Posts tagged ‘1987’

Thursday, 20 June 2019

Winter Solstice by Alison Clark

Look at Anna under the vine—
standing with her arm out, in hope
if she keeps Perfectly Still
(so still she doesn’t seem like Anna)
a robin or blue wren will perch.

Day, wintry-clear, is
poised between frost and sun—
equal forces: which will win?

Yellow greens and grey greens stir
as wind passes through the clearing;
birds counterpoint the waves’ continuo;
the yellow robin in a patch of sun is seen
by us as if we were not there, perfectly still.


Date: 1987

By: Alison Clark (1945- )

Friday, 3 May 2019

Quatrain by Najmuddīn-e Kubrā

What never existed
leaves nothing in the hand
but wind
while “reality”
offers nothing but imperfection
and failure;
that being the case
one can only dream
of what never was
and as for what “really is,”
it doesn’t exist.

From: Wilson, Peter Lamborn and Pourjvady, Nasrollah, The Drunken Universe: An Anthology of Persian Sufi Poetry, 1987, Phanes Press: Grand Rapids, USA, p. 20.

Date: 13th century (original in Persian); 1987 (translation in English)

By: Najmuddīn-e Kubrā (1145-1221)

Translated by: Peter Lamborn Wilson (1945- ) and Nasrollah Pourjvady (1943- )

Thursday, 11 April 2019

Unyoked is Best! Happy the Woman Without a Man by Anna Bijns

How good to be a woman, how much better to be a man!
Maidens and wenches, remember the lesson you’re about to hear.
Don’t hurtle yourself into marriage far too soon.
The saying goes: “Where’s your spouse? Where’s your honor?”
But one who earns her board and clothes
Shouldn’t scurry to suffer a man’s rod.
So much for my advice, because I suspect—
Nay, see it sadly proven day by day—
‘T happens all the time!
However rich in goods a girl might be,
Her marriage ring will shackle her for life.
If however she stays single
With purity and spotlessness foremost,
Then she is lord as well as lady. Fantastic, not?
Though wedlock I do not decry:
Unyoked is best! Happy the woman without a man.

Fine girls turning into loathly hags—
Tis true! Poor sluts! Poor tramps! Cruel marriage!
Which makes me deaf to wedding bells.
Huh! First they marry the guy, luckless dears,
Thinking their love just too hot to cool.
Well, they’re sorry and sad within a single year.
Wedlock’s burden is far too heavy.
They know best whom it harnessed.
So often is a wife distressed, afraid.
When after troubles hither and thither he goes
In search of dice and liquor, night and day,
She’ll curse herself for that initial “yes.”
So, beware ere you begin.
Just listen, don’t get yourself into it.
Unyoked is best! Happy the woman without a man.

A man oft comes home all drunk and pissed
Just when his wife had worked her fingers to the bone
(So many chores to keep a decent house!),
But if she wants to get in a word or two,
She gets to taste his fist—no more.
And that besotted keg she is supposed to obey?
Why, yelling and scolding is all she gets,
Such are his ways—and hapless his victim.
And if the nymphs of Venus he chooses to frequent,
What hearty welcome will await him home.
Maidens, young ladies: learn from another’s doom,
Ere you, too, end up in fetters and chains.
Please don’t argue with me on this,
No matter who contradicts, I stick to it:
Unyoked is best! Happy the woman without a man.

A single lady has a single income,
But likewise, isn’t bothered by another’s whims.
And I think: that freedom is worth a lot.
Who’ll scoff at her, regardless what she does,
And though every penny she makes herself,
Just think of how much less she spends!
An independent lady is an extraordinary prize—
All right, of a man’s boon she is deprived,
But she’s lord and lady of her very own hearth.
To do one’s business and no explaining sure is lots of fun!
Go to bed when she list, rise when she list, all as she will,
And no one to comment! Grab tight your independence then.
Freedom is such a blessed thing.
To all girls: though the right Guy might come along:
Unyoked is best! Happy the woman without a man.

Regardless of the fortune a woman might bring,
Many men consider her a slave, that’s all.
Don’t let a honeyed tongue catch you off guard,
Refrain from gulping it all down. Let them rave,
For, I guess, decent men resemble white ravens.
Abandon the airy castles they will build for you.
Once their tongue has limed a bird:
Bye bye love—and love just flies away.
To women marriage comes to mean betrayal
And the condemnation to a very awful fate.
All her own is spent, her lord impossible to bear.
It’s peine forte et dure instead of fun and games.
Oft it was the money, and not the man
Which goaded so many into their fate.
Unyoked is best! Happy the woman without a man.


