Posts tagged ‘poetry’

Monday, 22 April 2019

Rabbits are Nice Neighbors by Zilpha Keatley Snyder

Rabbits are nice neighbors,
Kindly and quiet.
They don’t bite mailmen,
Or make loud noises in the night.

Rabbits are ornamental,
Lop-eared and silky,
With long bouncy legs,
And noses that quiver.

And now and then—not often—
They deliver—

From: Livingston, Myra Cohn (ed.) and Wallner, John (illustr.), Easter Poems, 1985, Holiday House: New York, p. 10.

Date: ?1966

By: Zilpha Keatley Snyder (1927-2014)

Sunday, 21 April 2019

The Discipline of Craft, Easter Morning by Judith Harris

for John Easterly

No use going hunting for angels,
for a Christ in the tree-tops,
a Moses winding his way up the mount,
into the fire of God’s fresh stubble.

There is just a serious rain,
a steady crutch for the air,
colder than any April should be.

I am up to my neck in chores:
the cat needs more food,
my daughter’s clutter piles up like anthills.
I fold her little sleeves, ghost by ghost.
What melody springs from the heart so well?

These lone trees can’t be dazzled by sun today;
they have tremors like the pope’s.
Lost loons pitched into sky folds,
their crusty buds just blinking
as if to test how fierce the light is.

They sag and meander from their stems;
they bleed from transparency.
Needless or hopeless as overused fountains,
they are my metrics, my fortitude,
plants with lemony grass spigots
that will never go dry.


Date: 2006

By: Judith Harris (19??- )

Saturday, 20 April 2019

La Coursier de Jeanne D’Arc by Linda McCarriston

You know that they burned her horse
before her. Though it is not recorded,
you know that they burned her Percheron
first, before her eyes, because you

know that story, so old that story,
the routine story, carried to its
extreme, of the cruelty that can make
of what a woman hears a silence,

that can make of what a woman sees
a lie. She had no son for them to burn,
for them to take from her in the world
not of her making and put to its pyre,

so they layered a greater one in front of
where she was staked to her own–
as you have seen her pictured sometimes,
her eyes raised to the sky. But they were

not raised. This is yet one of their lies.
They were not closed. Though her hands
were bound behind her, and her feet were
bound deep in what would become fire,

she watched. Of greenwood stakes
head-high and thicker than a man’s waist
they laced the narrow corral that would not
burn until flesh had burned, until

bone was burning, and laid it thick
with tinder–fatted wicks and sulphur,
kindling and logs–and ran a ramp
up to its height from where the gray horse

waited, his dapples making of his flesh
a living metal, layers of life
through which the light shone out
in places as it seems to through the flesh

of certain fish, a light she knew
as purest, coming, like that, from within.
Not flinching, not praying, she looked
the last time on the body she knew

better than the flesh of any man, or child,
or woman, having long since left the lap
of her mother–the chest with its
perfect plates of muscle, the neck

with its perfect, prow-like curve,
the hindquarters’–pistons–powerful cleft
pennoned with the silk of his tail.
Having ridden as they did together

–those places, that hard, that long–
their eyes found easiest that day
the way to each other, their bodies
wedded in a sacrament unmediated

by man. With fire they drove him
up the ramp and off into the pyre
and tossed the flame in with him.
This was the last chance they gave her

to recant her world, in which their power
came not from God. Unmoved, the Men
of God began watching him burn, and better,
watching her watch him burn, hearing

the long mad godlike trumpet of his terror,
his crashing in the wood, the groan
of stakes that held, the silverblack hide,
the pricked ears catching first

like driest bark, and the eyes.
and she knew, by this agony, that she
might choose to live still, if she would
but make her sign on the parchment

they would lay before her, which now
would include this new truth: that it
did not happen, this death in the circle,
the rearing, plunging, raging, the splendid

armour-colored head raised one last time
above the flames before they took him
–like any game untended on the spit–into
their yellow-green, their blackening red.


Date: 2002

By: Linda McCarriston (19??- )

Friday, 19 April 2019

Good Friday by Edwin George Morgan

Three o’clock. The bus lurches
round into the sun. ‘D’s this go –‘
he flops beside me – ‘right along Bath Street?
– Oh tha’s, tha’s all right, see I’ve
got to get some Easter eggs for the kiddies.
I’ve had a wee drink, ye understand –
ye’ll maybe think it’s a – funny day
to be celebrating – well, no, but ye see
I wasny working, and I like to celebrate
when I’m no working – I don’t say it’s right
I’m no saying it’s right, ye understand – ye understand?
But anyway tha’s the way I look at it –
I’m no boring you, eh? – ye see today,
take today, I don’t know what today’s in aid of,
whether Christ was – crucified or was he –
rose fae the dead like, see what I mean?
You’re an educatit man, you can tell me –
– Aye, well. There ye are. It’s been seen
time and again, the working man
has nae education, he jist canny – jist
hasny got it, know what I mean,
he’s jist bliddy ignorant – Christ aye,
bliddy ignorant. Well –’ The bus brakes violently,
he lunges for the stair, swings down – off,
into the sun for his Easter eggs,
on very


