Posts Tagged ‘poetry’

Bête Noire

In Too lazy to assign a category on January 2, 2008 at 6:44 pm

Through the glades of gold
I hurtle in my silver carriage
straight into the embrace
of you, my bête noire.
I know your name but will not say it.
I will take your gifts in spite of myself,
snatching them from your claws
even as you rake them across my heart.
No, I take that back.
They are not gifts; they are too hard won.
I will take them as prizes.
I will take them as tribute.
I float to you through all these leaves
as in a dream,
and I speak boldly now
of how things will be,
but later, after I have left you
in my history,
after you are something
I dared to let happen
to me once, again,
I will think of you,
shiver, wince,
and be grateful you are


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In Too lazy to assign a category on January 2, 2008 at 6:38 pm

Against unyielding crag on storm-swept shore,
In useless fury smites the raging sea.
An angry heart so breaks for evermore
Upon the barren cliff of memory.

We hate the ones who kept us from our goal,
Abusing our sweet trust with lies or guile;
The faithless lover who once scarred our soul;
The false friend with the condescending smile.

Who would not burn, unnoticed and ignored
When rivals steal the credit for his labor,
His contributions unacknowledged, scorned,
While others feast on fruit he worked to savor?

A careless insult haunts us like a curse
That strikes us mute, not knowing what to say.
At night we fret and sleeplessly rehearse
Lost wars we might have fought another way. 

Should we strive to be like our enemy,
Surpassing his deceit, if we are wise?
It surely would be vile hypocrisy
To emulate the traits we most despise.

How could we fan to action and redress
A smoldering ire that fears to speak its name?
When conscience counsels our uncertainness,
Revenge dissolves in bitter, silent shame.

And when crude vengeance cannot satisfy,
We fantasize that in some future days
Such glowing deeds our name may dignify
That old foes shall regret their callous ways.

Oh pointless Anger, must you learn so late
The lesson that we always should have known?
The heart hurts but itself when, filled with hate,
It beats against a past that’s carved in stone.

We cannot rest while tempests blast the mind,
And never can we cross a wrathful sea
‘Til time may calm the waves and help us find
The deep, still waters of maturity.

Neil Harding McAlister

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Cutting the grass

In Too lazy to assign a category on September 3, 2007 at 10:28 pm

Aidin – 2007

I find
to be
a bit like
the grass.

you just
have to do
on a regular
or it gets
far too out of
and wild
begin to
take root
in it.

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In Too lazy to assign a category on August 26, 2007 at 7:44 pm

Leda And The Swan, by William Butler Yeats, 1928

A sudden blow: the great wings beating still
Above the staggering girl, her thighs caressed
By the dark webs, her nape caught in his bill,
He holds her helpless breast upon his breast.

How can those terrified vague fingers push
The feathered glory from her loosening thighs?
And how can body, laid in that white rush,
But feel the strange heart beating where it lies?

A shudder in the loins engenders there
The broken wall, the burning roof and tower
And Agamemnon dead.

Being so caught up,
So mastered by the brute blood of the air
Did she put on his knowledge with his power
Before the indifferent beak could let her drop?

Of Nudes and Swanns

LedaLedaLeda and the Swan 1841

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Poems from Guantánamo

In Too lazy to assign a category on August 20, 2007 at 2:42 am

THE JUST-released "Poems from Guantánamo: The Detainees Speak" is a collection of 22 poems by 17 detainees at the US detention center at Guantánamo Bay. Edited by Marc Falkoff, each poem had to be cleared by the Pentagon. The result offers a rare glimpse into the lives of the prisoners. The following is an excerpt.

Jumah Al Dossari

Jumah al Dossari, a 33-year-old Bahraini national, is the father of a young daughter. He has been held at Guantánamo Bay for more than five years. Detained without charge or trial, Dossari has been subjected to a range of physical and psychological abuses, some of which are detailed in "Inside the Wire," an account of the Guantánamo prison by former military intelligence soldier Erik Saar. He has been held in solitary confinement since the end of 2003 and, according to the US military, has tried to kill himself 12 times while in the prison. On one occasion, he was found by his lawyer, hanging by his neck and bleeding from a gash to his arm.


Take my blood.
Take my death shroud and
The remnants of my body.
Take photographs of my corpse at the grave, lonely.
Send them to the world,
To the judges and
To the people of conscience,
Send them to the principled men and the fair-minded.
And let them bear the guilty burden, before the world,
Of this innocent soul.
Let them bear the burden, before their children and before history,
Of this wasted, sinless soul,
Of this soul which has suffered at the hands of the "protectors of peace."

Sami Al Haj

Sami al Haj, a Sudanese national, was a journalist covering the conflict in Afghanistan for the television station al-Jazeera when, in 2001, he was taken into custody and stripped of his passport and press card. Handed over to US forces in January 2002, he was tortured at both Bagram air base and Kandahar before being transferred to Guantánamo Bay in June 2002. The US military alleges that he worked as a financial courier for Chechen rebels and that he assisted Al Qaeda and extremist figures, but has offered the public no evidence in support of these allegations. Haj remains at Guantánamo.


