This is our tenth page of poems and art. Think in the Morning posts a poem and a piece of napkin art produced in the old Sea Gull Cellar Bar every day on our Facebook Page.
Like a joy on the heart of a sorrow,
The sunset hangs on a cloud;
A golden storm of glittering sheaves,
Of fair and frail and fluttering leaves,
The wild wind blows in a cloud.
Hark to a voice that is calling
To my heart in the voice of the wind:
My heart is weary and sad and alone,
For its dreams like the fluttering leaves have gone,
And why should I stay behind?
Where The Blood Red Huckleberry Grows
Where the blood red huckleberry grows
Catspaw flounders in the
Forest of the dwarf
Ogre roams and bellows
Down the green tunic
Of the Manzanita
Salal and the
Hundred year old spruce.
Where rivers one inch wide
Disturb the pattern.
Grit and drub dung.
Where blasts outrage
The solitary beetle
And spoil the unheard
Molten iron balm.
Where the unhappy axe
Rides communion with
The wildwood of the night
And the spade flickers silver
Through the virgin dust, Digs and splashes fine
I greet this land
Of the whale and wolf
Ten rocks deep
With the spit
Of dead giants
The bubbled fog
Inside the dark womb
Of the last pigmy
Spawn and splatter
What unknown children
Into this land.
We Wear the Mask
Paul Lawrence Dunbar
We wear the mask that grins and lies,
It hides our cheeks and shades our eyes,
- This debt we pay to human guile;
With torn and bleeding hearts we smile,
And mouth with myriad subtleties.
Why should the world be overwise,
In counting all our tears and sighs?
Nay, let them only see us, while
We wear the mask.
We smile, but, O great Christ, our cries
To thee from tortured souls arise.
We sing, but oh the clay is vile
Beneath our feet, and long the mile;
But let the world dream otherwise,
We wear the mask!
The Poor Poet’s Scrapt-Book
And this only is left ! Cold comfort, these fancies,
To creditors crowding about with their bills;
If the butcher took verses, the baker romances,
To settle their claims, ‘t would have lessened his ills.
Yet he cherished these scraps, and tenderly, knowing,
In spite of their faults, he fathered them all ;
Well it became him, such charity showing
To children so weak and puny and small.
Their life, like his own, was the vagabond’s always;
Like him, they discovered true friends to be rare;
Now hiding in attics, now lurking in hallways,
Nor songs nor singer earth’s blessings could share.
And yet, if they never have known the glories
Of gilded bindings and library shelves,
Perhaps they have carried their simple stories
To some who welcomed them for themselves.
If somewhere, at some time, the eyes of a maiden
Have brightened because of this sonnet on love;
If somebody’s heart with grief heavy-laden
Has comforted been by the stanzas above;
If the marvelous riches which truth inherits
Are made to appear more worthy of gain –
Then, spite of their weakness, their many demerits,
These scraps, let us say, were not written in vain.
While to him, the poor poet, whose spark of God’s fire
Went out in these lines, in the battle for bread,
What matters it now? Is there any round higher
Than that which he stepped to last night from his bed?
The New Colossus
NOT like the brazen giant of Greek fame,
With conquering limbs astride from land to land;
Here at our sea-washed, sunset gates shall stand
A mighty woman with a torch, whose flame
Is the imprisoned lightning, and her name
Mother of Exiles. From her beacon-hand
Glows world-wide welcome; her mild eyes command
The air-bridged harbor that twin cities frame.
“Keep, ancient lands, your storied pomp!” cries she
With silent lips. “Give me your tired, your poor,
Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free,
The wretched refuse of your teeming shore.
Send these, the homeless, tempest-tost to me,
I lift my lamp beside the golden door!”
The Nymph’s Reply to the Shepherd
by Sir Walrter Raleigh
If all the world and love were young,
And truth in every Shepherd’s tongue,
These pretty pleasures might me move,
To live with thee, and be thy love.
Time drives the flocks from field to fold,
When Rivers rage and Rocks grow cold,
And Philomel becometh dumb,
The rest complains of cares to come.
The flowers do fade, and wanton fields,
To wayward winter reckoning yields,
A honey tongue, a heart of gall,
Is fancy’s spring, but sorrow’s fall.
Thy gowns, thy shoes, thy beds of Roses,
Thy cap, thy kirtle, and thy posies
Soon break, soon wither, soon forgotten:
In folly ripe, in reason rotten.
Thy belt of straw and Ivy buds,
The Coral clasps and amber studs,
All these in me no means can move
To come to thee and be thy love.
But could youth last, and love still breed,
Had joys no date, nor age no need,
Then these delights my mind might move
To live with thee, and be thy love.
The Parable of the Old Man and the Young
So Abram rose, and clave the wood, and went,
And took the fire with him, and a knife.
And as they sojourned both of them together,
Isaac the first-born spake and said, My Father,
Behold the preparations, fire and iron,
But where the lamb for this burnt offering?
Then Abram bound the youth with belts and straps,
And builded parapets and trenches there,
And stretched forth the knife to slay his son.
When lo! an angel called him out of heaven,
Saying, Lay not thy hand upon the lad,
Neither do anything to him. Behold,
A ram, caught in the thicket by its horns;
Offer the Ram of Pride instead of him.
But the old man would not so, but slew his son,
And half the seed of Europe, one by one.
Helen Hunt Jackson
THE golden-rod is yellow;
The corn is turning brown;
The trees in apple orchards
With fruit are bending down.
The gentian’s bluest fringes
Are curling in the sun;
In dusty pods the milkweed
Its hidden silk has spun.
The sedges flaunt their harvest,
In every meadow nook;
And asters by the brook-side
Make asters in the brook,
From dewy lanes at morning
The grapes’ sweet odors rise;
At noon the roads all flutter
With yellow butterflies.
By all these lovely tokens
September days are here,
With summer’s best of weather,
And autumn’s best of cheer.
But none of all this beauty
Which floods the earth and air
Is unto me the secret
Which makes September fair.
‘T is a thing which I remember;
To name it thrills me yet:
One day of one September
I never can forget.
I Think Continually
I think continually of those who were truly great.
Who, from the womb, remembered the soul’s history
Through corridors of light where the hours are suns
Endless and singing. Whose lovely ambition
Was that their lips, still touched with fire,
Should tell of the Spirit clothed from head to foot in song.
And who hoarded from the Spring branches
The desires falling across their bodies like blossoms.
What is precious is never to forget
The essential delight of the blood drawn from ageless springs
Breaking through rocks in worlds before our earth.
Never to deny its pleasure in the morning simple light
Nor its grave evening demand for love.
Never to allow gradually the traffic to smother
With noise and fog the flowering of the spirit.
Near the snow, near the sun, in the highest fields
See how these names are feted by the waving grass
And by the streamers of white cloud
And whispers of wind in the listening sky.
The names of those who in their lives fought for life
Who wore at their hearts the fire’s centre.
Born of the sun they travelled a short while towards the sun,
And left the vivid air signed with their honour.
A Consumer’s Report
The name of the product I tested is Life,
I have completed the form you sent me
and understand that my answers are confidential.
I had it as a gift,
I didn’t feel much while using it,
in fact I think I’d have liked to be more excited
It seemed gentle on the hands
but left an embarrassing deposit behind.
It was not economical
and I have used much more than I thought
(I suppose I have about half left
but it’s difficult to tell)—
although the instructions are fairly large
there are so many of them
I don’t know which to follow, especially
as they seem to contradict each other.
I’m not sure such a thing
should be put in the way of children—
It’s difficult to think of a purpose
for it. One of my friends says
it’s just to keep its maker in a job.
Also the price is much too high.
Things are piling up so fast,
after all, the world got by
for a thousand million years
without this, do we need it now?
(Incidentally, please ask your man
to stop calling me ‘the respondent’,
I don’t like the sound of it)
There seems to be a lot of different labels,
sizes and colours should be uniform,
the shape is awkward, it’s waterproof
but not heat resistant, it doesn’t keep
yet it’s very difficult to get rid of:
whenever they make it cheaper they seem
to put less in—if you say you don’t
want it, then it’s delivered anyway.
I’d agree it’s a popular product,
it’s got into the language; people
even say they’re on the side of it.
Personally I think it’s overdone,
a small thing people are ready
to behave badly about. I think
we should take it for granted. It its
experts are called philosophers or market
researchers or historians, we shouldn’t
care. We are the consumers and the last
law makers So finally, I’d buy it.
But the question of a ‘best buy’
I’d like to leave until I get
the competitive product you said you’d send.
By Ella Wheeler Wilcox
Laugh, and the world laughs with you;
Weep, and you weep alone;
For the sad old earth must borrow its mirth,
But has trouble enough of its own.
Sing, and the hills will answer;
Sigh, it is lost on the air;
The echoes bound to a joyful sound,
But shrink from voicing care.
Rejoice, and men will seek you;
Grieve, and they turn and go;
They want full measure of all your pleasure,
But they do not need your woe.
Be glad, and your friends are many;
Be sad, and you lose them all,—
There are none to decline your nectared wine,
But alone you must drink life’s gall.
Feast, and your halls are crowded;
Fast, and the world goes by.
Succeed and give, and it helps you live,
But no man can help you die.
There is room in the halls of pleasure
For a large and lordly train,
But one by one we must all file on
Through the narrow aisles of pain.
Rembrandt’s Late Self-Portraits
by Elizabeth Jennings
You are confronted with yourself. Each year
The pouches fill, the skin is uglier. You give it all unflinchingly. You stare Into yourself, beyond. Your brush’s care Runs with self-knowledge. Here
Is a humility at one with craft.
There is no arrogance. Pride is apart
From this self-scrutiny. You make light drift
The way you want. Your face is bruised and hurt
But there is still love left.
Love of the art and others. To the last
Experiment went on. You stared beyond
Your age, the times. You also plucked the past
And tempered it. Self-portraits understand,
And old age can divest,
With truthful changes, us of fear of death.
Look, a new anguish. There, the bloated nose,
The sadness and the joy. To paint’s to breathe,
And all the darknesses are dared. You chose
What each must reckon with.
The Death of Narcissus
by Pedro Serrano
translated by Anna Crowe
Narcissus did not drown.
He crashed against the stone of his laughter,
splintered his face, wrecked
his soul, his belly, his gestures,
fractured his glance and his ribs.
In their place all that is left is a cold
scattering of material.
Narcissus, I must say, was not a face.
He was the reflection of love,
he had neither body nor color,
he could not stand up.
When he drowned the fish ate his sex as they did Shelley’s,
when his cock drowned they
put it in their mouths as they did with Jorge Cuesta’s.
Because Narcissus shattered inside and could no longer bearthat image,
because what remains of him has turned to mud,
bloated and useless.
Who Said It Was Simple
There are so many roots to the tree of anger
that sometimes the branches shatter
before they bear.
Sitting in Nedicks
the women rally before they march
discussing the problematic girls
they hire to make them free.
An almost white counterman passes
a waiting brother to serve them first
and the ladies neither notice nor reject
the slighter pleasures of their slavery.
But I who am bound by my mirror
as well as my bed
see causes in colour
as well as sex
and sit here wondering
which me will survive
all these liberations.
The most important thing we’ve learned,
So far as children are concerned,
Is never, NEVER, NEVER let
Them near your television set —
Or better still, just don’t install
The idiotic thing at all.
In almost every house we’ve been,
We’ve watched them gaping at the screen.
They loll and slop and lounge about,
And stare until their eyes pop out.
