Archive for July, 2019

Wednesday, 31 July 2019

When We Say Knuckle Down by Todd Ryan Boss

we mean there’s torque to be
doubled, the way the quarter-
horse re-couples her shoe-heavy

hooves, head down, and throws
herself forward, we mean
the load in the sled demands a

hard haul ahead, the hill to be
taken as a problem not of moment
but momentum, we mean

the chili will taste better once
the bitter bread of winter’s eaten,
slashing our faces sheet on sheet,

just as in summer we mean
it matters not how hot the sun
if there are chores to be done.

The knuckles have nothing
to do with it really, not the ones
around reins or handles, not

the ones we wring like rags over
figures evenings—no we don’t
mean those—we mean the knuckles

of our wills, those folding bones
in there somewhere where our
lives have hold of the land—

we mean that the whole body,
the whole mind, the whole
damned soul is a goddamned hand.


Date: 2015

By: Todd Ryan Boss (1968- )

Tuesday, 30 July 2019

When Giving is All We Have by Alberto Rios

One river gives
Its journey to the next.

We give because someone gave to us.
We give because nobody gave to us.

We give because giving has changed us.
We give because giving could have changed us.

We have been better for it,
We have been wounded by it—

Giving has many faces: It is loud and quiet,
Big, though small, diamond in wood-nails.

Its story is old, the plot worn and the pages too,
But we read this book, anyway, over and again:

Giving is, first and every time, hand to hand,
Mine to yours, yours to mine.

You gave me blue and I gave you yellow.
Together we are simple green. You gave me

What you did not have, and I gave you
What I had to give—together, we made

Something greater from the difference.


Date: 2014

By: Alberto Rios (1952- )

Monday, 29 July 2019

God Particles by James Crews

I could almost hear their soft collisions
on the cold air today, but when I came in,

shed my layers and stood alone by the fire,
I felt them float toward me like spores

flung far from their source, having crossed
miles of oceans and fields unknown to most

just to keep my body fixed to its place
on the earth. Call them God if you must,

these messengers that bring hard evidence
of what I once was and where I have been—

filling me with bits of stardust, whaleskin,
goosedown from the pillow where Einstein

once slept, tucked in his cottage in New Jersey,
dreaming of things I know I’ll never see.


Date: 2013

By: James Crews (19??- )

Sunday, 28 July 2019

Eve Names the Animals by Susan Donnelly

To me, lion was sun on a wing
over the garden. Dove,
a burrowing, blind creature.

I swear that man
never knew animals. Words
he lined up according to size,

while elephants slipped flat-eyed
through water

and trout
hurtled from the underbrush, tusked
and ready for battle.

The name he gave me struck
me to him. He did it to comfort me,
for not being first.

Mornings, while he slept,
I got away. Pickerel
hopped on the branches above me.
Only spider accompanied me,
nosing everywhere,
running up to lick my hand.

Poor finch. I suppose I was
woe to him-
the way he’d come looking for me,
not wanting either of us
to be ever alone.

But to me I was
fox. . .
I strung words
by their stems and wore them
as garlands on my long walks.

The next day
I’d find them withered.

I liked change.


Date: 1984

By: Susan Donnelly (1939- )

Saturday, 27 July 2019

Parting and Meeting by Phoebe Cary

On the casement, closed and lonesome,
Is falling the autumn rain,
And my heart to-night is heavy
With a sense of unquiet pain.

Not that the leaves are dying
In the kiss of the traitor frost,
And not that the summer flowers
On the bitter winds are tossed.

And not that the reaper’s singing
The time no longer cheers,
Bringing home through the mellow starlight
The sheaves and the yellow ears.

No, not from these am I sighing,
As the hours pass slow and dull,
For God in his own time maketh
All seasons beautiful.

But one of our household number
Sits not by the hearth-fire’s light,
And right on her pathway beating
Is the rain of this autumn night.

And therefore my heart is heavy
With a sense of unquiet pain,
For, but Heaven can tell if the parted
Shall meet in the earth again.

But knowing God’s love extendeth
Wherever his children are,
And tenderly round about them
Are the arms of his watchful care;

With him be the time and the season
Of our meeting again with thee,
Whether here on these earthly borders,
Or the shore of the world to be.

From: Cary, Alice and Cary, Phoebe, The Poems of Alice and Phoebe Cary, 1850, Moss & Brother, Philadelphia, pp. 239-240.

