Posts tagged ‘2014’

Saturday, 11 January 2020

His Winter by Christine Brandel

He was an obscure poet, I know that,
one not particularly of note as other
poets would say. He hadn’t even written
his own book, for god’s sake.
Yet I stumbled upon his winter
poem, the title meaningless. He was
not the first to write that winter was a kind
of death, a grey, heavy, slow dying
of all who lived. Yet he convinced me
so absolutely that I set the poem on my desk,
got my affairs in order, and went to bed
prepared for the last and longest sleep.


Date: 2014

By: Christine Brandel (19??- )

Monday, 9 December 2019

Told One of the Goldfish Wouldn’t Last the Night… by David John Constantine

Told one of the goldfish wouldn’t last the night
He hid his eyes under a fierce scowl
And went outside on the flags and rode his bike
Round and round, round and round

But it did no good and he brought the fact back in
Heading for his bedroom and his secret stash of chocolate
But his mother got under his scowl and halted him
Till he showed her his eyes and that was that.

So much sorrow there is in a not-quite-five-year-old
They know so much already and suspect the rest
Already they are beyond being consoled
They watch, they have seen it signed and witnessed

That all living creatures have one thing in common:
They die. Creatures as intricate and various
As a worm, a swallow, a cat, a water-scorpion
Baby and grown-up, all of them, all of us

Die. So when in her arms her child became a well
And the waters of sorrow that are under the earth broke through
For a golden fish she was inconsolable
Grieving that his grief was right, just, true.


Date: 2014

By: David John Constantine (1944- )

Monday, 21 October 2019

Artschool Villanal by Krista Bell

Oh, artschool asshole
with your dichotomy, ontology, paintbrush sodomy.
Charcoal on hands, black-like soul.

Intellectually masturbate to the concepts you dole
‘cause pretension’s just tension before epiphany,
you artschool asshole.

Eyes cross the gallery, see an outsider troll.
Those visual obstructions to site specificity
plague your charcoal hands, black-like soul.

Secluded (self-deluded) you function your form.
Swear you’re campy, not kitschy,
while you artschool your asshole.

Top seat, totem poll–
a clean slate beacon of post-post contemporary,
eager to make dirty with charcoal hands, black-like soul.

So, here is a way of taking control
from avant-garded pride (underpainted in painstake cadmium),
with charcoal on my hands, and a black’s-not-a-colour-like soul:
I don’t want to be an artschool asshole.


Date: 2014

By: Krista Bell (19??- )

Thursday, 3 October 2019

Bodies, Flowerbeds: A Villanelle by Viola Allo

The earth, carved up, engraved with bodies,
this hollow vision of death: people resting
together, bodies beneath a bed of flowers.

We soften death into poems and stories.
The art of writing is just a way of wailing
for the earth, carved up, sculpted by bodies.

In Cameroon, hair from the dead is carried,
mixed with cam wood and kept; the living
remember bodies beneath beds of flowers.

What we seek through our endless studies
sits beyond death, but the path to it is sinking
into a carved-up earth, paved with bodies.

The sharp shovel of silence briefly remedies
the ear deaf to the voices of the dead, linking
it to slender-petaled tongues in a flowerbed.

A poem or a story is an etching of memories,
dignity in the fragile face of loss. Soothing
the earth, carved up, engraved with bodies,
we hum together beside a bed of flowers.


Date: 2014

By: Viola Allo (19??- )

Tuesday, 6 August 2019

My Brother My Wound by Natalie Diaz

He was calling in the bulls from the street.
They came like a dark river —
a blur of chest and hoof —
everything moving, under, splinter — hooked
their horns through the walls. Light hummed
the holes like yellow jackets. My mouth
was a nest torn empty.

Then, he was at the table.
Then, in the pig’s jaws —
he was not hungry. He was stop.
He was bad apple. He was choking.

So I punched my fists against his stomach.
Mars flew out
and broke open or bloomed —
how many small red eyes shut in that husk?

