Tuesday, 31 December 2019

Tuesday Poem: "Fights" by Chelsey Minnis

Point of information: What do you know about anything?
I’ll give you extra time to figure it out.

No, I’m not going to cry.

I’m going to smash the geraniums.

Do you mind, darling?

I like it when you shake your fist at a painted portrait.

May I ask why you’re so terrible?

I love you but you want to go to blazes.

Have you ever even tasted my tears?

The empty champagne glasses were waiting beautifully.

Don’t look at me with that sparkle.

I don’t like it.

Everyone shouldn’t ruin everything.

I never win an argument, but there are other things in life.

Does anybody ever get that look out of their eyes?

I’ve had the right attitude once or twice.

I nearly went out of my mind.

What are you? A perfect rat?

I adore rats. Rats are sweet.

Now, let’s have some yelling.

Darling, this is a cylindrical satin sofa cushion.

I’m going to beat you with it.

Now, a lot of people don’t know what I’m talking about.

That’s what’s so wonderful.

I’m afraid I’m going to have to accept that free ticket out of town.

Bulletin: You’re no good.

I don’t care who catches it.

It’s a swell night for a cry.

That’s KO with me.

Let’s have ringside seats.

Bulletin: You’re still no good.

I think you’re the most no-good person I’ve ever known.

And that concludes tonight’s sermon.

I know what you’re thinking.

Maybe we’d get somewhere.

by Chelsey Minnis

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Tuesday, 17 December 2019

Tuesday Poem: "Leaves" by Derek Mahon

The prisoners of infinite choice
Have built their house

In a field below the wood

And are at peace.

It is autumn, and dead leaves

On their way to the river

Scratch like birds at the windows

Or tick on the road.

Somewhere there is an afterlife

Of dead leaves,

A stadium filled with an infinite

Rustling and sighing.

Somewhere in the heaven

Of lost futures

The lives we might have lived

Have found their own fulfilment.

by Derek Mahon

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Tuesday, 10 December 2019

Tuesday Poem: "Black Moon" by Matthew Sweeney

For white he used toothpaste, 
for red, blood – but only his own 

that he hijacked just enough of each day. 

For green he crushed basil in a little 

olive oil. His yellow was egg yolk, 

his black, coal dust dampened with water. 

He tried several routes to blue 

before stopping at the intersection 

of bilberry juice and pounded bluebells. 

His brown was his own, too, applied 

last thing in the day before the first 

Laphraoig, and the stone jug of ale. 

He used no other colours, but his tone 

was praised by Prince Haisal, no less, 

which got him a rake of commissions 

and a residency-offer in Kuwait 

which he turned down. At home 

the Royal Family was less generous 

so he painted them all, in a series 

that came to be called his brown period, 

though this was strictly incorrect. 

He never exhibited with other painters, 

never drank with them, spoke of them – 

never even spat at their work. 

A cave in the Orkneys was his last dwelling 

and he rode a horse to his studio. 

There were no people in these paintings, 

which were found piled up on one another 

inside the cave, with no sign of him, 

and on top was a depiction of a black moon.

by Matthew Sweeney

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Tuesday, 3 December 2019

Tuesday Poem: "Callers" by Christine Evans

It is always a shock when they take off their caps, 
Those neighbouring farmers who call at our house.
They have to, of course, to have something to roll 
Or to press or twist in their blunt, nervous hands; 
But it makes them instantly vulnerable 
With their soft bald spots or thinning forelocks. 
They seem at once smaller, and much more vivid: 
Leaping out of type to personality. 

The smell of their beasts comes in with them, 
Faint as the breath of growing things in summer, 
Rich, as the days draw in, with cake and hay and dung. 
They are ill at ease in the house: 
One feels they would like to stamp and snort, 
Looking sideways, but have been trained out of it – 
As with leaving mucky boots beside the door. 

Only small, swarthy men with the friendly smell on them; 
Yet walls press close and the room seems cluttered. 
I am glad to go and make obligatory tea 
As their voices sway, slow with the seasons, 
And, ponderously, come to the point.

by Christine Evans

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Tuesday, 26 November 2019

Tuesday Poem: "Getting Older" by Elaine Feinstein

The first surprise: I like it. 
Whatever happens now, some things 
that used to terrify have not: 

I didn't die young, for instance. Or lose 
my only love. My three children 
never had to run away from anyone. 

