Archive for ‘Historical’

Saturday, 21 September 2019

Origin by Sarah Lindsay

The first cell felt no call to divide.
Fed on abundant salts and sun,
still thin, it simply spread,
rocking on water, clinging to stone,
a film of obliging strength.
Its endoplasmic reticulum
was a thing of incomparable curvaceous length;
its nucleus, Golgi apparatus, RNA
magnificent. With no incidence
of loneliness, inner conflict, or deceit,
no predator nor prey,
it had little to do but thrive,
draw back from any sharp heat
or bitterness, and change its pastel
colors in a kind of song.
We are descendants of the second cell.

From: https://structureandstyle.org/post/90981266590/origin

Date: 2013

By: Sarah Lindsay (1958- )

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Thursday, 12 September 2019

Love Letter to the NHS by Emma Ireland

to the doctors,
the nurses, the porters,
the cleaners, the old folk who
volunteer at hospital junctions
asking if you know where you need to be,
to the woman who says
hey
i have something special for you
to my husband who is on a restricted diet in
bed 4, handing him a plastic tub of liquidised banana
as though it were chocolate cake, and i take a
picture of it so i can get it put on a
keyring later for march 15th, which is not
valentine’s day to anyone except us
probably;
to the midwives
the one who told me it was
too soon for an epidural, and the one who –
three hours after – told me it was too late, but held my hand while i
pushed out every vile and nasty word i know; to the
medical student standing looking terrified
behind her, trying to make small talk
in between contractions
yes
i am from round here
no
i don’t come here often; to the
surgeon who addresses you as though he’s
known you all your life and not thirty seconds, leaning across the
bed rails with no concept of personal space, although i guess if you’re about to
rearrange a person’s insides you get to waive the formalities, and i
think: this man will know what parts of me i’ve never even
seen myself
look like;
to the newspaper trolley guy
squeaking up and down the wards
who tells us: i knew you wouldn’t buy anything, for i
never met a man with a pretty girl at his bedside
yet
who bought a magazine; to the
receptionist on the surgical assessment unit
answering telephones with one hand while trying to find
beds for the trollies piling up by her desk but who still eeks out the
time to tell me where the toilets are; to the
nurses who do all the things
most of us never could, and who do them with
kindness and humour, who clean up
shit and piss and vomit daily
daily
and get food bank vouchers in return; to the
junior doctors
– the one who walked into the
sea and never came back, the one with
bags where his laughter lines should be, the one who’s seen
far too much too often to ever have
junior
anywhere in her
job description – telling my husband she is
sorry
sorry that he is in pain
sorry that it took a while to fetch the morphine
sorry that he has been waiting so long, sorry that he’ll have to
wait a while longer, because the specialist is tied up with
somebody else at the moment, but can she
fetch us anything in the meantime?
tea?
coffee?
water?
and i want to tell her
to tell them, every single person who
shows up to work each day and even on the days they
don’t, on the days it is too
hard, too much
when it is stay home or break down, to
all of those who help keep us safe, keep us alive, i want to
say:
don’t be sorry
that i am the one who is sorry
sorry that you have to make apologies to hurt and
angry people for things that are not your fault, sorry that the
vultures responsible for this mess are busy trying to turn against you
all of those for whom you give your lives, when you are
dog-tired, when you are
drained, when you are empty and when you are
filled with despair, i am sorry
that you are not and could never be
paid your worth, for your worth cannot be counted in
money alone, but i am sorry that they don’t even try to do that
i am sorry
that there are times your families get the worst of you
because you exhausted the best
on us
even when we don’t
deserve it, even when we don’t
appreciate it, even though we can
never know how much it
cost you, i am
so
sorry
but you are not alone
we do not all believe the lies peddled to us by
those who stand to gain from your suffering, there are
those of us who see and will not stop seeing, who know and will not stop
knowing, will not stop
fighting
nye bevan’s children
every one of us
but maybe harry keen said it best
that they might try to hold it under water till the
bubbles stop rising, but the bubbles will
never
stop rising
we
will never
stop
rising.

