somewhere i have never travelled, gladly beyond by e.e. cummings

e.e. cummings

somewhere i have never travelled, gladly beyond


somewhere i have never travelled, gladly beyond

any experience, your eyes have their silence:

in your most frail gesture are things which enclose me,

or which i cannot touch because they are too near


your slightest look easily will unclose me

though i have closed myself as fingers,

you open always petal by petal myself as Spring opens

(touching skilfully, mysteriously) her first rose


or if your wish be to close me, i and

my life will shut very beautifully, suddenly,

as when the heart of this flower imagines

the snow carefully everywhere descending;


nothing which we are to perceive in this world equals

the power of your intense fragility: whose texture

compels me with the color of its countries,

rendering death and forever with each breathing


(i do not know what it is about you that closes

and opens; only something in me understands

the voice of your eyes is deeper than all roses)

nobody, not even the rain, has such small hands


e.e. cummings

In the Seventh Year by Jackie Kay

Jackie Kay

In the Seventh Year

(for Louise)

Our sea is still mysterious as morning mist

its flapping arms stretched out for dry sand

its running heels sliding over pebbles

when the sun dives in at night

We are turquoise and clear some days

still as breeze; others story like stones

you are in deep stroking my bones

my love an ache, the early light

spreading the water

seven years seven years I repeat

over and over

clasping this timeless, this changing thing.

Jackie Kay

Dad by Tom MacIntyre

Tom MacIntyre


He’s far more here now he’s there,

frequently calls, has a word

or two, different man; wisdom beyond,

looks like, a larger tune, livelier;

plain he knows when there’s bother,

precise contours of son’s harsh need,

the answer and verifiable road

ahead, where I’ll sprout, where wither.

Today he stood fornest me, long spade

extended, spun handle, blade, fed

shaman circles into my famished eyes,

downed the teeming spade, touched my face –

‘Short sorrow, Son, is a long sword’ –

leaves me to the whistling wind.


Tom MacIntyre

Ode to Bjork by Derek Mahon


Derek Mahon

Ode to Bjork


Dark bird of ice, dark swan

of snow, your bright gamine

teardrop Inuit eyes

peep from a magazine


as if to say ‘Fuck off

and get my new release;

you don’t know me, I am

the dark swan of ice


and secrecy, the seagull,

the unringed plover, not

something to take and stroke.’

Ever since Spit & Snot,


‘Aeroplane’ and ‘Anchor Song’

your aim has been to knock

aside the expectations

of corporate brainwash rock.


‘Headphones’ and ‘Cover Me’,

I listen to your voice,

a lonely bird that pipes

from quickly thawing ice,


a bad child acting out

behind the electronics,

a mad flirt and shout

beyond the audio mix.


No doubt you’d like to get

an open car, a megaphone

and tell the wold like Garbo,

‘I want to be alone!’


Here in the confused stink

of global warming, what

you really want, I think,

is not spit ‘n’ snot


but mystery and mystique,

the hidden places where

the wild things are and no one

can track you to your lair.


(Sea levels rising annually,

glaciers sliding fast,

species extinct, the far north

negotiable at last…)


Anyhow you’re not playing

to us, are you, but to the white

light and corrugated iron

roofs of the Arctic night.


Up there where silence falls

and there is no more land

your scared, scary voice calls

to the great waste beyond.


Derek Mahon

Where I Come From by Elizabeth Brewster


Where I Come From  

People are made of places. They carry with them
hints of jungles or mountains, a tropic grace
or the cool eyes of sea gazers. Atmosphere of cities
how different drops from them, like the smell of smog
or the almost-not-smell of tulips in the spring,
nature tidily plotted with a guidebook;
or the smell of work, glue factories maybe,
chromium-plated offices; smell of subways
crowded at rush hours. 

Where I come from, people
carry woods in their minds, acres of pine woods;
blueberry patches in the burned-out bush;
wooden farmhouses, old, in need of paint,
with yards where hens and chickens circle about,
clucking aimlessly; battered schoolhouses
behind which violets grow. Spring and winter
are the mind’s chief seasons: ice and the breaking of ice. 

