Living Life as a Poet

We present this work in honor of the 10th anniversary of the poet’s death.

06-21 Kroetsch
Robert Kroetsch
Canadian
1927 – 2011

 

I hope I can resist. It’s a stupid idea.
What I was thinking was,
I could buy an estate in the Florida Keys,

mix with the Hemingway look-alikes.
I’d have to grow my beard longer.
Too bad I’m a little short of cash.

I suppose I could rent a house
somewhere on the Mexican coast.
They say the prices are right,

if you don’t mind the drug wars.
I can say please in Spanish, Por favor.
Too bad my stomach can’t take jalapenos.

I suppose I could borrow a tent
from one of my camping friends.
A summer on Lake Athabasca.

Not too close to the tar sands.
Commune with nature. Poach a moose.
Too bad I’m afraid of guns.

Well, finally, I suppose I could just stay put
where I am, drink coffee, rewrite this poem.
What a stupid idea. I hope I can resist.

Interiors

In honor of the Argentine holiday, National Flag Day, we present this work by one of the country’s most representative poets.

06-20 Bignozzi
Juana Bignozzi
Argentine
1937 – 2015

 

lost the first sense of solidarity
lost horizontal solidarity
neighbor friend corner grocer
in private no one recounts his life story these days
where now are those Renaissance kitchens
the houses of the Carpathians
there will be no museum for our interiors
like a fundamentalist veil some women have salvaged
a universe conquered by my grandmothers
children flora men in permanent distraction or
literary fantasies
while grand women
water patio plants

Because of This Modest Style

We present this work in honor of the 100th anniversary of the poet’s death.

06-19-Velarde
Ramón López Velarde
Mexican
1888 – 1921

 

It’s how she spreads, without a sound, her scent
of orange blossom on the dark of me,
it is the way she shrouds in mourning black
her mother-of-pearl and ivory, the way
she wears the lace ruff at her throat, and how
she turns her face, quite voiceless, self-possessed,
because she takes the language straight to heart,
is thrifty with the words she speaks.
                                                              It’s how
she is so reticent yet welcoming
when she comes out to face my panegyrics,
the way she says my name
mocking and mimicking, makes gentle fun,
yet she’s aware that my unspoken drama
is really of the heart, though a little silly;
it’s how, when night is deep and at its darkest,
we linger after dinner, vaguely talking
and her laughing smile grows fainter and then falls
gently on the tablecloth; it’s the teasing way
she won’t give me her arm and then allows
deep feeling to come with us when we walk out,
promenading on the hot colonial boulevard. . .

Because of this, your sighing, modest style
of love, I worship you, my faithful star
who like to cloud yourself about in mourning,
generous, hidden blossom; kindly
mellowness who have presided over
my thirty years with the self-denying singleness
a vase has, whose half-blown roses wreathe with scent
the headboard of a convalescent man;
cautious nurse, shy
serving maid, dear friend who trembles
with the trembling of a child when you revise
the reading that we share; apprehensive, always timid
guest at the feast I give; my ally,
humble dove that coos when it is morning
in a minor key, a key that’s wholly yours.

May you be blessed, modest, magnificent;
you have possessed the highest summit of my heart,
you who are at once the artist
of lowly and most lofty things, who bear in your hands
my life as if it was your work of art!

O star and orange blossom, may you dwindle
gently rocked in an unwedded peace,
and may you fade out like a morning star
which the lightening greenness of a meadow darkens
or like a flower that finds transfiguration
on the blue west, as it might on a simple bed.

Like Flitting Philomel Who Flies So Proudly Free

06-18 Tullia
Tullia d’Aragona
Italian
1510 – 1556

 

Like flitting Philomel, who flies so proudly free
having escaped the prison of her hated cage,
who goes among the wooded groves and greens
returning to her former happy life in liberty,

so had I escaped from love’s handcuffs,
scorning all suffering and the special bitter pain
of the sorrow beyond belief, reserved for the one
who has lost her soul through excess, loving love.

As the Cyprian knows well (oh, merciless star!)
I had gathered up my spoils from her temple
and for their proud price I had gone elsewhere;

when to me, Love said: I will alter
(to renew my pangs) your perverse will.

