Posts tagged ‘poetry’

Wednesday, 17 October 2018

We’ll Always Have Parents by Mary Jo Salter

It isn’t what he said in Casablanca
and it isn’t strictly true. Nonetheless
we’ll always have them, much as we have Paris.
They’re in our baggage, or perhaps are baggage
of the old-fashioned type, before the wheels,
which we remember when we pack for Paris.
Or don’t remember. Paris doesn’t know
if you’re thinking of it. Neither do your parents,
although they’ll say you ought to visit more,
as if they were as interesting as Paris.
Both Paris and your parents are as dead
and as alive as what’s inside your head.
Meanwhile, those lovers, younger every year
(because with every rerun we get older),
persuade us less, for all their cigarettes
and shining unshed tears about the joy
of Paris blurring in their rear view mirror,
that they’ve surpassed us in sophistication.
Granted, they were born before our parents
but don’t they seem by now, Bogart and Bergman,
like our own children? Think how we could help!
We could ban their late nights, keep them home
the whole time, and prevent their ill-starred romance!
Here’s looking at us, Kid. You’ll thank your parents.


Date: 2017

By: Mary Jo Salter (1954- )

Tuesday, 16 October 2018

Soliloquy Against a Kudzu Backdrop by Alison Pelegrin

Audience of none, superstition dictates
that I peek through the kudzu curtain
like a starlet before making an entrance
and speaking yet again on the theme
of ignorance observed in waking life.
I would like to believe these are actors I see—
rednecks so loud in their stupidity
that rather than being frightened by their antics
I find myself waiting for the punch line.
If only “heritage, not hate” weren’t a thing.
A wasp stumbled into the muddy waters
of my coffee reminding me that words can sting
and later dry their wings in my hair,
and either because I am stupid or bold, I resumed
my work of measuring shadows and waiting
for wild foxes to travel in my line of sight.
Today, everyone laughed when I delighted
as a swallow tail kite dove for nestlings,
just like I knew they would. I thought we were friends,
but I could walk away tomorrow. How can we be
so different when the same trees
rustle in all of our dreams? Something wild
stirs in me. Something wild calls my name,
and vanishes, muffled beneath a beast
of green. When I look up nothing’s left
but the ghost of wind lurching through kudzu leaves,
the movement of a horse minus the horse itself.


Date: 2016

By: Alison Pelegrin (19??- )

Monday, 15 October 2018

Goodbye, New York by Deborah Garrison

                      (song from the wrong side of the Hudson)

You were the big fat city we called hometown
You were the lyrics I sang but never wrote down

You were the lively graves by the highway in Queens
the bodega where I bought black beans

stacks of the Times we never read
nights we never went to bed

the radio jazz, the doughnut cart
the dogs off their leashes in Tompkins Square Park

You were the tiny brass mailbox key
the joy of “us” and the sorrow of “me”

You were the balcony bar in Grand Central Station
the blunt commuters and their destination

the post-wedding blintzes at 4 A.M.
and the pregnant waitress we never saw again

You were the pickles, you were the jar
You were the prizefight we watched in a bar

the sloppy kiss in the basement at Nell’s
the occasional truth that the fortune cookie tells

Sinatra still swinging at Radio City
You were ugly and gorgeous but never pretty

always the question, never the answer
the difficult poet, the aging dancer

the call I made from a corner phone
to a friend in need, who wasn’t at home

the fireworks we watched from a tenement roof
the brash allegations and the lack of any proof

my skyline, my byline, my buzzer and door
now you’re the dream we lived before.


Date: 2006

By: Deborah Garrison (1965- )

Sunday, 14 October 2018

Cell Song by Etheridge Knight

Night Music Slanted
Light strike the cave of sleep. I alone
tread the red circle
and twist the space with speech

Come now, etheridge, don’t
be a savior; take your words and scrape
the sky, shake rain

on the desert, sprinkle
salt on the tail
of a girl,

can there anything
good come out of


Date: 1968

By: Etheridge Knight (1931-1991)

Saturday, 13 October 2018

To the Rev. Mr. Turell on the Death of his Virtuous Consort by John Adams

The darts of death within her bosom deep
Have urged the fatal wound, and fixed the lasting sleep.
The impartial tyrant round his arrows throws,
Nor heeds our prayers nor melts before our vows.
The charms of beauty wither from his hands,
As fades a flower, and to a tempest bends.
Nor eloquence can soothe, nor virtue awe,
Nor force repel the power of nature’s law.
To limits fixed, our destined course we bend,
And with resistless haste to death’s pale empire tend.
From scene to scene our shifting moments go,
And then return the ground the dust we owe.
As glides the pictured dream before our sight,
Winged with the fleeting shadows of the night,
So borne upon the quick succeeding hours
We drop in death, and drink surviving showers.
Adown our cheeks th’ unwearied currents shed
Can ne’er revive, but may increase the dead.
Had you the lyre of Orpheus, which could move
The quickened stones, and each attentive grove;
Or could you flow in such a moving strain
As Turell warbled to the listening plain;
In vain the tender plaints would charm her ears,
Bound to the breathing consort of the spheres.
Who would the doubtful maze of life repeat,
Where fleeting scenes the gilded fancy cheat?
Where cares and sorrows circle through our years,
While future evils rise before our fears?
And feel the fires of heavenly rapture die,
And blot with tears the vision of the sky?

