Posts tagged ‘1978’

Wednesday, 7 October 2020

[Ghazal XXI] by John Thompson

I know how small a poem can be:
the point on a fish hook;

women have one word or too many:
I watch the wind;

I’d like a kestrel’s eye and know
how to hang on one thread of sky;

the sun burns up my book:
it must be all lies;

I’d rather be quiet, let the sun
and the animals do their work:

I might watch, might turn my back,
be a done beer can shining stupidly.

Let it be: the honed barb drowsing in iron water
will raise the great fish I’ll ride

(dream upon dream, still the sun warms my ink
and the flies buzzing to life in my window)

to that heaven (absurd) sharp fish hook,
small poem, small offering.

From: Jernigan, Amanda and Jones, Evan (eds.), Earth and Heaven: An Anthology of Myth Poetry, 2015, Fitzhenry & Whiteside: Markham, Ontario, p. 92.

Date: 1978 (published)

By: John Thompson (1938-1976)

Friday, 11 September 2020

Dust by Peter Bland

I’m tired of living in old houses
with their sense of left-over lives.
I’m allergic to their dust. The stuff
suffocates me, gets in my eyes,
drifts through the open pores
of my skin. ‘It’s been
well lived in,’
the man said. At that
we should have turned away. Instead
we’re choking… on what?…
of what must have happened here
a thousand times before? We cough
up our own dust with this older muck. It
bloats the vacuum bag and brings us wheezing
down to our married knees. All this
from simple day to day living
ground down finer than air. Time
to be moving on. I want
what’s left of our lives to have
a planetary feel; an earth-
sway where dust won’t settle;
an undertow to every passing sneeze.


Date: 1978

By: Peter Bland (1934- )

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
us 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)

Thursday, 12 March 2020

A Litany for Survival by Audre (Audrey Geraldine) Lorde

For those of us who live at the shoreline
standing upon the constant edges of decision
crucial and alone
for those of us who cannot indulge
the passing dreams of choice
who love in doorways coming and going
in the hours between dawns
looking inward and outward
at once before and after
seeking a now that can breed
like bread in our children’s mouths
so their dreams will not reflect
the death of ours;

For those of us
who were imprinted with fear
like a faint line in the center of our foreheads
learning to be afraid with our mother’s milk
for by this weapon
this illusion of some safety to be found
the heavy-footed hoped to silence us
For all of us
this instant and this triumph
We were never meant to survive.

And when the sun rises we are afraid
it might not remain
when the sun sets we are afraid
it might not rise in the morning
when our stomachs are full we are afraid
of indigestion
when our stomachs are empty we are afraid
we may never eat again
when we are loved we are afraid
love will vanish
when we are alone we are afraid
love will never return
and when we speak we are afraid
our words will not be heard
nor welcomed
but when we are silent
we are still afraid

So it is better to speak
we were never meant to survive.


Date: 1978

By: Audre (Audrey Geraldine) Lorde (1934-1992)

Wednesday, 6 November 2019

Marked by D. by Tony Harrison

When the chilled dough of his flesh went in an oven
not unlike those he fuelled all his life,
I thought of his cataracts ablaze with Heaven
and radiant with the sight of his dead wife,
light streaming from his mouth to shape her name,
‘not Florence and not Flo but always Florrie.’
I thought how his cold tongue burst into flame
but only literally, which makes me sorry,
sorry for his sake there’s no Heaven to reach.
I get it all from Earth my daily bread
but he hungered for release from mortal speech
that kept him down, the tongue that weighed like lead.


Date: 1978

By: Tony Harrison (1937- )

Monday, 30 September 2019

Rage of the Long-Distance Mother by Karen Elias-Button

My hand moves through centuries of anger,
palm open, ready to strike. This is not
the common indignation of the mothers
with their brooms and switches, dusting
their children from beneath their feet, but
the fury of the seasons, of the second-
hand, and you, little straggler, beyond recall.

But my hand does not connect.
Insulated from this small death
you are soft as rubber, you drink
my blows. Again and again I strike
at nothing. Rage fills the pockets
of my face like unshed tears.

Later, the words I write curve off the page,
settling elsewhere, like particles of dust.
Your hand appears, palm open, between
the lines, hungry as paper. At dinner
you show up with a word on your forehead
reading caution or authentic, either one.


Date: 1978

By: Karen Elias-Button (19??- )

Sunday, 3 February 2019

To Putrefaction by Erik Johan Stagnelius

Putrefaction, hasten, Oh beloved bride,
to ready our lonely lover’s couch!
By the world rejected, by God set aside
thou art my only hope, I vouch.
Quick! our chamber now adorn—on bier of somber decorations
the sighing lover to your dwelling shall go.
Quick! prepare the bridal bed—soon springtime’s gift of new carnations
shall over her grow.

