Archive for December, 2020

Thursday, 31 December 2020

New Year’s Eve by Raymond Roseliep

When they ring their bells
I wring the thin rag of my
soul, already wrung.

From: Roseliep, Raymond, “Eight Haiku” in Poetry, Vol. 108, August 1966, p. 298.

Date: 1966

By: Raymond Roseliep (1917-1983)

Wednesday, 30 December 2020

The Bad Witness by Joanna Fuhrman

Yes, we can hear the war.

Yes, we know it’s happening
in the apartment next door.

These days shame is a noose
worn ironically and then
forgotten about.

If the good witness were here,
she would teach us how to listen,

how to hold the pain of the present
in our jaw:

a stupid guard dog
savoring a gift.


Date: 2015

By: Joanna Fuhrman (30 December 2020)

Tuesday, 29 December 2020

Stand in the Light by Elizabeth Rimmer

Stand in the light.
Allow the wild things to creep
out of the shadows.
Welcome them all, the wet
bedraggled things, the ones
all spit and claws, the one
who weeps and hangs its head,
the one who stares, and says ‘Make me.’
Stand in the light. They are yours,
washed and unwashed alike.

Stand in the light, and sing.
Raise your voice as if
there was no fear of darkness.
Listen and you will hear
other voices, other songs,
rough and sweet and dauntless,
blues and canto jondo,
pibroch, nanha, tanakh.
Stand in the light and sing. Their pain
is yours. Allow it to hurt.

Stand in the light. Be still.
Light is what we need. Let it glow,
let it shine into the furthest dark
to find the lost forgotten hopes
and warm them to new life.
Allow it to grow and touch the ruined
homes and hearts and show us
what’s to mend. Stand in the light.
Be still. Become the light.


Date: 2016

By: Elizabeth Rimmer (1977- )

Monday, 28 December 2020

Tribute by Jenny Lewis

They made shields from themselves, a phalanx of bony mantles
we crushed as we stepped ashore: clams, cockles, whelks — oysters
that changed from male to female over a hundred tides.

Then those women with their blue-veined forearms flung back
against the pebbles, not understanding us — their men off fighting
somewhere behind the hills, lost in perpetual drizzle and cloud.

All we wanted was comfort, but they showed us no compliance,
instead, they shut their ears to the foreign sounds we made,
white ears more delicate than shells, with tiny, labyrinthine cochleas.

They were less impressive than African bounty — the conch
and cowrie we used as currency, displays of wealth to string
round the necks of our black-haired Pompeiian women.

We took them anyway, translucent as the sunlight our ships turned
to plough through: scant booty, but it was enough for Caligula.


Date: 2017

By: Jenny Lewis (1944- )

Sunday, 27 December 2020

I Need You by Adnan al-Seyegh

Like the earth, parched, prays for rain to pour from the clouds
Like the clouds, streaming with radiance, need the vastness of the sky
Like the sky, heavy with stars, needs to be lifted up by the Lord God
Like the Lord God, in order to forgive us, needs our faults
Like my faults only exist because I’m a dreamer, a bewildered and unaware poet
Like poetry and wine are from you, in you, about you and for you —
(beautiful, flowering, with kohl-darkened eyes)

I need you

To explain life’s meaning and my reason for being
Your beauty confirms and is endless, I have reached you …
(and I cannot reach…)

2013, London


Date: 2013 (original in Arabic); 2017 (translation in English)

By: Adnan al-Seyegh (1955- )

Translated by: Jenny Lewis (1944- ), Alaa Juma (19??- ) and Ruba Abughaida (19??- )

Saturday, 26 December 2020

Suburban Sonnet: Boxing Day by Gwendoline (Gwen) Nessie Foster Harwood (Miriam Stone)

Gold, silver, pink and blue, the globes distort her,
framed in the doorway: woman with a broom.
Wrappings and toys lie scattered round the room.
A glossy magazine the children bought her
lies open: ‘How to keep your husband’s love’.
She stands and stares, as if in recollection,
at her own staring acid-pink reflection.
The simple fact is, she’s too tired to move.

O where’s the demon lover, the wild boy
who kissed the future to her flesh beneath
what skies, what stars, what space! and swore to love her
through hell’s own fires? A child stretches above her
and, laughing, crowns her with a tinsel wreath.
She gathers up a new, dismembered toy.


Date: 1965

By: Gwendoline (Gwen) Nessie Foster Harwood (Miriam Stone) (1920-1995)

Friday, 25 December 2020

Christmas Comes Again by Elizabeth Drew Stoddard

Let me be merry now, ’t is time;
The season is at hand
For Christmas rhyme and Christmas chime,
Close up, and form the band.

The winter fires still burn as bright,
The lamp-light is as clear,
And since the dead are out of sight,
What hinders Christmas cheer?

Why think or speak of that abyss
In which lies all my Past?
High festival I need not miss,
While song and jest shall last.

We’ll clink and drink on Christmas Eve,
Our ghosts can feel no wrong;
They revelled ere they took their leave—
Hearken, my Soldier’s Song:

“The morning air doth coldly pass,
Comrades, to the saddle spring;
The night more bitter cold will bring
Ere dying—ere dying.
Sweetheart, come, the parting glass;
Glass and sabre, clash, clash, clash,
Ere dying—ere dying.
Stirrup-cup and stirrup-kiss—
Do you hope the foe we’ll miss,
Sweetheart, for this loving kiss,
Ere dying—ere dying?”

The feasts and revels of the year
Do ghosts remember long?
Even in memory come they here?
Listen, my Sailor’s song:

“O my hearties. yo heave ho!
Anchor’s up in Jolly Bay—
Pipes and swipes, hob and nob—
Mermaid Bess and Dolphin Meg,
Paddle over Jolly Bay—
Tars, haul in for Christmas Day,
For round the ’varsal deep we go;
Never church, never bell,
For to tell
Of Christmas Day.
Yo heave ho, my hearties O!
Haul in, mates, here we lay—

His sword is rusting in its sheath,
His flag furled on the wall;
We’ll twine them with a holly-wreath,
With green leaves cover all.

So clink and drink when falls the eve;
But, comrades, hide from me
Their graves—I would not see them heave
Beside me, like the sea.

Let not my brothers come again,
As men dead in their prime;
Then hold my hands, forget my pain,
And strike the Christmas chime.


Date: 1895

By: Elizabeth Drew Stoddard (1823-1902)

Thursday, 24 December 2020

Old Santeclaus with Much Delight by Anonymous

Old SANTECLAUS with much delight
His reindeer drives this frosty night,
O’r chimney tops, and tracts of snow,
To bring his yearly gifts to you.

The steady friend of virtuous youth,
The friend of duty, and of truth,
Each Christmas eve he joys to come
Where peace and love have made their home.

Through many houses he has been,
And various beds and stockings seen;
Some, white as snow, and neatly mended,
Others, that seemed for pigs intended.

To some I gave a pretty doll,
To some a peg-top, or a ball;
No crackers, cannons, squibs, or rockets,
To blow their eyes up, or their pockets.

Where e’re I found good girls or boys,
That hated quarrels, strife and noise,
I left an apple, or a tart,
Or wooden gun, or painted cart;

No drums to stun their Mother’s ear,
Nor swords to make their sisters fear;
But pretty books to store their mind
With knowledge of each various kind.

But where I found the children naughty,
In manners crude, in temper haughty,
Thankless to parents, liars, swearers,
Boxers, or cheats, or base tale-bearers,

I left a long, black, birchen rod,
Such as the dread command of GOD
Directs a Parent’s hand to use
When virtue’s path his sons refuse.


Date: 1821

By: Anonymous

Wednesday, 23 December 2020

Some Bright Elegance by Kayombi (Kayo) Chingonyi

For the screwfaced in good shoes that paper
the walls of dance halls. I have little patience.
I say dance, not to be seen but to be free, your feet
are made for better things. Feel the bitterness
in you lift as it did for a six year old Bojangles
tapping a living out of Richmond beer gardens
to the delight of a crowd that wasn’t lynching
today but laughing at the quickness of the kid.

Throw yourself into the thick, emerging pure
reduced to flesh and bone, nerve and sinew.
Your folded arms understand music. Channel
a packed Savoy Ballroom and slide across
the dusty floor as your zoot-suited twenties
self, the feather in your hat from an Ostrich,
the swagger in your step from the ochre dust
of a West African village. Dance for the times

you’ve been stalked by store detectives
for a lady on a bus, for the look of disgust
on the face if a boy too young to understand
why he hates but only that he must. Dance
for Sammy, dead and penniless, and for the
thousands still scraping a buck as street corner
hoofers who, though they dance for their food,
move as if it is only them and the drums, talking.


Date: 2012

By: Kayombo (Kayo) Chingonyi (1987- )

Tuesday, 22 December 2020

A Mayan Christmas by Rip Bulkeley

Fuck Easter, with just two pathetic deaths
while the third one’s Dad fixes an escape.
We haven’t really done the hecatomb thing
since Nagasaki. Meanwhile the well-fed gods
of Mesopotamia and Cambodia have been
sneering at us. All right – Vietnam, Iraq,
Afghanistan and that piddling Belgrano,
but the truest slaughter should be crammed
into a handful of days, and the very best
play out at home like Aberfan or austerity.
Too bad, that with COVID roaring ahead
we will never be certain just which were
the sacred Christmas deaths. But the best thing
is that instead of a few score jargon soldiers
or priests with their high tech obsidian knives
we can do this one ourselves with a kiss.
They got that part right, in Gethsemane.


Date: 2020

By: Rip Bulkeley (19??- )