Wednesday, January 30, 2019

Swells by A. R. Ammons

The very longest swell in the ocean, I suspect, 
carries the deepest memory, the information of actions 
summarized (surface peaks and dibbles and local sharp 
slopes of windstorms) with a summary of the summaries 
and under other summaries a deeper summary: well, maybe 
deeper, longer for length here is the same as deep 
time: so that the longest swell swells least; that 
is, its effects in immediate events are least perceptible, 
a pitch to white water rising say a millimeter more 
because of an old invisible presence: and on the ocean 
floor an average so vast occurs it moves in a noticeability 
of a thousand years, every blip, though, of surface and 
intermediacy moderated into account: I like to go 
to old places where the effect dwells, summits or seas 
so hard to summon into mind, even with the natural 
ones hard to climb or weigh: I go there in my mind 
(which is, after all, where these things negotiably are) 
and tune in to the wave nearly beyond rise or fall in its 
staying and hum the constant, universal assimilation: the 
information, so packed, nearly silenced with majesty 
and communicating hardly any action: go there and 
rest from the ragged and rapid pulse, the immediate threat 
shot up in a disintegrating spray, the many thoughts and 
sights unmanageable, the deaths of so many, hungry or mad.

Tuesday, January 29, 2019

Even the Gods by Nicole Sealey

Even the Gods
Even the gods misuse the unfolding blue. Even the gods misread
the windflower’s nod toward sunlight as consent to consume. Still,
you envy the horse that draws their chariot. Bone of their bone.
The wilting mash of air alone keeps you from scaling Olympus
with gifts of dead or dying things dangling from your mouth —
your breath, like the sea, inching away. It is rumored gods grow
where the blood of a hanged man drips. You insist on being this
man. The gods abuse your grace. Still, you’d rather live among
the clear, cloudless white, enjoying what is left of their ambrosia.
Who should be happy this time? Who brings cake to whom?
Pray the gods do not misquote your covetous pulse for chaos,
the black from which they were conceived. Even the eyes of gods

must adjust to light. Even gods have gods.

Monday, January 28, 2019

For the City that Nearly Broke Me by Reginald Dwayne Betts

For the City that Nearly Broke Me

Knots like two dozen fists
swayed with want from the boy’s
kaffiyeh, that black and white scarf
with its useless hands clopping
against the wind in protest
against this boy and his somebody
lost, against their own swaying
in a dance the lost body has lost.
A boy. A somebody lost. A body bodied
in the lights of inauguration night
when every light in the city flared 
with hope. Always losing, always
a boy left with a dozen weights,
small circles on strings pulling
his head down to the ground.
Downcast. Drop your bucket here
and make the city yours and all
that jive keeps him from running.
Escaping the pavement, where
bodies finally fall to rest.
The kaffiyeh keeps him from
bucking against the wind,
hurtling himself to the Grey-
hound or Amtrak or I-95
with a book bag and hitched finger.
His head shrouded in the black
and white, the knots keeping
his eyes down as he traverses
neighborhoods with names like 3rd
World, with names like a nation
falling. And the coffin-voiced
boy is who god tells us he will
save, and so those swinging knots
must be a kind of redemption,
a way to see the bullets that bury
you, constantly, as if death is
the disguise hiding your wings.

Graduation Day by Matthew Zapruder

Graduation Day

Drawn by ceremonial obligation
up from sleep I woke and stepped 
into the borrowed black robes
all ghost bureaucrats trained 
to redirect dreaming pretend 
we do not like to wear. I drove 
my black car to the stadium 
to sit on stage and be watched 
watching young expectant spirits 
one by one with dread certainty 
pass before me, clouded 
in their names. Then listened 
to no one in their speeches say 
you’re welcome for allowing 
us not to tell you it’s already 
too late to learn anything 
or defend whatever accidental 
instrument in us causes 
all these useless thoughts. 
Like if you walked for hours 
through the vast black avenues 
of those server farms all of us 
with our endless attention built,
you could almost feel the same 
peaceful disinterest as when 
your parents talking and smoking 
raised their heads for a moment 
to smile and tell you go back 
upstairs and read the book 
you love about myths that explain 
weather and death. Now it is 
almost June and they are finally 
the children they always were. 
So more precise than anyone 
has ever had to be, go forget
everything we told you
so you can fix what we kept
destroying by calling the future.