(Last week in someone’s place we saw
A dozen eyeballs on the floor.)
They sit and stare and stare and sit
Until they’re hypnotised by it,
Until they’re absolutely drunk
With all that shocking ghastly junk.
Oh yes, we know it keeps them still,
They don’t climb out the window sill,
They never fight or kick or punch,
They leave you free to cook the lunch
And wash the dishes in the sink —
But did you ever stop to think,
To wonder just exactly what
This does to your beloved tot?
IT ROTS THE SENSE IN THE HEAD!
IT KILLS IMAGINATION DEAD!
My Old Football
John Milton Hayes
You can keep your antique silver and your statuettes of bronze,
Your curios and tapestries so fine,
But of all your treasures rare there is nothing to compare
With this patched up, wornout football pal o’ mine.
Just a patchedup wornout football, yet how it clings!
I live again my happier days in thoughts that football brings.
It’s got a mouth, it’s got a tongue,
And oft when we’re alone I fancy that it speaks
To me of golden youth that’s flown.
It calls to mind our meeting,
’Twas a present from the Dad.
I kicked it yet I worshipped it,
How strange a priest it had!
And yet it jumped with pleasure
When I punched it might and main:
And when it had the dumps
It got blown up and punched again.
It’s lived its life;
It’s played the game;
Its had its rise and fall,
There’s history in the wrinkles of that wornout football.
Caresses rarely came its way in babyhood ’twas tanned.
It’s been well oiled, and yet it’s quite teetotal, understand.
It’s gone the pace, and sometimes it’s been absolutely bust,
And yet ’twas always full of bounce,
No matter how ’twas cussed.
He’s broken many rules and oft has wandered out of bounds,
He’s joined in shooting parties
Over other people’s grounds.
Misunderstood by women,
He was never thought a catch,
Yet he was never happier
Than when bringing off a match.
He’s often been in danger
Caught in nets that foes have spread,
He’s even come to life again
When all have called him dead.
Started on the centre,
And he’s acted on the square,
To all parts of the compass
He’s been bullied everywhere.
His aims and his ambitious
Were opposed by one and all,
And yet he somehow reached his goal
That plucky old football.
When schooling days were ended
I forgot him altogether,
And ’midst the dusty years
He lay a crumpled lump of leather.
Then came the threat’ning voice of War,
And games had little chance,
My brother went to do his bit
Out there somewhere in France.
And when my brother wrote he said,
‘Of all a Tommy’s joys,
There’s none compares with football.
Will you send one for the boys? ’
I sent not one but many,
And my old one with the rest,
I thought that football’s finished now,
But no he stood the test.
Behind the lines they kicked him
As he’d never been kicked before.
Till they busted him and sent him back
A keepsake of the war.
My brother lies out there in France,
Beneath a simple cross,
And I seem to feel my football knows my grief,
And shares my loss.
He tells me of that splendid charge,
And then my brother’s fall.
In life he loved our mutual chum
That worn-out football.
Oh you can keep your antique silver
And your statuettes of bronze
Your curios and tapestries so fine
But of all your treasures rare
There is nothing to compare
With that patched-up worn-out football—
Pal o’ mine.
The Sofas, Fogs, and Cinemas
By Rosemary Tonks
I have lived it, and lived it,
My nervous, luxury civilisation,
My sugar-loving nerves have battered me to pieces.
… Their idea of literature is hopeless.
Make them drink their own poetry!
Let them eat their gross novel, full of mud.
It’s quiet; just the fresh, chilly weather … and he
Gets up from his dead bedroom, and comes in here
And digs himself into the sofa.
He stays there up to two hours in the hole – and talks
– Straight into the large subjects, he faces up to everything
It’s …… damnably depressing.
(That great lavatory coat…the cigarillo burning
In the little dish… And when he calls out: ‘Ha!’
Madness! – you no longer possess your own furniture.)