From: https://proletarianpoetry.com/2018/05/25/love-letter-to-the-nhs-by-emma-ireland/

Date: 2018

By: Emma Ireland (196?- )

Saturday, 31 August 2019

Carrion Song for Major Tom by Bob Beagrie

“While men are gazing up to Heaven, imagining after a happiness, or fearing a Hell after they are dead, their eyes are put out, that they see not what is their birth right.”
(Gerrard Winstanley, The Law of Freedom in a Platform, 1652)

“Look out my window and what do I see?
A crack in the sky and a hand reaching down to me
All the nightmares came today
And it looks as though they’re here to stay.”

(David Bowie, Oh! You Pretty Things, 1971)

They took me in under the storm cloud’s wing
fed me on fire, bid me level these barren heaths
with spade, rake, hoe
with spade, rake and hoe
in joined desire, we remove rough stones,
our fathers’ scattered groans
layers of self we’ve sloughed off in growth,
dismembering ourselves, to stand alone
as Osiris or John Barleycorn
We turn, together, the soil of memory
compact years, smell ripe turf
Whatever shall we find as we finger the dirt?
spend hours sowing suns in common ground
to grow the pillars of Eden before sin,
as before my fall,
in rhymes of dipping scythes
sacks of sweat-won grain
and scarecrow grins wide as a rolling moor
Remember when, remember
when remembering

this remains an old battle scene,
a place for levelling men on points of swords,
over the fence we’ll forever tear down
undermine, come each month’s curdled cream,
through distances drawn up in murky pails
to our long-lost hanging grounds:
Doggerland,
Avalon, Lyoness,
Albion

poaching trails and corpse ways
still lead stray quails toward a mythic
sleeper dreaming under the golden hill –
not our King, divine, with his head lopped off,

his blue-blood-spill soaked in strips of cloth
and sucked on to ease a blight or bitter ache
to bring prosperity
to reverse a curse

but some starveling sovereign, low itinerant,
peasant-born pilgrim with a leaking song,
ear clipped, pilloried, with branded cheek,
or a departed starman crowned on Mars
with nothing left to lose
So, halt one moment in manuring, hear
those mouldwarps scurry to their Lazarus Palace,
secreting treasures beneath the grasses
shadow-cast by our booted soles
by our spades, rakes and hoes.

From: https://proletarianpoetry.com/2018/11/04/carrion-song-for-major-tom-by-bob-beagrie/

Date: 2018

By: Bob Beagrie (19??- )

Friday, 30 August 2019

Stone by Nick Makoha

The best thing I did was
move my body from one side of the world
to the other. This required a visa
which required a bribe.

The bribe placed in the palm
of a man with a gun,
took my mother’s monthly wage packet.
The man with a gun

let you speak to a clerk.
He too wanted a wage
because it would be his job
to have words with a judge

for another month’s salary.
The official wanted his bribe
so listened to the clerk
escorted by the soldier as he held his gun.

As I sat with my mother
at the steps of the court
drinking soda waiting
for one man to say yes, my mother said

In Uganda a bribe stops men
doing nothing. It rolls away the stone.
Her sips were slower than mine,
each separated by this prayer.

From: https://andotherpoems.com/2013/03/05/nick-makoha/

Date: 2010

By: Nick Makoha (1974- )

Monday, 19 August 2019

Excerpt from “Satyrus peregrinans” [Westminster Hall] by William Rankins

By this time long-gownd Lumen walkt abroad,
Under his girdle greene-waxt labels hung,
Although his pace was slow, gold was his goad,
And as the Petifogger went, he sung,
His greas’d belt and the waxe together clung:
He sware a mighty oath his writs were spoyld,
And by that meanes his client should be foyld.

