Posts tagged ‘1996’

Friday, 7 May 2021

City Terrace Field Manual, page 97 [We’re caffeinated by rain] by Sesshu Foster

We’re caffeinated by rain inside concrete underpasses, rolling along treetops, Chinese elms, palm trees, California peppers. We pushed a lawn mower for white people, we got down on our hands and knees in their San Marino driveways. We told our youth to grab hard a piece of paper swirling like tickets in a bonfire, firecrackers at Chinese New Year, toilet paper in a bowl. We coiled green hoses. We oiled mean little engines that buzzed like an evil desire that could spit a steel slice or sharp stone to take your eye out. We gripped rusty clippers, clipped leafy hedges, ground sharper edges. We hauled their sacks of leftover leisure that rotted at the curbside. We slapped our hands with gloves, slammed white doors of Econoline vans, showed up at sunrise in the damp perfume of the downtown flower market. With all the Japanese gardeners gone, we’re Mexican now. The ones given five minutes a week or fifteen minutes a month. They wrote us a check, we wiped our hands on our pants or they did not shake them. Fertilizer under our fingernails grown large, yellow and cracked as moons. Instead of us, they saw azaleas, piracanthus, oleanders, juniper shrubs, marigolds. They didn’t want to see us, they like nature in rows and flowering things, not another kind of face. Notions rattled in us like spare bolts in a coffee can. Our days off rode us hard, like a desert storm on mountains far away. Try to make our children see more than this man with green stains, cracked skin, red eyes. More than the back bent over stacked tools and coiled hoses. Coffee breath. On dry boulevards fading into smog, kids just like ours smash our windows and loot our tools. Our kids today want to grow up to get lucky. Okay, we tell them, have it your way, and we light our children like candles.


Date: 1996

By: Sesshu Foster (1957- )

Sunday, 2 May 2021

My Father Teaches Me to Dream by Jan Beatty

You want to know what work is?
I’ll tell you what work is:
Work is work.
You get up. You get on the bus.
You don’t look from side to side.
You keep your eyes straight ahead.
That way nobody bothers you–see?
You get off the bus. You work all day.
You get back on the bus at night. Same thing.
You go to sleep. You get up.
You do the same thing again.
Nothing more. Nothing less.
There’s no handouts in this life.
All this other stuff you’re looking for–
it ain’t there.
Work is work.


Date: 1996

By: Jan Beatty (1952- )

Tuesday, 28 January 2020

Dunes by Jennifer Harrison

Dunes reach inwards
into powder rooms
where voices muffled and trapped
slowly seduce the earth.

Dunes, pearl-pipes
sound out the voices of men and women
separated, their steps obliterated
by drifts of longing.

For fraces unchanged beneath graves
the wind digs.
For faces reflected
the moon polishes the dune’s silver.

Across the slipping face, rain weeps
sinks, but is not lost.
In the dune’s dryness there is
a nomadic snow.

In the dune’s shape
a dusty child settles
to sleep, dreaming
of breasts weaning the sea.


Date: 1996

By: Jennifer Harrison (1955- )

Wednesday, 26 December 2018

Boxing Day, Campbell Parade by Adam Aitken

I step out into the sun and traffic chaos
of a beach in an obscure developing country.
Doorsteps of exotic eateries where child labour
sweeps spice dust into pyramids.
There are drums, the economy in hysterical trance.
Talismans glitter, shamans, crystals.
Boulevarde life. Potential film extras filing past,
drunks collect guilt money.

I stop, I know it’s Christmas.
An agent of perfection unflips her briefcase of safaris.
I yearn for the quiet birth of metaphysics
and invite her to partake with me
the wild ecology beyond whitewater.

Later that evening a Pizza boy arrives
sweltering with a stack of two-for-ones.
And in the morning the beer’s worn off.
I jog to the shark tower’s siren,
and read a blackboard with the sea’s numerology.

I want Boxing Day to end without strain,
it’s not too late in life to be a Weetbix Kid
riding waves of traffic generated deep and distantly
from suburbs that flounder in the heat.

My box of concrete fire rated,
fully secure. I miss my friends.
My lover goes back to her parents.

I miss her kind of Christmas,
turkeys, smoked hams, and not
a single regret in the world.
The southerly begins to blow.
A humble star arrives, it’s late but I don’t mind;
its pinpoint of light
leading me home.


Date: 1996

By: Adam Aitken (1960- )

Wednesday, 12 December 2018

Alive Together by Lisel Mueller

Speaking of marvels, I am alive
together with you, when I might have been
alive with anyone under the sun,
when I might have been Abelard’s woman
or the whore of a Renaissance pope
or a peasant wife with not enough food
and not enough love, with my children
dead of the plague. I might have slept
in an alcove next to the man
with the golden nose, who poked it
into the business of stars,
or sewn a starry flag
for a general with wooden teeth.
I might have been the exemplary Pocahontas
or a woman without a name
weeping in Master’s bed
for my husband, exchanged for a mule,
my daughter, lost in a drunken bet.
I might have been stretched on a totem pole
to appease a vindictive god
or left, a useless girl-child,
to die on a cliff. I like to think
I might have been Mary Shelley
in love with a wrongheaded angel,
or Mary’s friend, I might have been you.
This poem is endless, the odds against us are endless,
our chances of being alive together
statistically nonexistent;
still we have made it, alive in a time
when rationalists in square hats
and hatless Jehovah’s Witnesses
agree it is almost over,
alive with our lively children
who–but for endless ifs–
might have missed out on being alive
together with marvels and follies
and longings and lies and wishes
and error and humor and mercy
and journeys and voices and faces
and colors and summers and mornings
and knowledge and tears and chance.


Date: 1996

By: Lisel Mueller (1924- )

Friday, 7 December 2018

Little Citizen, Little Survivor by Hayden Carruth

A brown rat has taken up residence with me.
A little brown rat with pinkish ears and lovely
almond-shaped eyes. He and his wife live
in the woodpile by my back door, and they are
so equal I cannot tell which is which when they
poke their noses out of the crevices among
the sticks of firewood and then venture farther
in search of sunflower seeds spilled from the feeder.
I can’t tell you, my friend, how glad I am to see them.
I haven’t seen a fox for years, or a mink, or
a fisher cat, or an eagle, or a porcupine, I haven’t
seen any of my old company of the woods
and the fields, we who used to live in such
close affection and admiration. Well, I remember
when the coons would tap on my window, when
the ravens would speak to me from the edge of their
little precipice. Where are they now? Everyone knows.
Gone. Scattered in this terrible dispersal. But at least
the brown rat that most people so revile and fear
and castigate has brought his wife to live with me
again. Welcome, little citizen, little survivor.
Lend me your presence, and I will lend you mine.


Date: 1996

By: Hayden Carruth (1921-2008)

Tuesday, 11 September 2018

Mad Exit by Vasile “Vasko” Popa

They scare me by saying
There’s a screw loose in my head

They scare me more by saying
They’ll bury me
In a box with the screws loose

They scare me but little do they realise
That my loose screws
Scare them

The happy crazy from our street
Boasts to me.


Date: c1975 (original in Serbian); 1996 (translation in English)

By: Vasile “Vasko” Popa (1922-1991)

Translated by: Anthony Weir (1941- )

Tuesday, 21 August 2018

Two Dublin Poems by Anthony Weir

I. At the Conference of Poetry Police
an observer who claimed
that a tree was worth a thousand poets
was declared mentally ill
and unfit to work at the paper-mill.

II. The greatest disability
is wanting to be normal.
The second greatest
is normality.

From: Garwood, Andi and Weir, Anthony, Fearful Symmetry, 1996, Dissident Editions: Loughkeelan, Northern Ireland, p. 2.

Date: 1996

By: Anthony Weir (1941- )

Friday, 22 June 2018

In the Summer by Nizar Tawfiq Qabbani

In the summer
I stretch out on the shore
And think of you
Had I told the sea
What I felt for you,
It would have left its shores,
Its shells,
Its fish,
And followed me.


Date: 19?? (original in Arabic); 1996 (translation in English)

By: Nizar Tawfiq Qabbani (1923-1998)

Translated by: Bassam Frangieh (1949- ) and Clementina R. Brown (19??- )

Saturday, 10 March 2018

By My Life I Will Not Let You Go by Janābāi

I caught the thief of Pandhari1
by tying a rope around his neck.

I made my heart the prison cell
and locked him up inside.

I bound him firmly with the Word,
I fettered his holy feet,

I thrashed him, whipped him
with the word so’ham2
while Vitthal complained bitterly.

Sorry, O Lord,
says Jani,
by my life I will not let you go.

1. Thief of Pandhari – Vitthala/Vitthal/Vithoba, Hindu god, generally considered as a manifestation of Vishnu or Krishna.
2. So’ham – Hindu mantra which translates as “I am He/That”.


Date: c1320 (original in Marathi); 1996 (translation in English)

By: Janābāi (c1280-1350)

Translated by: Sarah Sellergren (19??- )