Things are getting interesting.

Batman meets Donnie Darko or not really: mask from the Ethnographic Collection (National Museum of Denmark) – Peoples of the Earth

 

From The Wishing Bone Cycle

by Jacob Nibenegenesabe

 

1
I try to make wishes right
but sometimes it doesn’t work.
Once, I wished a tree upside down
and its branches
were where the roots should have been!
The squirrels had to ask the moles
“How do we get down there
to get home?”
One time it happened that way.
Then there was the time, I remember now,
I wished a man upside down
and his feet were where his hands
should have been!
In the morning his shoes
had to ask the birds
“How do we fly up there
to get home?”
One time it happened that way.

2
There was an old woman I wished up.
She was the wife
of an old pond.
You could watch her swim in her husband
if you were
in the hiding bushes.
She spoke to him by the way she swam gently.
One time in their lives there was no rain
and the sun began making the pond smaller.
Soon the sun took the whole pond!
For many nights the old woman slept
near the hole where her husband once lived.
Then, one night, a storm came
but in the morning there still was no water
in her husband’s old house.
So she set out on a journey to find her husband
and followed the puddles on the ground
which were the storm’s footprints.
She followed them for many miles.
Finally she came upon her husband
sitting in a hole. But he was in the wrong hole!
So the old woman brought her husband home
little by little in her hands.
You could have seen him come home if you were in the hiding bushes.

3
Once I wished up a coat
wearing a man inside.
The man was sleeping
and when he woke
the coat was on him!
This was in summer, so many asked him
“Why do you have that coat on?”
“It has me in it!”
he would answer.
He tried to take it off
but I wished his memory shivering with cold
so it wouldn’t want to remember
how to take a coat off.
That way it would stay warm.
I congratulated myself on thinking of that.
Then his friends came,
put coats on,
and slowly showed him how they took coats off.
Even that didn’t work.
Things were getting interesting.
Then his friends
tried to confuse the coat
into thinking it was a man.
“Good morning,” they said to it,
“Did you get
your share of fish?”
and other things too.
Some even invited the coat to gossip.
It got to be late summer
and someone said to the coat
“It is getting colder.
You better go out
and find a coat to wear.”
The coat agreed!
Ha! I was too busy laughing
to stop that dumb coat
from leaving the man it wore
inside.
I didn’t care.
I went following the coat.
Things were getting interesting.

(Swampy Cree)

 

Source: Howard Norman, The Wishing Bone Cycle: Narrative Poems from the Swampy Cree Indians (Santa Barbara, CA: Ross-Erikson Publishing, [1972], 1982), 5, 20, 33-34.

Found in “Technicians of the Sacred”, an anthology by Jerome Rothenberg, “one of the hundred most recommended American books of the late twentieth century” (LA Times Book Review).
“Juxtaposing primitive and archaic works of art from many cultures with each other and with avant-garde and experimental poetry, Rothenberg contends that literature extends beyond temporal and geographic boundaries, cutting across space and time, while acting as retort to those who would call that larger humanity into question.”

 

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5 poems (Vol. 3)

 

Another round of 5 poems landed in the magic-making hands of 5 local artists:
Ana Bănică, Adelina Butnaru, George Roșu, Ruxandra Șerbănoiu and Yanna Zosmer received the poems via e-mail only a week ago and sent them back to me as heart-warming illustrations.

I love Brâncuși’s words about childhood:
‘When we stop being children, we start being dead.’
So let’s keep our inner child happy and lively for as long as we can. The child who loves playing and laughing and learning and discovering the world. The one who’s curious about anything from tiny navel fluff to huge faraway stars. The one with the never-ending pile of questions. The one who won’t surrender before those rituals of adulthood that strip all life of wonders and magic.

The 5 chosen poems travel back to the much bigger
homes and classrooms and roads in our memories,
to smells and sights and sounds of
casual fears and small-scale lies and jumbo love treats.

Enjoy:

 



THE DISAPPOINTMENTS OF CHILDHOOD
by Michael Blumenthal

Perhaps a bird was singing and for it I felt
a tiny affection, the same size as a bird.
Borges

Imagine now, an affection the same size
as the thing it’s felt for: for the seed,
seed-like emoluments of liking and,
for the rain, droplets of tenderness
clustered in puddles at your feet.

