Archive for November, 2016

Wednesday, 30 November 2016

I Love You More Than All the Windows in New York City by Jessica Greenbaum

The day turned into the city
and the city turned into the mind
and the moving trucks trumbled along
like loud worries speaking over
the bicycle’s idea
which wove between
the more armored vehicles of expression
and over planks left by the construction workers
on a holiday morning when no work was being done
because no matter the day, we tend towards
remaking parts of it—what we said
or did, or how we looked—
and the buildings were like faces
lining the banks of a parade
obstructing and highlighting each other
defining height and width for each other
offsetting grace and function
like Audrey Hepburn from
Jesse Owens, and the hearty pigeons collaborate
with wrought iron fences
and become recurring choruses of memory
reassembling around benches
we sat in once, while seagulls wheel
like immigrating thoughts, and never-leaving
chickadees hop bared hedges and low trees
like commas and semicolons, landing
where needed, separating
subjects from adjectives, stringing along
the long ideas, showing how the cage
has no door, and the lights changed
so the tide of sound ebbed and returned
like our own breath
and when I knew everything
was going to look the same as the mind
I stopped at a lively corner
where the signs themselves were like
perpendicular dialects in conversation and
I put both my feet on the ground
took the bag from the basket
so pleased it had not been crushed
by the mightiness of all else
that goes on and gave you the sentence inside.


Date: 2012

By: Jessica Greenbaum (19??- )

Tuesday, 29 November 2016

What the Chairman Told Tom by Basil Cheesman Bunting

Poetry? It’s a hobby.
I run model trains.
Mr Shaw there breeds pigeons.

It’s not work. You dont sweat.
Nobody pays for it.
You could advertise soap.

Art, that’s opera; or repertory—
The Desert Song.
Nancy was in the chorus.

But to ask for twelve pounds a week—
married, aren’t you?—
you’ve got a nerve.

How could I look a bus conductor
in the face
if I paid you twelve pounds?

Who says it’s poetry, anyhow?
My ten year old
can do it and rhyme.

I get three thousand and expenses,
a car, vouchers,
but I’m an accountant.

They do what I tell them,
my company.
What do you do?

Nasty little words, nasty long words,
it’s unhealthy.
I want to wash when I meet a poet.

They’re Reds, addicts,
all delinquents.
What you write is rot.

Mr Hines says so, and he’s a schoolteacher,
he ought to know.
Go and find work.


Date: 1967

By: Basil Cheesman Bunting (1900-1985)

Monday, 28 November 2016

Fight with the Pen! by Isaac Williams Wauchope

Your cattle are gone, my countrymen!
Go rescue them! Go rescue them!
Leave the breechloader alone
And turn to the pen.
Take paper and ink,
For that is your shield.
Your rights are going!
So pick up your pen.
Load it, load it with ink.
Sit on a chair.
Repair not your Hoho
But fire with pen.


Date: 1882

By: Isaac Williams Wauchope (1852-1917)

Sunday, 27 November 2016

Elegy II. To Sickness by John Delap

How blith the flowery graces of the spring
From nature’s wardrobe come: and hark how gay
Each glittering insect, hovering on the wing,
Sings their glad welcome to the fields of may.

They gaze, with greedy eye, each beauty o’er;
They suck the sweet breath of the blushing rose;
Sport in the gale, or sip the rainbow flower;
Their life’s short day no pause of pleasure knows.

Like their’s, dread Power, my chearful morn display’d
The flattering promise of a golden noon,
Till each gay cloud, that sportive nature spread,
Died in the gloom of thy distemper’d frown.

Yes, ere I told my two and twentieth year,
Swift from thy quiver flew the deadly dart;
Harmless it past ‘mid many a blith compeer,
And found its fated entrance near my heart.

Pale as I lay beneath thy ebon wand,
I saw them rove through pleasure’s flowery field;
I saw health paint them with her rosy hand,
Eager to burst my bonds, but forc’d to yield.

Yet while this mortal cot of mould’ring clay
Shakes at the stroke of thy tremendous power,
Ah must the transient tenant of a day
Bear the rough blast of each tempestuous hour!

Say, shall the terrors thy pale flag unfolds
Too rigid Queen! unnerve the soul’s bright powers,
Till with a joyless smile the eye beholds
Art’s magic charms, and nature’s fairy bowers.

No, let me follow still, those bowers among,
Her flowery footsteps, as the goddess goes;
Let me, just lifted ‘bove th’ unletter’d throng,
Read the few books the learned few compose.

And suffer, when thy aweful pleasure calls
The soul to share her frail companion’s smart,
Yet suffer me to taste the balm that falls,
From friendship’s tongue, so sweet upon the heart.