He said, Look. Look. And they did.

He said, Lift up your shirt. And I did.

He slid his fork beneath my ribs —
Yes, he sang. A Jesus side wound.
It wouldn’t stop bleeding.
He reached inside
and turned on the lamp —

I never knew I was also a lamp — until the light
fell out of me, dripped down my thigh, flew up in me,
caught in my throat like a canary.
Canaries really means dogs, he said.

He put on his shoes.
You started this with your mouth, he pointed.
Where are you going? I asked.
To ride the Ferris wheel, he answered,
and climbed inside me like a window.


Date: 2014

By: Natalie Diaz (19??- )

Tuesday, 30 July 2019

When Giving is All We Have by Alberto Rios

One river gives
Its journey to the next.

We give because someone gave to us.
We give because nobody gave to us.

We give because giving has changed us.
We give because giving could have changed us.

We have been better for it,
We have been wounded by it—

Giving has many faces: It is loud and quiet,
Big, though small, diamond in wood-nails.

Its story is old, the plot worn and the pages too,
But we read this book, anyway, over and again:

Giving is, first and every time, hand to hand,
Mine to yours, yours to mine.

You gave me blue and I gave you yellow.
Together we are simple green. You gave me

What you did not have, and I gave you
What I had to give—together, we made

Something greater from the difference.


Date: 2014

By: Alberto Rios (1952- )

Wednesday, 17 July 2019

You Turned Sixty by Candace Calsoyas

It might be 60,000 meals you’ve eaten, 60 years times 1000.
What would a garbage compacter do with all that
Would it be a pound of ash or decomposed peat, could it make oil, all that deadness that went into you to become only more dead

What did it make? Energy, laughter, struggle and kindness
(Along with many hours in the Loo)
What kind of plant did it grow, what kind of animal did it make?

A person who writes poetry but doesn’t like to read it—
Because then it all becomes the same, words

A person who likes to sing, preferably out of tune
Because that comes naturally

A person who likes to paint to see how internal brush strokes
inscribed in secret, walled chambers
Fly into thin air
To appear as color and line

A person who goes to non-western countries
To feel relief at not being rich

But whose likes are these, these ones at 60?
Not much of your mother’s or father’s
not much of former lovers, husband, or mother-in-law.
Whose likes are these?

These likes are yours and
Have brought you to sixty.
To another like: Witnessing
beauty and bounty in your eating
Before all becomes a very small mound of ash.


Date: 2014

By: Candace Calsoyas (19??- )

Saturday, 8 June 2019

A Moral Lesson About a Woman, Beautiful in Front and Frightful at the Back by Michel Beheim

Once I began happily to ride
early one morn.
It was May-time.
I came upon a green meadow.
With lilies, violets and roses
was it adorned in blissful bloom,
with flowers—even meadow-saffron.
I heard the song of many a bold bird:
mellifluously I heard sing
crested larks, larks, thrush and Dame Nightingale.
My youthful heart was bursting with joy
as I perceived the rich echo
of their sweet musical tones,
resounding so joyously.
I also saw flowers spring up:
yellow, red, blue and white.
On this green heather
I encountered an extremely beautiful woman.
I swear:
never on earth
had I seen such a blissful figure.
She was the fulfillment of every wish.
Going onto the field,
she plucked blossoms and roses.
Her glorious body was assiduously formed
like that of an angel.
Her hair was as golden as silk; her eyes were brown.
Her complexion gave off a soft gleam.
She had two, fair little cheeks,
rose red and lily white.
Her mouth cast fire like a ruby,
and her face was beautifully shaped.
Her beauty I must praise,
On her head she bore a wreath
made from seven flowers.
Her heart was fancy-free and rich in joy.
This beautiful woman greeted me,
whereupon my heart grew excessively gay.
With soft, sweet words,
she addressed me chastely.
I dismounted near this lovely woman
and bade her sit next to me.
Refined in manner, I proclaimed that I wished to become her servant.
My heart
was inflamed in love for her.
I imagined that she would be my bliss.
I spoke with clever and genteel words
until I had consummated my love with this fine lady.
I had so much pleasure with her!
No woman was ever as compliant as she to me.
Then night fell
and it was time for us to part.
She said: “I cannot abide any longer.
I must leave this heather.”
Thereupon we parted.
My joy and delight became great dismay.
I departed from my beloved.
She then turned around, revealing a wretched aspect.
The rear part of her body contained foul rottenness.
There I saw burrowing maggots
filthy worm-maws,
dead, putrefying flesh and pus-filled tissue.
Nothing ever smelled as bad.
I saw my fill of toads, adders, snakes
and impure serpents
hanging from her back.
Can you guess who this woman is?
I identify her as the world.
The wreath that she bore upon her head,
composed of seven flowers:
these blooms betoken the seven capital sins.
With these the world is garlanded beyond all measure;
shamelessly they gild the world.
The world is outwardly pleasing and refulgent, but inside hollow—
its beauty underpinned by vileness.
Whoever places trust in the world is deluded.
Its glories are fleeting and will be mocked.
O mankind, keep God forever before your eyes
and think, where your journey will end!

