Archive for ‘Relationships’

Saturday, 4 December 2021

For the White Poets Who Would Be Indian by Wendy Rose (Bronwen Elizabeth Edwards)

just once
just long enough
to snap up the words
fish-hooked from
our tongues.
You think of us now
when you kneel
on the earth,
turn holy
in a temporary tourism
of our souls.

With words
you paint your faces,
chew your doeskin,
touch breast to tree
as if sharing a mother
were all it takes,
could bring instant and primal
You think of us only
when your voices
want for roots,
when you have sat back
on your heels and

You finish your poem
and go back.


Date: 1980

By: Wendy Rose (Bronwen Elizabeth Edwards) (1948- )

Friday, 3 December 2021

The Other Fellow’s Burden by William Allison Sweeney

An Emancipation Day Appeal for Justice

The “white man’s burden” has been told the world,
But what of the other fellow’s—
The “lion’s whelp”?
Lest you forget,
May he not lisp his?
Not in arrogance,
Not in resentment,
But that truth
May stand foursquare?
This then,
Is the Other Fellow’s Burden.
*       *       *       *       *
Brought into existence
Through the enforced connivance
Of a helpless motherhood
Misused through generations—
America’s darkest sin!—
There courses through his veins
In calm insistence—incriminating irony
Of the secrecy of blighting lust!
The best and the vilest blood
Of the South’s variegated strain;
Her statesmen and her loafers,
Her chivalry and her ruffians.
Thus bred,
His impulses twisted
At the starting point
By brutality and sensuous savagery,
Should he be crucified?
Is it a cause for wonder
If beneath his skin of many hues—
Black, brown, yellow, white—
Flows the sullen flood
Of resentment for prenatal wrong
And forced humility?
Should it be a wonder
That the muddy life current
Eddying through his arteries,
Crossed with the good and the bad,
Poisoned with conflicting emotions,
Proclaims at times,
Through no fault of his,
That for a surety the sins of fathers
Become the heritage of sons
Even to the fourth generation?
Or that murdered chastity,
That ravished motherhood—
So pitiful, so helpless,
Before the white hot,
Lust-fever of the “master”—
Has borne its sure fruit?
You mutter, “There should be no wonder.”
Well, somehow, Sir Caucasian,
Perhaps southern gentleman,
I, marked a “whelp,” am moved
To prize that muttered admission.
*       *       *       *       *
But listen, please:
The wonder is—the greater one—
That from Lexington to San Juan hill
Disloyalty never smirched
His garments, nor civic wrangle
Nor revolutionary ebullition
Marked him its follower.
A “striker”? Yes!
But he struck the insurgent
And raised the flag.
An ingrate?
A violator?
When—oh, spectacle that moved the world!
For five bloody years
Of fratricidal strife—
Red days when brothers warred—
He fed the babe,
Shielded the mother.
Guarded the doorsill
Of a million southern homes?
Penniless when freedom came? Most true;
But his accumulations of fifty years
Could finance a group of principalities.
Homeless? Yes; but the cabin and the hut
Of Lincoln’s day—uncover at that name!—
Are memories; the mansion of today,
Dowered with culture and refinement,
Sweetened by clean lives,
Is a fact.
Unlettered? Yes;
But the alumni of his schools,
Triumphant over the handicap
Of “previous condition,”
Are to be found the world over
In every assemblage inspired
By the democracy of letters.
In the casting up what appears?
The progeny of lust and helplessness,
He inherited a mottled soul—
“Damned spots” that biased the looker on.
Clothed a freeman,
Turned loose in the land
Creditless, without experience,
He often stumbled, the way being strange,
Sometimes fell.
Mocked, sneered at from every angle,
spurned, hindered in every section,
North, south, east, west,
Refused the most primitive rights,
His slightest mistakes
Made mountains of,
Hunted, burned, hanged,
The death rattle in his throat
Drowned by shouts and laughter
And—think of it!—
The glee of little children.
Still he pressed on, wrought,
Sowed, reaped, builded.
His smile ever ready,
His perplexed soul lighted
With the radiance
Of an unquenchable optimism,
God’s presence visualized,
He has risen, step by step.
To the majesty of the home builder,
Useful citizen,
Student, teacher,
Unwavering patriot.
This of the Other Fellow.
What of you, his judges and his patrons?
If it has been your wont
In your treatment of him
Not to reflect,
Or to stand by in idle unconcern
While, panting on his belly,
Ambushed by booted ruffianism,
He lapped in sublime resignation
The bitter waters
Of unreasoning intolerance,
Has not the hour of his deliverance,
Of your escape from your “other selves”
If you have erred,
Will you refuse to know it?
Has not the time arrived
To discriminate between
Those who lower
Those who raise him?
You are shamed by your abortions,
Your moral half growths
Who flee God’s eye
And stain his green earth,
But you are not judged by yours;
Should he be judged by his?
In his special case—if so, why?
Is manhood a myth,
Womanhood a toy,
Integrity unbelievable,
Honor a chimera?
Should not his boys and girls,
Mastering the curriculum of the schools,
Pricked on to attainment by the lure
Of honorable achievement,
Be given bread and not a stone
When seeking employment
In the labor mart,
At the factory gate
Or the office door?
Broadened by the spirit of the golden rule,
Will you not grant these children of Hagar
An even break?
Is the day not here, O judges,
When the Other Fellow
May be measured in fairness,
Just fairness?
*       *       *       *       *
It is written men may rise
“On their dead selves to higher things;”
But can it be that this clear note of cheer
To sodden men and smitten races
Was meant for all save him?
Chants an immortal:
“He prayeth best who loveth best
All things both great and small;
For the dear God who loveth us,
He made and loveth all.”

