Posts tagged ‘1990’

Tuesday, 10 July 2018

Barbie’s Little Sister by Ellie Schoenfeld

Barbie’s little sister,
got sent away to reform school
when she was thirteen.
Mattel brought her back complete
with wheat germ, a VW love bus
and a recipe for sesame dream bars.
But she never caught on.
Didn’t go for the vanity
table or the bubble head.
Thought Barbie was repressed
and Ken was a nerd
so she hit the road
with his cousin.
They went to demonstrations
wore love beads
and got matching tattoos.
Finally, Mattel stopped marketing her.
Didn’t think she’d make
a good role model.


Date: c1990

By: Ellie Schoenfeld (19??- )

Friday, 6 July 2018

Both Ways by Archie Randolph Ammons

One can’t
have it

both ways
and both

ways is
the only

way I
want it.

From: Ammons, A. R., The Really Short Poems of A. R. Ammons, 1990, Norton: New York.

Date: 1990

By: Archie Randolph Ammons (1926-2001)

Thursday, 8 March 2018

Although the Wind… by Izumi Shikibu

Although the wind
blows terribly here,
the moonlight also leaks
between the roof planks
of this ruined house.


Date: c1000 (original in Japanese); 1990 (translation in English)

By: Izumi Shikibu (974-1034)

Translated by: Jane Hirshfield (1953- )

Friday, 16 February 2018

Granada by Ibn Zamrak

Stay awhile here on the terrace of the Sabīka and look about you.
This city is a wife, whose husband is the hill:
Girt she is by water and by flowers,
Which glisten at her throat,
Ringed with streams; and behold the groves of trees which are
the wedding guests, whose thirst is being assuaged by
the water-channels.
The Sabīka hill sits like a garland on Granada’s brow,
In which the stars would be entwined,
And the Alhambra (God preserve it)
Is the ruby set above that garland.
Granada is a bride whose headdress is the Sabīka, and whose
jewels and adornments are its flowers.

From: Harvey, L.P., Islamic Spain 1250 to 1500, 2014, The University of Chicago Press: Chicago and London, p. 219.

Date: c1350 (original in Arabic); 1990 (translation in English)

By: Ibn Zamrak (1333-1393)

Translated by: Leonard Patrick Harvey (1929- )

Friday, 10 March 2017

People Burn Beanstalks to Boil Beans by Cao Zhi (Zijian)

People burn beanstalks to boil beans;
They sieve soya to make a drink.
The beanstalk burns beneath the pot;
The beans in the pot cry out.
Born as they are of the selfsame root,
Why should they torment each other so much?


Date: c220 (original); 1990 (translation)

By: Cao Zhi (Zijian) (192-232)

Translated by: Wu Fu-Sheng (19??- )

Tuesday, 30 August 2016

The Wife’s Lament by Anonymous

I make this song of myself, deeply sorrowing,
my own life’s journey. I am able to tell
all the hardships I’ve suffered since I grew up,
but new or old, never worse than now –
ever I suffer the torment of my exile.

First my lord left his people
for the tumbling waves; I worried at dawn
where on earth my leader of men might be.
When I set out myself in my sorrow,
a friendless exile, to find his retainers,
that man’s kinsmen began to think
in secret that they would separate us,
so we would live far apart in the world,
most miserably, and longing seized me.

My lord commanded me to live with him here;
I had few loved ones or loyal friends
in this country, which causes me grief.
Then I found that my most fitting man
was unfortunate, filled with grief,
concealing his mind, plotting murder
with a smiling face. So often we swore
that only death could ever divide us,
nothing else – all that is changed now;
it is now as if it had never been,
our friendship. Far and near, I must
endure the hatred of my dearest one.

They forced me to live in a forest grove,
under an oak tree in an earthen cave.
This earth-hall is old, and I ache with longing;
the dales are dark, the hills too high,
harsh hedges overhung with briars,
a home without joy. Here my lord’s leaving
often fiercely seized me. There are friends on earth,
lovers living who lie in their bed,
while I walk alone in the light of dawn
under the oak-tree and through this earth-cave,
where I must sit the summer-long day;
there I can weep for all my exiles,
my many troubles; and so I may never
escape from the cares of my sorrowful mind,
nor all the longings that have seized my life.

May the young man be sad-minded
with hard heart-thoughts, yet let him have
a smiling face along with his heartache,
a crowd of constant sorrows. Let to himself
all his worldly joys belong! let him be outlawed
in a far distant land, so that my friend sits
under stone cliffs chilled by storms,
weary-minded, surrounded by water
in a sad dreary hall! My beloved will suffer
the cares of a sorrowful mind; he will remember
too often a happier home. Woe to the one
who must suffer longing for a loved one.


Date: c950 (original in Anglo-Saxon English); ?1990 (translation in modern English)

By: Anonymous

Translated by: Roy M. Liuzza (19??- )

Alternative Title: The Wife’s Complaint

Wednesday, 27 January 2016

For the Birds: The Life of Paolo Uccello by Martin Johnston

Uccello once fancied he was turning into cheese,
still, lived “to a disgruntled eighty-three”,
according to the censorious Vasari.
He was the fanatical type, like Spinoza.
He loved pictures of animals and birds,
being unable to afford the creatures themselves
or, like Leonardo, to buy and free them.
When his friend Donatello made fun of him
he stopped painting, saw no one, spent his last years
“solitary, eccentric, melancholy and poor”,
working on intricate technical problems.
His wife said he’d refuse to come to bed,
saying “Oh, what a lovely thing is this perspective!”
He seems to me to have been a happy man.


