Archive for November, 2018

Friday, 30 November 2018

An Upper Chamber in a Darkened House by Frederick Goddard Tuckerman

An upper chamber in a darkened house,
Where, ere his footsteps reached ripe manhood’s brink,
Terror and anguish were his cup to drink;
I cannot rid the thought, nor hold it close
But dimly dream upon that man alone:
Now though the autumn clouds most softly pass,
The cricket chides beneath the doorstep stone,
And greener than the season grows the grass.
Nor can I drop my lids, nor shade my brows,
But there he stands beside the lifted sash;
And with a swooning of the heart, I think
Where the black shingles slope to meet the boughs,
And, shattered on the roof like smallest snows,
The tiny petals of the mountain-ash.

From: http://www.poetrybyheart.org.uk/poems/an-upper-chamber-in-a-darkened-house/

Date: 1860

By: Frederick Goddard Tuckerman (1821-1873)

Thursday, 29 November 2018

Before We Get Into This by Lemn Sissay

Before we get to know each other
And sing for tomorrow
And unearth yesterday
So that we can prepare our joint grave
You should know that I have no family,
Neither disowned nor distanced – none.

No birthdays nor Christmas,
No telephone calls. It’s been that way
Since birth for what it’s worth
No next of skin.

I am the guilty secret of an innocent woman
And a dead man – tell your parents, they’ll want to know.

From: https://www.theguardian.com/books/2008/sep/20/poetry.originalwriting

Date: 2008

By: Lemn Sissay (1967- )

Wednesday, 28 November 2018

Passing the Graveyard by Andrew John Young

I see you did not try to save,
The bouquet of white flowers I gave;
So fast they wither on your grave.

Why does it hurt the heart to think
Of that most bitter abrupt brink
Where the low-shouldered coffins sink.

These living bodies that we wear
So change by every seventh year
That in a new dress we appear;

Limbs, spongy brain and slogging heart,
No part remains the selfsame part;
Like streams they stay and still depart.

You slipped slow bodies in the past;
Then why should we be so aghast
You flung off the whole flesh at last?

Let him who loves you think instead
That like a woman who has wed
You undressed first and went to bed.

From: http://www.scottishpoetrylibrary.org.uk/poetry/poems/passing-graveyard

Date: 1948

By: Andrew John Young (1885-1971)

Tuesday, 27 November 2018

Skins by Patience Agbabi

It’s not like you don’t turn me on.
Every time you walked past
I thought, She’s fit.
Come-to-bed eyes.
We both want to
feel my skin

against your skin.
It’s not like you’re on
or I’m changing into
a woman. It’s my past.
Look into my eyes.
I just wanted to fit

in. A misfit.
Mixed race but light-skinned,
brown hair, blue eyes,
bootboy with a hard-on.
I passed.
I had to.

Then I got this tattoo.
I did it in a fit
of rage. It soon passed.
You want to read my skin?
Whatever turns you on.
I closed my eyes

and put my soul on ice,
denied a black dad, too
terrified to let on.
I wore the outfit,
marched with the skins.
I don’t like to talk about the past,

I hate my past.
My big lie reflected in their eyes,
their hatred in my skin.
With this tattoo
I’m a walking Photofit.
That’s why I keep my clothes on.

It’s past midnight. I’ll call a cab if you want me to.
But your eyes know how to fit
a condom like a second skin. Come on…

From: https://www.theguardian.com/books/2016/mar/28/poem-of-the-week-skins-by-patience-agbabi

Date: 2008

By: Patience Agbabi (1965- )

Monday, 26 November 2018

Magdalen into Cairn by John Charles Stuart (Jack) Beeching

Stoned her to death? Why not? It was unanimous.
All who stood around raised a hand.

Everyone stoned her to death: democratic,
Quite democratic.

Stoned her? And very popular.
Hundreds of eager faces.

Stones for confetti
As if for a mock wedding,

And one last miracle. Stoning to death
Turns a maiden to a cairn.

From: http://www.qualm.co.uk/mainpr.html#hwilliams2

Date: 2006 (published)

By: John Charles Stuart (Jack) Beeching (1922-2001)

Sunday, 25 November 2018

If I’m Early by Hugo (Hugh Anthony Mordaunt Vyner) Williams

Every other day I follow the route
of the Midland Railway
to where it cuts through
St. Pancras Old Church Cemetery.
I might go into the church
and heave a sigh or two
before continuing via a gate
set in the cemetery wall
to the Mary Rankin Wing
of St. Pancras Hospital.

As a young man, Thomas Hardy
supervised the removal of bodies
from part of the cemetery
to make way for the trains.
He placed the headstones
round an ash tree sapling,
now grown tall, where I stop sometimes
to look at the stones
crowding around the old tree
like children listening to a story.

From: https://www.tweetspeakpoetry.com/2015/01/20/poets-poems-hugo-williams-knew-bride/

Date: 2014

By: Hugo (Hugh Anthony Mordaunt Vyner) Williams (1942- )

Saturday, 24 November 2018

Welcome Home by Spike (Terence Alan) Milligan

Unaware of my crime
they stood me in the dock.

