Posts tagged ‘2011’

Thursday, 7 November 2019

Reflections on the Sparrow by Celia Gilbert

Matins in the morning and evensong at dusk,
in French called moineaux: little monks, shabby, humble,
more than a bit agitated, twittering prayers
as if time were running out to save the world;
not too proud to forage in the dust,
certain that God looks out
for each and every one
for he takes care of his own.

Lear complains “The lecherous sparrows do couple in my sight.”

They rear three broods in a season,
invade other nests,
attack chickadee, thrush, and robin.

“Who killed Cock Robin?”
“I,” said the sparrow,
I shot him with my little bow and arrow.”

If I were a shaman I would take the sparrow’s cloak,
brown and coca buff,
and whirl and whirl about,
my black eye no bigger than
a pepper seed over my curved beak,
and I would dance the dance of humility and lust,
of friendship and enmity,
I, my chest pounding,
I, in my lowly, kingly robes.


Date: 2011

By: Celia Gilbert (1932- )

Thursday, 26 September 2019

Night Work by Rowyda Amin

From your bed, noctilucent paths
are rambling, one of which could lead
through the Tudor knot of yew hedge
to that rose arbour at its centre
where white-slippered sleep is breathing.

Simple to untangle one path after the next
if you still had all night, but fat mice
are eating through the blue and green wool
with which the maze is tapestried.

Though tawny owls, silver-beaked, dive
to unpick the plump bodies, bursting
every pink and yellow cross-stitch,
you’re still awake at dawn, tattered
in your threadbare nest of bones.


Date: 2011

By: Rowyda Amin (19??- )

Wednesday, 28 August 2019

To Poems by Arseny Alexandrovich Tarkosky

My poems: fledglings, heirs,
Plaintiffs and executors,
The silent ones, the loud,
The humble and the proud.

As soon as the shovel of time
Threw me onto the potter’s wheel—
Myself without kith or kin—
I grew beneath the hand, a miracle.

Something stretched out my long neck
And hollowed round my soul
And marked on my back
Legends of flowers and leaves.

I stoked the birch in the fire
As Daniel commanded
And blessed my red temper
Until I spoke as a prophet.

I had long been the earth—
Arid, ochre, forlorn since birth—
But you fell on my chest by chance
From beaks of birds, from eyes of grass.


Date: 1983 (original in Russian); 2011 (translation in English)

By: Arseny Alexandrovich Tarkovsky (1907-1989)

Translated by: Philip J. Metres III (1970- )

Saturday, 3 August 2019

Love Song by Sinéad Morrissey

I see light everywhere
Over the bus driver the woman
With her trolley in the street
I see dusk

I hear the clock at four
I hear the silence in cupboards
Backwater dawn

I taste drier than flour

I smell the roots of trees
Before I see their arms
On the skyline

I feel diamonds pushed into
The bloodstream
Self-generated, a gift,
Making for the head I feel my head

Thrust into
A bucketful of stars
And all my senses


Date: 2011

By: Sinéad Morrissey (1972- )

Friday, 2 August 2019

Leaving Abyssinia by Denise Saul

A foghorn sounds: I notice the distance
between houses and the shore
as the ship pulls away from a pillar:
strata of limestone, clay and granite.
A wall of fog drifts towards the coast;
gulls peck at moss behind a stone ledge.
I sit in a cabin without windows,
unable to tell if I’m moving or not.

I cannot hear what grandfather shouts
from the pier – goodbye – perhaps.
The wind billows in the smell of mackerel.
At night, nothing is certain when I leave
this land where morning and night
come so close together that fishermen
who return boats at sunset
hail those who sail theirs out at dawn.

An hour later, the clock ticks the same way.
It’s 1.30 a.m. and as I’m still
awake, I light an oil-lamp to read a book.
I packed books which were needed:
World Dress by Frances Burnett,
Oxford English Reference Dictionary
and Greek Myths by Robert Graves.

Here, there is no Odysseus to let passengers know
that the ship’s motion is ‘uniform’.
I recall that phrase from a lesson at school
as that formula was rote learnt:
every body continues… in its state
of rest or of uniform motion… in a right line
unless it is compelled… to change
that state by forces impressed upon it.
I leaf through the story of the Clashing Rocks;
all the sun returns to the underworld.


Date: 2011

By: Denise Saul (19??- )

Thursday, 27 June 2019

Take From My Palms Some Sun to Bring You Joy by Osip Emilyevich Mandelstam

Take from my palms some sun to bring you joy
and take a little honey – so the bees
of cold Persephone commanded us.

No loosing of the boat that is not moored,
no hearing of the shadow shod in fur,
no overcoming fear in life’s dense wood.

