Thursday, August 9, 2012

Chips, a poem by Jenny Walker.

Post 666 - Here's a winner from the Foyle's Young Poets of the Year Award, 2011.
 Chips by Jenny Walker
It is our night, so we buy chips
and grin guiltily over the greasy wrapper
at each other, crumpling yesterday's paper in our
sticky, unharnessed hands.
We are fools for love and salt
and we see that it is good.
Our feet scatter stars in the inky black,
with the click-clack clatter that's classed
so coolly cosmopolitan these days.
They have lit up all the lights for us,
for our arms and lips and eyes wide open
to drink it all in. But,
bending at the waist at the pavement's gutter,
clutching each other on the dark street corner -
Sudden vertiginous precision
finds the old woman with the cataract vision,
cramming the memories into her mouth in
salty handfuls and smacking her lips. 
Jenny is 17 and from Cumbria, and is just starting at Edinburgh University studying English Literature. She has always been interested in writing but only became serious about writing poetry in the last few years. Jenny enjoys playing the piano, cloud watching, reading, and talking at length about all these things. She was a runner up in the Anne Pierson Award in 2010.

Sunday, August 5, 2012

The Ghost Of Marilyn Monroe, a poem by Bill Meissner.

Post 665 - Remembering today is the 50th anniversary of the death of Marilyn Monroe, here's a new poem by Bill Meissner which first appeared in the Atlanta Review.
Bill is the author of seven books, most recently, his first novel, SPIRITS IN THE GRASS, [U of Notre Dame Press], the story of a small town ballplayer who discovers the remains of a Native American burial ground on a baseball field.


Have you seen me in the
mirror? I loved the breeze from the subway grate that lifted my skirt
to my waist, loved the cool billowing
as that white pleated skirt rose and rose
like a mushroom cloud and I half-tried to push it down
while a million men’s eyes—a little embarrassed but still looking—

stared at me.
I wanted men to memorize every inch
of my skin so they’d remember me,
so that I’d always come alive inside their minds,
balanced on a grate and laughing seductively,
train after subway train making the sidewalk shudder beneath

my white heels.
I always yearned for their eyes to follow me like camera lenses
everywhere I went. I wanted to collect their eyes,
keep them in fishbowls in my bedroom like so many glass marbles.
Look at me, I always said, look at me look at me look at me.
I still try to say it, on the stairways of the Roosevelt Hotel, but
my lips can’t

find any words.
I feel translucent now, like the wings of a moth with all the dust worn off.
I’m nothing more than a swirl of those lace curtains
when the window’s closed.
These halls are too dim, the burgundy carpeting too thick.
I hate the way the bellboys walk by me, speaking in muffled tones.
Sometimes I appear in the old mirror in the lobby: a maid, cleaning the glass in slow circles, notices a sad blonde in the reflection. Turning,
she sees no one is
there. Late at night in the hallways,

I want to whisper in the ears of men
who stroll nonchalantly past me, I want to scream at them.
I want my pleated white dress to billow upward
like a blooming flower, some A-bomb cloud they can’t ignore.
But they never seem to hear me.
To them, I’m just a sudden odd draft in this hallway,
a faint, smoky scent of exotic perfume.
For a moment, they might wonder where it came from, and then
turn to look back into their girlfriends’
flawed faces.

Wednesday, July 11, 2012

Everything is Waiting for You, a poem by David Whyte.

Everything is Waiting for You.

Your great mistake is to act the drama
as if you were alone. As if life
were a progressive and cunning crime
with no witness to the tiny hidden
transgressions. To feel abandoned is to deny
the intimacy of your surroundings. Surely,
even you, at times, have felt the grand array;
the swelling presence, and the chorus, crowding
out your solo voice You must note
the way the soap dish enables you,
or the window latch grants you freedom.
Alertness is the hidden discipline of familiarity.
The stairs are your mentor of things
to come, the doors have always been there
to frighten you and invite you,
and the tiny speaker in the phone
is your dream-ladder to divinity.
Put down the weight of your aloneness and ease into
the conversation. The kettle is singing
even as it pours you a drink, the cooking pots
have left their arrogant aloofness and
seen the good in you at last. All the birds
and creatures of the world are unutterably
themselves. Everything is waiting for you.
  -- David Whyte
      from Everything is Waiting for You 
     ©2003 Many Rivers Press

Monday, May 14, 2012

The Freedom of the Moon, a poem by Robert Frost.

