Tuesday, August 22, 2017

Tuesday Poem: "The Second Going" by Philip Levine



Again the
day begins, only

no one wants its sanity

or its blinding clarity. Daylight is

not what we came all this way for. A

pinch of salt, a drop of schnapps in our cup

of tears, the ticket to the life to come, a short life of

long nights & absent dawns & a little mercy in the tea.



by Philip Levine
Image result for philip levine poet


For more information about poet, Philip Levine, see:


https://www.poetryfoundation.org/poets/philip-Levine

Tuesday, August 15, 2017

Tuesday Poem: "America" by Claude McKay

 
Although she feeds me bread of bitterness,
And sinks into my throat her tiger’s tooth,
Stealing my breath of life, I will confess
I love this cultured hell that tests my youth!
Her vigor flows like tides into my blood,
Giving me strength erect against her hate.
Her bigness sweeps my being like a flood.
Yet as a rebel fronts a king in state,
I stand within her walls with not a shred
Of terror, malice, not a word of jeer.
Darkly I gaze into the days ahead,
And see her might and granite wonders there,
Beneath the touch of Time’s unerring hand,
Like priceless treasures sinking in the sand.

by Claude McKay

mckay
 
For more information on the poet, Claude McKay, see:
 
 

Tuesday, August 8, 2017

Tuesday Poem: "Down the back of the chair" by Margaret Mahy


Our car is slow to start and go. We can’t afford a new one.
Now if you please, Dad’s lost the keys. We’re facing rack and ruin.
No car, no work! No work no pay!
We’re getting poorer day by day.
No wonder Dad is turning grey.
The morning is a blue one.

Nothing but dockets in his pockets.
Raging with despair
Dad acts appalled! Though nearly bald
He tries to tear his hair.
But Mary who is barely two
Said Dad should do what I would do
I lose a lot, but I find a few
Down the back of the chair.

He’s patted himself, and searched the shelf. He’s hunted here and there,
So now he’ll kneel and try to feel right down the back of the chair.
Oh it seemed to grin as his hand went in.
He felt a tingling in his skin.
What will a troubled father win
From down the back of the chair?

Some hairy string and a diamond ring
Were down the back of the chair,
Pineapple peel and a conger eel
Were down the back of the chair
A sip, a sup, a sop, a song. A spider seven inches long,
No wonder that it smells so strong
Down the back of the chair.

A packet of pins and one of the twins
Down the back of the chair.
A pan, a fan that belonged to Gran
Down the back of the chair …
A crumb, a comb, a clown, a cap
A pirate with a treasure map,
A dragon trying to take a nap
Down the back of the chair.

A cake, a drake, a smiling snake,
Down the back of the chair
A string of pearls, a lion with curls
Down the back of the chair
A skink, a skunk, a skate, a ski,
A couple of elephants drinking tea
The bandersnatch and the bumblebee
Down the back of the chair.

But what is this? Oh bliss! Oh bliss!
(Down the back of the chair).
The long lost will of Uncle Bill
(Down the back of the chair).
His money box all crammed with cash
Tangled up in a scarlet sash
There’s pleasure, treasure, toys and trash
Down the back of the chair.

I've found my dreams, our father beams.
(Down the back of the chair).
At last I see how life can be.
(Down the back of the chair).
Forget the keys! We're poor no more
Just call a taxi to the door.
A taxi shot out with a roar
From down the back of the chair.

The chair, the chair, the challenging chair,
The champion chair, the cheerful chair,
The charming chair, the children’s chair,
The chopped and chipped but chosen chair
To think our fortune waited there
Down the back of the chair.

by Margaret Mahy


For more information on poet and author, Margaret Mahy, see:

http://www.bookcouncil.org.nz/writer/mahy-margaret/

Tuesday, August 1, 2017

Tuesday Poem: "Identity" by Håkan Sandell


His identity was always wandering, and though it
was as a lackadaisical dandy that we knew him first,
the old bottles filled with new wine:
then he was an actor, then half a poet,
later on a mechanic, in a motorcycle gang,
though only a minor cog in its design,
then a businessman, then with a (thinning) ponytail again,
appearing in constantly changing shapes.
But when drunk he very precisely with his knife
would carve into his arm his beloved’s name,
so that repeatedly, over two decades, it came
dripping onto the table, always the same,
the living letters a blood-red flame
welling from themselves, from the scar of her name.

