Archive for ‘Relationships’

Friday, 22 March 2019

Outside by Karen McCarthy Woolf

under the arcade
and the floor-length glass shop front:
a green pop-up dome

flanked by a Burberry
suitcase and a sleeping-bag

a makeshift shelter
for Sai from Stratford
with time to invest

in a four-day queue – he’s first
in line for an iPhone 6s

no-one moves him on
or threatens arrest
as it’s not about where

but why you pitch your tent.


Date: 2017

By: Karen McCarthy Woolf (19??- )

Thursday, 21 March 2019

American Avalon by Connie Deanovich

Frankenstein naps on a golden bed
covered by a floral quilt
handstitched as he is handstitched

He dreams of making a gigantic sandwich
the tense moment of triumph coming when finally
he gets both hands to work at once

He dreams of picnicking in a glistening meadow
recently cleaned by a biology class
dreams of riding there on top a glistening Harley

He sees himself this way or else
prone in black leather
glamorously handcuffed inside his electric dungeon

Tomorrow he’ll rise arms first from his golden bed
trying to piece together the images of his dreams
into an incontestable memory

When he stumbles toward you
will you slowly teach him your name
or will you quickly distribute fire?


Date: 1997

By: Connie Deanovich (1960- )

Wednesday, 20 March 2019

Equinox by Elizabeth Alexander

Now is the time of year when bees are wild
and eccentric. They fly fast and in cramped
loop-de-loops, dive-bomb clusters of conversants
in the bright, late-September out-of-doors.
I have found their dried husks in my clothes.

They are dervishes because they are dying,
one last sting, a warm place to squeeze
a drop of venom or of honey.
After the stroke we thought would be her last
my grandmother came back, reared back and slapped

a nurse across the face. Then she stood up,
walked outside, and lay down in the snow.
Two years later there is no other way
to say, we are waiting. She is silent, light
as an empty hive, and she is breathing.


Date: 1993

By: Elizabeth Alexander (1962- )

Monday, 18 March 2019

Preparations for the Reception of a Soul by Anne Haverty

For Swinburne, Symons
Arranged the angels
In rows of three
And organised Goethe
To be there
At the head of
The waiting party.

Bearers of Fernet Branca
Opium and turkey-legs,
Aids poets use on earth
To attain heaven
He didn’t mention.
An expert, he assumed that
After the journey
Poets would live
On the ether of each other.

To welcome in
The ordinary soul
There is the old
Assembly of kith and kin,
An auntie to take your hand,
A long-beloved’s smile
To light the path
To the Beatific Familiar.

As usual, I want everything
Ether and hearth,
Everybody to be there,
Goethe and grandmother
The young man who
Died in France on the lonely
Rack of the parallel bars
Running with Radiguet
Along our paradise shore.
And the one who is
Locked in my heart.

A perfect university
For the affectionate elect,
A blooming of my first
Stunted year at Trinity,
Uncle floating across the Square
For a word with Mary Anne
Known of course as George
To Browning.


Date: 1992

By: Anne Haverty (1959- )

Sunday, 17 March 2019

Go De Sin, Con De Sin, Nach mBainean Sin Dho* by Mary Balfour

The rose-bud its fragrance at evening may breathe,
Or sparkle with dew-drops the moonlight beneath,
Its fragrance, its beauty, its sweets I resign,
And Erin’s green shamrock alone shall be mine.
The laurel its branches triumphant may wave,
And shade with its foliage the tomb of the brave;
No blood-crimsoned chaplet my brows shall entwine,
But Erin’s green shamrock alone shall be mine.
Oh dearer by far is thy leaf to the heart,
Than all the rich bloom of the East could impart,
May Erin thy plants in her bosom enshrine,
And the sprig her affection has hallowed, be mine.

*Author’s note: Pronounced…Go de shin, do te shin, nagh maynean shin ya [What’s that to one to whom’s it of no concern].

From: Miss Balfour, Hope, a Poetical Essay; with Various Other Poems, 1810, Smith and Lyons, High-Street, p. 155.

Date: 1810

By: Mary Balfour (1778-1819)

Saturday, 16 March 2019

Justice in America by John Clark Ferguson (Alfred Lee)

Justice is blind, for, next her darken’d eyes
The well-tied bandage light of heav’n denies,
And in her hands she holds those awful scales,
Whose fair and honest measure never fails;
But brib’d by Jonathan, though next her face,
The kerchief hides her beauty’s beaming grace,
Still from beneath she steals a cunning glance,
In all the crookéd beauty called askance!
Nor are her measures all the proper weight,
To meet the searching majesty of light.
O I’m asham’d l hold, Justice, hold, enough,
Such blindness will not do for blindman’s-buff!
Why does the negro not enlist your aid
You only act for him by whom you’re paid,
And in the court that bears your Grace’s name,
White versus black does still your favour claim;
There, on the bench, (if true the rumour goes,)
Your Grace’s weary eye-lids like a doze!*
Pardon your most obedient—I’m afraid
Affront and insult to my charge are laid!
No! ’tis to shew the wonders of that art,
Of which clairvoyance prov’d in you’s a part,
That I unfold to European view
Mesmeric sleep that snores and judges too!

*  Mrs. Trollope, in her work descriptive of America, gives a very ludicrous account of the manner in which justice is administered in that country—a prisoner frequently making his defence before a snoring judge.

From: Ferguson, John Clark, The Poetical Works of John Clark Ferguson. New Edition with Additional Poems, 1856, R. Groombridge & Sons: London, pp. 88-89.