Caress in thy womb my body, which yearns!
In thine embraces smother my pain!
My thoughts and my feelings dissolve into worms,
of my burning heart let but ashes remain!
Rich art thou, o maid!—in dowry dost give
the vast, the verdurous earth to me.
Up here do I suffer, but happy shall live
down there with thee.

To stifling, enchanting realms of desire
black-velvet pages lead bridegroom and bride.
Our nuptial hymn chiming bells will attire
and curtains of green will both of us hide.
When out on the oceans tempests prevail,
when terrors will not bloodied earth release,
when battles are raging, in slumber we’ll sail
in aureate peace.

From: Gustafsson, Lars and Rovinsky, Robert T. (transl.), Forays into Swedish Poetry: Bilingual Text Edition, 2012, University of Texas: Austin, Texas, p. 81.

Date: c1818 (original in Swedish); 1978 (translation in English)

By: Erik Johan Stagnelius (1793-1823)

Translated by: Robert T. Rovinsky (1940-)

Saturday, 6 October 2018

Love Poem to Be Read to an Illiterate Friend by Tess Gallagher

I have had to write this down
in my absence and yours. These
things happen. Thinking
of a voice added
I imagine a sympathy outside us
that protects the message
from what can’t help,
being said.

The times you’ve kept
your secret, putting on
glasses or glancing into a page
with interest, give again
the hurt you’ve forgiven, pretending
to be one of us.
So the hope of love
translates as a series of hidden moments
where we like to think
someone was fooled
into it.

Who was I then
who filled these days
with illegible warnings: the marriages
broken, the land
pillaged by speculators, no word
for a stranger?

This island
where I thought the language was mine
has left me lonely
and innocent as you or that friend
who let you copy his themes
until the words became pictures
of places you would never go.

Forgive it then
that so much of after
depends on these, the words
which must find you
off the page.


Date: 1978

By: Tess Gallagher (1943- )

Tuesday, 23 January 2018

Sailing to Australia by Peter Skrzynecki


Tired, embittered,
wary of each other—
like men whose death sentences
have been commuted,
they turned their faces
from a shore
none of them could forget.

Leaving from
a Displaced Persons’ Camp
in Germany,
we travelled south
by train into Italy.

Coming through Austria
I remember
walking between carriages,
seeing aeroplanes
lying broken in a forest—
their yellow and black
like a butterfly’s
torn wings.

Through grey mornings
and long afternoons of drizzle
we lay and talked
of graves that nobody
was prepared
to enter—
about war, disguised nationalities
and the absence of sea birds
from who we always watched.
And all the time
someone, sooner or later,
‘Nearly, nearly there.’

Though officially
tagged and photographed
to the satisfaction of braided uniforms
we had no names—
a tattooed number
or the gold fillings in a heart
to be disclosed only
to St Peter at The Gates.

For all it
mattered, where kinship
or affiliations
were concerned, each of us
could have been
an empty bullet shell
or prints left by a scavenger bird
around a piece of bone.
Each face became
a set of facts—
a situation
to be associated with
only while the voyage lasted.

Even the worst weather
became an ally
to whom confidences and sorrows
were readily confided—
disinherited, self-exiled,
as a river without banks,
people turned their backs and minds
upon the fallen godhead
of a country’s majesty,
quietly embracing comfort
in every drop of salt
that crystallised into manna
on their tongues and in their eyes;
often, waiting until
the moon appeared
like a promised sign—
and the ship might leave the water
to a Castle of Dreams
in the clouds—
before they went to sleep.

On arrival,
a great uneasiness
filled the ship—
unspoken, misunderstood,
as a Union Jack
was hung
across the landing dock.

While the solemnity
of a basking sea lion
a government interpreter
held a loudspeaker at arm’s length—
telling us, in
his own broken accents,
why we should feel proud
to have arrived,
without mishap, in Australia,
on Armistice Day.


Date: 1978

By: Peter Skrzynecki (1945- )

Sunday, 16 April 2017

One More Time by Margaret Hillert

I can’t believe. I don’t believe.
I simply, simply won’t believe
A rabbit comes at Easter time
To bring us eggs-

But then,

I do believe that you believe,
And there are others who believe,
And so perhaps for one more time,
I’ll make believe again.


Date: 1978

By Margaret Hillert (1920-2014)