And now remember how, as a child,
someone is telling you they love you.
How much does daddy love you? they
ask and you, childlike, spread
your arms as wide as a child can.

Little do you know it then, but the rest
of your life will be spent measuring
the distance between “that much”
and what love, in fact, is capable of –
the narrow width of a man or a woman,
their terrible thinness,
their small bones
growing constantly inward
from your spreading arms.

***
Published in Poetry Magazine (April 1984)
Copyright © Michael Blumenthal.

Illustration by Ana Bănică
instagram.com/ana_ban_ana_illustration
www.facebook.com/anabananabanica
www.caiverzipepereti.com

 



SNOW
by David Berman

Walking through a field with my little brother Seth

I pointed to a place where kids had made angels in the snow.
For some reason, I told him that a troop of angels
had been shot and dissolved when they hit the ground.

He asked who had shot them and I said a farmer.

Then we were on the roof of the lake.
The ice looked like a photograph of water.

Why he asked. Why did he shoot them.

I didn’t know where I was going with this.

They were on his property, I said.

When it’s snowing, the outdoors seem like a room.

Today I traded hellos with my neighbor.
Our voices hung close in the new acoustics.
A room with the walls blasted to shreds and falling.

We returned to our shoveling, working side by side in silence.

But why were they on his property, he asked.

***
From “Actual Air”, 1999
Grove Press, Open City Books
Copyright © David Berman

 


Illustration by Adelina Butnaru
instagram.com/adelina.butnaru
facebook.com/adelina.butnaru

 



AUTOBIOGRAPHY

by Louis MacNeice

In my childhood trees were green
And there was plenty to be seen.

Come back early or never come.

My father made the walls resound,
He wore his collar the wrong way round.

Come back early or never come.

My mother wore a yellow dress;
Gently, gently, gentleness.

Come back early or never come.

When I was five the black dreams came;
Nothing after was quite the same.

Come back early or never come.

The dark was talking to the dead;
The lamp was dark beside my bed.

Come back early or never come.

When I woke they did not care;
Nobody, nobody was there.

Come back early or never come.

When my silent terror cried,
Nobody, nobody replied.

Come back early or never come.

I got up; the chilly sun
Saw me walk away alone.

Come back early or never come.

***
© Louis MacNeice, Collected Poems (2013)

Illustration by George Roșu
cargocollective.com/georgerosu
instagram.com/theunavailablegeorgerosu
facebook.com/george.rosu

 



FIRST DAY AT SCHOOL

by Roger McGough

A millionbillionwillion miles from home
Waiting for the bell to go. (To go where?)
Why are they all so big, other children?
So noisy? So much at home they
Must have been born in uniform
Lived all their lives in playgrounds
Spent the years inventing games
That don’t let me in. Games
That are rough, that swallow you up.

And the railings.
All around, the railings.
Are they to keep out wolves and monsters?
Things that carry off and eat children?
Things you don’t take sweets from?
Perhaps they’re to stop us getting out
Running away from the lessins. Lessin.
What does a lessin look like?
Sounds small and slimy.
They keep them in the glassrooms.
Whole rooms made out of glass. Imagine.

I wish I could remember my name
Mummy said it would come in useful.
Like wellies. When there’s puddles.
Yellowwellies. I wish she was here.
I think my name is sewn on somewhere
Perhaps the teacher will read it for me.
Tea-cher. The one who makes the tea.

***
© McGough, Roger. “First Day at School.”
All the Best: The Selected Poems of Roger McGough.
Illus. Lydia Monks. London: Puffin, 2004.


Illustration by Ruxandra Șerbănoiu
ruxandra-serbanoiu.tumblr.com

 



FIRST LESSON
by Phyllis McGinley

The first thing to remember about fathers is, they’re men.
A girl has to keep it in mind.
They are dragon-seekers, bent on impossible rescues.
Scratch any father, you find
Someone chock-full of qualms and romantic terrors,
Believing change is a threat –
Like your first shoes with heel on, like your first bicycle
It took months to get.
Walk in strange woods, they warn you about the snakes there.
Climb and they fear you’ll fall.
Books, angular looks, swimming in deep water –
Fathers mistrust them all.
Men are the worriers. It is difficult for them
To learn what they must learn:
How you have a journey to take and very likely,
For a while, will not return.

