Monday, May 25, 2009

Dream of New Mexico by Chella Courington

In La Madera, you find me
late afternoon sun at my back

hips wider than yours, gathering
skulls. We roam red hills:

ocher, orange and purple earth
cracked by hot blowing sand.

A solitary penitent, dark veil
over torso, trudges near us.

Bulky black crosses cover the desert.
You kiss my scars, ghosts of my breasts.

Seven years mortification fall away
evening bells from Ranchos de Taos.

First Published in: _The Wild Goose Poetry Review_ (Summer 2008). Eds. Patricia Kennedy Bostian and Gary Walker.

Monday, May 18, 2009

Skin by Chella Courington

geckos, iridescent-white
zigzag on the ceiling
lick their way clear
humming fan blades
cut hot air
never sever scales
they’re harmless
there’s nothing we can do
please don’t call the desk

there were snake skins
dry diaphanous coils
grandmother turned inside out
one for each child born before forty
stitched seven across
hung over a black walnut bed
pendulous skins tapped
when a door opened
and someone pulled down a cover

at night
geckos eat the skin
they shed
leave nothing behind
i watch the plump one
in the corner
puffy belly rising
and falling on each cry
my own stomach round
in union undulating

published in _Not A Muse_, Eds. Kate Rogers & Vicki Holmes
Hon Kong: New Haven Books, 2009.

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Boredoom by Colette Bryce

We nursed the wounded gull to death
in the end, attended its small funeral, as the rain
beat down on the shed's tin roof. Tightrope-walked
on the high back walls, took giant steps, ran errands,
Milk, Potatoes, Silk Cut, Special Mince. We swung
in arcs on a length of flex from a lamppost,
racing our own shadows. Shot at aliens
dancing on a screen, pushing coin after coin
in the slot: reached level five, the mother ship.
The world was due to end next week
according to someone whose brother had read
Nostradamus. Magpies, two for joy. Walk round ladders, quick,
touch wood. We mimed the prayer of the Green Cross Code
and waited, good, at the side of the road.
Blessed ourselves when the ambulance sailed
by on a blue (our fingers, toes). Lay awake
in the fret of the night, thinking about the Secret
of Fatima, the four-minute warning, the soft-boiled egg.
Our boomerang did not come back. Frisbees
lodged in the canopies of trees forever, turning black.
I poked out moss from paving slabs, half-dreamingly,
with an ice-pop stick, then leapt at the looped rope
of my name called from a yard, and dawdled home,
trailing a strange tune on the xylophone railings.
The future lived in the crystal ball
of a snake preserved in alcohol in my grandmother's attic.
I looked, on tiptoe, out through the lens
of the highest window; learned the silver river's turn,
the slogans daubed on the ancient walls,
the column of smoke where something always burned.

Colette Bryce was born in 1970 and brought up in Northern Ireland. She won the
National Poetry Competition in 2003 and her second collection, The Full Indian Rope
Trick, was short-listed for the TS Eliot prize in 2004.

Thursday, May 07, 2009

Dear Jungle by Sujata Bhatt

The safest place for you is in the greenhouse now.
The animals have to stay in the zoo.
The birds have their own cage
which is somewhere else, far away;
and the snakes live in the snake house.
I've sprayed the mosquitoes;
there's no point in keeping them.
I'm sorry the butterflies died too.
It was an accident.
Don't be sad. I'll visit you every day.
I'll wear my new tropical outfit, helmet and all.
I'll bring biscuits and Darjeeling tea, just for us.
My dear jungle, please understand
my love for you; how I need your jungly jungliness;
oh, how shall I live without your green,
green rawness all over me.

Sujata Bhatt was born in India in 1956 and was brought up in India and the United
States. She has published six collections of poetry. Her most recent collection, Pure
Lizard, was shortlisted for the 2008 Forward Best Collection prize.

Saturday, May 02, 2009

The Raindrop (God Speaks) by Moniza Alvi

The Guardian published a list of Carol Ann Duffy's favotie women poets Saturday, May 2. I will feature their poetry over the next couple of weeks.

after Jules Supervielle

I'm searching for a drop of rain
so recently fallen into the sea.
In its sheer descent
it out-glistened the others
because alone among all the drops
it had the wisdom to understand
that very softly
it would lose itself forever
in the salty water.
So I'm searching the sea,
scanning the attentive waves
for the sake of a delicate memory
which only I can guard.
Well, I've done my best -
some things even God can't do
despite the best of intentions
and the wordless assistance
of sky, waves, air.

Moniza Alvi was born in Lahore in 1954 and grew up in England. Her most recent collection of poetry, Europa, was shortlisted for the 2008 TS Eliot prize.

Friday, May 01, 2009

Mrs Lazarus by Carol Ann Duffy

I had grieved. I had wept for a night and a day
over my loss, ripped the cloth I was married in
from my breasts, howled, shrieked, clawed
at the burial stones until my hands bled, retched
his name over and over again, dead, dead.

Gone home. Gutted the place. Slept in a single cot,
widow, one empty glove, white femur
in the dust, half. Stuffed dark suits
into black bags, shuffled in a dead man's shoes,
noosed the double knot of a tie around my bare neck,

gaunt nun in the mirror, touching herself. I learnt
the Stations of Bereavement, the icon of my face
in each bleak frame; but all those months
he was going away from me, dwindling
to the shrunk size of a snapshot, going,

going. Till his name was no longer a certain spell
for his face. The last hair on his head
floated out from a book. His scent went from the house.
The will was read. See, he was vanishing
to the small zero held by the gold of my ring.

Then he was gone. Then he was legend, language;
my arm on the arm of the schoolteacher-the shock
of a man's strength under the sleeve of his coat-
along the hedgerows. But I was faithful
for as long as it took. Until he was memory.

So I could stand that evening in the field
in a shawl of fine air, healed, able
to watch the edge of the moon occur to the sky
and a hare thump from a hedge; then notice
the village men running towards me, shouting,

behind them the women and children, barking dogs,
and I knew. I knew by the sly light
on the blacksmith's face, the shrill eyes
of the barmaid, the sudden hands bearing me
into the hot tang of the crowd parting before me.

He lived. I saw the horror on his face.
I heard his mother's crazy song. I breathed
his stench; my bridegroom in his rotting shroud,
moist and dishevelled from the grave's slack chew,
croaking his cuckold name, disinherited, out of his time.

Carol Ann Duffy