Posts tagged ‘1972’

Thursday, 29 July 2021

With No Immediate Cause by Ntozake Shange

every 3 minutes a woman is beaten
every five minutes a
woman is raped/every ten minutes
a little girl is molested
yet I rode the subway today
I sat next to an old man who
may have beaten his old wife
3 minutes ago or 3 days/30 years ago
he might have sodomized his
daughter but I sat there
cuz the men on the train
might beat some young women
later in the day or tomorrow
I might not shut my door fast
enough push hard enough
every 3 minutes it happens
some woman’s innocence
rushes to her cheeks/pours from her mouth
like the betsy wetsy dolls have been torn
apart/their mouths
menses red split/every
three minutes a shoulder
is jammed through plaster and the oven door/
chairs push thru the rib cage/hot water or
boiling sperm decorate her body
I rode the subway today
and bought a paper from an
east Indian man who might
have held his old lady onto
a hot pressing iron/I didn’t know
maybe he catches little girls in the
parks and rips open their behinds
with steel rods/I can not decide
what he might have done I only
know every 3 minutes
every 5 minutes every 10 minutes
I bought the paper
looking for the announcement
there has to be an announcement
of the women’s bodies found
yesterday the missing little girl
I sat in a restaurant with my
paper looking for the announcement
a young man served me coffee
I wondered did he pour the boiling
coffee on the woman because she was stupid
did he put the infant girl in
the coffee pot because she cried too much
what exactly did he do with coffee
I looked for the announcement
the discovery of the dismembered
woman’s body
victims have not all been
identified today they are
naked and dead/some refuse to
testify one girl out of 10’s not
coherent/ I took the coffee
and spit it up I found an
announcement/not the woman’s
bloated body in the river floating
not the child bleeding in the
59th street corridor/not the baby
broken on the floor

“there is some concern
that alleged battered women
might start to murder their
husbands and lovers with no
immediate cause”

I spit up I vomit I am screaming
we all have immediate cause
every 3 minutes
every 5 minutes
every 10 minutes
every day
women’s bodies are found
in alleys and bedrooms/at the top of the stairs
before I ride the subway/buy a paper or drink
coffee from your hands I must know
have you hurt a woman today
did you beat a woman today
throw a child across a room are the little girl’s pants in your pocket
did you hurt a woman today
I have to ask these obscene questions
I must know you see
the authorities require us to
immediate cause
every three minutes
every five minutes
every ten minutes
every day.


Date: 1972

By: Ntozake Shange (1948-2018)

Wednesday, 14 October 2020

Begin Here by Marvin Hartley Bell

How is a shirt like death,
before dawn, losing the blackness,
already the spit echoing hoarsely
in the throat, tranquility before
sledgehammers, up this early before
anyone to pick pants and shirt?

Is this the shirt you will die in?
Then a shirt is like death, and changes
life. Or is this a shirt you will
advance in, a handsome appearance
for a feeling like lugging stones?
The skin, too, is a pressed shirt,

worn by the roads snarling inside.
A blue road wears a blue cover,
or so it seems; as a red road, red.
To lose your shirt is to lose your
life, a gamble the hooded heart takes
because you are buttoned up in front.

From: Bell, Marvin, “Begin Here” in The American Poetry Review, Vol. 1, No. 1 (Nov.-Dec. 1972), p. 47.

Date: 1972

By: Marvin Hartley Bell (1937- )

Wednesday, 4 March 2020

Translations by Adrienne Cecile Rich

December 25, 1972

You show me the poems of some woman
my age, or younger
translated from your language

Certain words occur: enemy, oven, sorrow
enough to let me know
she’s a woman of my time


with Love, our subject:
we’ve trained it like ivy to our walls
baked it like bread in our ovens
worn it like lead on our ankles
watched it through binoculars as if
it were a helicopter
bringing food to our famine
or the satellite
of a hostile power

I begin to see that woman
doing things: stirring rice
ironing a skirt
typing a manuscript till dawn

trying to make a call
from a phonebooth

The phone rings endlessly
in a man’s bedroom
she hears him telling someone else
Never mind. She’ll get tired.
hears him telling her story to her sister

who becomes her enemy
and will in her own way
light her own way to sorrow

ignorant of the fact this way of grief
is shared, unnecessary
and political.


Date: 1972

By: Adrienne Cecile Rich (1929-2012)

Friday, 7 February 2020

If You Wish by Abdulla Pashew/Ebdulla Peşêw

If you wish
your children’s pillows
to bloom pinks,
if you wish to surround cradles
in silky dreams white as snow,
if you wish their swaddling clothes
made of rainbows and
that they might play doll with
the heart of the messiah,
if you wish
your vineyards full of fruit,
if you wish the sun to drink
from the floods of your joy,
if you wish the heavy clouds
to send messages of green to your fields
and to raise the drowsy eyelids of springs,
then liberate—
the bird that nests
on my tongue.



