Posts tagged ‘2008’

Sunday, 8 May 2022

The Witnesses by Julia Fay Rosefield “Fay” Zwicky

This morning, stirred beneath the agitation of rain
came three white-collar magpies to my lawn.
Jehovah’s Witness-like they knocked
they knocked upon my window pane,
stood black demanding entrance. I held my ground
but they were smart and oh-so-keen,
so upright, firm they pushed their song at me,
surprised my shrinking soul.

‘Spare my breath,’ I said, ‘you’ve fangled
on my lawn all night. Enough’s enough.
What more have you to tell me?’
‘O foolish pale and puny earthling,
save your wit—our glamorous warbling
has unlocked the last old secrets of the soul.
Go warm your winters fast against the
rising dark, the setting sun,
the climbing moon, the mourning grasses
and the chill of dusk.’

From: https://poetryarchive.org/poem/witnesses/

Date: 2008

By: Julia Fay Rosefield “Fay” Zwicky (1933-2017)

Tuesday, 8 February 2022

The Last Days by Jayne Pupek

We were all targets then, even without knowing
what was bearing down on us. At first,
the only signs we noticed: the way
the stars dimmed and the hills
paled, how everything turned
celery green. The bark shed from trees
like sunburned skin. Overhead,
the sky went from blue to gunmetal gray,
the clouds hardened like pieces of agate.
The sulphur smell permeated our hair
and clothes, the first layers of our skin.
The veins running through our bodies
thickened and swelled as if
our blood had congealed like plastic.
We had never been so cold or lonely.
Hunger was an ugly thing.
We remembered the field where we’d
played as children, and later embraced
as lovers, consumed by the plains
and recesses that made our bodies new.
We go there now, stepping over the dead
and dying. We make our way along
the ash-covered slope until we find again
the open cistern holding the last clean rain.
Against our losses, it is memory that sustains us:
once upon a time, we were minnows
circling each other’s bodies in a shallow pool.

From: https://www.eclectica.org/v12n3/pupek.html

Date: 2008

By: Jayne Pupek (1962-2010)

Monday, 25 October 2021

Ghost Prisoner by Heid Ellen Erdrich

This prisoner and other “ghost detainees” were hidden largely to prevent the International Committee of the Red Cross from monitoring their treatment and conditions, officials said.
—“Rumsfeld Ordered Iraqi Suspect Held as ‘Ghost’ Prisoner,”
San Francisco Chronicle, June 17, 2004

The ghost prisoner, a murderer,
wishes he was invisible, sheer air,
already dead. His narrow bed
washes him away to dream escape
through holy gaps that open
in the grin of his small son.
Lost teeth offer him a freedom
so absurd he wakes and laughs.

No one hears the ghost prisoner.
Whether he groans or bears stoically
what instruments we’ve paid to play
this march toward a freedom so absurd
we wake and silently shake our heads.
We do not speak ill of the dead.

The ghost prisoner, still murderer,
wishes he was visible, fiery air,
rallying the dead. His narrow cell
just the place for prayer. Holy, holy,
a ghost’s revenge pushed through gaps
in his own gashed mouth, a curse
so absurd, he wakes to its howl.

No one says his name, his crimes,
how many jolts it took to resurrect
him as a betrayer of insurrection,
paying for freedom’s ring.

We do not want to know what it took.
We’d rather not speak the dead ill.
We do not want to know what it took
to make him wish he were dead still.

From: https://www.poetryfoundation.org/poems/88989/ghost-prisoner

Date: 2008

By: Heid Ellen Erdrich (1963- )

Sunday, 17 January 2021

Oracular by Maxine Chernoff

“It is all a Tree.”–Thomas Carlyle

By making things rare, we create an elite:
in the Sudan, how a chicken
is poisoned for divination.

Jung’s dream of the wings of a house —
I misread as a house with wings —
“the distorted notions of invisible things.”

