Posts tagged ‘poetry’

Saturday, 15 December 2018

An Exchange of Gifts by Alden Albert Nowlan

As long as you read this poem
I will be writing it.
I am writing it here and now
before your eyes,
although you can’t see me.
Perhaps you’ll dismiss this
as a verbal trick,
the joke is you’re wrong;
the real trick
is your pretending
this is something
fixed and solid,
external to us both.
I tell you better:
I will keep on
writing this poem for you
even after I’m dead.

From: http://gunnersmiscellany.blogspot.com/2009/02/canuck-book-7-selected-poems-by-alden.html

Date: 1969

By: Alden Albert Nowlan (1933-1983)

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Friday, 14 December 2018

The Story of Light by Peggy Shumaker

Think of the woman who first touched fire
to a hollow stone filled with seal oil,
how she fiddled with fuel and flame
until blue shadows before and after her
filled her house, crowded
the underground, then
fled like sky-captains
chasing the aurora’s whale tale
green beyond the earth’s curve.
Her tenth summer, the elders let her
raise her issum, seal pup orphaned
when hunters brought in her mother,
their grins of plenty
broad, red. The women
slit the hard belly.
Plopped among the ruby innards
steaming on rough-cut planks
blinked a new sea-child
whose first sound
came out a question
in the old language, a question
that in one throaty bark
asked who, meaning What family
is this? What comfort
do you provide for guests?
Do you let strangers remain
strangers? The women rinsed the slick pup
in cool water, crafted a pouch
for her to suck. Then the young girl
whose hands held light
even when the room did not
brought this new being
beside her bed, let it scatter
babiche and split birch
gathered for snowshoes, let it
nose the caribou neck hairs
bearding her dance fans. They
held up the fans to their foreheads,
playing white hair, playing old.
In the time when women do not sew
the seal danced at her first potlatch.
And when the lamps burned down,
no one could see
any difference between waves
in rock, waves in sea.
The pup lifted her nose, licked
salt from seven stars, and slipped
light back among silvers and chum
light among the ghostly belugas
swimming far north to offer themselves.

From: https://www.poetryfoundation.org/poems/52911/the-story-of-light

Date: 2002

By: Peggy Shumaker (19??- )

Thursday, 13 December 2018

Searching for Light by Yao Feng (Yao Jingming)

The light retires to the lamp
and suddenly all is dark again
who out there has caught the night-moth
and instructs it in shadow?

After countless drills
the torn-winged moth
no longer knows how to fly
and trails through the twilight
crawling snail-slow
toward the light.

From: https://www.wordswithoutborders.org/article/august-2018-macau-searching-for-light-yao-feng-julia-sanches

Date: 2018

By: Yao Feng (Yao Jingming) (1958- )

Translated by: Julia Sanches (19??- )

Wednesday, 12 December 2018

Alive Together by Lisel Mueller

Speaking of marvels, I am alive
together with you, when I might have been
alive with anyone under the sun,
when I might have been Abelard’s woman
or the whore of a Renaissance pope
or a peasant wife with not enough food
and not enough love, with my children
dead of the plague. I might have slept
in an alcove next to the man
with the golden nose, who poked it
into the business of stars,
or sewn a starry flag
for a general with wooden teeth.
I might have been the exemplary Pocahontas
or a woman without a name
weeping in Master’s bed
for my husband, exchanged for a mule,
my daughter, lost in a drunken bet.
I might have been stretched on a totem pole
to appease a vindictive god
or left, a useless girl-child,
to die on a cliff. I like to think
I might have been Mary Shelley
in love with a wrongheaded angel,
or Mary’s friend, I might have been you.
This poem is endless, the odds against us are endless,
our chances of being alive together
statistically nonexistent;
still we have made it, alive in a time
when rationalists in square hats
and hatless Jehovah’s Witnesses
agree it is almost over,
alive with our lively children
who–but for endless ifs–
might have missed out on being alive
together with marvels and follies
and longings and lies and wishes
and error and humor and mercy
and journeys and voices and faces
and colors and summers and mornings
and knowledge and tears and chance.

From: https://www2.illinois.gov/sites/poetlaureate/Pages/lisel_alive.aspx

Date: 1996

By: Lisel Mueller (1924- )

Tuesday, 11 December 2018

Poem [This Poem Is Not Addressed to You] by Donald Justice

This poem is not addressed to you.
You may come into it briefly,
But no one will find you here, no one.
You will have changed before the poem will.

Even while you sit there, unmovable,
You have begun to vanish. And it does not matter.
The poem will go on without you.
It has the spurious glamor of certain voids.

It is not sad, really, only empty.
Once perhaps it was sad, no one knows why.
It prefers to remember nothing.
Nostalgias were peeled from it long ago.

Your type of beauty has no place here.
Night is the sky over this poem.
It is too black for stars.
And do not look for any illumination.

You neither can nor should understand what it means.
Listen, it comes without guitar,
Neither in rags nor any purple fashion.
And there is nothing in it to comfort you.

Close your eyes, yawn. It will be over soon.
You will forget the poem, but not before
It has forgotten you. And it does not matter.
It has been most beautiful in its erasures.

O bleached mirrors! Oceans of the drowned!
Nor is one silence equal to another.
And it does not matter what you think.
This poem is not addressed to you.

