Posts tagged ‘2017’

Wednesday, 15 January 2020

My Father as a Redwood Tree by Kayla Pearce

At eighty feet tall, you are the runt
of your family. Resistant to pest or prey,

your only enemy is a cleansing fire,
a tantrum wind. I visited you at seven,

carved my name into your spine,
and expected myself to bleed. I wanted to amputate

myself from you, to peel you from my veins.
My mother says if we leave you alone, you can live

for six hundred years. Once, I dreamt she found the chainsaw
beneath my bed, the teeth rusted together

like your tangle of roots, a stitch in our fabric
I cannot unweave. Years later, I returned

to find you’d been harvested, plucked
from the earth like a feather. Some days

I pull pickled bark from my throat. Some days
I cut myself in half just to count the rings.


Date: 2017

By: Kayla Pearce (19??- )

Tuesday, 3 December 2019

Swallow by Hugh O’Donnell

She has forgotten how to swallow, how to take in
something extraneous and make it her own. Simple
enough for a regular guzzler; not so easy when the trap-
door assistant has slipped out for a coke and
croissant and a mess of food is poised for the drop.
Nurses dread that moment; doctors make a note
of the commotion in a scrawl; the speech therapist hails
an impairment and adjusts the mix so that tea will slide
rather than flow. ‘Can’t I have a drink of water?’ she asks
all the first days, then tires of asking, recalling home now
as the one place she can please herself, where walls advance
a big hug when she’s lonely, the toaster pops just for her,
the kettle bleats and blubbers when it can take no more.


Date: 2017

By: Hugh O’Donnell (1951- )

Sunday, 6 October 2019

Vigil by Meg Reynolds

For the longest time I thought the night was furred,
a mass of soft hair fallen each dusk.

In my first hours, I rode my father’s chest as though
it were the back of an animal or woolen hill, rolling with slowness
and unquestionably the whole Earth.

Cushioned by his hair I spent my first night there—
above his heart, lungs, ribs.

Small with early birth, nothing in me had hardened yet,
not even the minute musculature of my lips
learning to curve at the breast and drink.

As my mother slept, he gave me more time in his warmth
without moving, without crushing me in the size of his hands;

my young father in wonder as to how anything thrives
and us both asleep where it was safe.

The next time I saw something so tender I was lying naked
with a lover. As he rolled over, his heart slid sideways and hung
in the loose rigging in his chest.

It was soft, the size of my infant body, and padded like a flipper in sand.
I was drunk having suckled at a wine bottle all night, young and dozy
and lost in the heart’s hammering.

Green-veined, I stretched my long neck to him, my lips hardened
with curve, to keep him alive by study and vigilance.

I was held sleeping in my father’s arms so I could grow up and learn
this exact terror, here, where nowhere is safe,

the whole Earth soft with perishing. It rises off us like hair.
So we hold each other, watch closely as though
our beholding has anything to do with survival.


Date: 2017

By: Meg Reynolds (19??- )

Sunday, 8 September 2019

The Journey Home by Jennifer Wallace Strauss

What’s in the album but time’s
shocks and shadowings,
every image interim?
Between the stockman’s moleskin trews,
the Captain’s uniform,  immaculate or bloodied
this shipboard sketch,
courtesy P&O’s travelling artist …

There’s something of the dandy
(linen jacket, weskit, spats,
cufflinks opalescent gleam) . . .
A musical chap, much in demand
as dancing partner to  the hopeful girls
who came aboard at Bombay
pallid from Indian heat
and still unmarried
“A Jackaroo” they say, “how quaint!”
The smiling mothers
in cabins shake a rueful head
“I know my dear, a gentleman, a General’s son,
but quite, quite, without prospects …”

And sometimes he leaves the music,
goes unpartnered, tired of talk,
up to the top deck to look at the stars,
a trick he learned standing outside
his  boundary rider’s hut
with only stars  and  cattle for company.

Now the Southern Cross is left behind,
he marks Orion, bridger of hemispheres,
uneasy messenger,
for though he is going “home”
to everything familial, familiar,
something within has shifted –
in the space of those outback nights
he has unwittingly
made friends with silence.

It will stand him in good stead
for what’s to come.


Date: 2017

By: Jennifer Wallace Strauss (1933- )

Monday, 2 September 2019

Butterfly Net by Janette Ayachi

We stand close without touching, leaning
against the wall where the world has stopped
for us. Our smells meet in the air like lovers

from a past life connecting but not sure why,
under the gauze-thin sash of sky offered
to us from the nearest rain-stained window.

