highlyeccentric: Sign on Little Queen St - One Way both directions (Default)
Animal femurs
ascribed to saints who never
existed, are still

more holy than portraits
of conquerors who,
unfortunately, did.




Aaaaand that concludes the poem-a-day 2013 project folks. Going out with a whimper and irregular posting in the last week of the year, due to the vagaries of travel, but such is life. Including this post, I managed an average of 0.6 poems per day or 4.9 poems per week throughout the year.
highlyeccentric: Firefley - Kaylee - text: "shiny" (Shiny)
Brother Paul! look!
—but he rushes to a different
window.
The moon!

I heard shrieks and thought:
What's that?

That's just Suzanne
talking to the moon!
Pounding on the window
with both fists:

Paul! Paul!

—and talking to the moon.
Shrieking
and pounding the glass
with both fists!

Brother Paul! the moon!




Thank [personal profile] lotesse for this one, if I recall my readlist correctly.
highlyeccentric: A green wing (wing)
Jeanne, I have spent days arranging
this bowl of fruit, all for you,
knowing how much you love fruit
(not to eat, of course, but to examine),
and I’ve been careful to make sure
the bananas are the shape of bananas,
that the oranges rhyme with oranges,
and for your pleasure I’ve included
a lone pear, which may signify
something to you I haven’t intended,
which is my intention.
No doubt you’ve begun to question
why the quince and the apple
are so close together, and (knowing you)
if there might be a worm
in the apple, whether this gift
is a gift at all. And perhaps it’s true
that I’ve covered up the worm hole
with putty, painted over it perfectly,
though this would be a mystery
that only can be solved
by cutting open or biting into,
letting the juices run down the sides
of your mouth, or onto your hands.
It would be the kind of bold probing
I would love for you to love, the final
messiness of theory, still life breaking open
into live, the discovery that the secret worm,
if real, will not permit you any distance.
But surely by now you’ve come to realize
there is no worm, only this bowl of fruit
made of words, only these seductions
highlyeccentric: Sign on Little Queen St - One Way both directions (Default)
The saints cannot distinguish
between being with other people and being
alone: another good reason for becoming one.

They live in trees and eat air.
Staring past or through us, they see
things which we would call not there.
We on the contrary see them.

They smell of old fur coats
stored for a long time in the attic.
When they move they ripple.
Two of them passed here yesterday,
filled and vacated and filled
by the wind, like drained pillows
blowing across a derelict lot,
their twisted and scorched feet
not touching the ground,
their feathers catching in thistles.
What they touched emptied of colour.

Whether they are dead or not
is a moot point.
Shreds of they litter history,
a hand here, a bone there:
is it suffering or goodness
that makes them holy,
or can anyone tell the difference?

Though they pray, they do not pray
for us. Prayers peel off them
like burned skin healing.
Once they tried to save something,
others or their own souls.
Now they seem to have no use,
like the colours on blind fish.
Nevertheless they are sacred.

They drift through the atmosphere,
their blue eyes sucked dry
by the ordeal of seeing,exuding gaps in the landscape as water
exudes mist. They blink
and reality shivers.
highlyeccentric: Sign on Little Queen St - One Way both directions (Default)
In the worst hour of the worst season
of the worst year of a whole people
a man set out from the workhouse with his wife.
He was walking - they were both walking - north.

She was sick with famine fever and could not keep up.
He lifted her and put her on his back.
He walked like that west and west and north.
Until at nightfall under freezing stars they arrived.

In the morning they were both found dead.
Of cold. Of hunger. Of the toxins of a whole history.
But her feet were held against his breastbone.
The last heat of his flesh was his last gift to her.

Let no love poem ever come to this threshold.
There is no place here for the inexact
praise of the easy graces and sensuality of the body.
There is only time for this merciless inventory:

Their death together in the winter of 1847.
Also what they suffered. How they lived.
And what there is between a man and a woman.
And in which darkness it can best be proved.
highlyeccentric: French vintage postcard - a woman in feminised army uniform of the period (General de l'avenir)
Come, neighbour, take a walk with me,
Thro' many a London Street;
And see the cause of penury,
In hundreds we shall meet.

