Posts tagged ‘1991’

Saturday, 26 November 2022

Cultivation by Mary Crow

He tilled the stars in the dull heaven
of the soil, stars of white pearl
with green at the tip. It made him dizzy
to glance up at that other garden.

As he walked beside the rows
searching for what had appeared overnight
he wanted to prophesy. There, right there,
a new nodule, a new comet’s tail, a root

of heaven. The sky itself so heavy
he felt it about to fall on his shoulders,
felt how it lowered over his life.
He needed a plow long enough, sharp enough

to cut it to tatters so he could seed
the low slivers of cloud, long rows
of watery blue. He could bring
these heavens together, raising one,

pulling the other down.


Date: 1991

By: Mary Crow (19??- )

Wednesday, 6 July 2022

Consulting an Elder Poet on an Anti-War Poem by Duane Niatum

(for Elizabeth Bishop)

One day you said to me,
“there’s nothing you can do,”
and recited Auden’s line:
“Poetry makes nothing happen.”
Although I honor your pinched music,
the poems you dipped in light,
those pulsing like a rainbow
before slipping from our sight,
I wanted to ask you why
several dives out of the self,
a sweet woman’s open caress,
a hundred books with stories
gyrating with people and places
never diminished my confusion.

You did agree that at least
Old Socrates was right
in telling his Athenian friends
that governments are only that—
a person with many heads
that cannot think as one.
History will go on showing
them swing from peace
to war and back again,
in one wide gallows-sweep
just as the pendulum
of the world’s clocks
returns its towns to craters.

Fifteen cobalt-blue years later,
I must ask myself, if the dust
and rubble of each new war
that settles in our bones
and deadens a generation,
are little more than negatives
of the Kennedys, King and Lennon,
has less weight than what
we felt the day the Apollo spaceship
landed on the moon,
and Auden’s line is true,
then why did you til your last breath,
sing into your ruin?


Date: 1991

By: Duane Niatum (1938- )

Friday, 6 May 2022

The Good Days Begin by Vincent Thomas Buckley

The good days begin with light sun
bringing steel out of the frosty grass
and sweeps of parrots, bright as a fruit market,
are guessing that the air will not reach thirty
as they slow down, wheel, and count themselves.
Above them then, the cockatoos, even louder,
go compensating for their fate, their whiteness.
You can see how the noon will shape up, and the evening
begin, with its yellow styling and a sulphur edge on the dusk.

Smudged together, the new grass and the old
slept rough all night.
Now the cold picks them apart
like the strands of a rug
into cut, pale colours.
On the muddy bank above them
nettles grow, thick as strawberries.

From: Buckley, Vincent, Last Poems, 1991, McPhee Gribble, Melbourne, p. 4.

Date: 1991 (published)

By: Vincent Thomas Buckley (1925-1988)

Wednesday, 8 December 2021

Before Christmas by John Corben

The year tips, the sun
slips towards the sky’s edge, and
dark bites at the day.

Shopping after dark:
hands clutching carrier-bags
stuffed with surprises.

The pillar-box’s
smiling mouth swallows our cards,
cheered by the greetings.

Christmas cards snow through
the letter-box. Open them
and brightness thaws out.

Lying awake I
hear clattering hooves: reindeer
landing on the roof.

From: Harrison, Michael and Stuart-Clark, Christopher (ed.), The Oxford Treasury of Christmas Poems, 2008, Oxford University Press: Oxford, p. 13.

Date: 1991

By: John Corben (19??- )

Monday, 7 December 2020

Gertrude by Philip Dean Appleman

Gertrude Appleman, 1901-1976

God is all-knowing, all-present, and almighty.
— A Catechism of Christian Doctrine

I wish that all the people
who peddle God
could watch my mother die:
could see the skin and
gristle weighing only
seventy-nine, every stubborn
pound of flesh a small

I wish the people who peddle God
could see her young,
lovely in gardens and
beautiful in kitchens, and could watch
the hand of God slowly
twisting her knees and fingers
till they gnarled and knotted, settling in
for thirty years of pain.

I wish the people who peddle God
could see the lightning
of His cancer stabbing
her, that small frame
tensing at every shock,
her sweet contralto scratchy with
the Lord’s infection: Philip,
I want to die.

I wish I had them gathered round,
those preachers, popes, rabbis,
imams, priests – every
pious shill on God’s payroll – and I
would pull the sheets from my mother’s brittle body,
and they would fall on their knees at her bedside
to be forgiven all their faith.


Date: 1991

By: Philip Dean Appleman (1926-2020)

Monday, 19 October 2020

Riddle by Nancy Mallet Fry

We are animal cries,
groans the body makes,
the shrill keening of grief,
pain and rage howled out,
grunts of satisfaction,
someone crooning to her young.
We’re animal cries becoming
human, five daughters
of your mother tongue.