Date: 1990

By: Martin Johnston (1947-1990)

Monday, 21 September 2015

Etching of the Plague Years by Mary Karr

In the valley of your art history book,
the corpses stack in the back of a cart
drawn by an ox whose rolling shoulder muscles
show its considerable weight.

He does this often. His velvet nostrils
flare to indicate the stench.

It’s the smell you catch after class
while descending a urine-soaked
subway stair on a summer night
in a neighborhood where cabs won’t drive:
the odor of dead flowers, fear
multiplied a thousand times.

The train door’s hiss
seals you inside with a frail boy
swaying from a silver hoop.
He coughs in your direction, his eyes
are burn holes in his face.

Back in the fourteenth-century print
lying in your lap, a hand
white as an orchid has sprouted
from the pyramid of flesh.
It claws the smoky air.

Were it not for that,
the cart might carry green cordwood
(the human body knobby and unplaned).

Wrap your fingers around your neck
and feel the stony glands.
Count the holes in your belt loop
for lost weight.

In the black unfurling glass,
study the hard planes of your face.

Compare it to the prom picture
in your wallet, the orchid
pinned to your chest like a spider.

Think of the flames
at your high school bonfire
licking the black sky, ashes rising,
innumerable stars. The fingers that wove
with your fingers
have somehow turned to bone.

The subway shudders between dark and light.
The ox plods across the page.

Think of everyone
you ever loved: the boy
who gets off at your stop
is a faint ideogram for each.

Offer him your hand.
Help him climb the stair.


Date: 1990

By: Mary Karr (1955- )

Tuesday, 24 March 2015

The Witch by John Francis Alexander Heath-Stubbs

Judy Cracko–she was a witch,
And lived in a muddy, smelly ditch:

But when the moon shone bright, she’d fly
On a tatty old broomstick, up in the sky,

With the bats, and the owls, and the booboo birds,
Shouting out loud the most horrible words,

Like Botheration, and Bottom, and Belly,
And Nurts and Nark it and Not on your Nelly!

Now the judge, Mr Justice Fuzzywig,
And the village policeman, Constable Pigg,

And Major Wilberforce Wotherspoon,
And a lady called Miss Prissy La Prune,

Put their heads together, and vowed
That sort of behaviour should not be allowed.

So they locked her up in a dungeon dim,
With her one-eyed pussycat, Smoky Jim.

But she didn’t stay long in that prison cell-
She muttered a rather difficult spell:

Then seven red devils, with horns and tails,
And seldom manicured finger-nails,

And each with one great donkey’s hoof,
Whirled Judy and Jim through a hole in the roof,

Over the seas and far away
To an island eastward of Cathay;
She’s living there still, to this very day.


Date: 1990

By: John Francis Alexander Heath-Stubbs (1918-2006)

Saturday, 14 December 2013

For I Will Consider Your Dog Molly by David Lehman

For it was the first day of Rosh Ha’shanah, New Year’s Day, day of remembrance, of ancient sacrifices and averted calamities.
For I started the day by eating an apple dipped in honey, as ritual required.
For I went to the local synagogue to listen to the ram’s horn blown.
For I asked Our Father, Our King, to save us for his sake if not for ours, for the sake of his abundant mercies, for the sake of his right hand, for the sake of those who went through fire and water for the sanctification of his name.
For despite the use of a microphone and other gross violations of ceremony, I gave myself up gladly to the synagogue’s sensual insatiable vast womb.
For what right have I to feel offended?
For I communed with my dead father, and a conspicuous tear rolled down my right cheek, and there was loud crying inside me.
For I understood how that tear could become an orb.
For the Hebrew melodies comforted me.
For I lost my voice.
For I met a friend who asked “is this a day of high seriousness” and when I said yes he said “it has taken your voice away.”
For he was right, for I felt the strong lashes of the wind lashing me by the throat.
For I thought there shall come a day that the watchmen upon the hills of Ephraim shall cry, Arise and let us go up to Zion unto the Lord our God.
For the virgin shall rejoice in the dance, and the young and old in each other’s arms, and their soul shall be as a watered garden, and neither shall they learn war any more.
For God shall lower the price of bread and corn and wine and oil, he shall let our cry come up to him.
For it is customary on the first day of Rosh Ha’shanah to cast a stone into the depths of the sea, to weep and pray to weep no more.
For the stone represents all the sins of the people.
For I asked you and Molly to accompany me to Cascadilla Creek, there being no ocean nearby.
For we talked about the Psalms of David along the way, and the story of Hannah, mother of Samuel, who sought the most robust bard to remedy her barrenness.
For Isaac said “I see the fire and the wood, but where is the lamb for the offering?”
For as soon as I saw the stone, white flat oblong and heavy, I knew that it had summoned me.
For I heard the voice locked inside that stone, for I pictured a dry wilderness in which, with a wave of my staff, I could command sweet waters to flow forth from that stone.
For I cast the stone into the stream and watched it sink to the bottom where dozens of smaller stones, all of them black, gathered around it.
For the waterfall performed the function of the chorus.
For after the moment of solemnity dissolved, you playfully tossed Molly into the stream.
For you tossed her three times, and three times she swam back for her life.
For she shook the water off her body, refreshed.
For you removed the leash from her neck and let her roam freely.
For she darted off into the brush and speared a small gray moving thing in the neck.
For this was the work of an instant.
For we looked and behold! the small gray thing was a rat.
For Molly had killed the rat with a single efficient bite, in conformance with Jewish law.
For I took the rat and cast him into the stream, and both of us congratulated Molly.
For now she resumed her noble gait.
For she does not lie awake in the dark and weep for her sins, and whine about her condition, and discuss her duty to God.
For I’d as lief pray with your dog Molly as with any man.
For she knows that God is her savior.


Date: 1990

By: David Lehman (1948- )