We shall not need to travel far—
Behold that great man's door;
He well discerns that idle crew,
From the deserving poor.

He will relieve with liberal hand
The child of honest thrift:
But where long scores at Gin-ships stand
He will with-hold his gift

Behold that shivering female there,
Who plies her woeful trade!
'Tis ten to one you'll find that Gin
That hopeless wretch has made.

Look down those steps, and view below
Yon cellar under ground;
There every want, and every woe,
And every Sin, is found.

Those little wretches trembling there,
With hunger and with cold,
Were by their parents love of drink,
To Sin and Misery sold...

To prison dire misfortunes oft
The guiltless debtor bring;
Yet oft'ner far it will be found
From Gin the misery springs.

See the pale Manufact'rer there,
How lank and lean he lies!
How haggard is his sickly cheek!
How dim his hollow eyes!

He plied the loom with good success,
His wages still were high;
Twice what the village lab'rer gains,
His master did supply.

No book-debts kept him from his cash,
All paid as soon as due;
His wages on the Saturday
To fail be never knew.

How amply had his gains sufficed,
On wife and children spent!
But all must for his pleasure go;
All to the Gin-shop went.

See that apprentice, young in years;
But hackney'd long in sin,
What made him rob his master's till?
Alas! 'twas love of Gin.

That serving Man—I knew him once,
So jaunty, spruce, and smart!
Why did he steal, and pawn the plate?
'Twas Gin ensnared his heart.

But hark! what dismal sound is that?
'Tis Saint Sepulchre's bell!
It tolls, alas! for human guilt,
Some malefactor's knell

O! woeful sound, O! what could cause,
Such punishment and sin?
Hark! hear his words, he owns the cause—
Bad Company and Gin.

And when the future Lot is fixed,
Of darkness, fire and chains,
How can the drunkard hope to 'scape
Those everlasting pains?

For if the murderer's doomed to woe,
As holy writ declares,
The Drunkard with Self-murderers
That dreadful portion shares.




Stanzas from the (long) original as selected in Eighteenth Century Women Poets: An Anthology ed. Roger Lonsdale. Interestingly, the Oxford Text Archive transcribes a version set in Dublin, and bemoaning the ills of whiskey.

Today's poem is brought to you by end-of-semester G&Ts with various colleagues, including an impromptu lesson on the social history of gin by Lecturer 18th c. You may wish to accompany this poem with Hogarth's 'Beer Street and Gin Lane'
highlyeccentric: Tea: it's what winners drink (Tea - for winners)
I cannot change them,
I am told by you people
who apply the rule of leopards
to the two-legged ape
who fancies himself better
than those who go about on four.

Why would I wish to change them,
though they do little to blend
me to the gray walls of my cage?
I am not gifted to ask
myself or others what a spot is
or what a spot is not.
We are given what we have
and left with what we’ve got.
highlyeccentric: The pevensie siblings in the sun (Four pevensies)
To my Niece, A.M. With a new Pair of Shoes on her first going alone. Written Dec. 22, 1774