When I heard pigeons cooing in the trees,
Hot tears covered my face.
When the lark chirped, my thoughts composed
A message for my son.
Mohammad, I am afflicted.
In my despair, I have no one but Allah for comfort.
The oppressors are playing with me,
As they move freely about the world.
They ask me to spy on my countrymen,
Claiming it would be a good deed.
They offer me money and land,
And freedom to go where I please.
Their temptations seize my attention
Like lightning in the sky.
But their gift is an evil snake,
Carry hypocrisy in its mouth like venom.
They have monuments to liberty
And freedom of opinion, which is well and good.
But I explained to them that
Architecture is not justice.
America, you ride on the backs of orphans,
And terrorize them daily.
Bush, beware.
The world recognizes an arrogant liar.
To Allah I direct my grievance and my tears.
I am homesick and oppressed.
Mohammad, do not forget me.
Support the cause of your father, a God-fearing man.
I was humiliated in the shackles.
How can I now compose verses? How can I now write?
After the shackles and the nights and the suffering and the tears,
How can I write poetry?
My soul is like a roiling sea, stirred by anguish,
Violent with passion.
I am a captive, but the crimes are my captors'.
I am overwhelmed with apprehension.
Lord, unite me with my son Mohammad.
Lord, grant success to the righteous.

Osama Abu Kabir

Osama Abu Kabir is a Jordanian water truck driver who worked for the municipality of Greater Amman. After joining an Islamic missionary organization called Jama'at al-Tablighi, he traveled to Afghanistan, where he was detained by anti-Taliban forces and handed over to the US military. One of the justifications offered for his continued detention is that he was captured wearing a Casio digital watch, a brand supposedly favored by members of Al Qaeda because some models may be used as bomb detonators. Kabir remains at Guantánamo.


Is it true that the grass grows up again after the rain?
Is it true that the flowers will rise up in the spring?
Is it true that birds will migrate home again?
Is it true that the salmon swim back up their stream?
It is true. This is true. These are all miracles.
But is it true that one day we'll leave Guantánamo Bay?
Is it true that one day we'll go back to our homes?
I sail in my dreams, I am dreaming of homes.
To be with my children, each one part of me;
To be with my wife and the ones that I love;
To be with my parents, my world's tenderest hearts.
I dream to be home, to be free from this cage.
But do you hear me, oh Judge, do you hear me at all?
We are innocent, here, we've committed no crime.
Set me free, set us free, if anywhere still
Justice and compassion remain in this world!

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The Lady of the Lake

In Too lazy to assign a category on August 10, 2007 at 8:13 pm

“All shall be well, and all manner of things shall be well”
— Lady Julian of Norwich.

The low, tree-fringed island is clamped between an overcast sky and the blackness of the lake. I swing the signal board on its pivot, to show its white face to the ferry. And wait.

Still tied up
a varnished boat
sunk in clear water

A punt appears from the distant ferry cottage among the reeds. They said she was the ferryman’s widow and a witch. A large woman, maybe in her sixties. Full breasts hang easily inside a long flower print dress. Bare feet and strong calves planted firmly on the poling platform. Her face sunburnt and rather coarse, with a fine down on her lip. But those eyes !

She drives the boat out into the lake.

Each thrust of her pole
the surge
the ripple
and the gliding silence

“What brings you to my island, then?”


Already aghast at her, the patrician voice shakes me. It has the deep flavours of a rich old wine. And her isle ? I stutter. “Now you ask, I do not know…”

In reply, she holds the dripping pole aloft. Then silence. She towers in the stern. I huddle in the bow, my straw boater tipped over my eyes. And then she begins to sing a wordless song, a kind of crooning in time with the long strokes of the pole. More at ease now, I unroll my tobacco pouch and tamp down the Gold Flake,

From the cherry wood bowl
across still water
a lingering blue drift

“Two hours ashore”, she says. ”You’ll not need more.”

Little remains of the ancient nunnery apart from a roofless chapel-of-ease.

Holy stoup
at a rain drop
the stagnant water trembles

The Foundress was a grand dame who passed her widowed years here as prioress. In the long grass I find a granite grave slab bearing her effigy.

Deeply incised
and lined with moss
she meets my stare

Her isle? In evening sunshine I sit, filled with wonder, in the ruined cloister. And, out of time, I write these lines.

By Ken Jones

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In Too lazy to assign a category on August 7, 2007 at 7:21 pm


she left in a whisper
without a trace

yet i remember
a last hungry kiss

    her golden face


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In Too lazy to assign a category on August 6, 2007 at 10:02 pm

bathes in melted wax
sharing time

Takako Nagai (Tokyo)

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Love poem

In Too lazy to assign a category on August 2, 2007 at 7:23 pm

Missing words

In Too lazy to assign a category on August 1, 2007 at 10:41 pm

I don’t know how many things there are in this world that have no name. The soft inner side of the elbow, webbed skin between the fingers, a day that wanders out beyond the tidal limits and no longer knows how to summon the moon it has lost, my firstborn who gazes about himself when the TV dies and there is a strange absence in his world. I was looking for a great encyclopaedia, the secret dictionary of all the missing words. I wanted to consult its index and find out what I could have become. The sound the clock makes when it is disconnected and taken down from the wall but can’t lose the habit of trying to jerk itself forward. The look of old socks drying on a rack in the kitchen all through a winter night, hanging starched and sad opposite the wedding photographs. A word for your face when you know you can’t love but would almost like to try. The blurred point of merger between fresh storm damage to a house and the deep fissures that have always been there. Walking down the corridor to the front door with inexplicable elation in my chest as if everything was about to start, as if my love had just arrived, escaped from a burning world, and at the same time clenched in my taut wrists, my hands, the thin bones of my arms, the certainty that everything has long been over.

© 2001, Peter Boyle
From: What the painter saw in our faces
Publisher: Five Islands Press, Wollongong, 2001
ISBN: 0 86418 716 5

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