Date: 1972 (original in Kurdish); 2018 (translation in English)

From: Abdulla Pashew/Ebdulla Peşêw (1946- )

Translated by: Alana Maria Levinson-LaBrosse (1974- )

Thursday, 26 December 2019

Boxing Day by Vern Rutsala

In the mud we
begin to understand.
Fictions fall away—
old skin, old hair,

old midnight pledges
scale in wet light.
Whatever was following
has caught up.

It is with us now.
Old vacancy, old tramp
riding the train
whistles, old ugly

come to visit,
old bastard Daddy
crazy drunk, warbling
hello and hacking

like a bullfrog.
We are his favorites.
His dark pockets
are stuffed with gifts—

Christmas candy matted
with lint and tobacco
is peeled out like ore
and it is just for us.

From: Rutsala, Vern, “Boxing Day” in Poetry, January 1972, p. 193.

Date: 1972

By: Vern Rutsala (1934-2014)

Monday, 28 October 2019

The Witch’s Cat by Ian Serraillier

‘My magic is dead,’ said the witch. ‘I’m astounded
That people can fly to the moon and around it.
It used to be mine and the cat’s till they found it.
My broomstick is draughty, I snivel with cold
As I ride to the stars. I’m painfully old,
And so is my cat;
But planet-and-space-ship,
Rocket or race-ship
Never shall part me from that.’

She wrote and advertisement, ‘Witch in a fix
Willing to part with the whole bag of tricks,
Going cheap at the price at eighteen and six.’
But no one was ready to empty his coffers
For out-of-date rubbish. There weren’t any offers—
Except for the cat.
‘But planet-and-space-ship,
Rocket or race-ship
Never shall part me from that.’

The tears trickled fast, not a sentence she spoke
And she stamped on her broom and the brittle stick broke,
And she dumped in a dustbin her hat and her cloak,
Then clean disappeared, leaving no prints;
And no one at all has set eyes on her since
Or her tired old cat.
‘But planet-and-space-ship,
Rocket or race-ship
Never shall part me from that.’

From: Livingston, Myra Cohn (ed.), Why Am I Grown So Cold?: Poems of the Unknowable, 1982, Atheneum: New York, p. 173.

Date: 1972

By: Ian Serraillier (1912-1994)

Monday, 22 July 2019

A Word by Ozaki Kihachi

I have to select a word for material.
It should be talked about in the smallest possible amount and
have a deep suggestiveness like nature,
bloom from inside its own self,
and at the edge of the fate encircling me
it will have to become darkly and sweetly ripened.

Of a hundred experiences it always
has to be the sum total of only one.
One drop of water dew
becomes the harvest of all dewdrops,
a dark evening’s one red point of light
is the night of the whole world.

And after that my poem
like a substance entirely fresh,
released far away from my memory,
the same as a scythe in a field in the morning,
the same as the ice on a lake in spring,
will suddenly begin to sing from its own recollection

From: Shiffert, Edith Marcombe and Sawa, Yūki (eds. and transls.), Anthology of Modern Japanese Poetry, 1972, Charles E. Tuttle Co. Inc: Tokyo, p. 39.

Date:19?? (original in Japanese); 1972 (translation in English)

By: Ozaki Kihachi (1892-1974)

Translated by: Edith Marion Marcombe Shiffert (1916-2017) and Yūki Sawa (fl. 1969-1989)

Friday, 21 October 2016

After All, White Doves by Geoffrey Edward Harvey Grigson (Martin Boldero)

They rose out of dead men,
out of their mouths,
gently, white doves,
to branches where they fidgeted
at first, a little,–
free, uncertainly.

It was something,
white doves for the souls of men,
instead of the roving idiots
of the morning, cuckoos,
or jackdaws cackling, or identical
factory chicken chelping, or worse,

White doves
even the souls of the worst.


Date: 1972

By: Geoffrey Edward Harvey Grigson (Martin Boldero) (1905-1985)

Thursday, 29 May 2014

You Were My Death by Paul Celan (Anczel)

You were my death:
you I could hold
when all fell away from me.


Date: 1968 (original); 1972 (translated)

By: Paul Celan (Anczel) (1920-1970)

Translated by: Michael Peter Leopold Hamburger (1924-2007) and Christopher Middleton (1926- )

Friday, 29 November 2013

The Bicycle by Derek Mahon

There was a bicycle, a fine
Raleigh with five gears
And racing handlebars.
It stood at the front door
Begging to be mounted;
The frame shone in the sun.

I became like a character
In “The Third Policeman,” half
Human, half bike, my life
A series of dips and ridges,
Happiness a free-wheeling
Past fragrant hawthorn hedges.

Cape and sou’wester streamed
With rain when I rode to school
Side-tracking the bus routes.
Night after night I dreamed
Of valves, pumps, sprockets,
Reflectors and repair kits.

Soon there were long rides
In the country, wet week-ends
Playing snap in the kitchens
Of mountain youth-hostels,
Day-runs to Monaghan,
Rough and exotic roads.

It went with me to Dublin
Where I sold it the same winter;
But its wheels still sing
In the memory, stars that turn
About an eternal centre,
The bright spokes glittering.


Date: 1972

By: Derek Mahon (1941- )