Posts tagged ‘2010’

Monday, 6 January 2020

Following the Fires by Geoffrey Donald Page

Let’s not think about the dead,
the photos unreleased,

or what the constable or fireman
saw beneath a twist of iron.

Let’s think about the houses only,
that shouldn’t be so hard,

or maybe just a single house
collapsing into ash.

Let’s look into the special places,
the hardwood floor with cat in winter

following the sun,
the bedroom freshly done in yellow

waiting for the baby,
the well-scratched slab of kitchen oak

where children fifty years before
had struggled with their maths,

where once a new wife found herself
tilted back against it,

some dinner-party indiscretion,
the master bedroom with its secrets,

the picture windows full of forest
shifting in the wind.

An architect may have the plan
but it cannot be built again.

There’d be no sort of human wear,
the old bed angled roughly in

and rubbed along a wall,
the hairline crack in gyprock

that broke instead of bones,
following a late-night fracas

the neighbours must have heard
away up there beyond the creek,

half-hidden in the trees.
Consider, too, the bellied stove,

its late-night reds and yellows,
watched by two who still recall

a long, slow, soft-edged cabernet
one April night that changed their lives.

And, on a shelf, the photograph
dressed for World War Two

that no-one thought to copy.
Or send your gaze around the room

belonging to the son, aged four,
that private disarray of toys,

fled from in a minute,
not scattered through the years.

So let’s not think about the bodies
burned beyond their DNA,

beyond the shadow of their names.
Let’s think about the houses only,

or just a single home.
Consider what the pinewood, plaster,

housebricks and conceded glass
took with them through the flames.

From: Page, Geoff, “Following the Fires” in Meanjin, Vol. 69, No. 1, Autumn 2010, pp. 234-235.

Date: 2010

By: Geoffrey Donald Page ( 1940- )

Tuesday, 31 December 2019

Two Gates by Denise Low

I look through glass and see a young woman
of twenty, washing dishes, and the window
turns into a painting. She is myself thirty years ago.
She holds the same blue bowls and brass teapot
I still own. I see her outline against lamplight;
she knows only her side of the pane. The porch
where I stand is empty. Sunlight fades. I hear
water run in the sink as she lowers her head,
blind to the future. She does not imagine I exist.

I step forward for a better look and she dissolves
into lumber and paint. A gate I passed through
to the next life loses shape. Once more I stand
squared into the present, among maple trees
and scissor-tailed birds, in a garden, almost
a mother to that faint, distant woman.


Date: 2010

By: Denise Low (1949- )

Friday, 27 December 2019

On the Thirteenth Day of Christmas My True Love Phoned Me Up . . . by Dave Calder

Well, I suppose I should be grateful, you’ve obviously gone
to a lot of trouble and expense – or maybe off your head.
Yes, I did like the birds – the small ones anyway were fun
if rather messy, but now the hens have roosted on my bed
and the rest are nested on the wardrobe. It’s hard to sleep
with all that cooing, let alone the cackling of the geese
whose eggs are everywhere, but mostly in a broken smelly heap
on the sofa. No, why should I mind? I can’t get any peace
anywhere – the lounge is full of drummers thumping tom-toms
and sprawling lords crashed out from manic leaping. The
kitchen is crammed with cows and milkmaids and smells of a million stink-bombs
and enough sour milk to last a year. The pipers? I’d forgotten them –
they were no trouble, I paid them and they went. But I can’t get rid
of these young ladies. They won’t stop dancing or turn the music down
and they’re always in the bathroom, squealing as they skid
across the flooded floor. No, I don’t need a plumber round,
it’s just the swans – where else can they swim? Poor things,
I think they’re going mad, like me. When I went to wash my
hands one ate the soap, another swallowed the gold rings.
And the pear tree died. Too dry. So thanks for nothing, love. Goodbye.

From: Calder, Dave, A Big Bunch of Poems, 2010, Other Publications, Liverpool, p. [unnumbered]

Date: 2010

By: Dave Calder (19??- )

Monday, 16 December 2019

The Lake of Memories by Howard Altmann

Voices sit
like broken chairs
in a room.

A room stands
for the ceremony
of impermanence.

Impermanence cracks
the façade
of self.

The self builds
its walls
of healing.

Healing frames
the house
of wounds.

Wounds bridge
darkness and light
over time.

Time winds through
the lake of memories
in frozen tongue.


Date: 2010

By: Howard Altmann (19??- )

Sunday, 8 December 2019

Lost by Stephen J. Dobyns

A cry was heard among the trees,
not a man’s, something deeper.
The forest extended up one side
the mountain and down the other.
None wanted to ask what had made
the cry. A bird, one wanted to say,
although he knew it wasn’t a bird.
The sun climbed to the mountaintop,
and slid back down the other side.
The black treetops against the sky
were like teeth on a saw. They waited
for it to come a second time. It’s lost,
one said. Each thought of being lost
and all the years that stretched behind.
Where had wrong turns been made?
Soon the cry came again. Closer now.


Date: 2010

By: Stephen J. Dobyns (1941- )

Thursday, 19 September 2019

Goodbye My Fancy by Douglas A. Powell

For years now, we’ve been crisscrossing
this same largesse of valley.
It has provided for us, plenty. You’ve been
my homoerotic sidekick, Bryan.
Excuse me. Ryan. There. You see?
I am promiscuous with even my own wit.
& I can never keep you straight.

All the boys of recent memory
have been like this: accomplice,
adjutant, aide-de-camp.

I should just toss you my thesaurus.
There are words for the kind
of love we have,
though none of them quite suffice.
Well. Why be verbose?
This is—to put it quite demotic—
how we roll.

