Posts tagged ‘1988’

Wednesday, 16 September 2020

I Went into My Garden to Gather Herbs by Berta Jacobs (Sister Bertken)

I went into my garden to gather herbs,
But all I found were thistles and thorns.

The thistles and thorns I threw out,
I should like to grow some other plants.

Now I have found one to do the gardening,
One who is willing to shoulder the burden.

A tree had grown tall in very short time,
I could not pluck it out of the earth.

The gardener noted well the doleful tree:
He wrested it from the earth root and all.

Now I must be his servant,
Or he will not continue his care.

I must weed my garden for evermore
and yet I alone cannot maintain it.

I must sow seed of lilies in my garden;
This I must do early at dawn.

If he lets drop his gentle dew, my lover,
These seedlings shall grow and flower.

He loves to see the lilies, my lover,
If they grow straight and pure.

When red roses are planted in the same bed,
Then he touches the flowers with his gentle dew.

And when he illuminates them with golden rays,
Then I rejoice with all my heart.

Jesus is the name of my lover,
I want to serve him eternally and belong to him.

His love has given me such strong resolve,
That I hold the world in utter contempt.

From: Vynckier, Henk, “Poetry From Behind Bars: Some Translations from the Dutch Recluse Sister Bertken (1427-1514)” in Mystics Quarterly, September 1988, Vol. 14, No. 3 (September 1988), pp. 147-148.

Date: 15th century (original in Dutch); 1988 (translation in English)

By: Berta Jacobs (Sister Bertken) (1426/1427-1514)

Translated by: Henk Vynckier (19??- )

Saturday, 15 August 2020

Too Many Cooks in the Past by Mudrooroo Narogin/Nyoongah (Colin Thomas Johnson)

New vantage points, new perspectives, the first fleet flying Aboriginal flags;
The historians hesitate over the wounded and wrench out nails from the deck stairs
Leading to the death of the cook swilling in his bowl,
Digging in someone else’s earth, sea-flying-sailing
Into areas where of not the right way
Arguments as to that drowning, as to how best to view
Problems of value devalued, overvalued and submerged
The seen is unseen, lost and missed in the swill.
Ought to see not to see the labouring to bring forth
A bloated carcase,
Structured on human beings through unrestrained restraint,
Just lying there, never striding forth to pepper the police station
With too, far too many skeletons in the cook’s shall we call it, broth?
Boiling over, unstressed flesh coming from the bone
At uninstructed attempts to escape a boredom of
Points of view, ideologies of undertakers,
And difficult to sort out burial service professors
Falling over them them them them them themselves
To prevent fashionable accords
Coming forward to propagate discords
Based on higher salary ranges and prestige

From: Mudrooroo Narogin (Colin Johnson) “Too Many Cooks in the Past” in Kunapipi, Volume 10, Issue 1, Article 27, 1988, p. 244.

Date: 1988

By: Mudrooroo Narogin/Nyoongah (Colin Thomas Johnson) (1938-2019)

Sunday, 5 July 2020

lady liberty by Jesús Abraham “Tato” Laviera

for liberty, your day filled in splendor,
july fourth, new york harbor, nineteen eighty-six,
midnight sky, fireworks splashing,
heaven exploding
into radiant bouquets,
wall street a backdrop of centennial adulation,
computerized capital angling cameras
celebrating the international symbol of freedom
stretched across micro-chips,
awacs surveillance,
wall-to-wall people, sailing ships,
gliding armies ferried
in pursuit of happiness, constitution adoration,
packaged television channels for liberty,
immigrant illusions
celebrated in the name of democratic principles,
god bless america, land of the star
spangled banner
that we love,

but the symbol suffered
one hundred years of decay
climbing up to the spined crown,
the fractured torch hand,
the ruptured intestines,
palms blistered and calloused,
feet embroidered in rust,
centennial decay,
the lady’s eyes,
cataract filled, exposed
to sun and snow, a salty wind,
discolored verses staining her robe,

she needed re-molding, re-designing,
the decomposed body
now melted down for souvenirs,
lungs and limbs jailed
in scaffolding of ugly cubicles
incarcerating the body
as she prepared to receive
her twentieth-century transplant
paid for by pitching pennies,
hometown chicken barbecues,
marathons on america’s main streets.
she heard the speeches:
the president’s
the french and american partners,
the nation believed in her, rooted for the queen,
and lady liberty decided to reflect
on lincoln’s emancipatory resoluteness
on washington’s patriotism,
on jefferson’s lucidity,
on william jennings bryan’s socialism,
on woodrow wilson’s league of nations,
on roosevelt’s new deal,
on kennedy’s ecumenical postures,
and on martin luther king’s non-violence.

lady liberty decided to reflect
on lillian wald’s settlements,
on helen keller’s sixth sense,
on susan b. anthony’s suffrage movement,
on mother cabrini’s giving soul,
on harriet tubman’s stubborn pursuit of freedom.

