Posts tagged ‘1997’

Tuesday, 24 January 2023

Still Life with Approaching Death by Anthony Lawrence

Harnessed by the fretwork of her temper,
by the stress-distorted muscles in her face,
she needleworks her grief with skill and grace
in framed, miasmic light from seamless water.
The millwheel of her heart has lost momentum.
A bell-shaped sun has stalled above the sea.
She sees her faith in life myopically.
She breathes my body has known delirium,
now shock cells are my rapturous embrace.
Ten bottle brush heads and four silver pears
number the days she has waiting. She stares
into herself, through cerements of lace.

From: Lawrence, Anthony, “Still Life with Approaching Death” in Westerly, Volume 42, Number 4, Summer 1997, p. 41.

Date: 1997

By: Anthony Lawrence (1957- )

Monday, 9 January 2023

Across the Way by Rogan Wolf

Welcome, wanderer,

I have seen you
across the way
and salute you.

to place myself
in someone else’s hands

to place myself
in hands trained
to relieve me

hands to retrieve me
myself at sea.
I am sending

an SOS signal
from the eye
of my tempest

pausing here
across the way.

Welcome, wanderer,

From across the way
I salute you.


Date: 1997

By: Rogan Wolf (19??- )

Wednesday, 2 November 2022

Elegy with a Chimneysweep Falling Inside It by Larry Patrick Levis

Those twenty-six letters filling the blackboard
Compose the dark, compose
The illiterate summer sky & its stars as they appear

One by one, above the schoolyard.

If the soul had a written history, nothing would have happened:
A bird would still be riding the back of a horse,

And the horse would go on grazing in a field, & the gleaners,

At one with the land, the wind, the sun examining
Their faces, would go on working,

Each moment forgotten in the swipe of a scythe.

But the walls of the labyrinth have already acquired
Their rose tint from the blood of slaves
Crushed into the stone used to build them, & the windows

Of stained glass are held in place by the shriek

And sighing body of a falling chimneysweep through
The baked & blackened air. This ash was once a village,

That snowflake, time itself.

But until the day it is permitted to curl up in a doorway,
And try to sleep, the snow falling just beyond it,

There’s nothing for it to do:

The soul rests its head in its hands & stares out
From its desk at the trash-littered schoolyard,

It stays where it was left.
When the window fills with pain, the soul bears witness,
But it doesn’t write. Nor does it write home

Having no need to, having no home.
In this way, & in no other

Was the soul gradually replaced by the tens of thousands
Of things meant to represent it—

All of which proclaimed, or else lamented, its absence.

Until, in the drone of auditoriums & lecture halls, it became
No more than the scraping of a branch
Against the side of a house, no more than the wincing

Of a patient on a couch, or the pinched, nasal tenor
Of the strung-out addict’s voice,

While this sound of scratching, this tapping all night,
Enlarging the quiet instead of making a music within it,

Is just a way of joining one thing to another,

Myself to whoever it is—sitting there in the schoolroom,

Sitting there while also being led through the schoolyard
Where prisoners are exercising in the cold light—

A way of joining or trying to join one thing to another,
So that the stillness of the clouds & the sky

Opening beneath the blindfold of the prisoner, & the cop
Who leads him toward it, toward the blank

Sail of the sky at the end of the world, are bewildered

So that everything, in this moment, bewilders

Them: the odd gentleness each feels in the hand
Of the other, & how they don’t stop walking, not now

Not for anything.


Date: 1997

By: Larry Patrick Levis (1946-1996)

Tuesday, 27 September 2022

His Elderly Father as a Young Man by Leo Dangel

This happened before I met your mother:
I took Jennie Johanson to a summer dance,
and she sent me a letter, a love letter,
I guess, even if the word love wasn’t in it.
She wrote that she had a good time
and didn’t want the night to end.
At home, she lay down on her bed
but stayed awake, listening to the songs
of morning birds outside her window.
I read that letter a hundred times
and kept it in a cigar box
with useless things I had saved:
a pocket knife with an imitation pearl handle
and a broken blade,
a harmonica I never learned to play,
one cuff link, an empty rifle shell.

When your mother and I got married,
I threw the letter away –
if I had kept it, she might wonder.
But I wanted to keep it
and even thought about hiding places,
maybe in the barn or the tool shed,
but what if it were ever found?
I knew of no way to explain why
I would keep such a letter, much less
why I would take the trouble to hide it.


Date: 1997

By: Leo Dangel (1941-2016)

Saturday, 27 August 2022

Waiting for ’97 and Godot by Yam Gong (Lau Yee-ching)

The torment
of a drop of water
falling into a lake
I know—
at times I am the drop of water
at times
I am the lake

The torment
of a drop of water
falling onto the parched earth
I also know
At times I am
the parched earth
At times
I am
that droplet

But what about the joy
of a drop of water
falling onto the parched earth?

What about the ecstasy
of a drop of water
falling into the lake?