     -- Håkan Sandell (translated from the Swedish by Bill Coyle)


For more information about the poet, Hokan Sandell, see:


Tuesday, July 18, 2017

Tuesday Poem: "An Arrangement for Seeing Children" by Edwin Brock


You were born in the front room
of a house behind the police station
and because I was a policeman
the midwife let me stay to watch.

You were not much trouble or so it seemed to me.
She groaned only intermittently
and the lady let me hold her hand.
At the moment of delivery

you managed to get your navel cord caught
like a silk strand around your throat
and this was a symbol I could understand
having done the same thing all my life.

I was not much interested in you then,
you looked as if you had been crudely carved in marble,
but I helped give you your names,
hoping you would fit them as you grew.

When you grew we pointed cameras at you
we stopped you playing, badgered you to stand still,
clicked the little button at the side
and then went on with what we had been doing.

That was all that parenthood required –
you fixed inside a cardboard box.
Thus you would not be forgotten
no matter how faulty our two memories.

And we two? We had reasons and excuses of our own.
We had our lives to lead, each other to enjoy
and a theory about not pampering our children.
We fed you, clothed you and used you by the names that we had chosen.

Now as you know we have broken - I live in one house
and you in another where I call on Saturdays.
I will never be able to explain why this is so
never having understood it for myself.

I know only that your red and freckled head
which waves out of our window points at me –
half way to the bus stop I hear your shutter click
as the road's curve covers me.

And I pray the picture you have taken
will be fogged and faulty
and that you will go on happily
with the things you had been doing.


by Edwin Brock


Photo Credit: Enitharmon Press

For more information on the poet, Edwin Brock, see:



Tuesday, July 11, 2017

Tuesday Poem: "My Blue Piano" by Else Lasker-Schüler


At home I have a blue piano.
But I can't play a note.

It's been in the shadow of the cellar door
Ever since the world went rotten.

Four starry hands play harmonies.
The Woman in the Moon sang in her boat.

Now only rats dance to the clanks.
The keyboard is in bits.

I weep for what is blue. Is dead.
Sweet angels, I have eaten

Such bitter bread. Push open
The door of heaven. For me, for now --

Although I am still alive --
Although it is not allowed.


by Else Lasker-Schüler (translated from the German by Eavan Boland)

For more information about the poet, Else Lasker-Schuler, see:

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Else_Lasker-Sch%C3%BCler
 

Tuesday, July 4, 2017

Tuesday Poem: "Poetry" by Marianne Moore


I, too, dislike it: there are things that are important beyond all this fiddle.
Reading it, however, with a perfect contempt for it, one discovers in
it after all, a place for the genuine.
Hands that can grasp, eyes
that can dilate, hair that can rise
if it must, these things are important not because a
high-sounding interpretation can be put upon them but because they are
useful. When they become so derivative as to become unintelligible,
the same thing may be said for all of us, that we
do not admire what
we cannot understand: the bat
holding on upside down or in quest of something to

eat, elephants pushing, a wild horse taking a roll, a tireless wolf under
a tree, the immovable critic twinkling his skin like a horse that feels a flea, the base-
ball fan, the statistician –
nor is it valid
to discriminate against ‘business documents and school-books’;
all these phenomena are important. One must make a distinction
however: when dragged into prominence by half poets, the result is not poetry,
nor till the poets among us can be
‘literalists of the imagination-‘ above

insolence and triviality and can present

for inspection, ‘imaginary gardens with real toads in them,’ shall we have
it. In the meantime, if you demand on one hand,
the raw material of poetry in
all its rawness, and
that which is on the other hand
genuine, then you are interested in poetry.


by Marianne Moore

 
For more information about poet, Marianne Moore, see:
 
https://www.poetryfoundation.org/poems-and-poets/poets/detail/marianne-moore
 

Tuesday, June 27, 2017

Tuesday Poem (Actually Prose this time around): "Global Village" by Andrew M. Bell




GLOBAL VILLAGE
 
“For my family very good, we no complain. Live Byron Street, got a few small tree, cut away all the old one. Boss, he's a open-a shop in 1954. I'm-a workin' for him since 1968.”
 
