Archive for December, 2014

Wednesday, 31 December 2014

December 31st by Richard Hoffman

All my undone actions wander
naked across the calendar,

a band of skinny hunter-gatherers,
blown snow scattered here and there,

stumbling toward a future
folded in the New Year I secure

with a pushpin: January’s picture
a painting from the 17th century,

a still life: Skull and mirror,
spilled coin purse and a flower.


Date: 2011

Richard Hoffman (1949- )

Tuesday, 30 December 2014

The Way to Araby by William Heminges

Who notes her teeth and lips, discloses
Walls of pearl and gates of roses —-
Two-leaved doors, that lead the way
Through her breath to Araby;
To which, would Cupid grant that bliss,
I’d go a pilgrimage to kiss.

From: Palmer, John Williamson, The Poetry of Compliment and Courtship, 1868, Ticknor and Fields: Boston, p. 37.

Date: c1639

By: William Heminges (1602-?1653)

Monday, 29 December 2014

Save Me Joe Louis by Gabrielle Calvocoressi

When I was small no one stopped the fights.
A man could beat you till you died,
the crowd leaning in, you on your knees,
maybe somewhere someone says, No,

but it’s like spoons dropping in kitchens:
enough to make someone look up,
not enough to get them moving.
The ref’s just glad it isn’t him

trying to stand, shading his face
like he’s coming out of the movies
into winter sun, shock of the world
made real again — brutal, to be sure,

but America is like that,
unrelenting, you get what you ask for
in the ring or on the kitchen floor.
Someone always wants you to give up,

shake hands, wipe the blood away and talk
of lighter things. And you do
because you’ve been fighting long enough
to know there’s no one here to save you.


Date: 2005

Date: Gabrielle Calvocoressi (?1975- )

Sunday, 28 December 2014

To Colin, From a Masquerade by Jane Wiseman Holt

From Musick one wou’d think design’d
On purpose to untune the Mind,
From Mirth even Momus wou’d disdain,
And Wit below a Criticks Vein,
From Friendship feign’d and Love uncouth
The shame of Age and scorn of Youth,
From noisy Nights and thoughtless Days,
From all that Colin wou’d displease,
Tir’d with vain Pursuits I come,
Contented to be dull at home.
Say faithful Friend, whom most I prize,
And knowing, half, the World despise,
Has Boreas lock’d up all his Train,
And Neptune smooth’d the restless Main;
Have smiling Cupids spread the Sails,
And seen them fill’d with prosp’rous Gales.
That Tritons safe to shore may bring
The Fair whose welcome I shall sing,
Whom by your Flame inspir’d I chuse,
To be at once my Subject and my Muse.

From: Holt, Mrs., A Fairy Tale Inscrib’d, to the Honourable Mrs. W—– With Other Poems, 1717, R. Burleigh and Arabella Morice: London, pp. 18-19.

Date: 1717

By: Jane Wiseman Holt (c1682-1717)

Saturday, 27 December 2014

Oh! I Am Weary of a World, Where Vice by Eliza Acton

Oh! I am weary of a world, where vice,
Like the destroying canker-worm, doth wind
Into the bosom’s core of those who bear,
The subtle, but false semblance, of a truth,
And virtue, which they know not:–smiles, warm smiles,
And kindest courtesies; and words, which wear
The mockery of tenderness;–all these,
Are but the maskings of most hollow hearts,
Where selfishness, and treachery, do league
To make, and keep their home. The things we love
Are garb’d, by Fancy, with such brilliant hues,
As the clouds borrow from the farewell beams
Of the departing sun;–but let them stand
Forth in their own reality–disrob’d
Of the warm colouring which our minds have flung
Round them, in rich adornment, and the soul
Will shrink to find its idols cold and dim,
As are the vapours gather’d in the West,
When the Day-God is gone!

From: Acton, Eliza, Poems, 1826, R. Deck: Ipswich, pp. 64-65.

Date: 1826

By: Eliza Acton (1799-1859)

Friday, 26 December 2014

‘Twas the Day After Christmas by Janet Scott Batchler

‘Twas the day after Christmas, and all through the house
All the fam’ly was sleeping, yes, even my spouse.
The stockings were tossed by the chimney with flair
Some turned inside out, to make sure nothing’s there.

The children were nestled all snug in their beds,
Nintendo DSes tucked under their heads;
And I in my bathrobe, MacBook on my lap,
Was happy to know there were no gifts to wrap.