From: McDonald, William C., The World as Woman: Two Late Medieval Song-Poems on Frau Welt by Michel Beheim in Modern Philology, Vol. 114, No. 4 (May 2014), pp. 639-640.

Date: 1457 (original in German); 2014 (translation in English)

By: Michel Beheim (1416-c1472)

Translated by: William C. McDonald (19??- )

Monday, 6 May 2019

On Finding Julia, He Greeted Her Thus by Bálint Balassi

(Sung to the Turkish tune “Gerekmez bu Dünya sensuz”)

All the world to me is nothing
If I have thee not, my dearling,
Loveliness with lover meeting;
Health be to thy soul, my sweeting!

Joy thou art to my heart’s sadness,
Blessings of a heavenly witness,
Balm of soul’s desirous madness,
All God’s peace and all its gladness.

Precious fortress, fastness dearest,
Crimson rose of perfume rarest,
Violet daintiest and fairest,
Long be the life thou, Julia, bearest!

As a sunrise thine eyes’ dawning
Under coal-black brows a-burning
Fell upon mine own eyes’ yearning,
Thine, whose life is my life’s morning.

With thy love my heart’s afire,
Thou, the princess of my prayer,
Heart and soul and love entire,
Hail, my soul’s one last desire!

Finding Julia I, enchanted,
Greeted her as here presented,
Bowed in reverence unwonted,
But a smile was all she granted.

From: Ozsváth, Zsuzsanna and Turner, Frederick, Light Within the Shade: 800 Years of Hungarian Poetry, 2014, Syracuse University Press: Syracuse, New York, p. 9.

Date: 1588-1589 (original in Hungarian); 2014 (translation in English)

By: Bálint Balassi (1554-1594)

Translated by: Zsuzsanna Ozsváth (1931- ) and Frederick Turner (1943- )

Thursday, 31 January 2019

Bitter, As I Know Too Well… by Kata Szidónia Petrőczy

Bitter, as I know too well, was my beginning;
Bitter was the orphaned course of my upbringing;
Bitter, sad, would be the time of my wing-taking;
Bitter till I die my heart will go on aching.
Since my heart with sadness as in smoke is smothered,
I, as if a thing, to fate and chance being tethered,
To a cruelty self-renewing and unwithered;
Pain burns on in me, unlucky and unmothered.

From: Ozsváth, Zsuzsanna and Turner, Frederick (eds. and transls.), Light Within the Shade: Eight Hundred Years of Hungarian Poetry, 2014, Syracuse University Press: Syracuse, New York, p. 14.

Date: 1681-1683 (original in Hungarian); 2014 (translation in English)

By: Kata Szidónia Petrőczy (1662-1708)

Translated by: Zsuzsanna Ozsváth (1931- ) and Frederick Turner (1943- )