Posts tagged ‘1987’

Monday, 13 February 2023

This Cat by Gabriela Pearse

This cat
she expects love.
Demands it
stalks it
feels she has a right to it.
She is not ashamed—
I wish I were more like this cat.

From: Duffy, Carol Ann (ed.), I Wouldn’t Thank You for a Valentine: Poems for Young Feminists, 1992, Henry Holt and Company: New York p. 27.

Date: 1987

By: Gabriela Pearse (1962- )

Tuesday, 2 August 2022

A Man Lost By a River by Michael Blumenthal

There is a voice inside the body.
There is a voice and a music,
a throbbing, four-chambered pear
that wants to be heard, that sits
alone by the river with its mandolin
and its torn coat, and sings
for whomever will listen
a song that no one wants to hear.

But sometimes, lost,
on his way to somewhere significant,
a man in a long coat, carrying
a briefcase, wanders into the forest.

He hears the voice and the mandolin,
he sees the thrush and the dandelion,
and he feels the mist rise over the river.

And his life is never the same,
for this having been lost—
for having strayed from the path of his routine,
for no good reason.


Date: 1987

By: Michael Blumenthal (1949- )

Friday, 29 October 2021

Dark Night by Frank Bidart

(John of the Cross)

In a dark night, when the light
burning was the burning of love (fortuitous
night, fated, free,—)

as I stole from my dark house, dark
house that was silent, grave, sleeping,—

by the staircase that was secret, hidden,
safe: disguised by darkness (fortuitous
night, fated, free,–)

by darkness and by cunning, dark
house that was silent, grave, sleeping—;

in that sweet night, secret, seen by
no one and seeing
nothing, my only light or
the burning in my burning heart,

night was the guide
to the place where he for whom I
waited, whom I had long ago chosen,
waits: night
brighter than noon, in which none can see—;

night was the guide
sweeter than the sun raw at
dawn, for there the burning bridegroom is
and he who chose at last is chosen.


As he lay sleeping on my sleepless
breast, kept from the beginning for him
alone, lying on the gift I gave
as the restless
fragrant cedars moved the restless winds,—

winds from the circling parapet circling
us as I lay there touching and lifting his hair,—
with his sovereign hand, he
wounded my neck-
and my senses, when they touched that, touched nothing…

In a dark night (there where I
lost myself,—)
as I leaned to rest
in his smooth white breast, everything
and left me, forgotten in the grave of forgotten lilies.


Date: 1987

By: Frank Bidart (1939- )

Wednesday, 9 June 2021

Cousin Coat by Sean O’Brien

You are my secret coat. You’re never dry.
You wear the weight and stink of black canals.
Malodorous companion, we know why
It’s taken me so long to see we’re pals,
To learn why my acquaintance never sniff
Or send me notes to say I stink of stiff.

But you don’t talk, historical bespoke.
You must he worn, be intimate as skin,
And though I never lived what you invoke,
At birth I was already buttoned in.
Your clammy itch became my atmosphere,
An air made half of anger, half of fear.

And what you are is what I tried to shed
In libraries with Donne and Henry James.
You’re here to bear a message from the dead
Whose history’s dishonoured with their names.
You mean the North, the poor, and troopers sent
To shoot down those who showed their discontent.

No comfort there for comfy meliorists
Grown weepy over Jarrow photographs.
No comfort when the poor the state enlists
Parade before their fathers’ cenotaphs.
No comfort when the strikers all go back
To see which twenty thousand get the sack.

Be with me when they cauterise the facts.
Be with me to the bottom of the page,
Insisting on what history exacts.
Be memory, be conscience, will and rage,
And keep me cold and honest, cousin coat,
So if I lie, I’ll know you’re at my throat.


Date: 1987

By: Sean O’Brien (1952- )

Monday, 1 March 2021

A Welsh Wordscape by Peter Finch

To live in Wales,

Is to be mumbled at
by re-incarnations of Dylan Thomas
in numerous diverse disgiuses.

