Category Archives: Poetry

bird of paradise

the bloom called bird

of paradise

fell between the patio stone

and the straw winter grass

turned utterly white over winter

the paradise bird turned

utterly white and absurdly

over

paint-white

over-white

over.

I turned to the daffodils

tussling frost with their newborn heads

and I prayed I’d be them instead.

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Wrong Love

The flowers and motherbirds have been fooled this year.

Fooled into seeing Spring when January is here, they tear

out thin arms from trees

and new lives from within themselves,

new colours, movements, touches,

breeze

but they breath in

 

and they freeze

 

Seized by fine hands of frost

that shake them once, twice and

toss

 

They grasp a new pulsating love they

haven’t known yet, haven’t lost.

 

 

 

Translation: Love, Late

translated from the Spanish poem ‘Amor, de tarde’ by Uruguayan poet

Mario Benedetti

 

Love, Late

It’s a shame you’re not here with me

when I look at the clock and it’s four

and I finish my accounts and think for ten minutes

and stretch and do that with my shoulders to loosen my spine

and crack my fingers and take out from them lies.

 

It’s a shame you’re not here with me

when I look at the clock and it’s five

and it’s one hand that adds up interest

or two hands that jump over forty keys

or an ear that hears the telephone barking

or a guy who makes numbers and takes out from them truths.

 

It’s a shame you’re not here with me

when I look at the clock and it’s six.

You could take me by surprise

and say “Hey!” and we’d be there

me with the reddish stain of your lips

you with the bluish carbon of my papers.

 

translated by Mariella Hudson

And in September a Supermoon

And in September a Supermoon or, Autumn Things

 

Autumn things come and remind me of you.

Leaves that curl and shudder

and light that grows across new shapes

and blooms and sings of snow.

And in September, a supermoon.

 

The moon may not often swim so close

to my corner of matter and antimatter;

perhaps never again while I live in this life.

A muscle remembers pain and will tense

 

with wolves and all things that grow lean in September.

Humans grow fat and shiver

to call up the slowly-whispering summer that’s passed.

Shiver to call up what’s over.

 

City wolves scream and they never sing

to the moon or the black like lovers.

 

It’s a simple thing, to love the moon.

To howl

is a simple comfort.

 

The autumn things come, remind me.

The earth has tilted and a world is gone,

yet the season’s imprinted with textures and outlines

of drifting people in alien time,

other corners of brittling matter.

So I wonder, and long for new things.

 

To the moon all drifting things.

 

I watch my mind drifting,

loose,

 

looser.

 

 

The moon shifting quickly, not seeming to move.

 

I have whispered to her when the world was dark

And smiled up my love while she dipped me in light.

 

She carries things with her when she needs to go.

When she passes out of sight.

Mensualmente (or, February)

Mensualmente or, February

 

 

When I have my period

I’ve got a pulse

 

The sun beats through

my shoulder and eyelids

 

The blue thuds in the sky

 

I feel like a creature

with a body and a substance

 

Spasms ripple through my

muscles

 

These legs can move but

I can’t sit down and

I can’t stand up

 

Blood beats

 

My shoulders speak

I like to be able to touch

them, and see

them, and know

they’re there, bare,

pulsing with sunlight

 

It’s a beautiful February,

my body says of me.

 

 

 

 

Had It In Hackney

Had It In Hackney A Song

I had it in Hackney but I needed it in Angel.

So the priest comes over and says my child you’re to die again I’m afraid

so if you don’t mind
Holy Mary Mother of God Pray For Us Sinners

And Forgive Us Our Trespasses

I should say I only wanted to ask you for a lift

back to Hackney

to pick up some things I’d forgot on the move

But through my mind the lines of a Brazilian song chime

with the putter of the father’s rattle

O meu amor o meu amor

Quer fazer um juramento uma cancão

Holy Mary Mother of God he says

and I forget the rest of the bloody lines after reciting

and reciting them for two thirds of my life

 

The day before, Farmida comes by to wipe clean my plates

and sort out my whites

and bursts into tears as she picks up the Persil

they’d only gone and sent her sister back to Bangladesh

so I couldn’t well send her away that day

just had to pop back to Hackney to my sister’s for dinner

but just for dinner.

although it got late so she had me stay over.

but that was just for one night – I’m in Angel for good.

Today is well and good.

And the father tells me go back to Hackney

for you’re sick and you’re dying, and you must rest.

 

I say I’ll have rest enough then, won’t I.

Dying? Dying again –

I’ve had my Last Rites at least five times

And they’re never more lasting than the last time.

That same father performed them each time.

The father must be my oldest friend.

I had my first Last Rites when I was seven

And I started to say it right and then forgot the rest

and couldn’t think of enough things that had gone wrong for me to confess

So I said

My sister got chocolates on her birthday, and I wanted them more.

 

I invite the father for lunch but he won’t stay, thanks,

and I haven’t asked him for the lift

which I regret as I shake the salad from the plastic into a bowl

only because it’s hard to get anywhere by yourself

when there are people in the way

and there are too many people in this city.

The salad is sliming out of my neglect

Ah fuck I can’t well afford to buy another bag

and it’s only me here present for the grand three-course meal

So just dress it with some lemon, and some oil, and some beer

that I bought in the chance of guests, but it’s only me here.

 

Here in Angel, where I’m staying, I’ll manage without Farmida.

My sister can visit and bring over those things

that I had in Hackney but need in Angel,

blanks in my baggage I only in Angel now see. In Angel where

the paint peels and I see colours underneath.

I’ll get it together in Angel. Today is well and good.

 

And the father tells me go back to Hackney and

hack out a life for yourself there

but he doesn’t see what I see against the peeling paint in these thin Angel walls

where there are skylights and paintings

and there’s a man, that’s right,

someone who’ll look me in the eyes

and laugh at my jokes and slice through my lies

But that’s not the fiction the father understands.

You’re sick, he says. You must rest, go home to your sister, convalesce,

look to your God who can conquer and bless

and life, after all, is but a test.

I forget the rest. I fill in the blanks. I do it best.

 

I’m staring out the rain. The Brazilian song beats

back into hearing, as the father fades away.

A finger of heat curls up from my tea

and the water looks thick and perfect on the window glass.

O meu amor o meu amor

Quer fazer um juramento uma cancão

Quer fazer um juramento uma cancão.

 

O my love o my love

I want to make a promise, a song

I want to make a promise a song.