Archive for August, 2022

Wednesday, 31 August 2022

The Second by Clayton Eshleman

Old ladies
up path,
a dying fire,

by pines to
where tombs
rise, ex-

over fall
buds, a

the sky alters
their pleas
I see

walking up
the road
my wife
naked, her

arms filled
with wild
carrots beans.

From: Eshleman, Clayton, “The Second” in Poetry, Volume 103, No. 6, March 1964, p. 361.

Date: 1964

By: Clayton Eshleman (1935-2021)

Tuesday, 30 August 2022

Weary Rings by César Abraham Vallejo Mendoza

There are desires to return, to love, to not disappear,
and there are desires to die, fought by two
opposing waters that have never isthmused.

There are desires for a great kiss that would shroud Life,
one that ends in the Africa of a fiery agony,
a suicide!

There are desires to. . .have no desires, Lord;
I point my deicidal finger at you:
there are desires to not have had a heart.

Spring returns, returns and will depart. And God,
bent in time, repeats himself, and passes, passes
with the spinal column of the Universe on his back.

When my temples beat their lugubrious drum,
when the dream engraved on a dagger aches me,
there are desires to be left standing in this verse!


Date: 1918 (original in Spanish); 2007 (translation in English)

By: César Abraham Vallejo Mendoza (1892-1938)

Translated by: Clayton Eshleman (1935-2021)

Monday, 29 August 2022

The Best Friend by Meribah Abbott

If I was sad, then he had grief, as well—
Seeking my hands with soft insistent paw,
Searching my face with anxious eyes that saw
More than my halting, human speech could tell;
Eyes wide with wisdom, fine, compassionate—
Dear, loyal one, that knew not wrong nor hate.

If I made merry—then how he would strive
To show his joy; “Good master, let’s to play,
The world is ours,” that gladsome bark would say;
“Just yours and mine—’tis fun to be alive!”
Our world … four walls above the city’s din,
My crutch the bar that ever held us in.

Whate’er my mood—the fretful word, or sweet,
The swift command, the wheedling undertone,
His faith was fixed, his love was mine, alone,
His heaven was here at my slow crippled feet:
Oh, friend thrice-lost; oh, fond heart unassailed,
Ye taught me trust when man’s dull logic failed.

From: Clauson, J. Earl (ed.), The Dog’s Book of Verse, 1916, Small, Maynard & Company: Boston, p. 26.

Date: ?1916

By: Meribah Abbott (18??-1923)

Sunday, 28 August 2022

Haze and Gray by James Shea

Nothing moved in the sky for months.
The same blank cloud remained
over the capital for the length
of a work visa. I didn’t expect
to see the sun again or the moon,
comets or falling stars. A bird turned out
to be just something in my eye.
I longed for a cycle of thunder,
one more shriek of lightning.
I sought something to nudge
the cloud: fireworks, kites, smoke
from torn bits of a family album
burned at a picnic. Nothing can’t be nudged.
I fired my pistol into the air.
It bucked my hand like a reprimand.
I became subtle. So subtle, I might
be dead. The cloud may be gone now.
I’ve stopped looking at the sky.


Date: 2019

By: James Shea (19??- )

Saturday, 27 August 2022

Waiting for ’97 and Godot by Yam Gong (Lau Yee-ching)

The torment
of a drop of water
falling into a lake
I know—
at times I am the drop of water
at times
I am the lake

The torment
of a drop of water
falling onto the parched earth
I also know
At times I am
the parched earth
At times
I am
that droplet

But what about the joy
of a drop of water
falling onto the parched earth?

What about the ecstasy
of a drop of water
falling into the lake?

Even though
at times I am the water
at times I am the earth
at times I am the rivers and lakes
at times ecstatic at times tormented at times joyful
at times
I persuade myself
that you
will arrive eventually.


Date: 1997 (original in Chinese); 2021 (translation in English)

By: Yam Gong (Lau Yee-ching) (1949- )

Translated by: James Shea (19??- ) and Dorothy Tse (1977- )

Friday, 26 August 2022

My Body’s Always Saying by Taghrid Abdelal

Silence is a small thing with a beak.
It might not grow after dinner.
Its mother might forget it on her tongue,
and it might not know me when it’s old.

