Thursday, 12 July 2018

My Young Mother by Michael Ryan

Elvera Ryan (1911-2006)

What she couldn’t give me
she gave me those long nights
she sat up with me feverish
and sweating in my sleep
when I had no idea whatsoever
what she had to do to suffer
the pain her body dealt her
to assuage the pain in mine.

That was a noble privacy—
her mothering as a practice of patience—
how deeply it must have stretched her
to watch me all night with her nerves
crying for rest while my fever
spiked under the washcloths
she passed between my forehead
and her dishpan filled with ice.

That was a noble privacy,
but even then there was so much
unsayable between us,
and why this was now looks so
ludicrous in its old costume of shame
that I wish not that she had just
said it but that I hadn’t been
so furious she couldn’t.

From: http://www.slate.com/articles/arts/poem/2008/01/my_young_mother.html

Date: 2008

By: Michael Ryan (1946- )

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Wednesday, 11 July 2018

The Heaven of Animals by James Lafayette Dickey

Here they are. The soft eyes open.
If they have lived in a wood
It is a wood.
If they have lived on plains
It is grass rolling
Under their feet forever.

Having no souls, they have come,
Anyway, beyond their knowing.
Their instincts wholly bloom
And they rise.
The soft eyes open.

To match them, the landscape flowers,
Outdoing, desperately
Outdoing what is required:
The richest wood,
The deepest field.

For some of these,
It could not be the place
It is, without blood.
These hunt, as they have done,
But with claws and teeth grown perfect,

More deadly than they can believe.
They stalk more silently,
And crouch on the limbs of trees,
And their descent
Upon the bright backs of their prey

May take years
In a sovereign floating of joy.
And those that are hunted
Know this as their life,
Their reward: to walk

Under such trees in full knowledge
Of what is in glory above them,
And to feel no fear,
But acceptance, compliance.
Fulfilling themselves without pain

At the cycle’s center,
They tremble, they walk
Under the tree,
They fall, they are torn,
They rise, they walk again.

From: http://www.poetryoutloud.org/poems-and-performance/poems/detail/42711

Date: 1962

By: James Lafayette Dickey (1923-1997)

Tuesday, 10 July 2018

Barbie’s Little Sister by Ellie Schoenfeld

Barbie’s little sister,
Aurora
got sent away to reform school
when she was thirteen.
Mattel brought her back complete
with wheat germ, a VW love bus
and a recipe for sesame dream bars.
But she never caught on.
Didn’t go for the vanity
table or the bubble head.
Thought Barbie was repressed
and Ken was a nerd
so she hit the road
with his cousin.
They went to demonstrations
wore love beads
and got matching tattoos.
Finally, Mattel stopped marketing her.
Didn’t think she’d make
a good role model.

From: http://archives.evergreen.edu/webpages/curricular/2007-2008/fashioningthebody/ellie-schoenfelds-barbie-poems/index.html

Date: c1990

By: Ellie Schoenfeld (19??- )

Monday, 9 July 2018

In Memoriam Myself by Jan Jacob Slauerhoff

By enemies hemmed in,
With ‘friends in need’ who’ve fled
Rank meat that stinks like sin,
I laugh, toss back my head,
Though torn to shreds within,
My body all but dead.

Each day my life was crossed
By new adversity.
Good reaped iniquity;
I paid a heavy cost,
But now the battle’s lost
I fight on doggedly.

Snow, ice envelop me,
The bodies are piled high
Of those who crazily
Pursued my inner ‘I’,
Once bright as ‘gay Paree’,
Now polar, frozen, dry.

I leave no last bequest,
Smash life’s work at a stroke;
No mercy I request,
Curse past and future folk;
Stand tall where they now rest,
And treat death as a joke.

I look fate in the eye,
Have said not one goodbye,
But want men when I die
To say just this of me:
‘He did good very ill,
Served bad with honest will,
Succumbed while battling still,
Undaunted, lived his fill,
Intolerant and free.’

From: http://www.dbnl.org/tekst/_low001199901_01/_low001199901_01_0020.php

Date: 1936 (original in Dutch); 1999 (translation in English)

By: Jan Jacob Slauerhoff (1898-1936)

Translated by: Paul Vincent (1942- )

Sunday, 8 July 2018

Exit from “The Owl House” by Judith Wilkinson

Her last wish wasn’t granted:
they didn’t mix her ashes
with the precious, red, ground glass
from a bottle on the larder shelf
and glue it to her favourite owl, Oswald;
they didn’t let her
become part of his plumage.