***
Copyright © Phyllis McGinley (1905 – 1978)

Illustration by Yanna Zosmer
instagram.com/yannazosmer
facebook.com/yannazosmer
yannazosmer.com

 


I am most grateful to these wonderful creatures for jumping in so fast (they only had 1 week to squeeze the task in their schedules and send me the illustrations) and I’d be really happy around my belly button if you showed off your love by following their work and sharing this piece with a friend.

 

About 5poems:

I decided to choose 5 poems every month (there is a list, and it’s growing bigger and bigger) and share them with the world. A world that might just come to love them as much as I do. And with a little help from my friends, there will also be yummy custom-made illustrations.
Around each month’s end, the poems and their fresh illustrations will be revealed on a dedicated Instagram account – @5poems (yes, please, do follow us). All goodies will also be printed and exhibited in our pocket bookshop+gallery (Receptor / Cărturești & Friends). And when it’s time for another round, the previous small prints will settle into the family album – a permanent collection gathering all illustrations and poems featured monthly.
Check out: Volume 1 here. Volume 2 here.

 

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5poems (Vol. 2)

 

5 poems I love recently landed in the magic-making hands of 5 local illustrators.
Wanda, Dragoș, Anna, Andreea and Daia hosted the poems in their hearts for a week and now we’re sending them into the world as delightful illustrations.

Enjoy reading the chosen poems and zooming in on their amazing visual alter egos:

 



ONE ART
by Elizabeth Bishop

The art of losing isn’t hard to master;
so many things seem filled with the intent
to be lost that their loss is no disaster.

Lose something every day. Accept the fluster
of lost door keys, the hour badly spent.
The art of losing isn’t hard to master.

Then practice losing farther, losing faster:
places, and names, and where it was you meant
to travel. None of these will bring disaster.

I lost my mother’s watch. And look! my last, or
next-to-last, of three loved houses went.
The art of losing isn’t hard to master.

I lost two cities, lovely ones. And, vaster,
some realms I owned, two rivers, a continent.
I miss them, but it wasn’t a disaster.

—Even losing you (the joking voice, a gesture
I love) I shan’t have lied. It’s evident
the art of losing’s not too hard to master

though it may look like (Write it!) like disaster.

(Published in The Complete Poems 1926-1979. Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 1983.
Copyright © 1979, 1983 by Alice Helen Methfessel.)

Illustration by Wanda Hutira
instagram.com/que_nais
www.behance.net/ceNais
www.facebook.com/wanda.hutira
facebook.com/Ostra-Berdo

 



AS PLANNED
by Frank O’Hara

After the first glass of vodka
you can accept just about anything
of life even your own mysteriousness
you think it is nice that a box
of matches is purple and brown and is called
La Petite and comes from Sweden
for they are words that you know and that
is all you know words not their feelings
or what they mean and you write because
you know them not because you understand them
because you don’t you are stupid and lazy
and will never be great but you do
what you know because what else is there?

(Published in The Paris Review, Issue 49, Summer 1970)

Illustration by Dragoș Boțcău
instagram.com/imagine_dragos
behance.net/dragosbotcau

 



THE PARADOX

by Sarah Kay

When I am inside writing,
all I can think about is how I should be outside living.

When I am outside living,
all I can do is notice all there is to write about.

When I read about love, I think I should be out loving.
When I love, I think I need to read more.

I am stumbling in pursuit of grace,
I hunt patience with a vengeance.

On the mornings when my brother’s tired muscles
held to the pillow, my father used to tell him,

For every moment you aren’t playing basketball,
someone else is on the court practicing.

I spend most of my time wondering
if I should be somewhere else.

So I have learned to shape the words thank you
with my first breath each morning, my last breath every night.

When the last breath comes, at least I will know I was thankful
for all the places I was so sure I was not supposed to be.

