Archive for ‘Relationships’

Wednesday, 7 November 2018

Fixed Hour Prayers by Kristin Berkey-Abbott

Her father’s inner life, closed
to her, and now, to him, a distant
monastery, a vow of silence
required for visitation.

Still, she makes her pilgrimage. She brings
baskets of goodies: the pistachio nuts
he loves, the puzzle books,
some warm socks. She leaves
her offering on his dresser.

She listens to the Gregorian chant
of her father’s wheezing lungs,
a language at once both familiar
and strange. The nurses, with their Psalmody
of medications, appear throughout the day,
a liturgy of the hours.

Before she leaves, she reads
the books of her childhood
out loud to him: the otter
making his journey home, the children
finding their way through a dark forest,
families forging a life on a prairie.

She reads these bedtime stories,
a compline of comfort
that asserts the possibility
of safe passage through the night.

From: http://www.escapeintolife.com/poetry/kristin-berkey-abbott/

Date: 2014

By: Kristin Berkey-Abbott (19??- )

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Saturday, 3 November 2018

Honeysuckle by Janice N. Harrington

                        Vernon, Alabama, 1962

With backs bent, the daughters
of Vernon clean the graves of their dead,
casting aside the wind-scattered litter
and long necklaces of ants, leaving instead
foil-swaddled tins of plastic posies, phlox,
cockscomb, and biscuit-wide roses.

They move unspeaking between
the grassy plats, through doilies
of shade and sun, to the carved serifs
of familiar names, the lives
they knew: that one killed by fire,
the one whose heart grew watery as a melon,
there and there the others lost to cancer.

They tarry beside particular deaths,
their sorrow both daybook and parable:
how afterwards they too wanted to die
and couldn’t stop cryin’. No, couldn’t stop
cryin’.
The daughters of Vernon step
carefully, as they were taught.

Hush. Do not disturb these dead ones.
Let them sleep. Free of burden.
Let them sleep. At rest beneath that yella clay.
Let them sleep, Lord, let them sleep.

But the dead hear anyway and, listening
to those muffled feet, the rub of work-worn
hands against a gravestone’s edge, the whis,
whis of a sweeping whisk, they stare out
of dead spaces at the shapes above and see
the industry of shadows. They watch
for a moment, incurious, and then, closing
dead eyes, return to solitude’s unmoving dust.
But the honeysuckle remains, having planted itself,
feral and heavy-scented, left by grief’s gleaning
to fill the silence and draw from passing bees
a music that any might hear who still listen.

From: https://www.connotationpress.com/hoppenthaler-s-congeries/2010/january-2010/256-janice-n-harrington-poetry

Date: 2010

By: Janice N. Harrington (1956- )

Thursday, 1 November 2018

Inside Our Dreams by Jeanne Willis

Where do people go to when they die?
Somewhere down below or in the sky?
‘I can’t be sure,’ said Grandad, ‘but it seems
They simply set up home inside our dreams.’

From: Harrison, Michael (ed.), A Book of Very Short Poems, 2001, Oxford University Press: Oxford, p. 79.
(https://books.google.com.au/books?id=87nfqtL3Z0EC)

Date: 2001

By: Jeanne Willis (1959- )

Wednesday, 31 October 2018

A Glimpse of Starlings by Brendan Kennelly

I expect him any minute now although
He’s dead. I know he has been talking
All night to his own dead and now
In the first heart-breaking light of morning
He is struggling into his clothes,
Sipping a cup of tea, fingering a bit of bread,
Eating a small photograph with his eyes.

The questions bang and rattle in his head
Like doors and canisters the night of a storm.
He doesn’t know why his days finished like this
Daylight is as hard to swallow as food
Love is a crumb all of him hungers for.
I can hear the drag of his feet on the concrete path.
The close explosion of his smoker’s cough
The slow turn of the Yale key in the lock
The door opening to let him in
To what looks like release from what feels like pain.
And over his shoulder a glimpse of starlings
Suddenly lifted over field, road and river
Like a fist of black dust pitched in the wind.

From: Powling, Anne, O’Connor, John and Barton, Geoff (eds.), New Oxford English, Book 3, 1997, Oxford University Press: Oxford, p. 44.
(https://books.google.com.au/books?id=gomhxkJ1SzkC)

Date: 1968

By: Brendan Kennelly (1936- )

Monday, 29 October 2018

The Suicides by Janet Frame (Nene Janet Paterson Clutha)

It is hard for us to enter
the kind of despair they must have known
and because it is hard we must get in by breaking
the lock if necessary for we have not the key,
though for them there was no lock and the surrounding walls
were supple, receiving as waves, and they drowned
though not lovingly; it is we only
who must enter in this way.

