Tuesday, December 12, 2017

Tuesday Poem: "America Doubts Itself" by Andrew M. Bell

(Photo Credit: Andrew M. Bell)


America,
the land of fat people is
now casting a thin shadow.
It is worried that it is not “great” any more.

It is afraid of China,
growing capitalist power out of
a communist socket.
Mao wouldn't have approved
of the American dollars bulging
in the people's pocket.

It has waged one too many
interventions”, got too much
egg on its face.
It has been nine-eleven-ed and it has
lost its swagger.
It is tentative like a
teenager with its first bloom of acne.

And now it is banking on a saviour,
a man who epitomises The American Dream
when the myth has been stripped away,
a self-made man whose father left him a huge sum,
a swaggering, shouting misogynist
whose ego squeezes the air out of
every room.

He is a man who has never known
hardship, never slept under a copy
of The New York Times on a park bench
in a windswept, dangerous park,
never pushed his meagre belongings around
in a supermarket trolley,
never wandered the streets talking to himself
because no one else will,
never known the escape of the crack pipe or
the bottle and never
searched through a trash can for his next meal.

An older man is trying valiantly to resuscitate
the vision of your founding fathers,
but he will be bought off with party favours because
Big Money has you by the balls, America,
and is squeezing ever tighter.

Ave, America, morituri te salutant.
Hail, America, those who are about to die salute you.

Tuesday, December 5, 2017

Tuesday Poem: "Happy first anniversary (in anticipation of your thirty ninth)" by Bob Hicok



I don’t have much time. I’m an important person
to chickadees and mourning doves, whose feeder

was smashed last night by a raccoon. Soon

I’ll be wielding duct tape, noticing the dew,

wanting to bathe in it, hoping the awkwardness

of yesterday (three instances of people talking

with bear traps for mouths) never repeats itself

and we all go forward as if to a party

for a five year old who refuses to smash candy

out of a burro. It’s too cute, the burro, too real

for him not to ask his mother, can I keep it,

and when the other children cry, they’re given

lake front property, it works out, this

is what I see for you, the working out. Think of the year

behind you as a root or think of going to Spain

and feeling sorry for bulls or don’t think,

this isn’t the SATs, don’t think but stay.

Stay happy, honest, stay as tall as you are

as long as you can using giraffes if you need to

to see each other above the crowd. I have these moments

when I realize I’m not breathing, my wife

is never why I’m not breathing and always why

I want to lick a human heart, remember that each of you

is half of why your bed will sag toward the middle

of being a boat and that you both will sag

if you’re lucky together, be lucky together

and acquire in sagging more square footage

to kiss and to hold. And always remember

that I hate you for being so much closer

than I am to where none of us ever get to go

again - first look, first touch, first

inadvertent brush of breath or hair, first time

you turned over and looked at who was surprising

you by how fully she was there.



by Bob Hicok



For more information about the poet, Bob Hicok, see:



Tuesday, November 28, 2017

Tuesday Poem: "Advertisement" by Wisława Szymborska



I’m a tranquilizer.
I’m effective at home.

I work in the office.

I can take exams

on the witness stand.

I mend broken cups with care.

All you have to do is take me,

let me melt beneath your tongue,

just gulp me

with a glass of water.


I know how to handle misfortune,

how to take bad news.

I can minimize injustice,

lighten up God’s absence,

or pick the widow’s veil that suits your face.

What are you waiting for—

have faith in my chemical compassion.


You’re still a young man/woman.

It’s not too late to learn how to unwind.

Who said

you have to take it on the chin?


Let me have your abyss.

I’ll cushion it with sleep.

You’ll thank me for giving you

four paws to fall on.


Sell me your soul.

There are no other takers.


There is no other devil anymore.



by Wisława Szymborska (translated from the Polish by Stanisław Barańczak)



For more information on poet, Wisława Szymborska, see:



Tuesday, November 21, 2017

Tuesday Poem: "Saying Goodbye to Very Young Children" by John Updike



They will not be the same next time. The sayings  
so cute, just slightly off, will be corrected.  

Their eyes will be more skeptical, plugged in  

the more securely to the worldly buzz  

of television, alphabet, and street talk,  

culture polluting their gazes' pure blue.  

It makes you see at last the value of  

those boring aunts and neighbors (their smells  

of summer sweat and cigarettes, their faces                        

like shapes of sky between shade-giving leaves)  

who knew you from the start, when you were zero,  

cooing their nothings before you could be bored  

or knew a name, not even your own, or how  

this world brave with hellos turns all goodbye.



by John Updike



For more information about poet, John Updike, see:

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/John_Updike

Tuesday, November 14, 2017

Tuesday Poem: "Hard-Wired" by Jenny Xie



A misfortune can swell
for a long, long time in the mind.


