Saturday 25 June 2011

Saturday Poem


Parliament of seals
lounging on the stones
deep gurglings of ocean
cormorants roosting to dry
fly-catchers and wild cranberries
the sand-pipers of Trois-Pistoles
diving loons and yellowlegs
flights of ducks
skimming the waves
harvest of leeches
from under the stones
and the setting sun
spreading its sheets upon the sea
Saguenay of the banner and pennons
jagged Laurentians
and the house we called
La Renardiere home of departures
and of returns
mon vieux Marcel
please save me my hammock
on the second floor
From Evenings at Loose Ends (1991) by Gérald Godin, translated by Judith Cowan.

Sunday 19 June 2011

Sunday Poem


We arrange the Meissen between us
(tundish for you, tureen pushed to my side),
dividing the final rags of a marriage
from an affair several years dead.

Our hands shepherd transparencies
one by one to light to view
until birthdays and vacations fall
like sheared fleece upon the hardwood floor.

The books fall more readily
into rank, soldiering stiffly
for what we used at night
to keep from one another's sight.

And records – call them music
if you will – we add contempt
to each release. A hurried trade
speeds some last knick-knacks on their way.

And two more, aged twelve and eight,
we consign to weekends, holidays;
ourselves to minutes parked in driveways
watching parentage slip away.

The bed, old scarred four-poster,
hides like an embarrassment upstairs
because after many turns and twistings
it will not squeeze through the bedroom door.

Saturday 18 June 2011

Saturday Poem


In the animal room at the museum
a brilliant green and white frog, immense,
from Argentina: an inverted bowl
with no legs, another incarnation of Buddha.

You have the skull of the previous one
in a small box: a treasure any boy
would envy. Five holes at the top
form a pattern like a sand dollar's.
I lift it and press it to my ear.
The jungle, not the ocean.

The brain case tiny, inversely related
to the size of the jaw.
Teeth like little razors,
a mouthful of suicides.

I held the skull up
to the frog's eye.
It blinked, once.
No detectable recognition,
or one so deep, amphibian
to amphibian, I couldn't sense it.
All these channels of communication,

They are what we've lost
or never had.

The geckos are powder blue with rust
and tan markings: jewels, tattoos,
beauty marks.

Nothing human matches this kind of beauty.

They drifted here from outer space
or we did.
One of us is alien.

Saturday 11 June 2011

Saturday Poem


I am floating by the wrecked U-boat,
naked as a dolphin in the August sun.
I've got away, again, from everyone.
I've moored my raft to the periscope
that stays underwater. On it I keep
my shorts and shoes, and Coca-Cola,
and a Bavarian girly magazine.
I've become so at-home in the ocean
that I think I must someday drown.
Miles away, on the edge of my hometown,
twin cooling towers fork the sky
where an airship phuts, selling beer.
No one knows the U-boat is there –
no boats approach these rocks,
no swimmers advance. I don't advertise.
I dive to the conning-tower and enter.
Bubbles speed behind me, above me,
but I am fast. I slide past my friend
the skeleton, until my breath runs low,
then I hit the surface he saw long ago,
but never quite saw in the end.
From A Picnic on Ice: Selected Poems (2002) by Matthew Sweeney.

Sunday 5 June 2011

Sunday Poem


The war killed light.
Night was reserved for things military –
searchlights caressing curves of clouds,
burning buildings, towns, gun flashes,
but not too much of this where we were
imprisoned in the black felt thrown over
our cage, cowering or braving outside.

Every window covered with blackout cloth –
just one glow from the weak bulbs
would bring Arthur Craven or Mr. Pepper
and the harrowing of hell.
Light out! Blackout NOW!

No streetlights. No lit shop windows.
Flashlights covered with dark tissue
when you could get batteries.
Traffic lights a green or red narrow cross.
Headlights masked to a thin slit.
No lighting a cigarette outside – they said
you could see a match from 10,000 feet.
Do you know dark? Do you? Fuck right off.
Have you smashed your face into a telephone pole?
We did. They striped lamp-posts white to help.
Men wore white shirt tails outside trousers.
People whistled softly, shuffled, arms out in front.
"Lamp-post?" when a bruised face was seen.

The red bursting boil of sky over Hull
gave us light from 40 miles away.

2000 nights of blackout we had,
so no wonder on May 8 and August 15, 1945 –
victory over Germany then Japan declared –
that light was on the face of our earth,
fireworks hurled at the night, huge bonfires
so hot in places that they did what the bombers
couldn't and melted the tarmac off the streets,
changing them for ever, people throwing
blackout curtains and shutters on the blaze,
rockets bursting, but with no falling shrapnel,
the tribe, crying, shouting, laughing, festive
and giddy, dancing, singing daft songs
round the light, the light and warmth,
defying the so high above gods of war
with every last remaining bit of their derision,
just needing now the warriors to return.
Those who did.
From 36 Cornelian Avenue (2008) by Christopher Wiseman

Saturday 4 June 2011

Saturday Poem


How will a Mormon boy get a wife, I wondered,
if he declines his mission to wander the world,
spreading the Mormon word as he goes:
no wife for a Mormon boy who refuses.

So I was kind to two young Mormon men
who came to my door last Saturday morning—
the point man in short sleeved shirt and blue tie,
his back-up in short sleeved shirt and blue tie—

the former displaying a pulp magazine
which featured a story on the fashion industry
and its dangers, especially to young women:
anorexia, bulimia, and low self esteem.

I listened until—as if at some prearranged signal—
the second flipped open a leather-bound book
he had held until then with a sloth-like grip:
It was my cue to say: I am not a Christian.

This has been true of my life for so long
that to say it out loud gives only a moderate high,
which in turn brings only a moderate low.
And so I did not take it too badly on coming back in

to hear my eight year old daughter say,
in her deepest voice: I am not a Christian;
though to hear her say it brought it home in a new way,
and I thought for a moment that this is serious

and that she should take it more seriously,
so I considered putting the fear into her, telling her
that if her grandfather heard her say such a thing
he would think us condemned to eternal damnation.

Instead I sat back down on the couch beside her
where it so happened there was scheduled
an end-of-season Fashion File—the year's best show,
the year's best designer, the year's best newcomer.

And watching, I reserved my loudest cheers
for headdresses of ostrich and emu feathers,
for models with bleached invisible eyebrows,
for models with slack, stew-bone thighs.

While she preferred the more womanly models--
though she did not care for naked breasts--
and reserved her loudest cheers for young Mark Jacobs
and for the ready to wear from Donna Karan.

What a world this is for a Mormon boy, I thought,
who declines his mission to wander the world,
spreading the Mormon word as he goes:
what a world for a Mormon boy who refuses.
From There, There (2005) by Patrick Warner