Archive for May, 2018

Thursday, 31 May 2018

The Dream by Aracelis Girmay

Last night, all night
the dream, the dead
mother, my small sister,
tiny, her mouth
over my shoulder
(screaming) like a knapsack
when she heard the news,
& my brother playing
the stereo. I howled
like the coyotes; myself.
& saw the light outside
below the window, my mother,
young, playing with me
at a rock, in some sunlight
falling over us. I was small.
An old & famous woman
asked her questions:
Who wrote this dream?
I wanted to know.
My brother thought
it was our mother
who wrote it
when she was old.
She did not die, he thought.
But I knew, & called down
to the cotton-head of her then, when
she could not see or hear me.
She would never hear me.
I was not capable of talking
then, yet, & she had died,
after all, & the mother
I call to tell the dream
will not remember, after all
she was not born then, yet,
& needed the first mother to die
before she could use her name
& feed her children.


Date: 2011

By: Aracelis Girmay (1977- )

Wednesday, 30 May 2018

Epidermal Macabre by Theodore Huebner Roethke

Indelicate is he who loathes
The aspect of his fleshy clothes, —
The flying fabric stitched on bone,
The vesture of the skeleton,
The garment neither fur nor hair,
The cloak of evil and despair,
The veil long violated by
Caresses of the hand and eye.
Yet such is my unseemliness:
I hate my epidermal dress,
The savage blood’s obscenity,
The rags of my anatomy,
And willingly would I dispense
With false accouterments of sense,
To sleep immodestly, a most
Incarnadine and carnal ghost.


Date: 1932

By: Theodore Huebner Roethke (1908-1963)

Tuesday, 29 May 2018

The Living Spring by Dennis Nurske

In my breathing shadow
the lovers hear their voices
confused with mine,
promising a slate roof,
a gate, a child, respite
from the Absolute.
Let them sleep.

Doesn’t God love them
because they are like him,
too broken to obey
the rules of death?

In my ambit
birdsong is slurred,
nightingale’s loneliness,
famished thrush, sparrow
pining in the cold,
each charged
with rapt indifference.

Rest while I tremble.
Isn’t God himself
stubborn as water?


Date: 2017

By: Dennis Nurske (1949- )

Monday, 28 May 2018

The Victorian Age by Karin Gottshall

One thousand lockets minus a lace handkerchief
equals a flock of passenger pigeons, each
carrying a Valentine heart. Seven hundred

ladies’ gloves plus a fishing village
amounts to one temperamental swan and a missing
engagement ring. The alphabet backwards

equals the cemetery on the hill. Marzipan
equals almonds, eggs, sugar, and a scullery maid
weeping into her apron. We’ve lost count

of cravats, hair brooches, and riding boots, traded
a deck of cards for two gentlemen playing
at charades. Top hats can be added to tapioca—

flavor with rum. Two hundred and fifty
petticoats multiplied by twelve chimneysweeps
equals a shattered femur. One locomotive

plus a dozen headmasters comes to a bakery
on Easter morning: hot cross buns with currants.
A dirge equals a dirge. Twenty-seven

daguerreotypes times three overwrought aviaries
is a solar eclipse. Christmas divided by deep mourning
equals burnt porridge. Thirteen hundred orphans left over.


Date: 2010

By: Karin Gottshall (19??- )

Sunday, 27 May 2018

Customer Lounge by David Hernandez

The old woman hauled her bones
here, where they hoist our cars

and tinker with their guts.
She can’t sit still. Up, toward

the sun-washed window, back
to her blue chair, up again.

The air-conditioner rattles,
ball of phlegm in its throat.

Everything falls apart, needs repair.
She knits and the pink spreads

across her lap. Sweater or shawl,
time will unravel it, a moth will build

a hole there. You can even hear
her breathing coming undone,

its rusted bolts squeaking free.
Static on the intercom, then a name.

The old woman gets up, pays,
and hobbles out into the afternoon

where a mechanic curses, fixing
what cannot be fixed.


Date: 2006

By: David Hernandez (1971- )

Saturday, 26 May 2018

Nostalgia by Charles Wright

Always it comes when we least expect it, like a wave,
Or like the shadow of several waves,
one after the next,
Becoming singular as the face

Of someone who rose and fell apart at the edge of our lives.

Breaks up and re-forms, breaks up, re-forms.
And all the attendant retinue of loss foams out
Brilliant and sea-white, then sinks away.

Memory’s dog-teeth,
lovely detritus smoothed out and laid up.

And always the feeling comes that it was better then,
Whatever it was—
people and places, the sweet taste of things—
And this one, wave borne and wave-washed, was part of all that.

We take the conceit in hand, and rub it for good luck.

Or rub it against the evil eye.
And yet, when that wave appears, or that wave’s shadow, we like it,
Or say we do,
and hope the next time

We’ll be surprised again, and returned again, depite the fact
The time will come, they say, when the weight of nostalgia,
that ten-foot spread
Of sand in the heart, outweighs
Whatever living existence we drop on the scales.

May it never arrive, Lord, may it never arrive.


