Posts tagged ‘1999’

Sunday, 5 September 2021

Prayer for Words by Navarre Scott Momaday

My voice restore for me.

Here is the wind bending the reeds westward,
The patchwork of morning on gray moraine:

Had I words I could tell of origin,
Of God’s hands bloody with birth at first light,
Of my thin squeals in the heat of his breath,
Of the taste of being, the bitterness,
And scents of camas root and chokecherries.

And, God, if my mute heart expresses me,
I am the rolling thunder and the bursts
Of torrents upon rock, the whispering
Of old leaves, the silence of deep canyons.
I am the rattle of mortality.

I could tell of the splintered sun. I could
Articulate the night sky, had I words.


Date: 1999

By: Navarre Scott Momaday (1934- )

Friday, 27 August 2021

Time, Money and the Colour of the Sky by Joan Kerr

in the parking lot besides Swan Bay
the road workers
in their orange vests
are playing footy in their lunch hour
beside the yellow truck

dobbed and swizzled all across the Swan Bay sky
the almost white
to the grey of smudgy thumbprints
a slap of blue
as if the painter could not make up his mind
what sky should be

ground flows more easily

he’s got
the lightly furred effect on greenish shoals
the listening lean of stumps
a black and white boat
suckling at the pier

this drizzling day when sky
questions the certain colours of earth
I meet my friend the painter Kel
in Hesse St
Kel takes me to see his latest job
all friezes ceiling roses architraves
doors picked out
in five colours
different on each side of the door
Kel says
for a tricky job like this
it pays to use
a colour consultant


Date: 1999

By: Joan Kerr (1949- )

Friday, 23 July 2021

Three Burdens by Guido Pieter Theodorus Josephus Gezelle

Three burdens weigh upon my heart;
The first that men to death depart.
The second weighs still more on me:
I know not when my death shall be.
The third dismays me most of all;
‘t is that I know not what
thereafter shall befall!

From: Vincent, Paul (ed.), Poems of Guido Gezelle: A Bilingual Anthology, 2016, UCL Press: London, p. 147.

Date: 1886 (original in Dutch); 1999 (translation in English)

By: Guido Pieter Theodorus Josephus Gezelle (1830-1899)

Translated by: Albert van Eyken (19??- )

Saturday, 19 June 2021

A Window by Jorge Guillén Álvarez

The sky dreams clouds for the real world
with matter enamored of light and space.
Today dunes scatter over a reef,
sands with marine waves that are snows.
So many chance crossings, by fanciful caprice,
there in plain view with an irresistible
smiling reality. I dwell on the edges
of solid transparent depths.
The air is enclosing, displaying, enhancing
the leaves on the branch, the branches on the trunk,
walls, eaves, corners, pillars
Calm proof of the evening,
requiring a window’s tranquil vision.
Details chime with their surroundings:
smooth pebbles, there a fence, then a wire.
Every minute finds its own aureole,
or is it fancy dreaming this glass?
I am like my window. I marvel at the air.
Beauty so limpid, now so in accord,
between the sun and the mind! There are polished words,
but I would like to know as the June air knows.
The poplar’s stirring makes a visible breeze,
in a circle of peace the evening encloses me,
and a soaring sky adapts to my horizon.

From: Guillén, Jorge and Franzen, Cola (transl.), Horses in the Air and Other Poems, 1999, City Lights Books: San Francisco, p. 5.

Date: 1928 (original in Spanish); 1999 (translation in English)

By: Jorge Guillén Álvarez (1893-1984)

Translated by: Cola Franzen (1923-2018)

Monday, 27 April 2020

The Date by Alex Skovron

Each war contains all earlier wars,
Canetti says. The Father considers this,
the Daughter minces past the compact disc
repository snaked out across the shelf next to the door,
tossing a cruel eye. Her lipstick clatters proudly
from her lips into her side-slung armoury,

the bustle slams into a sudden truce,
he stops the book.
Jammed on last night’s news
the video timer flashes, the frame waits paralysed:
a girl with blood on her lips, war in her eyes.


Date: 1999

By: Alex Skovron (1948- )

Wednesday, 18 December 2019

How the Dead are Raised by Thom Satterlee

Why a trumpet? Why not a mole
whispering in their ears, or the sound
of footsteps on the earth
above their faces? I could imagine a rock
that shifts underground and knocks
on each coffin: “Come out! Come
out!” For the man who loved bees,
a swarm of them to serenade him
back to the living, their stingers
gone, fallen into a lake and turned
into minnows. For the woman
who complained, her pastor
never visited her, the crunching of gravel
as his car stops outside her door.
Still others will want a certain voice,
maybe your own, to bring them back, saying,
“You always hoped, now you can believe.”