There are large Italian and Greek communities and smaller groups from Netherlands, Germany, Poland, Yugoslavia and South-East Asia.
 
LOON FOON CHINESE AND JAPANESE RESTAURANT
 
BUTCHER - FLEISCHER FACHGESCHAFT BREMER CONTINENTAL BUTCHER
 
YUGAL CLUB OF WA INC.
 
“I tink it could be right if officials are right. Ve losink business 'cause of parking. I ring dem, ring dem, ring again. Shire don't care. I've been 17 years. New election, talk very sweet, but do nothink. Extremely unhappy.”
 
Quaint phraseology is one of the hallmarks of history.
 
This Foundation Stone of the Leederville Post Office was laid by The Hon. E.H. Wittenoom M.L.C. Minister for Posts and Telegraphs on the 3rd day of May 1897.
 
Leederville is one of Perth's oldest suburbs. It was named after an early settler, William Leeder, who obtained about 120 hectares of land bordering Lake Monger in the early 1830s.
 
“It is a four-minute drive from the city, 10 minutes from the beach and has easy access to Mitchell Freeway. And then there is Lake Monger. What more could anyone want?"
 
Before the white man came, the district had been called Galup. Natives camped there and one of their leaders was Yagan, who resisted the settlers.
 
YUPPIES FUCK OFF
 
“Old, established area. Uncle's 72, lived here since he was 15. Older type homes. Customers lived here a long time. Population's changing - young, trendy kids moving in and doing up old houses. "
 
It seems Leederville is about to become Perth's next Yuppie suburb. Already the young, trendy professionals are moving into an area, which, for many years has been considered an unfashionable backwater.
 
To enjoy sitting outside of an evening, free from "skeeters", we would place pieces of cow manure on shovels of live coals.
 
VOMIT IN MY MOUTH
 
 
“It used to be a great shopping centre, but it's gone down. Terrific 20 years ago. Less business. More dead.”
 
CHIPPER AND SON – Caring Funeral Directors – 144 Railway Pde Leederville
 
Clean-up plan for the deadly Lake Monger
 
In 1974, the Mitchell Freeway hammered yet another nail in Leederville's coffin.
 
ELEGY WRITTEN NEAR THE MITCHELL FREEWAY
 
The car horns toll the knell of parting day,
The toxic fumes creep slowly o'er the park,
The traffic homeward plods its weary way,
And leaves the world to joggers and the dark.
 
Dusk on Lake Monger. The silhouettes of hundreds of black swans, ducks and other waterfowl move gracefully across the darkening waters rippled now by a cool evening breeze. It is quiet. Peaceful. Just the place to escape the tensions of a day at the office.
 
Once as a party of soldiers crept up on his camp, a flock of cockatoos took fright and flew off with deafening cries, warning him.
 
Lake Monger plan is for the birds
 
THE GOANNA GUN COMPANY - MAKE MY DAY - COME IN
 
Leederville went into decline as the boom years faded.
 
Yagan was eventually caught and killed and the native resistance died down.
 
BOOMERANG LUNCH BAR AND TAKEAWAY
 
Recommended measures include:
* Commissioning a landscape concept plan, in consultation with Aboriginal groups;
* Removal of exotic fish and restocking with native species;
 
(Its chief beauty spot is Monger's Lake, a fine sheet of fresh water about 275 acres in extent, stocked with fish [chiefly English perch, tench, and carp] and provided with excellent boating facilities.)
 
FOR OUR CHILDREN’S SAKE - GET NUKE SHIPS OUT OF AUSSIE PORTS
 
NEW RELEASE – Magic Glow Friends or Puppy Surprise – Save $4
 
God’s Gift to you is Life – What you do with it is your Gift to God
 
Introduction to the Deaf Community and its Culture – A 6-week beginner’s course commencing 26th October 1992 at Leederville Campus.
 
"It's a little village town. The village atmosphere appeals to many overseas visitors. Doctor, shops, school, everything's so compact. Lot of other suburbs all stretched out, no appeal, no atmosphere. All the restaurants give it a touch of Northbridge, touch of multicultural."
 