Date: c1528 (original in Flemish/Dutch); 1987 (translation in English)

By: Anna Bijns (1493-1575)

Translated by: Kristiaan P. G. Aercke (19??- )

Wednesday, 13 March 2019

Life’s Illusion by Sarmad Kashani

You sleep
you forget yourself
and forgetfulness
brings no fruit but regret.
Your friends have gone ahead
you too are on the way;
Why do you not contemplate
life’s illusion?

From: Wilson, Peter Lamborn and Pourjavady, Nasrollah (eds. and transls.), The Drunken Universe: An Anthology of Persian Sufi Poetry, 1987, Phanes Press: Grand Rapids, Michigan, p. 20.

Date: 17th century (original in Persian); 1987 (translation in English)

By: Sarmad Kashani (c1590-1661)

Translated by: Peter Lamborn Wilson (1945- ) and Nasrollah Pourjavady (1943- )

Saturday, 2 June 2018

After the Leaving… by Edwin Nadason Thumboo

For Ee Tiang Hong

There are two countries here:
One securely meets the eye;
The other binds your heart.

This is Perth, and yet Malacca.
Outside, suddenly spring arrives
In many wild, surprising flowers.
But no chempaka, no melor
Show that beauty of the heart.
You have lost more hair, though
Your spectacles perch as usual,
Looking quizzical, slightly anxious.

Beyond King’s Park, the Swan
Whose neck nestles among vineyards,
Ministers to your dreaming home
To which I go again, in ceremony,
Remembering…your ukulele
Mastering the restless crabs,
Sunset upon the evening’s brow,
Our shared tobacco; images of

That great Tranquerah mosque,
St Paul’s Hill, Sam Po’s Well,
And other abodes of our gods.
But here the roads are happily
Waltzing with Matilda, leading
Through miles of bush to Laverton,
Abandoned mines, receding purple hills.

And as you hear the recurring
Soul of Voss adventuring Ayers Rock,
Dream-time, purifying deserts,
Shore, sky and hinterland are yours.
But you return to Heeren Street,
Ancestral rooms, intricate histories,
Starting with a distant fracture
Of law, of order one quiet noon

Along uncoiling Amoy Streets,
Where the migrant, restless spirit
Took passion to an alien land.
You feel a deep possession.
Seven generations of the blood
Have stirred into the earth,
Gave sinew, fought fevers.
Held down the swamps, added

Fertile patterns to the land,
Made the dragon speak
The brown language of the
Constant, Southern winds.
After the riots and the edicts,
You cried in the days of blight.
To leave again, after seven generations,
You must know so bitterly,

Is surely to return.


Date: 1987

By: Edwin Nadason Thumboo (1933- )

Thursday, 22 February 2018

Under the Vulture-Tree by David Bottoms

We have all seen them circling pastures,
have looked up from the mouth of a barn, a pine clearing,
the fences of our own backyards, and have stood
amazed by the one slow wing beat, the endless dihedral drift.
But I had never seen so many so close, hundreds,
every limb of the dead oak feathered black,

and I cut the engine, let the river grab the jon boat
and pull it toward the tree.
The black leaves shined, the pink fruit blossomed
red, ugly as a human heart.
Then, as I passed under their dream, I saw for the first time
its soft countenance, the raw fleshy jowls
wrinkled and generous, like the faces of the very old
who have grown to empathize with everything.

And I drifted away from them, slow, on the pull of the river,
reluctant, looking back at their roost,
calling them what I’d never called them, what they are,
those dwarfed transfiguring angels,
who flock to the side of the poisoned fox, the mud turtle
crushed on the shoulder of the road,
who pray over the leaf-graves of the anonymous lost,
with mercy enough to consume us all and give us wings.


Date: 1987

By: David Bottoms (1949- )

Thursday, 3 August 2017

On a Rainy Autumn Night by Choi Chiwon

I sing a bitter song on the autumn wind,
with very few who really appreciate it.
Outside the world drips midnight rain:
under the lamplight, my thoughts drift far away.