Or maybe I will conspire with its shadows
which I select as tour guide
for adjacent bodies:

a silence that doesn’t race a hare
or live in a tortoise shell
yet one I can find at a house door
befriending a threshold.


Date: 2020 (original in Arabic); 2022 (translation in English)

By: Taghrid Abdelal (1984- )

Translated by: Fady Joudah (1971- )

Thursday, 25 August 2022

Balance by James Womack

It didn’t want to let the morning
Come, as if the globe were rocking back,
Back and forwards, twisting gently like
A fair-day weathervane, and turning
Towards the sun, turning us away.
Calm but firm, the world like a mother
Did not allow it to be either
One thing or the other, night or day.
The sky was gritty with darkness, with
The light and the dark mixed, for the air
Was full of masonry-dust, plaster,
Powder, snowflakes, soot. I thought that if
I tore the page off the calendar
The next page would have the same number.
It didn’t want to let morning come.
Fine by us. But the mechanism
Slips suddenly out of gear – we are
Jerked forward, lose balance once more.
This is the last station of autumn –
The sun is up, the scales have fallen.


Date: 2005

By: James Womack (1979- )

Wednesday, 24 August 2022

Hurriedly, in Premature Celebration by Timur Kibirov

The roses bloom! Oh this is Paradise!
And we shall see the infant Christ!
– Andersen, ‘The Snow Queen’

Hurriedly, in premature celebration,
the little boy bursts again from the crowd
and says, once more: ‘But the king isn’t wearing…’

then he clams up,
as he sees
that not only the king,
but all his retinue

(the ministers, Life Guards, ladies-in-waiting,
even the two con-men tailors themselves…)

are all naked!
All of them literally
in their birthday suits!

He spins in confusion
back to the gathered crowd
and beholds only naked bodies,
the denuded
woeful flesh of humanity.

And now, confused and fearful,
he senses his own naked,
goose-fleshed, bluish,
little boy’s skin,

and sees leafless trees in the distance,
sees how the forest has been stripped,
how the fields are bare,
how the naked earth is a desert

and winter is on its way…

Now who, who will wrap us up warm,
us, who have been stripped of everything?
Who, who will protect us,
the little naked soldiers
of a naked king?

For our leader is bare,
and his queen is the snow queen;
darkness and impenetrable snow!
And as for standing against him:
ay, ay, ay!

Oh dear. Oh wow.
Go and lie in the snow.

Make your mind up,
silly little Kay.

Run along now,
stupid little Gerda.

There, ahead of you:
the kingdom of death.

There, behind you:
the roses are blooming.

Well, maybe they’re not…
Maybe they’ve withered…
So what?

You’ll find out soon enough.
If you can get that far.


Date: 2009 (original in Russian); 2017 (translation in English)

By: Timur Kibirov (1955- )

Translated by: James Womack (1979- )

Tuesday, 23 August 2022

World History: An Overview by Kevin Canfield

North of 161st Street near
The Park here for Yankee Stadium
Sign a graffiti artist has summarized
The folly of the human experiment
On a concrete bridge underpass
She has inscribed six orange letters
Each twelve feet tall and distended
Like bubbles or birthday balloons
Two words joined up as one
OHWELL, she has written


Date: 2020

By: Kevin Canfield (19??- )

Monday, 22 August 2022

I Envy Thee, Thou Careless Wind by Edward George Earle Bulwer-Lytton

I envy thee, thou careless wind,
So light, so wild, thy wandering,
Thou hast no earthly chain to bind
One fetter on thy airy wing;—
I envy thee, thou careless wind!

The flower’s first sign of blossoming,
The harp’s soft note, the woodlark’s song,
All unto thee their treasures bring,
All to thy fairy reign belong;—
I envy thee, thou careless wind!

Thy jocund wing o’er ocean roves,
An echo to the sea-maid’s lay;
Then, over rose and orange groves,
Thy fragrant breath exhales away;—
I envy thee, thou careless wind!

From: Bulwer-Lytton, Edward, “Narenor: A Tale” in The Port Folio, Vol. XVIII, July-December 1824, pp. 475-476.

Date: 1824

By: Edward George Earle Bulwer-Lytton (1803-1873)