Date: c1968

By: Edwin George Morgan (1920-2010)

Thursday, 18 April 2019

When the Men Go Off to War by Victoria Kelly

What happens when they leave
is that the houses fold up like paper dolls,
the children roll up their socks and sweaters
and tuck the dogs into little black suitcases.
Across the street the trees are unrooting,
the mailboxes rising up like dandelion stems,
and eventually we too float off,
the houses tucked neatly inside our purses, and the children
tumbling gleefully after us,
and beneath us the base has disappeared, the rows
of pink houses all the way to the ocean—gone,
and the whole city has slipped off the white earth
like a table being cleared for lunch.

We set up for a few weeks at a time
in places like Estonia or Laos—
places where they still have legends,
where a town of women appearing in the middle of the night
is surprising but not unheard of. The locals come to watch
our strange carnival unpacking in some wheat field
outside Paldiski—we invite them in for coffee,
forgetting for a minute
that some of our own men won’t come home again;
and sometimes, a wife or two won’t either.
She’ll meet someone else, say, and
it’s one of those things we don’t talk about,
how people fall in and out of love,
and also, what the chaplains are for.

And then, a few days before the planes fly in
we return. We roll out the sidewalks and make the beds,
tether the trees to the yard.
On the airfield, everything is as it should be—
our matte red lipstick, the babies blanketed inside strollers.

Only, our husbands look at us a little sadly,
the way people do when they know
they have changed but don’t want to say it.
Instead they say, What have you been doing all this time?
And we say, Oh you know, the dishes,
and they laugh and say,
Thank God some things stay the same.


Date: 2012

By: Victoria Kelly (19??- )

Wednesday, 17 April 2019

Places Without Names by Philip Edmund Booth

Ilion: besieged ten years, Sung hundreds more, then
written down: how force makes corpses out of men.
Men whose spirits were, by war, undone: Salamis,

Shiloh, Crécy.  Lives going places gone, Placenames
now, no faces.  Sheepmen sent to Passchendaele:
ever after, none could sleep. Barely thirty years:

sons like fathers back to the Marne. Gone again to
Argonne Forest, where fathers they could not remember
blew the enemy apart, until they got themselves

dismembered. Sons, too, shot. Bull Run, Malvern Hill:
history tests. Boys who knew left foot from right
never made the grade. No rolls kept. Voices lost,

names on wooden crosses gone to rot. Abroad,
in rivers hard to say, men in living memory
bled their lives out, bodies bloating far downstream.

On Corregidor, an island rock of fortress caves,
tall men surrendered to small men: to each other
none could speak. Lake Ladoga, the Barents Sea, and Attu:

places millhands froze, for hours before they died.
To islands where men burned, papers gave black headlines:
Guadalcanal. Rabaul. Saipan, Iwo. Over which

men like torpedoes flew their lives down into the Pacific.
Tidal beaches. Mountain passes. Holy buildings
older than this country. Cities. Jungle riverbends

Sealanes old as seawinds. Old villages where,
in some foreign language, country boys got laid.
Around the time the bands again start up, memory

shuts down, each patriot the prisoner of his own flag.
What gene demands old men command young men to die:
The gone singing to Antietam, Aachen, Anzio.

To Bangaladore, the Choisin Reservoir, Dien Bien Phu,
My Lai. Places in the heads of men who have no
mind left. Our fragile idiocy: inflamed five times

a century to take up crossbows, horsepower, warships,
planes, and rocketry. What matter what the weapons,
the dead could not care less. Beyond the homebound wounded

only women, sleepless women, know the holy names:
bed-names, church-names, placenames buried in their
sons’ or lovers’ heads. Stones without voices,

save the incised name. Poppies, stars and crosses:
the poverty of history.  A wealth of lives.  Ours, always
ours: these holy names, these sacrilegious places.

From: Meek, Jay and Reeve, Franklin D. (eds.), After the Storm: Poems on the Persian Gulf War, 1992, Maisonneuve Press: Washington DC, pp. 15-16.

Date: 1992

By: Philip Edmund Booth (1925-2007)

Tuesday, 16 April 2019

Rendezvous in a Country Churchyard by Rennie McQuilkin

I’m early. I sit on Timothy Cowles,
d 1788, ae 51, and wait.
She’ll be here soon: the sun’s not long
for this world. Meanwhile, I’m sorry
to see that Charity Howard,
depa t d in   r   th yr, is disappearing
from her stone.

