National Poetry Month – Day 25 – Sappho of Lesbos

sapphoIf you’ve not read about Sappho, it’s reading well worth your time. She was a Greek poetess, of the island of Lesbos, born sometime around 620 BCE. She was highly regarded both during her lifetime and after. Unfortunately, most of her work has been lost, and only a few fragments remain.

Here are a few links for more on her life:

I’ve chosen a few shorter fragments to post today, because I find these verses incredibly poignant.

View all of my National Poetry Month 2015 blog posts!

Although They Are

Although they are
only breath, words
which I command
are immortal

You May Forget But

You may forget but
let me tell you
this: someone in
some future time
will think of us

National Poetry Month – Day 24 – ‘oh’

dfwI’m thrilled that I decided to create posts about poetry for this year’s National Poetry Month. I know that I’ve missed a day now and then over the course of the month, but I’ve been reminded of something I’ve known for many years – I adore poetry. I love reading it; I love hearing it; I especially love writing it. I’ve read through so many poems this month, renewing my relationship with poets I love, and renewing my energy for my own writing. Not a bad way to spend April 2015.

And without further ado, an original poem for the final Friday of National Poetry Month 2015.

If you’re interested in other things I’ve written – posts on this blog can be found here, and my ‘freelance writing’ site here.

View all of my National Poetry Month 2015 blog posts!


i think i’ve figured something out. (he said)
what’s that? (she said)
i’m not a very happy person. (he said)
what do you mean? (she said)
i thought i was miserable because of my job, or my circumstance, or money, blah, blah. but i don’t think so. after the last year, i really think i’m just an unhappy person. (he said)

© Matthew E. Jackson

National Poetry Month – Day 23 – ‘ghost’

indigoI was introduced to the Indigo Girls sometime near the end of high school, and I’ve been in love with them ever since. The writing is wonderful, the music sublime and perfect, and the voices fit together in a way that draws the listener immediately into the experience of music. This is one of my favorite songs they do. I didn’t see a video I loved, so this one is simply not distracting – you can let yourself be pulled into the music, feel the words, and remember.

View all of my National Poetry Month 2015 blog posts!


There’s a letter on the desktop that I dug out of a drawer
The last truce we ever came to
In our adolescent war
And I start to feel the fever
From the warm air through the screen
You come regular like seasons
Shadowing my dreams

And the Mississippi’s mighty
But it starts in Minnesota
At a place that you could walk across
With five steps down
And I guess that’s how you started
Like a pinprick to my heart
But at this point you rush right through me
And I start to drown

And there’s not enough room
In this world for my pain
Signals cross and love gets lost
And time passed makes it plain
Of all my demon spirits
I need you the most
I’m in love with your ghost
I’m in love with your ghost

Dark and dangerous like a secret
That gets whispered in a hush
(don’t tell a soul)
When I wake the things I dreamt about you
Last night make me blush
(don’t tell a soul)
And you kiss me like a lover
Then you sting me like a viper
I go follow to the river
Play your memory like a piper

And I feel it like a sickness
How this love is killing me
I’d walk into the fingers
Of your fire willingly
And dance the edge of sanity
I’ve never been this close
I’m in love with your ghost

Unknowing captor
You never know how much you
Pierce my spirit
But I can’t touch you
Can you hear it
A cry to be free
Oh I’m forever under lock and key
As you pass through me

Now I see your face before me
I would launch a thousand ships
To bring your heart back to my island
As the sand beneath me slips
As I burn up in your presence
And I know now how it feels
To be weakened like Achilles
With you always at my heels

This bitter pill I swallow
Is the silence that I keep
It poisons me I can’t swim free
The river is too deep
Though I’m baptized by your touch
I am no worse than most
In love with your ghost

You are shadowing my dreams
(In love with your ghost)
(In love with your ghost)
(In love with your ghost)

National Poetry Month – Day 22 – Julia de Burgos

jdbJulia de Burgos is a poet I essentially ‘discovered’ last year through the book Becoming Julia de Burgos: The Making of a Puerto Rican Icon [read my review of that wonderful book here]. I will simply put a poem here (in both English and Spanish) for you to enjoy today, but I encourage you to read her, and read about her. Julia de Burgos has a lot to say to us today.

The life of Julia de Burgos

View all of my National Poetry Month 2015 blog posts!

