Archive for March, 2021

Wednesday, 31 March 2021

I Know It As the Sorrow by William “Bill” Everson (Brother Antoninus)

I have wondered long at the ache in my blood,
The waking as a child weeping in the dark for no reason,
The strange sadness when the storm-tide lures the leaves to the wanton dance.
I know it now as the grief of long-gone women
Shivering in the cliff-wind,
While the lean boats dipped in the fjord,
And the home-returning warriors stooped on the bitter shore, bearing the slain.
I know it as the intolerable sorrow of little children too strong to weep in the light,
Who could not smother the sobs in the gloom of the Norway pines,
Remember the Danes from the dawn,
And the bright steel slashing the dusk.
It is the unutterable sadness of the sea;
The memory, deep in the bone, of the flesh straining,
The nerves screaming, but the lips loosing it never;
The unrejectable heritage, learned in the womb a thousand years ago,
And given from blood to blood
Till it lis at last in the secret depths of my soul.

In the lightning-whetted night,
When the thick wind sucks at the eaves
And rides the ridgepole into the wisp of the first dim dawn,
I dream in the dark,
And voice again the ancient song,
And find no joy in the singing.

From: Everson, William, The Residual Years: Pomes 1934-1948, Including A Selection of Uncollected and Previously Unpublished Poems, Volume I, 1997, Black Sparrow Press: Santa Rosa, California, p. 13.

Date: 1935

By: William “Bill” Everson (Brother Antoninus) (1912-1994)

Tuesday, 30 March 2021

Mood by Grace Fallow Norton

Though words are littered to my hand
nothing they build can house my need.
Though words, a masked bedizened band,
surround me, mock—assail—evade—

though words come flowing from afar
having from ancient hills their red
and from this sky their cloud, their star,
still thirsty, mute, I bow my head.

For I am caught here needing speech,
sick with a lovely song unsung.
Waves broken on a desolate beach,
O not your strange confusing tongue

but rather the enchanted beat,
the deep eternal surge and sway—
silence, then running rapturous feet—
comes nearer what my heart would say.

From: Norton, Grace Follow, “Mood” in Poetry, Volume 50, Issue 3, June 1937, p. 133.

Date: 1937

By: Grace Fallow Norton (1876-1962)

Monday, 29 March 2021

Original Fire by Karen Louise Erdrich

for Aza

I watch my daughter build a fire
not from a match or cigarette lighter
but from the original elements,
two sticks, a length of sinew, friction.
She has formed a cup of juniper shreds,
and when she spins out a black ember
and breathes it to life
she transfers the radiant pebble
into the nest and breathes again.
Sparks fly from her lips.
A dove of flame bursts from between her hands.
She speaks to the spark
until the words catch and burn
and I think, here is my daughter
who is innocent of all things
yet from whose lips
the terrible and merciful
flame flies out, the truth, the fire.


Date: 2019

By: Karen Louise Erdrich (1954- )

Sunday, 28 March 2021

Tuesday is a Crab by Catori Sarmiento

Tuesday is a crab
sitting on my hand
that pinches at each hour.


Date: 2016

By: Catori Sarmiento (19??- )

Saturday, 27 March 2021

Western Civilisation by António Agostinho Neto

Tins fixed to stakes
driven in the earth
make the house

Rags complete
the intimate landscape

The sun piercing the cracks
awakens the inhabitant

After twelve hours of slave

Breaking stones
carrying stones
breaking stones
carrying stones
in the sun
in the rain
breaking stones
carrying stones

OId age comes fast

A reed mat on dark nights
enough for him to die on
and of hunger.

From: Neto, Agostinho, Sacred Hope, 1974, Tanzania Publishing House: Dar es Salaam, pp. 18-19.

Date: 1970 (original in Portugese); 1974 (translation in English)

By: António Agostinho Neto (1922-1979)

Translated by: Marga Holness (19??- )

Friday, 26 March 2021

Watching My Son Bloom into Summer by Armin Tolentino

His mossy crotch stains the shower floor green
and the drain is clogged with wet clumps of grass.

My boy unfolds into fronds of fern as he slowly sheds
any semblance of me. I’m losing his face through bark

and branches. His hair fluffs with pollen
and his armpits secrete a nectar so cloying

his room is filled with bees. He no longer speaks,
just stares out the window, lusting for sun.

I lie and tell him I understand, that it’s natural,
but my voice is lost through miles of forest.

I don’t know what to get him for his birthday.
I place a basket beneath his outstretched arms

and together we celebrate his falling leaves.


