Monday 31 January 2011

The Weight by Hal Sirowitz

I’m being crushed
by the weight of

this relationship,
she said. I have to

carry it all by myself
from one date

to the next. Not that
it weighs a lot - about

the same as our hearts –
but it’s the responsibility

I bear of not letting it fall,
and shatter in a million pieces

which is frightening. It’s not
like a puzzle that can be put back

together. It’s more like a poodle
who’s going to run away

in search of less contentious owners.

Hal Sirowitz, PA, USA

Saturday 22 January 2011

Mulberry by Andrea Potos

At Keats House, Hampstead

They've made two
houses into one,
moved the staircase where the poet
once climbed to his small room.
The door he staggered through
after the chilling coach ride from London
is now in front.

Even the nightingales are gone.

What remains
is the mulberry tree,
low-lying, far-spreading, two centuries old.
For him--only a bush in the garden
where Fanny waved while he lay ill
in the front parlour.

It yields
the most succulent fruit,
juice dripping
over my hands,
staining my fingers
my palms, like ink
like deep,
red remembrance.

Andrea Potos

Monday 17 January 2011

The San's Promise by Rethabile Masilo

They came from the south
holding the sun in their right hand
like an object of worship,
crossed the Mohokare into the mountains,
leather bags full of ochre
and painting sticks, venom in small phials,
dried meat conserved in leaves. They stayed
long enough to paint the fat of the land:
hunt scenes, children hopping in playful circles
round a fire. An ostrich egg and roots
dug up from the desert's giving sand,
hand prints lit like sepals
exploding on grotto walls.

Rethabile Masilo, France

Wednesday 12 January 2011

On Reading Toni Morrison’s ‘The Bluest Eye’ While Watching My Daughter Draw Unicorns by James Valvis

I close the book to look at my daughter’s drawing.
Rainbows and unicorns are everywhere.
People with colorful eyes
smile sky-blue teeth that take up half their faces.
She wants to know if it’s good, and I tell her it is.
Then I open the book and read again,
but my mind wanders to gemstones, of all things,
and I think, a ruby is red
because it can accept every color but red;
and an emerald is green because it can’t accept green.
And it’s not just that way for rocks either.
The banana skin you think is yellow isn’t yellow,
it’s every color but yellow,
yellow alone bouncing back to our eyes.
A little more reading, and I decide,
this is true of the races of people also.
The people we call brown are everything but brown,
and the Indians are not reddish
but blue and burnt umber and purple.
Try getting your head around that.
What we see is the rejected color, not what we accept.
If we could see beyond the rejection,
we’d see that each thing is a near-complete spectrum,
colors forever moving through the form.
And then we’d have no need for political correctness,
marches, morons shaving their rainbow heads,
or race-baiters shaking down CEOs.
And the girl in this Toni Morrison novel
who wants the blue eyes,
she’d know she always had them,
and pink eyes too, and peach, and gold,
and any color an imaginative child cared to scribble.

James Valvis, Washington, USA

Wednesday 5 January 2011

a penguin in Cardiff by Dave Lewis

I never knew her, baby chick, King.
A fleeting movement, walked past, stared for a while.
She rescued me from damp lottery dreams and
I recalculated my entire life in a fly-past. I had back pain, terminal
hopefully not, but she mattered more that minute.

We all chatted about her, her thick coat of fur never mentioned.
We knew in that summer sun it was colder than we’d ever know.
We instinctively knew there was no need to bring up Photoshop,
like a curse, a cheat or a steal. She didn’t warrant it,
not even Smart sharpen or Levels, no need to Crop.
Two sets of footprints in one world. You could feel the
tears flowing inside.

I’m sure we could have all stayed forever, until
the security guards pushed us out. She needed rescuing,
protecting, from iPads and oil spills. The badger killers
lived in this town. Fact is, she was probably surrounded
by a million of her kind, soft and warm. On an ash beach cool as
icicles she’s programmed to wait
for mammy and fish

But we wondered, kept wondering
how the story would end, would she make it?
Yet the answer was as near as her image
the answer was always the same
the answer was frozen in time
like a still shot of God
in black and white.

Dave Lewis, Wales, UK