[Answer: Vowels]


Date: 1991

By: Nancy Mallet Fry (1945-2016)

Thursday, 27 August 2020

He Fades Away* by Alistair Hulett

There’s a man in my bed I used to love him
His kisses used to take my breath away
There’s a man in my bed I hardly know him
I wipe his face and hold his hand
And watch him as he slowly fades away

And he fades away
Not like leaves that fall in autumn
Turning gold against the grey
He fades away
Like the bloodstains on the pillow case
That I wash every day
He fades away

There’s a man in my bed, he’s on a pension
Although he’s only fifty years of age
The lawyer says we might get compensation
In the course of due procedure
But he couldn’t say for certain at this stage

And he’s not the only one
Who made that trip so many years ago
To work the Wittenoom mines
So many young men old before their time
And dying slow
He fades away
A wheezing bag of bones his
Lungs half clogged and full of clay
He fades away

There’s a man in my bed they never told him
The cost of bringing home his weekly pay
And when the courts decide how much they owe him
How will he spend his money
When he lies in bed and coughs his life away?

*This song is about an Australian blue asbestos miner. The miners (and often their families) were exposed to blue asbestos through the mine at Wittenoom in Western Australia and had a long and very bitter legal battle for compensation with many miners (and their family members) dying of the effects of the asbestos exposure (specifically mesothelioma) before receiving compensation. Wittenoom itself is a declared contaminated site and was phased out as a townsite, being removed from road signs and maps, in the 1990s. As of 2019, there was only one remaining permanent resident.


Date: 1991

By: Alistair Hulett (1951-2010)

Friday, 14 February 2020

Valentine by Lorna Dee Cervantes

Cherry plums suck a week’s soak,
overnight they explode into the scenery of before
your touch. The curtains open on the end of our past.
Pink trumpets on the vines bare to the hummingbirds.
Butterflies unclasp from the purse of their couplings, they
light and open on the doubled hands of eucalyptus fronds.
They sip from the pistils for seven generations that bear
them through another tongue as the first year of our
punishing mathematic begins clicking the calendar
forward. They land like seasoned rocks on the
decks of the cliffs. They take another turn
on the spiral of life where the blossoms
blush & pale in a day of dirty dawn
where the ghost of you webs
your limbs through branches
of cherry plum. Rare bird,
extinct color, you stay in
my dreams in x-ray. In
rerun, the bone of you
stripping sweethearts
folds and layers the
shedding petals of
my grief into a
decayed holo-
for ever


Date: 1991

By: Lorna Dee Cervantes (1954- )

Thursday, 19 December 2019

Help Wanted by Timothy Tocher

Santa needs new reindeer.
The first bunch has grown old.
Dasher has arthritis;
Comet hates the cold.
Prancer’s sick of staring
at Dancer’s big behind.
Cupid married Blitzen
and Donder lost his mind.
Dancer’s mad at Vixen
for stepping on his toes.
Vixen’s being thrown out—
she laughed at Rudolph’s nose.
If you are a reindeer
we hope you will apply.
There is just one tricky part:
You must know how to fly.


Date: 1991

By: Timothy Tocher (19??- )

Sunday, 16 June 2019

Poem Reaching For Something by Quincy Thomas Troupe, Junior

we walk through a calligraphy of hats slicing off foreheads
ace-deuce cocked, they slant, razor sharp, clean through imagination, our
spirits knee-deep in what we have forgotten entrancing our bodies now to
dance, like enraptured water lilies
the rhythm in liquid strides of certain looks
eyeballs rippling through breezes
riffing choirs of trees, where a trillion slivers of sunlight prance across
filigreeing leaves, a zillion voices of bamboo reeds, green with summer
saxophone bursts, wrap themselves, like transparent prisms of dew drops
around images, laced with pearls & rhinestones, dreams
& perhaps it is through this decoding of syllables that we learn speech
that sonorous river of broken mirrors carrying our dreams
assaulted by pellets of raindrops, prisons of words entrapping us
between parentheses — two bat wings curving cynical smiles
still, there is something here, that, perhaps, needs explaining
beyond the hopelessness of miles, the light at the end of a midnight tunnel —
where some say a speeding train is bulleting right at us ——
so where do the tumbling words spend themselves after they have spent
all meaning residing in the warehouse of language, after they have slipped
from our lips, like skiers on ice slopes, strung together words linking
themselves through smoke, where do the symbols they carry
stop everything, put down roots, cleanse themselves of everything
but clarity —— though here eye might be asking a little too much of any
poet’s head, full as it were with double-entendres.


Date: 1991

By: Quincy Thomas Troupe, Junior (1939- )