I tract his steps, and followed him alloofe,
Weary with those Mecanicke meane deceipts,
At last he entred to a spatious roofe,
Where greatmen sat in high judiciall seates,
And iuglers play at even and odde with feates:
As (now sir it shall goe with you to day,
To morrow tis against you, you must pay.)

This hall they say is builded of such wood,
That cobwebs on the rafters are not spun,
By right the nature of these trees are good,
Yet there be held I mighty spyders run,
And by their sucking little flyes undone:
A thing most strange, that poysoned things must dwell,
Where nature scarce alloweth them a cell.

There stoode Briarius1 with a hundred hands,
And every one was ready to receive,
As many sundry toongs2, as seas have sands:
And when he sayd, the truth I do conceive,
Then meant the hell-hound soonest to deceive.
There saw I twelve good fellowes cald together,
That would for-sweare their father for a feather.

I saw the widdow in a mourning weede,
Wringing her painefull hands to get her right,
Th’oppressed soule tormented with more neede,
And cruelty with scarlet cloth’d in spight,
As who should say, in bloud is my delight.
Then thought I (ôh there is a Judge above)
Will all this wrong with one true sentence move.

Such sweating for base pelfe3, I did behold,
Such perjuries to get the upper hand,
The innocent with falshood bought and sould,
Such circumstance before the truth was scand,
Such scorched conscience markt with Sathans brand,
That straight bereft of my Satyrick wit,
I was possessed with a frantick fit.

So leaving this vast rumor of mans voyce,
I made my run unto a river side,
Where, sinke or swim, I tooke no better choyce,
With desperate leape in, headlong did I glide,
And for I would no more repeate this pride,
I did imagine I was in a dreame,
And so concluded my unorder’d theame.

1.         Briarius (more commonly Briareus, also known as Aegaeon): one of the three gigantic sons of Uranus and Gaia (Heaven and Earth, respectively). All three have a hundred arms and fifty heads.
2.         Toongs: Tongues.
3.         Pelfe: Money, wealth.

From: Rankins, William, Seaven satyres applyed to the weeke including the worlds ridiculous follyes. True fælicity described in the phoenix. Maulgre. Whereunto is annexed the wandring satyre. By W. Rankins, Gent., 2005, Text Creation Partnership: Ann Arbor, Michigan and Oxford, pp. 33-36.
(http://name.umdl.umich.edu/A10418.0001.001)

Date: 1587

By: William Rankins (fl. 1587)

Tuesday, 13 August 2019

I And by Tridib Mitra

Autumn’s phantasmagorical tempest
I at the door of 1964
wooden knocks–who are you wood pecker?
What is this?
Shocked vision
chances dreams haha reality’s become more dense
Pooooooooooeeeeeet
still boozed in love?
Gibbet
another revolt squanders like 1857 thrashes
Fire in Shantiniketan, fire here at Calcutta
In Midnapore Shyambazar Khalasitola
Fire in eyes face heart cock
This fireball gnarling
in happiness hatred pain intellect dream reality
All—junk–ho ho smoke net—
tinsel like groundnut
all around chirping
afar angry shadows roar, flounder on earth…

From: http://graffiti-kolkata.blogspot.com/2009/08/hungryalist-poems.html

Date: ?1964 (original in Bengali); ?2009 (translation in English)

By: Tridib Mitra (1940- )

Translated by: Tridib Mitra (1940- )

Thursday, 8 August 2019

Sorrows of Moraima by Shadab Zeest Hashmi

And so she is wed
in her plain mantilla,
the stoic vezir’s
sixteen-year old Moraima*
to Abu-abdallah, rey el chico.
She has three times as many sorrows as you,
lone cypress with the bent torso!
I watch her burn before she has bloomed.
I, the window they call
the eyes of Ayesha.
I, myself a gaping book waiting to be written,
watch her pace through white corridors,
reading passages between
the hissing walls.
A husband at war, a child taken captive,
all day she digs for a window.
All the while I let in common sparrows,
twigs, pollen, arrows of winter rain,
she is behind deaf carmen walls
in the city below
shut away from this, her palace.
Three times your sorrows, broken cypress.

