Archive for ‘Historical’

Thursday, 19 May 2022

Meteor, April 2020 by Amy Miller

In the year of our plague, we saw a light. Like a plane on
fire, west in the sky, just after sunset when Venus and the
moon were trying so hard to touch. There, flashing on the
lids of the trash cans—sudden, moving, in flight—
something meeting its end, crashing to earth. I looked up
and said What the hell. Not Glory, not Thank you.

Sometimes they say
a mixed blessing, which means
you’re screwed. Or Careful
what you wish
. I only wished
that the rest of that rock
would miss us.

Starlight, not night, and the leaves on the maple so tender a
green you know most of them won’t make it—frost coming
again. Light, light, green, and the blue of not quite night.
Our night lit by this startle. Or spike.

The hardest thing
is how the fever
keeps making you think
it’s over, then flares
again, a fire that comes
just before sleep.
Then sleep flies off
to somewhere far
from your troubled
crown of night.

After a shock, sometimes you look back at the place it
happened as if it bled some lingering print. I still look there,
wonder if it landed, the gouge, the burn. Mixed. Be careful.
Stars wheel down, a slow newsfeed. The story is
developing. I’m out here with no mask, big sky, big dare,
alone. And aren’t we all just lone pillars, the billions of our
parts improbably combining, surviving? Like those lights,
dragging all their lives behind them out of the dark.


Date: 2020

By: Amy Miller (19??- )

Saturday, 7 May 2022

New Zealand by James Keir Baxter

(for Monte Holcroft)

These unshaped islands, on the sawyer’s bench,
Wait for the chisel of the mind,
Green canyons to the south, immense and passive,
Penetrated rarely, seeded only
By the deer-culler’s shot, or else in the north
Tribes of the shark and the octopus,
Mangroves, black hair on a boxer’s hand.

The founding fathers with their guns and bibles,
Botanist, whaler, added bones and names
To the land, to us a bridle
As if the id were a horse: the swampy towns
Like dreamers that struggle to wake,

Longing for the poets’ truth
And the lover’s pride. Something new and old
Explores its own pain, hearing
The rain’s choir on curtains of grey moss
Or fingers of the Tasman pressing
On breasts of hardening sand, as actors
Find their own solitude in mirrors,

As one who has buried his dead,
Able at last to give with an open hand.


Date: 1969

By: James Keir Baxter (1926-1972)

Monday, 2 May 2022

The Inquest by Francis Burdett Thomas Nevill Money Coutts

Not labour kills us; no, nor joy:
The incredulity and frown,
The interference and annoy,
The small attritions wear us down.

The little gnat-like buzzings shrill,
The hurdy-gurdies of the street,
The common curses of the will—
These wrap the cerements round our feet.

And more than all, the look askance
Of loving souls that cannot gauge
The numbing touch of circumstance,
The heavy toll of heritage.

It is not Death, but Life that slays:
The night less mountainously lies
Upon our lids than foolish day’s
Importunate futilities.

From: Money-Coutts, F.B., “The Inquest” in The Bulletin, Vol. 20, No. 1000 (15 April 1899), p. [The Red Page].

Date: 1894

By: Francis Burdett Thomas Nevill Money-Coutts (1852-1923)

Sunday, 1 May 2022

Our Terms or Go! by Venier Voldo

We are the bosses of labour, we,
And you are the sons of toil,
We tell you what your wages shall be,
And then what shall be our spoil;
You see if you have that which you earn,
It won’t give us any show,
And so we propose that you shall learn
To accept our terms or go!

What right have you who do the work,
To give it a price at our loss?
That is the right of us who shirk,
And who play the game of “boss”;
We allow that you may have enough
To keep up the struggle and strain,
But all above must support the bluff,
And go to your bosses’ gain.

We have you hard, for you see, good slaves,
We own all lands and all tools,
All metals and coals, us jolly knaves,
And can play you for our fools.
It’s nothing to us if you have naught,
While our piles forever grow;
You are the cattle our gold has bought,
And so take our terms or go!

From: Voldo, Venier, “Our Terms or Go!” in The Worker, Saturday, 4 August 1894, p. 2.

Date: 1894

By: Venier Voldo (fl. 1876-1894)

Sunday, 3 April 2022

[The Midnight Moon] by Yasuhara Teishitsu

the midnight moon—
almost like a big chunk
of coolness.


Date: c1670 (original in Japanese); 2007 (translation in English)

By: Yasuhara Teishitsu (1610-1673)

Translated by: Gabi Greve (1948- )

Thursday, 31 March 2022

Aemilianus the Moor by Evan Jones

There is nothing in the letters
Aemilianus sent to the Senate
of his childhood in North Africa.
Nothing of the goats bleating
or his mother’s affection.
He wrote that he would ‘assert
the glory of Rome, and deliver
the empire from all barbarians
of the North and of the East’;
he declared himself a general,
where the Senate knew the people best.
His reign was short, his ideals never tasked.
He stepped out of his tent one night
woken by what he thought were goats
and his soldiers sacrificed him.