While goodness shrinks

down to a hard shell.


I reach for the hammer,

but it doesn't crack.


Evolutionarily, it makes sense.


These fishbone days, this fatty grief.



by Jenny Xie



For more information about poet, Jenny Xie, see:


https://www.poets.org/poetsorg/poet/jenny-xie-0

Tuesday, November 7, 2017

Tuesday Poem: "They'll say: "She must be from another country" by Imtiaz Dharker



When I can’t comprehend
why they’re burning books

or slashing paintings,

when they can’t bear to look

at god’s own nakedness,

when they ban the film

and gut the seats to stop the play

and I ask why

they just smile and say,

‘She must be

from another country.’


When I speak on the phone

and the vowel sounds are off

when the consonants are hard

and they should be soft,

they’ll catch on at once

they’ll pin it down

they’ll explain it right away

to their own satisfaction,

they’ll cluck their tongues

and say,

‘She must be

from another country.’


When my mouth goes up

instead of down,

when I wear a tablecloth

to go to town,

when they suspect I’m black

or hear I’m gay

they won’t be surprised,

they’ll purse their lips

and say,

‘She must be

from another country.’


When I eat up the olives

and spit out the pits

when I yawn at the opera

in the tragic bits

when I pee in the vineyard

as if it were Bombay,

flaunting my bare ass

covering my face

laughing through my hands

they’ll turn away,

shake their heads quite sadly,

‘She doesn’t know any better,’

they’ll say,

‘She must be

from another country.’


Maybe there is a country

where all of us live,

all of us freaks

who aren’t able to give

our loyalty to fat old fools,

the crooks and thugs

who wear the uniform

that gives them the right

to wave a flag,

puff out their chests,

put their feet on our necks,

and break their own rules.


But from where we are

it doesn’t look like a country,    

it’s more like the cracks

that grow between borders

behind their backs.

That’s where I live.

And I’ll be happy to say,

‘I never learned your customs.

I don’t remember your language

or know your ways.

I must be

from another country.’



by Imtiaz Dharker



For more information on poet, Imtiaz Dharker, see:



Tuesday, October 31, 2017

Tuesday Poem: "Crawfordsville Confidential" by G.E. Murray

     
 
1.
 
In the land of milk and cream delivered early
and daily, and always in glass bottles, we care
about good grooming and, of course, news
of slurs and curs ... Can it really be that home
 
becomes a place to be stranded?
“I don’t see a single storm cloud
anywhere in the sky, but I can sure smell rain,”
out on the edge of Crawfordsville, Indiana,
where the answers and questions become identical
as evil twins.
 
 
2.
 
Basketball ghosts bounce and sweat again
in that second-floor gym in the middle of July—
that never-to-be-forgotten home
of the first-ever Boys State Championship.
Rusty jump shots and long-ago corner hooks
rim out in a stream of dusted sunlight.
“Just to play the game, don’t you know,
you know, no matter how much the sacrifice ... ”
How searing afternoon’s vagueness now,
dreamed in a daylong haze of headache pills
downed at the General Lew Wallace Motor Lodge:
how the arc of the ball rises
to echoes of split-jump cheers
in lubricated air, when phantom bodies
strive and leap and go prostrate
to that squeak of rubber on polished wood—
in a game of shirts and skins.
 
 
3.
 
You can only wonder how Ezra Pound dissected his time here,
among tractors and proctors and temples of antebellum style,
as he cooed sweet Greek in the ear
of his secular Madonna ... Just now, two pigeons
greet first daylight on the Green of Wabash College.
 
Something to be said for being scandalized silly,
and in more than one language
when life becomes holier than the Crusades.
And what’s more—didactic passions
eventually drive you insane, thinks young EP, so what?
Sew buttons, ha!
 
And make it new always ... and always
leave the door cracked open, a light on,
and one foot on the floor.
 
 
4.
 
“The meatloaf here’s not very good,”
warns waitress Lucy, a pretty girl
with a tooth missing. Indifferently,
day proceeds utterly.
Off Country Road X-10, out by Carcus Creek,
driving past Minnie Betts’s florist shop
and what’s left of the old city jail,
you figure each small detail adds
glory to any story.
                            “Relax,” says Elton Bidwell,
the county’s dead-buzzard collector,
“I’ll take care of us all
when we com’ on home.”
 
 
5.
 
The town goes dark in a killer storm.
Collective forgetting and forgiving
occurs. But safety comes in many forms.
In this vast black you get to thinking
about giddy joys and little sorrows,
the curse of full employment at minimum wage,
and those conspicuous professors—
their bowties and braces speaking to the ages
and marking moments of learned unworthiness.
Maybe, it’s vacuum-packed fear
in a stage-managed town. Time to guess
what’s behind each tiny crime and local leer,
at once rancorous and baffling. Strangers
need not apply. A few lights click on
at the Shortstop Grille. These cruel weathers
turn asphalt slick. The old intramurals begin again.
 
