poems we like

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crystalball
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Re: poems we like

Post by crystalball » Fri Aug 01, 2014 10:01 am

Today, this:

'Think positive' by Matthew Clegg

This is how it will be in a year, he says -
Nina Simone’s Feeling Good in his head;
The big swing band bursting in like God
Or a new pay-scale. Think positive, he says.
The on-time train advances without delay.
He has the laptop out, the mobile on.
A swift keeps pace with the speeding train
Then catches the sun before twisting away.
Perfect. So perfect he could be dreaming.
Precisely. Thinking a thing doesn’t make it so,
Or wanting it. He can see it clearly now.
He’ll walk right in to chair the meeting
And the music, the swift, the sun – whatever -
None of it will touch on the agenda.

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Re: poems we like

Post by stolenwine » Sat Aug 16, 2014 12:00 pm

Flowers, Love etc by Rebecca Perry

Many times I’ve become lost
and snapped out of it next to a rose bush
and bins in someone’s front garden
or by a four-way crossing and car horns
and my mouth is full of boring questions.
Many times I’ve become lost
and found myself helpless as a snow globe
on a mantelpiece in unforgiving sun.

When I kiss someone new my mouth
is full of the ghost mouths of old loves.
A TV static mouth, a cigarette mouth,
a mouth full of piano air and its own ghosts.
And when I touch someone new my hands
are full of grass from all the countries
I’ve visited alone.

If you look hard enough at any flower
it can resemble some part of the human body.
All living things are busy imitating each other
and while my tongue attempts shadows
of a poppy petal and my belly button is a rosebud
I’ve become lost again on my lookout for a
lost soul who also doesn’t believe in souls.
tell me how good it is / to wake from a bad dream / and have someone there and I will tell you / how butterfly wings stay dry in the rain
--
stolen wine social

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Re: poems we like

Post by RITH » Wed Aug 27, 2014 12:36 pm

Tomas Tranströmer - The Blue House (translated from Swedish)

It is night with glaring sunshine. I stand in the woods and look towards my house with its misty blue walls. As though I were recently dead and saw the house from a new angle.

It has stood for more than eighty summers. Its timber has been impregnated, four times with joy and three times with sorrow. When someone who has lived in the house dies it is repainted. The dead person paints it himself, without a brush, from the inside.

On the other side is open terrain. Formerly a garden, now wilderness. A still surf of weed, pagodas of weed, an unfurling body of text, Upanishades of weed, a Viking fleet of weed, dragon heads, lances, an empire of weed.

Above the overgrown garden flutters the shadow of a boomerang, thrown again and again. It is related to someone who lived in the house long before my time. Almost a child. An impulse issues from him, a thought, a thought of will: “create. . .draw. ..” In order to escape his destiny in time.

The house resembles a child’s drawing. A deputizing childishness which grew forth because someone prematurely renounced the charge of being a child. Open the doors, enter! Inside unrest dwells in the ceiling and peace in the walls. Above the bed there hangs an amateur painting representing a ship with seventeen sails, rough sea and a wind which the gilded frame cannot subdue.

It is always so early in here, it is before the crossroads, before the irrevocable choices. I am grateful for this life! And yet I miss the alternatives. All sketches wish to be real.

A motor far out on the water extends the horizon of the summer night. Both joy and sorrow swell in the magnifying glass of the dew. We do not actually know it, but we sense it: our life has a sister vessel which plies an entirely different route. While the sun burns behind the islands.

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Re: poems we like

Post by crystalball » Mon Sep 08, 2014 1:38 pm

I love this by Ian Duhig. It's so good at making a handful of rhyming couplets burst with meaning:

Use Complete Sentences

French oral practice: Teacher's nervous look
to where I stand in turn and raise my book:

'My father has grey horses on his head . . .'
She snorts. Her face grows dark while mine glows red.

flogging dead brains for something true to say
when Dad's grey horses took my breath away:

they took the air to run rings round the sun.
Now (with a crib) I work through Yang Tzu-yun,

where horses were his metaphors for breath.
These sentences are sentences of death.

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Re: poems we like

Post by humblebee » Fri Oct 03, 2014 10:16 am

I went to a reading last night by James Caruth, for National Poetry Day. It was ace.

Caruth is originally from Northern Ireland but for 20-odd years has lived in Stannington, a village on the north-western edge of Sheffield. The reading took place in Stannington library, a slip of a thing, where local volunteers were also celebrating saving it from closure. They laid on some lovely home-made cake as well.