Date: 2016

By: Armin Tolentino (19??- )

Thursday, 25 March 2021

Song-Maker by Anita Endrezze

There is a drunk on Main Avenue, slumped
in front of the Union Gospel Mission.
He is dreaming of pintos the color of wine
and ice, and drums that speak the names
of wind. His hair hides his face,
but I think I know him.
Didn’t he make songs people still sing
in their sleep?
Didn’t coyotes beg him for new songs
to give to the moon?
Didn’t he dance all night once and laugh
when the women suddenly turned
shy at dawn
Didn’t he make a song just for me,
one blessed by its being sung only once?

If he would lift his face
I could see his eyes, see
if he’s singing now
a soul-dissolving song.
But he’s all hunched over
and everyone walks around him.
He must still have strong magic
to be so invisible.

I remember him saying
Even grass has a song,
‘though only wind hears it.


Date: 1992

By: Anita Endrezze (1952- )

Wednesday, 24 March 2021

Miniature 2 by Maria Borio

You’re asleep and breathe
nearby something of me that dissolves the air.
Heel to brow
at your side unmoving
in the idea that above us
something – it can be called
Something – in the dark levitates us.
In the dream you walk head down.
In the sound of jaws – an animal
sleeps between us – Someone continues…
We’re in a lake,
holograms, clepsydra up high,
project stretched on blank pigment
composes in slow motion
like monitored species in a glasshouse.
And a silence… from us
some far distant man
tests the lens, not the dark.


Date: 2019 (original in Italian); 2020 (translation in English)

By: Maria Borio (1985- )

Translated by: Julia Anastasia Pelosi-Thorpe (19??- )

Tuesday, 23 March 2021

Alexander’s Feast: an Ode by John Wolcot (Peter Pindar)

Timotheus now, in music handy,
Struck up a tune call’d — Drops of Brandy;
The hero pulls out Thais to the dance:
Timotheus now struck up a reel;
The couple skipp’d with nimble heel,
Then sat them down, and drank a quart of Nantz.

Now did the master of the lyre
On dancing exercise his fire.
He sung of hops at court, and wakes, and fairs;
He sung of dancing dogs, and dancing bears;
He prais’d the minuet of Nan Catley,
And lumps of pudding, and Moll Pately:
The king grew proud, and soon began to reel,
A hopping inspiration seiz’d his heel.

Bravi, bravi, the soldier crowd
In admiration cry’d aloud.
The lady dances like a bold Thalestris,
And Alexander hops like Monsieur Vestris.
Again, so furiously they dance a jig,
The lady lost her cap, the hero lost his wig.

The motley mob, behind, before,
Exclaim’d — encore! encore! encore!
Proud of th’ applause, and justly vain,
Thais made a curtsey low,
Such as court ladies make before the queen.
Alexander made a bow,
Such as the royal levee oft has seen,
And then they danc’d the reel again.

Of vast applause the couple vain,
Delighted, danc’d the reel again:
Now in, and now out,
They skipp’d it about,
As tho’ they felt the madness of the moon;
Such was the power of Timothy and tune.

When the dub a dub, a dub dub drum,
In triumph behind e’m beat — Go to bed, Tom.

And now in their ire,
Return’d from the fire,
In revenge for the Greeks that were dead,
The king and his punk
Got most horribly drunk,
And together went reeling to bed.


Date: 1808

By: John Wolcot (Peter Pindar) (1738-1819)

Monday, 22 March 2021

The Raid by Ronald Alexander

The jail cell is cold
and crowded with queens.
Leather queens in tight pants,
transvestites in gowns,
preppies in baggy sweaters,
khaki pants, and blazers
with crests.
I sit in the corner
on the concrete floor and
watch the effeminate one
prancing back and forth
and yelling,
I’m sorry officer.
I’m sorry I’m a faggot.
I’m sorry I suck dick.
A young, fat cop
rakes his billy club
across the bars and
screams for him to shut up
before he gets something
in his mouth he doesn’t like.
I smile for a minute
then remember the television
cameras that watched while
the police herded us
from the bar.
The films will show us
being led in handcuffs
into the paddy wagons
like the man who has killed
his wife and kids,
like the man who
embezzled from his employer,
like the man who abducted
a child and left her
in a ditch.
I look at the fingerprint ink
on my hands and wonder if
the stain will wash off
now that I’ve been caught
in a place where
men dance with men.


Date: 2006

By: Ronald Alexander (19??- )