Post 663 - The Freedom of the Moon by Robert Frost. I've tried the new moon tilted in the air Above a hazy tree-and-farmhouse cluster As you might try a jewel in your hair. I've tried it fine with little breadth of luster, Alone, or in one ornament combining With one first-water star almost shining. I put it shining anywhere I please. By walking slowly on some evening later, I've pulled it from a crate of crooked trees, And brought it over glossy water, greater, And dropped it in, and seen the image wallow, The color run, all sorts of wonder follow.

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

Maiden Name, a poem by Philip Larkin.

Post 662 - Maiden name, a poem by Philip Larkin.

Marrying left your maiden name disused.
Its five light sounds no longer mean your face,
Your voice, and all your variants of grace;
For since you were so thankfully confused
By law with someone else, you cannot be
Semantically the same as that young beauty:
It was of her that these two words were used.

Now it's a phrase applicable to no one,
Lying just where you left it,scattered through
Old lists, old programmes, a school prize or two
Packets of letters tied with tartan ribbon -
Then is it scentless, weightless, strengthless, wholly
Untruthful? Try whispering it slowly.
No, it means you. Or, since you're past and gone,

It means what we feel now about you then:
How beautiful you were, and near, and young,
So vivid, you might still be there among
Those first few days, unfingermarked again.
So your old name shelters our faithfulness,
Instead of losing shape and meaning less
With your depreciating luggage laden.

Thursday, April 5, 2012

Aunt Jennifer's Tigers, a poem by Adrienne Rich.

Post 661 - Adrienne Cecile Rich (May 16, 1929 – March 27, 2012) was an American poet, essayist and feminist. She was considered one of the most widely read and influential poets of the second half of the 20th century, and was credited with bringing the oppression of women and lesbians to the forefront of poetic discourse. In 1971, she was the recipient of the Shelley Memorial Award from the Poetry Society of America and was awarded the National Book Award for Poetry in 1974. She also was awarded the Ruth Paul Lilly Poetry Prize in 1986, the Elmer Holmes Bobst Award in Arts and Letters from NYU, and the National Poetry Association Award for Distinguished Service to the Art of Poetry in 1989. In 1997, Rich declined the National Medal of Arts in protesting against the House of Representatives’ vote to end the National Endowment for the Arts as well as other policies of the Clinton Administration regarding the arts generally and literature in particular. In 2002, she was appointed a chancellor of the newly augmented board of the Academy of American Poets. She was the winner of the 2003 Yale Bollingen Prize for American Poetry.

Aunt Jennifer's Tigers by Adrienne Rich.

Aunt Jennifer’s tigers prance across a screen,
Bright topaz denizens of a world of green.
They do not fear the men beneath the tree;
They pace in sleek chivalric certainty.

Aunt Jennifer’s fingers fluttering through her wool

Find even the ivory needle hard to pull.
The massive weight of Uncle’s wedding band

Sits heavily upon Aunt Jennifer’s hand.

When Aunt is dead, her terrified hands will lie

Still ringed with ordeals she was mastered by.
The tigers in the panel that she made

Will go on prancing, proud and unafraid.

Monday, April 2, 2012

Woman Waving to Trees, a poem by Dorothea Tanning.

Dorothea Tanning was an American painter, printmaker, sculptor and writer. She also designed sets and costumes for ballet and theatre. She died earlier this year at 101 having just published her second anthology of poems, Coming To That.

Woman Waving to Trees, a poem by Dorothea Tanning.

Not that anyone would
notice it at first.
I have taken to marveling
at the trees in our park.
One thing I can tell you:
they are beautiful
and they know it.
They are also tired,
hundreds of years
stuck in one spot—
beautiful paralytics.
When I am under them,
they feel my gaze,
watch me wave my foolish
hand, and envy the joy
of being a moving target.

Loungers on the benches
begin to notice.
One to another,
"Well, you see all kinds..."
Most of them sit looking
down at nothing as if there
was truly nothing else to
look at until there is
that woman waving up
to the branching boughs
of these old trees. Raise your
heads, pals, look high,
you may see more than
you ever thought possible,
up where something might
be waving back, to tell her
she has seen the marvelous.

Thursday, March 22, 2012

Testy Pony, a poem by Zachary Schomburg.