Date: 2017

By: Evan Jones (19??- )

Sunday, 27 March 2022

The Revenge of Henrietta Lacks by Cecilia Caballero

She owns you
You owe her your life
All your medical advancements
The secrets to an immortal life
Held in her cells that never die

Black women will never die
HeLa cells travel space
Clone themselves
Created the polio and Covid-19 vaccines
Blood-pressure medications and antidepressants
That her daughter swallowed to keep herself alive

She lived in the former slave quarters of her ancestors
She was a tobacco-plantation farmer
She tended the plants, dried the leaves,
Packaged the profit.
And she worked the land
Underneath the 100-year-old oak tree
At the home-house.

She was a 14-year-old mother
She declined medical treatments for
Toothaches, syphilis, injuries, pain.
“Happy home” was noted in her medical file.
She was told she had cancer
And went home and did not
Tell anyone her fear of failure as a mother.

At the public wards for colored women
She was afraid her womb would be taken
She wanted to mother more
But she was treated with radioactive
Radium rods sewn into her cervix
A glow-in-the-dark substance

During her first cancer treatment
Her cells were taken
With the umbilical-cord blood
Of Black babies and mothers
And used to develop the first
Vials of human cell cultures
Made of salt and water and plasma.

And her cancer was mixed with chicken blood
And her cancer was mixed with chicken blood
And her cancer was mixed with chicken blood

Taken with a syringe from the still-beating heart
Of a chicken. They tell us this is science
When she mothers you without her consent.

And they call us witch doctors
And they call us witch doctors
And they call us witch doctors

And we are.

Because her daughter said
Blackness be spreadin all inside you.

Because we know
Blackness is not a cancer
But it cannot be killed.


Date: 2021

By: Cecilia Caballero (19??- )

Saturday, 26 March 2022

Persephone Writes to Her Mother by Tara Mae Mulroy

Mother, he is a gentleman.
He is a builder with bricks of moonlight.
He knows the secret places of the earth.
He washes the sleep from the eyes of the souls.
He lets them look on beauty.
He lets them tell him they hate him.
In the mornings, I gather berries and apples.
I scrub his back with rind.
I weave spider-spit, eyelash.
He talks in his sleep: pudding, fire, discus,
the things he misses.
He breathes, Your body is my orchard.
I am undulating grass.
I am a field of wheat he parts with his fingers.
Poppies bloom in my veins.
When he kisses me, he tastes pomegranate.
The night crawls nearer.
The moans of the dead roll and swell.
Mother, we are well.


Date: 2015

By: Tara Mae Mulroy (19??- )

Thursday, 17 March 2022

The Irishman by James Orr

The savage loves his native shore,
Though rude the soil and chill the air;
Well then may Erin’s sons adore
Their isle, which Nature formed so fair!
What flood reflects a shore so sweet,
As Shannon great, or past’ral Bann?
Or who a friend or foe can meet,
So gen’rous as an Irishman?

His hand is rash, his hart is warm
But principle is still his guide –
None more regrets a deed of harm,
And none forgives with nobler pride.
He may be duped, but won’t be dared;
Fitter to practice than to plan,
He dearly earns his poor reward,
And spends it like an Irishman.

If strange or poor, for you he’ll pay,
And guide to where you safe may be;
If you’re his guest, while e’er you stay,
His cottage holds a jubilee.
His inmost soul he will unlock,
And if he should your secrets scan,
Your confidence he scorns to mock,
For faithful is an Irishman.

By honour bound in woe or weal,
Whate’er she bids he dares to do;
Tempt him with bribes – he will not fail,
Try him in fire, you’ll find him true.
He seeks not safety: let his post
Be where it ought, in danger’s van:
And if the field of fame be lost,
‘Twill not be by an Irishman.

Erin, loved land! From age to age,
Be thou more great, more fam’d and free!
May peace by thine, or, should’st thou wage
Defensive war, cheap victory!
May plenty bloom in every field;
Which gentle breezes softly fan,
And cheerful smiles serenely gild,
The home of every Irishman!


Date: 1807

By: James Orr (1770-1816)

Friday, 11 March 2022

The Warm-Up Girls by M. Brett Gaffney

We are the ones who died first.
The girls you saw coming from a mile away,
a slow run, a crop top. We sluts,
foul-mouthed and fucking.
We slashed-to-ribbons, starting lineup.

Bloody beginnings with perfect hair,
breasts blessed by our mothers.
We’re made of reminders, bodies
bursting with cautionary tales
so old we don’t remember
which frightened god wrote them first.

We will get you ready for the real kills.
The sidekick carrying our blood
on his clothes for awhile until
he hits the darkness harder
than any of you expected.

Save your hope for these few.
We don’t want your finales,
your aftermath flush with the clean
comfort of open ambulance doors.
We don’t need to see the credits roll.
You’ll forget our names by then anyway.

Casey Becker.
Marcie Stanler.
Lynda Van Der Klok.
Phyllis Stone.
Tina Gray.
Helen Shivers.
Maureen Evans.

We’re on a first name basis already,
too close for comfort. Too close
to know the boys we love
will kill us in the end.

And oh, you’ll try to warn us,
but we already know
what’s in the darkness.
It’s why we’ve come.
Or else you don’t have your final girl.
Or else all of us are gone.


Date: 2020

By: M. Brett Gaffney (19??- )