Posts tagged ‘1980’

Friday, 6 March 2020

Catchpenny Road by Elizabeth Spires

Summer ends tonight.
Air cuts into our lungs
as frost cuts the field
into flowers. Stars catch
in the pond’s dark water
drawing us farther
from the lighted houses.
We catch our arms
in circles round our chest
as if this were protection
against darkness.

Spiked firs border the road.
Behind each one are ghosts
whose names we don’t know,
who watch us, who
withhold themselves,
who’d never hurt us.
They come to you in your sleep,
sit in a circle round your bed,
saying the things the liver
want to say and can’t.
You try to move your head, try
to move into their world of light
where the lace on the child’s
white dress burns your skin
like a kiss. But no,
touching their lips to yours,
they go, wordlessly and without cause,
as only the dead might.

Mist spills from the trees
as you talk and we walk
from valley to hill, hill to valley,
till we come to the place
where we left off, unmarked road
crossing itself in the dark.
Blackened by frost, leaves
blow over the ponds,
absorbing the water’s stain,
sinking towards the stars’ reflections.
You kneel, smooth the water
with your hands, and say nothing.
Perfect in their pain,
the dead surround us, holding
stones in their hands like coins.
Money they would lend us.

From: Spires, Elizabeth, “Catchpenny Road” in Poetry, Vol. 136, No. 6, September 1980, pp. 323-324.

Date: 1980

By: Elizabeth Spires (1952- )

Sunday, 5 January 2020

Bushfire by (Stephen) Philip Salom

As if going into battle, the knapsack
full on my shoulders, its pipe and nozzle
slung up like a rifle.
We fought along the river, seeing shrubs
explode, riddled with fire,
eerie sounds of trees shrieking
like things alive, feral, flames like faces
spilling down into the ferns.
We staggered, sick with the hammering heat,
dousing endless flams that slammed at us
like nightmares, sullen ghosts
groping at our limbs. We plunged
into that day’s red thunder,
subsumed like suiciders who stare into
the rifle, gulp the flame. Individuals
meandering in something huge.
We choked in smoking semi-darkness,
shadows through the lead-coloured
air of limbo.

Now the aching blistering weight
of the knapsack pulling my shoulders.
Exhaustion worries the scorched end
of some unity: thought and action
fused into one. Sagging now,
heavier than the slopping drums
behind the tractors coming in.
We see the new men walking in
and seem to meet our earlier selves
but are more certain and more tired.
I, older than my youth, seeing these men
as if they were children.

From an unseen movement
of pores and sticks,
insects stitch the heat.
Dragon-flies hover above the dam,
their wings rustle and blur.
Empty chrysalis shine,
translucent, on reeds.
The brown water sinks.

I swear at the dogs
sneaking into the shade or slipping
beneath fences to hang
their tongues in the dam.

See now the dairy’s iron roof
ebbing and distorting in the haze,
as cows file along the race.
And I see through different heat
black stumps in lines, iron-rimmed
tractors, rusting now to pretend
this red identity of fire after
the flame. Or the bent girders, claws,
roof-iron punched into curves
by the puglist fire.

Blackened cattle, like flawed statues
for a day, crammed into fence corners
where they tore at life
as death mounted them and sang
from a wobbling, distorted mouth.

The noise of heat. Strange pressure on my eardrums,
sounds on so many unseen nerves.
Bush like a shaman’s spittle,
sand, powder and breath, crash
of an animal leaping in the bracken:
spirits in the gritty palm. Murmurings,
as if soil or rabbits’ fur sensed
stoma gossiping of saps’ events,
or snakes in the undergrowth,
or wedge-tails stirring the tree-tops
seized in a day’s talon.
Heat and sound, like a mind knowing
the bushes’ circle: wood, carcasses,
fragments in the mesh of ants,
eaten down to sand. Around,
around. Green buds
humming on the spindle of black trees.
Suddenly coming uopon the shape:
black, molten body of a kangaroo
sagging to the ground, its feet
caught in the fence’s top barb
that snatched in flight, fire shrieking all around,
flames that raced on flesh,
like a conduction — to the ground.


Date: 1980

By: (Stephen) Philip Salom (1950- )

Thursday, 24 August 2017

The Bald Spot by Wesley McNair

It nods
behind me
as I speak
at the meeting.

All night
while I sleep
it stares
into the dark.

The bald spot
is bored.
Tired of waiting
in the office,

sick of following me
into sex.
It traces
and retraces

the shape
of worlds

beyond its world.
Far away
it hears the laughter
of my colleagues,

the swift sure
sound of my voice.
The bald spot
says nothing.

It peers
out from hair
like the face
of a doomed man

going blanker
and blanker,
walking backwards
into my life.