Let us speak of what we haven’t seen,
the light that fills the room or
page on which words float like clouds.

How conscience gets extinguished
with threadbare slogans.
Let us now praise embryonic growth,

One thousand poems about the same cathedral,
fixations and ruses, earth-worn objects
and those who love them.

From: http://jacketmagazine.com/36/chernoff-3p.shtml

Date: 2008

By: Maxine Chernoff (1952- )

Wednesday, 21 October 2020

My Rain by Beckian Fritz Goldberg

I vowed not to come back
until the world was clean
the day a mirror in which the coyote
could see the shortfalls
of his breath, the trees sucked
dry by desert mistletoe.

When they tried
to wake me I said no.
I meant, Leave me

snug in my own rain, I
meant to say brain but liked
the way it came out or

didn’t because I only thought
and was too at home to make
a sound.  The greenest
butterfly was my best

hallucination.   It loved
bedtime, sports, and remorseful
children.  Yes, I’m afraid no one

will hear me.  Look for me.
Balance the budget or
remember the last war. I swore
not to return, to look for heaven,
the whole, the state of enlightenment,

while the gray stems were lavender
and headless by January, the brittlebush,
the tub of garbage
javelina overturn at night,
full of eggs and grounds
and cans, the names
we give to time.

From: http://www.diodepoetry.com/v2n1/content/goldberg_bf.html

Date: 2008

By: Beckian Fritz Goldberg (1954- )

Thursday, 15 October 2020

Song by Castelloza

Friend, if I found you gracious, fair,
Candid and humble, full or virtuousness,
How I would love you! But, alas, far less
I find you now: so fell, so cruel to me.
Yet do I sing, to let the wide world know
How virtuous you could be; for I would show
That praised would be your virtue everywhere,
Though you bestow me naught but pain and care.

I shall not deem you debonair
Nor, faithful-hearted, my true love profess
Unless, first, I pronounce how fickley, yes,
How faithless is your heart!… Nay, verily,
Best I think better, lest I too be so
Heartless and faithless unto you—although
So are you unto me!—and lest I bear
Your wrath, should I your slightest wrong declare.

Well do I do; but well aware
Am I that one and all claim we transgress,
Who bare our heart and jabber to excess
Our bane and bale unto our swains. But he
Who judges so, judges us ill; for, no!
Rather than die, I would prove, à propos,
That I much comfort feel when, in my prayer,
I pray to him who causes my despair.

Passing daft must one be to dare
Say I ought love you not, nor acquiesce
To love’s demands: he knows not my distress,
Nor knows what cheer was mine when I could see
You there before me, telling me that, lo!
Done would my dolor be, undone my woe;
That love for me, once more, might bring you there:
Ah! promise of a joy beyond compare!

All other loves do I foreswear.
None else consoles me in my dire duress,
Nor brings me solacy; yours would I possess,
And yours alone, to ease my misery…
But, friend, I cannot change you; and I go
On yearning, hoping, dreaming of the beau
You will not be! Where isd your love? Oh, where
But in my sleep, that love I fain would share?

I fear I will no better fare,
Nor can, in other wise, my dole express;
For, ceaseless, have I tried, with no success,
Fair means and foul to thwart your cruelty.
This message do I send you—this canso
Writ in my words, my very own. But, oh!
If die I must, yours be the blame! Beware:
Yours, the sin; mine, the woe without repair.

From: Shapiro, Norman R.; Krueger, Roberta L.; LaFarge Catherine and Perry, Catherine, Freench Women Poets of Nine Centuries: The Distaff and the Pen, 2008,  The John Hopkins University Press: Baltimore, Maryland, pp: 65-67.
(https://books.google.com.au/books?id=ScCsMt710ZwC

Date: 13th century (original in Occitan); 2008 (translation in English)

By: Castelloza (13th century)

Translated by: Norman R. Shapiro (19??- )

Wednesday, 29 July 2020

The Heart’s Laboratory by Stephen Oliver

You must read words
to be reminded of them.

