The Stenographers – P.K. Page

After the brief bivouac of Sunday, their eyes, in the forced march of Monday to Saturday, hoist the white flag, flutter in the snow-storm of paper, haul it down and crack in the mid-sun of temper. In the pause between the first draft and the carbon they glimpse the smooth hours when they were children– the ride in the ice-cart, the ice-man’s name, the end of the route and the long walk home; remember the sea where floats at high tide were sea marrows growing on the scatter-green vine or spools of grey toffee, or wasps’ nests on water; remember…

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Eskimo – Anonymous

  Far inland go my sad thoughts. It is too much never to leave this bench. I want to wander far inland.   I remember hunting animals, the good food. It is too much never to leave this bench. I want to wander far inland.   I hunted like men. I carried weapons, shot reindeer, bull, cow, and calf, killed them with my arrows one evening when almost winter twilight fell far inland.   I remember how I struggled inland under the dropping sky of snow. The earth is white far inland.   WB, adapted from Knud Rasmussen

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“You Take My Hand” – Margaret Atwood

You take my hand and I’m suddenly in a bad movie, it goes on and on and why am I fascinated We waltz in slow motion through an air stale with aphorisms we meet behind endless potted palms you climb through the wrong windows Other people are leaving but I always stay till the end I paid my money, I want to see what happens. In chance bathtubs I have to peel you off me in the form of smoke and melted celluloid. Have to face it I’m finally an addict, the smell of popcorn and worn plush lingers for…

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Morning Song – Sylvia Plath

love set you going like a fat gold watch. the midwife slapped your footsoles, and your bald cry took its place among the elements.   our voices echo, magnifying your arrival. new statue. in a drafty museum, your nakedness shadows our safety, we stand round blankly as walls.   i’m no more your mother than the cloud that distils a mirror to reflect its own slow effacement at the wind’s hand.   all night your moth-breath flickers among the flat pink roses. i wake to listen; a far sea moves in my ear.   one cry, and i stumble from…

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Grace

The day we met, class was starting and I faced you, sat opposite you in circle. You were not shy about showing people, you said. Still, you weren’t speaking to me and I had not ventured out into the world since my brother died. I was shy, nervous, my balance jarred with every smile, name and conversation. When I unexpectedly saw the scar left by surgeons who removed your left breast to cancer, I was taken aback, not because I was repelled by what I saw or thought it wrong to show it, not in the least. It was only…

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The Landlady – P.K. Page

Through sepia air the boarders come and go, impersonal as trains. Pass silently the craving silence swallowing her speech; click doors like shutters on her camera eye.   Because of her their lives become exact: their entrances and exits are designed; phone calls are cryptic. Oh, her ticklish ears advance and fall back stunned.   Nothing is unprepared. They hold the walls about them as they weep or laugh. Each face is dialled to zero publicly. She peers stippled with curious flesh;   pads on the patient landing like a pulse, unlocks their keyholes with the wire of sight, searches…

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The Names of Georgian Women

There on the sea sails wandered, And unconcerned by the heat Sycamores blossomed at leisure, Leaves for streets in December.   The market sounds intermingled; On naked heights above Basalt and snow wove light Into rainbow prisms.   A kiosk in the park by the seaside Stood empty and white and silent; The syllabled names of Georgian women Seemed to smell of grapes;   They became a chirruping Breezing out to sea, Sailing out like a black swan Strangely reaching his neck.   Then a woman called Lamara Ran down to the water Where she broke her heel on the…

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Tonight No Poetry Will Serve – Adrienne Rich

Saw you walking barefoot taking a long look at the new moon’s eyelid later spread sleep-fallen, naked in your dark hair asleep but not oblivious of the unslept unsleeping elsewhere Tonight I think no poetry will serve Syntax of rendition: verb pilots the plane adverb modifies action verb force-feeds noun submerges the subject noun is choking verb disgraced goes on doing there are adjectives up for sale now diagram the sentence   Adrienne Rich, May 26, 2008.  

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Peeling Onions – Adrienne Rich

    Only to have a grief equal to all these tears!   There’s not a sob in my chest. Dry-hearted as Peer Gynt   I pare away, no hero, merely a cook.   Crying was labor, once when I’d good cause. Walking, I felt my eyes like wounds raw in my head, so postal-clerks, I thought, must stare. A dog’s look, a cat’s, burnt to my brain– yet all that stayed stuff in my lungs like smog.   These old tears in the chopping-bowl.   Adrienne Rich.

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Translations – Adrienne Rich

You show me the poems of some woman my age, or younger translated from your language Certain words occur: enemy, oven, sorrow enough to let me know she’s a woman of my time obsessed with Love, our subject: we’ve trained it like ivy to our walls baked it like bread in our ovens worn it like lead on our ankles watched it through binoculars as if it were a helicopter bringing food to our famine or the satellite of a hostile power I begin to see that woman doing things: stirring rice ironing a skirt typing a manuscript till dawn…

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