I ignore the blue avenues, the aeon sun,
the odd red October leaf that waves
past in a whirlwind of flight and fury,
to focus on her outline spilling over edges
like the frantic pulse of an inapproachable dream.

I web her breath in a butterfly net
as she mussitates the letters to write
her spidery name, holding the pen
by its wings the way a surgeon sketches
on the body marking a place of incision.
With skilled precision she shows me
where the arrow would reach my heart.


Date: 2017

By: Janette Ayachi (1982- )

Friday, 23 August 2019

Sound Hunt by Jan Wiezorek

Birds call in the dark,
naming my shuffle steps back to bed,

when I imaged them as gulls
in the park, and I don’t know why.

Bird lovers hunt sound, but landscape eludes
my pillow nest activating a melting mind,

hearing what could not be described
as a crashing dumpster

or a glorious wind-battered sign
around saturated street corners.

Not a thunk on butcher’s moist tiling,
or car crashes trapping causation,

more than leaves settled upon woven mats,
or the dry snag of callused feet:

my doubts wrapped between
waxy, fogged layers. But echoes play out

and on in my mind and I hunt—
sensing unhearing along parkways

and greenways that mask collapsed
gull breath plummeting upward

toward predawn. Rattling first sparrow’s try
at prying open her beak

in memory of an unknown leap
from a high-rise roof.


Date: 2017

By: Jan Wiezorek (19??- )

Thursday, 22 August 2019

Summer in Another Town by Nabanita Kanungo

The boguri is a pickled memory
and drumsticks have lent spring its briefness.
Docile hamlets grow lazy in the heat like cows;
and thin naked children learn to grow
with the taste of dust in their mouth.

Each time a car diminishes at the bend,
we cover our eyes unable to stand the silence
that leaves the country’s bones rattled along the forgotten road
where a thousand potholes stare at the sky
like empty sockets of a skull cured dry of dreams.

Blazing rubber trees smirk over
endless plantations of corrupt earth;
only a cuckoo can draw a few drops of blood
from this heart that had once tasted love.

Who will moisten these fields
with blood and sperm?

When a sal leaf falls from the helm of March
into night’s abyssal throat,
we know why nothing is moved into song
in these clanging depths where empty pails
of legends have fallen never to be retrieved
in old women’s voices.

The hours have ceased searching the horizon
for an anxious swirl of storm,
and we give in to the dead stupor
of a summer that grows endless in front of us
in rising haze and dust growing thicker
on memory’s leaves, until no one can believe
that winter and rain had lived here too,
in this dream of forests where
signposts trick with a different name.


Date: 2017

By: Nabanita Kanungo (19??- )

Friday, 22 March 2019

Outside by Karen McCarthy Woolf

under the arcade
and the floor-length glass shop front:
a green pop-up dome

flanked by a Burberry
suitcase and a sleeping-bag

a makeshift shelter
for Sai from Stratford
with time to invest

in a four-day queue – he’s first
in line for an iPhone 6s

no-one moves him on
or threatens arrest
as it’s not about where

but why you pitch your tent.


Date: 2017

By: Karen McCarthy Woolf (19??- )

Tuesday, 13 November 2018

The White Poet Wants to Know Why I Don’t Write More Arab Poems by Leila Chatti

Because, while a war blooms at the margins
of the other country that claims me, still

I am here with my ordinary grief and its language.

Because every time I open my mouth
I am an Arab opening my mouth

and the poem is, and isn’t, responsible.

Sometimes I have to shake
the sand from my story
like a shoe by the side of the road.

I have lost nearly everyone I love, and all
to mundane tragedies.

I have never felt in my bones a bomb’s
radius of light.

The truth is I can only write about God
so many times

before he starts listening.

The truth is, like you,
some days I am struck

by pleasure so simple and insistent
I can’t resist—the sun offering indiscriminate

brightness against my window, on the table
an empty glass glittering

—or sometimes, too, I am unwilling
to mention the wild

flowers staked in the field like flags.


Date: 2017

By: Leila Chatti (1990- )

Friday, 2 November 2018

Return by Anya Krugovoy Silver

When he returned home after many years,
an enormous oak had split his house in two,
its trunk growing right through the center hall.
Though there was nobody living in the tilting
rooms, he recognized some simple objects:
a milk jug once filled with daisies, a single shoe.
Where a mirror had hung, a darkened oval
remained on the wall. No bark, no call, no singing.
But though he didn’t understand what he saw,
he knew the tree, broad and green, was a blessing.


Date: 2017

By: Anya Krugovoy Silver (1968-2018)