Over the Hales and Hopes,
the sons and daughters of the above,
their spouses, relicts,
the maple tree is all a mumble,
might be saying prayers for the dead
except it’s caterpillars: the tree’s
half eaten, food for worms.

In it a mockingbird is at his
vireo, his bobolink, his whipperwill—
his pretty lies
as false as the lips and cheeks
that dress the bones we are.

But soft, she comes, her lantern lit,
her face a lie I willingly believe.
She has me thinking
the mockingbird’s latest
is the very song of Charity Howard
delighting with Timothy Cowles.


Date: 1982

By: Rennie McQuilkin (19??- )

Monday, 15 April 2019

The Wanderer by Edward Dowden

I cast my anchor nowhere (the waves whirled
My anchor from me); East and West are one
To me; against no winds are my sails furled;
—Merely my planet anchors to the Sun.

From: Dowden, Edward, Poems, 1914, J. M. Dent & Sons Ltd: London and Toronto, p. 1.

Date: 1872

By: Edward Dowden (1843-1913)

Sunday, 14 April 2019

Storm-Drift by Herbert Edwin Clarke

Day and the storm, their long fight over, die
On the red field together, shattered and spent;
The thunder’s roar sinks to a low lament
The wind’s shout to the shadow of a sigh,
And over heaven the mingled armies fly
Headlong, with trailing blood-stained banners rent,
In one wild whirl of rout and ruin sent
To nights abysm beneath the western sky.

Rags of encrimsoned cloud by tempest torn,
Dyed with day’s blood, fierce shapes that change and shift,
Passions and sorrows and sins in mingled flight;
But sometimes some faint ray of a moon unborn,
Or thro’ the horror of the hurrying drift
A star of Hope on the steadfast brows of night.

From: Clarke, H. E., Storm-Drift: Poems and Sonnets, 1882, David Bogue: London, p. [unnumbered].

Date: 1882

By: Herbert Edwin Clarke (1852-1912)

Saturday, 13 April 2019

Lines 248-293 [Description of London] from “The Love of Gain: A Poem. Imitated from the Thirteenth Satire of Juvenal” by Matthew Gregory Lewis

Ye giddy, gay, and proud,
Who swell great London’s ever-bustling crowd,
London, where all extremes together meet,
Folly’s chief throne, and Wisdom’s gravest seat;
Where disagreements in agreement lie,
Our close-knit mass of contrariety;
Where throng the rich and poor, the fool and knave,
Where statesmen juggle, and where patriots rave;
Where balls for advocates prepare their work,
And embryo law-suits in a whisper lurk;
Where Cupid pays in specie for his wiles,
And judges frown whene’er a lady smiles;
Where equal farce continual sport affords
At Covent-Garden, or the House of Lords;
Where beggars with feigned tears and ready smiles,
Cringe to St. James, or blubber to St. Giles;
Ye who confusedly sail in motley trim
Down this full flood of pleasure, business, whim,
Whether you frame smooth, glib, and specious lies
To cheat a tradesman, or to raise supplies,
With private or with public misery sport,
Cheats upon ‘Change, or Parasites at Court,
Now pause awhile!—For one reflecting hour
Forego your hopes of gain, your dreams of power,
And hark, while tells the Muse what monstrous crimes,
What new-found sins reserv’d for our strange times,
Their hideous forms to Addington betray,
From morn’s first languish to the death of day.
Here mark the thankless child, the unnatural sire,
The Pandar slave who lets his spouse for hire,
The adulterous friend, the trusted wanton wife,
The brother aiming at the brother’s life,
The rake who cools in beauty’s arms his heat,
Then lets her starve, or ply for bread the street,
And that dark train of foes to moral rules,
Thieves, Bawds, Assassins, Gamblers, Knaves, and Fools,
Fools, who would fain be knaves …… No more I’ll write,
Hence, odious forms, nor longer shock my sight!
Else by disgust and scorn to madness driven,
Bursting those chains which bind my soul to Heaven,
I shall disdain to breathe such tainted air,
Shall blush an human form like these to wear,
For present ease shall barter future bliss,
And sure no world can be more black than this,
Deep in my swelling heart shall plunge the knife,
And cry, while flies my soul from mortal strife,
“Heaven bless my father, though he gave me life!”

From: Lewis, M. G., The Love of Gain: A Poem. Imitated from the Thirteenth Satire of Juvenal, 1799, J. Bell: London, pp. 27-33.

Date: 1799

By: Matthew Gregory Lewis (1775-1818)