Date: 1850

By: John Clark Ferguson (Alfred Lee) (?1825-????)

Thursday, 14 March 2019

On the Same [her daughter] by Catherine Rebecca Grey

Little idol of my heart,
Thou to me canst joys impart
Greater than the glittering prize
To Ambition’s eager eyes:
Greater than the summer rose
To the airy bee bestows:
Greater than the youth’s despair
To the haughty fair one’s ear:
Greater than that fair one’s smile,
Skill’d her lovers to beguile,
To the enamour’d youth can give,
Should she bid him love and live.
Soon the beauty shall decay,
Soon the rose shall fade away,
Soon the lover’s flame is o’er,
Power obtain’d soon charms no more:
But nor Time, nor Fortune’s change,
Can my love from thee estrange—
That, on firmer motives plac’d,
Shall with my existence last.

From: Lady Manners, Poems, 1794, John Booth, G.G. and J. Robinson and B. and J. White: London, pp. 144-145.

Date: 1794

By: Catherine Rebecca Grey (1766-1852)

Tuesday, 12 March 2019

Some Day, Some Day by Cristóbal de Castillejo

Some day, some day
O troubled breast,
Shalt thou find rest.
If Love in thee
To grief give birth,
Six feet of earth
Can more than he;
There calm and free
And unoppressed
Shalt thou find rest.
The unattained
In life at last,
When life is passed
Shall all be gained;
And no more pained,
No more distressed,
Shalt thou find rest.


Date: c1530 (original in Spanish); 1873 (translation in English)

By: Cristóbal de Castillejo (1491-1556)

Translated by: Henry Wadsworth Longfellow (1807-1882)

Monday, 11 March 2019

Love Keeps Me Pondering How I May Best by Guillem de Cabestany

Love keeps me pondering how I may best
Compose for my belov’d a joyous song,
For her to whom my heart and soul belong,
Whom Love made me to choose from all the rest,
And whom he hath ordained I must adore
And serve and honour faithfully and purely;
And I do, my love for her full surely
From day to day grows better and grows more.

Full well has Love cured me of the despair
Which long he made me suffer, and the woe;
Unjust it was of him to treat me so,
For almost I was forced to turn elsewhere.
If he is wise, now let him bear in mind
That in a little while luck often changes;
He who ill-treats his subjects oft estranges
Others who’d serve him well if he were kind.

For you must know, my lords, I have heard tell
How once a powerful Emperor of yore
Oppressed his barons grievously, wherefore
His pride was humbled and his power fell.
And so I pray my noble beauteous one
Not to ill-treat her lover too extremely,
For gentleness in everything is seemly,
And one repents too late when harm is done.

Dear lady, best of all the best that can be,
In whom all charm and all delight do meet,
Love for your sake holds me in prison sweet;
I tell you this that it may profit me.
God grant me life until the day is past
When I shall lie within your arms’ embraces,
For unto me than this no greater grace is
In all the world, and while the world shall last.

And lady, since of treasure you’ve great store
—For the world holds none nobler or more fair—
Let not, I pray, my true love and my care
Be vain; the richer a man is, the more
Should he reward good service which men do,
For it is just and right, I tell you truly,
Evil should be repaid by evil duly
And good by good—nought else I ask of you.

My tears and sighs have been a thousand quite,
Also, so fear I nought to gain of worth
When I reflect upon your noble birth
And how you are of all the flower and light,
And how I know you precious, sweet and fair,
And how you are true, pure, in faith unbroken,
And how by all men it is sworn and spoken
That never woman like you breathed the air.

Take pity of your goodness on my plight,
Heed not your greatness, lady, but have care
For the true love that in my heart you’ve woken,
And for my faith that never will be broken,
Since all my love for you alone I bear.

From: Smythe, Barbara (ed. and transl.), Trobador Poets: Selections from the Poems of Eight Trobadors, 2000, In parentheses Publications: Cambridge, Ontario, pp. 167-168.

Date: c1200 (original in Occitan); 1911 (translation in English)

By: Guillem de Cabestany (1162-1212)

Translated by: Barbara Smythe (1882-19??)

Wednesday, 6 March 2019

Abyss by Katrina Vandenberg

If the best love poems have a little darkness,
how far down can I go? Thousands of feet?
The coelecanth is near, but it’s too easy —
the metaphor nettable and clear, the lost
link found, the beginnings of our own bones
in its pelvic fins — and I want to write about love

with depth to hold the unverifiable, the oarfish
that survives with half its body gone.
I want it to hold the giant squid no one has seen
alive, strong enough to scar sperm whales;
sailors have claimed its tentacles unfurl
from the night’s water, taking down their mates.

But can such poems survive these confused witnesses?
Can they handle the scanty evidence that surfaces:
the mottled sick and dead, the night-feeding
viperfish impaling victims with fangs
at high speed, its first vertebra designed
to absorb the shock? And how much horror

can this poem sustain before you forbid me to say
some call this love, the hagfish that bores
into the unsuspecting body, rasping
its flesh from inside out? Am I making you
uncomfortable? The pressure at these depths
could crush a golf ball. Are you cold?

Or is it enough to be awed by the blue-
green photophores of the lantern fish, the brief
and brilliant light displays? What the lights say:
I want you. Not so close. I am moonlight;
I am not here. I would eat you raw —
tell me if you want me to stop.


Date: 2009

By: Katrina Vandenberg (19??- )