Rebirth is difficult at the best of times.

Driving back
along the lane of cypress trees
and up the mountain road,
we exit
the middle of nowhere.

Her own, chosen exit
is perhaps beside the point.
She found more than one way out.

From: https://www.theowlhouse.co.za/tag/judith-wilkinson/

Date: 2017

By: Judith Wilkinson (1959- )

Saturday, 7 July 2018

Dapper Street by Jakobus Cornelis (Jacques) Bloem

Nature is for the satisfied or hollow.
And what does it add up to in this land?
A patch of wood, some ripples in the sand,
A modest hill where modest villas follow.

Give me the city streets, the urban grey,
Quays and canals that keep the water tamed,
The clouds that never look finer than when, framed
By attic windows, they go their windswept way.

The least expectant have most to marvel at.
Life keeps its wonders under lock and key
Until it springs them on us, rich, complete.

One dreary morning all this dawned on me,
When, soaking wet in drizzly Dapper Street,
I suddenly felt happy, just like that.

From: Broer, Dick; Möhlmann, Thomas; den Ouden, Barbara; Schiferli, Victor; Steinz, Pieter; Valken, Maarten; and Vogt, Agnes (eds.), Dutch Classics: Poetry, 2012, Letterenfonds/Dutch Foundation for Literature: Amsterdam, p. 42.
(www.letterenfonds.nl/download.php?file=Dutch-Classics-2012-poetry.pdf)

Date: 1945 (original in Dutch); 2008 (translation in English)

By: Jakobus Cornelis (Jacques) Bloem (1887-1966)

Translated by: Judith Wilkinson (1959- )

Friday, 6 July 2018

Both Ways by Archie Randolph Ammons

One can’t
have it

both ways
and both

ways is
the only

way I
want it.

From: Ammons, A. R., The Really Short Poems of A. R. Ammons, 1990, Norton: New York.
(https://books.google.com.au/books?id=azfHQgAACAAJ)

Date: 1990

By: Archie Randolph Ammons (1926-2001)

Thursday, 5 July 2018

A Nautical Ballad by Charles Edward Carryl

A capital ship for an ocean trip
Was “The Walloping Window-blind;”
No gale that blew dismayed her crew
Or troubled the captain’s mind.
The man at the wheel was taught to feel
Contempt for the wildest blow,
And it often appeared, when the weather had cleared,
That he’d been in his bunk below.

The boatswain’s mate was very sedate,
Yet fond of amusement, too;
And he played hop-scotch with the starboard watch
While the captain tickled the crew.
And the gunner we had was apparently mad,
For he sat on the after-rail,
And fired salutes with the captain’s boots,
In the teeth of the booming gale.

The captain sat in a commodore’s hat,
And dined, in a royal way,
On toasted pigs and pickles and figs
And gummery bread, each day.
But the cook was Dutch, and behaved as such;
For the food that he gave the crew
Was a number of tons of hot-cross buns,
Chopped up with sugar and glue.

And we all felt ill as mariners will,
On a diet that’s cheap and rude;
And we shivered and shook as we dipped the cook
In a tub of his gluesome food.
Then nautical pride we laid aside,
And we cast the vessel ashore
On the Gulliby Isles, where the Poohpooh smiles,
And the Anagazanders roar.

Composed of sand was that favored land,
And trimmed with cinnamon straws;
And pink and blue was the pleasing hue
Of the Tickletoeteaser’s claws.
And we sat on the edge of a sandy ledge
And shot at the whistling bee;
And the Binnacle-bats wore water-proof hats
As they danced in the sounding sea.

On rubagub bark, from dawn to dark,
We fed, till we all had grown
Uncommonly shrunk,—when a Chinese junk
Came by from the torriby zone.
She was stubby and square, but we didn’t much care,
And we cheerily put to sea;
And we left the crew of the junk to chew
The bark of the rubagub tree.

