POEMS OF THE MONTH VIII

Week Forty-Five.

November 4th 2017 – Sylvia Plath, Blackberrying

Nobody in the lane, and nothing, nothing but blackberries,
Blackberries on either side, though on the right mainly,
A blackberry alley, going down in hooks, and a sea
Somewhere at the end of it, heaving. Blackberries
Big as the ball of my thumb, and dumb as eyes
Ebon in the hedges, fat
With blue-red juices. These they squander on my fingers.
I had not asked for such a blood sisterhood; they must love me.
They accommodate themselves to my milkbottle, flattening their sides.

Overhead go the choughs in black, cacophonous flocks—
Bits of burnt paper wheeling in a blown sky.
Theirs is the only voice, protesting, protesting.
I do not think the sea will appear at all.
The high, green meadows are glowing, as if lit from within.
I come to one bush of berries so ripe it is a bush of flies,
Hanging their bluegreen bellies and their wing panes in a Chinese screen.
The honey-feast of the berries has stunned them; they believe in heaven.
One more hook, and the berries and bushes end.


Week Forty-Six.

November 11th 2017 – Margarita Engle, The Life of a Digger

Jamaican digging crews have to sleep
eighty men to a room, in huge warehouses
like the ones where big wooden crates
of dynamite are stored.

My hands feel like scorpion claws,
clamped on to a hard hard shovel all day,
then curled into fists at night.

At dawn, the steaming labor trains
deliver us by the thousands, down into
that snake pit where we dig
until my muscles feel
as weak as water
and my backbone
is like shattered glass.

But only half the day
is over.


Week Forty-Seven.

November 18th 2017 – Russell Edson, With Sincerest Regrets

Like a monstrous snail, a toilet slides into a living room on a track of wet, demanding to be loved.
It is impossible, and we tender our sincerest regrets. In the book of the heart there is no mention made of plumbing.
And though we have spent our intimacy many times with you, you belong to an unfortunate reference, which we would rather not embrace …
The toilet slides away …


Week Forty-Eight.

November 25th 2017 – Claude McKay, The White City

I will not toy with it nor bend an inch.
Deep in the secret chambers of my heart
I muse my life-long hate, and without flinch
I bear it nobly as I live my part.
My being would be a skeleton, a shell,
If this dark Passion that fills my every mood,
And makes my heaven in the white world’s hell,
Did not forever feed me vital blood.
I see the mighty city through a mist—
The strident trains that speed the goaded mass,
The poles and spires and towers vapor-kissed,
The fortressed port through which the great ships pass,
The tides, the wharves, the dens I contemplate,
Are sweet like wanton loves because I hate.


 

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