Whether stopping off in Stanislaus
so I could nibble me some ribs,
or taking the back road up to Dixon
for your taste of hot tamale,
we’ve served each other well.
Oh, we’re a fine pair.
We also know exactly what to order.

Eventually, they kick us out
at the Silver Dollar Saloon.
Buck up, my little buckaroo.
Every Western ends this way:
Sunset. Chaps.
The valley’s just like San Francisco,
but without so many kissers.

The warbler has two notes
that he prefers from all his repertoire.
But there are others he reserves
for loftier joys, profound sadness,
as well as his most savage flights of fancy.

These he also reserves for you.


Date: 2010

By: Douglas A. Powell (1963- )

Friday, 30 August 2019

Stone by Nick Makoha

The best thing I did was
move my body from one side of the world
to the other. This required a visa
which required a bribe.

The bribe placed in the palm
of a man with a gun,
took my mother’s monthly wage packet.
The man with a gun

let you speak to a clerk.
He too wanted a wage
because it would be his job
to have words with a judge

for another month’s salary.
The official wanted his bribe
so listened to the clerk
escorted by the soldier as he held his gun.

As I sat with my mother
at the steps of the court
drinking soda waiting
for one man to say yes, my mother said

In Uganda a bribe stops men
doing nothing. It rolls away the stone.
Her sips were slower than mine,
each separated by this prayer.


Date: 2010

By: Nick Makoha (1974- )

Friday, 9 August 2019

Pap by Carolyn Creedon

The whole thing was necessary. But for me,
up here on the third floor, each nerve
every day already humming down each synapse
give me valium like prisoners banging their trays,
a song on steel, it was hardly the thing.
But it was what to do, and needed, the goddamn
deck was falling to pieces, rotted from the inside
out so that each day I listen to the workers walk through
my living room, all whistles and Budweisers and dusty
boots, and hammers and miter-saws that dive in
like bees, and it really was necessary, what shouldn’t have
been there, what is rotting, or written on a womb like
a word, or a doctor’s number a year ago on a card
I never called, whose name I don’t remember
though he went right through me but didn’t get it
all, sewed me crooked, washed me almost clean
like a dress with a wine stain, or a sweater in danger
from one loose thread. It really was necessary. I miss
that goddamn deck. I want to ask you if you miss it
out of me, if I am the same, if I am still necessary, if
I am still here. I sing something half-remembered to drown
the sounds of the men and the saws and all the things that are
almost all there. I sing to sink the wreck.

From: Creedon, Carolyn. “Pap.” The Massachusetts Review, vol. 51, no. 3, 2010, pp. 561–561. JSTOR,

Date: 2010

By: Carolyn Creedon (1969- )

Thursday, 8 August 2019

Sorrows of Moraima by Shadab Zeest Hashmi

And so she is wed
in her plain mantilla,
the stoic vezir’s
sixteen-year old Moraima*
to Abu-abdallah, rey el chico.
She has three times as many sorrows as you,
lone cypress with the bent torso!
I watch her burn before she has bloomed.
I, the window they call
the eyes of Ayesha.
I, myself a gaping book waiting to be written,
watch her pace through white corridors,
reading passages between
the hissing walls.
A husband at war, a child taken captive,
all day she digs for a window.
All the while I let in common sparrows,
twigs, pollen, arrows of winter rain,
she is behind deaf carmen walls
in the city below
shut away from this, her palace.
Three times your sorrows, broken cypress.

*Notes: Moraima, wife of the last Muslim emperor of Granada (Al Andalus), suffered imprisonment and exile when Spain fell to Castilian rule (1492). The speaker of the poem is a window known as “Ain al Ayesha” or “the eyes of Ayesha” in the Alhamra palace. The window overlooked the city of Albaicin where Moraima was imprisoned.


Date: 2010

By: Shadab Zeest Hashmi (1972- )

Wednesday, 3 July 2019

Of the Parrat and Other Birds that Can Speake by Nick Lantz

It is for certain knowne that they have died for very anger and griefe that they could not learn to pronounce some hard words.—Pliny the Elder

When you buy the bird for your mother
you hope it will talk to her. But weeks pass
before it does anything except pluck the bars
with its beak. Then one day it says, “infect.”

Your mother tells you this on the phone,
and you drive over, find the frozen meals
you bought for her last week sweating
on the countertop. “In fact,” she says

in answer to your question, “I have been
eating,” and it’s as you point to the empty
trash can, the spotless dishes, that you
realize the bird is only saying, “in fact,”

that this is now the preamble to all
of your mother’s lies. “In fact,” she says,
“I have been paying the bills,” and you
believe her until you find a cache

of unopened envelopes in the freezer.
More things are showing up where
they shouldn’t. Looking out the back
window one evening you see craters

in her yard. While she’s watching TV,
you go out with a trowel and excavate
picture frames, flatware that looks like
the silver bones of some exquisite

animal. You worry when you arrive
one day and see the open, empty cage
that you will find the bird dead, stuffed
in an oven mitt and left in a drawer,

but you find it sitting on her shoulder
in the kitchen. “In fact,” she says,
“he learned to open the cage himself.”
The bird learns new words. You learn

which lies you can ignore. The stroke
that kills her gives no warning, not—
the doctor assures you—that anyone
can predict such things. When you

drive home that night with the cage
belted into the passenger seat, the bird
makes a sound that is not a word
but that you immediately recognize

as the sound of your mother’s phone
ringing, and you know it is the sound
of you calling her again and again,
the sound of her not answering.


Date: 2010

By: Nick Lantz (19??- )