Posts tagged ‘2002’

Tuesday, 30 June 2020

We Are Not Responsible by Harryette Mullen

We are not responsible for your lost or stolen relatives.
We cannot guarantee your safety if you disobey our instructions.
We do not endorse the causes or claims of people begging for handouts.
We reserve the right to refuse service to anyone.

Your ticket does not guarantee that we will honor your reservations.
In order to facilitate our procedures, please limit your carrying on.
Before taking off, please extinguish all smoldering resentments.

If you cannot understand English, you will be moved out of the way.
In the event of a loss, you’d better look out for yourself.
Your insurance was cancelled because we can no longer handle
your frightful claims. Our handlers lost your luggage and we
are unable to find the key to your legal case.

You were detained for interrogation because you fit the profile.
You are not presumed to be innocent if the police
have reason to suspect you are carrying a concealed wallet.
It’s not our fault you were born wearing a gang color.
It is not our obligation to inform you of your rights.

Step aside, please, while our officer inspects your bad attitude.
You have no rights we are bound to respect.
Please remain calm, or we can’t be held responsible
for what happens to you.


Date: 2002

By: Harryette Mullen (1953- )

Thursday, 25 April 2019

ANZAC Day by John Forbes

A certain cast to their features marked
the English going into battle, & then, that

glint in the Frenchman’s eye meant ‘Folks
clear the room!’ The Turks knew death

would take them to a paradise of sex
Islam reserves for its warrior dead

& the Scots had their music. The Germans
worshipped the State & Death, so for them

the Maximschlacht was almost a sacrament.
Recruiting posters made the Irish soldier

look like a saint on a holy card, soppy & pious,
the way the Yanks go on about their dead.

Not so the Australians, unamused, unimpressed
they went over the top like men clocking on,

in this first full-scale industrial war.
Which is why Anzac Day continues to move us,

& grow, despite attempts to make it
a media event (left to them we’d attend

‘The Foxtel Dawn Service’). But The March is
proof we got at least one thing right, informal,

straggling & more cheerful than not, it’s
like a huge works or 8 Hour Day picnic—

if we still had works, or unions, that is.


Date: 2002

By: John Forbes (1950-1998)

Saturday, 20 April 2019

La Coursier de Jeanne D’Arc by Linda McCarriston

You know that they burned her horse
before her. Though it is not recorded,
you know that they burned her Percheron
first, before her eyes, because you

know that story, so old that story,
the routine story, carried to its
extreme, of the cruelty that can make
of what a woman hears a silence,

that can make of what a woman sees
a lie. She had no son for them to burn,
for them to take from her in the world
not of her making and put to its pyre,

so they layered a greater one in front of
where she was staked to her own–
as you have seen her pictured sometimes,
her eyes raised to the sky. But they were

not raised. This is yet one of their lies.
They were not closed. Though her hands
were bound behind her, and her feet were
bound deep in what would become fire,

she watched. Of greenwood stakes
head-high and thicker than a man’s waist
they laced the narrow corral that would not
burn until flesh had burned, until

bone was burning, and laid it thick
with tinder–fatted wicks and sulphur,
kindling and logs–and ran a ramp
up to its height from where the gray horse

waited, his dapples making of his flesh
a living metal, layers of life
through which the light shone out
in places as it seems to through the flesh

of certain fish, a light she knew
as purest, coming, like that, from within.
Not flinching, not praying, she looked
the last time on the body she knew

better than the flesh of any man, or child,
or woman, having long since left the lap
of her mother–the chest with its
perfect plates of muscle, the neck

with its perfect, prow-like curve,
the hindquarters’–pistons–powerful cleft
pennoned with the silk of his tail.
Having ridden as they did together

–those places, that hard, that long–
their eyes found easiest that day
the way to each other, their bodies
wedded in a sacrament unmediated

by man. With fire they drove him
up the ramp and off into the pyre
and tossed the flame in with him.
This was the last chance they gave her

to recant her world, in which their power
came not from God. Unmoved, the Men
of God began watching him burn, and better,
watching her watch him burn, hearing

the long mad godlike trumpet of his terror,
his crashing in the wood, the groan
of stakes that held, the silverblack hide,
the pricked ears catching first

like driest bark, and the eyes.
and she knew, by this agony, that she
might choose to live still, if she would
but make her sign on the parchment

they would lay before her, which now
would include this new truth: that it
did not happen, this death in the circle,
the rearing, plunging, raging, the splendid

armour-colored head raised one last time
above the flames before they took him
–like any game untended on the spit–into
their yellow-green, their blackening red.