Temptations will beset us, once we are in.
We may want to catalogue what they have stolen.
We may feel suspicion; we may even criticize the décor
of their suicidal despair, may perhaps feel
it was incongruously comfortable.

Knowing the temptations then
let us go in
deep to their despair and their skin and know
they died because words they had spoken
returned always homeless to them.

From: http://slightlyframous.blogspot.com/2015/12/the-suicides-by-janet-frame.html

Date: 1967

By: Janet Frame (Nene Janet Paterson Clutha) (1924-2004)

Friday, 26 October 2018

With Head Erect I Fought the Fight by John Philip Bourke

With head erect I fought the fight
Or mingled with the dance,

And now I merge into the night
With utter nonchalance.

From: Bourke, J. P. (“Bluebush”), Off the Bluebush: Verses for Australians West and East, 1915, Tyrrell’s Limited: Sydney, p. 16.
(https://archive.org/details/offbluebushverse00bouriala)

Date: 1915 (published)

By: John Philip Bourke (1860-1914)

Wednesday, 24 October 2018

Sprout by Linda Parsons Marion

The gardener I never reckoned on, she sows
with the fire of a zealot—rows cowlicked
in garlic, snow peas fence-latticed, mounds
studded gold—my daughter bends to earth’s
pure bidding. She’s living up to her baby name,
called Tater for the sun-brown quickness on nose
and arms. She means to mine these coffers
for yields unborn, sequin the counter with
a gracious plenty. Her reach is the surest we know,
to feed and be sated, even as she nurses
a sprout on her belly’s milk, all of us waiting
for the fruit made flesh, for the muskmelon
to twirl its sweet mouth in pearlized clay
yearning toward first harvest.

From: https://www.terrain.org/poetry/24/marion.htm

Date: 2009

By: Linda Parsons Marion (1953- )

Tuesday, 23 October 2018

Prayer for My Children by Kate Daniels

I regret nothing.
My cruelties, my betrayals
of others I once thought
I loved. All the unlived
years, the unwritten
poems, the wasted nights
spent weeping and drinking.

No, I regret nothing
because what I’ve lived
has led me here, to this room
with its marvelous riches,
its simple wealth—these three heads shining
beneath the Japanese lamp, laboring
over crayons and paper.
These three who love me
exactly as I am, precisely
at the center of my ill-built being.
Who rear up eagerly when I enter,
and fall down weeping when I leave.
Whose eyes are my eyes.
Hair, my hair.
Whose bodies I cover
with kisses and blankets.
Whose first meal was my own body.
Whose last, please God, I will not live
to serve, or share.

From: http://www.southerncultures.org/article/prayer-for-my-children/

Date: 1998

By: Kate Daniels (1953- )

Monday, 22 October 2018

October by Harry Clifton

The big news around here is the fall of leaves
In Harrington Street and Synge Street,
Lying about in pockets, adrift at your feet
As you kick them away. The other news is the trees—
Their yellow, as I speak, is unbelievable,
Not that you need me to tell you. Everywhere
The house is falling down around our ears
And it’s wonderful, in the dry, spicy air,
How quietly it happens. Close your eyes,
Don’t think, just listen. Hear them fall, the years
We came towards each other, out of a sun
Already westering. Look at us, even yet,
Exchanging tree-lore, twenty years on
In a leafless cathedral—bride and groom, well-met.

From: https://wfupress.wfu.edu/harry-clifton/poem-of-the-week-12/

Date: 2012

By: Harry Clifton (1952- )

Saturday, 20 October 2018

Misgivings by William Procter Matthews III

“Perhaps you’ll tire of me,” muses
my love, although she’s like a great city
to me, or a park that finds new
ways to wear each flounce of light
and investiture of weather.
Soil doesn’t tire of rain, I think,

but I know what she fears: plans warp,
planes explode, topsoil gets peeled away
by floods. And worse than what we can’t
control is what we could; those drab
scuttled marriages we shed so
gratefully may auger we’re on our owns

for good reason. “Hi, honey,” chirps Dread
when I come through the door; “you’re home.”
Experience is a great teacher
of the value of experience,
its claustrophobic prudence,
its gloomy name-the-disasters-

in-advance charisma. Listen,
my wary one, it’s far too late
to unlove each other. Instead let’s cook
something elaborate and not
invite anyone to share it but eat it
all up very very slowly.

From: https://www.thekitchn.com/april-is-poetry-1-8041

Date: 1997

By: William Procter Matthews III (1942-1997)