The reading was of Tithes, a sequence that appears in the stunning walking-themed anthology The Footing, from Longbarrow Press, again here in north-west Sheffield.

Here's one of his poems (which isn't in Tithes, because I don't have my copy of The Footing with me).



MARKING THE LAMBS

Let me show you an island
where a door was torn from its hinges
to carry the young fisherman
home to his wake. How, a week after
the boat went down, they brought him
to his mother, knowing the pattern
she knit into his geansai,
like the blue mark she daubed on her lambs
so the island and the world
would know what was hers.

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Re: poems we like

Post by michael » Mon Nov 17, 2014 12:46 am

SNAPSHOT

I do not remember
the house where I lived first.

I know
the small-town name,
Downer's Grove, outside Chicago,
The Windy City.
There were wood-slat sidewalks
and there are photographs
of me in white dresses,
with a tin pail and shovel,
playing with a little girl.

I have on a too-big Indian suit
in one, and am laughing,
with my eyes shut,
at my mother sitting
on a little stool on the sidewalk
drying her hair
in the sunlight and laughing
at me, with a war bonnet
down around my ears.

And we had a touring car.
Then we moved
to Washington, D.C.

(James Schuyler)

I read this a while ago in an article in the New York Review about a collection of James Schuyler's poems. I liked the article a lot because it seemed as though the writer had thought hard about what might be going on in Schuyler's poems. When he talks about "Snapshot" one of the things he mentions is Schuyler's "curious, committed blankness, often when descriptive clarity is most to be prized", which I think really gets at what it's like to read that poem.

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Re: poems we like

Post by crystalball » Fri Nov 21, 2014 12:17 pm

Gloom and radiance:

'The Darkling Thrush' by Thomas Hardy

I leant upon a coppice gate
When Frost was spectre-grey,
And Winter's dregs made desolate
The weakening eye of day.
The tangled bine-stems scored the sky
Like strings of broken lyres,
And all mankind that haunted nigh
Had sought their household fires.

The land's sharp features seemed to be
The Century's corpse outleant,
His crypt the cloudy canopy,
The wind his death-lament.
The ancient pulse of germ and birth
Was shrunken hard and dry,
And every spirit upon earth
Seemed fervourless as I.

At once a voice arose among
The bleak twigs overhead
In a full-hearted evensong
Of joy illimited;
An aged thrush, frail, gaunt, and small,
In blast-beruffled plume,
Had chosen thus to fling his soul
Upon the growing gloom.

So little cause for carolings
Of such ecstatic sound
Was written on terrestrial things
Afar or nigh around,
That I could think there trembled through
His happy good-night air
Some blessed Hope, whereof he knew
And I was unaware.

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Re: poems we like

Post by humblebee » Fri Nov 21, 2014 3:04 pm

Wonderful.

I think my edition of Hardy appends the date - 31 December 1900 - to 'The Darkling Thrush'. Somehow that enriches the whole thing greatly.

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Re: poems we like

Post by humblebee » Wed Jan 07, 2015 9:45 pm

So here's something we can do on Anorak which we can't do on social media.

I'm reading Louis MacNeice's Autumn Journal for the first time in years. It was written in 1938 - a book-length snapshot of Britain on the eve of the Second World War but also on the brink of social reform and progress through the labour movement. You know, much of the stuff that makes the mid-20th century such an interesting period to look at, and inspiring (we're still capable of feeling inspired, aren't we?).

I just thought I'd share this because I am freshly astounded by some of it. MacNeice's clarity on economic injustice here anticipates the Occupy movement and "we are the 99%":

...an utterly lost and daft
System that gives a few at fancy prices
Their fancy lives
While ninety-nine in the hundred who never attend the banquet
Must wash the grease of ages off the knives.


And here his damn near prophetic insight into the tensions that would underlie the coming democratisation of mass culture:

...in order
To preserve the values dear to the élite
The élite must remain a few. It is so hard to imagine
A world where the many would have their chance without
A fall in the standard of intellectual living
And nothing left that the highbrow cared about.
Which fears must be suppressed. There is no reason for thinking
That, if you give a chance to people to think or live,
The arts of thought or life will suffer and become rougher
And not return more than you could ever give.

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Re: poems we like

Post by crystalball » Wed Jan 07, 2015 11:04 pm

The bit which comes just between the sequences you quoted really stunned me the other night, too:


And now the tempter whispers 'But you also
Have the slave-owner's mind,
Would like to sleep on a mattress of easy profits,
To snap your fingers or a whip and find
Servants or houris ready to wince and flatter
And build with their degradation your self-esteem;
What you want is not a world of the free in function
But a niche at the top, the skimmings of the cream.'
And I answer that that is largely so for habit makes me
Think victory for one implies another's defeat,
That freedom means the power to order...