When little girls begin to walk,
Their next attempt should be to talk.
Then why thus, Nancy, why thus long
Do you persist to hold your tongue?
Full sixteen months gone o'er your head,
And not a word by you been said!
Oh! let it never once be told
That silence reigned in a girl so old!
But let us hear, by Christmas day,
Your speech at last hath found its way:
In lisping accents sweetly prattle
Of fine new shoes, of doll, and rattle,
And prove to all your friends around
Your sex's province you have found.
highlyeccentric: Slightly modified sign: all unFUCKed items will be cleared by friday afternoon. FUCK you. (All unfucked items will be discarded. Fu)
You bid me write, Sir, I comply,
Since I my grave airs can't deny.
But say, how can my Muse declare
The situation of the fair,
That full six hours had sat, or more,
And never once been out of door?
Tea, wine and punch, Sir, to be free
Excellent diuretics be:
I made it so appear, it's true,
When at your house, last night, with you:
Blushing, I own, to you I said,
'I should be glad you called a maid.'
'The girls,' you answered, 'are far from home,
Nor can I guess when they'll return.'
Then in contempt you came to me,
And sneering cried, 'Dear Miss, make free;
Let me conduct you - don't be nice -
Or if a basin is your choice,
To fetch you one I'll instant fly.'
I blushed, but could make no reply;
confused to find myself the joke,
I sat silent till Trueworth spoke:
'To go with me, Miss, don't refuse,
Your loss the freedom will excuse.'
To him my hand reluctant gave,
And out he lead me very grave;
Whilst you and Chatfree laughed aloud
As if to dash a maid seemed proud.
But I the silly jest despise,
Since well I know each man's that's wise
All affectation does disdain,
Since it in prudes and coxcombes reign:
So I repent not what I've done:
Adieu - enjoy your empty fun.




For reference, the poet had been blind since age of twelve - thus the need for a maid to assist her after drinking tea, wine and punch. I thought this a striking example of how much the social delicacies of performed femininity - which are kind of crappy for everone - particularly disadvantage people with disabilities. You can't exactly pretend you're a delicate creature who never excretes if you need assistance from others, but you're still subject to the dictates of modesty and embarrassment.
highlyeccentric: Sign on Little Queen St - One Way both directions (Default)
Only the feathers floating around the hat
Showed that anything more spectacular had occurred
Than the usual drowning. The police preferred to ignore
The confusing aspects of the case,
And the witnesses ran off to a gang war.
So the report filed and forgotten in the archives read simply
“Drowned,” but it was wrong: Icarus
Had swum away, coming at last to the city
Where he rented a house and tended the garden.

“That nice Mr. Hicks” the neighbors called,
Never dreaming that the gray, respectable suit
Concealed arms that had controlled huge wings
Nor that those sad, defeated eyes had once
Compelled the sun. And had he told them
They would have answered with a shocked,
uncomprehending stare.
No, he could not disturb their neat front yards;
Yet all his books insisted that this was a horrible mistake:
What was he doing aging in a suburb?
Can the genius of the hero fall
To the middling stature of the merely talented?

And nightly Icarus probes his wound
And daily in his workshop, curtains carefully drawn,
Constructs small wings and tries to fly
To the lighting fixture on the ceiling:
Fails every time and hates himself for trying.

He had thought himself a hero, had acted heroically,
And dreamt of his fall, the tragic fall of the hero;
But now rides commuter trains,
Serves on various committees,
And wishes he had drowned.




I'm a total sucker for Icarus poems.
highlyeccentric: French vintage postcard - a woman in feminised army uniform of the period (General de l'avenir)
I want to spend a lot but not all of my years with you.
We’ll talk about kids
but make plans to travel.
I will remember your eyes
as green when they were gray.
Our dogs will be named For Now and Mostly.
Sex will be good but next door’s will sound better.

There will be small things.
I will pick up your damp towel from the bed,
and then I won’t.
I won’t be as hot as I was
when I wasn’t yours
and your hairline now so
untrustworthy.
When we pull up alongside a cattle car
and hear the frightened lows,
I will silently judge you
for not immediately renouncing meat.
You will bring me wine
and notice how much I drink.

The garden you plant and I plant
is tunneled through by voles,
the vowels
we speak aren’t vows,
but there’s something
holding me here, for now,
like your eyes, which I suppose
are brown, after all.
highlyeccentric: Sheer Geekiness, unfortunately - I just think this stuff is really cool (phd comics) (Sheer Geekiness)
MARK but this flea, and mark in this,
How little that which thou deniest me is ;
It suck'd me first, and now sucks thee,
And in this flea our two bloods mingled be.
Thou know'st that this cannot be said
A sin, nor shame, nor loss of maidenhead ;
Yet this enjoys before it woo,
And pamper'd swells with one blood made of two ;
And this, alas ! is more than we would do.

O stay, three lives in one flea spare,
Where we almost, yea, more than married are.
This flea is you and I, and this
Our marriage bed, and marriage temple is.
Though parents grudge, and you, we're met,
And cloister'd in these living walls of jet.
Though use make you apt to kill me,
Let not to that self-murder added be,
And sacrilege, three sins in killing three.

Cruel and sudden, hast thou since
Purpled thy nail in blood of innocence?
Wherein could this flea guilty be,
Except in that drop which it suck'd from thee?
Yet thou triumph'st, and say'st that thou
Find'st not thyself nor me the weaker now.
'Tis true ; then learn how false fears be ;
Just so much honour, when thou yield'st to me,
Will waste, as this flea's death took life from thee.




One of the rare occasions when I share a text I'm teaching. First-years are disapointingly bad at being dirty-minded. Why, in MY day we had three innuendos before breakfast!

Only in teaching it did I notice the weird amount of trinitarian references and the 'blood of innocence' / guilt thing which makes me think of Pilate's wife's words re: Christ. You filthy-minded sacriligeous weirdo, John Donne.
highlyeccentric: A green wing (wing)
Of many reasons I love you here is one

the way you write me from the gate at the airport
so I can tell you everything will be alright

so you can tell me there is a bird
trapped in the terminal all the people
ignoring it because they do not know
what do with it except to leave it alone
until it scares itself to death

it makes you terribly terribly sad

You wish you could take the bird outside
and set it free or (failing that)
call a bird-understander
to come help the bird

All you can do is notice the bird
and feel for the bird and write
to tell me how language feels
impossibly useless

but you are wrong

You are a bird-understander
better than I could ever be
who make so many noises
and call them song

These are your own words
your way of noticing
and saying plainly
of not turning away
from hurt

you have offered them
to me I am only
giving them back

if only I could show you
how very useless
they are not
highlyeccentric: Sir Not apearing-in-this-film (sir not appearing)
I'm a strange composition as e'er was in nature,
Being wondrously studious and yet a great prater.
Retirement and quiet I love beyond measure,
Yet I am always ready for parties of pleasure.
I can cry till I laugh, or laugh till I cry,
Yet few have a temper more equal than I.
My shape is but clumsy, I see it and know it,
Yet I am always dancing and skipping to show it.
My visage is round, just the shape of a bowl,
With a great pair of grey eyes resembling an owl.
My nose and my mouth are none of the least,
Though one serves me to smell and the other to taste.
What I gain in these features makes up for no chin,
But here's my misfortune, my smile's a broad grin.
My temper is rather addicted to satire,
And yet, without vanity, fraught with good nature.
My friends I can laugh at, but most at myself.
I've no inclination for titles or pelf;
And this I can vouch for, believe me or nay,
To my friend's my own interest does always give way.
I really am cleanly, but yet my discourse,
If you're squeamish, may make you sick as a horse.
Without any voice, I can sing you a song,
And though I grow old, I shall always be young.
I put on assurance, though nat'rally shy,
And most people love me, though none can tell why.
I'm not yet disposed of: come bid for a blessing,
For those who first guess me shall have me for guessing.
highlyeccentric: Tea: it's what winners drink (Tea - for winners)
The day begins with a fog
that will not unroll. The weather
is falling everywhere, everywhere
we sit the grass bleeds to the touch.

What we have not yet said will not get said.
When you unzip your dress
a thousand insects run for cover,
the goldenrod breaks into a slow swoon.

Your touch is like the touch
of the wasp undulating in its nest,
your tongue the quick lash
of a mirror breaking on the wrist.