just before she was touched,
just before she was dismantled,
lady liberty spoke,
she spoke for the principles,
for the preamble,
for the bill of rights,
and thirty-nine peaceful
presidential transitions,
and, just before she was touched,
lady liberty wanted to convey
her own resolutions,
her own bi-centennial goals,
so that in twenty eighty-six,
she would be smiling and she would be proud.
and then, just before she was touched,
and then, while she was being re-constructed,
and then, while she was being celebrated,
she spoke.

if you touch me, touch ALL of my people
who need attention and societal repair,
give the tired and the poor
the same attention, AMERICA,
touch us ALL with liberty,
touch us ALL with liberty.

hunger abounds, our soil is plentiful,
our technology advanced enough
to feed the world,
to feed humanity’s hunger . . .
but let’s celebrate not our wealth,
not our sophisticated defense,
not our scientific advancements,
not our intellectual adventures.
let us concentrate on our weaknesses,
on our societal needs,
for we will never be free
if indeed freedom is subjugated
to trampling upon people’s needs.

this is a warning,
my beloved america.

so touch me,
and in touching me
touch all our people.
do not single me out,
touch all our people,
touch all our people,
all our people
our people

and then i shall truly enjoy
my day, filled in splendor,
july fourth, new york harbor,
nineteen eighty-six, midnight sky,
fireworks splashing,
heaven exploding
into radiant bouquets,
celebrating in the name of equality,
in the pursuit of happiness,
god bless america,
land of star
spangled banner
that we love.


Date: 1988

By: Jesús Abraham “Tato” Laviera (1950-2013)

Friday, 10 April 2020

Good Friday by Edward Reynolds Price

Or gift. Is pain an outright gift?
Is he so far gone (three-quarter million days)
That pain sufficient to polish steel
Is his one memory of human form?—
Three hours of a stormy spring afternoon,
Spiked up in a reeking suburban landfill
To drain in sight of his toothless mother,
Her younger friends: clear in his mind
Still and wished back on us, last possible link?

From: Price, Reynolds, “Good Friday” in Poetry, April 1988, p. 25.

Date: 1988

By: Edward Reynolds Price (1933-2011)

Thursday, 20 February 2020

Homo Sapiens by Michael Waters

Imagine a morning moon the color of cream
Still steaming, a soul
Newly-minted each exhalation of light,
Omphalos quick with swirling aura.
Then the slow dissolve to absence.

Who can hold her?
Struck by the cold, the absolute
Clarity of this nth morning of creation,
Who might articulate this emotion
That somehow slipped past the masters, unnamed?

That creature whose skull was found
Fragmented in lake-muck
More than one million years past her last
Sigh—was she also struck by the icy
Spill of moonlight so close to her cave
She might have stretched her fingers
Toward its receding source?

Breasts milky in the afterglow,
She must have been beautiful, wild child,
Stunned for a moment into consciousness.

The moon arcs now from that dawn to this,
Passing over the bewildered
Brilliance of van Gogh who brushed the moon
On thick to halt her travels,
Over the unraveling intellect of Céline
Who pinned the moon to a page
To prevent her passage even one night more.

But the moon forever fails over blight-scarred bark
While some early riser bears witness, fixed in the moment,
This day entered into
The log of creation by the soon-to-be forgotten
Who tumble into passions
Impossible to tame.

The wilderness remains with us.
The moon rises and beckons, leaving
A residue still too ancient to name.

From: Waters, Michael, “Homo Sapiens” in Poetry, January 1988, pp. 344-345.

Date: 1988

By: Michael Waters (1949- )

Thursday, 14 June 2018

Unfinished Novel by Michael Hartnett

Ah yes – they justify it all, the brats,
hungry or asleep and gorged with milk.
Each drop’s (yes, the milk they drink is yours)
another line unwritten, another page
crumpled like a pufiball on the floor.
Your limpid dialogue is reduced
to the basic syllables of the cave
and the quick infant minds grow huge, while you
relearn vocabularies from the pram.
The typewriter is now a battered toy,
its ribbon has fingerprinted all the walls
(cenotaphs for dead letters all its keys).
You tap the heads assailing your broad lap
and polarise regret and love them while
the cunning offspring of your milk and blood
root up the truffles of your mind.


Date: 1988

By: Michael Hartnett (1941-1999)

Monday, 1 January 2018

New Year Resolution by Graham Rowlands

This year I sincerely & solemnly resolve not
to underestimate the intelligence of brontosaurs.
I’m not deterred by late last year’s theory of
the big, alive & eggless births of baby brontos.
I know Christmas Day dawned on Emeritus Professor X
measuring the pelvic outlet size of a female bronto
to make sure it’s big enough to hold his theory.
I concede the appeal of Mummy brontos protectecting
their babies from bronto-bashing Daddy brontos &
other saurs you won’t find in Roget’s Thesaurus.
Just after Christmas it’s truly reassuring to know
brontosaurs weren’t slow-witted, egg-laying & leaving
reptiles with the morbid morbidity rates unearthed in
the fossil graveyards or hatching mortuaries of
other saurs you will find in Roget’s Thesaurus. But.

