Tuesday, June 28, 2022

The Way One Animal Trusts Another by Carl Phillips

The Way One Animal Trusts Another

 
              Somewhere between what it feels like, to be at
one with the sea, and to understand the sea as
mere context for the boat whose engine refuses
finally to turn over: yeah, I know the place—
stumbled into it myself, once; twice, almost.  All
around and in between the two trees that
grow there, tree of compassion and—much taller—
tree of pity, its bark more bronze, the snow
              settled as if an openness of any kind meant, as well,
a woundedness that, by filling it, the snow
might heal…You know what I think? I think if we’re
lost, you should know exactly where, by now; I’ve
watched you stare long and hard enough at the map
already…I’m beginning to think I may never
not be undecided, about all sorts of things: whether
snow really does resemble the broken laughter
              of the long-abandoned when what left comes back
big-time; whether gratitude’s just a haunted
space like any other.  This place sounds daily
more like a theater of war, each time I listen to it—
loss, surprise, victory, being only three of the countless
fates, if you want to call them that, that we don’t
so much live with, it seems, as live for now among.  If as
close as we’re ever likely to get, you and I, is this—this close—
  


Monday, June 27, 2022

31-Year-Old-Lover by Kim Addonizio

31-Year-Old-Lover

 
When he takes off his clothes
I think of a stick of butter being unwrapped,
the milky, lubricious smoothness of it
when it’s taken from the fridge still hard
the way his body is hard, the high
tight pectorals, the new dimes of the nipples pressed
into the chest, the fanning of the muscles underneath.
I look at his arms, shaped as though a knife
has slid along the curves to carve them out,
deltoids, biceps, triceps, I almost can’t believe
that he is human—latissimus dorsi, hip flexors
gluteals, gastrocnemius—he is so perfectly made.
He stands naked in my bedroom and nothing
has harmed him yet, though he is going
to be harmed. He is going to have a gut one day,
and wiry gray hair where the soft dark filaments
flow out of him, the cream of his skin is going
to loosen and separate slowly, over a low steady flame
and he has no idea, as I had no idea,
and I am not going to speak of this to him ever,
I am going to let him stretch out on my bed
so I can take the heavy richness of him in
and in, I am going to have it back the way I can.



Sunday, June 26, 2022

The Fight by Joy Harjo

The Fight

 
The rising sun paints the feet
of night-crawling enemies.
And they scatter into the burning hills.
I have fought each of them.
I know them by name.
From before I could speak.
I’ve used every weapon.
To make them retreat.
Yet they return every night
If I don’t keep guard
They elbow through openings in faith
Tear the premise of trust
And stick their shields through the doubt of smoke
To challenge me.
I grow tired of the heartache
Of every small and large war
Passed from generation
To generation.
But it is not in me to give up.
I was taught to give honor to the house of the warriors
Which cannot exist without the house of the peacemakers.



Wednesday, June 22, 2022

The Victor Dog by James Merrill

The Victor Dog

 
             for Elizabeth Bishop
 
Bix to Buxtehude to Boulez.
The little white dog on the Victor label
Listens long and hard as he is able.
It’s all in a day’s work, whatever plays.
 
From judgment, it would seem, he has refrained.  
He even listens earnestly to Bloch,
Then builds a church upon our acid rock.
He’s man’s—no—he’s the Leiermann’s best friend,  
 
Or would be if hearing and listening were the same.  
Does he hear? I fancy he rather smells
Those lemon-gold arpeggios in Ravel’s
“Les jets d’eau du palais de ceux qui s’aiment.”
 
He ponders the Schumann Concerto’s tall willow hit  
By lightning, and stays put. When he surmises  
Through one of Bach’s eternal boxwood mazes  
The oboe pungent as a bitch in heat,
 
Or when the calypso decants its raw bay rum
Or the moon in Wozzeck reddens ripe for murder,  
He doesn’t sneeze or howl; just listens harder.  
Adamant needles bear down on him from
 
Whirling of outer space, too black, too near—
But he was taught as a puppy not to flinch,  
Much less to imitate his bête noire Blanche  
Who barked, fat foolish creature, at King Lear.
 
