Butterfly Laughter

Katherine Mansfield
Kiwi
1888 – 1923

 

In the middle of our porridge plates
There was a blue butterfly painted
And each morning we tried who should reach the butterfly first.
Then the Grandmother said: “Do not eat the poor butterfly.”
That made us laugh.
Always she said it and always it started us laughing.
It seemed such a sweet little joke.
I was certain that one fine morning
The butterfly would fly out of our plates,
Laughing the teeniest laugh in the world,
And perch on the Grandmother’s lap.

Silence

We present this work in honor of the poet’s 115th birthday.

Robin Hyde
Kiwi
1906 – 1939

 

I am tired of all voices. Friend and fool
Have come too nearly with me to the shrine
That is the secret kept by wind and pine.
Now, when the shadowy hands of dusk are cool
About my eyes, shall silence like a god
Drive them with whips of starlight from his stairs.
Only the small grass striving in its clod,
Only the stream, that fragile moonlight bears
Like blossoms on its breast, move in this place,

All earth lies still as some beloved face
Whose dreaming mouth and deep-curved eyelids make
Bridges to God that lightest sound would break,
Towers where one word would seem iconoclast. . . .
Yet if through darkening trees you came at last,
Wearing the dew of meadows on your shoon,
And in your eyes the blessing of the moon,
I think it would be well. I think our greeting
Would be as quiet as two rivers meeting,
Which, drawn together, sparkling up in foam,
Slide into one bright seeking; and our home
Should be the furthest longing of pale seas,
Beyond the purple caverns of the trees.

Those Like Me

Alda Merini
Italian
1931 – 2009

 

Those like me hand out dreams, even at the cost of being left dreamless…
Those like me give away their soul, because a soul is like a drop of water in the desert.
Those like me stretch out a hand and help you get up,
while running the risk of falling in turn.
Those like me look ahead,
even if their heart is some steps behind
Those like me search for a meaning to existence and, on finding it,
try to impart it to the ones who just survive.
Those like me, when in love, love forever.
and if they stop, it’s only because small fragments of being
lie powerless in the hands of life.
Those like me pursue the dream
of being loved for what they are
and not for what they are expected to be.
Those like me travel the world striving for values that
human souls have long forgotten
Those like me would really like to change,
but this would mean to be born again.
Those like me scream in silence,
so that their voice is not confused with tears.
Those like me are women whose hearts you are definitely going to break
because you know they’ll let you go, without a question.
Those like me love too much, even knowing that, in return,
they’ll receive nothing but crumbs.
Those like me feed on little and sadly build their existence on it
Those like me go unnoticed,
but they are the only women that will really love you
Those like me are the ones that, in the autumn of your life,
you will regret for what they might have given you
and you didn’t accept…

The Horseshoe Shrine

We present this work in honor of Pongal.

Arun Kolatkar
Indian
1932 – 2004

 

That nick in the rock
is really a kick in the side of the hill.
It’s where a hoof
struck

like a thunderbolt
when Khandoba
with the bride sidesaddle behind him on the blue
horse

jumped across the valley
and the three
went on from there like one
spark

fleeing from flint.
To a home that waited
on the other side of the hill like a hay
stack.

All Day I Hear the Noise of Waters

We present this work in honor of the 80th anniversary of the poet’s death.

James Joyce
Irish
1882 – 1941

 

All day I hear the noise of waters
Making moan,
Sad as the sea-bird is when, going
Forth alone,
He hears the winds cry to the water’s
Monotone.

The grey winds, the cold winds are blowing
Where I go.
I hear the noise of many waters
Far below.
All day, all night, I hear them flowing
To and fro.

Eternity Comes Down on the Side of Love

We present this work in honor of Morocco’s Proclamation of Independence.

Abdelmajid Benjelloun
Moroccan
b. 1944

 

I don’t love myself although I am my closest neighbor.

The image of a man leaping on the Moon is no more extraordinary than the immobile stone.

This man is ill. His illness is social. His illness is called hate. He lives, but takes care of himself by hating others.

This comic copies someone who doesn’t exist.

It’s the barque shows the waves in the sea.

Peace is not for export, war is.

There are curtesies rendered for lack for nobleness.

She brings me a glass of thirst. She drinks it with me.

My hands complete, O wonder, the stone in her breasts!

Rock drawings await me at a young girl’s. I must copy them onto my life. Whether she knows it or not.

Steps, sparks on the journey.

Silence, a side effect of the infinite.

Funny: the raindrop fallen on a tree keeps clinging to the branch before dropping to the ground.

A certain poet withdraws into the world.

What I love in this Flemish painter: he paints the inaudible.

A stone: feet planted in silence, head in immobility.

Inert, the stone can face the absolute.

Inertness rises from the stone like the very first dream.

For the stone, immobility is work.

I Have a Rendezvous with Life

We present this work in honor of the 75th anniversary of the poet’s death.

Countee Cullen
American
1903 – 1946

 

I have a rendezvous with Life,
In days I hope will come,
Ere youth has sped, and strength of mind,
Ere voices sweet grow dumb.
I have a rendezvous with Life,
When Spring’s first heralds hum.
Sure some would cry it’s better far
To crown their days with sleep
Than face the road, the wind and rain,
To heed the calling deep.
Though wet nor blow nor space I fear,
Yet fear I deeply, too,
Lest Death should meet and claim me ere
I keep Life’s rendezvous.

Against This Death

We present this work in honor of the 15th anniversary of the poet’s death.

Irving Layton
Canadian
1912 – 2006

 

I have seen respectable
death
served up like bread and wine
in stores and offices,
in club and hostel,
and from the streetcorner
church
that faces
two ways
I have seen death
served up
like ice.

Against this death,
slow, certain:
the body,
this burly sun,
the exhalations
of your breath,
your cheeks
rose and lovely,
and the secret
life
of the imagination
scheming freedom
from labour
and stone.