Archive for ‘Relationships’

Friday, 20 October 2017

The Last Fire by Herbert Sherman Gorman

You saw the last fires burning on the hill
In that far autumn twilight when we took
The future by the hand through woods as still
As your heart is to-day, and crossed the brook.

The brook that gurgled through the quietude
Was just a slender stream that sauntered on.
How were we to know the thing we should—
That we had crossed our narrow Rubicon?

And after, in the shadow of the leaves,
When your great eyes grew with the growing night
They left the hollows where the twilight grieves
And mirrored back the bonfire on the height.

And what quick flame was in your eyes I knew;
And how the moment caught us on our way
Is Time’s own story written for a few
In dust of ashes in your eyes to-day.

From: Gorman, Herbert S., “The Last Fire” in The Outlook, 12 July 1922, p. 449.
(https://www.unz.org/Pub/Outlook-1922jul12-00449?View=PDF)

Date: 1922

By: Herbert Sherman Gorman (1893-1954)

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Tuesday, 17 October 2017

Getting a Second Opinion by Adrian C. Louis

I’ve just bought you a new winter coat
and we’re temporarily sane,
cruising two blocks down the street
from K-Mart in Rapid City.
Three young Indian boys,
fourteen, maybe fifteen years
old and living the thug life
are strolling across the busy street
making cars stop and I slam on
the brakes and give them the finger
and they flash gang signs and one pulls
a small, silver gun and I stomp on the gas
and in the rearview mirror I see them
laughing and I know positively
by the fear in your eyes that
not only is the white man’s God
dead, but the Great Spirit is too.

From: http://www.english.illinois.edu/maps/poets/g_l/louis/online.htm

Date: 1997

By: Adrian C. Louis (1946- )

Monday, 16 October 2017

Speaking in Tongues by Mary Rose O’Reilley

I go to church every Sunday
though I don’t believe a word of it,
because the longing for God
is a prayer said in the bones.

When people call on Jesus
I move to a place in the body
where such words rise,
one of the valleys
where hope pins itself to desire;
we have so much landscape like that
you’d think we were made
to sustain a cry.

When the old men around me
lift their hands
as though someone has cornered them,
giving it all away,
I remember a dock on the estuary,
watching a heron get airborne against the odds.
It’s the transitional moment that baffles me—
how she composes her rickety
grocery cart of a body
to make that flight.

The pine siskin, stalled on a windy coast,
remembers the woods
she will long for when needs arise; so
the boreal forest composes itself in my mind:
first as a rift, absence,
then in a tumble of words
undone from sense, like the stutter
you hear  when somebody falls
over the cliff of language.  Call it a gift.

From: https://www.poets.org/poetsorg/poem/speaking-tongues

Date: 2005

By: Mary Rose O’Reilley (1944- )

Sunday, 15 October 2017

The Country Midwife: A Day by Ai Ogawa (Florence Anthony)

I bend over the woman.
This is the third time between abortions.
I dip a towel into a bucket of hot water
and catch the first bit of blood,
as the blue-pink dome of a head breaks through.
A scraggy, red child comes out of her into my hands
like warehouse ice sliding down a chute.

It’s done, the stink of birth, Old Grizzly
rears up on his hind legs in front of me
and I want to go outside,
but the air smells the same there too.
The woman’s left eye twitches
and beneath her, a stain as orange as sunrise
spreads over the sheet.
I lift my short, blunt fingers to my face
and I let her bleed, Lord, I let her bleed.

From: https://www.ndsu.edu/pubweb/~cinichol/GovSchool/Ai.htm

Date: 1973

By: Ai Ogawa (Florence Anthony) (1947-2010)

Saturday, 14 October 2017

Widow by Martha Keller Rowland

Never give their clothes away
If you want the dead to haunt you
Dusk or dark or dawn or day,
Bar no ghost from glass, they say,
If you want the dead to want you.

Leave them there by the birchwood bed,
Coat and breeches and shirt and shoes.
Fit the living or fit the dead,
Hang them up on the hooks, I said—
The hooks he used to use.