And kisses are all that’s left us now,
kisses as hairy as the little bees
who perish if they fly out of the hive.

They rustle in transparent depths of night,
their home dense forests on Taigetos’ slopes,
their food is honeysuckle, mint and time.

So for your joy receive my savage gift,
a dry and homely necklace of dead bees
who have transmuted honey into sun.

November 1920


Date: 1920 (original in Russian); 2011 (translation in English)

By: Osip Emilyevich Mandelstam (1891-1938)

Translated by: Peter France (1935- )

Tuesday, 25 June 2019

Instruction, Final: To Brown Poets from Black Girl with Silver Leica by Nikky (Lynn Carol) Finney

Be camera, black-eyed aperture. Be diamondback terrapin, the only animal
that can outrun a hurricane. Be 250 million years old. Be isosceles. Sirius.
Rhapsody. Hogon. Dogon. Hubble. Stay hot. Create a pleasure that can stir
up the world. Study the moon with a pencil. Drink the ephemerides. Lay with
the almanacs. Become the lunations. Look up the word southing before you
use it in a sentence. Know southing is not a verb. Imitate them remarkable
days. Locate all your ascending nodes. Chew eight times before you swallow
the lyrics and silver Lamentations of James Brown, Abbey Lincoln, Al Green,
Curtis Mayfield, and Aretha. Hey! Watch your language! Two and a Quarter
is not the same as Deuce and a Quarter. Two-fisted is not two-faced. Remember:
One monkey don’t stop no show. Let your fat belly be quilts of quietus. Pass
on what the great winemakers know: The juice is not made in the vats but in
the vineyard. Keep yourself rooted in the sun, rain, and darkly camphored air.
Grow until you die, but before you do, leave your final kiss: Lay mint or orange
eucalyptus garland, double tuck these lips. Careful to the very end what you
deny, dismiss, & cut away.

I have spoken the best I know how.


Date: 2011

By: Nikki (Lynn Carol) Finney (1957- )

Tuesday, 18 June 2019

Piano by Dan Howell

Her wattled fingers can’t
stroke the keys with much
grace or assurance anymore,
and the tempo is always
rubato, halting, but still
that sound—notes quivering
and clear in their singularity,
filing down the hallway—
aches with pure intention, the
melody somehow prettier
as a remnant than
whatever it used to be.


Date: 2011

By: Dan Howell (19??- )

Monday, 25 March 2019

Sue Speaks to Me in the Swan Room by Malika Booker

Now we’re old parrots, who have lost their flair,
we’ve no stories to tell. Back then we were red
breasted robins; bright Dolly, chirpy Chrissie,
flighty Stella and me. No boys on our horizons then.
We were children thinking ourselves grown up, in love
with Shakespeare, this stage, the actors, the dust.
Back then we were blue tits, bright turtle-necks,
A-line mini skirts and knee length boots.
Back then we stood by roadsides, fists mid-air,
thumbs cocked up hitching rides. Back then
we hoarded pocket money for tickets, too poor
to take the bus.We’d ride from Coventry
in Ford Austins, Mini Minors or Cortinas.
Back then it was safe. At the Theatre we queued
for hours, flasks of tea warming our palms,
bare knees cold, for one & sixpence tickets,
then stood at the back for a three hour play.
If our money stretched to two seats we sat
on each other’s knees the entire time.
After we’d camp in a tent by the river,
cold little nesting birds, squeezed. Back then
I loved Olivier. His voice, slicked back hair.
Oh he was tall, could charm the pants off me
any day. No man ever measured up to that one,
not even my husband. All these years
we’ve migrated to return each new season,
until Dolly flew away. It was sudden flight.
That cup of tea and empty chair is Dolly’s.
We’re old parrots now with no stories to tell.


Date: 2011

By: Malika Booker (1970- )

Thursday, 3 January 2019

Glass Slipper Sonnet by Angela Alaimo O’Donnell

Pity the poor step-sister those big feet
she’ll never stuff in a size-six sonnet,

her flesh so fulsome the slipper seems effete,
unworthy of the labor spent on it.

But try she must, and so she makes a pass,
jams four fat toes in the narrow throat,

the fifth pig smarting, pressed against the glass
(though pain’s no stranger—she knows it by rote.)

The other shoe drops—as it is wont to do—
a second foot is squeezed into the vamp.

She stands up straight and takes a stride towards you,
her footfall heavy as a farmgirl’s tramp.

The slipper strains against those excess feet.
She hobbles onward—she has a prince to meet.


Date: 2011

By: Angela Alaimo O’Donnell (19??- )