From: Carryl, Charles E., Davy and the Goblin; or, What Followed Reading “Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland”, 2008, Project Gutenberg: Chicago, pp. 89-90.
(http://www.gutenberg.org/files/25031/25031-h/25031-h.htm)

Date: 1884

By: Charles Edward Carryl (1841-1920)

Alternative Titles: The Walloping Window Blind, A Capital Ship

Wednesday, 4 July 2018

A New Touch on the Times by Molly Gutridge

Well adapted to the distressing situation of every Seaport Town
By a Daughter of Liberty, living in Marblehead.

Our best beloved they are gone,
We cannot tell they’ll e’er return,
For they are gone the ocean wide,
Which for us now they must provide.

For they go on the roaring seas,
For which we can’t get any ease,
For they are gone to work for us,
And that it is to fill our purse.

We must do as well as we can,
What could women do without man,
They could not do by night or day,
Go round the world and that they’ll say.

They could not do by day or night,
I think that man’s a woman’s delight,
It’s hard and cruel times to live,
Takes thirty dollars to buy a sieve.

To buy sieves and other things too,
To go thro’ the world how can we do,
For times they sure grow worse and worse,
I’m sure it sinks our scanty purse.

Had we a purse to reach the sky,
It would be all just vanity,
If we had that and ten times more,
’Twould be like sand upon the shore.

For money is not worth a pin,
Had we but felt we’ve any thing,
For salt is all the Farmer’s cry,
If we’ve no salt we sure must die.

We can’t get fire nor yet food,
Takes 20 weight of sugar for two foot of wood,
We cannot get bread nor yet meat,
We see the world is naught but cheat.

We cannot now get meat nor bread
By means of which we [shake our head]
All we can get it is but rice
And that is of a wretched price.

And as we go up and down,
We see the doings of this town.
Some say they an’t victuals nor drink,
Others say they are ready to sink.

Our lives they all are tired here,
We see all things so cruel dear,
Nothing now a-days to be got,
To put in kettle nor in pot.

These times will learn us to be wise,
We now do eat what we despis’d:
I now having something more to say,
We must go up and down the Bay.

To get a fish a-days to fry,
We can’t get fat were we to die,
Were we to try all thro’ the town,
The world is now turn’d upside down.

But there’s a gracious GOD above,
That deals with us in tender love,
If we be kind and just and true,
He’ll set and turn the world anew.

If we’ll repent of all our crimes,
He’ll set us now new heavenly times,
Times that will make us all to ring,
If we forsake our heinous sins.

For sin is all the cause of this,
We must not take it then amiss,
Wan’t it for our polluted tongues
This cruel war would ne’er begun.

We should hear no fife nor drum,
Nor training bands would never come:
Should we go on our sinful course,
Times will grow on us worse and worse.

Then gracious GOD now cause to cease,
This bloody war and give us peace!
And down our streets send plenty then
With hearts as one we’ll say Amen!

If we expect to be forgiv’n,
Let’s tread the road that leads to Heav’n,
In these times we can’t rub along.
I now have ended this my song.

From: Gutridge, Molly, A New Touch on the Times, 2013, Early American Imprints: New York.
(http://americainclass.org/sources/makingrevolution/war/text7/touchonthetimes.pdf)

Date: 1779

By: Molly Gutridge (fl. 1779)

Tuesday, 3 July 2018

The Judgement from “The Three Ladies of London” by Robert Wilson

Then judgement I pronounce on thee, because thou followed Lucar,
Whereby thou hast solde thy soule to feele like torment with her,
Which torments comprehended are in the worme of Conscience,
who raging still, shall nere have end, a plague for thine offence,
Care shall be thy comfort, and sorrow shall thy life sustaine,
thou shalt be dying, yet never dead, but pining still in endlesse paine.
Diligence convey her to Lucar, let that be her reward,
Because unto her cankered coyne she gave her whole regard.
But as for Conscience, carrie her to prison,
there to remaine untill the day of generall session:
Thus we make an end,
Knowing that the best of us all may amend:
Which God graunt to his good will and pleasure,
That we be not corrupted with the unsatiate desire of vanishing earthly treasure:
For Covetousnesse is the cause of wresting mans Conscience,
Therefore restraine thy lust, and thou shalt shun the offence.

From: Wilson, Robert, The Three Ladies of London, 1584, 1911, The Tudor Facsimile Texts: London and Edinburgh, p. 99.
(https://archive.org/details/cu31924013325398)

Date: 1581

By: Robert Wilson (fl. 1572-1600)