When out from the kitchen there rose such a clatter,
I sprang from the couch to see what was the matter.
I waded my way ‘cross a floor filled with trash
To a kitchen heaped high from our Christmas Eve bash.

The sun through the window, it gave quite a glow:
(Los Angeles Christmas: We never have snow),
It shone on the remains of the Christmas day cheer,
The leftover cheese ball, the dregs of the beer.
The un-put-away brownies as hard as a fossil,
And o’er on the stove, it shone down on the wassail.

I blinked as the sun blasted straight to my eye
And just in time glimpsed a brown streak passing by.
Four-footed and furry and dragging a ham,
Dodging around me and trying to scram.
And as he ran off with a peppermint cluster
I knew in a moment, it was my dog Buster.

More rapid than eagles he streaked ‘cross the floor
Buster grabbed what he wanted, and came back for more:
More cheesecake, more truffles, more bagels and lox,
More chocolate chip cookies, more scotch on the rocks.
He smashed and he scrambled, bumped into the wall,
Then dashed away, dashed away, dashed away all.

“I should have cleaned up when the guests said good-bye,”
I moaned to myself with a pretty big sigh.
After two days of feasting, the kitchen looked grubby
I scrounged in the sink, tried to dig up the scrubby–

I searched quite in vain for a halfway clean towel
When out from the living room came quite a howl.
I set down the saucepan all caked thick with goo,
The glaze for the ham which had now turned to glue.

I skipped to the living room, limber of foot
And inched past the fireplace, dripping with soot.
Unraveling ribbons clung fast to my shin
As I looked round the post-Christmas scene with chagrin.

A mountain of presents all covered the floor
They looked so appealing when bought at the store.
Now gift wrap was ripped and the tissue was crumpled,
The new shoes abandoned, the new tank tops rumpled.

I picked my way round all the presents caloric,
The baskets of chocolate to make me euphoric,
Strange foods so exotic that no one would try it
(And don’t my friends know, New Year’s Day starts the diet?)

And just then I heard from the top of the spruce
The pitiful cry of a dog on the loose
I lifted my eyes from amidst the debris –
Old Buster had climbed to the top of the tree.

The angel crashed down as the Christmas tree swayed,
The ornaments flew in a sparkling cascade–
The puppy leapt on me, I felt his claws rip,
And then right behind, the tree started to tip–

The lights all exploded as down the tree crashed–
The pine needles shredded, the presents were smashed–
And I said as I landed on top of the pup,
“Happy Christmas to all– Someone else can clean up!”


Date: 2009

By: Janet Scott Batchler (1956- )

Thursday, 25 December 2014

On Christmas Day to My Heart by Clement Paman

Hark! Heaven sings;
Stretch, tune, my heart!
(For hearts have strings
May bear their part)
And though thy lute were bruised i’ the fall,
Bruised hearts may reach an humble pastoral.

Shepherds rejoice,
And angels do
No more: thy voice
Can reach that too:
Bring them at least thy pipe along,
And mingle consort with the angels’ song.

A shed that’s thatched
(Yet straws can sing)
Holds God; God matched
With beasts; beasts bring
Their song their way: for shame then raise
Thy notes! lambs bleat, and oxen bellow praise.

God honoured man
Not angels: yet
They sing; and can
Raised man forget?
Praise is our debt to-day, now shall
Angels (man’s not so poor) discharge it all?

Then, screw thee high,
My heart, up to
The angels’ cry;
Sing ‘glory’, do:
What if thy strings all crack and fly?
On such a ground, music ’twill be to die.


Date: c1660

By: Clement Paman (c1610-1664)

Wednesday, 24 December 2014

“’There’s Just One Little Thing: A Ring. I Don’t Mean On the Phone.’” – Eartha Kitt by Kathy Fagan Grandinetti

In lieu of the latkes,
the usual caroling,
and adorable Kazakh
orphans, instead of the crèche
and, après ski,
the figgy pudding slash
kwanzaa stew,
the yuletide blogging,
the tinsel, the garland,
and eight maids eggnogging,
allow me to mince
neither word nor pie
and provide advice
and a list forthwith:
Do not buy and regret,
dear. A diamond
is what to get,
dear. Its extra weight
I’m built to carry.
The starboard lilt,
the opiate
drag on one knuckle,
I’m willing to accommodate
and promise not to buckle
under. Been bottom.
Done shouldered.
It’s my time to
plunder, and have a little lovely
something, a nothing-too-modest
something, to set off
all this black
and dazzle the crosshatch
right out of my skin.
O halogen track,
O twinkling lights,
O shining star
upon the highest bough:
you’ll soon learn how
to be the ladies in waiting,
stable pony to the thoroughbred,
Martin to a Lewis,
Cathy to a Patty,
mere vein to the carotid—
i.e., to be outwatted.
O Christmas
tree, dear dreidl,
could it be more plainly said?
Some demand the head
upon a platter, others lick
the silver off their spoon.
This childless mother
desires neither moon
nor man but the carat
dangled all this time.
So snare it,
Santa, from that other
sorry cow.
The Baby Jesus phoned,
says I should wear it now.