All those places I made it to,
all the loves I held, all the words I wrote.

And even if it is just for one moment,
I will be exactly where I am supposed to be.

(From No Matter the Wreckage, published in 2014 by Write Bloody Publishing)

Illustration by Anna Florea
1/2 of rivulet.studio
instagram.com/annaflorea
annaflorea.tumblr.com

 



POSSIBILITIES

by Wisława Szymborska

I prefer movies.
I prefer cats.
I prefer the oaks along the Warta.
I prefer Dickens to Dostoyevsky.
I prefer myself liking people
to myself loving mankind.
I prefer keeping a needle and thread on hand, just in case.
I prefer the color green.
I prefer not to maintain
that reason is to blame for everything.
I prefer exceptions.
I prefer to leave early.
I prefer talking to doctors about something else.
I prefer the old fine-lined illustrations.
I prefer the absurdity of writing poems
to the absurdity of not writing poems.
I prefer, where love’s concerned, nonspecific anniversaries
that can be celebrated every day.
I prefer moralists
who promise me nothing.
I prefer cunning kindness to the over-trustful kind.
I prefer the earth in civvies.
I prefer conquered to conquering countries.
I prefer having some reservations.
I prefer the hell of chaos to the hell of order.
I prefer Grimms’ fairy tales to the newspapers’ front pages.
I prefer leaves without flowers to flowers without leaves.
I prefer dogs with uncropped tails.
I prefer light eyes, since mine are dark.
I prefer desk drawers.
I prefer many things that I haven’t mentioned here
to many things I’ve also left unsaid.
I prefer zeroes on the loose
to those lined up behind a cipher.
I prefer the time of insects to the time of stars.
I prefer to knock on wood.
I prefer not to ask how much longer and when.
I prefer keeping in mind even the possibility
that existence has its own reason for being.

(From Nothing Twice, 1997. Translated by Stanislaw Baranczak and Clare Cavanagh.
Copyright © Wislawa Szymborska, S. Baranczak & C. Cavanagh)


Illustration by Andreea Moise
instagram.com/theycallmelebski
behance.net/lebski

 



KEEPING QUIET
by Pablo Neruda

Now we will count to twelve
and we will all keep still.

For once on the face of the earth,
let’s not speak in any language;
let’s stop for one second,
and not move our arms so much.

It would be an exotic moment
without rush, without engines;
we would all be together
in a sudden strangeness.

Fisherman in the cold sea
would not harm whales
and the man gathering salt
would look at his hurt hands.

Those who prepare green wars,
wars with gas, wars with fire,
victories with no survivors,
would put on clean clothes
and walk about with their brothers
in the shade, doing nothing.

What I want should not be confused
with total inactivity.
Life is what it is about;
I want no truck with death.

If we were not so single-minded
about keeping our lives moving,
and for once could do nothing,
perhaps a huge silence
might interrupt this sadness
of never understanding ourselves
and of threatening ourselves with death.
Perhaps the earth can teach us
as when everything seems dead
and later proves to be alive.

Now I’ll count up to twelve
and you keep quiet and I will go.

(From Extravagaria, 1974. Translated by Alastair Reid)

Illustration by Daia Grigore
instagram.com/daia_dianagrigore
www.behance.net/drag198b8f

 


I am most grateful to these wonderful creatures for jumping in so fast (they only had 1 week to squeeze the task in their schedules and send me the illustrations) and I’d be really happy around my belly button if you showed off your love by following their work and sharing this piece with a friend.

 

About 5poems:

I decided to choose 5 poems every month (there is a list, and it’s growing bigger and bigger) and share them with the world. A world that might just come to love them as much as I do. And with a little help from my friends, there will also be yummy custom-made illustrations.
Around each month’s end, the poems and their fresh illustrations will be revealed on a dedicated Instagram account – @5poems (yes, please, do follow us). All goodies will also be printed and exhibited in our pocket bookshop+gallery (Receptor / Cărturești & Friends). And when it’s time for another round, the previous small prints will settle into the family album – a permanent collection gathering all illustrations and poems featured monthly.
Check out Volume 1 here.