From: Stedman, Edmund Clarence and Hutchinson, Ellen MacKay (eds.), A Library of American Literature from the Earliest Settlement to the Present Time, in Ten Volumes, Volume II, Charles L. Webster & Company: New York, p. 368.

Date: 1745 (published)

By: John Adams (1704-1740)

Friday, 12 October 2018

Locker Room Talk by John Adams

I keep dirty things in my locker,
I keep dirty things in my locker,
I keep dirty things, I keep dirty things
and I talk dirty in my locker room

Unbelievable support I’m receiving,
Unbelievable support I’m receiving,
I’m closing one eye, I’m rating very high,
to be honest, it’s just unbelievable.

I’d lock people out of my country,
I’d lock people out of my country,
I’d lock people out, I’d lock people out –
my country could become a locker room.
I keep dirty things in my locker,
I keep dirty things in my locker,
I keep dirty things, I keep dirty things
and I talk dirty in my locker room.


Date: 2017

By: John Adams (19??- )

Thursday, 11 October 2018

House of Air by Philip Gross

a letter was sent
but no one was there
no one at home
in the house of air

no window no frame
no number no door
between sixty eight
and sixty four

just a pit prop joist
wedged there to shore
two end walls peeling
patchwork squares

paint patterns plaster
layers on layers
unpicked by rain
and roots and years

like generations
a stray cat stirs
in the deep pile carpet
of rubble and briars

it’s one big room
just follow the stairs
zig zag to the sky
through invisible floors

a fireplace smoulders
green then flares
mauve buddleia
the postman stares

number sixty six
strange it was there
this time yesterday
he could swear.


Date: 1995

By: Philip Gross (1952- )

Wednesday, 10 October 2018

Bujold by Annie Freud

She marries him in a ‘marriage blanc’
so that he can stay in the country.
He is a fugitive whose visa has run out
and there is every kind of impediment:

the ambitious local cop in dark glasses
and leather jacket, determined to hound them,
the provocative younger sister, the absurd mother
giving a huge white wedding nobody wants.

An explosion of debauchery, revelry and waste
saw the church lose its hold on the medieval world,
she tells her class of docile undergraduates,
and feels the need for a full-time man.

At forty, she is ravishing in a haggard way
and he looks seedy with his too-long hair.
There are some good jokes about lonely, frightened
people trapped in forced proximity.

I know this place is a mess, but don’t touch anything.
I know where everything is. The cafetière is complicated.
Love prevails in the end. We never see them
in bed and they only ever kiss at the wedding.


Date: 2015

By: Annie Freud (1948- )

Tuesday, 9 October 2018

Howard by Jack Ross

The only time we ever called the police
on one of our noisy neighbours
it was Howard

his mother had just been taken away
to the hospice where she died
and he was sad

(or so he told us later)
he sat in the front room
drinking beer

and started to howl
whilst playing Led Zeppelin
louder and louder

by 2 am we’d had enough
we began to worry
he’d top himself

or so we rationalised it
the fuzz turned up in force
we heard them knocking first

then going round all the doors
finally they broke in
cuffed him

and took him off to jail
a few days later
a week or so before he left for good

Bronwyn met him by the clothesline
Don’t they understand being sad?
he said

One of the neighbours called the cops on me!
I still feel ashamed
we couldn’t admit

it was us.


Date: 2014

By: Jack Ross (1962- )

Monday, 8 October 2018

Sunflowers by Eugenio Montale

Bring me the sunflower so that I can transplant it
in my soil burnt by salt air,
and show all day to the mirroring blues
of the sky the anxiety of its yellow face.

Dark things tend towards clarity,
bodies consume themselves in a flowing
of colours: these in music. Vanishing
is thus the chance of chances.

Bring me the plant that leads
where blonde transparencies rise
and life evaporates like spirit;
bring me the sunflower crazed with the light.


Date: 1923 (original in Italian); 2001 (translation in English)

By: Eugenio Montale (1896-1981)

Translated by: Jack Ross (1962- )