poem of the day: Shanty-Town Beauty by Freedom Nyamubaya

Shanty-Town Beauty

Freedom Nyamubaya

She stood at the doorstep
She must have been five years
or less
Her beseeching eyes gazed
from left to right

The kwashiokored tummy bulged
Out of the torn dress
With marks that looked like the map of Africa
I realised it was not tattoo
But an accumulation of dust
Run though by sweat

Pretty more than famous Cleopatra
All things being equal
The girl would pass for Miss Africa
As it is
Just another woman nature produced
But forgot to breast-feed.

Zimbabwe 55 02042011

Zimbabwe (Photo credit: Dave Mulder)


poem of the day: Do You Know How to Lead a Life? by Ulrike Draesner [and a little Monday mood music, courtesy of Neil Young, Johnny Depp, and “Dead Man” by Jim Jarmusch]

Do You Know How to Lead a Life?

Ulrike Draesner

do you know how to lead a life?
does it have a nose-ring then, some ox
who lets you tweak its tail and trots
along with flies short hair and soft
its swimming eye? there, silver-salver
served and grey a lemon ring so
poignantly peeled it touches you because
you sense in it the tree and something like
a sun-field, an oral y – the tug as palate cells
contract. by the nose then or some book
in leather: ox? or maybe lemon marinade
they put in the lot where you think, where
pictures mix languages: lall. now take the fall it’s
painted all painted on as one (the two
is you) you take a tram (or change). there
just look how suddenly or
even crackingly you
play it

(a little Monday mood music, courtesy of Neil Young, Johnny Depp, and “Dead Man” by Jim Jarmusch [I chose the poem after the song, today]):

poem of the day: An African Elegy by Ben Okri

An African Elegy

Ben Okri

We are the miracles that God made
To taste the bitter fruit of Time.
We are precious.
And one day our suffering
Will turn into the wonders of the earth.

There are things that burn me now
Which turn golden when I am happy.
Do you see the mystery of our pain?
That we bear the poverty
And are able to sing and dream sweet things.

And that we never curse the air when it is warm
Or the fruit when it tastes so good
Or the lights that bounce gently on the waters?
We bless the things even in our pain.
We bless them in silence.

That is why our music is so sweet.
It makes the air remember.
There are secret miracles at work
That only Time will bring forth.
I too have heard the dead singing.

And they tell me that
This life is good
They tell me to live it gently
With fire, and always with hope.
There is wonder here

And there is surprise
In everything the unseen moves.
The ocean is full of songs.
The sky is not an enemy.
Destiny is our friend.

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: 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: 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.

poem of the day: Passer-by, These Are Words by Yves Bonnefoy

Passer-by, These Are Words

Yves Bonnefoy (link)

Passer-by, these are words. But instead of reading
I want you to listen: to this frail
Voice like that of letters eaten by grass.

Lend an ear, hear first of all the happy bee
Foraging in our almost rubbed-out names.
It flits between two sprays of leaves,
Carrying the sound of branches that are real
To those that filigree the still unseen.

Then know an even fainter sound, and let it be
The endless murmuring of all our shades.
Their whisper rises from beneath the stones
To fuse into a single heat with that blind
Light you are as yet, who can still gaze.

May your listening be good! Silence
Is a threshold where a twig breaks in your hand,
Imperceptibly, as you attempt to disengage
A name upon a stone:

And so our absent names untangle your alarms.
And for you who move away, pensively,
Here becomes there without ceasing to be.

Old House