Sunday, 31 July 2016

Kate Light: The Idea Is the Fleeting Ghostly Fish

that's lit up in the world of fathoms-deep; 
announcing its arrival with a swish
that makes the waters murmur in their sleep. 
There always blooms that steady stream of snow 
like plankton fallout in the sea of brain, 
from which you snitch a thought not yes not no; 
but Something from the world's incessant rain. 
The ghostly fish that's lit up from within,
and bright enough to catch your eye that sweeps 
the depths, or reaches, or the narrow place;
its luminescence gets beneath your skin, 
and cheers you when it finds your tearstained face. 
And if you mimic it or rise to match its pace, 
then you become the company it keeps.

From Gravity’s Dream (2006). Kate Light died earlier this year. Her best poetry was in formal structures, like this one (except for the playfulness of using the title as the missing first line).

Saturday, 30 July 2016

René Char: The Swift

Swift whose wings are too wide, who spirals and cries out his joy around the house. The heart is like that.

He dries up the thunder. He sows in the quiet sky. If he touches the ground, he breaks.

The swallow is his counterpart. He detests her domesticity. What good is the tower’s lace?

He will pause in the darkest crevice. None is more stringently lodged than he.

In the long brilliance of summer, he slips through the shutters of midnight into shadow.

No eyes can hold him. His presence is all in his cry. A slender gun is going to strike him down. The heart is like that.

Tr. Patricia Terry. The prose poem works better in French than in English: the relationship between linguistic rhythm and musicality is very different. Nonetheless the image of the swift as the human heart is intensely striking.

Friday, 29 July 2016

Janis Freegard: A Life Blighted by Pythons

waiting at the bus-stop
all I can think about
is how my hovercraft is full of eels

but it’s not, of course it’s not
my hovercraft is practically empty
my eels are few

in fact they’re not eels at all
but a netload of whitebait
and it isn’t even a hovercraft

I've never owned a hovercraft in my life
I wouldn’t know what to do with one
it’s not even a dinghy

it’s a reusable eco-friendly shopping bag
and they’re definitely not eels
and not even whitebait

the truth is, I've never been whitebaiting
they’re just vegetables
and I only have one thing to say:

your eels
my hovercraft
now, baby, now

From Kingdom Animalia: The Escapades of Linnaeus (2011). Freegard is a New Zealand poet and botanist. There are no pythons in New Zealand. The reader is being teased...