Friday, February 02, 2007

Poems From Rest In Peace

I’ve decided to post some of my favourite poems from Rest In Peace here since Age of Insanity is about Poetry and Psychology.

Yippee! Lunar New Year is around the corner and is spring-cleaning time! Gee, why am I so excited about spring-cleaning, I don’t have a clue. ;p

To My Dear Children

This book by any yet unread,
I leave for you when I am dead,
That being gone, here you may find
What was your living mother’s mind.
Make use of what I leave in love,
And God shall bless you from above.

Anne Bradstreet (1612 – 1672)


Tablet of Stone
Written at Mount Vernon Crematorium

Coming to this lush green
Serenity, tucked away from the
Noise of city traffic, seeking
Telepathy, a reunion of
Minds, with those long dead –
Whose souls now reside amongst
The ashes in allocated cubicles,
Sealed with marble slabs – from
The living world – rows and
Rows lined with tablets of
Stone. One tablet, it seemed, was
Different from the rest. The
Visage of a little girl – Smiling –
Adorned its hard, smooth surface of an
Unearthly chill. Where flowers might
Have stood, a pink, fluffy soft toy
Sat accompanied by two plastic
Sticks of colourful lollipops, perhaps
The evidence of recent communion? In this
Dim, concrete structure built to house
The dead – an economical Mausoleum of
Sorts – comforting to find that the
Warmth of the living penetrates and
Punctures this otherwise eternal

Tan Yi-Ling


In the Attic

Even though we know now
your clothes will never
be needed, we keep them,
upstairs in a locked trunk.

Sometimes I kneel there,
holding them, trying to relive
time you wore them, to remember
the actual shape of arm and wrist.

My hands push down between
hollow, invisible sleeves,
hesitate, then lift
patterns of memory:

a green holiday, a red christening,
all your unfinished lives
fading through dark summers,
entering my head as dust.

By Andrew Motion
(Taken from The Penguin Book of
Contemporary British Poetry)


When Negro Teeth Speak

Everyone thinks me a cannibal
But you know how people talk

Everyone sees my red gums but who
Has white ones
Up with tomatoes

Everyone says fewer tourists will come
But you know
We aren’t in America and anyway everyone
Is broke

Everyone says it’s my fault and is afraid
But look
My teeth are white not red
I haven’t eaten anyone

People are wicked and say I gobble
The tourists roasted
Or perhaps grilled
Roasted or grilled I asked them
They fell silent and looked fearfully at my gums
Up with tomatoes

Everyone knows an arable country has agriculture
Up with vegetables

Everyone maintain that vegetables
Don’t nourish the grower well
And that I am well-grown for an undeveloped man
Miserable vermin living on tourists
Down with my teeth

Everyone suddenly surrounded me
Thrown down prostrated
At the feet of justice

Cannibal or not cannibal
Speak up
Ah you think yourself clever
And try to look proud

Now we’ll see you get what’s coming to you
What is your last word
Poor condemned man

I shouted up with tomatoes

The men were cruel and the women curious you see
There was one in the peering circle
Who with her voice rattling like the lid of a casserole
Open him up
I’m sure papa is still inside

The knives being blunt
Which is understandable among vegetarians
Like the Westerners
They grabbed a Gillette blade
And patiently
They opened my belly

A plantation of tomatoes was growing there
Irrigated by streams of palm wine
Up with tomatoes

By Ouologuem Yambo
(Taken from The Penguin Book of Modern African Poetry, Edited by Gerald Moore and Ulli Beier, 3rd Edition.)

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

When Negro Teeth Speak- amazing. Thank you. I love poetry with feeling... :)!