 
6.
 
Early Sunday morning and a drunken Elton Bidwell
is strung like a scarecrow on his front porch swing,
deposited by Grand Wizards from the Odd Fellows Lodge bar
late last night—reminder to those devoted folks
heading up Church Street with songbooks in hand,
that home sure proves just another place to be stranded. 
 
by G. E. Murray
 
 
For more information about poet, G.E. Murray, see: 


 
 

Tuesday, October 24, 2017

Tuesday Poem: "Symposium" by Paul Muldoon



You can bring a horse to water but you can't make it hold
its nose to the grindstone and hunt with the hounds.

Every dog has a stitch in time. Two heads? You've been sold

one good turn. One good turn deserves a bird in the hand.


A bird in the hand is better than no bread.

To have your cake is to pay Paul.

Make hay while you can still hit the nail on the head.

For want of a nail the sky might fall.


People in glass houses can't see the wood

for the new broom. Rome wasn't built between two stools.

Empty vessels wait for no man.


A hair of the dog is a friend indeed.

There's no fool like the fool

who's shot his bolt. There's no smoke after the horse is gone.



by Paul Muldoon


Photo Credit: Beowulf Sheehan

For more information about the poet, Paul Muldoon, see:



Saturday, October 21, 2017

Poem in support of the #MeToo Campaign: "Vulture" by Andrew M. Bell




Was it ever about the sex, Harvey?
Or, intoxicated by power,
did you believe you were beyond morality,
above the law?
Sooner or later, Harvey,
it all comes home to roost.




Tuesday, October 17, 2017

Tuesday Poem: "U Boat Morning, 1914" by Alan Gould



will come as we perform the mundane toil,
say, tossing the breakfast scraps astern,

or washing down the maindeck under the oblongs

of sail-shadow. The morning sun

will mint its coins across a lazy sea,

the weather tacks and sheets will rise and fall

in languid intersectings of the sea-rim.


And there, so sudden, ordinary, too close

to dodge, or do anything about but wait for

with quiet interest, will be the thing of hearsay,

cigar profile, stub tower, little gun, so credible,

for all that it will be the first such vessel

we will have seen outside some journal's

crude picture.


Through his loudhailer,

the officer will be polite, but firm,

reading the English translation from a card.

Fifteen minutes. We'll stow such extra food,

water, charts, as time will allow,

also oilskins, a mouth organ, a piece

of unfinished scrimshaw perhaps, but not clothes,

then lower the boats, and stand off from the barque

at the distance we will have been directed to.

Oddest for our sense of what is proper

will be the sight of the helm unmanned out there

in open sea.

And this will be the manner

a moment in time will surface to say, Of course

your lives are free, of course they are compelled,

as we watch, quiescent, attentive, the lifeboats,

gentle as hammock-sway in the swell beneath us,

the little gun puffing its little smoke,

and thin smoke oozing from somewhere on board.

Gradually our home will lean into

its odd stricken angle, and spill wheatgrain

from the holes in her side, slipping under,

natural as a sleeper turning under blankets.

When it is done, the captain will salute us

just once, the submarine chug away, routine

as a mailboat.


And without undue hardship

we will survive, but no-one there will serve

in sailing ships again. This is how

an ancient confidence will vanish

casually like a fashion in jokes. Instead

we'll live into a time strange to us,

we'll live aware of how the unborn have

their faces turned away from all we took

for granted, as, stubborn or quizzical, we will

submit to someone else's scheme of what

is pressing, waste on the floor of life's renewal.

And if this quiet impending morning leaves

one thought in mind, it might be wheatgrain

fanning from a ship across the ocean's dark

like brassy beads, like fabulous golden blood.



by Alan Gould



For more information about the poet, Alan Gould, see:



Tuesday, September 19, 2017

Tuesday Poem: "At Days Bay" by James K. Baxter



To lie on a beach after
looking at old poems: how

slow untroubled by any

grouch of mine or yours, Father

Ocean tumbles in the bay

alike with solitary

 

divers, cripples, yelling girls

and pipestem kids. He does what

suits us all; and somewhere — there,

out there, where the high tight sails

are going — he wears a white

death flag of foam for us, far

 

out, for when we want it. So

on Gea’s breast, the broad nurse

who bears with me, I think of

adolescence: that sad boy

I was, thoughts crusted with ice

on the treadmill of self-love,

 

Narcissus damned, who yet brought

like a coal in a hallow

stalk, the seed of fire that runs

through my veins now. I praise that

sad boy now, who having no

hope, did not blow out his brains.



by James K. Baxter



For more information about the poet, James K. Baxter, see: