Tuesday, May 28, 2019

Tuesday Poem: "Crescent Moons" by Natalie Eilbert


When the forensic nurse inspected me, she couldn't
see the tenderness he showed me after. My walk home

squirmed sore with night. I passed the earthworms
displaced to sidewalk, their bodies apostrophed

in the sun. I did not anticipate a grief
so small, my noun of a prayer, Eat dirt to make dirt.

Took a man’s hand as he led me to cave. So long
as I breathed, I could huff violets in his dank, practice

earth’s gasp. Mother lifts daughter, daughter casts
look at camera, a killer, a stick in the mud. I hold

my own hand. When the forensic nurse inspected
me, I described the house, historic blue. Asked me

to push my hips down. Little crescent moons
where his nails stabbed into me. She gave me

the word abrasion so gently I offered consent. Blue
as the moon when I sighed wait, blue as the no of my

throat. Abrasion, possibly extended form of red.
Harm results in a starry night too, many galaxies

scraped under the nail of a heavenly body. Ah my
second earth, its wounds hardened into swallowed

prophylaxis, an injection pooling between muscle
and skin. A woke seed. Deadarmed anti-moons

aggregated. A storm can travel seeds up to 30 miles
away. They dust on the sidewalks like lost data.

He did not intend Did not. Bloody speculum
a telescope searching the angry night sky for proof.

by Natalie Eilbert

(Photo Credit: Emily Raw)

For more information about the poet, Natalie Eilbert, see:


Tuesday, May 21, 2019

Tuesday Poem: "The Plot Against the Giant" by Wallace Stevens


First Girl

When this yokel comes maundering,

whetting his hacker,

I shall run before him,

Diffusing the civilest odors

Out of geraniums and unsmelled flowers.

It will check him.


Second Girl


I shall run before him,

Arching cloths besprinkled with colors

As small as fish-eggs.

The threads

Will abash him.


Third Girl


Oh, la…le pauvre!

I shall run before him,

With a curious puffing.

He will bend his ear then.

I shall whisper

Heavenly labials in a world of gutturals.

It will undo him.

by Wallace Stevens


For more information on the poet, Wallace Stevens, see:


Tuesday, May 14, 2019

Tuesday Poem: "A Mad Fight Song for William S. Carpenter, 1966" by James Wright


Varus, varus, gib mir meine Legionen wieder

Quick on my feet in those Novembers of my loneliness,

I tossed a short pass,

Almost the instant I got the ball, right over the head

Of Barrel Terry before he knocked me cold.


When I woke, I found myself crying out

Latin conjugations, and the new snow falling

At the edge of a green field.


Lemoyne Crone had caught the pass, while I lay

Unconscious and raging

Alone with the fire ghost of Catullus, the contemptuous graces tossing

Garlands and hendecasyllabics over the head

Of Cornelius Nepos the mastodon,

The huge volume.


At the edges of Southeast Asia this afternoon

The quarterbacks and the lines are beginning to fall,

A spring snow,


And terrified young men

Quick on their feet

Lob one another’s skulls across

Wings of strange birds that are burning

Themselves alive.

by James Wright


For more information about poet, James Wright, see:


Tuesday, May 7, 2019

Tuesday Poem: "Spleen" by Charles Baudelaire


(I)

February, peeved at Paris, pours 

a gloomy torrent on the pale lessees 

of the graveyard next door and a mortal chill

on tenants of the foggy suburbs too.


The tiles afford no comfort to my cat 

that cannot keep its mangy body still; 

the soul of some old poet haunts the drains 

and howls as if a ghost could hate the cold.


A churchbell grieves, a log in the fireplace smokes

and hums falsetto to the clock’s catarrh, 

while in a filthy reeking deck of cards


inherited from a dropsical old maid,

the dapper Knave of Hearts and the Queen of Spades 

grimly disinter their love affairs.


(II)


Souvenirs?

More than if I had lived a thousand years!


No chest of drawers crammed with documents, 

love-letters, wedding-invitations, wills,

a lock of someone’s hair rolled up in a deed, 

hides so many secrets as my brain.

This branching catacombs, this pyramid 

contains more corpses than the potter’s field:

I am a graveyard that the moon abhors,

where long worms like regrets come out to feed

most ravenously on my dearest dead.

I am an old boudoir where a rack of gowns, 

perfumed by withered roses, rots to dust; 

where only faint pastels and pale Bouchers 

inhale the scent of long-unstoppered flasks.


Nothing is slower than the limping days 

when under the heavy weather of the years

Boredom, the fruit of glum indifference, 

gains the dimension of eternity . . . 

Hereafter, mortal clay, you are no more

than a rock encircled by a nameless dread,

an ancient sphinx omitted from the map, 

forgotten by the world, and whose fierce moods 

sing only to the rays of setting suns.


(III)


I’m like the king of a rainy country, rich 

but helpless, decrepit though still a young man 

who scorns his fawning tutors, wastes his time 

on dogs and other animals, and has no fun; 

nothing distracts him, neither hawk nor hound 

nor subjects starving at the palace gate. 

His favorite fool’s obscenities fall flat

—the royal invalid is not amused—

and ladies in waiting for a princely nod 

no longer dress indecently enough 

to win a smile from this young skeleton.

The bed of state becomes a stately tomb. 

The alchemist who brews him gold has failed 

to purge the impure substance from his soul, 

and baths of blood, Rome’s legacy recalled 

by certain barons in their failing days, 

are useless to revive this sickly flesh 

through which no blood but brackish Lethe seeps.


(IV)


When skies are low and heavy as a lid

over the mind tormented by disgust,

and hidden in the gloom the sun pours down 

on us a daylight dingier than the dark;


when earth becomes a trickling dungeon where 

Trust like a bat keeps lunging through the air,

beating tentative wings along the walls 

and bumping its head against the rotten beams;


when rain falls straight from unrelenting clouds, 

forging the bars of some enormous jail, 

and silent hordes of obscene spiders spin 

their webs across the basements of our brains;


then all at once the raging bells break loose,

hurling to heaven their awful caterwaul, 

like homeless ghosts with no one left to haunt 

whimpering their endless grievances.


—And giant hearses, without dirge or drums, 

parade at half-step in my soul, where Hope, 

defeated, weeps, and the oppressor Dread 

plants his black flag on my assenting skull.

by Charles Baudelaire (translated from the French by Richard Howard)


For more information about the poet, Charles Baudelaire, see:


Wednesday, May 1, 2019

Tuesday Poem: "The Quality of Sprawl" by Les Murray


Sprawl is the quality
of the man who cut down his Rolls-Royce
into a farm utility truck, and sprawl
is what the company lacked when it made repeated efforts 
to buy the vehicle back and repair its image.
Sprawl is doing your farming by aeroplane, roughly,
or driving a hitchhiker that extra hundred miles home.
It is the rococo of being your own still centre.
It is never lighting cigars with ten-dollar notes:
that’s idiot ostentation and murder of starving people.
Nor can it be bought with the ash of million-dollar deeds.
Sprawl lengthens the legs; it trains greyhounds on liver and beer.
Sprawl almost never says Why not? With palms comically raised
nor can it be dressed for, not even in running shoes worn
with mink and a nose ring. That is Society. That’s Style.
Sprawl is more like the thirteenth banana in a dozen
or anyway the fourteenth.
Sprawl is Hank Stamper in Never Give an Inch
bisecting an obstructive official’s desk with a chainsaw.
Not harming the official. Sprawl is never brutal
though it’s often intransigent. Sprawl is never Simon de Montfort
at a town-storming: Kill them all! God will know his own.
Knowing the man’s name this was said to might be sprawl.
Sprawl occurs in art. The fifteenth to twenty-first
lines in a sonnet, for example. And in certain paintings;
I have sprawl enough to have forgotton which paintings.
Turner’s glorious Burning of the Houses of Parliament
comes to mind, a doubling bannered triumph of sprawl – 
except, he didn’t fire them.
Sprawl gets up the nose of many kinds of people
(every kind that comes in kinds) whose futures don’t include it.
some decry it as criminal presumption, silken-robed Pope Alexander
dividing the new world between Spain and Portugal.
If he smiled in petto afterwards, perhaps the thing did have sprawl.
Sprawl is really classless, though. It’s John Christopher Frederick Murray
asleep in his neighbours‘ best bed in spurs and oilskins
but not having thrown up:
sprawl is never Calum who, drunk, along the hallways of our House,
reinvented the Festoon. Rather
it’s Beatrice Miles going twelve hundred ditto in a taxi,
No Lewd Advances, No Hitting Animals, No Speeding,
on the proceeds of her two-bob-a-sonnet Shakespeare readings.
An image of my country. And would that it were more so.
No, sprawl is full-gloss murals on a council-house wall.
Sprawl leans on things. It is loose-limbed in its mind.
Reprimanded and dismissed
it listens with a grin and one boot up on the rail
of possibility. It may have to leave the Earth.
Being roughly Christian, it scratches the other cheek
and thinks it unlikely. Though people have been shot for sprawl.

by Les Murray (17 October 1938-29 April 2019)

Leslie Allan Murray AO was an Australian poet, anthologist and critic. His career spanned over 40 years and he published nearly 30 volumes of poetry as well as two verse novels and collections of his prose writings. His poetry won many awards and he is regarded as the leading Australian poet of his generation. The National Trust of Australia named him one of the one hundred Australian Living Treasures.
RIP Leslie Allan Murray.