Poetry. Please.

My wife died last month

and she loved this poem;

my son is getting married
and I want this poem
to cheer
for him and his bride;

I am sad
and nothing makes sense,
but these verses still manage
to lift me up;

I half recall these words
but can you finish the couplet for me
and help me to get it
out of my head;

I am ill and old
but give me some John Donne
to remind me that I was once
young and in love;

I am young and in love
and please don’t use my name
but play this poem
for my heart’s desire.

From Poetry Please: the poetic pulse of a nation, The Guardian, 26 September 2013. Submitted by Ailsa Holland.

Let’s do it

Brian Roberson

Since I have already said
all I need to say
to all my loved ones,
I’m not going to say anything to y’all at this time …
So this is my statement.

To all of the racist white folks in America
that hate black folks
and to all of the black folks in America
that hate themselves:
the infamous words
of my famous legendary brother, Matt Turner:
“Y’all kiss my black ass.”

Let’s do it.

David Long

Ah, just ah sorry ya’ll.
I think I’ve tried everything I could
to get in touch with ya’ll
to express how sorry I am.
I never was right after that incident happened …

I was raised by the California Youth Authority,
I can’t really pinpoint where it started,
what happened,
but really believe that’s just the bottom line,
what happened to me was in California.
I was in their reformatory schools and penitentiary,
but ah they create monsters in there.
That’s it, I have nothing else to say.

Thanks for coming, Jack.

Dennis Dowthitt

I am so sorry
for what y’all had to go through …
if I was y’all, I would have killed me.
You know?
I am really so sorry about it,
I really am.
I got to go sister, I love you.
Y’all take care and God bless you.

Gracie was beautiful
and Tiffany was beautiful.
You had some lovely girls and I am sorry.
I don’t know what to say.

All right, Warden, let’s do it.

Charlie Livingston

You all brought me here to be executed,
not to make a speech.

That’s it.

From Last words of prisoners on death row, The Guardian, 2 July 2013. Submitted by Ailsa Holland.

Commuter Chat

I have a vision of the universe
– because nobody can find the end of it –
as stuffed in a glass jar
on someone’s desk,
maybe God’s desk
but a desk, anyway.

I think the white noise on TV
is the leftover noise
from the Big Bang.

Overheard at Macclesfield station, March 2013. Submitted by Ailsa Holland.

Before the end came

Death is so intimate –
more intimate than first love.

I could hold his hand, 

gaze into his eyes, 



at his tender face, 


his frosty hair.

He was very thin,
skin the colour 

of a dried corn husk. 

His mouth 

a dark tunnel. 

The jagged mountain ranges 

of his ruined teeth.

The petrified forests
of his hair.

The failing locomotive of his breath.
The sadness of the black bobbled socks on his calves.

Yet he was
who he had always been. 

Taken from Tim Lott’s Guardian article, My father’s final moments, 23 February 2013. Submitted by Ailsa Holland.

Kugel decided then and there

that he would die a happy man,
that he would consider his meager life
a success, if
in years to come,
kicked in Jonah’s door
and Jonah was surprised.

Let him be utterly
bewildered, dear God.

Let him wonder,
raised-eyebrowed and slack-jawed,

They kick doors in now?
Since when?
Hang on, hang on—
they’re putting people in ovens?
You can’t be serious.
Since when
do people
put other people
in ovens?

From Hope: A Tragedy by Shalom Auslander (2012). Submitted by Ailsa Holland.