from mantra of no return

Kaie Kellough

copyright ©2019 by Kaie Kellough



the rainforest is a mixing board with infinite inputs and infinite outputs.
exponential root strata. riotous snakes. quarter-inch jacks & heads. male /
female. holes and plugs. slithering, electric water. liana cables. bloodvine is a
wire entering, plugging arrival in. line. current will be routed through the
circuit. i am an overproof, alcoholic signal, outbursts clipping. the levels
runneth. hover. kaieteur’s torrents kiskadee over. crackle & bloom in the
woofer. georgetown bubbles & skanks tougher. smoke thunder. the old chief
in the canoe gone to his mythmaker. makunaima overlooker. el dorado lover.
destroyer. high wine drifter. black & brown in the fever together. mix it darker.
mix it redder. babylon haunting the jungle swelter.     a tear, amber.
rupununi resistor, a decible louder. turn up the hemisphere. boost the mighty
rainforest’s canopy into the stratosphere. exceed ire. essequibo deliverer.
many rivers branch & spiel, spell black across the atlantic. liquid archive
parser. the wires crisscross & the curve is logarithmic. turn the dial on the
mix. haunt the tidalectic. run the console. channel one channel check. spin the
tape, magnetic. warble & flutter. wow & static. increase the gain ’til we overdrive
the terrific. boo. boom a lick. boost the lower end, swell the lower end, theorize
the lower end, occupy the lower end, the 99%, the apocalytic fundamental
fretting in the bass lean, the nothingness become boeing, becoming

          a body, a continental jut
       a density of times past
          an assemblage of others who are you, a being made of beings

Abundance

Louise Glück

copyright ©2009 by Louise Glück



A cool wind blows on summer evenings, stirring the wheat.
The wheat bends, the leaves of the peach trees
rustle in the night ahead.

In the dark, a boy’s crossing the field:
for the first time, he’s touched a girl
so he walks home a man, with a man’s hungers.

Slowly the fruit ripens—
baskets and baskets from a single tree
so some rots every year
and for a few weeks there’s too much:
before and after, nothing.

Between the rows of wheat
you can see the mice, flashing and scurrying
across the earth, though the wheat towers above them,
churning as the summer wind blows.

The moon is full. A strange sound
comes from the field—maybe the wind.

But for the mice it’s a night like any summer night.
Fruit and grain: a time of abundance.
Nobody dies, nobody goes hungry.

No sound except the roar of the wheat.

Homage to Gaia / At Ursula’s

Derek Mahon

copyright ©Derek Mahon 2008



A cold and stormy morning
I sit in Ursula’s place
and fancy something spicy
served with the usual grace

by one of her bright workforce
who know us from before,
a nice girl from Tbilisi,
Penang or Baltimore.

Some red basil linguine
would surely hit the spot,
something light and shiny,
mint-yoghurty and hot;

a frosty but delightful
pistachio ice-cream
and some strong herbal
infusion wreathed in steam.

Once a tomato sandwich
and a pint of stout would do
but them days are over.
I want to have a go

at some amusing fusion
Thai and Italian both,
a dish of squid and pine-nuts
simmered in lemon broth,

and catch the atmospherics,
the happy lunchtime crowd,
as the cold hand gets warmer
and conversation loud.

Boats strain at sea, alas,
gales rattle the slates
while inside at Ursula’s
we bow to our warm plates.

from Return from London

Sarah Riggs, translated from the French by Etel Adnan

copyright ©2019 by Etel Adnan / English translation © 2019 by Sarah Riggs



light blinds the animals. they
await the night, she is more likely their
messiah than ours

I went out to see the sea from my terrace.
it looked at me. I understood that
I mustn’t launch myself into
its fierce waves

put out your lights before going to sleep.
the sun kissed you, leaving
burns on your face. it
returned to its solitude

Janelas

Shane Book

copyright ©Shane Book 2014



I have a home in my son’s hand.
The pier is out, the quay closed at noon.
You can sob, so be it, as if dates, as
though you had an oven of dough
everyone wanted. Day, I’m a over it;
out rowing an O.K. used pear,
sailing your barcode, you shop with the pain
you’re out now, avowing.
Our row cake vice squeezing through
sewer hour, I sail mystery O
sewer! Made on that pall of rat veil
A forms a dream navy
in the unclear I don’t miss saying.

Preface to the Griffin Poetry Prize Anthology 2018

Ian Williams

copyright ©2018 House of Anansi Press Inc.



1. The poems you are about to read are
Match the poet and book in column A to the attribute in column B.
A
1. Billy-Ray Belcourt, This Wound is a World

2. Aisha Sasha John, I have to live.

3. Donato Mancini, Same Diff

4. Tongo Eisen-Martin, Heaven Is All Goodbyes

5. Susan Howe, Debths

6. Natalie Shapero, Hard Child

7. Layli Long Soldier, Whereas

 

 

B
a. At the intersection of visual design and musical orchestration.

b. Expansive, polyphonic, and socially engaged.

c. Unreadable. Should you read or should you look?

d. Embodied, decolonializing, cerebral, and heartfelt.

e. Politically and historically activated, accountable only to truth.

f. Instagrammable. Earwormy. Urgent.

g. The epitome of contemporary lyric beauty.

Prodigy

Charles Simic

copyright ©Charles Simic, 2004



I grew up bent over
a chessboard.

I loved the word endgame.

All my cousins looked worried.

It was a small house
near a Roman graveyard.
Planes and tanks
shook its windowpanes.

A retired professor of astronomy
taught me how to play.

That must have been in 1944.

In the set we were using,
the paint had almost chipped off
the black pieces.

The white King was missing
and had to be substituted for.

I’m told but do not believe
that that summer I witnessed
men hung from telephone poles.

I remember my mother
blindfolding me a lot.
She had a way of tucking my head
suddenly under her overcoat.

In chess, too, the professor told me,
the masters play blindfolded,
the great ones on several boards
at the same time.

Flies

Alice Oswald

copyright ©Alice Oswald 2016



This is the day the flies fall awake mid-sentence
and lie stunned on the windowsill shaking with speeches
only it isn’t speech it is trembling sections of puzzlement which
break off suddenly as if the questioner had been shot

this is one of those wordy days
when they drop from their winter quarters in the curtains and sizzle as they fall
feeling like old cigarette butts called back to life
blown from the surface of some charred world

and somehow their wings which are little more than flakes of dead skin
have carried them to this blackened disembodied question

what dirt shall we visit today?
what dirt shall we re-visit?

they lift their faces to the past and walk about a bit
trying out their broken thought-machines
coming back with their used-up words

there is such a horrible trapped buzzing wherever we fly
it’s going to be impossible to think clearly now until next winter
what should we
what dirt should we

Citation for Jan Zwicky’s Forge

the 2012 Griffin Poetry Prize judges



In Forge, Jan Zwicky performs a balancing act of great poise and beauty. An extended set of variations on the theme of listening, the collection pays repeated attention to music – and through it, to the natural world and human relationships. Love and death are topics almost too risky to address directly, especially with this kind of breathless, caught-up writing: the stakes could not be higher. Zwicky addresses them fearlessly, making them meaningful and felt, and borrowing the languages of mystery, even religion, to do so. The payoff is real and extraordinary. Gracefully sustained, her unashamedly lyric verse always feels earned by, and earthed in, lived experience: whether of grief or companionship, those great conditions, or, repeatedly, of a watery world. This is a book gauzy with images of condensation, meltwater, flood and mist. It also manages the rare trick of taking on music’s abstract forms. For all her precision, this poet brings us close to the music of abstraction that lies near the heart of true verse.