Posts tagged ‘2016’

Wednesday, 3 October 2018

Ghazal for a Prodigy by Anne Pitkin

He was most himself when he danced.
An unlearned grace possessed him when he danced.

A child, he brought onto the stage
a landing heron, a deer mid-leap when he danced.

All summer, acrobatic purple martins woke the air.
He could glide like them and spiral when he danced,

adored the air he slipped through like their scalpel wings.
The air adored him when he danced.

Trees were aunts and uncles, birds messengers
with news of another country when he danced.

Sissy!  The town called him.  Pretty girl.
He was not normal when he danced.

He gave it up.  Normal meant more
to the child than joy when he danced.

It’s in the past, Anne.  Let it go—
how grace could save him only when he danced.


Date: 2016

By: Ann Pitkin (19??- )

Sunday, 30 September 2018

Privacy 2 by Shane McCrae

I tell the keeper I don’t know
What he or any white man means
When he says privacy

In the phrase In the privacy
Of one’s own home
     / I understand
he thinks he means a kind of
Militarized aloneness

If he would listen I would ask him whether
The power / To enforce alone-
ness and aloneness
can exist together

Instead I tell him where I’m from we
Have no such con-
cept if he thinks I am     / Too wise
he won’t speak honestly

And so I talk the way the men
He says are men like me
Talk in the books he reads to me
I understand

Those books are not supposed to make me wise
And yet I think perhaps
They show me what he means
By privacy     // Perhaps

by privacy he means / This
certainty he has that
The weapons he has made
Will not be used against him.


Date: 2016

By: Shane McCrae (1975- )

Friday, 14 September 2018

Rain Crow by Bobby Caudle Rogers

rain•bird (rān´bûrd´), n. any of several birds, esp. the black-billed cuckoo (Coccyzus erythropthalmus) and the yellow-billed cuckoo (C. americanus), that are said to call frequently before a rainstorm. [1910-15; RAIN + BIRD]

—Random House Dictionary of the English Language, 2nd Ed., Unabridged

Until I learned better, the song of a mourning dove could make me homesick. I might be walking
to breakfast down Melrose Avenue
in Knoxville, my first weeks up at school, and a wind-slurred call would startle me homeward. I
must have still believed
the town I’d forsaken was the only place that could produce a sad sound. Why shouldn’t the rest of
the world harbor a wild bird or two
with mournful songs to sing? That fall whenever the phone rang, some voice from home came on
the line to describe the circumstances surrounding
the death of another high school classmate. A dangerous time, those first stridings into the world,
not knowing what you’ll need to fear or even the name

it went by. More than one suicide that fall. And then Kirby was killed driving home at 3:00 in the
morning after playing bass guitar
in a nameless bar band. I had almost stopped thinking about it every single second when The
McKenzie Banner
 arrived with its hometown news
and gossip. There above the fold on page one was a picture of a volunteer fireman pointing a hose
at the burning car to cool it down
so he and his help might get at it with the hydraulic cutter, in no particular hurry. People who care
more about these things will tell you
the rain crow is a species of cuckoo, secretive and rarely seen save in the heat before a storm hits,
but where I come from

the rain crow was the mourning dove, its coo-coo-coo heard as plaintive whether it is or not.
Outside of hunting season, one was perched
on every fencepost, flocks of them evenly spaced along sagging power lines. When the sky grew
cloudy and made ready to rain the birds would take wing
to dart and converse with added urgency as the wind kicked up. Their fair weather singing had
been so much practice: now they dared us to write
consolation onto the notes of their song. I could love the folk wisdom handed me even if I couldn’t
believe it was true. The world doesn’t need a bird’s singing
to make it any sadder, but what harm trying to match a few words to the dove’s breathy triplets?
The rain will come—if not just now, then soon enough.


Date: 2016

By: Bobby Caudle Rogers (19??- )

Monday, 30 July 2018

Mind-Body Problem by Wayne Joshua Miller

When I touch your skin and goosebumps lift,
it’s your mind that surfaces there.
When your iris tightens mechanically
around your pupil, that aperture
becomes for me the blacked-out
cockpit of your mind.
It’s your mind
that touches your tongue to mine,
your mind that, when you’re driving,
lowers your hand to my thigh
almost mindlessly.
Your mind
like a pilot light inside your sleep,
your mind that beats your heart—
slower, then faster—infusion pump
in the chest, flooding your mind.

But your heart is not your mind.
The curve of your hip; the soft
skin of your wrist is not your mind.
The tumor growing in your brain
is just your brain, I say.
The shape
of your face; the sound of your voice,
which I love so much, is not your mind.
Your mind spills through—fire

I can’t stop watching from the far
side of this darkening valley.


