Posts tagged ‘2012’

Sunday, 18 August 2019

Harbinger by Helen Dunmore

Small, polished shield-bearer
abacus of early days
and harbinger of life’s happiness

that the world offers
things scarlet and spotted
to alight, hasping and unhasping
unlikely wings,

that there can be three or thousands
but not a plague of ladybirds
no, a benediction of ladybirds
to enamel the weeds.

Small, polished shield-bearer
abacus of early days,
harbinger of life’s happiness.

From: Dunmore, Helen, The Malarkey, 2012, Bloodaxe Books: Northumberland, p. 35.

Date: 2012

By: Helen Dunmore (1952-2017)

Wednesday, 19 June 2019

Winter Solstice by Janlori Goldman

for Jean Valentine

O odd light
bring me the old season
that winter familiar
a slow sheathing of moon in shadow
as if sky were a gill
through which all things
flow in                 filter out
bring me a home with no right angles
a space of curling in
not too bright or sharp
and bring me the time before that
with the garden dark with broken-down
coffee grounds                 rows of flowering mustard greens
the smell of ripped roots fresh
from the pull
and then before that
to my round house a friend will come
or maybe the friend’s mother
I’ll say stay for dinner
she’ll say let me sew that button.


Date: 2012

By: Janlori Goldman (19??- )

Friday, 26 April 2019

Recruitment Officer at Harvest Time by Graham Kershaw

He scooped the cream, he picked the crop
harvesting the room of capable men
at country dances in Nineteen Fourteen,
peeking beneath rough shirt-sleeves
and dusty britches to the flower of youth
ripening: gleaming calves, stony chests
stacked tight into a row of faithful friends,
stiff-collared to a man, in common stubbornness.

Returning later, he gleaned the rest:
the dreamers, loungers, older men stiff of limb,
gathering them all in, taking their hand,
winning them over with his uniform, his gratitude
and manners, even the whisper of his trousers,
murmuring temptations to stand and link hands
like bashful girls in daisy chains, dancing
out of the room, into the harvest of distant tombs.


Date: 2012

By: Graham Kershaw (1961- )

Thursday, 18 April 2019

When the Men Go Off to War by Victoria Kelly

What happens when they leave
is that the houses fold up like paper dolls,
the children roll up their socks and sweaters
and tuck the dogs into little black suitcases.
Across the street the trees are unrooting,
the mailboxes rising up like dandelion stems,
and eventually we too float off,
the houses tucked neatly inside our purses, and the children
tumbling gleefully after us,
and beneath us the base has disappeared, the rows
of pink houses all the way to the ocean—gone,
and the whole city has slipped off the white earth
like a table being cleared for lunch.

We set up for a few weeks at a time
in places like Estonia or Laos—
places where they still have legends,
where a town of women appearing in the middle of the night
is surprising but not unheard of. The locals come to watch
our strange carnival unpacking in some wheat field
outside Paldiski—we invite them in for coffee,
forgetting for a minute
that some of our own men won’t come home again;
and sometimes, a wife or two won’t either.
She’ll meet someone else, say, and
it’s one of those things we don’t talk about,
how people fall in and out of love,
and also, what the chaplains are for.

And then, a few days before the planes fly in
we return. We roll out the sidewalks and make the beds,
tether the trees to the yard.
On the airfield, everything is as it should be—
our matte red lipstick, the babies blanketed inside strollers.

Only, our husbands look at us a little sadly,
the way people do when they know
they have changed but don’t want to say it.
Instead they say, What have you been doing all this time?
And we say, Oh you know, the dishes,
and they laugh and say,
Thank God some things stay the same.


Date: 2012

By: Victoria Kelly (19??- )

Thursday, 4 April 2019

Sleep by Roger Robinson

It becomes clear to you
the night your father asks you
to wake him up to see
his favourite film on TV,
and despite cups of coffee
bright lights and company
he is asleep
with his dark rimmed glasses
tilted on his face
before the opening credits.

And there
hearing the drag of his snore
and watching the uncomfortably
crooked angle of his neck,
you see him at nineteen,
taking care of his four brothers
and one sister and studying
for a scholarship while working
nights pushing dead bodies
at the local morgue, and he’s tired
but he can’t stop because he’ll
be the first in their family
to go to university and he can’t let them down.