Date: 1849

By: Phoebe Cary (1824-1871)

Friday, 26 July 2019

Spectres by Alice Cary

Once more the shadows darken
Upon life’s solemn stream—
Once more I’m in my chamber
To ponder and to dream.

Down in the mist-white valley,
Across the hills afar,
The rosy light is gleaming
From Love’s descending star.

I hear from yonder parlour
A prattler cry, “He’s come!”
Oh, there’s a world of comfort—
I wish I had a home!

All last night, round about me
The lights of memory streamed,
And my heart to long-lost music
Kept beating as I dreamed.

We live with spectres haunted
That we cannot exorcise—
A pale and shadowy army
Between us and the skies.

Conjured by mortal weakness,
In their cerements they start
From the lonesome burial-places
Of the dead hopes of the heart.

They will meet thee, fellow-pilgrim,
For their graves are everywhere,
And thou canst not lay them better
Than by labour which is prayer.

From: Cary, Alice and Cary, Phoebe, The Poems of Alice and Phoebe Cary, 1850, Moss & Brother, Philadelphia, pp. 158-159.

Date: 1849

By: Alice Cary (1820-1871)

Thursday, 25 July 2019

O God! These People! by Mohammad Hanif Hairan

O God! Change these people so that
Nobody will die by another’s hand.
End cruelty so that
An ant won’t die by someone’s hand.
O God, for any thing to which you have given a soul
These things should never die by someone else’s hand.
Reserve everyone’s cruelty to their eyes
So no living thing will die by someone else’s hand,
No traveller will be bitten by someone else’s dog,
And nobody’s dog will be killed by someone else’s hand.

From: van Linschoten, Alex Strick and Kuehn, Felix (eds.), Poetry of the Taliban: Translated by Mirwais Rahmany and Hamid Stanikzai, 2012, Columbia University Press: New York, p. 194.

Date: 2008

By: Mohammad Hanif Hairan (19??- )

Translated by: Mirwais Rahmany (1983- ) and Hamid Stanikzai (19??- )

Wednesday, 24 July 2019

Like Pinocchio by Jean Farley

Your white house leans from the dark
and that wax-white, far-off you,
leaning from the window
has hair that hangs down all blue.

The long grass stems that tilt and cross
above the cricket’s breathing back
are whirring in this wind,
are, in this starlight, grey and black.

You have quietly closed your window
and I loiter here below.
A black night beetle cracks up against my knee:
I am jointed like Pinocchio.

Assassins will come as charcoal sacks
and hang me in an oak to jerk and spin.
Brittle as slate or a cricket’s shell,
my feet will clatter all night in the wind.


Date: 1951

By: Jean Farley (1928- )

Tuesday, 23 July 2019

The Summer Tree by Edith Marion Marcombe Shiffert

Since winter ended for this tree, new leaves
filled all the branches, grew, could not restrain
themselves from coming. They will wilt and drop,
be nothing, but for summer they show green.

Light shines all around them. They do not
feel its warmth or shape. They wear the glow
belonging to the season while they grow.
They wear the light, and that is what they are.

The rustle and the texture of the leaves,
the way they look, their smell and taste, do not
concern them on their stems and twigs. Each moves
as air moves, and when winter comes it falls.

Grow is not a word to lightly say.
The tree is there. It uses what it is.
Underground the roots expand. In air
branches rise and spread. The tree is there.


Date: 1968

By: Edith Marion Marcombe Shiffert (1916-2017)

Monday, 22 July 2019

A Word by Ozaki Kihachi

I have to select a word for material.
It should be talked about in the smallest possible amount and
have a deep suggestiveness like nature,
bloom from inside its own self,
and at the edge of the fate encircling me
it will have to become darkly and sweetly ripened.

Of a hundred experiences it always
has to be the sum total of only one.
One drop of water dew
becomes the harvest of all dewdrops,
a dark evening’s one red point of light
is the night of the whole world.

And after that my poem
like a substance entirely fresh,
released far away from my memory,
the same as a scythe in a field in the morning,
the same as the ice on a lake in spring,
will suddenly begin to sing from its own recollection

From: Shiffert, Edith Marcombe and Sawa, Yūki (eds. and transls.), Anthology of Modern Japanese Poetry, 1972, Charles E. Tuttle Co. Inc: Tokyo, p. 39.

Date:19?? (original in Japanese); 1972 (translation in English)

By: Ozaki Kihachi (1892-1974)

Translated by: Edith Marion Marcombe Shiffert (1916-2017) and Yūki Sawa (fl. 1969-1989)