To Julia de Burgos

People now murmur that I am your enemy
For they claim that in verses
I reveal your essence to the world.
They lie, Julia de Burgos. They lie Julia de Burgos.
The voice uplifted in my verses is not your own: it is mine,
For you are garment and I essence;
And the greatest abyss lies between the two.
You are the cold-blooded puppet of social deceit,
And I, the driving splendour of human truth.
You, of courtesan hypocrisies…the honey; not I;
Whose heart is revealed in my poems…all.
You are like your world, selfish; not I;
Who dares all to be what I truly am.
You are merely the implacable, elegant lady;
Not I; I am life, I am strength, I am woman.
You belong to your husband, to your master; not I;
I belong to no one, or to everyone, because to all,
In wholesome feeling and thought, I give myself.
You curl your locks and paint yourself, not I;
I am curled by the wind; brightened by the sun.
You are homebound, resigned, submissive,
Confined to the whims of men; not I;
I am Rocinante galloping recklessly
Wandering through the boundaries of God’s justice.
You are not in command of self; everyone rules you:
You are ruled by your husband, your parents, relatives,
The priest, the seamstress, theatre, club,
The car, jewels, the banquet, champagne,
Heaven and hell and… social hearsay.
But not me, I am ruled by my heart alone,
My sole thought; it is “I” who rules myself.
You, aristocratic blossom; and I, the people’s blossom.
You are well provided for, but are indebted to everyone,
While I, my nothingness to no one owe.
You, nailed to the stagnant ancestral dividend;
And I, but one digit in the social cipher.
We are the encroaching, inevitable duel to the death.
When the multitude uncontrolled runs,
The ashes of injustices, burnt, left behind,
And when with the torch of the seven virtues,
The throng to the seven sins gives chase,
I will be against you and against all
That is unjust and inhuman.
Upholding the torch… I shall be among the throng.

A Julia de Burgos

Ya las gentes murmuran que yo soy tu enemiga
porque dicen que en verso doy al mundo mi yo.
Mienten, Julia de Burgos. Mienten, Julia de Burgos.
La que se alza en mis versos no es tu voz: es mi voz
porque tú eres ropaje y la esencia soy yo; y el más
profundo abismo se tiende entre las dos.
Tú eres fria muñeca de mentira social,
y yo, viril destello de la humana verdad.
Tú, miel de cortesana hipocresías; yo no;
que en todos mis poemas desnudo el corazón.
Tú eres como tu mundo, egoísta;
yo no; que en todo me lo juego a ser lo que soy yo.
Tú eres sólo la grave señora señorona; yo no,
yo soy la vida, la fuerza, la mujer.
Tú eres de tu marido, de tu amo; yo no;
yo de nadie, o de todos, porque a todos, a
todos en mi limpio sentir y en mi pensar me doy.
Tú te rizas el pelo y te pintas; yo no;
a mí me riza el viento, a mí me pinta el sol.
Tú eres dama casera, resignada, sumisa,
atada a los prejuicios de los hombres; yo no;
que yo soy Rocinante corriendo desbocado
olfateando horizontes de justicia de Dios.
Tú en ti misma no mandas;
a ti todos te mandan; en ti mandan tu esposo, tus
padres, tus parientes, el cura, el modista,
el teatro, el casino, el auto,
las alhajas, el banquete, el champán, el cielo
y el infierno, y el que dirán social.
En mí no, que en mí manda mi solo corazón,
mi solo pensamiento; quien manda en mí soy yo.
Tú, flor de aristocracia; y yo, la flor del pueblo.
Tú en ti lo tienes todo y a todos se
lo debes, mientras que yo, mi nada a nadie se la debo.
Tú, clavada al estático dividendo ancestral,
y yo, un uno en la cifra del divisor
social somos el duelo a muerte que se acerca fatal.
Cuando las multitudes corran alborotadas
dejando atrás cenizas de injusticias
quemadas, y cuando con la tea de las siete virtudes,
tras los siete pecados, corran las multitudes,
contra ti, y contra todo lo injusto
y lo inhumano, yo iré en medio de
ellas con la tea en la mano.

National Poetry Month – Day 17 – ‘risk’

riskKeeping to my decision to post an original poem every Friday of this month…I went ahead and did some revision on this older poem [which I virtually never do], though I think I’m still not 100% satisfied.

View all of my National Poetry Month 2015 blog posts!

If you’re interested in other things I’ve written – posts on this blog can be found here, and my ‘freelance writing’ site here.


flooded by reality my
emotions overflow –
the things I swore would never be,
they are,
and back again.

chased by ghosts of past and present
[future, already dead]
a h[a]unted man
laughs slowly,
turns his head.

our decisions bring:


is this necessary?
is this construct right?

perhaps these questions have no answers:
bukowski writes that we have no guts,
no originality,
so we just follow along in the groove life has worn for us.

repetition sans boldness,
leads man to madness.
yet status quo leads as surely
to death.

which risk?

written 3 September 2009, edited 17 April 2015
© Matthew E. Jackson