I was sentenced to life….
without her.

Strange trial.
No judge.
No jury.

I wonder who my visitors will be.

From: http://www.spikemilligan.co.uk/spike-milligan-poem-text.php?poem=Welcome-Home

Date: 1977

By: Spike (Terence Alan) Milligan (1918-2002)

Friday, 23 November 2018

NON-commitment by Chinua Achebe

Hurrah! to them who do nothing
see nothing feel nothing whose
hearts are fitted with prudence
like a diaphragm across
womb’s beckoning doorway to bar
the scandal of seminal rage. I’m
told the owl too wears wisdom
in a ring of defense round
each vulnerable eye securing it fast
against the darts of sight. Long ago
in the Middle East Pontius Pilate
openly washed involvement off his
white hands and became famous. (Of all
the Roman officials before him and after
who else is talked about
every Sunday in the Apostles’ Creed?) And
talking of apostles that other fellow
Judas wasn’t such a fool
either; though much maligned by
succeeding generations the fact remains
he alone in that motley crowd
had sense enough to tell a doomed
movement when he saw one
and get out quick, a nice little
packet bulging his coat pocket
into the bargain—sensible fellow.

September 1970

From: https://www.poetryfoundation.org/poems/146985/non-commitment

Date: 1970

By: Chinua Achebe (1930- )

Thursday, 22 November 2018

Gwalchmai’s Delight by Gwalchmai ap Meilyr

Swift rising dawn of joyful gliding June,
Melodious song of birds, calm, lustrous noon!
A gold-torqued Chief am I that know not fear,
A fierce, host-facing lion, rout in my rear!
At night I guard with bound-protecting sword
The babbling flow of Dygen Freiddin’s ford.

How green the untrodden grass! How pearly pale
Its stream! And oh, its amorous nightingale!
The sea-mews playing o’er its bed of flood
Shake their white plumes in boisterous multitude;
Till, whiter breasted one, the lover’s season
With dreams of thee distract my very reason.
Far, far art thou from Mona’s pleasant leas,
Where folk in splendid solitude take their ease,
Where truth by choicest lips is ever told,
Where poesy pours in one pure stream of gold.

My falchion flashes quick to guard the brave,
My round shield glitters glory by the wave;
While dulcet harmonies from morn till eve
Wood-birds and waters delicately interweave.

My mind inflamed shoots like a shivering star
O’er all the land to Evernwy afar;
Over white budding apple-tree, blossoming flowers,
Woods one wide emerald at this hour of hours,
To Caerwys’ nymph, within her bower of bowers.

Gwalchmai my name, the Saxon’s steadfast foe,
For Mona’s prince I struck a battle blow;
Before a fortress I made blood to flow,
For Llywy’s sake, fair as on trees the snow.

The nightingale that shortens sleep in May
And Llywy’s lily looks I’ll praise alway.

I saw in Rhuddlan a flaming rush before
Owain, carnage of spears, lettings of gore.
With mortal combats I heard the Vale outring;
I saw a hundred Captains’ silencing.

But when War’s mighty music had sunk to rest,
Sweet sang the nightingale above his nest.

From: Graves, Alfred Perceval (ed. and transl.), Welsh Poetry Old and New in English Verse, 1912, Longmans, Green, and Co.: London, pp. 16-17.
(https://archive.org/details/welshpoetryoldne00graviala/)

Date: 12th century (original in Welsh); 1912 (translation in English)

By: Gwalchmai ap Meilyr (fl. 1130-1180)

Translated by: Alfred Perceval Graves (1846-1931)

Wednesday, 21 November 2018

What Are They Doing in the Next Room by Bruce Smith

Are they unmaking everything?
Are they tuning the world sitar?
Are they taking an ice pick to being?
Are they enduring freedom in Kandahar?

Sounds, at this distance, like field hollers,
sounds like they’ll be needing CPR.
Sounds like the old complaint of love and dollars.
Sounds like when Coltrane met Ravi Shankar

and the raga met the rag and hearing
became different and you needed CPR
after listening and tearing was tearing
and love was a binary star—

distant bodies eclipsing each other
with versions of gravity and light.
Sounds like someone’s trying to smother
the other—a homicide or a wedding night.

The television derives the half-full hours.
Time exists as mostly what’s to come.
Losing also is ours…
I meant that as a question.

Is I the insomniac’s question?
Are you a dendrite or a dream?
Between oblivion and affection,
which one is fear and which protection?

Are they transitive or in?
Are they process or product?
Are they peeling off the skin?
Are they Paris or the abducted?

They’re reading something after Joyce,
post modern stuff that can be read
but not understood except as voices
rising and falling from the dead.

Do they invent me
as I invent their faces?
I see surveillance gray wasted
with bliss at having thieved identities.

In the AM, when turns to usted,
the sun clocks in to overwrite the night
with hues and saturations and the red
hesitates for a second to be incarnate.

From: https://www.poets.org/poetsorg/poem/what-are-they-doing-next-room

Date: 2014

By: Bruce Smith (1946- )