Words, by Pauli Murray (1970)

We are spendthrifts with words,
We squander them,
Toss them like pennies in the air—
Arrogant words,
Angry words,
Cruel words,
Comradely words,
Shy words tiptoeing from mouth to ear.

But the slowly wrought words of love
And the thunderous words of heartbreak—
These we hoard.

Swans, by Gaia Holmes

The days
are full of angles.
They strut
around the house
like vicious swans,
at piles of shoes
and clothes
and tangled thoughts,
at the disarray.

only comes
in the night
like a swallow
with the burr
and back-draft
of a wing,
with a memory,
with the swoop
of a hip-bone,
with the slow,
soft reel-show
of two cigarettes
thinning the gloom,
curing the darkness
with gold.

Core, by Kerrie O’ Brien

You need to be very still
To hear the concert of your body

To think about what you contain

Salt and water
Know what it’s doing
Renewing itself
Back to earth

It is a quiet thing
This is where our riches are

We are all red inside
Brimming with love

All fluid and quiet and fire.

In the life

My piece was pat and all ready to say,
She rose first. I threw my piece away.
My well-turned stuff
Was not so rough
As hers, but easy elegant and smooth.
Beginning middle end
It had and point
And aptly quoted prophet priest and poet.
Hers was uncouth
Wanting in art
Laboured scarce-audible and out of joint.
Three times she lost the thread
And sitting left her message half unsaid.
‘Why then did thee throw it
Into the discard?’
It had head
(Like this). Hers oh had heart.

– Robert Hewison, 1965


Strange to know nothing, never to be sure
Of what is true or right or real,
But forced to qualify or so I feel,
Or Well, it does seem so:
Someone must know.

Strange to be ignorant of the way things work:
Their skill at finding what they need,
Their sense of shape, and punctual spread of seed,
And willingness to change;
Yes, it is strange,

Even to wear such knowledge – for our flesh
Surrounds us with its own decisions –
And yet spend all our life on imprecisions,
That when we start to die
Have no idea why.

—Philip Larkin

(For the FBI agent who, enquiring about a sister, asked “Who is in her network?”)

Who is in my network
What links us to be exact?
Better to ask to understand the force
that cuts through rock the water’s course,
and binding like to like
makes also opposites attract.

Who guides the earthworm underground,
and makes the stubborn ants persist?
When wind and rain erode the land
who calls the root work to resist?
And what clandestine hand inscribed
the coded message in the seed?
Who masterminds the spider’s web
and plans the strategy of the weed?

What inspiration could invent
the infrastructure of the vine.
the grass revolt against cement,
the rebellion of the dandelion?
What force undermines the walls
to make then crack
or makes the branches of the tree
when cut grow back?
Who conceals the passages between death and birth?
Who leads the revolution of the earth?

Who is in my network
What links us to be exact?
Better to ask to understand the force
that cuts through rock the water’s course,
and binding like to like
makes also opposites attract.

Investigate the daisies for invasion of the lawn,
or the ivy for trespass where it wants to grow.
Indict the sky for pouring out its rain,
contributing to the rivers overflow.
Arrest the seagull for unlawful flight,
impose a boundary to confine the sea,
demand a mountain modify its height,
dare my woman-spirit to break free.

Susan Saxe

[Spotted thanks to Jamie.]

A poetic gift to me

The chains you place around my heart
are welcome ones
Just my cup of tea
For the reason that your innocence
first captivated me
in the library
my heart feeling like the
of my favorite synth song
Blood pounding through my veins
And darling, you
wear that eyeliner so well
I would hold an umbrella over you
in the rain
to keep it from running.
So please don’t go
My gothic sweet
return with me
to the library
As I’ve said,
you’re just
my cup of tea.

Rachel Lynn Brody (2005), created in three minutes from the words “Gothic”, “Chains”, “Cup of Tea”, “Umbrella”, “Reason”, “Innocence”, “Library”, and “Synth”