Post 659 - Zachary Schomburg was born in Omaha, Nebraska, spent his childhood in Iowa, and received his BA from College of the Ozarks. Currently, he's pursuing a doctorate in creative writing from the University of Nebraska. Schomburg edits Octopus Magazine and Octopus Books, and co-curates the Clean Part Reading Series in Lincoln, NE. His debut collection, The Man Suit, was published Black Ocean in 2007.

Testy Pony by Zachary Schomburg.

I am given a pony for my birthday, but it is the wrong
kind of pony. It is the kind of pony that won't listen.
It is testy. When I ask it to go left, it goes right.
When I ask it to run, it sleeps on its side in the tall
grass. So when I ask it to jump us over the river into
the field I have never before been, I have every
reason to believe it will fail, that we will be swept down
the river to our deaths. It is a fate for which I am
prepared. The blame of our death will rest with the
testy pony, and with that, I will be remembered with
reverence, and the pony will be remembered with
great anger. But with me on its back, the testy pony
rears and approaches the river with unfettered
bravery. Its leap is glorious. It clears the river with
ease, not even getting its pony hooves wet. And then
there we are on the other side of the river, the sun
going down, the pony circling, looking for something
to eat in the dirt. Real trust is to do so in the face of
clear doubt, and to trust is to love. This is my failure,
and for that I cannot be forgiven.

Sunday, March 4, 2012

Are You Drinking? a poem by Charles Bukowski.

Post 658 - Are You Drinking? by Charles Bukowski.

washed-up, on shore, the old yellow notebook

out again

I write from the bed

as I did last


will see the doctor,


"yes, doctor, weak legs, vertigo, head-

aches and my back 


"are you drinking?" he will ask.

"are you getting your
exercise, your


I think that I am just ill 

with life, the same stale yet



even at the track

I watch the horses run by

and it seems


I leave early after buying tickets on the

remaining races.

"taking off?" asks the motel 


"yes, it's boring,"

I tell him.

"If you think it's boring 

out there," he tells me, "you oughta be

back here."

so here I am

propped up against my pillows


just an old guy

just an old writer

with a yellow


something is 

walking across the




oh, it's just 

my cat



Monday, February 20, 2012

Pebble, a poem by Zbigniew Herbert.

Post 657 - Zbigniew Herbert was born in 1924 in Lvov, which was then in eastern Poland but is currently in the Ukraine. In a world which seems confusing to many, Herbert’s honesty and clarity are perhaps unparalleled among poets. He would be my choice as the most under-appreciated poet of our times.


The pebble 

is a perfect creature

equal to itself 

mindful of its limits

filled exactly 

with a pebbly meaning

with a scent that does not remind one of anything 

does not frighten anything away does not arouse desire

its ardour and coldness 

are just and full of dignity

I feel a heavy remorse 

when I hold it in my hand 

and its noble body 

is permeated by false warmth

- Pebbles cannot be tamed 

to the end they will look at us 

with a calm and very clear eye

Translated by Peter Dale Scott and Czeslaw Milosz

Monday, February 13, 2012

Their Lonely Betters, a poem by W.H. Auden.

Post 656 - Their Lonely Betters by W.H. Auden.

As I listened from a beach-chair in the shade
To all the noises that my garden made,
It seemed to me only proper that words
Should be withheld from vegetables and birds.

A robin with no Christian name ran through

The Robin-Anthem which was all it knew, 

And rustling flowers for some third party waited

To say which pairs, if any, should get mated.

Not one of them was capable of lying, 

There was not one which knew that it was dying

Or could have with a rhythm or a rhyme

Assumed responsibility for time.

Let them leave language to their lonely betters

Who count some days and long for certain letters; 

We, too, make noises when we laugh or weep: 

Words are for those with promises to keep.

Sunday, February 5, 2012

If You Forget Me, a poem by Pablo Neruda.

Post 655 - Pablo Neruda (1904 – 1973) was the pen name and, later, legal name of the Chilean poet, diplomat and politician Neftalí Ricardo Reyes Basoalto. He chose his pen name after Czech poet Jan Neruda. The Italian film Il Postino, inspired by Antonio Skármeta's 1985 novel Ardiente Paciencia (Ardent Patience, later known as El cartero de Neruda, or Neruda's Postman), centres on the story of Pablo Neruda (Philippe Noiret) living in exile on Salina Island near Sicily during the 1950s. While there, he befriends the local postman and inspires in him a love of poetry.

If You Forget Me by Pablo Neruda.

I want you to know
one thing.