The last two brontos had a bit of fun getting
all their eggs together in the one basket &
then, with a swish of their marvellous tails,
they shredded all the evidence. The eggs. See?
Don’t underestimate the intelligence of brontosaurs.
They decided to call it a day. Call it an Age.
There was also a fear of meteorites or
worse still, sure as eggs, the human race.


Date: 1988

By: Graham Rowlands (1947- )

Wednesday, 17 May 2017

Description of a Tidal Bore from “Seven Stimuli” by Mei Ch’Eng

Its urgent
thunder can be heard hundreds of furlongs away;
the river’s waters flow in reverse,
the ocean’s waters go upstream with the tide;
the mountains exhale and inhale vapors
all day and all night without cease.

Welling and swelling, the tidal race picks up speed,
its waves surge
and its billows rise.
At the very beginning,
it is a cascading
the downward swoop
of white egrets.
After it has progressed
a short while,
it becomes a vast expanse of dazzling whiteness,
a silk-white chariot drawn by white horses,
curtains and canopy unfurled.

The bore’s
waves surge
in nebulous confusion,
as though
the three regiments were
plunging into preparedness.
spreads out to the sides
and suddenly rears
airily and gracefully
the light chariot
of a commander marshalling his troops.

The bore is harnessed to six flood-dragons,
and follows close upon Great White, the god of the river.
It is high and mighty, whether resting or racing,
continuous and unbroken from front to back.
The waves are enormous, towering,
consecutive and recurring —
jos-jostling, ca-capering.
Row after row of stout bulwarks and ramparts,
as the ranks of an army.
with the stentorian and cacophonous roar,
they surge uncurbed across the breadths;
the fount of this flood is not to be stayed!

Observing both banks of the river,
we see there a
convulsive, boiling, brooding, seething,
troublous, roiling, jolting, heaving;
it smashes upward, flings boulders below.
There is, about it, something which resembles
a valiant, mighty warrior
bursting with rage
and completely undaunted.
It tramples revetments, bursts through ferry-crossings,
inundates inlets and courses coves,
then leaps its banks, spills over its dikes.

He who encounters it perishes;
that which blocks it is destroyed.

From: Mair, Victor H. (ed.), The Shorter Columbia Anthology of Traditional Chinese Literature, 2000, Columbia University Press: New York, pp. 225-227.

Date: c140 BCE (original); 1988 (translation)

By: Mei Ch’eng (?-c140 BCE)

Translated by: Victor Henry Mair (1943- )

Friday, 16 September 2016

Did He Appear by Ono no Komachi

Did he appear
because I fell asleep
thinking of him?
If only I’d known I was dreaming,
I’d never have wakened.

From: Hirshfield, Jane and Aratani, Mariko (translators), The Ink Dark Moon: Love Poems by Ono no Komachi and Izumi Shikibu, Women of the Ancient Court of Japan, 1990, First Vintage Classics: New York, p. [unnumbered].

Date: c850 (original in Japanese); 1988 (translation in English)

By: Ono no Komachi (c825-c900)

Translated by: Jane Hirshfield (1953- ) and Mariko Aratani (19??- )

Sunday, 20 July 2014

The Living Years by Brian Alexander Robertson

Every generation
Blames the one before
And all of their frustrations
Come beating on your door

I know that I’m a prisoner
To all my Father held so dear
I know that I’m a hostage
To all his hopes and fears
I just wish I could have told him in the living years

Crumpled bits of paper
Filled with imperfect thought
Stilted conversations
I’m afraid that’s all we’ve got

You say you just don’t see it
He says it’s perfect sense
You just can’t get agreement
In this present tense
We all talk a different language
Talking in defence

Say it loud, say it clear
You can listen as well as you hear
It’s too late when we die
To admit we don’t see eye to eye

So we open up a quarrel
Between the present and the past
We only sacrifice the future
It’s the bitterness that lasts

So don’t yield to the fortunes
You sometimes see as fate
It may have a new perspective
On a different day
And if you don’t give up, and don’t give in
You may just be okay.

Say it loud, say it clear
You can listen as well as you hear
It’s too late when we die
To admit we don’t see eye to eye

I wasn’t there that morning
When my Father passed away
I didn’t get to tell him
All the things I had to say

I think I caught his spirit
Later that same year
I’m sure I heard his echo
In my baby’s new born tears
I just wish I could have told him in the living years.

Say it loud, say it clear
You can listen as well as you hear
It’s too late when we die
To admit we don’t see eye to eye.


Date: 1988

By: Brian Alexander Robertson (1948- )