Posts tagged ‘2003’

Monday, 19 November 2018

War on Language by Marian Spires

They say:
Truth is the first casualty of war
they are wrong
it is Language

Language goes AWOL when the first shot is fired

Language is packing its bags
it’s heading for the border
looking over its shoulder
nervously checking its papers
will it pass go or
be monopolised
compromised again

Language is waiting in transit
hiding in the hold of a leaking ship
anxious to leave the violence behind
Language knows it will be tortured
if it returns home ˆ it can never return home
Language will risk word smugglers

Language is a refugee
made illegal by circumstance
Language is being detained behind a cyclone fence
it is being held against its will

Language doesn’t know who it can trust anymore
it was rescued and escaped in a mini-bus
then left to fend for itself in a desert of concerned onlookers
all holding remote controls and ready to switch channels

Language has a secret
It knows how quickly
a disturbance becomes an intervention
how overnight it can change from
a local police action
to a global reaction
to first strike and zero tolerance

There is a war on Language.


Date: 2003

By: Marian Spire (19??- )

Friday, 16 November 2018

Thinking Things Through by Jorie Manefield Ryan

Can we think
a thousand times before we kill
the other in the name of power
or land or ideology?

And after we have thought a thousand times,
written down the reasons,
met with friends to test our cause,
renewed the guns and missiles,
cleaned off the button;
when we have stored up food and water
for a siege, sent the children
to a safer place,
shored up bunkers in backyards,
built new ones near the mint,
thought of hero as someone
convulsed and martyred in the mud,
committed maps to memory,
studied up on ciphers, invented
a new history of disease
and buried the family jewels
to foil the looters;
once we have tolled the bells
and prayed our guttural prayers
for the spirit to be named for us;
sent factories into overtime to make the braids
and uniforms, the medals
to decorate the ones who can return,
confused shelling peas with houses,
small kingdoms crushed;
after we check procedures
for the treatment of fallout
from that most unnatural cloud,
and persuaded our young
that it is just to fight this way,
an adventure, safe, no hand to hand;

when we have done these things
and more, could we think
a thousand times again?


Date: 2003

By: Jorie Manefield Ryan (19??- )

Thursday, 17 May 2018

This Leaky, Tumbledown by Saigyō Hōshi (Satō Norikiyo)

This leaky, tumbledown
grass hut left an opening for the moon,
and I gazed at it
all the while it was mirrored
in a teardrop fallen on my sleeve.

From: LaFleur, William R. (ed. and transl.) Awesome Nightfall: The Life, Times, and Poetry of Saigyō, 2012, Wisdom Publications: Boston, p. 86.

Date: 12th century (original in Japanese); 2003 (translation in English)

By: Saigyō Hōshi (Satō Norikiyo) (1118-1190)

Translated by: William R. LaFleur (1936-2010)

Saturday, 30 December 2017

Castaway by Margaret Daphne Scott

Sometimes a neighbour’s look, a post-card, a telephone call
will carry you up the shore of another life
and leave you gaping amazed at sudden jungle
a world away from the dolorous desk
the spruce back-yard, the brick-and-tile in Rosebud.
This glimmering shade’s cacophonous with
unfamiliar names of long-dead pets and teachers,
side-streets in distant cities and faithless lovers.
The canopy’s alive with flitting shapes unknown
beyond the confines of this island.
Here is the castaway’s camp, his palisade,
contrivances he’s fashioned year by year,
stores he saved from the wreck of his old ship
before it sank from sight beyond the reef.
Fragments of once-proud sails now patch his roof.
A saw, a pannikin hang by the bed
where every day he wakes alone at dawn
to a view of mountains. Those peaks rise
over the trees in a blue scrawl whose message
you seem to have read from a different angle
on the wall of sky to the east of your own island.


Date: 2003

By: Margaret Daphne Scott (1934-2005)

Tuesday, 27 September 2016

Quietus by Ranjit Hoskote

Silence is clean, a frigate leaving a harbour
with no siren wailing.

Silence is a tureen that needs no scouring
for the last stains of grammar.

Silence is fire,
a threat with no reprieve.

Silence is a panther
that stalks us through jade eyes.


Date: 2003

By: Ranjit Hoskote (1969- )

Wednesday, 27 July 2016

The Skeleton’s Defense of Carnality by Jack Foley

Truly I have lost weight, I have
lost weight,
grown lean in love’s defense,
in love’s defense grown grave.
It was concupiscence
that brought me to the state:
all bone and a bit of skin
to keep the bone within.

Flesh is no heavy burden
for one possessed of little
and accustomed to its loss.
I lean to love, which leaves me lean
till lean turn into lack.

A wanton bone, I sing my song
and travel where the bone is blown
and extricate true love from lust
as any man of wisdom must.

Then wherefore should I rage
against this pilgrimage
from gravel unto gravel?
Circuitous I travel
from love to lack
and lack to lack,
from lean to lack
and back.