You know how this is:
if I look
at the crystal moon, at the red branch
of the slow autumn at my window,
if I touch
near the fire
the impalpable ash
or the wrinkled body of the log,
everything carries me to you,
as if everything that exists,
aromas, light, metals,
were little boats
that sail
toward those isles of yours that wait for me.

Well, now,
if little by little you stop loving me
I shall stop loving you little by little.

If suddenly
you forget me
do not look for me,
for I shall already have forgotten you.

If you think it long and mad,
the wind of banners
that passes through my life,
and you decide
to leave me at the shore
of the heart where I have roots,
that on that day,
at that hour,
I shall lift my arms
and my roots will set off
to seek another land.

if each day,
each hour,
you feel that you are destined for me
with implacable sweetness,
if each day a flower
climbs up to your lips to seek me,
ah my love, ah my own,
in me all that fire is repeated,
in me nothing is extinguished or forgotten,
my love feeds on your love, beloved,
and as long as you live it will be in your arms
without leaving mine.

Wednesday, February 1, 2012

Clouds, a poem by Wisława Szymborska.

Post 654 - Sad news today about Wisława Szymborska (2 July 1923 – 1 February 2012). Szymborska was a Polish poet, essayist, translator and recipient of the 1996 Nobel Prize in Literature. Born in Prowent in Western Poland, she lived in Kraków from 1931 until the end of her life today when she died peacefully in her sleep.
Some of her prizes and awards include:
• 1954: The City of Kraków Prize for Literature
• 1963: The Polish Ministry of Culture Prize
• 1991: The Goethe Prize
• 1995: The Herder Prize
• 1995: Honorary Doctor of the Adam Mickiewicz University (Poznań)
• 1996: The Polish PEN Club prize
• 1996: Nobel Prize for Literature

Clouds by Wisława Szymborska.

I’d have to be really quick
to describe clouds -
a split second’s enough
for them to start being something else.

Their trademark:
they don’t repeat a single
shape, shade, pose, arrangement.

Unburdened by memory of any kind,
they float easily over the facts.

What on earth could they bear witness to?
They scatter whenever something happens.

Compared to clouds,
life rests on solid ground,
practically permanent, almost eternal.

Next to clouds
even a stone seems like a brother,
someone you can trust,
while they’re just distant, flighty cousins.

Let people exist if they want,
and then die, one after another:
clouds simply don't care
what they're up to
down there.

And so their haughty fleet
cruises smoothly over your whole life
and mine, still incomplete.

They aren't obliged to vanish when we're gone.
They don't have to be seen while sailing on.

Translated by Stanislaw Baranczak and Clare Cavanagh.

Saturday, January 21, 2012

Three in the Morning, a poem by Judith Viorst.

Post 653 - Judith Stahl Viorst was born in Newark, NJ in 1931. She graduated from Rutgers University in 1952 and subsequently from the Washington Psychoanalytic Institute in 1981 where she’s now a research affiliate. She lectures widely on topics, ranging from the subjects of loss and control to children's literature. She lives in Washington, DC with her husband Milton, a political writer.
Viorst received an Emmy Award for poetic monologues written for a CBS television special, Annie, the Woman in the Life of a Man, in 1970. She received the Foremother Award for lifetime achievements from the National Research Center for Women & Families in 2011.
She says her first writing attempt when she was seven or eight was a poem to her dead mother and father - who were both actually alive and not particularly pleased with their poetic fate!

Three (O'Clock) in the Morning.

At three in the morning I used to be sleeping an untroubled
sleep in my bed.
But lately at three in the morning I'm tossing and turning,
Awakened by hypochondria, and gas, and nameless dread,
Whose name I've been learning. (worry)

At three in the morning I brood about what my cholesterol
count might reveal,
And the pains in my chest start progressing from gentle to racking,
While certain intestinal problems make clear that the onions
I ate with my meal
Plan on counter attacking.

At three in the morning I look toward the future with blankets
pulled over my ears,
And all of my basic equipment is distinctly diminished.
My gums are receding, my blood pressure's high, and I can't
begin listing my fears
Or I'll never get finished.
At three in the morning I used to be sleeping but lately I wake
and reflect

That my girlhood has gone and I'll now have to manage without it.
They tell me that I'm heading into my prime. From the previews
I do not expect
To be crazy about it.

Monday, January 16, 2012

The Contortionist’s Wife, a poem by Bill Meissner.

