Posts tagged ‘1981’

Friday, 12 August 2022

The Monosyllable by Josephine Winder Boylan Jacobsen

One day
she fell
in love with its
heft and speed.
Tough, lean,

fast as light
as a cloud.
It took care
of rain, short

noon, long dark.
It had rough kin;
did not stall.
With it, she said,
I may,

if I can,
sleep; since I must,
Some say,


From: Lehman, David and Brehm, John (eds.), The Oxford Book of American Poetry, 2006, Oxford University Press: Oxford, p. 524.

Date: 1981

By: Josephine Winder Boylan Jacobsen (1908-2003)

Friday, 5 August 2022

Lullaby by Leslie Marmon Silko

The earth is your mother,
she holds you.
The sky is your father,
he protects you.
Rainbow is your sister,
she loves you.
The winds are your brothers,
they sing to you.
We are together always
We are together always
There never was a time
when this
was not so.


Date: 1981

By: Leslie Marmon Silko (1948- )

Wednesday, 11 May 2022

Shit Poem by James Heriot “Jas” Duke

I’m in the shit business
I work for the sewerage department
I analyse experiments
I draw graphs and flow charts
and conclusions
today I was sitting at my desk
trying to explain
the dissolved air flotation process
where streams of little bubbles are released
into a tank full of sewerage
to float the suspended solids up to the surface
to be skimmed off
but what I was really thinking about
was lunchtime
the canteen cook
caters to the ethnic multitudes
by putting on Italian eats most days
I was thinking of ravioli
with meat sauce
but I was writing things like
“The sludge produced by this process
is grey-brown in colour
and does not produce
offensive odours
provided anaerobic conditions
can be prevented”
the sludge is really composed of
my used ravioli
and the Boss’s used steak
and your used hamburger
and the vegetarian’s used brown rice
all mixed up together
and when it gets in this state
no one wants to know about it
except me
I don’t find shit offensive
most people do
they can’t wait to push the button
or pull the chain or something
and then they think the shit has vanished
into the centre of the earth
it hasn’t really
it just floats up somewhere else
it’s all biodegradable
I reckon most people think
that shit is the most deadly poison
on the face of the earth
they’d rather face ten tons of plutonium
than half a bucket of shit
even their own
no curse in the English Language
is complete
without “shit” included in it somewhere
lunchtime arrived
I ate my ravioli
I had a shit
it was brown in colour
I felt a lot better.


Date: 1981

By: James Heriot “Jas” Duke (1939-1992)

Sunday, 12 December 2021

Map of the New World by Derek Alton Walcott

Dragons once, with webbed hands, serrated fins,
circled this unknown sea. Their scales
flake now like scurf, their skins
aged with this wrinkled chart.
Where they were feared to rise was usually written:
IBI DRAGONES, there are dragons here,
in dragonish letters of mediaeval Latin.

They threshed the ocean’s pastures with hooked flails,
then, as new islands grew, dragons were gone,
reduced to symbols puffed up by the Trades,
a bellying escutcheon
to knot the Indian’s heart.

But in the light that lanced through abbey stone
pinning a shape to the map-maker’s chart
remained one dragon;
drowned in history
it rises in a mirror:
with webless hand, no fins, it can draw dragons.

‘Only in a world where there are cranes and horses’
wrote Robert Graves, ‘can poetry survive.’
Or adept goats on crags. Epic
follows the plough, metre the ring of the anvil,
order divines the figurations of storks, and awe,
the arc of the stallion’s neck.

The flame has left the black wick of the cypress,
the sun may light these islands in their turn.

Over grey islets
magnificent frigates inaugurate the dusk,
light flashes through the whisking tails of horses,
the stony fields they graze.
From the black anvil of the promontory
the sparks fly up like stars.

Regenerate ocean, turn the wanderer
from those salt sheets, the prodigal
drawn to the dark troughs of the swine-black porpoise.

Wrench his heart’s wheel and set his forehead here.


Date: 1981

By: Derek Alton Walcott (1930-2017)

Wednesday, 14 July 2021

Mirabeau Bridge by Guillaume Apollinaire (Wilhelm Albert Włodzimierz Apolinary Kostrowicki)

Under the Mirabeau Bridge there flows the Seine
Must I recall
Our loves recall how then
After each sorrow joy came back again

Let night come on bells end the day
The days go by me still I stay

Hands joined and face to face let’s stay just so
While underneath
The bridge of our arms shall go
Eternal gazes in their weary flow

Let night come on bells end the day
The days go by me still I stay

All love goes by as water to the sea
All love goes by
How slow life seems to me
How violent the hope of love can be

Let night come on bells end the day
The days go by me still I stay

The days the weeks pass by beyond our ken
Neither time past
Nor love comes back again
Under the Mirabeau Bridge there flows the Seine

Let night come on bells end the day
The days go by me still I stay


Date: 1912 (original in French); 1981 (translation in English)

By: Guillaume Apollinaire (Wilhelm Albert Włodzimierz Apolinary Kostrowicki) (1880-1918)

Translated by: Richard Purdy Wilbur (1921-2017)

Friday, 14 May 2021

Small Elegy by Reginald Gibbons

Someone has left us now
before we have even touched hands.