Date: 2001

By: Charles Wright (1935- )

Friday, 25 May 2018

Jean by Paul Hugh Howard Potts

There is a wild flower growing
Inside a broken vase,
On a mantle in my memory.

This flower will die
When you are dead,
And while you live will grow.

Because each petal and its stem
Is like long years, of waiting and of hope,
So useless and so void.

From: Rexroth, Kenneth (ed.), The New British Poets: An Anthology, 1940, New Directions: New York, p. 301.

Date: 1940

By: Paul Hugh Howard Potts (1911-1990)

Thursday, 24 May 2018

Arrière Pensée by Margaretta (Margaret) Wade Campbell Deland

It was not Love, you know,
That dream of ours:
No doubt we thought it so,
Catching the shine and glow
from sun and sky and flowers!

“/ called it Love!” you say?
What if I did?
The words but matched the day,
It died, and so should they,
None surely could forbid;

“Love never dies,” you swear?
“Love such as yours;”
Well, that must be your care,
To blame me is not fair,
Because your pain endures;

I ‘m really sorry I
Should seem unkind!
But you cannot deny
The Summer’s long gone by;
‘T was time to change my mind;

Indeed, it’s wiser, far,
To take my view:
Love always leaves a scar,
We ‘re better as we are,
And friendship will be new!

From: Deland, Margaret, The Old Garden and Other Verses, 1892, Houghton, Mifflin and Company: Boston and New York, pp. 60-61.

Date: 1886

By: Margaretta (Margaret) Wade Campbell Deland (1857-1945)

Wednesday, 23 May 2018

A Wife’s Absence Lamented by John Aikin

Anno conjugli* 13.

Whene’er in verse or flowery prose
The youthful lover vents his woes,
And the long labour’d column fills
With all his catalogue of ills,
Absence we find, above the rest,
In all his saddest rhet’ric drest;
And still he chides “the heavy hours”
That keep him from the charmer’s bowers;
Still tells his sorrow to the groves,
“When absent from the maid he loves.”
But, if the fancy-smitten swain
Can thus in doleful notes complain
Of what, perhaps, but gives him ease,
Lessening a tyrant’s power to tease,
How should the tender husband mourn
When from his faithful partner torn;
When absence from a much-lov’d wife
Of every pleasure robs his life!
Then, idle whining tribe! give way,
While I my real loss display;
And tell each comfort and each bliss
That long I’ve had, and now I miss

I want—the mistress of my board,
The guardian of my little hoard;
The ruler of my small domain;
Th’ instructress of my infant train;
My best adviser, surest guide,
Of faith approv’d, of wisdom tried;
The soother of each pain and grief;
From toil and care the sweet relief;
The friend, of sense and taste refin’d,
In all my fav’rite studies join’d;
The cheerful partner of my day,
With whom the hours roll swift away;
The lovely sharer of my night,
Sweet source of ever new delight,
Within whose fond encircling arms
I taste of more than virgin charms.
All these my Delia was to me,
And these, when she returns, will be.
What lover then has cause to sigh
For absence half so much as I?
Yet cease, my heart! complain no more,
But count the joys thou hast in store.

*Years married.

From: Aikin, John, Poems, 1791, J. Johnson: London, pp. 16-19.

Date: 1791

By: John Aikin (1747-1822)

Tuesday, 22 May 2018

A Contemplation on Bassets-down-Hill by the most Sacred adorer of the Muses by Anne Kemp

If that exact Appelles now did live.
And would a picture of Elizium give;
He might pourtrai’ of the prospect which this Hill
Doth shew; & make the eie command at will.
Heer’s many a shire whose pleasauntness for fight
Doth yield to the Spectators great delight.
Ther’s a large Field guilded with ceres gold;
Here a green mead doth many Heifers hold;
Ther’s pasture growne with virdant grass, whose store,
Of Argent-sheep shewes th’owner is not poore.
Here springs doe intricate Meanders make
Excelling farr Oblivion’s Lethe Lake.
There woods and Coppisses harbour as many
And sweet melodious Choristers, as any
Elizium yields; whose Philomel’ an lazes
Merit the highest of the Lyrick’s praise
Heer’s Flora deck’t with robes of Or, and Azur,
Fragrently smelling yield’s two senses pleasure.

Hence Zephirus doth breath his gentle gales
Coole on the Hills, and sweet throughout the Vales
How happy are they that in this Climate dwell?
Alas! they can’t their owne sweet welfare tell;
Scarce I my selfe whil’st I am here doe know it
Till I fee it’s Antithesis to shew it.
Here are no smoaking streets, nor howling cryes,
Deafning the eares, nor blinding of the eyes;
No noysome smells t’ infect, and choake the aire;
breeding diseases envious to the Faire.
Deceipt is here exil’d from Flesh, and Bloud:
(Strife only reigns, for all strive to be good.)
With Will his verse I here will make an end
And as the crab doth alwaies backward bend
So, though from this sweet place I goe away
My loyall heart will in this Climate stay.
Thus heartless, doth my worthless body rest
Whilest my heart liveth with the ever blest.


Date: 1658

By: Anne Kemp (fl. 1658)