On my bad days (and I’m being broken
At this very moment) I speak of my ambitions … and he
Becomes intensely gloomy, with the look of something jugged,
Morose, sour, mouldering away, with lockjaw ….
I grow coarser; and more modern (I, who am driven mad
By my ideas; who go nowhere;
Who dare not leave my frontdoor, lest an idea …)
All right. I admit everything, everything!
Oh yes, the opera (Ah, but the cinema)
He particularly enjoys it, enjoys it horribly, when someone’s ill
At the last minute; and they specially fly in
A new, gigantic, Dutch soprano. He wants to help her
With her arias. Old goat! Blasphemer!
He wants to help her with her arias!
No, I … go to the cinema,
I particularly like it when the fog is thick, the street
Is like a hole in an old coat, and the light is brown as laudanum.
… the fogs! the fogs! The cinemas
Where the criminal shadow-literature flickers over our faces,
The screen is spread out like a thundercloud – that bangs
And splashes you with acid…or lies derelict, with lighted
waters in it,
And in the silence, drips and crackles – taciturn, luxurious.
… The drugged and battered Philistines
Are all around you in the auditorium …
And he … is somewhere else, in his dead bedroom clothes,
He wants to make me think his thoughts
And they will be enormous, dull – (just the sort
To keep away from).
… when I see that cigarillo, when I see it … smoking
And he wants to face the international situation …
Lunatic rages! Blackness! Suffocation!
– All this sitting about in cafés to calm down
Simply wears me out. And their idea of literature!
The idiotic cut of the stanzas; the novels, full up, gross.
I have lived it, and I know too much.
My café-nerves are breaking me
With black, exhausting information.
Wake Up, Day Calls You
Pedro Salinas y Serrano
Wake up. Day calls you
to your life: your duty.
And to live, nothing more.
Root it out of the glum
night and the darkness
that covered your body
for which light waited
on tiptoe in the dawn.
Stand up, affirm the straight
simple will to be
a pure slender virgin.
Test your bodys metal.
cold, heat? Your blood
will tell against the snow,
or behind the window.
in your cheeks will tell.
And look at people. Rest
doing no more than adding
your perfection to another
day. Your task
is to carry your life high,
and play with it, hurl it
like a voice to the clouds
so it may retrieve the light
already gone from us.
That is your fate: to live
Your work is you, nothing more.
by Ribka Sibhatu
translated by André Naffis-Sahely
On 3rd October a barge carrying 518 people arrived in Lampedusa
Having survived a brutal dictatorship
and a journey full of pitfalls
they stood atop their raft in the dead of night
and saw the lights of the promised land
Believing their suffering had reached an end,
they raised a chorus and praised the Virgin Mary.
While waiting for those ships to rescue them,
men and women, children and grownups,
the sick and the healthy began to sing hymns!
I wasn’t ashamed when I called out Your name,
I called out to Mary and didn’t fall
Your name sustained me throughout my journey
and here is the grateful echo of the song I raise to thank you!
Suddenly the raft
started filling with water;
they began flashing
red lights to sound the alarm;
switched their lanterns on and off!
Alas, all was quiet on the island.
Meanwhile the water rose, stoking fears the ship would sink.
To send a distress call,
they set a sail on fire, and as the
flames began to spread, some frightened people
jumped overboard and tipped the boat.
They were all adrift in the freezing sea!
Amidst that storm, some died right away,
some beat the odds and cheated death,
some who could swim tried to help
some drowned using their last breath
to send messages back to their native land,
some called out their names and countries of origin
before succumbing to their fate!
Among the floating corpses
Mebrahtom raised a desperate cry
Yohanna! Yohanna! Yohanna!
But Yohanna didn’t answer;
all alone, and in
an extreme act of love,
she brought her son into the world,
birthing him into the fish-filled sea:
yet nobody in Lampedusa
heard the seven ululations welcoming his birth!
Because after a superhuman struggle
Yohanna died alongside her son,
who never saw the light of day
and perished without even… drawing his first breath!
