Wednesday, 31 August 2016

Deborah Fleming: Ohio Autumn

Cacophonous flock
above harvest field
spreading their sky-net

sideways falls and soars
medusoid in the pulsing
light of afternoon

under bundled clouds
neither to feed nor mate
before migration.

Published 2010. Almost, if not technically, a triple haiku: the less-is-more principle brought off to perfection, as the departing flock soars away from the hint of anthropomorphism in the last stanza.

Lee Slonimsky: Pythagoras’s Bees

“The fascinating drowse of the morning
keeps the traveler from traveling.”
              from “One night I was thinking” by Saadi (Persia, 13th century)

The fascinating drowse of small white bees
in dreamy hover over red petals
distracts Pythagoras; he doesn’t see
a hawk’s stiletto-sharp trajectory,
hypotenuse-of-plummet scything air
toward sudden talon-spike of careless hare.
Nor does he notice first light’s trapezoid,
branch-etched in pond, scarlet geometry.
He’s sleeping with these bees though wide awake:
savant of minutiae, he loves the balm
mild wafts of air offer bees’ slow float
and him. Sweet scented haze. There’s nothing wrong
with all the world in this tableau that soothes;
bees startle into flight, but P won’t move.

Published 2014. The sonnet form in contemporary conversational language; except that conversational language risks bathos when combined with the compressed imagery and compounds that run riot from the fourth line. Can the reader extend indulgence...?

Tuesday, 30 August 2016

Susannah Nevison: Horse Broke Clear

Horse broke clear
across the pasture, horse

broke clean loose
and cleared the fence. Didn't you

tell me, don’t put the cart
before the horse, didn’t you

tell me, get out in front, girl, get out
in front while you can

down past the fence, past
the river bend, the horse

got clear of the house, clear
out of sight—

and didn’t I cut that horse
loose, fast as any knife—

It’s always good to get out in front,
you told me once, girl, get out
in front, but don’t put the cart

before the horse—and my horse
was a chest of knives, and wasn’t
my horse slick as any knife

and fast and sleek—and my horse
was sleek as your knife, I mean
your knife flat against my cheek

I mean didn’t I get out in front,
my horse, out in front,
and could you catch us then,

could you stop us—
and didn’t you tell me
the river is a snake, girl
but even a snake can drown.

Published 2015. Such energy: the poet has something to say, and finds the voice to say it with utter naturalness, so that the poem's drama takes over the literal horse and irresistably transmutes it.

Monday, 29 August 2016

Julia Copus: Heronkind

Whatever is desired
is grown toward:
a glimmer of fish
at the margins of rivers
and streams, or in marshes
triggers a longing –
a muted, persistent
itch in the newborn
heron which
she feels at the base of her
fledgling bill, a sense that will
persist until the optimal
fish-spearing length is reached.
From this point to
eternity her dreams
are crammed with fish
or the nervy, darting
shadows of fish.
How much less complex
life would be
without this feverish
dance between
the wanter and the wanted,
though the truth of it is
that without fish
all heronkind would
be stunted.

From The World's Two Smallest Humans (2012). A determined resistence here to sounding "poetic", but at the same time seeking a release into the poetic. I don't see that the clashing tensions of language, metaphor and the subliminal dream are resolved in any way that's not a surrender to incoherence.

Sunday, 28 August 2016

Federico García Lorca: Of the Dark Doves

In the branches of the laurel tree
I saw two dark doves
One was the sun
and one the moon
Little neighbors I said
where is my grave — 
In my tail said the sun
On my throat said the moon
And I who was walking
with the land around my waist
saw two snow eagles
and a naked girl
One was the other
and the girl was none
Little eagles I said
where is my grave —
In my tail said the sun
On my throat said the moon
In the branches of the laurel tree
I saw two naked doves
One was the other
and both were none

Tr. Sarah Arvio. Maybe not every word of Lorca's is golden but the act of reading him so often gives that feeling.

Saturday, 27 August 2016

Bernard O’Donoghue: Moths

Soft butterflies of night, I’ve learned of late
to share the bedroom with you and react
with terror only to the smeared glaze
you mutate into when, so unmajestical,
you’re offered any show of violence. 
What made us shudder, I see now, was your
sheer vulnerability: the threat
your frailty posed by demonstrating
our species’ programmed disposition
to kill anything that can’t resist us  
or fight back: to concede existence only
to creatures which are strong. You are so near
the end of the fly-by-night continuum
of strength and wealth and contest in the world.

Published 2013. There are better poems about moths, although this isn't really about moths as creatures but as subjects of anxiety, even phobia.