Then, tho’ each trembling nerve confess thy frown,
Ev’n till this anxious being shall become
But a brief name upon a little stone,
Without one murmur I embrace my doom.

For many a virtue, shelter’d from mankind,
Lives calm with thee, and lord o’er each desire;
And many a feeble frame, whose mighty mind
Each muse has touch’d with her immortal fire.

Ev’n He, sole terror of a venal age,
The tuneful bard, whose philosophic soul,
With such bright radiance glow’d on Virtue’s page,
Learn’d many a lesson from thy moral school.

He too, who “mounts and keeps his different way,”
His daring mind thy humanizing glooms
Have temper’d with a melancholy ray,
And taught to warble ‘mid the village tombs.

Yes, goddess, to thy temple’s deep recess
I come; and lay for ever at its door
The siren throng of follies numberless,
Nor wish their flattering songs shou’d sooth me more.

Thy decent garb shall o’er my limbs be spread,
Thy hand shall lead me to thy sober train,
Who here retir’d, with pensive pleasure tread
The silent windings of thy dark domain.

Hither the cherub charity shall fly
From her bright orb, and brooding o’er my mind,
For misery raise a sympathizing sigh,
Pardon for foes, and love for human kind.

Then while ambition’s trump, from age to age
Its slaughter’d millions boasts; while fame shall rear
Her deathless trophies o’er the bard and sage,
Be mine the widow’s sigh, the orphan’s prayer.


Date: 1760

By: John Delap (1725-1812)

Saturday, 26 November 2016

The World by Richard Zouch(e)

To our small Isle of Man, some well compare
The WORLD, that greater Continents huge frame
Nor much unlike eythers Perfections are
Their Matter, and their Mixture both the same:
Whence Mens Affection it so much allures,
Sith greatest Likenesse greatest Love procures.

But if their outward Formes we looke upon,
Wee shall their Figures divers plainely see:
For mans erected tall Proportion
To his heav’n-hoping Soule doth best agree:
Whereas the World each way being framed round,
The aptest forme for turning Change hath found.

Like Natures rarest workemanship, the Eye,
The well contrived instrument of seeing,
Which by exact and apt Rotunditie,
Performes his duty, and preserves his beeing,
Of many curious circling Spheares composed,
And Orbs, within the Orbs without enclosed.

From: Zouch(e), Richard, The Dove: or Passages of Cosmography, 2003, Text Creation Partnership: Ann Arbor, Michigan and Oxford, p. [unnumbered].

Date: 1613

By: Richard Zouch(e) (c1590-1661)

Friday, 25 November 2016

Man Is an Animal That Laughs by Raquel Jodorowsky

Man is an animal that laughs
or an animal that weeps
but when is he
a man who thinks?
For the way we are going
they will make of this world
the architecture of the end.
The political parties
that set up pedestals
crown man
with a yes movement and a no movement.
One-eyed poets!
What is important is to embrace the world
from this side as well as from the other,
with wrath and with love,
and to swallow the truth of its lies
and the lies of its truth.
Not life divided into right and left
but the totality of sweat,
the unity of reunited effort.
Allow us at least for a while,
little madmen,
chiefs of the flags,
to place our beautiful sex
astride your withered brains
allow us to undo the harnesses of the people
that they may run loose
like happy horses across the earth.

From: Flores, Angel and Flores, Kate (eds.), The Defiant Muse: Hispanic Feminist Poems from the Middle Ages to the Present. A Bilingual Anthology, 1986, The Feminist Press: New York, p. 107.

Date: 19?? (original in Spanish); 1986 (translation in English)

By: Raquel Jodorowsky (1937-2011)

Translated by: Kate Flores (19??-????)

Thursday, 24 November 2016

Last Verse of “Mu’allaqa” by Imra’ ul-Qais bin Hujr al-Kindi

Friend, thou seest the lightning. Mark where it wavereth,
gleameth like fingers twisted, clasped in the cloud-rivers.
Like a lamp new-lighted, so is the flash of it,
trimmed by a hermit nightly pouring oil-sésame.
Stood I long a watcher, twin-friends how dear with me,
till in Othéyb it faded, ended in Dáriji.
By its path we judged it: rain over Káttan is;
far in Sitár it falleth, streameth in Yáthboli.
Gathereth gross the flood-head dammed in Kutéyfati.
Woe to the trees, the branched ones! Woe the kanáhboli!
El Kanáan hath known it, quailed from the lash of it.
Down from their lairs it driveth hot-foot the ibexes.
Known it too hath Téyma; standeth no palm of her
there, nor no house low-founded, — none but her rock-buildings.
Stricken stood Thabíra whelmed by the rush of it,
like an old chief robe-folded, bowed in his striped mantle.
Nay, but the Mujéymir, tall-peaked at dawn of day,
showed like a spinster’s distaff tossed on the flood-water.
Cloud-wrecked lay the valley piled with the load of it,
high as in sacks the Yemámi heapeth his corn-measures.
Seemed it then the song-birds, wine-drunk at sun-rising,
loud through the valley shouted, maddened with spiceries.
While the wild beast corpses, grouped like great bulbs up-torn,
cumbered the hollow places, drowned in the night-trouble.