Date: 1980

By: Wesley McNair (1941- )

Friday, 18 August 2017

I.47 by Marcus Valerius Martialis

Doctor Diaulus has changed his trade:
He now is a mortician,
With the same results he got before
As a practicing physician.

From: Wender, Dorothea (transl. and ed.), Roman Poetry from the Republic to the Silver Age, 1991, Southern Illinois University Press: Carbondale and Edwardsville, p. 124.

Date: 86 (original in Latin); 1980 (translation in English)

By: Marcus Valerius Martialis (c39-c103)

Translated by: Dorothea Schmidt Wender (1934-2003)

Friday, 17 March 2017

Mother Ireland by M. J. Foley

That girl! She put on mother age so well!
Bards, monks and monarchs, who would die
To make her, kept her high and dry,
Never knew her. She herself was hell.
Later, a hag, she found a second spell.
She, who had never made a woman’s cry,
Cursed by the others, gave her own the lie,
Took off her old nubility, and fell.

Large as strife her memory since then
Teases immortality, mimicks tears.
Such a climax! Now the guilty men
Must keep dying! No one dare
Say furiously, “Forget the old affair!
Banba, the witch, is dead a hundred years!”


Date: 1980

By: M. J. Foley (1937- )

Tuesday, 10 May 2016

Hymn to Adonis by Praxilla

[The Shades of the Underworld ask Adonis, “What was the most beautiful thing you left behind?” He answers:]

Most beautiful of things I leave is sunlight.
Then come glazing stars and the moon’s face.
Then ripe cucumbers and apples and pears.

From: Barnstone, Aliki and Barnstone, Willis (eds.), A Book of Women Poets from Antiquity to Now, 1980, Schocken Books: New York, p. 43.

Date: 5th century BCE (original); 1980 (translation)

By: Praxilla (5th century BCE)

Translated by: Willis Barnstone (1927- )

Tuesday, 14 July 2015

Bastille Day – Georgetown by Martin Wylde Carter

Not wanting to deny, I
believed it. Not wanting
to believe it, I denied
our Bastille day. This,
is nothing to storm. This
fourteenth of July. With
my own eyes, I saw the fierce
criminal passing for citizen
with a weapon, a piece of wood
and five for one. We laugh
Bastille laughter. These are
not men of death. A pot
of rice is their foul reward.

I have at last started
to understand the origin
of our vileness, and being
unable to deny it, I suggest
its nativity.
In the shame of knowledge
of our vileness, we shall fight.


Date: 1980

By: Martin Wylde Carter (1927-1997)

Wednesday, 14 January 2015

Saint Francis and the Sow by Galway Kinnell

The bud
stands for all things,
even for those things that don’t flower,
for everything flowers, from within, of self-blessing;
though sometimes it is necessary
to reteach a thing its loveliness,
to put a hand on its brow
of the flower
and retell it in words and in touch
it is lovely
until it flowers again from within, of self-blessing;
as Saint Francis
put his hand on the creased forehead
of the sow, and told her in words and in touch
blessings of earth on the sow, and the sow
began remembering all down her thick length,
from the earthen snout all the way
through the fodder and slops to the spiritual curl of the tail,
from the hard spininess spiked out from the spine
down through the great broken heart
to the blue milken dreaminess spurting and shuddering
from the fourteen teats into the fourteen mouths sucking and blowing beneath them:
the long, perfect loveliness of sow.


Date: 1980

By: Galway Kinnell (1927-2014)

Sunday, 28 October 2012

Homage to My Hips by Lucille Clifton

These hips are big hips
they need space to
move around in
they don’t fit into little
petty places. these hips
are free hips
they don’t like to be held back.
these hips have never been enslaved,
they go where they want to go
they do what they want to do.
these hips are mighty hips.
these hips are magic hips.
i have known them
to put a spell on a man and
spin him like a top!


Date: 1980

By: Lucille Clifton (1936-2010)

Thursday, 21 June 2012

Four Walls by Don Walker

They’re calling time for exercise
Round her Majesty’s hotel
The maid’ll hose the room out
When I’m gone
I never knew such luxury
Before my verdict fell
Four walls, washbasin, prison bed

Well the Bathurst riots ended
When they clubbed the rebels down
And in every congregation
There was silence
You can hear the Angels singin’
When Christmas comes around
Four walls, washbasin, prison bed

I love to march while some Nazi calls the time
Who’d wanna go home

I can’t see
I can’t hear
They’ve burnt out all the feeling
I’ve never been so crazy
And it’s just my second year
Four walls, washbasin, prison bed.


Date: 1980

By: Don Walker (1951- )