Is to be mown down
by the same words
at least six times a week.

Is to be bored
by Welsh visionaries
with wild hair and grey suits.

Is to be told
of the incredible agony
of an exile
that can be at most
a day’s travel away.

And the sheep, the sheep,
the bloody flea-bitten Welsh sheep,
chased over the same hills
by athousand poetic phraces
all saying the same things.

To live in Wales
is to love sheep
and to be afraid
of dragons.

A history is being re-lived,
a lost heritage
is being wept after
with sad eyes and dry tears.

A heritage
that spoke beauty to the world
through dirty alcoholic mists.

A heritage
that screamed that once,
that exploded that one holy time
and connected Wales
with the whirlpool
of the universe.

A heritage
that ceased communication
upon a death, and nonetheless
tried to go on living.

A heritage
that is taking
a long time to learn
that yesterday cannot be today
and that the world
is fast becomming bored
with language forever
in the same tone of voice.

Look at the Welsh landscape,
look closely,
new voices must rise.
for Wales cannot endlessly remain
chasing sleep into the twilight.


Date: 1987

By: Peter Finch (1947- )

Wednesday, 20 January 2021

A Locked House by William De Witt Snodgrass (S. S. Gardons)

As we drove back, crossing the hill,
The house still
Hidden in the trees, I always thought—
A fool’s fear—that it might have caught
Fire, someone could have broken in.
As if things must have been
Too good here. Still, we always found
It locked tight, safe and sound.

I mentioned that, once, as a joke;
No doubt we spoke
Of the absurdity
To fear some dour god’s jealousy
Of our good fortune. From the farm
Next door, our neighbors saw no harm
Came to the things we cared for here.
What did we have to fear?

Maybe I should have thought: all
Such things rot, fall—
Barns, houses, furniture.
We two are stronger than we were
Apart; we’ve grown
Together. Everything we own
Can burn; we know what counts—some such
Idea. We said as much.

We’d watched friends driven to betray;
Felt that love drained away
Some self they need.
We’d said love, like a growth, can feed
On hate we turn in and disguise;
We warned ourselves. That you might despise
Me—hate all we both loved best—
None of us ever guessed.

The house still stands, locked, as it stood
Untouched a good
Two years after you went.
Some things passed in the settlement;
Some things slipped away. Enough’s left
That I come back sometimes. The theft
And vandalism were our own.
Maybe we should have known.


Date: 1987

By: William De Witt Snodgrass (S. S. Gardons) (1926-2009)

Sunday, 6 December 2020

Bamboo, the Dance by Mei Ling (Marilyn) Chin

How free and lush the bamboo grows, the bamboo grows and grows
Shoots and morasses, fillies and lassies and shreds and beds and rows
O phloem and pistil, nodes and ovules
…..The bamboo grows and grows
Her release, her joy, her oil, her toil, her moxie, her terror, her swirl
Dig deeper into soil, deeper into her soul, what do you find in my girl
Thrash of black hair and silken snare, face in the bottom of the world
Bound by ankles, poor deer, poor sow, O delicate hooves and fascicles
…..Dead doe, dead doe, dead doe
Wrists together, searing red tethers, blood draining from her soles
…..O choir, O psalm, O soaring fearsome tabernacle
The bamboo grows, the bamboo grows and grows
Through antlers and eyeholes, O sweet soul, O sweet, sweet soul

Thin green tails, purple entrails, the bamboo grows and grows
She flailed and wailed through flimsy veils, through bones and hissing marrow
Nobody to hear her, but wind and chaff, a gasp, then letting go
They loved her, then stoned her, buried her near her ancestors
…..My mother, my sister, my soul

Shimmering mesh, a brocade sash, hanging on a distant oracle
Springboks dance on shallow mounds, echoes, echoes, echoes


Date: 1987

By: Mei Ling (Marilyn) Chin (1955- )

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??- )