Sometimes I feel guilty for dragging my copy of Autumn Journal with me everywhere I go, and for seeking all the answers through the mind of a man in a suit from decades ago. But this stuff - this. What else is there?

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Re: poems we like

Post by crystalball » Mon Jan 12, 2015 2:43 pm

'Early Spring, At the Capital' by Hsi Chou

A wanderer's mind
Constantly recalls seclusion.
Early this morning I got
Your invitation.

Our date
To watch the Moon
Has problems. A quiet visit
To discuss the mountains is far off.
On a distant road scant sunlight
Grows. By midnight
The final snow
Will fall.

Sitting, I see
The willows by Blue Gate,
Soft-softly sprout again
New sprigs.

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Re: poems we like

Post by crystalball » Mon Jan 19, 2015 11:28 am

I'll keep posting. You can't stop me.

'Matins' by Louise Glück

You want to know how I spend my time?
I walk the front lawn, pretending
to be weeding. You ought to know
I'm never weeding, on my knees, pulling
clumps of clover from the flower beds: in fact
I'm looking for courage, for some evidence
my life will change, though
it takes forever, checking
each clump for the symbolic
leaf, and soon the summer is ending, already
the leaves turning, always the sick trees
going first, the dying turning
brilliant yellow, while a few dark birds perform
their curfew of music. You want to see my hands?
As empty now as at the first note.
Or was the point always
to continue without a sign?

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Re: poems we like

Post by crystalball » Tue Feb 03, 2015 10:22 am

My heart shifts and expands:

'Chalk' by Matthew Clegg

i.

Chalk cliffs are wax-white and gull-white;
sluiced and soiled with thickening mudslides;
packed and shattering calcium strata;
micro-strata within macro-strata;
sunken alcoves and brittle balconies;
trauma-warped and trauma-fractured;
rich in crevices mortared and pasted;
chalk-bleached grasses stitching the crack-face.
Under the ramparts pebbles and obols,
treasure-troves spilling bi-valves and bird-skulls;
slick as sealskin when the sea licks them;
wash and backwash rolling and tonguing;
grinding and sucking them down to slivers;
breaking and spitting its broken teeth.


ii.

Remember how I brought you the chalkstone;
no smooth oval prize laid by the sea-goose;
no worry-ball cool in the palm and blue-tinted;
a mangled discus cavity-infested;
holed like a cheese or a salt-brittle pumice;
brown-stained a little and smelling of sea-rot;
cavitied cavities mazes in mazes;
where whiskery sea-lice furbish their hovels;
a heart-stone a brain-stone pitted with losses;
clogged with near indigestible flotsam;
iodine treated inside the chambers;
pick it up now and shake up its history;
its shanty of sand and broken shell-shards,
choking and rattling inside its lung.


iii.

Let me cast you as a tall thin chalk-stack;
white sea-cavalry charging your buttress;
gnawing and thinning the brittle foundation;
cut off but in sight from the crumbling mainland.
One of those ruins infested with gull-kind
making a bedlam of airspace above it
where angels and harpies jostle for place.
I’ll cast myself as a marginal chalk-pool;
slippery weed-slime around my portal;
stones of these words gargling inside it;
each one rubbing the grain of the other.
A near empty socket a terrible bodhrăn;
stretched under churn of gravelly breakers;
still and mute when the swell falls back.

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Re: poems we like

Post by crystalball » Mon Feb 09, 2015 10:59 pm

Stay with me, Anorak.

'An Absolutely Ordinary Rainbow' by Les Murray

The word goes round Repins,
the murmur goes round Lorenzinis,
at Tattersalls, men look up from sheets of numbers,
the Stock Exchange scribblers forget the chalk in their hands
and men with bread in their pockets leave the Greek Club:
There's a fellow crying in Martin Place. They can't stop him.

The traffic in George Street is banked up for half a mile
and drained of motion. The crowds are edgy with talk
and more crowds come hurrying. Many run in the back streets
which minutes ago were busy main streets, pointing:
There's a fellow weeping down there. No one can stop him.

The man we surround, the man no one approaches
simply weeps, and does not cover it, weeps
not like a child, not like the wind, like a man
and does not declaim it, nor beat his breast, nor even
sob very loudly - yet the dignity of his weeping

holds us back from his space, the hollow he makes about him
in the midday light, in his pentagram of sorrow,
and uniforms back in the crowd who tried to seize him
stare out at him, and feel, with amazement, their minds
longing for tears as children for a rainbow.

