“STILL LIFE” by A.K.Ramanujan

When she left me
after lunch,I read
for a while.
But I suddenly wanted
to look again
and I saw the half-eaten
sandwich,
bread,
lettuce and salami,
all carrying the shape
of her bite.

“Still Life” is a simple poem written in a somewhat minimalistic style.The theme is neither the woman the poet has had lunch with nor love for her but the absence of the woman which lingers on after she leaves, in the form of her bite of the half-eaten sandwich.The situation is presented to you with no frills .Nor have any imagery been employed unless one tries to extrapolate the half-eaten sandwich to mean something deeper, in which case the beauty of the capture of the woman’s absence is lost.I would prefer to let the sandwich remain a sandwich.

A similar technique is employed in Andrew Wyeth’s painting entitled “The Master Bedroom”:
The Master Bedroom

In the painting we only see the absence of the master as suggested by the dog sleeping on the bed.I like to imagine this scenario : the walls are bare and decrepit with the plaster coming off and no paint.There is a four poster bed and the sheet bears smudges of lack of washing.There is the window through which soft light falls on the bed .The bed has not been recently slept in.The master had got up and and gone out and not returned .Only the dog sleeps listening to his master’s voice which seems to be ringing in the room .The dog is patiently waiting for the return of the master. Outside there is the tree which stirs occasionally sending in gusts of wind.

“If This Is All…” by Luciano Erba


They disturb my limpid faith
catholic apostolic and whatever else
not so much the course of the times
the new clerks’ treason, magnificent scandals
other bits of the puzzle remain in my hand
for example the poor fatted calf
that will be the one to suffer
when the prodigal decides to return.
I have obviously understood nothing
will have to think on it again some more.

(Text of the poem in the original Italian)

Luciano Erba
translated from the Italian by Peter Robinson

In terms of imagery there is nothing much in this poem . I find it still has the exquisiteness of concentrated thought without the use of analogy. The poet’s limpid faith is disturbed by some irreconcilable things about his faith .For example ,how is it a right thing to make the fatted lamb suffer when the prodigal son returns .His thought is typical of the hundreds of the dilemmas we face in our daily lives and more particularly in our religious faith. Here ,like all of us ,he decides to postpone thinking about it as we all do when such inherent contradictions stare us in the face.

via Poetry daily

“Evidence” by Mary Jo Bang


This is the wilderness
Of evidence: a tangled thought
Becomes a book
On a dresser unread,

Pages stacked in predictable sequence:
Numbers behaving as numbers do,
Promising a future and
Lining up at the door and waiting

Patiently to enter.
You become the connection
Thread to the cat that lost its tail
And subsequently invented tragedy.

That man named Mac is right
When he says a thousand voices say
Live and forget
The rest. Goodnight.

And goodbye. You
With your archangel name.
You with your teardrop beads
Lined up along the thread

Through the eye
Of the needle in the blankstack.
Every thread leads to the death
Day. I lost you. I love you.

How changed we are.
Otherwise no longer exists.
There is only stasis, continually
Granting ceremony to the moment.

The poem has some very rich lines .

 
This the wilderness
of evidence:a tangled thought

becomes a book

On a dresser unread”


There is music in the lines.A natural rhythm with a clutter of images -wilderness of evidence,a tangled thought,becomes a book on a dresser unread .No point in trying to make the images work with each other; just enjoy the music in the lines.
The book image is carried on further:

Pages stacked in predictable sequence:
Numbers behaving as numbers do,
Promising a future and
Lining up at the door and waiting
.

Pages stacked .Not bound together.In predictable sequence.Numbers going on in serial order.Each page promises a future as you leaf through the stacked pages.The second page promises the third , a page waiting at the door.

You become the connection

There is no connecting thread between pages because they are chronologically stacked and not bound. The hand that turns the pages is the connection .One of the pages is the cat that lost its tail and invented tragedy.

That man named Mac is right
When he says a thousand voices say
Live and forget
The rest. Goodnight

Beautiful lines .A thousand voices say,live and forget the rest.


The other nice image is the thread about the priest :

You With your archangel name.
You with your teardrop beads
Lined up along the thread

Through the eye
Of the needle in the blankstac
k.

http://www.poems.com/poem.php?date=13730

“We Are Not Dead” by Kadhim Kaitan

 

To no avail the doves cooing—
Our delights are cellars
And our time is ash.
We go, every sunset, to the river
Carrying the coffins of our days’
Polishing our teardrops
And shrouding our fears.
We are not dead.
We still have the tearful embrace
Of sacrifice.
We compose our features,
Bandage our calendars,
Our disappointments,
And,
Under a spider’s tent,
We still have the right
To conquer the city with kisses.
We return to our hospitals
Lighting lamps of regret
And reciting our elegies.
Our lifetimes are paper boats
Pushed to the waves by the hand of a trifling child
Where, fold after fold,
The sea takes our dreams
And wraps them in weeping.
Our lifetimes are withered leaves
That launched an attack on the sun
And fell in flames.
The fire now licks at our names,
Sewn together with splinters.

Munthir Abdul-Hur
translated from the Arabic by Sadek Mohammed
(Taken from Poets Daily)

A beautiful poem .There are of course some awkward phrases but they do not detract from the poetic merit of the poem. Apparently the Iraqi poet is talking about the hopeless situation in his war-torn country where there is large scale bloodshed and mayhem.

Our delights are cellars
Our time is ash.

Sounds neat and epigrammatic. Just like

We are not dead
Here is an interesting image :
Our lifetimes are paper boats
Pushed to the waves by the hand of a trifling child
Where, fold after fold,
The sea takes our dreams
And wraps them in weeping.

A beautiful image . Our lifetimes are paper-boats/ pushed to the waves by the hand of a trifling child is an exquisite image. The sea takes our dreams and wraps them in weeping is lovely except that I have a quarrel with the word weeping which should perhaps be tears .Perhaps the translation did not work out properly. The image of the trifling child pushing the paper-boats of our lifetimes into the waves is of course a bit worn out but the fold after fold/the sea takes our dreams and wraps them in weeping is a pretty image. The last image our lifetimes are withered leaves /That launched an attack on the sun/And fell in flames is equally beautiful .One recalls Icarus whose waxen wings have melted in the sun or more closer home ,the figure of the monkey God Hanuman who as a child mistook the sun as a fruit and burnt his mouth red .Of course the contexts here are different .Here the poet is talking about the people’s resistance to a powerful invader’s might . Finally the poet says we are not dead. We are not dead yet .(may be )we shall rise again .