Date: 2006

By: Kathy Fagan Grandinetti (19??- )

Tuesday, 23 December 2014

Uriel by Ralph Waldo Emerson

It fell in the ancient periods
Which the brooding soul surveys,
Or ever the wild Time coined itself
Into calendar months and days.

This was the lapse of Uriel,
Which in Paradise befell.
Once among the Pleiads walking,
Said overheard the young gods talking,
And the treason too long pent
To his ears was evident.
The young deities discussed
Laws of form and metre just,
Orb, quintessence, and sunbeams,
What subsisteth, and what seems.
One, with low tones that decide,
And doubt and reverend use defied,
With a look that solved the sphere,
And stirred the devils everywhere,
Gave his sentiment divine
Against the being of a line:
“Line in nature is not found,
Unit and universe are round;
In vain produced, all rays return,
Evil will bless, and ice will burn.”
As Uriel spoke with piercing eye,
A shudder ran around the sky;
The stern old war-gods shook their heads,
The seraphs frowned from myrtle-beds;
Seemed to the holy festival,
The rash word boded ill to all;
The balance-beam of Fate was bent;
The bonds of good and ill were rent;
Strong Hades could not keep his own,
But all slid to confusion.

A sad self-knowledge withering fell
On the beauty of Uriel.
In heaven once eminent, the god
Withdrew that hour into his cloud,
Whether doomed to long gyration
In the sea of generation,
Or by knowledge grown too bright
To hit the nerve of feebler sight.
Straightway a forgetting wind
Stole over the Celestial. kind,
And their lips the secret kept,
If in ashes the fibre-seed slept.
But now and then truth-speaking things
Shamed the angels’ veiling wings,
And, shrilling from the solar course,
Or from fruit of chemic force,
Procession of a soul in matter,
Or the speeding change of water,
Or out of the good of evil born,
Came Uriel’s voice of cherub scorn;
And a blush tinged the upper sky,
And the gods shook, they knew not why.


Date: 1846

By: Ralph Waldo Emerson (1803-1882)

Monday, 22 December 2014

Like Riding a Bicycle by George Bilgere

I would like to write a poem
About how my father taught me
To ride a bicycle one soft twilight,
A poem in which he was tired
And I was scared, unable to disbelieve
In gravity and believe in him,
As the fireflies were coming out
And only enough light remained
For one more run, his big hand at the small
Of my back, pulling away like the gantry
At a missile launch, and this time, this time
I wobbled into flight, caught a balance
I would never lose, and pulled away
From him as he eased, laughing, to a stop,
A poem in which I said that even today
As I make some perilous adult launch,
Like pulling away from my wife
Into the fragile new balance of our life
Apart, I can still feel that steadying hand,
Still hear that strong voice telling me
To embrace the sweet fall forward
Into the future’s blue
Equilibrium. But,

Of course, he was drunk that night,
Still wearing his white shirt
And tie from the office, the air around us
Sick with scotch, and the challenge
Was keeping his own balance
As he coaxed his bulk into a trot
Beside me in the hot night, sweat
Soaking his armpits, the eternal flame
Of his cigarette flaring as he gasped
And I fell, again and again, entangled
In my gleaming Schwinn, until
He swore and stomped off
Into the house to continue
Working with my mother
On their own divorce, their balance
Long gone and the hard ground already
Rising up to smite them
While I stayed outside in the dark,
Still falling, until at last I wobbled
Into the frail, upright delight
Of feeling sorry for myself, riding
Alone down the neighborhood’s
Black street like the lonely western hero
I still catch myself in the act
Of performing.

And yet, having said all this,
I must also say that this summer evening
Is very beautiful, and I am older
Than my father ever was
As I coast the Pacific shoreline
On my old bike, the gears clicking
Like years, the wind
Touching me for the first time, it seems,
In a very long time,
With soft urgency all over.


Date: 2002

By: George Bilgere (1951- )