Date: 2016

By: Wayne Joshua Miller (1976- )

Monday, 16 July 2018

Loneliness by Meg Kearney

The girl hunting with her father approaches
the strange man who has stopped at the end
of his day to rest and look at the lake.
Do you like geese? she asks. The man smiles.
The girl draws a webbed foot from her pocket
and places it in his hand. It’s late fall
and still the geese keep coming, two fingers
spread against a caution-yellow sky. Before
he can thank her, the girl has run off, down
to the edge of the water. The man studies her
father, about to bring down his third goose
today—then ponders the foot: soft, pink,
and covered with dirt like the little girl’s hand.
He slips it into his coat pocket, and holds it there.


Date: 2016

By: Meg Kearney (1964- )

Saturday, 30 June 2018

To Guo Xiang by Yu Xuanji

From dawn to dusk I’m drunk and singing,
lovesick with every new spring.
There’s a messenger with letters in the rain;
there’s a broken-hearted girl by the window.
Rolling up beaded blinds, I see mountains;
each sorrow’s renewed like the grass.
Since last we parted, at your feasts
how often has the rafter dust fallen?


Date: c860 (original); 2016 (translation)

By: Yu Xuanji (c844-c868)

Translated by: Leonard Ng (1979- )

Wednesday, 20 June 2018

In the Mid-Midwinter by Elizabeth (Liz) Anne Lochhead

after John Donne’s ‘A Nocturnal on St Lucy’s Day’

At midday on the year’s midnight
into my mind came
I saw the new moon late yestreen
wi the auld moon in her airms
though, no,
there is no moon of course—
there’s nothing very much to speak of anything to speak of
in the sky except a gey dreich greyness
rain-laden over Glasgow and today
there is the very least of even this for us to get
the light comes back
the light always comes back
and this begins tomorrow with
however many minutes more of sun and serotonin.

there will be the winter moon for us to love the longest,
fat in the frosty sky among the sharpest stars,
and lines of old songs we can’t remember
why we know
or when first we heard them
will aye come back
once in a blue moon to us

and bless us with their long-travelled light.


Date: 2016

By: Elizabeth (Liz) Anne Lochhead (1947- )

Friday, 15 June 2018

What Now? by Gary Anthony Soto

Where did the shooting stars go?
They flit across my childhood sky
And by my teens I no longer looked upward—
My face instead peered through the windshield
Of my first car, or into the rearview mirror,
All the small tragedies behind me,
The road and the road’s curve up ahead.

The shooting stars?
At night, I now look upward—
Jets and single-prop planes.
No brief light, nothing to wish for,
The neighbor’s security light coming on.

Big white moon on the hill,
Lantern on gravestones,
You don’t count.


Date: 2016

By: Gary Anthony Soto (1952- )

Friday, 4 May 2018

E-mail from the Dead by Gary Joseph Whitehead

So they move from one box to another—
from the dark coffin to the inbox
——–of the radiant screen.

A jolt of hope when we see the name,
a second-long resurrection
——–when we read the header,

click the link, watch the next box open
to some unintelligible spam
——–that speeds the grief

all over again. And even though we know,
we wonder if perhaps we were mistaken
——–to think they left without

that wretched goodbye. Maybe they’ve
just been asleep all this orphaned time
——–or away on vacation.

Yesterday, one arrived from Andy,
my former dog walker. And there he was
——–with his many keys.

I could smell his aftershave when I opened
the kitchen door. His fanny pack
——–bulged with biscuits.

In summer, one came from Jim, dead a decade.
How could he be hacked
——–after so long gone?

The old wounds seem to leak out light.
This morning I used the electric kettle
——–he gave me after melting mine

on a flat-top stove. Like our many gadgets,
our reviled store-and-forward
——–communications outlive us,

go on working, postal ghosts shouldering
digital missives through the warm cords
——–of our wired times.

I know they’re dead, these people I knew,
who kept in touch with me ethereally,
——–via e-mail,

but I want to believe that they keep in touch
with me still, that they have
——–something to tell

through the network of networks
about silence and silk, dust
——–and cold ground.


Date: 2016

By: Gary Joseph Whitehead (1965- )

Wednesday, 28 March 2018

Storm by Maureen Patricia Duffy

How you would have hated this storm, the lightning dash
and bomb-blast of thunder, and I would have hurried
home from school so you shouldn’t be alone
to find you crouched behind a door, in a corner
under the stairs. And it wasn’t a memory
of the latest thunderclap that had sent you
scuttling, not the one that buried us both
but that childhood strike of a bolt against
your 1890s’ workhouse style high brick
Board School when you fled over the wall
to Granny’s and were marked missing at roll-call
whose centenary I commemorate here
of never-to-be-forgotten terror for you
who were so brave every winter in the face
of that death that finally ran you down, when
every stifled cough might throw up your life’s blood.

And when the real bomb fell whispered to our
rescuers: “Take my little girl out first.”

From: “The Saturday Poem: Storm” in The Guardian, Saturday, 30 January 2016.

Date: 2016

By: Maureen Patricia Duffy (1933- )