Getting lost in the pity of it
sweeps you into an unknown stretch
of canyon where oars thud
against rock and rip free, you clutch
at help, and even though
you save yourself, the river
funnels through the gorge
and roars, roars, roars.
Regret, a backwash of pain,
one lost life swirls down rapids,
rushes away, out of reach.

It’s not forgetting that you want —
it would be easy to drop
one shoulder and dive, to come up
gasping in a car on the way to work
or blue in the face over the dishpan
staring for who knows how long
at a cup scoured clean under the suds.
And not remembering.

But the absence that is born
must live as long as a man or a woman.
There: it comes invisible headfirst,
a bloodstreaked nothing, and is flushed away.
While in the white room the dry light
is cold; and waiting to be taken home
mute ghosts lie in a row of empty cribs.


Date; 1981

By: Reginald Gibbons (1947- )

Monday, 11 January 2021

The Bridge Poem by Donna Kate Rushin

I’ve had enough
I’m sick of seeing and touching
Both sides of things
Sick of being the damn bridge for everybody

Can talk to anybody
Without me Right?

I explain my mother to my father my father to my little sister
My little sister to my brother my brother to the white feminists
The white feminists to the Black church folks the Black church folks
To the Ex-hippies the ex-hippies to the Black separatists the
Black separatists to the artists the artists to my friends’ parents…

I’ve got the explain myself
To everybody

I do more translating
Than the Gawdamn U.N.

Forget it
I’m sick of it

I’m sick of filling in your gaps

Sick of being your insurance against
The isolation of your self-imposed limitations
Sick of being the crazy at your holiday dinners
Sick of being the odd one at your Sunday Brunches
Sick of being the sole Black friend to 34 individual white people

Find another connection to the rest of the world
Find something else to make you legitimate
Find some other way to be political and hip

I will not be the bridge to your womanhood
Your manhood
Your human-ness

I’m sick of reminding you not to
Close off too tight for too long

I’m sick of mediating with your worst self
On behalf you your better selves

I am sick
Of having to remind you
To breathe
Before you suffocate
Your own fool self

Forget it
Stretch or drown
Evolve or die

The bridge I must be
Is the bridge to my own power
I must translate
My own fears
My own weaknesses

I must be the bridge to nowhere
But my true self
And then
I will be useful.


Date: 1981

By: Donna Kate Rushin (1951- )

Monday, 31 August 2020

Pay Up or Else by Luci Tapahonso

Vincent Watchman was shot
in the head February 12
because he owed 97c at
a Thriftway gas station.
While he lay dead,
the anglo gas boy said
I only meant to shoot out
his car tires and scare him.
He fired 2 poor shots – one in the head,
one in the rear window and
the police cited him for
shooting a firearm within city limits.

Meanwhile, Thriftway officials in Farmington
expressed shock
It’s not company policy, after all,
to shoot Navajo customers who run
overflows in the self-serve pumps.
This man will definitely be fired.

There is no way that such an action
can be justified, the official said

while we realized our lives weren’t worth a dollar
and a 24-year-old Ganado man never used
the $3 worth of gas he paid for.


Date: 1981

By: Luci Tapahonso (1953- )

Sunday, 7 April 2019

MSY I:16 [Spring Flowers versus Autumn Leaves] by Nukata no Ōkimi

Buried by winter,
When spring comes to pass,
The silent
Birds burst into song;
The bloomless
Flowers burst out, but
The mountains are so lush,
One cannot make one’s way;
The grasses are so thick,
An outstretched hand is lost;
On an autumn mountain,
One sees trees’ leaves:
The yellow leaves,
To take for a keepsake;
Green ones
To leave behind in sorrow,
Though I hate to do it:
For my part, the mountains of autumn.


Date: 7th century (original in Japanese); 1981 (translation in English)

By: Nukata no Ōkimi (c630-690)

Translated by: Ian Hideo Levy (1950- )

Tuesday, 27 February 2018

The Sun by Yehuda Alharizi

Look: the sun has spread its wings
over the earth to dispel the darkness.

Like a great tree, with its roots in heaven,
and its branches reaching down to the earth.


Date: c1219 (original in Hebrew); 1981 (translation in English)

By: Yehuda Alharizi (1165-1225)

Translated by: T. Carmi (Carmi Charney) (1925-1994)