A baby died
drowned in the salty sea!
The baby was born and died
with its umbilical cord still unsevered!
A woman died while giving birth!
368 people died! 357 Eritreans died!
On 3rd October
3000 feet from Rabbit Island,
in the heart of the Mediterranean,
a tragedy struck the Eritrean people,
one of many they have endured.
And As In Alice
Mary Jo Bang
Alice cannot be in the poem, she says, because
She’s only a metaphor for childhood
And a poem is a metaphor already
So we’d only have a metaphor
Inside a metaphor. Do you see?
They all nod. They see. Except for the girl
With her head in the rabbit hole. From this vantage,
Her bum looks like the flattened backside
Of a black and white panda. She actually has one
In the crook of her arm.
Of course it’s stuffed and not living.
Who would dare hold a real bear so near the outer ear?
She’s wondering what possible harm might come to her
If she fell all the way down the dark she’s looking through.
Would strange creatures sing songs
Where odd syllables came to a sibilant end at the end.
Perhaps the sounds would be a form of light hissing.
Like when a walrus blows air
Through two fractured front teeth. Perhaps it would
Take the form of a snake. But if a snake, it would need a tree.
Could she grow one from seed? Could one make a cat?
Make it sit on a branch and fade away again
The moment you told it that the rude noise it was hearing was
With an axe beating on the forest door.
The Bunny Gives Us a Lesson in Eternity
We are a sad people, without hats.
The history of our nation is tragically benign.
We like to watch the rabbits screwing in the graveyard.
We are fond of the little bunny with the bent ear
who stands alone in the moonlight
reading what little text there is on the graves.
He looks quite desirable like that.
He looks like the center of the universe.
Look how his mouth moves mouthing the words
while the others are busy making more of him.
Soon the more will ask of him to write their love
letters and he will oblige, using the language
of our ancestors, those poor clouds in the ground,
beloved by us who have been standing here for hours,
a proud people after all.
Living is no laughing matter:
you must live with great seriousness
like a squirrel, for example
— I mean without looking for something beyond and above living,
I mean living must be your whole occupation.
Living is no laughing matter:
you must take it seriously,
so much so and to such a degree
that, for example, your hands tied behind your back,
your back to the wall, or else in a laboratory
in your white coat and safety glasses,
you can die for people— even for people whose faces you’ve never seen,
even though you know living is the most real, the most beautiful thing.
I mean, you must take living so seriously
that even at seventy, for example, you’ll plant olive trees
— and not for your children, either, but because although you fear death you don’t believe it,
because living, I mean, weighs heavier.
Let’s say we’re seriously ill, need surgery—
which is to say we might not get up
from the white table.
Even though it’s impossible not to feel sad
about going a little too soon,
we’ll still laugh at the jokes being told,
we’ll look out the window to see if it’s raining,
or still wait anxiously
for the latest newscast…
Let’s say we’re at the front—
for something worth fighting for, say.
There, in the first offensive, on that very day,
we might fall on our face, dead.
We’ll know this with a curious anger,
but we’ll still worry ourselves to death
about the outcome of the war, which could last years.
Let’s say we’re in prison
and close to fifty,
and we have eighteen more years, say,
before the iron doors will open.
We’ll still live with the outside,
with its people and animals, struggle and wind—
I mean with the outside beyond the walls.
I mean, however and wherever we are,
we must live as if we will never die.
This earth will grow cold,
a star among stars
and one of the smallest,
a gilded mote on blue velvet—
I mean this, our great earth.
This earth will grow cold one day,
not like a block of ice
or a dead cloud even
but like an empty walnut it will roll along
in pitch-black space…
You must grieve for this right now
—you have to feel this sorrow now—
for the world must be loved this much
if you’re going to say “I lived”…
I would love to see these
in a real book
of pages I could turn.
Thank you. It’s a project I hope to tackle some day.