*Notes: Moraima, wife of the last Muslim emperor of Granada (Al Andalus), suffered imprisonment and exile when Spain fell to Castilian rule (1492). The speaker of the poem is a window known as “Ain al Ayesha” or “the eyes of Ayesha” in the Alhamra palace. The window overlooked the city of Albaicin where Moraima was imprisoned.

From: https://www.cortlandreview.com/features/10/spring/hashmi.html

Date: 2010

By: Shadab Zeest Hashmi (1972- )

Wednesday, 7 August 2019

From “Whereas” by Layli Long Soldier

Whereas my eyes land on the statement, “Whereas the arrival of Europeans in North America opened a new chapter in the history of Native Peoples.” In others, I hate the act

of laughing when hurt injured or in cases of danger. That bitter hiding. My daughter picks up
new habits from friends. She’d been running, tripped, slid on knees and palms onto asphalt.

They carried her into the kitchen, She just fell, she’s bleeding! I winced. Deep red streams
down her arms and legs, trails on white tile. I looked at her face. A smile

quivered her. A laugh, a nervous. Doing as her friends do, she braved new behavior—
I can’t name it but I could spot it. Stop, my girl. If you’re hurting, cry. You must

show your feelings so that others know, so that we can help. Like that. She let it out,
a flood from living room to bathroom. Then a soft water pour I washed

carefully light touch clean cotton to bandage. I faced her I reminded, In our home
in our family we are ourselves, real feelings. You can do this with others, be true.
I sent her

off to the couch with a movie encouraging, Take it easy. Yet I’m serious when I say I laugh
reading the phrase, “opened a new chapter.” I can’t help my body. I shake. The sad

realization that it took this phrase to show. My daughter’s quiver isn’t new—
but a deep practice very old she’s watching me.

From: https://pen.org/from-whereas/

Date: 2013

By: Layli Long Soldier (19??- )

Monday, 5 August 2019

Women’s Chorus from “Thesmophoriazusae [Women at the Thesmophoria]” by Aristophanes

They’re always abusing the women,
As a terrible plague to men:
They say we’re the root of all evil,
And repeat it again and again;
Of war, and quarrels, and bloodshed,
All mischief, be what it may:
And pray, then, why do you marry us,
If we’re all the plagues you say?{145}
And why do you take such care of us,
And keep us so safe at home,
And are never easy a moment,
If ever we chance to roam?
When you ought to be thanking heaven
That your Plague is out of the way—
You all keep fussing and fretting—
“Where is my Plague to-day?”
If a Plague peeps out of the window,
Up go the eyes of the men;
If she hides, then they all keep staring
Until she looks out again.

From: Collins, W. Lucas, Aristophanes, 1872, William Blackwood and Sons: Edinburgh and London, pp. 144-145.
(https://www.gutenberg.org/files/59107/59107-h/59107-h.htm#CHAPTER_VIII)

Date: 411 BCE (original in Greek); 1872 (translation in English)

By: Aristophanes (c446-c386 BCE)

Translated by: William Lucas Collins (1815-1887)

Monday, 29 July 2019

God Particles by James Crews

I could almost hear their soft collisions
on the cold air today, but when I came in,

shed my layers and stood alone by the fire,
I felt them float toward me like spores

flung far from their source, having crossed
miles of oceans and fields unknown to most

just to keep my body fixed to its place
on the earth. Call them God if you must,

these messengers that bring hard evidence
of what I once was and where I have been—

filling me with bits of stardust, whaleskin,
goosedown from the pillow where Einstein

once slept, tucked in his cottage in New Jersey,
dreaming of things I know I’ll never see.

From: https://www.americanlifeinpoetry.org/columns/detail/506

Date: 2013

By: James Crews (19??- )