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Mind the night before the winds blew,
both sat on the rock amidst the grasses,
discussing Enid Blyton and the frying pan sky.

You’d spotted land across the caol
and we trudged barefoot over the squishy
slake, beneath a blintering sky, to conquer

an island you now call your own. At dawn,
I picked blackberries for our breakfast,
as unaware of your fruit addiction as I was

of the cruel American wind that was about to
break us. Afterwards, I crossed the slake once
more, so you could freeze our plunder forever.

© Richard Duffy. All rights reserved
Memories of a treasured evening spent beneath the stars of the Outer Hebrides in Scotland with a new friend who is now my life partner
Och! downe to howch,
Ye all swithe hame ***!
Waefu’, waefu’ Ah say,
Wi’ burr-thistle’s gowlin’ Storne
Frae my verra, verra Ah say,
Iron-Curse o’er ye.
Lament for the Makaris ("Lament for the Makers/Poets")
by William Dunbar [c. 1460-1530]
loose translation/interpretation by Michael R. Burch

i who enjoyed good health and gladness
am overwhelmed now by life’s terrible sickness
and enfeebled with infirmity ...
how the fear of Death dismays me!

our presence here is mere vainglory;
the false world is but transitory;
the flesh is frail; the Fiend runs free ...
how the fear of Death dismays me!

the state of man is changeable:
now sound, now sick, now blithe, now dull,
now manic, now devoid of glee ...
how the fear of Death dismays me!

no state on earth stands here securely;
as the wild wind shakes the willow tree,
so wavers this world’s vanity ...
how the fear of Death dismays me!

Death leads the knights into the field
(unarmored under helm and shield)
sole Victor of each red mêlée ...
how the fear of Death dismays me!

that strange, despotic Beast
tears from its mother’s breast
the babe, full of benignity ...
how the fear of Death dismays me!

He takes the champion of the hour,
the captain of the highest tower,
the beautiful damsel in full flower ...
how the fear of Death dismays me!

He spares no lord for his elegance,
nor clerk for his intelligence;
His dreadful stroke no man can flee ...
how the fear of Death dismays me!

artist, magician, scientist,
orator, debater, theologist,
must all conclude, so too, as we:
“how the fear of Death dismays me!”

in medicine the most astute
sawbones and surgeons all fall mute;
they cannot save themselves, or flee ...
how the fear of Death dismays me!

i see the Makers among the unsaved;
the greatest of Poets all go to the grave;
He does not spare them their faculty ...
how the fear of Death dismays me!

i have seen the Monster pitilessly devour
our noble Chaucer, poetry’s flower,
and Lydgate and Gower (great Trinity!) ...
how the fear of Death dismays me!

since He has taken my brothers all,
i know He will not let me live past the fall;
His next victim will be—poor unfortunate me!—
how the fear of Death dismays me!

there is no remedy for Death;
we all must prepare to relinquish breath
so that after we die, we may be set free
from “the fear of Death dismays me!”

This is my modern English translation of "Lament for the Makaris," an elegy by the great early Scottish poet William Dunbar [c. 1460-1530]. Dunbar was a court poet in the household of King James IV of Scotland. The Makaris were "makers," or poets. The original poem is a form of danse macabre, or "dance of death," in which people of all social classes are summoned by Death. The poem has a refrain: every fourth line is the Latin phrase "timor mortis conturbat me" ("the fear of death dismays me" or "disturbs/confounds me"). The poem was probably composed around 1508 A.D., when Dunbar was advancing in age and perhaps facing the prospect of death himself (it is not clear exactly when he died). In his famous poem Dunbar mentions other poets who passed away, including Geoffrey Chaucer, John Lydgate, and John Gower. Dunbar is generally considered to have been the greatest Scottish poet before Robert Burns, and he is noted for his comedies, satires, and sometimes ribald language. Keywords/Tags: Dunbar, translation, Scottish, dialect, Scotland, lament, makaris,  makers, poets, mrbtr, danse, macabre, refrain, Latin, timor, mortis, conturbat, dirge, lamentation, eulogy, epitaph, death, dismay, sorrow, fear, terror, writing, death, evil, sympathy, sorrow



Sunset
by Michael R. Burch

This poem is dedicated to my grandfather, George Edwin Hurt

Between the prophecies of morning
and twilight’s revelations of wonder,
the sky is ripped asunder.

The moon lurks in the clouds,
waiting, as if to plunder
the dusk of its lilac iridescence,

and in the bright-tentacled sunset
we imagine a presence
full of the fury of lost innocence.

What we find within strange whorls of drifting flame,
brief patterns mauling winds deform and maim,
we recognize at once, but cannot name.
Dimitri Ali May 25
We cya do what we wah do,
Everybody have something tuh say.
When yuh try tuh try and try yuh best,
Yuh make next to nothing at the end of the day.

Meh empty bed does laugh at me,
De late hours of de night,
Spent leaned over de work desk being whipped by worries.
Just to get those blue bills that sweet sight.

Yuh see meh fren, slavery is alive and well,
It does just wear a suit and ride in luxary,
Yuh does be quick to buy wah it sell.
Modern day slavery is why we go continue to live in poverty.

Argue amongst we selves as tuh who better,
The 'coolie indian' or the 'hard back creole'
PNM or the UNC,
We argue as to who is de biggest *******,
But them making ******* outta all ah we.

Watch de high prices, de crime, an de struggle,
Yuh feel they give ah dam about we,
Lemme tell yuh, is you fuh you an I fuh I an we go never be we.
Dem hav we so, can't even afford ah nuggle.

Buh we does fett de hardest tho,
We does wine the baddest tho,
We does horn down to the dog tho,
An nobody does do carnival like we!
Ah pride dat is always by yuh side nationwide!

We does take pride in de wrong ting,
We does **** one another, theif and cheat one another.
While Dem ha we like slaves still,
And we grinding slow but still,
We does grind in the old slave mill.
A poem written in Trinidadian creole about segregation and modern slavery from a trini's perspective.
To a Louse
by Robert Burns
translation/interpretation by Michael R. Burch

Hey! Where're you going, you crawling hair-fly?
Your impudence protects you, barely;
I can only say that you swagger rarely
Over gauze and lace.
Though faith! I fear you dine but sparely
In such a place.

You ugly, creeping, blasted wonder,
Detested, shunned by both saint and sinner,
How dare you set your feet upon her—
So fine a lady!
Go somewhere else to seek your dinner
On some poor body.

Off! around some beggar's temple shamble:
There you may creep, and sprawl, and scramble,
With other kindred, jumping cattle,
In shoals and nations;
Where horn nor bone never dare unsettle
Your thick plantations.

Now hold you there! You're out of sight,
Below the folderols, snug and tight;
No, faith just yet! You'll not be right,
Till you've got on it:
The very topmost, towering height
Of miss's bonnet.

My word! right bold you root, contrary,
As plump and gray as any gooseberry.
Oh, for some rank, mercurial resin,
Or dread red poison;
I'd give you such a hearty dose, flea,
It'd dress your noggin!

I wouldn't be surprised to spy
You on some housewife's flannel tie:
Or maybe on some ragged boy's
Pale undervest;
But Miss's finest bonnet! Fie!
How dare you jest?

Oh Jenny, do not toss your head,
And lash your lovely braids abroad!
You hardly know what cursed speed
The creature's making!
Those winks and finger-ends, I dread,
Are notice-taking!

O would some Power with vision teach us
To see ourselves as others see us!
It would from many a blunder free us,
And foolish notions:
What airs in dress and carriage would leave us,
And even devotion!

One Sunday while sitting behind a young lady in church, Robert Burns noticed a louse roaming through the bows and ribbons of her bonnet. The poem "To a Louse" resulted from his observations. The poor woman had no idea that she would be the subject of one of Burns' best poems about how we see ourselves, compared to how other people see us at our worst moments. Keywords/Tags: Robert Burns, louse, church, bonnet, lace, Scotland, Scots, dialect, translation
Tommy Randell Jun 2019
My Mother's tongue was gin
She used it best for cursing in

My absentee Father was an Irish rogue
His drunken Dublin drawl a joke

Uncle Jim lisped through his cheek
A stroke survivor with a bad mouth leak

Billy, my cousin, rattled on repeat
Stuttered like a Gattling Gun on heat

Old Nanny Mabel whistled like a flute
****** and tutted on her one black tooth

Our Mam's deaf younger sister, never Auntie
Spoke with her hands cos of Meningitis

All the Teachers talked with slippers and canes
All the Police just clipped us behind the ears

All the Posh Nobs said nowt, but looked
Down their noses with pity at us

Everyone, and i mean everybody
Smelled of drink, smoke, and unwashed bodies

Everybody, and i mean every mouth
Ate while they spoke, and spat stuff out

I haven't escaped the old Mother Tongues
I revert to the speech I knew when young

Yes, I still speak the Gallus when I'm up there, Whitby bred -
Strong in the arm, thick in the head
You can take the Poet out of the town, but... Etc Etc

Gallus is the old dialect name for that rough part of Whitby where I grew up. Most of the town couldn't understand us when we spoke and we were thought of as a rough lot.
Thomas Charlton Apr 2019
Come I’, Sit daahn, Shurrup,
Wor t' fust thin 'a' ah 'eard.
So ah grabbed uz buk fra t' back.
‘n prepared for summa’ absurd

An exam ont’ fust day ah exclaimed!
As uz face exploded wi’ rage
Ah dead eyed ‘im fra across t’ room
‘n reluctantly turned t’ page

T’ year continued like ‘dis,
‘n uz nem appeared ont’ board
‘n ta quote wah’ I’d learnt fra’ uz studies,
Ah felt wretched ‘n abhorred

Tahhm passed by,
‘n 'e 'n class began ta connect.
n suddenly 'a' dislikin,
turned inter respect.

Tahhm went furtha,
as 'e yelled 'n laughed 'n cussed,
‘n suddenly ‘a’ respect,
turned inter complete trust.

‘e’d lern wee randa facts,
‘n sha wee gormless vids.
'e’d respect wee li' adults,
'n nivva' treat wee li' kids.

'n even when ah wor glum,
‘n wasn’t feelin missen,
‘e’d finn' eur way ta use 'is words
ta nurse uz back ta 'ealth.

‘n when 'e sez 'e wor leavin, everybody’s 'eart cried,
We didn’t want ta seh tarreur,
teur t' bloke who’d bin ah guide

Sa t' best we can doa is come togetha,
‘n gatha orl wee folks.
'n wish t' best o' luck ta ah ‘un 'n onny,
Yorksha bloke.
Loameo, Decomposeo, Scaremoleo, Romeo RIP.
A sazhen deep l/ a kulak, kozy.
Down here, hic jacet Jared, or some other
hick l/  me, face it. Grauballe greenhorn's chia
pet ***** moss my roof, arbuscules anagenic.
Ignomio in nightsoil, netty Chthonically kerbkicked.

Dirt heart of dark heath, a daft felodese.
What did my dark daffodil periscopes see?
A merry widow that reneged midway on the pact.
Ethereal barefootedness on my deadman's doormat.
No Elysian toejam on  brazen untumbling Jill.
Julie Judas, whose stayed hand waives a ne'erdofarewell.

Her sweetheart leprous w/ wet weapon seepage
of winterstices. Yellow leather thews fuel spoilage,
foison of the fomes my former foison bequeathed
to Nitrogen's garden, gravestrewn global glebe.
My mournedover mould, from my Morlock Tafilafet,
sprighettis dustland & brushbowl, on rebound from Juliette.

Waldeinsamkeit my plight, but a lil' lower
down I floundirt. The dead autistic as the flower,
that strains past the compost of my final
season of gas & mellow fertilicer, mortal fruitful
-ness, l/ that ribburst Deianira
(her freewill blackball, plucky gibbous bloodpear).

W/ that valiant apple, Apple Lily unravelled
zombie Eden. Julie-Eve  d'aujourd' hui resiled
tho'. Thus alone I fell thru this mortuary
orchard,  l/ a worm thru stewed apple, to dormitories
of mouldwarps. Atop my catabolism,
postapocalyptic allotments! No voar for alyssum,

not even upon the fullblown Ides. Her betrayal
harvest has the ecology gross w/ her turned tail's
martyr. Putridly, I pullulate a larval *******
of laurel bandages, Avalon Mole by recycling carnage
of some Pomona Braithwaite int'a Seamus Heaney
Swamp Thing sludge loved. Spleen spores, organic bicne.

Infusorians party in my tears. An epic lettuce
gloats where cartilaginous flap over my glottis
fingered stops of pickup artistry after Petrarch. A
backtracking princess of dwales, to Proserpina Harker
ceded me.  Bride of all corpses, bog queen boss of bosses
cannibalised Loameo, ironically, for locus amoenus.
frankie Apr 2018
with each word that you speak to me
i am blindsided with a false reality
that there is still and us and we never ceased to be
but then i am reminded that those words that drip from the lips i once kissed
are from a platonic tongue that i do not want to know just yet
i’m still clinging onto a dialectic of romance that had kissed after each syllable and made my heart melt with each phrase
this change in language i cannot accept and it hurts too much to be exposed
A T Bockholdt Jan 2018
Lucy, you’re all white
bone-dry hands
but ya face ain’t calm—

Said you were almost complete
dancin on your two feet
but that rouge never lasts till dawn.

Girl you’ve walked the night
long as we can remember
whole worlds seen your hips sway—

Ever wish your secrets had stayed buried?
Baby, s'too late to worry
you’ve been embalmed in fame.
Fun fact: only 51% of young Americans (under 30) believe in evolution. Which means 49% do not, and that statistic is higher in older demographics! Lucy is the oldest, "most complete," skeleton of a human (female) that we have found to date! She's 3.2 million years old
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