 

Continue Reading

5poems

 

It’s World Poetry Day today and less than a week ago I decided to make yet another stressful appearance in the inboxes of my fellow illustrators. In a sugar rush, I asked 5 friends if they were interested in making some super quick drawings inspired by… poems. Short poems. Short poems I’ve chosen for them. They said yes.

Here’s what’s gotten into me: until two or three years ago I had rejected poetry just like I’d shoo Jehovah’s Witnesses away. Or maybe worse. And all thanks to those dark memories from my school years, memories made of mandatory memorization terror (both of the poems, and the critics’ view on them), of lame lyrics I could never relate to and oh, man, the excruciating overdose of indecipherable archaisms.

Recently though, I gave poetry a second chance (thanks, Tara, for showing me the way to truly love it).

***

Back to the game: I decided to choose 5 poems every month (there is a list, and it’s growing bigger and bigger) and share them with the world. A world that might just come to love them as much as I do. And with a little help from my friends, there will also be yummy custom-made illustrations.
Around each month’s end, the poems and their fresh illustrations will be revealed on a dedicated Instagram account – @5poems (yes, please, do follow us). All goodies will also be printed and exhibited in our pocket bookshop+gallery (Receptor / Cărturești & Friends). When it’s time for another round, the previous small prints will settle into the family album – a permanent collection gathering all illustrations and poems featured monthly.

Here are this month’s chosen ones:



AESTHETICS OF BEING A BIRD
by Kenneth Koch

Eat brusquely
With a half-closed mouth;
When another speaks, glance up
But don’t respond.
After you have eaten
Take off
And sing
Portuguese songs — a fado, if you please!

(Published in The Paris Review, Issue 120, Fall 1991)

Illustration by Iulia Ignat
iuliaignatillustrator.com
facebook.com/iuliaignatillustrator

 



CLOUD STUDY
by Andrea Cohen

How do clouds
learn to be clouds?

They study what
Constable—seeing them—

saw: awe for sure,
but also a falling

away from any sense
of earthly surface. Zero

horizon. “Skying,” he called
his hundred sketches. Think

of the Great Wallendas stretching
netless above gorges: a cloud

learns not to look down.

(Published in The New Yorker, April 2016)

Illustration by Irina Georgescu
behance.net/irinageorgescu 
facebook.com/irinageorgescuillustration

 



SLEEPING

by Raymond Carver

He slept on his hands.
On a rock.
On his feet.
On someone else’s feet.
He slept on buses, trains, in airplanes.
Slept on duty.
Slept beside the road.
Slept on a sack of apples.
He slept in a pay toilet.
In a hayloft.
In the Super Dome.
Slept in a Jaguar, and in the back of a pickup.
Slept in theaters.
In jail.
On boats.
He slept in line shacks and, once, in a castle.
Slept in the rain.
In blistering sun.
On horseback he slept.
He slept in chairs, churches, in fancy hotels.
He slept under strange roofs all his life.
Now he sleeps under the earth.
Sleeps on and on.
Like an old king.

(Published in Ultramarine, in 1986)

Illustration by Irina Perju
behance.net/irinaperju
facebook.com/irina.perju.illustration 
instagram.com/irina.perju



JANUARY

by Charles Simic

Children’s fingerprints
On a frozen window
Of a small schoolhouse.

An empire, I read somewhere,
Maintains itself through
The cruelty of its prisons.

(Published in The Paris Review, Spring 2015)


Illustration by Amina Burloiu
instagram.com/amina.burloiu
facebook.com/minabua



THE TIGER
by Nael, age 6

The tiger
He destroyed his cage
Yes
YES
The tiger is out

(Published in “You Will Be Able to Say a Thousand Words”)

Illustration by Mura
instagram.com/madebymura
facebook.com/madebymura

 


I am most grateful to the girls for jumping in so fast (they only had 2-3 days to squeeze the task in their schedules and send me the illustrations) and I’d be really happy around my belly button if you showed off your love by following their work and sharing this piece with a friend, who knows, maybe you’ll get one of the art prints exhibited at the bookshop (they’ll be up there ready to be catcalled starting tomorrow).

 

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