Everything else can wait, but will not.
highlyeccentric: Sign on Little Queen St - One Way both directions (Default)
I was so bored yesterday evening
two packs of cigarettes did absolutely nothing for me.
Tried to write, wrote nothing.
For the first time in years I played the violin,
walked around,
watched people play backgammon
and made appropriate comments,
sang songs off key,
caught flies — a matchboxful.
Finally, dammit!
I came here to see you...
highlyeccentric: A woman in a tuxedo, looking determined (tux - dressed and ready)
All song is formal, and you
Maybe felt this and decided
You’d be formal too. (The eyeliner, the beehive: formal.)

When a desire to escape becomes formal,
It’s dangerous. Then escape requires
Nullity, rather than a walk in the park or a movie.
Eventually, nullity gets harder and
Harder to achieve. After surgery, I had
Opiates. I pushed the button as often as I could.
Understood by music was how I felt. An escape
So complete it became a song. After that,
Elegy’s the only necessary form.




Published in Poetry Magazine Dec 2013. Click through for elegies to Steve Jobs, Troy Davis, Lucian Freud and Donna Summer.
highlyeccentric: Teacup - text: while there's tea there's hope (while there's tea there's hope)
At [personal profile] majoline's request, some thoughts on the year of poetry posting:

I'm finding it really hard to envision *ceasing* to post daily poems. I thought, when I wrote a series of reflections for [community profile] poetree a few months ago, that I would be incredibly glad to stop, but now I'm faced with two points of consternation: one, what are the chances that I will finish the two anthologies I'm working through, and two, what am I supposed to do with things I read now?

I really struggle with the process of reading without some form of associated output, can you tell?

It's interesting how separate poem-a-day remains from my teaching. I'm teaching detailed poetic analysis and I really have no desire to try that out on the poems I post here - although this week I learned about 'zeugma' and you bet I'll post here the first poem I find in the wild with a zeugma in it. I want a whole poem FULL of zeugmas!*




This has been your first December prompted post! Pls to be giving more prompts.

Week 1 - Poetry meme, as per [personal profile] majoline
Week 2 -
Week 3 -
Week 4 -



~

* Tangentially, today I taught my class about Dad Jokes. I told them many zeugmas were puns, but not all puns were zeugmas, and then they wanted examples of non-zeugma puns.
highlyeccentric: Why did the monkey fall out of the tree? Because it was dead. Don't laugh, it happens. (Why did the monkey fall out of the tree)
1
Pray, where would lamb and lion be
If they could lay down in amity?
Could lamb then nibble living grass?
Lamb and lion both must starve;
Bird and flower, too, must die of love.

2
I go a new dry way, permit no weather
Here, on undertaker’s false green sod
Where I sit down beneath my false tin tree.
There’s too much danger in a cloud,
In wood or field, or close to moving water.
With my black blood - who can tell?
The dart of one mosquito might be fatal;

Or in the flitting dusk a bat
Might carry away my destiny,
Hang it upside down from a rafter
In a barn unknown to me.

I hide my skin within the barren city
Where artificial moons pull no man’s tide,
And so escape my green love till the day
Vine breaks through brick and strangles me.

Parts 3 through 5 )




Once again from the Oxford Book of Canadian Verse. You can find a recording of this poem by the author at the U Toronto library website
highlyeccentric: Angel Coulby's feet in red boots (angel's feet)
Because you were foolish enough to love one place,
now you are homeless, an orphan
in a succession of shelters.
You did not prepare yourself sufficiently.
Before your eyes, two people were becoming old;
I could have told you two deaths were coming.
There has never been a parent
kept alive by a child's love.

Now, of course, it's too late --
you were trapped in the romance of fidelity.
You kept going back, clinging
to two people you hardly recognized
after what they'd endured.

If once you could have saved yourself,
now that time's past: you were obstinate, pathetically
blind to change. Now you have nothing:
for you, home is a cemetery.
I've seen you press your face against the granite markers --
you are the lichen, trying to grow there.
But you will not grow,
you will not let yourself
obliterate anything.

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