Posts tagged ‘1987’

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- )

Sunday, 5 May 2013

Blackout by Faiz Ahmed Faiz

India-Pakistan War: 1965

Since our lights were extinguished
I have been searching for a way to see;
my eyes are lost, God knows where.

You who know me, tell me who I am,
who is a friend, and who an enemy.
A murderous river has been unleashed
into my veins; hatred beats in it.

Be patient; a flash of lightning will come
from another horizon like the white hand
of Moses with my eyes, my lost diamonds.


Date: 1987 (translated)

By: Faiz Ahmed Faiz (1911-1984)

Translated by: Naomi Lazard (1936- )

Sunday, 31 March 2013

Easter Sunday, 1985 by Charles Martin

To take steps toward the reappearance alive of the disappeared is a subversive act, and measures will be adopted to deal with it.
— General Oscar Mejia Victores,
President of Guatemala

In the Palace of the President this morning,
The General is gripped by the suspicion
That those who were disappeared will be returning
In a subversive act of resurrection.

Why do you worry? The disappeared can never
Be brought back from wherever they were taken;
The age of miracles is gone forever;
These are not sleeping, nor will they awaken.

And if some tell you Christ once reappeared
Alive, one Easter morning, that he was seen—
Give them the lie, for who today can find him?

He is perhaps with those who were disappeared,
Broken and killed, flung into some ravine
With his arms safely wired up behind him.


Date: 1987

By: Charles Martin (1942- )

Friday, 21 December 2012

It’s the End of the World as We Know It (And I Feel Fine) by Bill Berry, Peter Buck, Mike Mills and Michael Stipe

That’s great, it starts with an earthquake,
Birds and snakes, an aeroplane
And Lenny Bruce is not afraid
Eye of a hurricane, listen to yourself churn
World serves its own needs,
Dummy serve your own needs
Feed it off an aux speak, grunt, no,
Strength, no, ladder start to clatter with fear
Fight down height
Wire in a fire, representing seven games,
A government for hire and a combat site
Left of West and coming in a hurry
With the furies breathing down your neck
Team by team reporters baffled, trumped, tethered, cropped
Look at that low playing!
Fine, then
Uh oh, overflow, population, common food, but it’ll do
Save yourself, serve yourself
World serves its own needs,
Listen to your heart bleed
Dummy with the rapture
And the revered and the right, right
You vitriolic, patriotic, slam, fight, bright light,
Feeling pretty psyched
It’s the end of the world as we know it and I feel fine

Six o’clock-TV hour
Don’t get caught in foreign towers
Slash and burn, return,
Listen to yourself churn
Locking in, uniforming, book burning, blood letting
Every motive escalate
Automotive incinerate
Light a candle, light a votive
Step down, step down
Watch your heel crush, crushed, uh-oh,
This means no fear cavalier
Renegade steer clear!
A tournament, tournament, a tournament of lies
Offer me solutions, offer me alternatives and I decline

It’s the end of the world as we know it
(It’s time I had some time alone)
It’s the end of the world as we know it and I feel fine

The other night I dreamt of knives,
Continental drift divide
Mountains sit in a line,
Leonard Bernstein
Leonid Brezhnev, Lenny Bruce and Lester Bangs
Birthday party, cheesecake, jelly bean, boom!
You symbiotic, patriotic,
Slam book neck, right? Right
It’s the end of the world as we know it
(It’s time I had some time alone).

It’s the end of the world as we know it and I feel fine
It’s the end of the world as we know it
(It’s time I had some time alone).


Date: 1987

By: Bill Berry (1958- ), Peter Buck (1956- ), Mike Mills (1958- ) and Michael Stipe (1960- )