The is the green

May 27, 2018

The forest of lost souls by Toshiyuki Ueda

The is the green we grew up in – the humid blue of the blur of our adolescence; the weedy heat. The are the roads we drove into the country with whoever had sweet, cheap wine. The song of gnat and firefly and nightingale and frog. This is the sky of watery silk under which we wrecked our hearts, cried out. Wild onion in the high grass, and magnolia – cloud of blossoms – where we lay some nights till dawn beside the one, the one, the only one, and then another love. This is the place I chose exile from, sharp-hearted, sure of some brighter world. And, still, how it takes me back. How the dark trees make a leafy arch above us as we pass. How you grip the wheel and laugh, don’t say, Remember. Don’t say anything.

Cecilia Woloch

Babylon

September 23, 2017

The child alone a poet is:
Spring and Fairyland are his.

Truth and Reason show but dim,
And all’s poetry with him.

Rhyme and music flow in plenty
For the lad of one-and-twenty,
But Spring for him is no more now
Than daisies to a munching cow;
Just a cheery pleasant season,
Daisy buds to live at ease on.

He’s forgotten how he smiled
And shrieked at snowdrops when a child,
Or wept one evening secretly
For April’s glorious misery.

Wisdom made him old and wary
Banishing the Lords of Faery.

Wisdom made a breach and battered
Babylon to bits: she scattered
To the hedges and ditches
All our nursery gnomes and witches.

Lob and Puck, poor frantic elves,
Drag their treasures from the shelves.

Jack the Giant-killer’s gone,
Mother Goose and Oberon,
Bluebeard and King Solomon.

Robin, and Red Riding Hood
Take together to the wood,
And Sir Galahad lies hid
In a cave with Captain Kidd.

None of all the magic hosts,
None remain but a few ghosts
Of timorous heart, to linger on
Weeping for lost Babylon.

Robert Graves

Midsummers

July 11, 2017

On nights like this we used to swim in the quarry,

the boys making up games requiring them to tear off  the girls’ clothes
and the girls cooperating, because they had new bodies since last summer
and they wanted to exhibit them, the brave ones
leaping off  the high rocks –  bodies crowding the water.
The nights were humid, still. The stone was cool and wet,
marble for  graveyards, for buildings that we never saw,
buildings in cities far away.
On cloudy nights, you were blind. Those nights the rocks were dangerous,
but in another way it was all dangerous, that was what we were after.
The summer started. Then the boys and girls began to pair off
but always there were a few left at the end -  sometimes they’d keep watch,
sometimes they’d pretend to go off  with each other like the rest,
but what could they do there, in the woods? No one wanted to be them.
But they’d show up anyway, as though some night their luck would change,
fate would be a different fate.
At the beginning and at the end, though, we were all together.
After the evening chores, after the smaller children were in bed,
then we were free. Nobody said anything, but we knew the nights we’d meet
and the nights we wouldn’t. Once or twice, at the end of summer,
we could see a baby was going to come out of all that kissing.
And for those two, it was terrible, as terrible as being alone.
The game was over. We’d sit on the rocks smoking cigarettes,
worrying about the ones who weren’t there.
And then finally walk home through the fields,
because there was always work the next day.
And the next day, we were kids again, sitting on the front steps in the morning,
eating a peach.  Just that, but it seemed an honour to have a mouth.
And then going to work, which meant helping out in the fields.
One boy worked for an old lady, building shelves.
The house was very old, maybe built when the mountain was built.
And then the day faded. We were dreaming, waiting for night.
Standing at the front door at twilight, watching the shadows lengthen.
And a voice in the kitchen was always complaining about the heat,
wanting the heat to break.
Then the heat broke, the night was clear.
And you thought of  the boy or girl you’d be meeting later.
And you thought of  walking into the woods and lying down,
practicing all those things you were learning in the water.
And though sometimes you couldn’t see the person you were with,
there was no substitute for that person.
The summer night glowed; in the field, fireflies were glinting.
And for those who understood such things, the stars were sending messages:
You will leave the village where you were born
and in another country you’ll become very rich, very powerful,
but always you will mourn something you left behind, even though
you can’t say what it was,
and eventually you will return to seek it.

LOUISE GLÜCK

The Disquieting Muses

September 11, 2016

nnightmares

Mother, mother, what ill-bred aunt
Or what disfigured and unsightly
Cousin did you so unwisely keep
Unasked to my christening, that she
Sent these ladies in her stead
With heads like darning-eggs to nod
And nod and nod at foot and head
And at the left side of my crib?

Mother, who made to order stories
Of Mixie Blackshort the heroic bear,
Mother, whose witches always, always
Got baked into gingerbread, I wonder
Whether you saw them, whether you said
Words to rid me of those three ladies
Nodding by night around my bed,
Mouthless, eyeless, with stitched bald head.

In the hurricane, when father’s twelve
Study windows bellied in
Like bubbles about to break, you fed
My brother and me cookies and Ovaltine
And helped the two of us to choir:
‘Thor is angry; boom boom boom!
Thor is angry: we don’t care!’
But those ladies broke the panes.

When on tiptoe the schoolgirls danced,
Blinking flashlights like fireflies
And singing the glowworm song, I could
Not lift a foot in the twinkle-dress
But, heavy-footed, stood aside
In the shadow cast by my dismal-headed
Godmothers, and you cried and cried:
And the shadow stretched, the lights went out.

Mother, you sent me to piano lessons
And praised my arabesques and trills
Although each teacher found my touch
Oddly wooden in spite of scales
And the hours of practicing, my ear
Tone-deaf and yes, unteachable.

I learned, I learned, I learned elsewhere,
From muses unhired by you, dear mother.

I woke one day to see you, mother,
Floating above me in bluest air
On a green balloon bright with a million
Flowers and bluebirds that never were
Never, never, found anywhere.

But the little planet bobbed away
Like a soap-bubble as you called: Come here!
And I faced my travelling companions.

Day now, night now, at head, side, feet,
They stand their vigil in gowns of stone,
Faces blank as the day I was born.

Their shadows long in the setting sun
That never brightens or goes down.

And this is the kingdom you bore me to,
Mother, mother.
But no frown of mine
Will betray the company I keep.

Sylvia Plath

shit