Date: 1999

By: Thom Satterlee (1967- )

Sunday, 10 February 2019

Song 1 of “Eighteen Songs of a Nomad Flute” by Cai Yan

In the early part of my life, equity still governed the empire,
But later in my life the Han throne fell into decay.
Heaven was not humane, sending down rebellion and chaos,
Earth was not humane, causing me to encounter such a time.
War gear was a daily commonplace, and travel by road was dangerous,
The common people fled, all plunged in wretchedness.
Smoke and dust darkened the countryside, overrun by barbarians;
They knocked aside my widow’s vows, and my chastity was lost.
Their strange customs were so utterly foreign to me—
Whom can I possibly tell of my calamity, shame, and grief?
One measure for the nomad flute, one stanza for the qin,
No one can know my heart’s agony and anger!

From: Chang, Kang-i Sun and Saussy, Haun (eds.), Women Writers of Traditional China: An Anthology of Poetry and Criticism, Stanford University Press: Stanford, p. 23.

Date: 2nd century (original), 1999 (translation)

By: Cai Yan (c178-c249)

Translated by: Dore Jesse Levy (19??- )

Thursday, 10 January 2019

Needlework by Michael Donaghy

tattoos commissioned for the
1999 ‘Last Words’ poetry festival, Salisbury

Copy this across your heart,
Whisper what your eyes have heard,
To summon me when we’re apart,
This word made flesh, this flesh made word.

The serpent sheds her skin and yet
The pattern she’d as soon forget
Recalls itself. By this I swear
I am the sentence that I bare.

From: Donaghy, Michael, Conjure, 2000, Picador: London, p. [unnumbered].

Date: 1999

By: Michael Donaghy (1954-2004)

Sunday, 16 December 2018

Unto One of the Least of These by Stanley Miller Williams

With no one to talk to, he talked to the five fish
in a pond in the side yard in the shade of an oak—
Owen, Trudy, Trevor, Forrest, and Frederick,
the names beginning—this was his little joke—

the way the numbers one through five begin.
His wife had said he counted them every day
to see if the raccoon had eaten one.
He was only calling the roll. The fish had a way

of showing they knew he was there, the old preacher
come to share his parables again.
They took the bread he broke and never blinked,
no matter the stories he told, till he said, Amen.

If he immersed his fingers, they nibbled the tips
but never allowed his hands to comfort and bless.
That was all right. People had done the same.
As if he were deaf, he listened to read their lips,
told them to go, baptized in the watery name,
and believed in the skulking raccoon less and less.

From: Williams, Miller, Some Jazz a While: Collected Poems, 1999, University of Illinois Press: Chicago, p. 265.

Date: 1999

By: Stanley Miller Williams (1930-2015)

Sunday, 5 August 2018

An Ocean Without Shore by Muhyiddin ibn ‘Arabi

I marveled at an Ocean without shore,
and at a Shore that did not have an ocean;
And at a Morning Light without darkness,
and at a Night that was without daybreak;
And then a Sphere with no locality
known to either fool or learned scholar;
And at an azure Dome raised over the earth,
circulating ’round its center – Compulsion;
And at a rich Earth without o’er-arching vault
and no specific location, the Secret concealed…

I courted a Secret which existence did not alter;
for it was asked of me: “Has Thought enchanted you? ”
– To which I replied: “I have no power over that;
I counsel you: Be patient with it while you live.
But, truly, if Thought becomes established
in my mind, the embers kindle into flame,
And everything is given up to fire
the like of which was never seen before!”
And it was said to me: “He does not pluck a flower
who calls himself with courtesy ‘Freeborn’.”
“He who woos the belle femme in her boudoir, love-beguiled,
will never deem the bridal-price too high!”

I gave her the dower and was given her in marriage
throughout the night until the break of Dawn –
But other than Myself I did not find. – Rather,
that One whom I married – may his affair be known:
For added to the Sun’s measure of light
are the radiant New Moon and shining Stars;
Like Time, dispraised – though the Prophet (Blessings on him!)
had once declared of your Lord that He is Time.


Date: 1200 (original in Arabic); 1999 (translation in English)

By: Muhyiddin ibn ‘Arabi (1165-1240)

Translated by: Gerald Elmore (19??- )