Left alone they are rabble, argumentative, a calm
or crazy half-remembered message
of some forgotten incident,
or people.

Whatever heart you have visited,
someone passed that way before.

Silk road of remembrance.

How humanizing it is to half-turn and glimpse –
as if to say,
‘Trust me, again’.

The small discoveries one makes of the moment
are soon forgotten – deafened

by the blood’s quiet tumult,
that roar in the ears via the heart’s laboratory.

A plane-shadow snatches a tree; Autumn

From: Oliver, Stephen, “The Heart’s Laboratory” in Snorkel, No.7, 2008.
(https://webarchive.nla.gov.au/awa/20080521224553/http://pandora.nla.gov.au/pan/84567/20080522-0833/www.snorkel.org.au/002/oliver.html)

Date: 2008

By: Stephen Oliver (1950- )

Monday, 20 April 2020

The Story of Madame Chevalier by Ciaran Carson

You remember the Incredible Shrinking Man? I said.
Well, last night I dreamed I was him. It began the same way.

The shirt cuffs were the first thing that came to my attention,
drooping down over my knuckles in the bedroom mirror.

And my waistband and shoes were getting looser by the day.
Within weeks you could perch me on your knee like a male doll.

Later you would put me to bed in the empty matchbox.
You failed to watch for the spider that came to explore me.

I fought her with a darning needle, a button my shield.
She retreated from me on a thread. I followed her down

to the cellar. How I made my way back I’ll never know.
It took me days to travel over the quilt to your hand.

No longer a hand but an Alpine range of sleeping flesh.
I crawled into an open pore and entered your bloodstream.

From: https://www.poetryfoundation.org/poems/55594/the-story-of-madame-chevalier

Date: 2008

By: Ciaran Carson (1948-2019)

Monday, 16 March 2020

Ceasefire by Simon Ó Faoláin

Come down, dismount your piebald pony,
Leave cloud of doubt and halo of fury,
And I’ll lay aside prejudice’s helmet.

Do you know me now, dark glowering man,
Or do we all look much the same in your eyes?
On the edge of Kilmallock you pulled a knife.

And although the point was turned on me,
It was as though you could not see,
It was as though you fought with shadows.

And although your hand controlled the hilt,
I felt like a surgeon observing a reflex,
For the knife was your answer to all your ills.

I never wish to deny free will,
But who can deny conditioning
Instils salivation in dogs and men?

Yet might both of us pull out of Pavlov’s disease
And see the face behind the mask,
No cloud or halo, no helmet or knife?

From: https://www.poetryinternational.org/pi/poem/22531/auto/0/0/Simon-O-Faolain/Ceasefire/en/tile

Date: 2008 (original in Irish); 2008 (translation in English)

By: Simon Ó Faoláin (1973- )

Translated by: Simon Ó Faoláin (1973- )

Wednesday, 11 March 2020

Quarantine by Eavan Boland

In the worst hour of the worst season
of the worst year of a whole people
a man set out from the workhouse with his wife.
He was walking – they were both walking – north.

She was sick with famine fever and could not keep up.
He lifted her and put her on his back.
He walked like that west and west and north.
Until at nightfall under freezing stars they arrived.

In the morning they were both found dead.
Of cold. Of hunger. Of the toxins of a whole history.
But her feet were held against his breastbone.
The last heat of his flesh was his last gift to her.

Let no love poem ever come to this threshold.
There is no place here for the inexact
praise of the easy graces and sensuality of the body.
There is only time for this merciless inventory:

Their death together in the winter of 1847.
Also what they suffered. How they lived.
And what there is between a man and woman.
And in which darkness it can best be proved.

From: http://poem-of-the-week.blogspot.com/2008/05/quarantine-by-eavan-boland.html

Date: 2008

By: Eavan Boland (1944- )