Saturday, January 22, 2022

One Heart by Franz Wright

One Heart

 
It is late afternoon and I have just returned from
the longer version of my walk nobody knows
about. For the first time in nearly a month, and
everything changed. It is the end of March, once
more I have lived. This morning a young woman
described what it’s like shooting coke with a baby
in your arms. The astonishing windy and altering light
and clouds and water were, at certain moment,
You.
 
There is only one heart in my body, have mercy
on me.
 
The brown leaves buried all winter creatureless feet
running over dead grass beginning to green, the first scent-
less violet here and there, returned, the first star noticed all
at once as one stands staring into the black water.
 
Thank You for letting me live for a little as one of the
sane; thank You for letting me know what this is
like. Thank You for letting me look at your frightening
blue sky without fear, and your terrible world without
terror, and your loveless psychotic and hopelessly
lost
        with this love.
 


Tuesday, January 18, 2022

Seduction by Frank Bidart

Seduction

 
Show him that you see he carries
always, everywhere, an enormous
 
almost impossible to balance or bear
 
statue of himself: burden that
flattering him
 
dwarfs him, like you. Make him
 
see that you alone decipher within him
the lineaments of the giant. Make him
 
see that you alone can help him shape
 
the inchoate works of his hand, till what
the statue is he is. He watches your helpless
 
gaze; your gaze
 
tells him that the world someday must see.
You are the dye whose color dyes
 
the mirror: he can never get free
 
 
You ask what is this place. He says
kids come to make out here. He has driven
 
out here to show you lovers’ lane.
 
Because your power in the world exceeds
his, he must make the first move.
 
His hand on the car seat doesn’t move.
 
 
He is Raleigh attending Elizabeth, still
able to disguise that he does not want her.
 
In banter and sweet colloquy, he freely,
 
abundantly shows you that what his
desire is is endless
 
intercourse with your soul. Everything
 
he offers, by intricate
omissions, displays what he denies you.
 
Beneath all, the no that you
 
persuade yourself
can be reversed.
 
 
You cannot reverse it: as if he is
 
safe from
engulfment only because he has
 
placed past reversal
 
the judgment that each
animal makes facing another.
 
You are an animal facing another.
 
 
Still you persuade yourself that it can be
reversed because he teasingly sprinkles
 
evasive accounts of his erotic history
 
with tales of dissatisfying but repeated
sex with men. He adds that he
 
could never fall in love with a man.
 
Helplessly, he points to the soiled
statue he strains to hold
 
unstained above him. He cannot.
 
 
You must write this without the least
trace of complaint. Standing at the edge of
 
the pool, for him there was no water.
 
You chose him not despite, but
because of. In the twenty-three years since
 
breaking with him, his spectre
 
insists that no one ever replaces anyone.
He is the dye whose color dyes
 
the mirror: you can never get free.
 
 
What is it that impels
 
What is it that impels us at least in
Imagination
 
What is it that impels us at least in
 
imagination to close with to
interpenetrate flesh that accepts
 
craves interpenetration from
 
us with us
What is it What
 
 
Sweet cow, to heal the world, you must
 
jump over the moon. All you ask is
immolation, fantastic love resistlessly
 
drawn out of a withdrawn creature who
 
must turn himself inside out to give it:
dream coexistent with breathing.
 
 
Near the end, when the old absorbing
 
colloquy begins again, both he and you
find yourselves surrounded by ash.
 
To his meagre circumscribed desire whose
 
no you knew from the beginning, that you
want to pluck out of your eye forever,
 
you submit as if in mourning.
 
To ash, he too submits. In revenge
you chose submission, chose power. 



Trophic Cascade by Camille T. Dungy

Trophic Cascade

 
After the reintroduction of gray wolves
to Yellowstone and, as anticipated, their culling
of deer, trees grew beyond the deer stunt
of the mid century. In their up reach
songbirds nested, who scattered
seed for underbrush, and in that cover
warrened snowshoe hare. Weasel and water shrew
returned, also vole, and came soon hawk
and falcon, bald eagle, kestrel, and with them
hawk shadow, falcon shadow. Eagle shade
and kestrel shade haunted newly-berried
runnels where deer no longer rummaged, cautious
as they were, now, of being surprised by wolves. Berries
brought bear, while undergrowth and willows, growing
now right down to the river, brought beavers,
who dam. Muskrats came to the dams, and tadpoles.
Came, too, the night song of the fathers
of tadpoles. With water striders, the dark
gray American dipper bobbed in fresh pools
of the river, and fish stayed, and the bear, who
fished, also culled deer fawns and to their kill scraps
came vulture and coyote, long gone in the region
until now, and their scat scattered seed, and more
trees, brush, and berries grew up along the river
that had run straight and so flooded but thus dammed,
compelled to meander, is less prone to overrun. Don’t
you tell me this is not the same as my story. All this
life born from one hungry animal, this whole,
new landscape, the course of the river changed,
I know this. I reintroduced myself to myself, this time
a mother. After which, nothing was ever the same.




Saturday, January 15, 2022

Bee Fuchsia by Eamon Grennan

Bee Fuchsia

 
At the first brief lull
In terrible weather
Bees are back, each
Entering headfirst
The upside-down open
Nectar-heavy skirts
Of wet fuchsia flowers
And seeming to stay
Quite still in that laden
Inner space, only
The smallest shudder
Of the two together
When the bee-tongue
Unrolls and runs
Its tiny red carpet
Into the heart
Of what is no mystery
But the very vanishing
Point and live centre
Of the flower’s instant
Irrevocable unfolding,
Then stillness again
While this exchange
(Layer after layer of
Dusty goodness lipped,
Given) is taking place—
The flower flushed
And swelling a little,
The bee gently but
Hungrily clutching.



Friday, January 14, 2022

[I won’t be able to write from the grave] by Fanny Howe

[I won’t be able to write from the grave]

 
I won’t be able to write from the grave
so let me tell you what I love:
oil, vinegar, salt, lettuce, brown bread, butter,
cheese and wine, a windy day, a fireplace,
the children nearby, poems and songs,
a friend sleeping in my bed–
 
and the short northern lights.



Winter Solstice by Henri Cole

Winter Solstice

 
Claire says the day will be one second longer.
Darkness will no longer exceed light.
But the weather is abysmal,
so hatred of gloom is not an option. I want to live
to be ninety-five, too, and still be assembling
words into music and truth. For now,
I regard a conference of stars, with fast-moving clouds.
Sometimes my dreams are like explosion pits,
with scary lava. Yet the Earth remains constant,
tilting away from the sun and back,
like a robin to a bare branch.
Be somebody with a body, the stars command;
Don’t be a nobody. I know them by heart,
as they sink and as they rise.



Wednesday, January 12, 2022

Dear Ilium, by Chiyuma Elliott

Dear Ilium,

 
Some of those battles were pointless.
I opened the tent flaps and peered out at the world.

The bird learned to copy so many sounds;
its entrails were clogged with bright bits of plastic.

What was our strategy again?
And why did the wind wince

as it skirted the brilliant corners downtown?
Some of those battles were jointless,

footless, feckless. Yet I polished the armor
and sat on the ground

and shot no sheriffs and smoked no spliffs
and sang songs that applied no pressure

when we ran out of bandages.
But some of those battles were spotless.

The signs said fuck 12, the seconds ticked past.
The thoughtless old ships rusted in the bay.

We lost we won we painted
new ships and faces on plywood,

and the birds wheeled and sang.
What's a victory, what's a garden?

We burned some cities,
we shattered some glass.