This week we have a poem from Canadian poet Jessica Robinson, entitled “who we are.” For her, love embodies various forms of being, but never human. Each section focuses on a different element, concluding with a powerful last stanza.
who we are
I once had a boy made of water. He lived
in a glass jar, would swim around and ask me to
take him to the pool. He loved dolphins and
he never looked at me. He called me Jonah
and swallowed me whole.
I called myself Geppetto, took to fishing inside
of him. I had a boy made of water and he would melt me
like sugar and I would hate it. He would pull my insides out
and leave them strewn across the yard. He would whisper his
secrets into conch shells but not my ear. I had a boy made
of water and he didn’t love me and I didn’t want him to.
He thought I left him for fire and I didn’t but I
wanted to. Continue reading →
This week we are featuring another poet, Tanushree Ghosh Dhall, and two of her poems: “The Dark Girl Going Places” and “Honor”. “Dark Girl” tells a story of a girl moving across the world, and how her standard of beauty is drastically altered. “Honor” is a heartbreaking remembrance of trauma and abuse that ends on a moment of hope – the hope of finding true happiness in another despite years of striving to be accepted.
The Dark Girl Going Places
How does it feel to be a dark girl changing countries?
To be attractive in one but not in another?
To have a secret stash of fairness creams
Useless and embarrassing now – but just in case
To be able to wear bright colors all of a sudden?
Knowing no one here will object
How does it feel to see what they see?
To dare and feel beautiful ..
After being admonished so many times?
To browse newsfeeds about outrage in the twitter sphere
against discrimination real and perceived
blackface, Oscars, lip shapes..
While staring at the newspaper the parcels from home came wrapped in
asking for fair brides only Continue reading →
This week we are featuring two poems by Erica Brenes. “My Husband, The Statistician” isa beautiful, loving description of two poets, each in their own way — a husband and wife both equals and opposites. “Better Than Fiction” is an equally heartfelt tribute to a shared life better than one created in the head of a writer.
My Husband, the Statistician
You wake before me, and you dig beneath the covers.
Lying at the foot of our bed, you then uncover
Just the smallest bit of me.
With care, with tenderness,
with a palpable quietness,
and me still asleep,
you then drag the blunt edge of your thumb
across the vein that so often juts from the top of my right foot.
Pronounced and raised,
It speaks out beneath my tattoo,
and you speak back. Continue reading →
This week we are bringing you another piece fresh from the Kingston MFA programme. Francesca Lo Basso takes us to the front lines in this poem whose rhythm echoes that of soldiers’ footsteps. ‘Harrowing’ would be the best way to describe this piece, which uses the sonnet form to hammer out a poignant point.
The question is: how do you stop a war?
Your body frozen, your mouth metallic—
through what new breach will you attack this chore?
As bullets rain from gun barrels phallic
and blistering bombs burden, burst, and blaze,
do you lay down your rifle, mock defeat?
Turn tanks in their tracks, greyed blur in the haze—
reliance, defiance, chivalrous retreat?
Do you beg? Do you wheedle? Do you con?
Does your voice resound? Does it rattle, roar?
The question still remains as we move on
to the refrain: how do you stop a war?
Empty words for soldiers now departed
because the hallowed truth is you don’t start it.
This poem finds its strength where most pieces might fail, in asking questions. The rhythmic questioning of outdated practices only emphasises the underlying theme – the pointlessness of war.
Join us again next week for another jaw-dropping piece!
Kingston MFA student Alex Brinded returns to Words, Pauses, Noises this week with a piece which confronts the raw power of nature.
‘The Forge’ is all about sound and sensation. We encourage you to read this one aloud to get the full effect.
Wind-pulled, world-spun waves
crash, a golden
scimitar of shore
glinting in the late morning sun heat.
Raging breakers rain hammer blows and
upon this land’s frayed hem.
millions of years old,
twenty three quintillion atoms across.
Mere stone particles that
once were fused as crude formations—
a millennia of barrage has pummelled this coast
line into fundamental
Now, an acute banked blade of golden grit,
no longer breakable,
in the spouting forge.
White water rollers fracture into white noise.
My burrowed palm and fingers are swaddled in the sand.
It gives easy as I dig down,
Bold images and strong sounds match the broad scope of the poem’s subject matter. Brinded takes us from the large expanse of time—the world’s creation—down into a single moment all in the space of several short stanzas.
Thanks for reading, and don’t forget to stop by again next week for more great work from around the world!
This week we have a poem from the talented writer and photographer Yessica Klein.
The power of this poem comes from its potent honesty. As a discussion of feminism through the view of someone not familiarised with the lofty theories behind it, this poem shines a refreshing and forceful light on the core of relationships between mother and daughter.
lessons from mum (the hardest poem I’ve ever wrote)
mum married a man who drank as her father
whom she lost at 15 due to alcohol poisoning
motherhood was her dream
so she gave up her job to raise her daughters properly
and both left
one to Berlin
one to Stockholm
at 22 and 20 respectively Continue reading →
‘Aphasia’ explores the relationship between language, words, and our sense of place in the world. The poem has a frenetic quality which pulls the reader in, and doesn’t let them go.
like a pink boil in my feet
framing tinted nightmares
at right angles
gripping my neck
after you have left
for office, out of breath
a studio apartment in web
in morning toothpaste,
breaking into tears
biting my tongue
a thousand miles
and a sea away,
for a crazy alienating hunger to fill me up—
and I cannot understand a word.
Using tactile images and biting words, Brahmachari creates a sense of tumbling momentum in this piece which hints at the panic and pain of losing one’s words. The repetition of the breath, along with the taste and feel of the mouth and neck, makes reading the poem a very vivid experience.
This week we have the pleasure of featuring a poet from India. Subramanian K.S. shares his distinctive style and jaunty use of language in ‘Julie’, a piece which harkens back with a harrowing message. This poem is nostalgic for any reader who knows what i means to be hampered down with responsibilities.
Some leer, a few jeer
the rest cheer at Julie,
Circus girl, flexing her
sinewy frame; acrobatics Continue reading →
This week we have two poems by Howie Good, varied in content, but similar in the understated, sinister style in which they are delivered. He forces the audience to look between and beyond the words to understand the full picture illustrated by its author.
Life grew heavy with the weight of names. You were drunk all the time. Sunshine, you said, looking up from your whiskey, is an overrated virtue. It was fashionable to die young and be pessimistic. One day for entertainment, you visited the mental hospital. You seemed to smile while observing patients writhing in straitjackets and howling, their sex hard to guess. By the middle of the afternoon, you had started back for home, where the chaos was more familiar and bulldozers pushed bodies like dirt. The road to the station was slow going, barely a road at all, but a long and depressing spell of rain and, when night came, a hangman’s black hood.Continue reading →