From: https://www.poetryfoundation.org/poems/57598/poem-this-poem-is-not-addressed-to-you

Date: 1973

By: Donald Justice (1925-2004)

Monday, 10 December 2018

Elijah Versus Santa by Richard Michelson

Weight advantage: Santa. Sugar and milk
at every stop, the stout man shimmies
down one more chimney, sack of desire
chuting behind, while Elijah, skinny
and empty-handed, slips in invisible as
a once favored, since disgraced uncle,
through the propped open side door.
Inside, I’ve been awaiting a miracle
since 1962, my 9 year-old self slouching
on this slip-covered sofa, Manischewitz
stashed beneath the cushion. Where
are the fire-tinged horses, the chariots
to transport me? Where is the whirlwind
and brimstone? Instead, our dull-bladed
sleigh rusts in the storage bin beneath
the building’s soot-covered flight
of cellar stairs. Come back to me father,
during December’s perfect snowfall
and pull me once more up Schenck
and down Pitkin, where the line wraps
around Church Hall. Show me, again,
the snapshot of the skull-capped boy
on Santa’s lap. Let me laugh this time
and levitate like a magician’s assistant,
awed by my own weightlessness. Give me
the imagination to climb the fire escape
and look up toward the Godless Heavens
and to marvel at the ordinary sky.

From: Michelson, Richard, More Money than God, 2015, University of Pittsburgh Press: Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, p. [unnumbered].
(https://books.google.com.au/books?id=b1izBgAAQBAJ)

Date: 2015

By: Richard Michelson (1953- )

Sunday, 9 December 2018

Beginnings by Janet Kofi-Tsekpo

When we were hungry
we tore the waves
and pulled out fish, enough to feed a family
of seals. The raw flesh
excited us. We hunted for more on land,
rabbits and voles,
ripped goats’ heads from bristling necks.
We watched the birds
and navigated the air with wood and bone.
At times, we wore
the skins of beasts.

From: https://www.pnreview.co.uk/cgi-bin/scribe?item_id=8409

Date: 2011

By: Janet Kofi-Tsekpo (19??- )

Saturday, 8 December 2018

Bitter Lake by William Wenthe

But for all its gesture
to the wild, nothing
comes more human

than this: “refuge,”
an oblong of mercy sliced
from the map.

Where hosts and dominions
of snow geese
billow and gleam

by water’s edge,
I think of Lear, dead
Cordelia in his arms.

From: https://orionmagazine.org/poetry/bitter-lake/

Date: 2011

By: William Wenthe (1957- )

Friday, 7 December 2018

Little Citizen, Little Survivor by Hayden Carruth

A brown rat has taken up residence with me.
A little brown rat with pinkish ears and lovely
almond-shaped eyes. He and his wife live
in the woodpile by my back door, and they are
so equal I cannot tell which is which when they
poke their noses out of the crevices among
the sticks of firewood and then venture farther
in search of sunflower seeds spilled from the feeder.
I can’t tell you, my friend, how glad I am to see them.
I haven’t seen a fox for years, or a mink, or
a fisher cat, or an eagle, or a porcupine, I haven’t
seen any of my old company of the woods
and the fields, we who used to live in such
close affection and admiration. Well, I remember
when the coons would tap on my window, when
the ravens would speak to me from the edge of their
little precipice. Where are they now? Everyone knows.
Gone. Scattered in this terrible dispersal. But at least
the brown rat that most people so revile and fear
and castigate has brought his wife to live with me
again. Welcome, little citizen, little survivor.
Lend me your presence, and I will lend you mine.

From: http://tuesdaypoem.blogspot.com/2011/05/three-poems-by-hayden-carruth.html

Date: 1996

By: Hayden Carruth (1921-2008)

Thursday, 6 December 2018

The Star Field by Mei-mei Berssenbrugge

Placing our emotion on a field, as I said, became a nucleus of space
defined by a rain of light and indeterminate contours of a landscape
like the photograph of an explosion, and gave the travel of your gaze into it or on me
imaginative weight of the passage along a gulf of space
or a series of aluminum poles

She walks through the rooms of blue chain-linked fence, a spacious tennis court
of rooms on concrete, instead of the single movement of a room where sky and earth
would come together

Outside is the field she is thinking about, a category of gray dots
on a television screen, of star data, representing no one’s experience
but which thrills all who gaze on it, so that it must be experience, and
the land at large becomes the light on the land

A coyote or a flicker’s call
is transfixed at the moment before its dissemination across the field
a sediment of, instead
of the tracing of feeling, the ratio of people to the space

I pass through focal planes of blue tennis court as a scene of desire
The material of the sky adjacent to me eludes me,
a pure signifier, and shift of sense
the sky or space a gradation of material, the light a trace
of mobility like a trace of light on a sensitive screen, extended
into the plane of the trace
and marked by light poles or drawn close by a planet at the edge

Your name becomes a trace of light. Through the movement of the trace
its repetition and deferral, my life protects itself
from blurs, time lapses, flares
of the sexual act, its mobility of an afterimage

Then I can understand the eye’s passage into depth
as an inability to stand still for you to see.

From: http://www.conjunctions.com/print/article/mei-mei-berssenbrugge-c6

Date: 1984

By: Mei-mei Berssenbrugge (1947- )