Archive for ‘Relationships’

Wednesday, 8 April 2020

Dear One Absent This Long While by Lisa Olstein

It has been so wet stones glaze in moss;
everything blooms coldly.

I expect you. I thought one night it was you
at the base of the drive, you at the foot of the stairs,

you in a shiver of light, but each time
leaves in wind revealed themselves,

the retreating shadow of a fox, daybreak.
We expect you, cat and I, bluebirds and I, the stove.

In May we dreamed of wreaths burning on bonfires
over which young men and women leapt.

June efforts quietly.
I’ve planted vegetables along each garden wall

so even if spring continues to disappoint
we can say at least the lettuce loved the rain.

I have new gloves and a new hoe.
I practice eulogies. He was a hawk

with white feathered legs. She had the quiet ribs
of a salamander crossing the old pony post road.

Yours is the name the leaves chatter
at the edge of the unrabbited woods.


Date: 2006

By: Lisa Olstein (1972- )

Tuesday, 7 April 2020

Thoughts in Time of Plague by Albert Frank Moritz

When we set out, we knew
many would die on the way.
And yet, the journey was joyous.
When we made our home we knew
many would die there. And yet we loved
that house. All the views from its windows
we named “beauty”.
When we went down the road,
the light was different every mile.
What could be behind those mute windows
with sometimes a peering eye, what pleasure
in those almost empty gardens, what unknown work
in the factories, birds in the dense wood?
When dawn came in our bedroom
or we woke too late in the old
shattered kitchen amid food scraps, empty bottles,
didn’t our memory burn deeper? — the same
old scar, flaming anew, shifting, unmoved.
And when we were trembling by the sick
that we loved and feared — so many — was it different?
Whether on the road with nowhere
to lay them down, or in the room with nowhere
else to take them… When we had to watch
the threatened breathing or leave it
to go to work. When we had to hear they had died
without us — was it different? No. No different.
Except that we saw something we always knew
in the dark. Failure was not
and success had never been
the end. The end was care.


Date: 2020

By: Albert Frank Moritz (1947- )

Monday, 6 April 2020

The Unnatural Apologie of Shadows by Nathalie Handal

We say lightning has no wings
when it slides down our houses

We say loss is just a condition
we acquire to bury our pity further

We say the bleeding hands
on the table filled with red wine
imported products and passports
are just reminders of
who we have become

We have no titles no birthright
no groves or Shakespeare
to return to

We apologize for the fear
growing out of our ribs

Apologize for the numbers
still etched on our tongues.


Date: 2010

By: Nathalie Handal (1969- )

Sunday, 5 April 2020

Cholera by Nazik Al-Malaika

It is night.
Listen to the echoing wails
rising above the silence in the dark

the agonized, overflowing grief
clashing with the wails.
In every heart there is fire,
in every silent hut, sorrow,
and everywhere, a soul crying in the dark.

It is dawn.
Listen to the footsteps of the passerby,
in the silence of the dawn.
Listen, look at the mourning processions,
ten, twenty, no… countless.

Everywhere lies a corpse, mourned
without a eulogy or a moment of silence.

Humanity protests against the crimes of death.

Cholera is the vengeance of death.

Even the gravedigger has succumbed,
the muezzin is dead,
and who will eulogize the dead?

O Egypt, my heart is torn by the ravages of death.


Date: 1947 (original in Arabic); 2001 (translation in English)

By: Nazik Al-Malaika (1923-2007)

Translated by: Husain Haddawy (19??- ) and Nathalie Handal (1969- )

Saturday, 4 April 2020

Procrastination by Charles MacKay

If Fortune with a smiling face
Strew roses on our way,
When shall we stoop to pick them up?
To-day, my love, to-day.
But should she frown with face of care,
And talk of coming sorrow,
When shall we grieve, if grieve we must?
To-morrow, love, to-morrow.

If those who’ve wrong’d us own their fault,
And kindly pity pray,
When shall we listen, and forgive?
To-day, my love, to-day.
But if stern Justice urge rebuke,
And warmth from Memory borrow,
When shall we chide, if chide we dare?
To-morrow, love, to-morrow.