A door in the mind blows open, and there blows
a frosty wind from fields of snow.


Badly Chosen Lover by Rosemary Tonks


Badly Chosen Lover

Criminal, you took a great piece of my life,

And you took it under false pretences,

That piece of time

– In the clear muscles of my brain

I have the lens and jug of it!

Books, thoughts, meals, days, and houses,

Half Europe, spent like a coarse banknote,

You took it – leaving mud and cabbage stumps.


And, Criminal, I damn you for it (very softly).

My spirit broke her fast on you. And, Turk,

You fed her with the breath of your neck

– In my brain’s clear retina

I have the stolen love- behaviour.

Your heart, greedy and tepid, brothel-meat,

Gulped it like a flunkey with erotica.

And very softly, Criminal, I damn you for it.


Rosemary Tonks


Absence by Elizabeth Jennings



I visited the place where we last met.

Nothing was changed, the gardens were well-tended,

The fountains sprayed their usual steady jet;

There was no sign that anything had ended

And nothing to instruct me to forget.

The thoughtless birds that shook out of the trees,

Singing an ecstasy I could not share,

Played cunning in my thoughts. Surely in these

Pleasures there could not be a pain to bear

Or any discord shake the level breeze.

It was because the place was just the same

That made your absence seem a savage force,

For under all the gentleness there came

An earthquake tremor: Fountain, birds and grass

Were shaken by my thinking of your name.

Elizabeth Jennings

The Story of the White Cup by Roger Mitchell

Roger Mitchell

The Story of the White Cup


I am not sure why I want to tell it

since the cup was not mine and I was not there,

and it may not have been white after all.

When I tell it, though, it is white, and the girl

to whom it has just been given, by her mother,

is eight. She is holding a white cup against her breast,

and her mother has just said goodbye, though those

could not have been, exactly, the words. No one knows

what her father has said, but when I tell it,

he is either helping someone very old with a bag,

a worn valise, held in place with a rope,

or asking a guard for a cigarette. There is, of course,

no cigarette. The cattle cars stand with their doors

slid back. They are black inside, and the girl

who has just been given a cup and told to walk

in a straight line and told to look like she wants

a drink of water, who screamed in the truck

all the way to the station, who knew, at eight,

where she was going, is holding a cup to her breast

and walking away, going nowhere, for water.

She does not turn, but when she has found water,

which she does, in all versions of the story, everywhere,

she takes a small sip of it, and swallows.


Roger Mitchell

Happiness by Raymond Carver




So early it’s still almost dark out.

I’m near the window with coffee,

and the usual early morning stuff

that passes for thought.


When I see the boy and his friend

walking up the road

to deliver the newspaper.


They wear caps and sweaters,

and one boy has a bag over his shoulder.

They are so happy

they aren’t saying anything, these boys.


I think if they could, they would take

each other’s arm.

It’s early in the morning,

and they are doing this thing together.


They come on, slowly.

The sky is taking on light,

though the moon still hangs pale over the water.


Such beauty that for a minute

death and ambition, even love,

doesn’t enter into this.


Happiness. It comes on

unexpectedly. And goes beyond, really,

any early morning talk about it




Raymond Carver

My lover gave me green leaves by Josephine Dickinson



My Lover Gave Me Green Leaves


My lover gave me green leaves

with the mud of the garden on them,

radishes sharp and red,

nasturtium flames.


He gave me the tender heart

of a cabbage, its glossy coat,

a loaf of bread studded deep

with seeds.


He gave me the note

the blackbird

I’d cried at the blackness of

by the river sang.


He gave me the struck fire

of the thoughts

in his mind—

flint on flint.


He gave me the taste,

direct on his tongue,

of the syllables their embers

did not destroy.


He gave me his word,

the word of an Adam—

a promise,

should he set eyes on the sun.


He gave me a drop of the dew

to hold.

To see my face in it.

To look through.


He gave me,

in the chrisomed palm

of his empty hand—

a gasp of joy.


Josephine Dickinson