where.

Though you run rudely, like a restless ram,
Shooting your bolt at many sundry targets,
Belief right well, it is a biding game.
Wherefore beware of the doubling of the bells,
For many a one hastens their own soul’s knell,
And specially when that the well goes dry,
Such stuff cannot again be bought.

I give your council to the fiend of hell
That would not of any princess you provide,
Suffering you to run shooting from target to target,
Wasting your body, letting the time pass by.
For like a roaring bull you run and ride
Riotously, like a rude scoundrel,
Always fucking like a furious fornicator.

On whores you will not cease leaping,
Although the bitches cry out,
Remember how, beside the mashing vat,
You cast a wench across the stinking trough?
That fiend, with the jerking about of the back of her thigh,
Cast down the vat, resulting in the drink, dregs, and swill
Came rudely running down about your ears.

Would God the lady that loved you best
Had seen you there, wallowing like two swine!
But to indite how that slut was dressed
(Drenched with dregs, whimpering with many whines),
That to describe and report it were a pain.
On your behalf, I thank God times ten score
That you were preserved from gout and syphilis.

Now sir, farewell, because I cannot scold,
And though I could, I would not advance
Against your ornate meter to indite.
But yet be wary with the labouring of your lance:
Some say there comes a shield out of France,
Which will endure your strokes, though they be hard.
Farewell, of flowing rhetoric the flower!

Said Lindsay in his scolding
Against the King’s writing.

 

Notes:
Cor munum crea in me is from Psalm 50 and translates as “create in me a clean heart”.

This poem is full of sexual innuendo with only the very obvious innuendos translating easily. One innuendo that is probably very unclear is “mouth thankless” which is a reference to a vagina.

Some of the terms Lindsay has used to describe the women the king (James V of Scotland) was enjoying are of unclear and debated meaning, although the derogatory nature of them is clear. I have therefore used modern terms (like whores and bitches) in their stead.

A mashing vat was used in the creation of ales and beers.

At the time Lindsay was writing, gout was used as a term for a venereal disease. Syphilis was known to be a venereal disease and was considered separate to whatever disease was referred to as gout.

And, finally, as with all my attempts at putting very old English/Scots into a modern version, I have resisted the temptation to use less archaic words when the original word is still in use and have tried to retain the original syntax as much as possible even when a reordering or change of the words would improve the flow. I also resisted keeping “flyting” (and “dyting”) and used more modern equivalents even though some of the nuance was lost. I used the online Dictionaries of the Scots Language (https://dsl.ac.uk/) to confirm original word meanings.

From: https://d.lib.rochester.edu/teams/text/purdie-and-wingfield-answer-quhilk-schir-david-lindesay-maid-to-kingis-flyting

Date: c1536

By: David Lyndsay (c1490-c1555)

Tuesday, 27 September 2022

His Elderly Father as a Young Man by Leo Dangel

This happened before I met your mother:
I took Jennie Johanson to a summer dance,
and she sent me a letter, a love letter,
I guess, even if the word love wasn’t in it.
She wrote that she had a good time
and didn’t want the night to end.
At home, she lay down on her bed
but stayed awake, listening to the songs
of morning birds outside her window.
I read that letter a hundred times
and kept it in a cigar box
with useless things I had saved:
a pocket knife with an imitation pearl handle
and a broken blade,
a harmonica I never learned to play,
one cuff link, an empty rifle shell.

When your mother and I got married,
I threw the letter away –
if I had kept it, she might wonder.
But I wanted to keep it
and even thought about hiding places,
maybe in the barn or the tool shed,
but what if it were ever found?
I knew of no way to explain why
I would keep such a letter, much less
why I would take the trouble to hide it.

From: https://wordsfortheyear.com/tag/leo-dangel/

Date: 1997

By: Leo Dangel (1941-2016)

Monday, 26 September 2022

A Palinode by Philip Ian Hodgins

My second childhood has begun
but the rhythms and the rhymes aren’t quite right.
The way my cells increase
is not unlike the vague, unbitten child
reaching up to childhood’s end.
But with one difference.
My half a bucketful of blood
is filled with rumours of an early death
and I am alone in a room
full of dying flowers.
I think it is the body’s palinode
and as far as I can see there is no God.

From: Hodgins, Philip, New Selected Poems, 2000, Untapped: Sydney, p. [unnumbered].

Date: 1995

By: Philip Ian Hodgins (1959-1995)

Sunday, 25 September 2022

Goethe’s Last Words Were “More Light” by Janelle Tan

for N, a golden shovel with frank o’hara

there’s heaven, and there’s you. standing in the light and
holding a tupperware of soup. kin: the sound of someone
leaning against me in the late afternoon—this evening, it is you
and not a woman to kiss alight coming into my living room. love,
i know—we keep trying to die at the door of heaven. then, god enters.
america taught me: being an immigrant is to kill the
person you used to be. in this room
the december light dies in my lap, like the days i used to dream, and
isn’t being queer saving ourselves from dying? my father says
gay is sin, sounding like the chinese word for heart, and wouldn’t
you also hear: light is dimming while you
stand in it? the apertures are opening and closing. like
the visa officer’s window. like the technicolor of my imagined life. like america, the
light keeps changing its mind. i had faith once, and healthy eggs—
now, i offer my fingerprints and a scan of my face for a
brightened evening at the bar. you and the hours cool across the little
booth. maybe heaven will be different
this time tomorrow. maybe it’s this: more time. more today.

From: https://splitlipthemag.com/poetry/0522/janelle-tan

Date: 2022

By: Janelle Tan (19??- )

Saturday, 24 September 2022

Ars Specifica by Connie Jordan Green

When silence moves
on her little cat feet
through the absences
in your house, offer
her a bed, preferably
where sunlight patches
the room, moves
in its own quiet pattern
down the wall and onto
the braided rug, the one
an elderly aunt created
in her own solitary life,
her nimble fingers stiffening
with the years. Serve
your visitor tea and blue-
berry muffins, the first
rich with the cream
she prefers, and even if
she refuses the muffins,
notice how the berries
stain your hands when
you clear away the dishes,
a blue map you will study
for days to come.

From: http://www.stilljournal.net/connie-green-poetry2022.php

Date: 2022

By: Connie Jordan Green (1938- )

Friday, 23 September 2022

Walls by Fide Erken

The World of complex ideas,
different faiths,
little tolerance,
mostly, lack of complaisance

Look at the flowers with every colour,
full of love, together
flowers have easily climbed over
all the walls!

From: http://www.thanalonline.com/en/page.asp?ID=219

Date: 2011

By: Fide Erken (1967- )