At twenty-one
he’s in class at Stirling University
wondering if he can afford the batteries
for his warehouseman’s torch
so he can study on the job tonight.
Nobody told him Scotland
would be this cold, and it’s
so lonely sometimes but he
has to pass these exams
or he’ll be out.

At twenty-two you’re born.
Your mother works the night shift
at the hospital, and he tries to read
between your two a.m. squeals
and he picks you up
in the hand not holding the book
and smiles and rocks you to sleep.

Twenty-five now,
and working late five nights a week
trying to snatch a few promotions,
and somehow he thought
it might be a bit easier with his degree,
and he really needs
to move his wife and kids
into a place of their own.

And for the next twenty years
he battles on his job every day
just so you could be comfortable
and have the space to be what you want.

And then you know
that he’s never had much time for this
for rest, for sleep.
You prop his head with a pillow,
gingerly pull off his glasses
and stare at him
snoring, loudly,


Date: 2012

By: Roger Robinson (19??- )

Sunday, 24 February 2019

Lausavisur 10 by Hallfreðr Óttarsson (vandræðaskáld)

The whole race of men to win
Óðinn’s grace has wrought poems
(I recall the exquisite
works of my forebears);
but with sorrow, for well did
Viðrir’s [Óðinn’s] power please the poet,
do I conceive hate for the first husband of
Frigg [Óðinn], now I serve Christ.


Date: 10th century (original in Old Norse); 2012 (translation in English)

By: Hallfreðr Óttarsson (vandræðaskáld) (c965-c1007)

Translated by: Diana Whaley (19??- )

Sunday, 27 January 2019

River Song by Li Zhiyi

To the tune of Busuanzi (Calculating the Future)

I live at the head of the long Yangtze.
He lives in its furthest reaches.
I think of him, each day, but we never meet.
The drink we share is the Yangtze water.

When will these waters come to rest,
or my regrets finally end?
I only hope his heart’s like mine.
Surely, we won’t betray our longings!


Date: 11th century (original); 2012 (translation)

By: Li Zhiyi (1035-1117)

Translated by: Julian Farmer (19??- )

Monday, 22 October 2018

October by Harry Clifton

The big news around here is the fall of leaves
In Harrington Street and Synge Street,
Lying about in pockets, adrift at your feet
As you kick them away. The other news is the trees—
Their yellow, as I speak, is unbelievable,
Not that you need me to tell you. Everywhere
The house is falling down around our ears
And it’s wonderful, in the dry, spicy air,
How quietly it happens. Close your eyes,
Don’t think, just listen. Hear them fall, the years
We came towards each other, out of a sun
Already westering. Look at us, even yet,
Exchanging tree-lore, twenty years on
In a leafless cathedral—bride and groom, well-met.


Date: 2012

By: Harry Clifton (1952- )

Friday, 19 October 2018

Cephalopodic by J. P. Dancing Bear

Within the body of water,
other bodies of water.
It cossets her, one tentacle

and then more.
Behind each suction cup,
a blue mark: half moon, star,

and a night sky
it only knows from rumor.

though it is governed by fluidity.
It sees farther out than she,
into tide and current, guarding.

It thinks to return her to the surface,
but with each slip across her skin,
she says, “Stay.”

It cannot sleep anymore—
too many visions
of fishhooks and cleavers.

Her back curves in to it.
They are buoyant,
and it is wild eyed:

when has it been loved like this?
It would live in her world—
bathtubbed. But she says,

“Stay here in the sea.”
It wants to be her diving bell,
surround her in pocketed air,

but she will kick to the surface.
They drift in and out
of their domains,

air and water exchanges.
She moves her home to the edge.
It stays close as the surf will allow.


Date: 2012

By: J. P. Dancing Bear (19??- )

Friday, 3 August 2018

Feelings of Melancholy by Feng Yanji/Yansi

Who says that pop-up feelings
can be discarded for long?
When spring comes, my
melancholy remains strong.
I often drown myself with wine
In front of the flowers every day.
I care little that the image in the
mirror shows a thinner face.

So green is the grass by the riverside.
Willows on the bank look so nice.
Why then year after year,
new sorrow always comes along?
Standing alone by the little bridge,
I feel as though the wind fills my sleeves.
After everybody has gone home,
I see over the wooded plain the crescent moon.


Date: c930 (original) 2012 (translation)

By: Feng Yanji/Yansi (903-960)

Translated by: Edward C. Chang (19??- )