Poem of the day

Song Orchids

by Pascale Petit

When the surgeons opened my mother

they found the rarest orchids –

the five-wounded sacred sleep

with ruby splashes on each bloom,

a blue-black hybrid like a bruise,

the dove orchid next to the flower in the form of a yellow serpent.


My mother's song orchids sang to me

when I crept into the operating theatre

to say goodbye to her. Without flinching

I looked at that place where I once cowered –

landing-petals shaped themselves into lips and tongues

to whisper goodbye back.


9 August


by Paul Peter Piech

8 August

'They remain lying on the earth...'

by Agnès Agboton

7 August

South Beach

by Katherine Gallagher

This is the dangerous time, sky clouding:

lifesavers on the alert, intermittently moving the flags,

shoals of swimmers still keening the fray.


Only a narrow stretch of ocean left now

between the signposts, the spume growing wilder

lifting more boldly - you imagine yourself drawn in,

tugged all ways past the horizon.


Isn't it enough just to be here on this ivory sand

watching breakers curl against clouds darkening, still far out,

spellbound by the limitless, the reach of coast?


Six o'clock now, the show's closing down.

                                              A few paragliders swoop in

while children put final touches to their sandcastle.

Soon they'll carry water to the moat.


6 August

Cocktails with Anne Sexton and Sylvia Plath

by Bee Smith

Of course, we would meet in a bar,

dark as our wombs,

the banquettes lined in wine Marquette.


Three sexy Scorpios—one golden girl,

one sloe-eyed brunette and me

showing the ashes of middle age.


It would have to be August

in a limp Boston loosening

her corsets against vapidity


and the heat. We would meet

at this watering hole,

cackling over very dry martinis


or maybe a couple vodka stingers instead.

We would watch the spills on the bar

spread like Rorschach blots.


We would all cheerfully wear our

ovaries on our sleeves and make course

jokes about male poets and their pricks.


Flirting academically with the bartender

we would order more nostrums,

crazy women swivelling gaily on barstools.


You both would be happy.

You’d swear off crucifixion by art,

decide to survive, become grandmas,


grin and flash nicotine-stained teeth,

wear cliché purple hats and scarlet lipstick

living more potently than legend or myth.

5 August

Standing poem 3 (hearts standing poem)

by Ian Hamilton Finlay

4 August

letter to america

by Helen Macdonald

amid the rain of ether from the noisy sky

& the mild diffidence of dials, the drench of laws

and scripts greeting the storm, its policy of tempered

the exasperation of metals & drift as if its bloom were simple


to the corpus from below in panels, with outliers brushed into ice

the fruiting instability of air, beneath which a ribbon struggles

I am a conversation articulated quietly across oceans

regarded as a measure of uncertainty or surprise


surviving precisely as a desire for redundancy

& this morning the first the guides that lead you in

their capture/the displayed tautology the tunnels of air

preferments of fall lines, new climates tightening on the earth


waypoints for the astronaut & the arctic tern

fat crickets & car-wrecks in fine evening rain

in spilt declivities of bright symbology

tacticians drive their windward aires along


demonstrating the facilitation of flight

the slew at sea, the captured wires & the unequal catapult

definitions too lazied to mark the precision of the first breath on deck

stepping into a rose


but you were walking towards me, after all, as if

it weren’t in fact anything other than the imaginary

front sight of one index pressed to your brow

which held you to a name and its willing execution


the pure distinctions you pull upon

your eyes the specific lightness of material perfection

a static click breaking into small worlds

where death has music in a vice-like


I think not. A cloud of polarised light

the specific charade I cleave to ‘miracles of ’ falling to machinery

one black dot spilling fowards into the brim of a pupil more distant

his schematics of rash energy, clean daguerreotypes of humidity


& humour beats down in planes and sepals from the island trees

and you say I’ve dreamt this & your voice is exceeding level

as your eyes with their perpetual ironies inquired

practically as the parable of the aviator’s eye


of a shelf of clines and deteriorating greys

frayed with the packed flocks of boreal falls

nighthawks & assemblages of frosted passerines with foil legs

described as angels as the waves reflect


at ten centimeters from their mute bodies and return.

and, in the perfect meteorology of the brittle desert,

at the limit of breathable air where it thins into darkness,

these are the scripts of fallen planes, broken by fog.


& you were scraping the ice from the leading edge a.m.

printing an image of the mansions of the dead a.m.

looking for a small world in the uninhabitable air

trying to extinguish some deeper desire for fire


with something as cold and as hard and as temporary as flight

& what you were hoping was that the air would recolonise you

recognise you and welcome you into the sunlight

and all would be forgiven. ink in the thick air would curl


into glyphs of desire & the lightly starred heel

would dip into the sea at dawn as it spills

into a blaze of mute objects

in the pure suburban heavens