When You Are Old

July 13, 2020

When you are old and grey and full of sleep,
And nodding by the fire, take down this book,
And slowly read, and dream of the soft look
Your eyes had once, and of their shadows deep;

How many loved your moments of glad grace,
And loved your beauty with love false or true,
But one man loved the pilgrim soul in you,
And loved the sorrows of your changing face;

And bending down beside the glowing bars,
Murmur, a little sadly, how Love fled
And paced upon the mountains overhead
And hid his face amid a crowd of stars.

William Butler Yeats

Flowers

July 12, 2020

Some men never think of it.
You did. You’d come along
And say you’d nearly brought me flowers
But something had gone wrong.

The shop was closed. Or you had doubts —
The sort that minds like ours
Dream up incessantly. You thought
I might not want your flowers.

It made me smile and hug you then.
Now I can only smile.
But, look, the flowers you nearly brought
Have lasted all this while.

Wendy Cope

MAFIA CATS

July 12, 2020

We’re the Mafia cats
Bugsy, Franco and Toni
We’re crazy for pizza
With hot pepperoni

We run all the rackets
From gambling to vice
On St Valentine’s Day
We massacre mice

We always wear shades
To show that we’re meanies
Big hats and sharp suits
And drive Lamborghinis

We’re the Mafia cats
Bugsy, Franco and Toni
Love Sicilian wine
And cheese macaroni

But we have a secret
(And if you dare tell
You’ll end up with the kitten
At the bottom of the well

Or covered in concrete
And thrown into the deep
For this is one secret
You really must keep.)

We’re the Cosa Nostra
Run the scams and the fiddles
But at home we are
Mopsy, Ginger and Tiddles

Roger McGough

They want to whisk the lust from my lips, beat the alcohol

from my stomach, teach me how to not desire other women

how to rebuild gardens of shame in my body. Instead, I dug

my nails into this broken culture, ran to the closest sparkler,

then lit it with a hungry tongue. I carved my own scripture

onto this stomach.

Nothing has ever felt holier.

Noor Hindi

You know our tale: how, against advice, the girl
(alone) strays from the path that’s meted out for her
to sip a pearl of honeysuckle, talk to a stranger.

She risks too much, the moral tells us. She shouldn’t go.
It’s dangerous (for girls) in the dark wood. I know

(don’t you?) what fate squats in that bed — rough fur,
eyes bright as fraying wire, canines capped in red —
it’s only when (somewhere in act two) the axman’s

grinning blade portends rescue that she survives:
humbled, grateful, traumatized enough to know not
to go out but to stay in, latched to the safety of the cradle,

the kitchen. (Postscript — she’ll take the axman’s trade:
her hood for a gold ring.) After, we kiss our sleepy grand –
daughters, as if a kiss has ever spared a girl from anything.

Emily Rose Cole

Welcome them.

Remind them not to be alarmed at this planet’s changing shifts in the skies and what may come out of them.

Remind them how sometimes we like the shifts, sometimes we don’t.

Remind them that it’s a popular topic in conversation, and that it will place their anxiety on hold until needing to talk about things of substance.

In order to prolong the curbed anxiety, tell them about yourself.

Tell them how not everyone has the same hair texture as you.

Tell them straightaway not to touch it.

Tell them that although not all human beings are knowledgeable of this concept, it is best to look and not touch when engaging with humans.

Tell them that not everyone has the same skin colour as you.

Tell them that even though skin colour is an unpopular topic in conversation, and may increase their anxiety, it is worth engaging in.

Tell them that it is worth engaging in because humans will make discomforting inquiries about them too.

When the human in power comes for one, the human in power is bound to come for another.

Tell them that ignoring more important topics of conversation will not make them go away.

Tell them that when important topics are swept under the rug to not immediately get a broom.

Tell them that too many have used vacuums.

Tell them that you are speaking in metaphors because humans use this for clarification points.

Tell them what a metaphor is.

With their consent, ask them for a hug.

With their consent, explain what a hug is.

With their consent, show them.

Maya Williams

Ah Love, you smell of petroleum
and overwork
with grease on your fingernails,
paint in your hair
there is a pained look in your eye
from no appreciation
you speak to me of the lilacs
and appleblossoms we ought to have
the banquets we should be serving
afterwards rubbing each other for hours
with tenderness and genuine
olive oil
someday. Meantime here is your cracked plate
with spaghetti. Wash your hands &
touch me, praise
my cooking. I shall praise your calluses,
we shall dance in the kitchen
of our imagination.

Judy Grahn

Self Portrait

July 9, 2020

I did not want my body
Spackled in the world’s
Black beads and broke
Diamonds. What the world

Wanted, I did not. Of the things
It wanted. The body of Sunday
Morning, the warm wine and
The blood. The dripping fox

Furs dragged through the black New
York snow–the parked car, the pearls,
To the first pew–the funders,
The trustees, the bloat, the red weight of

The world. Their faces. I wanted not
That. I wanted Saint Francis, the love of
His animals. The wolf, broken and bleeding–
That was me.

Cynthia Cruz

Civilization

July 9, 2020

Those are the people who do complicated things.

 

     they’ll grab us by the thousands

     and put us to work.

 

World’s going to hell, with all these

     villages and trails.

Wild duck flocks aren’t

     what they used to be.

Aurochs grow rare.

 

Fetch me my feathers and amber

 

         *

 

A small cricket

on the typescript page of

“Kyoto born in spring song”

grooms himself

in time with The Well-Tempered Clavier.

I quit typing and watch him through a glass.

How well articulated! How neat!

 

Nobody understands the ANIMAL KINGDOM.

 

         *

 

When creeks are full

The poems flow

When creeks are down

We heap stones.

 

                      Gary Snyder

Before Dark

July 8, 2020

They used to mass
in the crowns of oaks
on every street for blocks around
but have gone elsewhere,
the evening no longer
gathered by their feathers
but by the leaves, which blot
whatever light is left to the sky.

Whether we saw the crows
as a barely worth mentioning
image of death for the way
they took over branches
with perfect authority,
whether, where did I hear it, their
numbers were thinned by disease,
nothing avails. They are

missing, the crackle of wings
against the weight of their flight,
beaks that broke open
broadcasting any scrap of news.
Like our children, they carry off
whole years, like the wind-borne thought
of cries never welcome enough
day or night in our ears.

Jennifer Barber