Archive for February, 2021

Sunday, 28 February 2021

With Sadness and Precision by Grzegorz Musiał

at last I’ve stopped believing
I fell into sleep as into a dry seed
the morning’s shovel will dig me up
the bang of the sun on the window, the highway’s throb

so I lie in silence, I look at the rectangle of sky
like the shroud in Lazarus’s bed I do not rise up
and deeper and deeper I crumble
into myself

without You

down into myself.


Date: 19?? (original in Polish); 2000 (translation in English)

By: Grzegorz Musiał (1952- )

Translated by: Georgia Scott (19??- ) and David Malcolm (1952- )

Saturday, 27 February 2021

1914 by Ferenc Istvan Dénes Gyula Békássy

He went without fears, went gaily, since go he must,
And drilled and sweated and sang, and rode in the heat and dust
Of the summer; his fellows were round him, as eager as he,
While over the world the gloomy days of the war dragged heavily.

He fell without a murmur in the noise of battle; found rest
‘Midst the roar of hooves on the grass, a bullet struck through his breast.
Perhaps he drowsily lay; for him alone it was still,
And the blood ran out of his body, it had taken so little to kill.

So many thousand lay round him, it would need a poet, maybe,
Or a woman, or one of his kindred, to remember that none were as he;
It would need the mother he followed, or the girl he went beside
When he walked the paths of summer in the hush of his gladness and pride,

To know that he was not a unit, a pawn whose place can be filled;
Not blood, but the beautiful years of his coming life have been spilled,
The days that should have followed, a house and a home, maybe,
For a thousand may love and marry and nest, but so shall not he.

When the fires are alight in the meadow, the stars in the sky,
And the young moon drives its cattle, the clouds graze silently,
When the cowherds answer each other and their horns sound loud and clear,
A thousand will hear them, but he, who alone understood, will not hear.

His pale poor body is weak, his heart is still, and a dream
His longing, his hope, his sadness. He dies, his full years seem
Drooping palely around, they pass with his breath
Softly, as dreams have an end – it is not a violent death.

My days and the world’s pass dully, our times are ill;
For men with labour are born, and men, without wishing it, kill.
Shadow and sunshine, twist a crown of thorns for my head!
Mourn, O my sisters! singly, for a hundred thousand dead.

From: Békássy, Ferenc; Gömöri, George; Gömöri, Mari; and Jones, Peter (eds.), The Alien in the Chapel: Ferenc Békássy, Rupert Brooke’s Unknown Rival: Poems and Letters, 2016, Skyscraper: Oxford, pp. 39-40.


Date: 1914

By: Ferenc Istvan Dénes Gyula Békássy (1893-1915)

Friday, 26 February 2021

A Riverain Rhyme by Joseph Ashby-Sterry

Beside the river in the rain—
The sopping sky is leaden grey—
I watch the drops run down the pane!

Assuming the Tapleyan vein—
I sit and drone a dismal lay—
Beside the river in the rain!

With pluvial patter for refrain;
I’ve smoked the very blackest clay;
I watch the drops run down the pane.

I’ve gazed upon big fishes slain,
That on the walls make brave display,
Beside the river in the rain.

It will not clear, ’tis very plain,
The rain will last throughout the day—
I watch the drops run down the pane.

I almost feel my boundless brain
At last shows signs of giving way;
Beside the river in the rain.

O, never will I stop again—
No more will I attempt to stay,
Beside the river in the rain,
To watch the drops run down the pane!

From: Ashby-Sterry, J., The Lazy Minstrel (Third Edition), 1887, T. Fisher Unwin: London, pp. 78-79.

Date: 1886

By: Joseph Ashby-Sterry (1836 or 1838-1917)

Thursday, 25 February 2021

My Smile Is a Woman’s Work by Cyndie Randall

When this man I love begins to speak
he even surprises himself –
coming right on time,
posturing as if God
slid a pole down the back of his shirt,
sent him to do a good work on me.
I nod because the speaker needs it,
because he’s pink and eager to heal.
But I can’t hear him.
My ears are spider webs, I say.
My brain, a deep cave.
I point to my stigmata, watch him
dig fingers in and root around.
He makes a podium
out of my darkest moments.
Word on the street is I can trust
my own judgement
about the man who speaks
but who does not listen.
If I were a man, I would do nothing
but lean back with a look
of quiet satisfaction.
But I am not a man.
I put my truest words to bed
under the shroud of my tongue.
What a full mouth I have.
It’s no wonder I keep opening,
keep spreading my lips.


Date: 2021

By: Cyndie Randall (19??- )

Wednesday, 24 February 2021

Aubade to Fading City by Jennifer Chance

To dis/appear
to cease
to get so small
that a puddle becomes an ocean
and the ocean becomes a universe

I walk the edges of memory,
dreaming of a car on a highway
with a Beatles song
and my brother and mother
singing offkey dancing

of Lincoln Square in Carlton
on my first day alone here
the whole city unfolding in the distance
thinking, I can drown here
I can disappear

of a train ride to Flinders
where the window points out
some flaming trees –
there one second then gone,
then gone

of listening to musicians on Elizabeth Street
singing aubades to a dying sky
where they choose, each time,
to dis/appear
into their own melody
to cease time
to get so small
that a puddle becomes an ocean
and the ocean becomes a universe.


Date: 2021

By: Jennifer Chance (19??- )

Tuesday, 23 February 2021

Lemons by Toh Hsien Min

When life gives me lemons, I make lemonade.
As a boy, I detested the taste of lemons,
that sharp sourness captured in a grimace,
but recently I have had so much citrus fruit
that I’ve adjusted to the attack of the acid.
The other day I found myself biting into
lemon wedges for the juice, as though
they were orange slices.  It made me think
how during our university days we bought
bags of lemons from Sainsbury’s because
they were cheap.  I squeezed yellow halves
till my hands tingled for an hour, while you
turned a heap of sugar into syrup.  No matter
what we felt about that white snowdrift of guilt,
we knew through trying that there was a point
at which a virtuous loss of sweetness
turned to an uncomfortable biting of tongues,
and if we were to let doubt cool all morning
in the fridge we would have the poor choice
of hot syrup or watering down painfully
squeezed lemonade.  We hadn’t learnt, though,
that the same applies to unheaped denials,
that belief sustains the unspoken like a wound,
and that even if the nice thing about lemons
is that unlike blood oranges they don’t stain
no matter how careless you are with them,
their invisible ink shows when you try
suspected surfaces with heat.  I suppose
you can’t compare lemons and oranges,
but if you know the only red nettings to end up
in my fruit compartment hold Valencia oranges,
you’ll understand my surprise, with the wedges,
to have discovered aftertaste, the lingering
in the mouth of a peculiarly silky sweetness
that is inestimable relief after the assault.


Date: 2007

By: Toh Hsien Min (1975- )

Monday, 22 February 2021

Kulani by Eunice Andrada

first water of morning
the translation into English
dries my grandmother’s mouth

spoiled water she spits
on the pads of her fingers
dabs them on the crook of my neck

stale water drawn
before using the mouth
for words, give water

healing water undiscovered
first communion
of salt

accumulated water the body hoards
more than it needs
pincushion islands rise

rotten water the river
where my tongues swim
in sleep.


Date: 2020

By: Eunice Andrada (1997- )

Sunday, 21 February 2021

A Man Said to the Universe by Stephen Crane

A man said to the universe:
“Sir, I exist!”
“However,” replied the universe,
“The fact has not created in me
A sense of obligation.”


Date: 1899

By: Stephen Crane (1871-1900)

Saturday, 20 February 2021

As the Days Pass by Kamini Roy

As the days pass, darkness overwhelms me
I see not the divine light; hear not that oracle
Childhood fancies, dreams I think countless
All those yearn to believe as truth…
Of my present condition, like many others
I too move, meet chores: Oh! What feat
I hoped, how noble could I do but
Awakened to fetters in my hand cruel
Inability ceases this life
Unceasingly overpower, not a drop of strength
To combat, bewail in vain
In my heart hopelessness resides
In the anterior depressing signs rubbed
Stopped flowing tears, sigh, lament
Laugh when the world laughs, but impossible
This constant self-oblivion, what arcane warmth
Keeps me awaken, underneath the oceans’ waves
As hot current within the secret chambers
Beneath the calmness and felicity of life
The river of despair streams perpetual.


Date: c1889 (original in Bengali); 2018 (translation in English)

By: Kamini Roy (1864-1933)

Translated by: Srirupa Mahalanabis (19??- )

Friday, 19 February 2021

Touch the Edge and Then by Julia Meylor Simpson

tip tongue in salty rime
lift glass to lips
swallow sweet-thick burn
sing-hum a song you once knew
about a girl who could fly
let your eyes
drink in more than what is
touch the edge
and then
tip tongue in salty rime
let it dissolve
let it.


Date: 2010

By: Julia Meylor Simpson (19??- )