Pearl River bridge – zhongshan specialty – ingredients: Green bean powder, sugar, almond powder, and edible vegetable oil. Packed by china national cereals, oils and foodstuffs imp. & Exp. Corp. guangdong china
 
Loftus Community Centre – French Speaking Playgroup
                              English for Migrants
 
“I work here and that's about it. It's a very, very Italian town. You go down to the shopping arcade and you feel like you're in Milan."
 
JOHN MARZO DIP. D.C. - THE LONDON-MILAN SARTORIAL SPECIALIST
 
"Friendly, not fast-moving, seems to still be in the '60s. Attitudes, way people dress, no one stressed out. Always hunting 'round for a bargain, not very affluent."
 
BAR BIANCHI - PASTA SPECIAL $6-50 12PM TO 2PM - AGLIO OLIO, NAPOLETANO, LASAGNE, CANNELLONI, BOLOGNESE, PENNA ALL ARABRATA
 
OXFORD RELAXATION CENTRE - WARNING ELECTRONIC SECURITY DEVICES INSTALLED IN THESE PREMISES
 
Beware - bag and till snatchers are busy
 
"Don't talk to me about fuckin' Leederville! I got broken into last night and lost two thousand bucks worth of stock."
 
ABSOLUTE SECURITY - GRILLES DOORS GATES LOCKSMITHS
 
“Like a little country town. Lived here all my life. Gonna grow. It's gonna hit. Then it’ll change. Lose its charm."
 
LEEDERVILLE RETRAVISION
 
Finally, who remembers catching gilgies in Smith's Lake, near the corner of Richmond and Loftus Streets long before houses appeared there?



Old Post Office, Leederville, WA (Copyright unknown)

AUTHOR'S NOTE: I decided to post something a bit different this week. With all the global media coverage of the refugee issues, I thought I'd post this Found Text prose piece that I wrote while living and studying in Perth, Western Australia, in the early 1990s.

From 1988-1994, I lived in Leederville in a small cosmopolitan street not far from the main shopping village area. At that stage, Leederville wasn't a "discovered" trendy, inner-city suburb that it is now. I imagine the population demographic and the cost of housing has changed dramatically.

When I lived there, Leederville was a colourful, cosmopolitan suburb filled with people of many ethnic backgrounds and small shops that reflected that multiculturalism. I used to love wandering around and talking to people with all kinds of backgrounds and stories to tell.

I feel that Australia is doing itself a huge disservice with its recent refugee policy. It is denying itself a cultural diversity and richness and it has become blind to compassion.

This Found text was composed from interviews with local residents and shopkeepers, signs, graffiti, local histories and all manner of advertising pamphlets and other ephemera.




Tuesday, June 20, 2017

Tuesday Poem: "'Cuz He's Black" by Javon Johnson



So I’m driving down the street with my 4 year old nephew.
He, knocking back a juice box, me, a Snapple.

Today, y’all, we are doing manly shit.

I love watching the way his mind works;

He asks a million questions.

“Uncle, why is the sky blue?”

“Uncle, how do cars go?”

“Uncle, why don’t dogs talk?”

“Uncle, uncle, uncle.”

He asks, “Uncle, uncle, uncle.”

He asks, “Uncle, uncle, uncle.”

As if his voice box is a warped record and I try my best to answer every question, I do.

I say, “It’s because the way the sun lights up the outer space.”

“It’s because engines make the wheels go.”

“It’s because their minds aren’t quite like ours.”

I say, “Yes. No. No. Yes. No. Yes. No. I don’t know. Who knows? Maybe.”

We laugh.


He smiles, looks out the window, spots a cop car, drops his seat, and says, “Oh man, uncle. 5-0, we gotta hide.”

I’ll be honest, I’m not happy with the way we raise our black boys.

Don’t like the fact that he learned to hide from the cops well before he knew how to read.

Angrier that his survival depends more on his ability to deal with authorities than it does his own literacy.

“Get up!” I yell at him.

“In this car, in this family, we are not afraid of the law!”

I wonder if he can hear the uncertainty in my voice.

Is today the day he learns that uncle is willing to lie to him?

That I’m more human than I am hero?

We both know the truth is far more complex than ‘do not hide’.