Set the table with fork and knife.
Plump the pillow and coverlid.
Where would a man who loved his wife
Lie except where he lay in life—
Same as he always did?

Leave the mirror upon the nail.
Yes, I know that the first one who
Looks in it will perceive the pale
Dead therein—and his heart will fail.
Do what I tell you to.

Set the mirror the way it was.
Let the crepe that has hid it fall.
What thing better could come to pass
Than to find my dead in the looking-glass
Hanging upon the wall?

From: Harper’s Magazine, Volume 181, 1940, Harper & Brothers, Publishers: New York and London, p. 171.
(https://archive.org/details/harpersmagazine181junalde)

Date: 1940

By: Martha Keller Rowland (1902-1971)

Friday, 13 October 2017

Transit by Richard Purdy Wilbur

A woman I have never seen before
Steps from the darkness of her town-house door
At just that crux of time when she is made
So beautiful that she or time must fade.

What use to claim that as she tugs her gloves
A phantom heraldry of all the loves
Blares from the lintel? That the staggered sun
Forgets, in his confusion, how to run?

Still, nothing changes as her perfect feet
Click down the walk that issues in the street,
Leaving the stations of her body there
Like whips that map the countries of the air.

From: https://www.poetryarchive.org/poem/transit

Date: 1979

By: Richard Purdy Wilbur (1921- )

Monday, 9 October 2017

For My Daughter by Weldon Kees

Looking into my daughter’s eyes I read
Beneath the innocence of morning flesh
Concealed, hintings of death she does not heed.
Coldest of winds have blown this hair, and mesh
Of seaweed snarled these miniatures of hands;
The night’s slow poison, tolerant and bland,
Has moved her blood. Parched years that I have seen
That may be hers appear: foul, lingering
Death in certain war, the slim legs green.
Or, fed on hate, she relishes the sting
Of others’ agony; perhaps the cruel
Bride of a syphilitic or a fool.
These speculations sour in the sun.
I have no daughter. I desire none.

From: https://www.poetryfoundation.org/poems/47574/for-my-daughter

Date: 1943

By: Weldon Kees (1914-1955)

Friday, 6 October 2017

Witch-Burning by Mary Elizabeth Counselman

They burned a witch in Bingham Square
Last Friday afternoon.
The faggot-smoke was blacker than
The shadows on the moon;
The licking flames were strangely green
Like fox-fire on the fen…
And she who cursed the godly folk
Will never curse again.

They burned a witch in Bingham Square;
Before the village gate.
A huswife raised a skinny hand
To damn her, tense with hate.
A huckster threw a jagged stone—
Her pallid cheek ran red…
But there was something scornful in
The way she held her head.

They burned a witch in Bingham Square;
Her eyes were terror-wild.
She was a slight, a comely maid,
No taller than a child.
They bound her fast against the stake
And laughed to see her fear…
Her red lips muttered secret words
That no one dared to hear.

They burned a witch in Bingham Square—
But ere she swooned with pain
And ere her bones were sodden ash
Beneath the sudden rain,
She set her mark upon that throng…
For time can not erase
The echo of her anguished cries,
The memory of her face.

From: https://en.wikisource.org/wiki/Weird_Tales/Volume_28/Issue_3/Witch-Burning

Date: 1936

By: Mary Elizabeth Counselman (1911-1995)

Tuesday, 3 October 2017

Grief, Not Guilt by Jeanann Verlee

I wish you a tongue scalded by tea.
A hangover. Burnt toast. Stubbed toes. A lost job.
I wish you weeping in the shower. Salt in the sugar bowl.
A wishlist of sorrows. Grief, not guilt.
Hole in your favorite coat. Stain on the good suit.
Arthritis for your joints. A broken guitar string at every show.
I wish each breath a little harder. Each workday
an hour longer. I wish your heart a thousand breaks.
All your sports teams, bottom rank. I wish your friends
go quiet. The leaves brown above your head.
A thunderstorm every morning. Nothing but pearls
when you shop for her diamond. I wish you bad knees,
a sore back. Empty sheets. A ghost to haunt your house.
A tub brimming with mud. Closet stuffed with too-small shoes.
Flat beer. Sour milk. Weak coffee. I wish you
flat tires, soggy pasta, a tax audit to fail.
Bent forks, dull knives. A hangnail for every finger.
I wish you a room wallpapered with my photographs.
A chamber filled with empty bassinets.