From: Sweeney, W. Allison, History of the American Negro in The Great World War: His Splendid Record in the Battle Zones Of Europe, 2005, Gutenberg Project: San Francisco, Chapter XXXI.

Date: 1913

By: William Allison Sweeney (1851-1921)

Thursday, 2 December 2021

Ends by Matthew Gerard Sweeney

At the end of the earth the Atlantic began.
On good days trawlers were flecks far out,
at night the green waves were luminous.
Gulls were the birds that gobbled my crusts
and the air in my bedroom was salty.
For two weeks once a whale decayed
on the pale beach while non one swam.
It was gelignite that cleared the air.

The uses of village carpenters were many.
Mine made me a pine box with a door,
tarpaulin-roofed, a front of fine-meshed wire.
It suited my friend, the albino mouse
who came from Derry and ate newspaper
and laid black grains on the floor.
When he walked his tail slithered behind.
And when I holidayed once, he starved.


Date: 2002

By: Matthew Gerard Sweeney (1952-2018)

Wednesday, 1 December 2021

At the Closed Gate of Justice by James David Corrothers

To be a Negro in a day like this
Demands forgiveness. Bruised with blow on blow,
Betrayed, like him whose woe dimmed eyes gave bliss,
Still must one succor those who brought one low,
To be a Negro in a day like this.

To be a Negro in a day like this
Demands rare patience—patience that can wait
In utter darkness. ‘Tis the path to miss,
And knock, unheeded, at an iron gate,
To be a Negro in a day like this.

To be a Negro in a day like this
Demands strange loyalty. We serve a flag
Which is to us white freedom’s emphasis.
Ah! One must love when Truth and Justice lag,
To be a Negro in a day like this.

To be a Negro in a day like this—
Alas! Lord God, what evil have we done?
Still shines the gate, all gold and amethyst,
But I pass by, the glorious goal unwon,
“Merely a Negro”—in a day like this!

From: Guzman, Richard R. (ed), Black Writing from Chicago: In the World, Not of It?, 2006, Southern Illinois University Press: Carbondale, pp. 14-15.

Date: 1913

By: James David Corrothers (1869-1917)

Tuesday, 30 November 2021

In the Shadow of Turning: Throwing Salt by Carolyn Marie Rodgers

Salt is what
it all becomes.
Salt always did make me crave
sugar. If I could have turned and
looked back, like Lot’s wife,
I never would have.
Turning is for other memories.

Memories are actually seasons
of homeless dreams.
The main event in life is something
we think we can plan, but can’t.
A nest or fishnet of categories. Of hunger.
A need river, running wild in every
imaginable direction.

It would have all been salt, and me,
craving sugar.


Date: 2007

By: Carolyn Marie Rodgers (1940-2010)

Monday, 29 November 2021

Run the Film Backwards by Sydney Bertram Carter

When I was eighty-seven
they took me from my coffin;
they found a flannel nightshirt
for me to travel off in.

All innocent and toothless
I used to lie in bed,
still trailing clouds of glory
from the time when I was dead.

The cruel age of sixty-five
put paid to my enjoyment;
I had to wear a bowler hat
and go to my employment.

But at the age of sixty
I found I had a wife.
And that explains the children.
(I’d wondered all my life.)

I kept on growing younger
and randier and stronger
till at the age of twenty-one
I had a wife no longer.

With min-skirted milkmaids
I frolicked in the clover;
the cuckoo kept on calling me
until me teens were over.

Then algebra and cricket
and sausages a-cooking,
and puffing at a cigarette
when teacher wasn’t looking.

The trees are getting taller,
the streets are getting wider.
My mother is the world to me;
and soon I’ll be inside her.

And now, it is so early,
there’s nothing I can see.
Before the world, or after?
Wherever can I


From: Kitchen, David (ed.), Axed Between the Ears: A Poetry Anthology, 1987, Heinemann Educational: Oxford, p. 1.

Date: 1969

By: Sydney Bertram Carter (1915-2004)

Saturday, 27 November 2021

Stars by Patrick Lane

Those lights in the sky.
Little butterflies of the night,
little dreamers. Each time my lover
rises to walk in the early garden
I watch her from the window.
I cannot take my eyes from her.
See how she leans inside the dawn,
the cherry blossoms on her shoulders
as she touches the cat
who follows her everywhere, wanting
only to be with her
among the dark mosses.
How much light there is
in the high window of the night.
How I wait, knowing, for now
she comes to me,
her small feet wet with dew,
white as stars
in these last hours.


