poem of the day: Iraqis and Other Monsters by Dunya Mikhail

Iraqis and Other Monsters

Dunya Mikhail

They are scary beings.
They have dark, dangling heads.
They roam the desert
in bulls’ and lions’ skins,
their wide eyes glittering with swords.
They rub their moustaches when they promise,
or threaten,
or flirt.
From their giant noses
a lot of smoke pours out
and rises to the sky.
They shake the earth with such strength
the dead wake up.
They live in darkness
with no water or electricity.
Dust is their food and clay is their bread.
They never sleep or rest.
They have weird habits 
the Sunni say the Shia all have tails;
the Shia carry keys to heaven in their pockets
in case they should suddenly die;
the Kurds take to the mountains when they fight and
when they dance the dabka;
the Chaldeans consult the stars to make decisions;
the Assyrians stick feathers on their heads
to prove they’ve defeated the eagle;
the Armenians throw themselves into the river
whenever they get annoyed;
the Turks keep hoping
the Sultan will return;
the Mandais celebrate their festivals
by staying three days at home;
the Yezidis honor the Devil
and revere the lettuce.
Iraqis and other monsters
(at sunset,
whenever guns are silent)
take their harps out of boxes
and all of them play
for the missing
until morning.


poem of the day: The Cave Painters by Eamon Grennan

The Cave Painters

Eamon Grennan

Holding only a handful of rushlight
they pressed deeper into the dark, at a crouch
until the great rock chamber
flowered around them and they stood
in an enormous womb of
flickering light and darklight, a place
to make a start. Raised hands cast flapping shadows
over the sleeker shapes of radiance.

They’ve left the world of weather and panic
behind them and gone on in, drawing the dark
in their wake, pushing as one pulse
to the core of stone. The pigments mixed in big shells
are crushed ore, petals and pollens, berries
and the binding juices oozed
out of chosen barks. The beasts

begin to take shape from hands and feather-tufts
(soaked in ochre, manganese, madder, mallow white)
stroking the live rock, letting slopes and contours
mould those forms from chance, coaxing
rigid dips and folds and bulges
to lend themselves to necks, bellies, swelling haunches,
a forehead or a twist of horn, tails and manes
curling to a crazy gallop.

Intent and human, they attach
the mineral, vegetable, animal
realms to themselves, inscribing
the one unbroken line
everything depends on, from that
impenetrable centre
to the outer intangibles of light and air, even
the speed of the horse, the bison’s fear, the arc
of gentleness that this big-bellied cow
arches over its spindling calf, or the lancing
dance of death that
bristles out of the buck’s
struck flank. On this one line they leave
a beak-headed human figure of sticks
and one small, chalky, human hand.

We’ll never know if they worked in silence
like people praying—the way our monks
illuminated their own dark ages
in cross-hatched rocky cloisters,
where they contrived a binding
labyrinth of lit affinities
to spell out in nature’s lace and fable
their mindful, blinding sixth sense
of a god of shadows—or whether (like birds
tracing their great bloodlines over the globe)
they kept a constant gossip up
of praise, encouragement, complaint.

It doesn’t matter: we know
they went with guttering rushlight
into the dark; came to terms
with the given world; must have had
—as their hands moved steadily
by spiderlight—one desire
we’d recognise: they would—before going on
beyond this border zone, this nowhere
that is now here—leave something
upright and bright behind them in the dark.

poem of the day: Thirteen Ways of Looking at a Blackbird by Wallace Stevens (plus The Poetry of Reality by Symphony of Science)

Today’s entry is inspired by Judy Post (her WordPress blog). All experiences of art are, to me, “correct.”

Thirteen Ways of Looking at a Blackbird

Wallace Stevens

Among twenty snowy mountains,
The only moving thing
Was the eye of the blackbird.


I was of three minds,
Like a tree
In which there are three blackbirds.


The blackbird whirled in the autumn winds.
It was a small part of the pantomime.


The blackbird whirled in the autumn winds.
It was a small part of the pantomime.

A man and a woman
Are one.
A man and a woman and a blackbird
Are one.


I do not know which to prefer,
The beauty of inflections
Or the beauty of innuendoes,
The blackbird whistling
Or just after.


Icicles filled the long window
With barbaric glass.
The shadow of the blackbird
Crossed it, to and fro.
The mood
Traced in the shadow
An indecipherable cause.


O thin men of Haddam,
Why do you imagine golden birds?
Do you not see how the blackbird
Walks around the feet
Of the women about you?


I know noble accents
And lucid, inescapable rhythms;
But I know, too,
That the blackbird is involved
In what I know.


When the blackbird flew out of sight,
It marked the edge
Of one of many circles.


At the sight of blackbirds
Flying in a green light,
Even the bawds of euphony
Would cry out sharply.


He rode over Connecticut
In a glass coach.
Once, a fear pierced him,
In that he mistook
The shadow of his equipage
For blackbirds.


The river is moving.
The blackbird must be flying.


It was evening all afternoon.
It was snowing
And it was going to snow.
The blackbird sat
In the cedar-limbs.

poem of the day: The Page is a Landscape by Lyor Shternberg

The Page is a Landscape

Lyor Shternberg (link)


I place a few shrubs in the south, (close
to my chest). Further north on a random
white hill, a young woman from the past
sits and plucks petals
from a daisy she picked very near where
the pen touches now.
. . .

It’s not easy to contain all one sees. The eye-
fan trembles from strain
and sun. The greatest temptation
is to abandon everything and slide into silence
like a dune, toward oblivion
and I would have unless I had known
the page would not disappear.

This is how we live. Dark
or discovered, by turns. You, me, the bastard
page, beloved, a reminder not to leave,
and the young woman too (grown, meanwhile,
and more beautiful) who has finished plucking flower petals
and floats gently now
between the lines –

her arms spread wide, hair
breathing in the blue afternoon light.
Don’t worry. She

A page is never blank

poem of the day: He marked the page with a match by Vera Pavlova

He marked the page with a match 

Vera Pavlova (link)

He marked the page with a match
and fell asleep in mid-kiss,
while I, a queen bee
in a disturbed hive, stay up and buzz:
half a kingdom for a honey drop,
half a lifetime for a tender word!
His face, half turned.
Half past midnight. Half past one.