Both know too many black boys who disappeared, names lost.

Know too many Trayvon Martin’s, Oscar Grant’s, and Abner Louima’s.

Know too many Sean Bell’s and Amadou Diallo’s.

Know too well that we are the hard-boiled son’s of Emmett Till,

Still, we both know it’s not about whether or not the shooter is racist.

It’s about how poor black boys are treated as problems well before we’re treated as people.

Black boys, in this country, cannot afford to play cops and robbers if we’re always considered the latter;

Don’t have the luxuries of playing war if we’re already in one.

Where I’m from, seeing cop cars drive down the street feels a lot like low-flying planes in New York City.

Where I’m from, routine traffic stops are more like minefields, any wrong move could very well mean your life.

And how do I look my nephew in his appled face and tell him to be strong when we both know black boys who are murdered every day simply for standing up for themselves?


I take him by the hand.

I say, “Be strong.”

I tell him. I say, “Be smart.”

“Be kind and polite.”

“Know your laws.”

“Be aware of how quickly your hand moves to pocket for wallet or ID.”

“Be more aware of how quickly an officer's hand moves to holster for gun.”

“Be black. Be a boy. Have fun.”

Cause this world will force you to become a man far more quickly than you’ll ever have to need to.

He lets go of my hand.

“But uncle,” he asks.

“Uncle, what happens if the cop is really mean?”

And it scares me to know that he, like so many other black boys, is getting ready for a war I can’t prepare him for.



by Javon Johnson




For more information on poet, Javon Johnson, see:


http://www.huffingtonpost.com/author/javon-Johnson

Tuesday, June 13, 2017

Tuesday Poem: "Your Voice in the Chemo Room" by Max Ritvo



There is a white stone cliff over a dropping slope
sliced along with bare trees.


In the center of the cliff is a round dry fountain

of polished stone. By seizing my whole body up


as I clench my hand I am able to open

the fountain into a drain, revealing below it


the sky, the trees, a brown and uncertain ground.

This is how my heart works, you see?


This is how love works? Have some sympathy

for the great spasms with which I must open


myself to love and close again, and open.

And if I leapt into the fountain, there is just no


telling: I might sever myself clean, or crack

the gold bloom of my head, and I don’t know


onto what uncertain ground I might fold like a sack.



by Max Ritvo



For more information about poet, Max Ritvo, see:



Tuesday, June 6, 2017

Tuesday Poem: "Listen Mr Oxford don" by John Agard



Me not no Oxford don
me a simple immigrant
from Clapham Common
I didn’t graduate
I immigrate

But listen Mr Oxford don
I’m a man on de run
and a man on de run
is a dangerous one

I ent have no gun
I ent have no knife
but mugging de Queen’s English
is the story of my life

I dont need no axe
to split up yu syntax
I dont need no hammer
to mash up yu grammar

I warning you Mr Oxford don
I’m a wanted man
and a wanted man
is a dangerous one

Dem accuse me of assault
on de Oxford dictionary
imagine a concise peaceful man like me
dem want me serve time

for inciting rhyme to riot
but I rekking it quiet
down here in Clapham Common

I’m not a violent man Mr Oxford don
I only armed wit mih human breath
but human breath
is a dangerous weapon

So mek dem send one big word after me
I ent serving no jail sentence
I slashing suffix in self defence
I bashing future wit present tense
and if necessary

I making de Queen’s English accessory to my offence

by John Agard

Photo Credit: Copyright: Jay Blessed 

For more information about poet, John Agard, see:



Tuesday, May 30, 2017

Tuesday Poem: "This Is The Place" by Tony Walsh, a poem to honour the victims of the Manchester Arena bombing


This is the place
In the north-west of England. It’s ace, it’s the best
And the songs that we sing from the stands, from our bands
Set the whole planet shaking.

Our inventions are legends. There’s nowt we can’t make, and so we make brilliant music
We make brilliant bands
We make goals that make souls leap from seats in the stands
And we make things from steel
And we make things from cotton
And we make people laugh, take the mick summat rotten
And we make you at home
And we make you feel welcome and we make summat happen
And we can’t seem to help it
And if you’re looking from history, then yeah we’ve a wealth
But the Manchester way is to make it yourself.