Don't tell me this gratitude is complacent. 
We all approach the edge of the same blackness 
which for me is silent. 

Knowing as much sharpens 
my delight in January freesia, 
hot coffee, winter sunlight. So we say 

as we lie close on some gentle occasion: 
every day won from such 
darkness is a celebration.

by Elaine Feinstein

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Tuesday, 19 November 2019

Tuesday Poem: "Circle" by Pádraig Ó Tuama

It’s funny how things come in

You, sitting on a step,

smoking a cigarette,

watching leaves fall off a

slowly stripping tree.

Me, hanging photos on a wall,

including one of you

receiving, like a priestess,

your lover’s confession.

Me telling stories of

your conversations.

You, weeping

when your dad asked you

how you were.

Me writing poems about life

while I was slowly plunging into


You breathing in those

same lines,

sitting on a step,

smoking a cigarette.

by Pádraig Ó Tuama

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Tuesday, 12 November 2019

Tuesday Poem: "air and light and time and space" by Charles Bukowski

'- you know, I've either had a family, a job, something
has always been in the


but now

I've sold my house, I've found this

place, a large studio, you should see the space and

the light.

for the first time in my life I'm going to have a place and

the time to


no baby, if you're going to create

you're going to create whether you work

16 hours a day in a coal mine


you're going to create in a small room with 3 children

while you're on


you're going to create with part of your mind and your body blown


you're going to create blind



you're going to create with a cat crawling up your

back while

the whole city trembles in earthquakes, bombardment,

flood and fire.

baby, air and light and time and space

have nothing to do with it

and don't create anything

except maybe a longer life to find

new excuses


by Charles Bukowski 

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Tuesday, 5 November 2019

Tuesday Poem: "Women Whose Lives are Food, Men Whose Lives are Money" by Joyce Carol Oates

Mid-morning Monday she is staring
peaceful as the rain in that shallow back yard

she wears flannel bedroom slippers

she is sipping coffee

she is thinking—

                            —gazing at the weedy bumpy yard

at the faces beginning to take shape

in the wavy mud

in the linoleum

where floorboards assert themselves

Women whose lives are food

breaking eggs with care

scraping garbage from the plates

unpacking groceries hand over hand

Wednesday evening: he takes the cans out front

tough plastic with detachable lids

Thursday morning: the garbage truck whining at 7

Friday the shopping mall open till 9

bags of groceries unpacked

hand over certain hand

Men whose lives are money

time-and-a-half Saturdays

the lunchbag folded with care and brought back home

unfolded Monday morning

Women whose lives are food

because they are not punch-carded

because they are unclocked

sighing glad to be alone

staring into the yard, mid-morning


by mid-afternoon everything is forgotten

There are long evenings

panel discussions on abortions, fashions, meaningful work

there are love scenes where people mouth passions

sprightly, handsome, silly, manic

in close-ups revealed ageless

the women whose lives are food

the men whose lives are money

fidget as these strangers embrace and weep and mis-

            understand and forgive and die and weep and embrace

and the viewers stare and fidget and sigh and

begin yawning around 10:30

never made it past midnight, even on Saturdays,

watching their braven selves perform

Where are the promised revelations?

Why have they been shown so many times?

Long-limbed children a thousand miles to the west

hitch-hiking in spring, burnt bronze in summer

thumbs nagging

eyes pleading

Give us a ride, huh? Give us a ride?

and when they return nothing is changed

the linoleum looks older

the Hawaiian Chicken is new

the girls wash their hair more often

the boys skip over the puddles

in the GM parking lot

no one eyes them with envy

their mothers stoop

the oven doors settle with a thump

the dishes are rinsed and stacked and

by mid-morning the house is quiet

it is raining out back

or not raining

the relief of emptiness rains

simple, terrible, routine

at peace

by Joyce Carol Oates

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Tuesday, 29 October 2019

Tuesday Poem: "The Week Before She Died" by Elise Paschen

I dream us young, again,
mother and daughter back

on 69th Street inside

our old brownstone—across

from the church, patch of lawn— 

a house neglected, wrecked,

as if the family

had been forced at gunpoint

to move away. In corners

dirt stacked like miniscule

anthills; along the edges

of room—crumpled clothes, bodiless;

littered across the floor

dry-cleaning bags, vestiges

of what they once protected.

A Turkish scarf, embroidered

with sequins, glitter, beads,

tantalizes. My mother

holds it close, says, “You should 

wear it.” The doorbell rings.

At the top of the stairs

he waits for us to answer.

My mother’s ballet partner, 

Russian, stows something covert

behind his almond eyes. With three

regal strides he commands

our gaze, pronounces the red

brocade robe his, lofts high 

the scarf, the sash he flung

in Giselle, circling the empty 

living room. With mischief he bows

low before my mother. Her love

for him, a mountain. The doorbell 

chimes. A blond, blue-eyed dancer,

in epaulets, arrives.

She straightens shoulders, turns,

walks away. Rudy asks 

Erik, “Did you ever tell her 

about us?” No response. The secrets 

men keep, my mother knows. 

by Elise Paschen

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Tuesday, 22 October 2019

Tuesday Poem: "Aunt Helen" by T.S. Eliot

Miss Helen Slingsby was my maiden aunt,
And lived in a small house near a fashionable square

Cared for by servants to the number of four.

Now when she died there was silence in heaven

And silence at her end of the street.

The shutters were drawn and the undertaker wiped his feet —

He was aware that this sort of thing had occurred before.

The dogs were handsomely provided for,

But shortly afterwards the parrot died too.

The Dresden clock continued ticking on the mantelpiece,

And the footman sat upon the dining-table

Holding the second housemaid on his knees —

Who had always been so careful while her mistress lived.

by T.S. Eliot

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Tuesday, 15 October 2019

Tuesday Poem: "Climbing Milestone Mountain, August 22, 1937" by Kenneth Rexroth

For a month now, wandering over the Sierras,   
A poem had been gathering in my mind,   

Details of significance and rhythm,

The way poems do, but still lacking a focus.   

Last night I remembered the date and it all   

Began to grow together and take on purpose.

   We sat up late while Deneb moved over the zenith   

And I told Marie all about Boston, how it looked   

That last terrible week, how hundreds stood weeping   

Impotent in the streets that last midnight.

I told her how those hours changed the lives of thousands,

How America was forever a different place   

Afterwards for many.

                              In the morning

We swam in the cold transparent lake, the blue   

Damsel flies on all the reeds like millions   

Of narrow metallic flowers, and I thought   

Of you behind the grille in Dedham, Vanzetti,

Saying, “Who would ever have thought we would make this history?”

Crossing the brilliant mile-square meadow   

Illuminated with asters and cyclamen,   

The pollen of the lodgepole pines drifting   

With the shifting wind over it and the blue   

And sulphur butterflies drifting with the wind,   

I saw you in the sour prison light, saying,   

“Goodbye comrade.”

                           In the basin under the crest

Where the pines end and the Sierra primrose begins,   

A party of lawyers was shooting at a whiskey bottle.   

The bottle stayed on its rock, nobody could hit it.

Looking back over the peaks and canyons from the last lake,   

The pattern of human beings seemed simpler   

Than the diagonals of water and stone.   

Climbing the chute, up the melting snow and broken rock,

I remembered what you said about Sacco,

How it slipped your mind and you demanded it be read into the record.

Traversing below the ragged arête,

One cheek pressed against the rock

The wind slapping the other,

I saw you both marching in an army

You with the red and black flag, Sacco with the rattlesnake banner.

I kicked steps up the last snow bank and came   

To the indescribably blue and fragrant

Polemonium and the dead sky and the sterile

Crystalline granite and final monolith of the summit.   

These are the things that will last a long time, Vanzetti,

I am glad that once on your day I have stood among them.   

Some day mountains will be named after you and Sacco.   

They will be here and your name with them,

“When these days are but a dim remembering of the time   

When man was wolf to man.”

I think men will be remembering you a long time   

Standing on the mountains

Many men, a long time, comrade.

by Kenneth Rexroth

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