Veronica Forrest-Thomson’s Phrase-Book

Veronica Forrest-Thomson was born 71 years ago today. Here’s a poem…

Veronica Forrest-Thomson

Veronica Forrest-Thomson

Words are a monstrous excrescence.
Everything green is extended. It
is apricot, orange, lemon, olive, and cherry,
and other snakes in the linguistic grass;
also a white touch of marble which evokes
no ghosts, the taste of squid, the . . .
Go away. I shall call a policeman.
Acrocorinth which evokes no
goats under the lemon blossom.

World is a monstrous excrescence;
he is following me everywhere, one
Nescafé and twenty Athenes, everything
green; I am not responsible for it.
I don’t want to speak to you.
Leave me alone. I shall stay here.
I refuse a green extension. Beware.
I have paid you. I have paid you
enough, sea, sun, and octopodi.
It is raining cats and allomorphs.

“Where” is the British Embassy.


Denise Levertov’s The Ache of Marriage

Denise Levertov was born 95 years ago today. Here’s a poem…


The Ache of Marriage
Denise Levertov

The ache of marriage:
thigh and tongue, beloved,
are heavy with it,
it throbs in the teeth
We look for communion
and are turned away, beloved,
each and each
It is leviathan and we
in its belly
looking for joy, some joy
not to be known outside it
two by two in the ark of
the ache of it.

Evelyn Lau’s Kiss

Evelyn Lau was born 47 days ago today. Here’s a poem…

The Kiss
Evelyn Lau

Cupid was on the prowl. He raised his bow
and aimed his arrow at our table
in a corner of the restaurant, he was a grown man
with the face of a child, pudgy winged body
wrapped in a white garment
more like a toga than the garb of a god.
The foil tip pierced my shoulder
and that was our destiny. A group of girls
leaned forward to watch, faces tilted
and eager, eyes shining with gin,
as if you were the one I sought,
the one lost to hubris long ago. Just one kiss,
Cupid pleaded, even on the cheek is okay.
Everyone was watching and waiting.
It was a harder job than he’d been led to believe,
this business of stitching together what was severed,
what never was. The girls at the next table
called our encouragement like a back-up band
of angels, and I could not believe the depth
of their desire for our happiness,
for us to have found each other,
for this to be true. You leaned over
and kissed me, to put us out of our misery,
and the applause rose in the room
along with the winged thing
that flew out of my heart like one of the evils
out of Pandora’s Box when it was opened.

David W. McFadden’s Three on a Tree

David W. McFadden died today. Here’s a poem…

Three on a Tree
David W. McFadden

Why am I writing
Imaginary haiku?
Because they’re not there.


High school wrestling team
Gets fired up when the coach bites
Heads off live sparrows.


Excuse me, darling.
I’m trying to write haiku.
What season is this?


Why do we worry?
We’re merely leaves on a tree.
Let the tree worry.

May Swenson’s The Beam

May Swenson was born 105 years ago today. Here’s a poem…

The Beam
May Swenson

How things really are we would like to know.
Does time flow,
is it elastic,
or is it atomized in instants
hammered around the clock’s face?
And space,
is it what we find
around us in our place,
or “a symbol, suitably haunted, of the mind?”
The mind? A beam fitfully focused, then
dragged on.
So all material in its ken
is lit,
consistent, tranquil as far as that
visitation lasts. When it
is withdrawn,
when all we think
and know
“goes out” where does it go?
Into a blind
It must find
and drag into its circle new material for its being.
Moving by mind’s light, which is slow,
mind must move
and warm the groove,
spot particles for another seeing.