Post 652 - Bill Meissner is the Director of Creative Writing at St. Cloud State University in St. Cloud, Minnesota and the author of seven books. His writing has appeared in more than 200 journals, magazines and anthologies. His numerous awards include a National Endowment for the Arts Creative Writing Fellowship, a Loft-McKnight Award in Poetry, a Loft-McKnight Award of Distinction in Fiction, a Minnesota State Arts Board Fellowship, a Jerome Foundation Fellowship, and five PEN/NEA Syndicated Fiction Awards. He's one of my favorite poets.

The Contortionist’s Wife.

She knows him, yet she doesn’t always recognize him -
some mornings she finds him in the kitchen cupboard
flattened among the cereal boxes,
some evenings, he’s folded beneath her chair
when she sits down for dinner.
Once he surprised her when he rose from the washing machine tub
like a genie, gave her three wishes
and a box of Cheer.

Some days she doesn’t know if he’s shaping himself
or if she’s shaping him. All she knows is the way
he twists her emotions: he makes her laugh, he makes her cry.

She’s not sure if it’s funny that he
could be lying between the sheets of her bed without her
noticing him.
Some times he’s closer to her than she ever imagined, like the
tub full of warm bath water she slides herself into.
Sometimes he’s distant, pinpricks of stars in the night sky.
But most often he’s both near and far, lifting himself
from the vase in the corner, his smile full of flowers.

Ah, she wishes she could be a contortionist, too.
She wishes she could be the one to surprise him
some morning, disguising herself as the wheat bread
popping from the toaster
or the coat rack as he reaches for his jacket.
She gazes at her stiff flesh with the brittle bones inside,
thinking if only she could slip herself around his finger
like a ring he didn’t know he was wearing
for the rest of his life.

Thursday, January 5, 2012

Awkward Party Talk, a poem by Tanya Davis.

Post 651 - Tanya Davis is a Canadian poet, storyteller, musician and a singer-songwriter. Since bursting onto the Halifax music scene in 2006 with her debut, Make a List, Tanya has garnered praise from industry, audience, and peers, as well as multiple award nominations, including one for her sophomore release, Gorgeous Morning, for the 2009 ECMA Female Recording of the Year. She is a two-time winner in the CBC National Poetry Face-off as well as the Canadian Winner of the 2008 Mountain Stage NewSong contest. In 2009, with support from Bravo, she collaborated with independent filmmaker Andrea Dorfman to produce a short videopoem entitled How to Be Alone; the short has since been featured at numerous film festivals, including The Vancouver Film Fest, The Worldwide Short Film Festival, and the VideoPoetry Festival (Berlin). It also has 1.8 million views on Youtube.

Awkward Party Talk by Tanya Davis.

Hello. Do you wish to make small talk?
ok. my name is tanya, i am 30 years old
oh, that is not appropriate information to lay out on the table
okay then, my name is tanya and i am an adult
who are you?
I mean.. and your name? Is?
And what do you do?
Oh, i see, you are a job
well, i have a job, too
i also eat and sleep and breathe and drink and poo
you know, the essentials
i am, after all, merely a mammal
oh, your drive is here and you gotta run?
Ok, nice talking to you

hi. i am a child of the age of aquarius
and i wish my parents had named me something more daring and glamorous
like tatianna
which means princess in russian but they just named me tanya
what is your name?
Oh, hi bob.
And why did you come to this party?
Oh, you know so-and-so, well that's neat
i came for the chips and dip
i knew they'd be here
i also think i should go out more, so people don't forget me
and also, i don't like bars but i do like company
and i like to watch people dancing and humping
oh, i don't mean, like, people having sex in the living room
although i would watch that, too, if it was happening right now
no, i mean dancing to attract mates
there's interesting dynamics at house parties, don't you think?
Oh, you need to go get another drink?
Ok, nice talking to you

hi. tanya.
Nice to meet you
oh, that's a great handshake
do you have strong arms, too?
Hahahah.... ooooh
those are nice
i like where biceps connect to shoulders
i like strong and defined shoulders
girls or guys, i like both
to have them over me at night, i like them to hold me down like i am the project and they are the vice
oh, am i making you shy?
never mind, i talk too much
no? you don't think?
Okay, great, well my boyfriend in high school
caused me internal ridicule
when i told him i wanted to have strong shoulders
and he said “what kind of guy wants to date a girl with strong shoulders
that won't do”
and so now when i love strong shoulders on the bodies of my lovers
i can't tell if i want them
or want to be them, you know?
Oh, you have to go?
Ok, nice talking to you.

hi. (eat a chip)