Some will say, in the years to come, a halo
or force stood around him. There is no such thing.
Some will say they were shocked and would have stopped him
but they will not have been there. The fiercest manhood,
the toughest reserve, the slickest wit amongst us

trembles with silence, and burns with unexpected
judgements of peace. Some in the concourse scream
who thought themselves happy. Only the smallest children
and such as look out of Paradise come near him
and sit at his feet, with dogs and dusty pigeons.

Ridiculous, says a man near me, and stops
his mouth with his hands, as if it uttered vomit -
and I see a woman, shining, stretch her hand
and shake as she receives the gift of weeping;
as many as follow her also receive it

and many weep for sheer acceptance, and more
refuse to weep for fear of all acceptance,
but the weeping man, like the earth, requires nothing,
the man who weeps ignores us, and cries out
of his writhen face and ordinary body

not words, but grief, not messages, but sorrow,
hard as the earth, sheer, present as the sea -
and when he stops, he simply walks between us
mopping his face with the dignity of one
man who has wept, and now has finished weeping.

Evading believers, he hurries off down Pitt Street.

noLooking

Re: poems we like

Post by noLooking » Tue Feb 10, 2015 8:54 am

crystalball wrote:My heart shifts and expands:

'Chalk' by Matthew Clegg
Can I double-like this somehow?

I don't have enough poetry in my life.

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Re: poems we like

Post by crystalball » Wed Feb 11, 2015 11:06 am

andyiong wrote:
crystalball wrote:My heart shifts and expands:

'Chalk' by Matthew Clegg
Can I double-like this somehow?

I don't have enough poetry in my life.
A million likes wouldn't be enough. Andy, you should read Clegg's collection, West North East. It'll change everything. And if you order it from Longbarrow Press, you'll probably get it delivered by hand by the publisher. Have a look here and here.

Went to a poetry reading in Dulwich last night and sat in a packed, intensely lit room for two hours watching poets I didn't know make an audience audibly gasp, got a lift home with a stranger, clasping two new books onto my chest, and stayed up late to make sure I didn't miss out on anything that wasn't quite happening.

Not having anyone to go "Whooooaaaa!" with after a reading though - my least favourite method of torture.

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Re: poems we like

Post by crystalball » Thu Feb 26, 2015 3:31 pm

Been going back to The Overhaul by Kathleen Jamie again this week. Her poetry is so laconic as to be almost shocking. It doesn't tell you what you want to hear. Some of her poems are like successions of gasps. And on some days, I only want to see the world through her eyes.

'Moon' by Kathleen Jamie

Last night, when the moon
slipped into my attic-room
as an oblong of light,
I sensed she’d come to commiserate.

It was August. She travelled
with a small valise
of darkness, and the first few stars
returning to the northern sky,

and my room, it seemed,
had missed her. She pretended
an interest in the bookcase
while other objects

stirred, as in a rockpool,
with unexpected life:
strings of beads in their green bowl gleamed,
the paper-crowded desk;

the books, too, appeared inclined
to open and confess.
Being sure the moon
harboured some intention,

I waited; watched for an age
her cool glaze shift
first toward a flower sketch
pinned on the far wall

then glide to recline
along the pinewood floor
before I’d had enough. Moon,
I said, we’re both scarred now.

Are they quite beyond you,
the simple words of love? Say them.
You are not my mother;
with my mother, I waited unto death.

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Re: poems we like

Post by crystalball » Thu Apr 23, 2015 9:54 am

A wavering light from 800 years ago:

'Last night' by Rumi

Last night you left me and slept
your own deep sleep. Tonight you turn
and turn. I say,
"You and I will be together
till the universe dissolves."
You mumble back things you thought of
when you were drunk.

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Re: poems we like

Post by humblebee » Thu Apr 23, 2015 12:44 pm

crystalball wrote:A wavering light from 800 years ago:

'Last night' by Rumi

Last night you left me and slept
your own deep sleep. Tonight you turn
and turn. I say,
"You and I will be together
till the universe dissolves."
You mumble back things you thought of
when you were drunk.
How is that 800 years old? Just how?

Just wonderful.

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Re: poems we like

Post by tonieee » Sun May 10, 2015 12:41 am

I can't really think were to put this but it's kind of like a poem a bit. It's an interactive thing called doggerland about global warming and becoming a parent and other stuff.

http://ifdb.tads.org/viewgame?id=zkr5c0rsbeceihr5

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