Date: 2002

By: Linda McCarriston (19??- )

Tuesday, 26 March 2019

Final Verse of “Mahābhārata” by Nannaya Bhattaraka

Autumn nights under the glowing canopy of stars,
dense with the wind-borne fragrance
of unfolding water lilies,
flooded with light white as camphor
flowing down from the moon,
and filled with sky.

From: Velcheru, Narayana Rao and Shulman, David (eds. and transls.), Classical Telugu Poetry: An Anthology, 2002, University of California Press: Berkeley, Los Angeles, London, p. 55.

Date: 11th century (original in Telugu); 2002 (translation in English)

By: Nannaya Bhattaraka (11th century)

Translated by: Narayana Rao Velcheru (1932- ) and David Dean Shulman (1949- )

Friday, 8 February 2019

Single Girl. One Room Flat by Lynn Collins Emanuel

Even the butter’s a block of sleazy light.
We see that first, as though we’re dreary guests come to dreary supper.
We’re at her table; its scrubbed deal is trim and lonely as a cot.
It’s food for one, and everything we’ve ever hated, here a plate of pallid
grays and whites is succotash—and chops are those dark shapes glaring up at us.
Are you going to eat this, we want to ask; she’s at the stove dishing up,
bricked up in that black apron reserved for maids and waitresses.
She’s still a servant. Even here. So she has to clean her plate.
It’s horrible to watch. Like the sad methodical rhythm of sobbing.
She pokes the bits of stuff into her mouth, and chews, and sips the glass of water
and stares at the power of the salt. The roll’s glued shut like a little box
with all that sticky butter. The whole meal’s so mechanical and chaste,
we wonder why she’s bothered. Is this all working gets you?
Worried and fed up we wander to the single window with its strict bang
of blind. Our eyes pick and fidget, scratch at the door like a dog wanting out.
The whole room looks shelved and flattened, a valise packed with nothing.
She’s at the bureau, now. Lining up the bobby pins. The room’s a gun stuck
in her back. Don’t move, it says. We look at the plate flanked by fork and spoon.
Even the scraps are neatly stacked. There’s nothing left. This wasn’t a meal,
it was a prayer. Mother, protect me. I’m one uncontrollable hunger away from ruin.


Date: 2002

By: Lynn Collins Emanuel (1949- )

Wednesday, 16 January 2019

A.N. to Niccolò de Facina of Vicenza, who suspected that she had not composed the poem she sent to him, but had borrowed it from elsewhere by Angela Nogarola

It does not please me to place others’ clothes
On my limbs and to circle my arms with another’s
Light feathers: I know the story of the painted crow.
Nor do I care to mount the praises for virtue
and to ascribe the laurels of the ancient poets to myself.
I have modesty and love of virtue and decorum of thought.
But no wonder moves my mind, that (the lines)
are not thought by anyone (?) to have been forged by my bellows
and are denied to have been made in my ancestral…
For the cohorts of women begin their practice,
because in modern times it is said no women has tasted
the Gorgons’ waters and heard the learned sisters,
But Nature, creator of all with equal reason,
you are said to form the male and female soul equally
and are accustomed to infuse them with equal minds.
Therefore, you do not need, O woman, to call on the ancient poets.
Nature’s gift has endowed both sexes.