Date: 1995

By: Patrick Lane (1939-2019)

Friday, 26 November 2021

Lament by Robert Calverley Trevelyan

Once would I take the wings of the wild bird,
Joyous and swift and free,
Ascend to the uttermost heights of heaven, there
Where nought is heard
Save stars’ faint singing only,
Visit the foam of oceans vast and lonely,
Drear waves, ne’er
By sail yet whitened, broken by no prow.
O heart, proud heart, no more! ne’er as of old!
Lost is thy courage, failed thy strength, and thou
As death grown cold.

From: Trevelyan, R.C., The Bride of Dionysus, a Music-Drama, and Other Poems, 1912, Longmans, Green and Company: London, p. 61.

Date: 1912

By: Robert Calverley Trevelyan (1872-1951)

Thursday, 25 November 2021

The Fulness of Time by James Stephens

On a rusty iron throne
Past the furthest star of space
I saw Satan sit alone,
Old and haggard was his face;
For his work was done and he
Rested in eternity.

And to him from out the sun
Came his father and his friend
Saying, now the work is done
Enmity is at an end:
And he guided Satan to
Paradises that he knew.

Gabriel without a frown,
Uriel without a spear,
Raphael came singing down
Welcoming their ancient peer,
And they seated him beside
One who had been crucified.

From: Stephens, James, The Hill of Vision, 1912, Maunsel and Company: Dublin, p. 30.

Date: 1912

By: James Stephens (1880-1950)

Wednesday, 24 November 2021

Body and Soul by Metta Victoria Fuller Victor

A living soul came into the world—
⁠Whence came it? Who can tell?
Or where that soul went forth again,
⁠When it bade the world farewell?

A body it had, this spirit new,
⁠And the body was given a name,
And chance and change and circumstance
⁠About its being came.
Whether the name would suit the soul
⁠The givers never knew—
Names are alike, but never souls:
⁠So body and spirit grew,
Till time enlarged their narrow sphere
⁠Into the realms of life,
Into this strange and double world,
⁠Whose elements are at strife.

‘Twere easy to tell the daily paths
⁠Walked by the body’s feet,
To mark where the sharpest stones were laid,
⁠Or where the grass grew sweet;
To tell if it hungered, or what its dress,
⁠Ragged, or plain, or rare ;
What was its forehead—what its voice,
⁠Or the hue of its eyes and hair.

But these are all in the common dust;
⁠And the spirit—where is it?
Will any say if the hue of the eyes,
⁠Or the dress, for that was fit?
Will any one say what daily paths
⁠That spirit went or came—
Whether it rested in beds of flowers,
⁠Or shrunk upon beds of flame?
Can any one tell, upon stormy nights,
⁠When the body was safely at home,
Where, amid darkness, terror, and gloom.
⁠Its friend was wont to roam?
Where, upon hills beneath the blue skies.
⁠It rested soft and still,
Flying straight out of its half-closed eyes.
⁠That friend went wandering at will?

High as the bliss of the highest heaven.
⁠Low as the lowest hell.
With hope and fear it winged its way
⁠On journeys none may tell.

It lay on the rose’s fragrant breast,
⁠It bathed in the ocean deep,
It sailed in a ship of sunset cloud.
⁠And it heard the rain-cloud weep.
It laughed with naiads in murmurous caves.
⁠It was struck by the lightning’s flash.
It drank from the moonlit lily-cup.
⁠It heard the iceberg’s crash.

It haunted places of old renown.
⁠It basked in thickets of flowers;
It fled on the wings of the stormy wind.
⁠It dreamed through the star-lit hours,
Alas! a soul’s strange history
⁠Never was written or known,
Though the name and age of its earthly part
⁠Be graven upon the stone!

It hated, and overcame its hate—
⁠It loved to youth’s excess—
It was mad with anguish, wild with joy.
⁠It had visions to grieve and to bless;
It drank of the honey-dew of dreams,
⁠For it was a poet true;
Secrets of nature and secrets of mind,
⁠Mysteriously it knew.

Should mortals question its history.
⁠They would ask if it had gold—
If it bathed and floated in deeps of wealth—
⁠If it traded, and bought, and sold.
They would prize its worth by the outward dress
⁠By which its body was known:
As if a soul must eat and sleep.
⁠And live on money alone!

It had no need to purchase lands.
⁠For it owned the whole broad earth;
‘Twas of royal rank, for all the past
⁠Was its by right of birth.
All beauty in the world below
⁠Was its by right of love.
And it had a great inheritance
⁠In the nameless realms above.

It has gone! the soul so little known—
⁠Its body has lived and died—
Gone from the world so vexing, small:
⁠But the Universe is wide!

From: Coggeshall, William T. (ed.), Poets and Poetry of the West. The Poets and Poetry of the West: with Biographical and Critical Notes, 1860, Follett, Foster and Company: Columbus, pp. 520-521.

Date: 1860

By: Metta Victoria Fuller Victor (1831-1885)