And made me your virtue’s prisoner.

The Water

06-17 Arteche
Miguel Arteche
Chilean
1926 – 2012

 

I woke up at midnight
the whole house set sail.
In the early morning,
there was rain with rain.
The house was in silence,
the mountains restrained,
that night, one could hear
but the falling rain.
I saw me that night
searching vents in vain;
at home, and the world,
no brothers, mum, friends.
The space was dark, cold,
and cold the ship stayed
with me. Who moved all
lonely candle flames?
No one told me, go,
No one told me, stay,
inside, within me,
Home, I left away.
She saw who I was,
she seemed far someday.
I couldn’t lean back
on the pillow’s surface.
That midnight I searched
while the house sailed straight.
Above the world hearing
but the fall of rain.

Student Protest

We present this work in honor of the South African holiday, Youth Day.

06-16 Thomas
Gladys Thomas
South African
b. 1934

 

They stood there
on the steps of the cathedral
a valiant band of youth
who had no need of standing there
and I safe on the other side

I stood watching
their banners screamed our protest
making our cause their own
their voices clear of fear
and I did not utter a word.

They were lashed
their fair faces stained crimson
man nor maid was spared
as authority showed its might
and I watched and wept my shame

from The Distaff

06-15 Erinna
Erinna
Greek
c. 500 B.C.

 

…From white horses with madcap bound into the deep wave you leapt: “I catch you,” I shouted, “my friend!” And you, when you were Tortoise, ran leaping through the yard of the great court.

Thus I lament, unhappy Baucis, and make deep moan for you. These traces of you, dear maid, lie still glowing in my heart: all that we once enjoyed, is embers now.

We clung to our dolls in our chambers when we were girls, playing Young Wives, without a care. And towards dawn your Mother, who allotted wool to her attendant workwomen, came and called you to help with the salted meat. Oh, what a trembling the Bogy brought us then, when we were little ones! – On its head were huge ears, and it walked on all fours, and changed from one face to another!

But when you went to a man’s bed, you forgot all that you heard from your Mother, dear Baucis, in babyhood: Aphrodite set oblivion in your heart. So I lament you, yet neglect your obsequies — my feet are not so profane as to leave the house, my eyes may not behold a body dead, nor may I moan with hair unbound, yet a blush of shame distracts me…

The Song of Quoodle

We present this work in honor of the 85th anniversary of the poet’s death.

06-14 Chesterton
G.K. Chesterton
English
1874 – 1936

 

They haven’t got no noses,
The fallen sons of Eve;
Even the smell of roses
Is not what they supposes;
But more than mind discloses
And more than men believe.

They haven’t got no noses,
They cannot even tell
When door and darkness closes
The park a Jew encloses,
Where even the law of Moses
Will let you steal a smell.

The brilliant smell of water,
The brave smell of a stone,
The smell of dew and thunder,
The old bones buried under,
Are things in which they blunder
And err, if left alone.

The wind from winter forests,
The scent of scentless flowers,
The breath of brides’ adorning,
The smell of snare and warning,
The smell of Sunday morning,
God gave to us for ours

And Quoodle here discloses
All things that Quoodle can,
They haven’t got no noses,
And goodness only knowses
The Noselessness of Man.

Molecular Theory

We present this work in honor of the poet’s 120th birthday.

06-13 Beaglehole
J.C. Beaglehole Kiwi 1901 – 1971

 

Noiseless, unnursed, the country rose
Is born, and quietly it goes:
The unheard bright anemone
Blooms for the eye alone to see.

Never a sigh, never a groan
Utters this unmarked casual stone,
There breaks no breath from this dull wood
To hear, I know, nor ever should.

Yet do I know that stone, wood, flower
Travail and sicken every hour—
Deep, deep about the hidden core
A thousand systems meet at war.

A thousand suns are brought to birth
And shattered in the very earth
Beneath my feet; without a sound
Pulses the long-tormented ground.

And yet, I think, could I but hear
Once, suddenly, with quickened ear,
Might I not start, as saw my eye
A petal fall, to catch a cry?