And make us a record, a new number one
And make us a brew while you’re up, love, go on
And make us feel proud that you’re winning the league
And make us sing louder and make us believe that this is the place that has helped shape the world
And this is the place where a Manchester girl named Emmeline Pankhurst from the streets of Moss Side led a suffragette city with sisterhood pride

And this is the place with appliance of science, we’re on it, atomic, we struck with defiance, and in the face of a challenge, we always stand tall, Mancunians, in union, delivered it all
Such as housing and libraries and health, education and unions and co-ops and first railway stations
So we’re sorry, bear with us, we invented commuters. But we hope you forgive us, we invented computers.

And this is the place Henry Royce strolled with Rolls, and we’ve rocked and we’ve rolled with our own northern soul
And so this is the place to do business then dance, where go-getters and goal-setters know they’ve a chance
And this is the place where we first played as kids. And me mum, lived and died here, she loved it, she did.
And this is the place where our folks came to work, where they struggled in puddles, they hurt in the dirt and they built us a city, they built us these towns and they coughed on the cobbles to the deafening sound to the steaming machines and the screaming of slaves, they were scheming for greatness, they dreamed to their graves.

And they left us a spirit. They left us a vibe. That Mancunian way to survive and to thrive and to work and to build, to connect, and create and Greater Manchester’s greatness is keeping it great.
And so this is the place now with kids of our own. Some are born here, some drawn here, but they all call it home.
And they’ve covered the cobbles, but they’ll never defeat, all the dreamers and schemers who still teem through these streets.
Because this is a place that has been through some hard times: oppressions, recessions, depressions, and dark times.
But we keep fighting back with Greater Manchester spirit. Northern grit, Northern wit, and Greater Manchester’s lyrics.

And these hard times again, in these streets of our city, but we won’t take defeat and we don’t want your pity.
Because this is a place where we stand strong together, with a smile on our face, greater Manchester forever.
And we’ve got this place where a team with a dream can get funding and something to help with a scheme.
Because this is a place that understands your grand plans. We don’t do “no can do” we just stress “yes we can”
Forever Manchester’s a charity for people round here, you can fundraise, donate, you can be a volunteer. You can live local, give local, we can honestly say, we do charity different, that Mancunian way.
And we fund local kids, and we fund local teams. We support local dreamers to work for their dreams. We support local groups and the great work they do. So can you help us. help local people like you?

Because this is the place in our hearts, in our homes, because this is the place that’s a part of our bones.
Because Greater Manchester gives us such strength from the fact that this is the place, we should give something back.
Always remember, never forget, forever Manchester.


by Tony Walsh

Here is a video of the poet reading this poem at a vigil for the victims of this recent tragedy in Manchester:


For more information about poet, Tony Walsh, see:



Tuesday, May 23, 2017

Tuesday Poem: "Like A Stone" by Chris Cornell


On a cobweb afternoon
In a room full of emptiness
By a freeway I confess
I was lost in the pages
Of a book full of death
Reading how we'll die alone
And if we're good, we'll lay to rest
Anywhere we want to go
In your house I long to be
Room by room patiently
I'll wait for you there
Like a stone
I'll wait for you there
Alone
On my deathbed I will pray
To the gods and the angels
Like a pagan to anyone
Who will take me to heaven
To a place I recall
I was there so long ago
The sky was bruised
The wine was bled
And there you led me on
In your house I long to be
Room by room patiently
I'll wait for you there
Like a stone
I'll wait for you there
Alone
Alone
And on I read
Until the day was gone
And I sat in regret
Of all the things I've done
For all that I've blessed
And all that I've wronged
In dreams until my death
I will wander on
In your house I long to be
Room by room patiently
I'll wait for you there
Like a stone
I'll wait for you there
Alone
Alone

by Chris Cornell

Today's post is to commemorate Chris Cornell, a musician, who died at age 52. Cornell made no secret of his battles with anxiety and depression and, sadly, it appears from news reports so far that Cornell took his own life.

RIP Chris Cornell. May you find in death the peace that often eluded you in life. You were a great musical artist and you will be sadly missed. My love and best wishes go out to your wife and your children for whom this is a most terrible and unnecessary tragedy.


For more information about musician, Chris Cornell, see: