Poem


Poem April 18, 2020

Ellen van Neerven
are we one hundred years ago?

take me to that place where sky and ocean meet — I’ve been missing that place and tonight I will have that dream again — of our Shark with its fins sliced off, bleeding out — my bro died today, he was healthy — my bro survived the war but he did not survive this


Poem April 4, 2020

Omar Sakr
Diary of a Non-Essential Worker

Did you know violins can shake the earth? Such sweet vessels, tiny planetary throats. I was sent an orchestra. They made music, a sorrow, a soaring, that shivered the dirt. I followed the notes to a barbarism.


Poem April 11, 2020

Paul Kelly
Riddle Poem Three from the Kelly-Hoard

I, myself, am generally hopeless at riddles; my brain freezes at brainteasers. For instance, I couldn’t get this rhyming riddle someone sent me recently and had to do a quick internet search so I could get on with my day:

 

I’m the part of the bird that’s not in the sky.
I can swim in the ocean and yet remain dry.

 

Like the above couplet, today’s poem rhymes. To my mind the answer is easy. (But then, I wrote it.) I’m more interested in making a good poem than a fiendish riddle. I just want the pieces to fit. That’s all art is, in the end, I suppose – getting the pieces to fit.


Poem March 28, 2020

Maxine Beneba Clarke
generation zoom

in the third week of the pandemic

 

               schools started closing

workers were sent home

 

and they started to call the youngsters:

              generation zoom

 

named, of course, for that chat-app

all of them seemed to use

 

logging in for facetime

completing maths lessons online, dancing

tiktok feeds on loop, clicking in

to instanews, and everyone was asking:

 

              what on earth will become

              of whatsapp’s children?


Poem March 21, 2020

Ellen van Neerven
social isolation is an act of love

we scroll the news

trying to figure out what’s to come

looking at measures placed on other countries

 

school closures

city lockdowns

individual freedoms we give up

 

where will we be a day from now

a week, a month

six months from now?


Poem March 14, 2020

Paul Kelly
Riddle Poem Two from the Kelly-Hoard

Some lines from Omar Sakr’s poem last Saturday have the flavour of a riddle poem:

 

Fellow flotsam, what makes a person a
person? The animals are asking.

 

Friends, what makes a citizen a
citizen? The people are barking.

 

I keep going back to this poem, circling it. Perhaps many poems have something of the riddle about them. Intimations that are hidden at first but emerge after the reader does some work.

 

I only have one answer in mind for this month’s poem but perhaps there are more. Good luck.


Poem March 7, 2020

Omar Sakr
[Y]our people [Y]our problems

I have never had a country

willing to claim me as its own.

 

Sit with me as I sit with that.

Hold my hand. Our knees can touch

 

across the loneliness, which, at least

and at last, wants nothing of us.


Poem February 29, 2020

Maxine Beneba Clarke
something sure

              sit down here now baby,

              stop that fidgeting

 

listen big,

and understand

 

mama’s gotta school you

                 ’bout something sure

’fore you grow into a man


Poem February 22, 2020

Ellen van Neerven
every small protest counts

ACCOMPANY your children
ADMINISTER biryani to those
braving the cold and rain
ADVOCATE for freedom
“Aazadi!” the children cry
APPLY music to the streets
ASSUME those who are here know the words
a song is not a song unless it’s sung by many


Poem February 15, 2020

Paul Kelly
Riddle Poem One from the Kelly-Hoard

Riddles and riddle poems have been around a long, long time in human history. One of the most famous riddles, referred to in Oedipus Rex, written by Sophocles in the 5th century BCE, is posed by the Sphinx to Oedipus as he’s on his way to Thebes.


Poem February 8, 2020

Omar Sakr
American Dirt

The once-white lady dipped her hands

into a faceless mass at the border

she said, I’m the one to give you a face

 

as if she wasn’t the one who stole it

in the first place, someone must humanise

the mass, the migrant caravan, the babies

 

as if people can ever be less than people,

where did that idea come from I wonder

but never mind that for now, let us return


Poem February 1, 2020

Maxine Beneba Clarke
Breath

the night before school starts,

                  our swimmer-tans fading,

 

we cheat, with gozleme,

from the woolworths fridge:

 

fry it golden, and crispy

on the heavy skillet

 

with slices of lemon,

       to acid through guilt


Poem January 25, 2020

Ellen van Neerven
Paper ships, many fires

I know what you’re thinking

           how can we save the world?

                when we have barely

                      just survived it

when we have been disposed of

     raped and murdered

           erased and orphaned

                 and lost 90 per cent or more of our kin