From: Parker, Holt N., “Angela Nogarola (ca. 1400) and Isotta Nogarola (1418-1466): Thieves of Language” in Churchill, Laurie J., Brown, Phyllis R. and Jeffrey, Jane E., Women Writing Latin: From Roman Antiquity to Early Modern Europe, Volume 3, Early Modern Women Writing Latin, 2002, Routledge: New York, p. 25.

Date: c1400 (original in Latin); 2002 (translation in English)

By: Angela Nogarola (1380-1436)

Translated by: Holt N. Parker (1956- )

Saturday, 5 January 2019

Listen, People of This House by Iseabail Ní Mheic Cailéin

Listen, people of this house,
to the tale of the powerful penis
which has made my heart greedy.
I will write some of the tale.

Although many beautiful tree-like penises
have been in the time before,
this man of the religious order
has a penis so big and rigid.

The penis of my household priest,
although it is so long and firm,
the thickness of his manhood
has not been heard of for a long time.

That thick drill of his,
and it is no word of a lie,
never has its thickness been heard of
or a larger penis.


Date: 1500 (original in Gaelic); 2002 (translation in English)

By: Iseabail Ní Mheic Cailéin (fl. 1500)

Translated by: Malcolm Maclean (19??- ) and Theo Dorgan (1953- )

Friday, 14 December 2018

The Story of Light by Peggy Shumaker

Think of the woman who first touched fire
to a hollow stone filled with seal oil,
how she fiddled with fuel and flame
until blue shadows before and after her
filled her house, crowded
the underground, then
fled like sky-captains
chasing the aurora’s whale tale
green beyond the earth’s curve.
Her tenth summer, the elders let her
raise her issum, seal pup orphaned
when hunters brought in her mother,
their grins of plenty
broad, red. The women
slit the hard belly.
Plopped among the ruby innards
steaming on rough-cut planks
blinked a new sea-child
whose first sound
came out a question
in the old language, a question
that in one throaty bark
asked who, meaning What family
is this? What comfort
do you provide for guests?
Do you let strangers remain
strangers? The women rinsed the slick pup
in cool water, crafted a pouch
for her to suck. Then the young girl
whose hands held light
even when the room did not
brought this new being
beside her bed, let it scatter
babiche and split birch
gathered for snowshoes, let it
nose the caribou neck hairs
bearding her dance fans. They
held up the fans to their foreheads,
playing white hair, playing old.
In the time when women do not sew
the seal danced at her first potlatch.
And when the lamps burned down,
no one could see
any difference between waves
in rock, waves in sea.
The pup lifted her nose, licked
salt from seven stars, and slipped
light back among silvers and chum
light among the ghostly belugas
swimming far north to offer themselves.


Date: 2002

By: Peggy Shumaker (19??- )

Monday, 20 November 2017

Dollar Bill by Michael Chitwood

Small-town AM station,
morning show,
still doing a gospel number every hour.
Who’s listening?
Bacon tenders, baby sitters.
He yucks it up for the insurance office crew,
the stop-in, mini-mart gas shacks.
He’s on the counter at The Hub,
talking coffee cups up and down.
A clown, a daily goofball,
regular as sunup and death,
he reads the obits from the local paper
and sometimes adds a personal note.
Even the disembodied here have an anecdote.
Dashboard and countertop,
new tunes and same old same old,
beer on sale, car tires, paint,
link sausage, the grind and groove
of tune. We’re coming up on noon.
Outside, in the parking lot, sparrows bathe
in the dust. Empires rise and fall. He’ll notice
and say nothing of it on the air.


Date: 2002

By: Michael Chitwood (1958- )

Sunday, 3 September 2017

Feathering Wheels by Jean Hollander

Steam driven, the old river boat
pounds up the night-lit stream,
each turn of its feathering wheel
a cataract of splintered moons.

There is a kind of cormorant
called cataract, plummets
falls straight on his prey
in a glory of blood.

A flash at the edge of the cornea—
firewheel of northern lights,
is the opening to a cataract—
a rush of vitreous humor

down the rockfall eye,
like waters falling down steep
cataracts dash into fringed
streamers of feather-wheeled light.


Date: 2002

By: Jean Hollander (1928- )