Still others fought in the road’s filth over Jezebel,  
Slavered on hearths of horned and pelted barons.  
His forebears lacked, to say the least, forbearance.  
Can nature change in him? Nothing’s impossible.
 
The last chord fades. The night is cold and fine.
His master’s voice rasps through the grooves’ bare groves.  
Obediently, in silence like the grave’s
He sleeps there on the still-warm gramophone
 
Only to dream he is at the première of a Handel  
Opera long thought lost—Il Cane Minore.
Its allegorical subject is his story!
A little dog revolving round a spindle
 
Gives rise to harmonies beyond belief,
A cast of stars . . . Is there in Victor’s heart  
No honey for the vanquished? Art is art.  
The life it asks of us is a dog’s life.



Tuesday, June 21, 2022

Monticello House Tour by Kiki Petrosino

Monticello House Tour

 
What they never say is: Mr. Jefferson’s still
building. He’s just using clear bricks now
for his turrets & halls, for the balconies
rounding his palace in transparent loops
of dug air. After death, it’s so easy
to work. No one sees him go out
from the Residence, his gloves full
of quiet mortar. Mr. Jefferson’s coat is narrow
as daybreak. His long sleeves drag in the muck
as he minces his turf. You know the room
you were born in? It’s part of the tour. Hundreds
of rooms unfolding for miles, orchards alive
in the parlor. Remember that gold chair you loved,
the one with a face like a lion, especially
in late winter, when Mother sat with you
in her pink gown, humming? As it happens
Mr. Jefferson built you that lion. He drew
your time in prudent proportions. You have one
job: to fit the design he keeps spinning.
Your whole life is laced through a ring
of similar finds. Look, it’s all mothers
in pink gowns, humming.



Sunday, June 12, 2022

Mourning Poem for the Queen of Sunday by Robert Hayden

Mourning Poem for the Queen of Sunday
 
Lord’s lost Him His mockingbird,   
       His fancy warbler;
       Satan sweet-talked her,
       four bullets hushed her.
       Who would have thought
       she’d end that way?
 
Four bullets hushed her. And the world a-clang with evil.   
Who’s going to make old hardened sinner men tremble now   
and the righteous rock?         
Oh who and oh who will sing Jesus down
to help with struggling and doing without and being colored   
all through blue Monday?
Till way next Sunday?
 
       All those angels
       in their cretonne clouds and finery   
       the true believer saw
       when she rared back her head and sang,   
       all those angels are surely weeping.   
       Who would have thought
       she’d end that way?
 
Four holes in her heart. The gold works wrecked.   
But she looks so natural in her big bronze coffin   
among the Broken Hearts and Gates-Ajar,   
it’s as if any moment she’d lift her head
from its pillow of chill gardenias
and turn this quiet into shouting Sunday
and make folks forget what she did on Monday.
 
       Oh, Satan sweet-talked her,   
       and four bullets hushed her.   
       Lord’s lost Him His diva,   
       His fancy warbler’s gone.   
       Who would have thought,
       who would have thought she’d end that way?
 


Saturday, June 11, 2022

Light Breaks Where No Sun Shines by Dylan Thomas

Light Breaks Where No Sun Shines

 
Light breaks where no sun shines;
Where no sea runs, the waters of the heart
Push in their tides;
And, broken ghosts with glow-worms in their heads,
The things of light
File through the flesh where no flesh decks the bones.
 
A candle in the thighs
Warms youth and seed and burns the seeds of age;
Where no seed stirs,
The fruit of man unwrinkles in the stars,
Bright as a fig;
Where no wax is, the candle shows its hairs.
 
Dawn breaks behind the eyes;
From poles of skull and toe the windy blood
Slides like a sea;
Nor fenced, nor staked, the gushers of the sky
Spout to the rod
Divining in a smile the oil of tears.
 
Night in the sockets rounds,
Like some pitch moon, the limit of the globes;
Day lights the bone;
Where no cold is, the skinning gales unpin
The winter's robes;
The film of spring is hanging from the lids.
 
Light breaks on secret lots,
On tips of thought where thoughts smell in the rain;
When logics dies,
The secret of the soil grows through the eye,
And blood jumps in the sun;
Above the waste allotments the dawn halts.