From: Blunt, Wilfrid Scawen and Blunt, Lady Anne, The Seven Golden Odes of Pagan Arabia, Known Also As the Moallakat, Translated from the Arabic by Lady Anne Blunt. Done into English Verse by Wilfrid Scawen Blunt, 1903, Chiswick Press: London, pp. 7-8.

Date: 6th century (original in Arabic); 1903 (translation in English)

By: Imra’ ul-Qais bin Hujr al-Kindi (501-544)

Translated by: Anne Isabella Noel Blunt (1837-1917) and Wilfrid Scawen Blunt (1840-1922)

Wednesday, 23 November 2016

Northwest Passage by Averill Ann Curdy

Standing on this deck I have watched
morning’s first pale peach jeopardy
of light flush alleys and rooftops,
just touching my neighbors’ gardens,
until the seethes like the green smoke

of a new world. On these sidewalks,
with the linden’s melon scent twined
around an untuned engine’s blue carbon
monoxide and Wednesday’s trash,
I’ve looked for an authentic eloquence:

Frobisher returning three times
from Baffin Island, boreal winds
still on his tongue, timbers strained by tons
of fool’s gold. Circled with lamplight
I’ve imagined sailing under discipline

into strange seas where the sun hangs
dumb as a cabbage all day in ice.
Even as sirens squall down the block,
I’ve fallen asleep in my armchair,
tired as any theoretical geographer

after dinner, who dreams of trading
his knives for nutmegs, mirrors,
for cinnamon and pearls, and beyond—
finding by brute necessity and skill
some route between suffering and song.


Date: 2007

By: Averill Ann Curdy (19??- )

Tuesday, 22 November 2016

A Life by Edith Irene Södergran

That the stars are adamant
everyone understands—
but I won’t give up seeking joy on each blue wave
or peace below every gray stone.
If happiness never comes, what is a life?
A lily withers in the sand
and if its nature has failed? The tide
washes the beach at night.
What is the fly looking for on the spider’s web?
What does a dayfly make of its hours?
(Two wings creased over a hollow body.)

Black will never turn to white—
yet the perfume of our struggle lingers
as each morning fresh flowers
spring up from hell.

The day will come
when the earth is emptied, the skies collapse
and all goes still—
when nothing remains but the dayfly
folded in a leaf.
But no one knows it.


Date: c1916 (original in Swedish); 2012 (translation in English)

By: Edith Irene Södergran (1892-1923)

Translated by: Averill Ann Curdy (19??- )

Monday, 21 November 2016

Palmistry by Mary Jane Katzmann Lawson

Give me your left hand, dear;
Let me read its lines for you,
So daintly cut and clear,
On its palm of shell-pink hue.

Sensitive finger tips —
The fennel and rue of pain
Will touch your rosy lips,
As they bend life’s draught to drain.

Tender and tell-tale lines —
Here passion and truth have met;
Brave is the soul that shines,
Its courage will conquer yet.

Life-line and heart-line touch —
Love will be all in all;
The brain will yield too much
To affection’s eager call.

Here hope with tireless wings,
Gives courage to brave the worst
That disappointment brings,
To baffle life’s restless thirst.

Give me your right hand, dear;
Let me see if the germs were true;
Is there fruit and harvest here
In life’s field as tilled by you?

A thriftless worker sometimes;
Here and there a line left out,
A break in the silver chimes,
Faith lost in the grasp of doubt.

But some lines have worked their will,
O tender and true of heart,
No need of diviner’s skill,
For yours is the better part!

Self has been set aside,
Love working with fate’s decree,
Has wrapped its conquered pride
In the mantle of charity.

Sweetheart! your tender hands
Are full of life’s sweetest lore,
Happy the heart that understands
And holds them forevermore.

No need the lines to scan;
In their tender strength I see,
All that to yearning heart of man
A woman’s heart can be.

September 8th, 1889.

From: Lawson, Mrs. William (M.J.K.L.), Frankincense and Myrrh: Selections from the Poems of the Late Mrs. William Lawson, (M.J.K.L.), 1893, Morton & Co: Halifax, pp.149-150.

Date: 1889

By: Mary Jane Katzmann Lawson (1828-1890)