Posts tagged ‘2012’

Thursday, 16 January 2020

Decaf Immigrant by Madiha Arsalan

My name is not Beneatha,
or at least I don’t think it was until
when my coffee cup informed with the imperial authority
of permanent black ink over smooth white cardboard
that my name was,
in fact,

Come to think of it,
I’ve never had the pleasure of seeing my own name on a coffee cup,
mocking me with its ironic green and white,
the familiar colors of a Pakistani flag.
There’s been Anita, Rita, Mida, Deepa,
and my personal favorite,
but never

I am the decaffeinated coffee in my careless cup:
boiling, brown and bitter without the kick,
or an invisible celery stick
sitting next to a mountain
of tantalizing buffalo wings.


Date: 2012

By: Madiha Arsalan (19??- )

Tuesday, 24 December 2019

Christmas Mail by Theodore J. (Ted) Kooser

Cards in each mailbox,
angel, manger, star and lamb,
as the rural carrier,
driving the snowy roads,
hears from her bundles
the plaintive bleating of sheep,
the shuffle of sandals,
the clopping of camels.
At stop after stop,
she opens the little tin door
and places deep in the shadows
the shepherds and wise men,
the donkeys lank and weary,
the cow who chews and muses.
And from her Styrofoam cup,
white as a star and perched
on the dashboard, leading her
ever into the distance,
there is a hint of hazelnut,
and then a touch of myrrh.


Date: 2012

By: Theodore J. (Ted) Kooser (1939- )

Saturday, 30 November 2019

Casa Grande by Hannah Gamble

At the Casa Grande disco, men hold on
to other men’s behinds, and women
hold on to men’s behinds,
and everyone is holding on
to what it means to be dancing
and holding on, and I am there
too, doing the two things
I am always doing:
holding on, and drinking enough
water so that tomorrow I’ll be able
to document all the things humans do
to endear themselves to me, conscious
of how dancing means that the music
will bring them closer,
and take them further away.


Date: 2012

By: Hannah Gamble (19??- )

Sunday, 29 September 2019

Picking Whitman’s Pocket by Philip Dacey

                              “I had my pocket picked in a jam and hurry, changing cars, in Philadelphia.”

I have picked Walt Whitman’s pocket.
Oh, we have all picked his pocket,
put our hands deep into his fibrous dark
and left them there,
no ordinary pickpockets,
left them there so that he could not help but feel them,
though he did not mind,
rather enjoyed the intimacy,
appreciated the compliment
of our thievery.

We were not quick about it,
were slow, like lovers,
the extraction a process of years,
a tender thievery,
our fingers sticky indeed,
their tips so sensitive
they were like eyes reading the finest print.

And before long, he slipped his own hand
into the pocket where our hands burrowed,
his own wrapping around ours
to hold them there, lest we consider
removing and inserting them elsewhere,
so that he became accomplice in this theft of himself,
encouraging us to take what we found there,
for it is what he always wanted,
that his lovers empty him out,
that he be left with nothing,
the perfect baggage
for the open road.


Date: 2012

By: Philip Dacey (1939-2016)

Saturday, 7 September 2019

In love by Jennifer Wallace

because the city won’t let up
no matter how much rocking.
In love with this city
as if a surprise walked through the door
wearing suspenders and red-striped pants.
In love with the intersection
and its ingenious abutment of asphalt and grit
where chicory roots in their joining
and age-old rainwater bubbles in the gutter,
bobbing toward the harbor and the sea.
In love with the difficult stories
because they are not mine, because they are mine.
The just-after-dawn light
like Caravaggio’s on the row house bricks.


Date: 2012

By: Jennifer Wallace (19??- )

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??- )