Date: 9th-10th century (original); 1987 (translation)

By: Choi Chiwon (857-after 924)

Translated by: Kim Jong-gil (1926-2017)

Saturday, 10 June 2017

Had Death Not Had Me in Tears by Kofi Awoonor (George Awoonor-Williams)

Had death not had me in tears
I would have seen the barges
on life’s stream sail.
I would have heard sorrow songs
in groves where the road was lost
where men foot prints mix with other men foot prints
By the road I wait
“death is better, death is better”
came the song
I am by the roadside
looking for the road
death is better, death is much better
Had death not had me in tears
I would have seen the barges
I would have found the road
and heard the sorrow songs.
The land wreathes in rhythm
with your soul, caressed by history
and cruel geography
landscape ineffable yet screaming
eloquent resonant like the drums
of after harvests.
We pile rocks on terracing love
Carry the pithy cloth
to cover the hearths of our mother.

Come now, you lucky ones
come to the festival of corn and lamb
to the finest feast of this land
come, now,
your lovers have unfurled
their cloths
their thighs glistening like golden knives
ready for the plunging,
for the plentiful loving time.
To whom shall I turn
to what shall I tell my woes?
My kinsmen, the desert tree
denied us sustenance
long before the drought.
To whom shall I turn
to whom shall I tell my woes?
Some say tell the mother goat
she too is my kinswoman
elemental sister of your clan
But I cannot tell the mother goat
for she is not here.


Date: 1987

By: Kofi Awoonor (George Awoonor-Williams) (1935-2013)

Saturday, 24 May 2014

King Arthur Was a Mountie by Gary Barwin

King Arthur was a Canadian Indian
King Arthur was Louis Riel
King Arthur was a Mountie

King Arthur was a pacifist warmonger
King Arthur was the flower of chivalry
King Arthur is a seven-syllable word that begins with a vowel

King Arthur spent his honeymoon dressed in armour
Guinevere was a mail-order bride
Galahad had one routine where he answered questions before they were asked
when he said the word Saskatchewan he said it with a lisp

Ed Sullivan first created the Round Table, but one year later it was pre-empted by the Super Bowl
when the Beatles first appeared on Ed Sullivan they each swallowed a miniature version of the Round Table
when the beetles first appeared on King Arthur, he brushed them off

Johnny Carson is really Galahad
Ed McMahon is the Grail
the Sword in the Stone is really President Kennedy
Marilyn Monroe loved Geoffrey of Monmouth’s History of the Kings of Britain
Elvis loved Arthur
I have never seen the movie where Mae West is Morgan Le Fay

Canada is to the U.S. as Lancelot is to Arthur
Canada is to the U.S. as Sir Gawain is to the Green Knight
Canada is to the U.S. as Arthur is to Guinevere

Merlin had Nancy Reagan in his back pocket
Nancy Reagan was responsible for the downfall of the British people
Sir Kay swallowed eleven muskox because Arthur made him
if Arthur’s court had ever seen a caribou, courtly love would never have existed
the Canadian Arctic is the Grail, filled with blood

Canada is to the U.S. as Tintagel Castle is to the Mississippi
Canada is to the U.S. as Wyoming is to Glastonbury Tor
Canada is to the U.S. as Johnny Carson is to the visionary kingdom of Arthurian Britain

Camelot is not a phallic symbol, it is a place of pure joy
Camelot is the place where I first learned the meaning of the word Canada.


Date: 1987

By: Gary Barwin (1964- )

Thursday, 17 April 2014

Nothing’s Been the Same Since John Wayne Died by William Greenway

My world isn’t hers, skin
like mocha she climbs
into each morning, air pouring
through her throat clear
as creekwater, no line where
brown legs slide into
silk shorts. She’s my student
but I’m in class now, aerobics,
flunking in a room of convex
mirrors and dumbbells, though
she’s patient, pities me, the
sounds I make for air. It’s
hopeless as a dancing bear, Disney
hippo in a tutu, a friend’s
father. She wants to pop
candy in my mouth when I do
something right. Cigarettes
smell like burning celery, liquor
is shellac, her heart has a slow
beat and sticks to it, she can bench press
me. I sort of pity HER, daughter
I never had, how far she has
to go, how dirty and heavy.
But she’s perfect now, and even
her hard music gets under my
fat, sets my frog leg jumping
in jean stores.
She’s working hard to get me young
I’m aging her fast
and three times a week
we keep meeting here.


Date: 1987

By: William Greenway (1947- )