Wednesday Afternoon

Karlo Mila
b. 1974


My father is “having fun”
cleaning the floor
he uses the plugged in sink as a bucket
wears rags on his feet
and shimmies to a cleaning beat
he asks me to read the label
on the bottle for him
he wants our floor to shine
and laughs when (surprise)
it does
this is how I will remember him
moonwalking across our kitchen floor
rags under his feet
“that’s how my mother taught me”
he says
“but I never take any note
it takes me forty years to do what she say”

First Green

Staceyann Chin
b. 1972


Earmark me images
speckles pretty
with the tears of a child

open windows and summer
ominous air-marked with the first green

over-turned poems
mouths tinkling humor

pages rustling
sensible shoes

they unwind me
orange and gray laces

you/me entwined/separate
ice cream hinting the weather

may soon be

This self-sufficient black lady has shaken things up

We present this work in honor of the Buddha’s birthday.

Yeshe Tsogyel
c. 757 – 817


Listen, faithful Tibetans!
I am merging with the fundamental, the ground of all that is—
physical pain and suffering are disappearing…

The son, the inner elements of my body,
is reuniting with the mother, the outer elements.
Her physical remains will disappear into earth and stone.

The compassion of the Guru has never left me;
his manifestations fill all the world and call out to welcome me.

This wild lady has done everything;
Many times have I come and gone, but now, no longer.
I am a Tibetan wife sent back to her family.
I shall now appear as the Queen, the All-good, the Dharmakaya.

This self-sufficient black lady
has shaken things up far and wide;
now the shaking will carry me away into the southwest.

I have finished with intrigues,
with the fervent cascades of schemes and deceptions;
I am winding my way into the expanse of the Dharma.

I have mourned many men of Tibet who have left me behind—
but now I am the one who will go to the land of the Buddhas.

Translation by Tarthan Tulku

To the Literary Ladies

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

Dorothy Hewett
1923 – 2002


Here they come the clever ladies
in their detachable Peter Pan collars
their fringes their sober mein
hiding such anger such
subtle vices dizzying torments
how do they manage to keep it intact
that demeanour? Is it something they’ve learned?
Not from George rough-hewn or Emily
choking her mastiff down on the moors.
No it’s Jane with her simpering smile
her malice her maidenly virtues
rustling through the 20th Century seminars
sitting on platforms discussing
manner and style how to instruct
& parry impertinent questions.

Reproach in a Letter on Colored Paper

Shangguan Wan’er
664 – 710


When first leaves fall on Lake Dongting,
I long for you, thousands of miles away.
In heavy dew my scented quilt feels cold,
At moonset, brocade screen deserted.
I would play a Southland melody
And crave to seal a letter to Jibei.
The letter has no other message but
This misery in living long apart.

Translation by Su Zhecong


Ursula Bethell
1874 – 1945


When I am very earnestly digging
I lift my head sometimes, and look at the mountains,
And muse upon them, muscles relaxing.

I think how freely the wild grasses flower there,
How grandly the storm-shaped trees are massed in their gorges,
And the rain-worn rocks strewn in magnificent heaps.

Pioneer plants on those uplands find their own footing,
No vigorous growth, there, is an evil weed;
All weathers are salutary.

It is only a little while since this hillside
Lay untrammelled likewise,
Unceasingly swept by transmarine winds.

In a very little while, it may be,
When our impulsive limbs and our superior skulls
Have to the soil restored several ounces of fertiliser,

The Mother of all will take charge again,
And soon wipe away with her elements
Our small fond human enclosures.

Land of Flame

We present this work in honor of the poet’s 135th birthday.

Berthe Bénichou-Aboulker
1888 – 1942


Everything grows intensely in your soil, Algeria!
Trees, flowers, and golden wheat, protected by Ceres,
Juicy fruits, carnal fruits: Fatma, Rachel, Inès,
Zohra the mulatto or the white Marie.

Why don’t I have, like a cantor, a flowery tongue
Aloe to celebrate the olive grove
Where sometimes the shadow of Cervantes prowls
Pirate’s prisoner in ancient Barbary.

Exhaling scents of mint and henna,
Cities of fiery growth and unbridled luxury:
Algiers, Oran, Cirta, overflowing with sap

Open their white or golden arms like a fan
To receive the day. In iridescent prisms
The rocks or the beach are transformed.