–Margaret AtwoodThese are the late poems.Most poems are lateof course: too late,like a letter sent by a sailorthat arrives after he’s drowned.Too late to be of help, such letters,and late poems are similar.They arrive as if through water.Whatever it was has happened:the battle, the sunny day, the moonlitslipping into lust, the farewell kiss. The poemwashes ashore like a flotsam.
Or late, as in late for supper:
all the words cold or eaten.
Scoundrel, plight, and vanquished,
or linger, bide, awhile,
forsaken, wept, forlorn.
Love and joy, even: thrice-gnawed songs.
Rusted spells. Worn choruses.
It’s late, it’s very late;
too late for dancing
Still, sing what you can.
Turn up the light: sing on,
Origins of Violence
–Jenny GeorgeThere is a hole.In the hole is everythingpeople will doto each other.The hole goes down and down.It has many roomslike graves and like gravesthey are all connected.Roots hang from the dirtin craggy chandeliers.It’s not clearwhere the hole stopsbeginning and whereit starts to end.It’s warm and dark down there.The passages multiply.There are ballrooms.There are dead ends.The air smells of iron andcrushed flowers.People will do anything.They will cut the hands off children.Children will do anything—In the hole is everything.
A windswept house on barren lava flow
Surveys the desert floor for miles around.
To this unlikely spot whose beauty none but we
Could well discern, we brought our new-made vows
We were each other’s all in all.
It was enough, at least at first.
Then small erosions came
To sweep us from our perch.
The house still stands. Only we
How Much Time
I remember the rain,
But I have forgotten things
The rain covered years ago.
My gaze is lifted
Like an airplane between control tower
And open spaces of abandonment and oblivion.
A foreign country covers
my face with its waters
I am a sad general of streaming water.
Cambridge. Closed door of a friend’s house:
How much time must pass
For such spiderwebs to take shape,
How much time?
Hand in Hand
–Carlos Drummond de Andrade
I won’t be the poet of a decrepit world.
Nor will I sing the world of the future.
I’m bound to life, and I look at my companions.
They’re taciturn but nourish great hopes.
In their midst, I consider capacious reality.
The present is so large, let’s not stray far.
Let’s stay together and go hand in hand.
I won’t be the singer of some woman, some tale,
I won’t evoke the sights at dusk, the scene outside the window,
I won’t distribute drugs or suicide letters,
I won’t flee to the islands or be carried off by seraphim.
Time is my matter, present time, present people,
the present life.
Não serei o poeta de um mundo caduco
Também não cantarei o mundo futuro
Estou preso à vida e olho meus companheiros
Estão taciturnos mas nutrem grandes esperanças
Entre eles, considero a enorme realidade
O presente é tão grande, não nos afastemos
Não nos afastemos muito, vamos de mãos dadas
Não serei o cantor de uma mulher, de uma história
Não direi os suspiros ao anoitecer, a paisagem vista da janela
Não distribuirei entorpecentes ou cartas de suicida
Não fugirei para as ilhas nem serei raptado por serafins
O tempo é a minha matéria, o tempo presente, os homens presentes
A vida presente
I am three thoughts away from the grave,
two steps away from the open door,
one kiss away from the bridge.
Dear volcano, where are you?
Dear battleship, your war planes
sit on the bottom of the sea,
eels coiled in the cockpits.
Dear moon, you were an accident.
Dear second heartbeat I’m relieved
you left my body before I could choose.
Dear ghost, leave my attic, crawl
down the drainpipe to the ditch,
to the tunnels beneath the city.
Haunt the rats. Sleep in their bones.
Dear bruise, I promise.
Dear fossil, I am sorry for the light.