From: http://www.wordriot.org/archives/4780

Date: 2012

By: Jeanann Verlee (19??- )

Wednesday, 27 September 2017

WalMart Supercenter by Erika Meitner

God Bless America says the bumper sticker on the racer-red
Rascal scooter that accidentally cuts me off in the Walmart parking lot
after a guy in a tricked out jeep with rims like chrome pinwheels tries
to pick me up by honking, all before I make it past the automatic doors
waiting to accept my unwashed hair, my flip-flops, my lounge pants.

The old man on the scooter waves, sports a straw boater banded in blue & white,
and may or may not be the official greeter, but everyone here sure is friendly—
even the faces of plastic bags, which wink yellow and crinkle with kindness,
sound like applause when they brush the legs of shoppers carrying them
to their cars. In Port Charlotte, a woman’s body was found in a Jetta

in a Walmart Parking lot. In a Walmart parking lot in Springfield,
a macaque monkey named Charlie attacked an eight year-old girl.
I am a Walmart shopper, a tract-house dweller—the developments
you can see clearly from every highway in America that’s not jammed up
on farmland or pinned in by mountains. I park my car at a slant in the lot,

hugged tight by my neighbors’ pickups. I drive my enormous cart
through the aisles and fill it with Pampers, tube socks, juice boxes, fruit.
In the parking lot of the McAllen Walmart, a woman tried to sell six
Bengal Tiger cubs to a group of Mexican day laborers. A man carjacked
a woman in the parking lot of the West Mifflin Walmart, then ran

under a bridge and disappeared. Which is to say that the world
we expect to see looks hewn from wood, is maybe two lanes wide,
has readily identifiable produce, and the one we’ve got has jackknifed itself
on the side of the interstate and keeps skidding. The one we’ve got has clouds
traveling so fast across the sky it’s like they’re tied to an electric current.

But electricity is the same for everybody. It comes in the top of your head
and goes out your shoes, which will walk through these automatic doors.
In the Corbin Walmart parking lot a woman with a small amount of cash
was arrested for getting in and out of trucks. A man stepped out of his car
in the Columbus Walmart parking lot, and shot himself. I get in the checkout line

behind a lighted number on a pole. The man in front of me jangles coins
in his pocket, rocks back and forth on his heels. The girl in front of him
carefully peels four moist dimes from her palm to pay for a small container
of honey-mustard dipping sauce. In the parking lot of the LaFayette Walmart,
grandparents left their disabled 2 year-old grandson sitting in a shopping cart

and drove away. Employees in the parking lot at the La Grange Walmart
found a box containing seven abandoned kittens. I am not a Christian or
prone to idioms, but when the cashier says she is grateful for small mercies,
I nod in assent. Kyrie eleison, Christe eleison. The Latin root of mercy
means price paid, wages, merchandise, though now we use it as

compassion shown to a person in a position of powerlessness,
and sometimes forgiveness towards a person with no right
to claim it. God is merciful and gracious, but not just.
In the Walmart parking lot in Stockton, a man considered armed
and dangerous attacked his wife, beating her unconscious.

A couple tried to sell their 6-month-old for twenty-five bucks
to buy meth in the Salinas Walmart parking lot. We who are in danger,
remember: mercy has a human heart. Mercy with her tender mitigations,
slow to anger and great in lovingkindness, with her blue employee’s smock
emblazoned with How may I help you? Someone in this place have mercy on us.

From: http://therumpus.net/2011/11/walmart-supercenter-a-rumpus-original-poem-by-erika-meitner/

Date: 2011

By: Erika Meitner (1975- )