If those to whom we owe a debt
Are harmed unless we pay,
When shall we struggle to be just?
To-day, my love, to-day.
But if our debtor fail our hope,
And plead his ruin thorough,
When shall we weigh his breach of faith?
To-morrow, love, to-morrow.

If love estranged should once again
Her genial smile display,
When shall we kiss her proffered lips?
To-day, my love, to-day.
But if she would indulge regret,
Or dwell with bygone sorrow,
When shall we weep, if weep we must?
To-morrow, love, to-morrow.

For virtuous acts and harmless joys
The minutes will not stay;
We’ve always time to welcome them,
To-day, my love, to-day.
But care, resentment, angry words,
And unavailing sorrow,
Come far too soon, if they appear
To-morrow, love, to-morrow.

From: MacKay, Charles, “Procrastination” in The Harpers Monthly, January 1851, p. 155.

Date: 1851

By: Charles MacKay (1814-1889)

Friday, 3 April 2020

My Death by Tim Dlugos

when I no longer
feel it breathing down
my neck it’s just around
the corner (hi neighbor).


Date: 1982

By: Tim Dlugos (1950-1990)

Thursday, 2 April 2020

A Fourteen-Line Poem On the Idea of Freedom by Julie Carr

1. The spirit of
2. Malice survives
3. The direct exertion
4. Of malice. Give up
5. The desire to be female
6. The whatever being
7. Defined not by what it is
8. And not by what it belongs to
9. But by belonging
10. Itself. The spirit of
11. Maleness survives the walking
12. Body. Give it
13. Over to be fucked
14. Into the non-state of being in common.


Date: 2018

By: Julie Carr (19??- )

Tuesday, 31 March 2020

Till Other Voices Wake Us by George Oppen

the generations

and the solace

of flight memory

of adolescence with my father
in France we started
at monuments as tho we treaded

water stony

waters of the monuments and so turned
then hurriedly

on our course
before we might grow tired
and so drown and writing

thru the night (a young man,
Brooklyn, 1929) I named the book

series empirical
series all force
in events the myriad

lights have entered
us it is a music more powerful

than music

till other voices wake
use or we drown.

From: Axelrod, Steven Gould; Roman, Camille; and Travisano, Thomas (eds.), The New Anthology of American Poetry: Postmodernisms 1950-Present, Volume Three, 2012, Rutgers University Press: New Brunswick, New Jersey, and London, p. 18.

Date: 1978

By: George Oppen (1908-1984)

Sunday, 29 March 2020

The Times to Come by Charles A. Houfe

The moon that borrows now a gentle light
Once burned another sun; then from on high
The earth received a double day; the sky
Showed but faint stars, and never knew a night.
The poles, now frigid and for ever white
With the deep snows that on their bosoms lie,
Were torrid as the moon that hung thereby
And mingled rays as fiercely hot as bright.
Mutations infinite! Through shifting sea
And lands huge monstrous beasts once took their range
Where now our stately world shows pleasantly!
Then be not fearful at the thought of change,
For though unknown the times that are to be,
Yet shall they prove most beautifully strange.


Date: 1885

By: Charles A. Houfe (fl. 1885)

Friday, 27 March 2020

After Arguing against the Contention That Art Must Come from Discontent by William Edgar Stafford

Whispering to each handhold, “I’ll be back,”
I go up the cliff in the dark. One place
I loosen a rock and listen a long time
till it hits, faint in the gulf, but the rush
of the torrent almost drowns it out, and the wind—
I almost forgot the wind: it tears at your side
or it waits and then buffets; you sag outward. . . .

I remember they said it would be hard. I scramble
by luck into a little pocket out of
the wind and begin to beat on the stones
with my scratched numb hands, rocking back and forth
in silent laughter there in the dark—
“Made it again!” Oh how I love this climb!
—the whispering to stones, the drag, the weight
as your muscles crack and ease on, working
right. They are back there, discontent,
waiting to be driven forth. I pound
on the earth, riding the earth past the stars:
“Made it again! Made it again!”


Date: 1982

By: William Edgar Stafford (1914-1993)