Even though
at times I am the water
at times I am the earth
at times I am the rivers and lakes
at times ecstatic at times tormented at times joyful
at times
I persuade myself
that you
will arrive eventually.


Date: 1997 (original in Chinese); 2021 (translation in English)

By: Yam Gong (Lau Yee-ching) (1949- )

Translated by: James Shea (19??- ) and Dorothy Tse (1977- )

Monday, 17 January 2022

A Guide to Refreshing Sleep by Ron Koertge

It is best to remember those nights
when grown-ups were singing and breaking
glass and someone who smelled good
carried you up hushed stairs toward strange
cold bedrooms to be launched on a dark
lake of coats.

If Memory does not suffice, you may
summon the obvious mascots of sleep,
but forego counting. It is miserly. They
will come and stand by your bed, nodding
their graceful Egyptian heads, inviting you

across the crooked stile to one of those
hamlets nestled between blue hills
where the curious are curious about sleep,
the enthralled are enthralled with sleep,
and the great conclusion is always,
‘It’s time for bed.’

Look — a cottage door stands open. On the night
table is a single candle, yellow sheets are turned
back, and in the garden are marshaled
the best dreams in the world. Lie down.
The horrible opera of the day is over.
Close your eyes, so the world which loves you
can go to sleep, too.


Date: 1997

By: Ron Koertge (1940- )

Friday, 5 February 2021

Challenge (to M.D.) by Maria Tesselschade Roemers Visscher

Though stripped of armor, still I have the courage and belief
To throw the gauntlet at the thief
Who, with seeming virtue, my arms from me extorted,
Which willingly I would have him accorded
And granted him, and had I the secret to him disclosed
So he would to honor’d glory be exposed.
But how! a captain, how! a Christian—leader—and grandee,
Does he not return borrowed property,
Naively loaned, which he obtained with flattering implorations
Much like Delilah’s provocations?
Know that my powers don’t rely on gentle coaxing of the ears,
But on the sting of slender spears;
I bend those to my ways; and thus do I take my retaliation
Rather than with wheedling speech make supplication;
And so I declare war on him who ruptures halcyon days,
Who acts not according to what he says.
By etching steel that can cut crystal’s edge,
Can break glass goblets, I do take this pledge:
That you’ll give back to me what you from me did plunder,
Ce qui n’est point mon Coeur2.

1. Tesselschade wrote this playful letter to a captain (a certain M.D.) who, in the course of a flirtation, filched from her some intimate possession, perhaps a brooch. She plays with the imagery of the duel: the captain took her “armor,” she can fight back with “steel.” The reference here is to the steel needle used in the art of glass engraving, for which Tesselschade was famour. In this declaration of “war” she demands that the brooch be returned to her and insists that, in any case, it is not an emblem of her heart. Thus she delicately points out—in French—that she is not in love with the gentleman.
2. Which is not my heart.

From: Meijer, Maaike; Eijsker, Erica; Peypers, Ankie; and Prins, Yopie (eds.), Dutch and Flemish Feminist Poems From the Middle Ages to the Present: A Bilingual Anthology, 1998, The Feminist Press at the City University: New York, pp. 57-59.

Date: c1620 (original in Dutch); 1997 (translation in English)

By: Maria Tesselschade Roemers Visscher (1594-1649)

Translated by: Marjolijn de Jager (1936- )

Saturday, 26 September 2020

At the Musée Rodin in Paris by Laure-Anne Bosselaar

in front of a window
facing south, two white
marble hands fold
around air.
A label on the pedestal reads
Le Secret.
Did Rodin also sculpt
the air between those hands?
Is it caught there ever since:
the mold of secrecy?
I waited hours for the sun
to flow through them.

All it did was cast
a shadow to the ground.


Date: 1997

By: Laure-Anne Bosselaar (1943- )

Thursday, 20 August 2020

My Sweet Dear by Clément Marot

My sweet dear,
I send cheer —
All the best!
Your forced rest
Is like jail.
So don’t ail
Very long.
Just get strong —
Go outside,
Take a ride!
Do it quick,
Stay not sick —
Ban your ache,
For my sake!
Buttered bread
While in bed
Makes a mess,
So unless
You would choose
That bad news,
I suggest
That you’d best
Soon arise,
So your eyes
Will not glaze.
Douglas prays
Health be near,
My sweet dear.


Date: 1537 (original in French); 1997 (translation in English)

By: Clément Marot (1496-1544)

Translated by: Douglas Richard Hofstadter (1945- )

Thursday, 16 July 2020

Song by Jacques Prévert

What day are we?
We are every day
My friend
We’re the whole of life
My love
We love and we live
We live and we love
And we don’t really know
What life is
And we don’t really know
What the day is
And we don’t really know
What love is


Date: 1949 (original in French); 1997 (translation in English)

By: Jacques Prévert (1900-1977)

Translated by: Alastair Campbell (19??- )