Like I trusted the world which wasn’t mine

A few different short pieces from the mystically spare Fanny Howe (1940-) to begin the wrap-up of National Poetry Month.

I’d speak if I wasn’t afraid of inhaling
A memory I want to forget
Like I trusted the world which wasn’t mine
The hollyhock in the tall vase is wide awake
And feelings are only overcome by fleeing
To their opposite. Moisture and dirt
Have entered the space between threshold and floor
A lot is my estimate when I step on it
Sorry can be a home to stand on so
And see far to: another earth, a place I might know


Come, tinkers, among droves of acorn trees
Be only one third needful, O
Name the things whereby we hope
Before the story scatters. A cardinal is red for fever where you passed
The suffering world’s faith
Is a scandal. Tests of facts
Bring dread to aptitude
You who loved the people and the world
Tell us our failings and if we’re home


I won’t be able to write from the grave
so let me tell you what I love:
oil, vinegar, salt, lettuce, brown bread, butter,
cheese and wine, a windy day, a fireplace,
the children nearby, poems and songs,
a friend sleeping in my bed–

and the short northern lights.


Should people be landlocked, though?

The young Welsh poet Dai George (1986-) tenderly weaves together the dreamed-of future, the pacing present, and the enduring past in this lovely piece from his debut collection, The Claims Office.

“Plans with the Unmet Wife”

Should we first meet in a market
somewhere equidistant from our lives
and take up the tryst, slightly against choice,

in a city of mutual strangeness;
should lunch hour in a gallery
become a truant afternoon;

should I feel your side and grow privy
to homeland, or the childhood room
where you’d hide and which I’ll never visit;

if we have to fly family over
for the ceremony, and tell them straight
that we’ve altered our bearing,

how is this going to work?
Aflutter from the thought a kid
of mine might be oval-eyed,

I pace Manhattan’s narrow rood.
Our dark-skinned and bilingual girl
would be better poised, thank god,

than her old man. Better able to glide
thoughtlessly between her stations,
beholden less to land than tide.

Should people be landlocked, though?
Years from now, you’re bathing her
in the sink of our apartment.

Something of the light: your shorter hair
and rolled sleeves have me in mind
of Nan, when she worked a loofah

every Friday against my back.
My parents’ weekly respite:
packed off for an overnight,

I remember the peerless heat
of jim-jams from the radiator
sliding over my shampooed head,

and the contours of my second bed —
how Mam was only separate
by twenty minutes of motorway.

Lately, I am capable only of small things

A lyrical missive from Olena Davis (1963-), whose new book I’m looking forward to reading, though this piece comes from her first, And Her Soul Out Of Nothing.


Lately, I am capable only of small things.

Is it enough
to feel the heart swimming?

Jim is fine. Our first
garden is thick with spinach
& white radish. Strangely,
it is summer

but also winter & fall.

In response to your asking:
I fill the hours
then lick them shut.

Today, not a single word, but the birds
quietly nodding
as if someone had suggested
moving on.

What is that perfect thing
some one who once believed in god said?

Please don’t misunderstand:
We still suffer, but we are