Date: 2003

By: Jack Foley (1940- )

Saturday, 2 January 2016

Storyteller by Marcus Slease

Relatives bring her brochure after brochure with pictures
of chartered boats, bronze men, fire dancing, neon drinks.
But she won’t leave the empty aquarium beside her bed.

When she was twenty she rode all over Belfast, dropping
into party after party with an erotic squint that made
all the college boys sit up in their seats.

When she walked into a room all the gum-smackers stopped smacking,
all the bent heads looked up, and the disco tunes stopped spinning.
Everyone leaned forward, waiting for her latest made-up story.

She always had our attention. During one of the worst hailstorms
in Belfast history she made us run through the streets with brooms
and penny whistles, shouting out messages of free love, seizing the night
by its throat. She was more woman than any of us knew how to handle.

Thirty years later and she reclines in her bed, pill after pill
in the palm of her hand. Sometimes her eyes seem to say yes
again to the full tilt, the marrowed life. But she only slobbers
some story about her lizards, how she must recapture them,
but they keep slipping, their tails breaking in her hands.


Date: 2003

By: Marcus Slease (1974- )

Sunday, 9 August 2015

To the Vagina by Gwerful Mechain

Every poet, drunken fool
Thinks he’s just the king of cool,
(Every one is such a boor,
He makes me sick, I’m so demure),
He always declaims fruitless praise
Of all the girls in his male gaze.
He’s at it all day long, by God,
Omitting the best bit, silly sod:
He praises the hair, gown of fine love,
And all the girl’s bits up above,
Even lower down he praises merrily
The eyes which glance so sexily;
Daring more, he extols the lovely shape
Of the soft breasts which leave him all agape,
And the beauty’s arms, bright drape,
Even her perfect hands do not escape.
Then with his finest magic
Before night falls, it’s tragic,
He pays homage to God’s might,
An empty eulogy: it’s not quite right:
For he’s left the girl’s middle unpraised,
That place where children are upraised,
The warm bright quim he does not sing,
That tender, plump, pulsating broken ring,
That’s the place I love, the place I bless,
The hidden quim below the dress.
You female body, you’re strong and fair,
A faultless, fleshy court plumed with hair.
I proclaim that the quim is fine,
Circle of broad-edged lips divine,
It’s a valley, longer than a spoon or hand,
A cwm to hold a penis strong and grand;
A vagina there by the swelling bum,
Two lines of red to song must come.
And the churchmen all, the radiant saints,
When they get the chance, have no restraints,
They never fail their chance to steal,
By Saint Beuno, to give it a good feel.
So I hope you feel well and truly told off,
All you proud male poets, you dare not scoff,
Let songs to the quim grow and thrive
Find their due reward and survive.
For it is silky soft, the sultan of an ode,
A little seam, a curtain on a hole bestowed,
Neat flaps in a place of meeting,
The sour grove, circle of greeting,
Superb forest, faultless gift to squeeze,
Fur for a fine pair of balls, tender frieze,
A girl’s thick glade, it is full of love,
Lovely bush, blessed be it by God above.

From: Gramich, Katie, Orality and Morality: Early Welsh Women’s Poetry, 2005, Cardiff University: Cardiff, pp. 8-9.

Date: c1480 (original in Welsh); 2003 (translation in English)

By: Gwerful Mechain (?1462-1500)

Translated by: Katie Gramich (19??- )

Tuesday, 9 December 2014

Shanty on a Lot Vacated by a Bank by Marne L. Kilates

As if overnight the universe decided
The mighty high-rise must return to dust.
At least it was a boardroom verdict dictated:
“In real estate we could no longer trust.”

And so it came to pass, Ortigas was
Minus one tower, and in its place a hole
In the sky: “Ghost of the house of Midas—
Money’s end leaves a hole in our soul.”

But life goes on and more real was the pit
Left by the foundations: at its edge had sprung
Up the shack of the last worker who won’t quit
After the demolition. And so there it hung

By the lip of the swamp: ramshackle entity
Rising, reigning: Shanty Shanty Shanty


Date: 2003

By: Marne L. Kilates (1952- )

Friday, 15 August 2014

Reception for a Friend on his Arrival in Panama by Eunice Odio

I follow him
and anticipate his voice
because like mist
in uninhabited places
I have a watercolor vocation.

Tell me
how are the market goods there:

swallow-shaped bells.

Apart from this,

And without looking at him
I ask

about geological mangos
bordering him with pulp

and about a new river

with cities of sound
and the Archangel’s longitude.

Tell me as well about the small coast
where recently the day,
like a heavenly two-headed animal,
camped in two aquariums
and filled with fish.

Tell me if the trees welcomed you unanimously
like the time they elected the year’s first lark
and the day of flowering.

Summarize it all now that I tremble
so gently
behind a swallow,

now that they offer me publically
for a butterfly nude

and I am like the roses
unsettling the air.


Date: 1952 (original); 2003 (translated)

By: Eunice Odio (1919-1974)

Translated by: Keith Ekiss (19??- ) and Sonia P. Ticas (19??- )