Saturday, March 6, 2021

Bear by Ellen Bryant Voigt

pressed full-length against the screen unzipping it
for a better grip to help him help himself to the seed and the suet
slung high under the eave by the man
who has charged down from the bedroom onto the porch
in his white loincloth like David against Goliath
but only one good lung shouting swearing
and behind him the woman caught
at the lip of the lit kitchen
                                                where was my sister
with her gun or would she be praying since she prays routinely
for a parking spot and there it is or would she be speechless for once
that this man so moderate so genial so unlike me
had put himself one body-length away from a full-grown bear
or would she be saying you my dear are the person who married him
which of course I did I did and I stood behind him
as he stood his ground on the ground that is our porch
                                                                                               you can see
the marks gouged by the famous claws on the wall inside new screen
now laced by a wire trellis on which nothing climbs
a vertical electric fence one of us thinks
the bear can hear it hum from the edge of the woods
watching us like a child sent to his room as we grill the salmon
we spiked with juniper berries the other one thinks
the plural pronoun is a dangerous fiction the source
of so much unexpected loneliness

Friday, March 5, 2021

Adlestrop by Edward Thomas


Yes. I remember Adlestrop—
The name, because one afternoon
Of heat the express-train drew up there
Unwontedly. It was late June.
The steam hissed. Someone cleared his throat.
No one left and no one came
On the bare platform. What I saw
Was Adlestrop—only the name
And willows, willow-herb, and grass,
And meadowsweet, and haycocks dry,
No whit less still and lonely fair
Than the high cloudlets in the sky.
And for that minute a blackbird sang
Close by, and round him, mistier,
Farther and farther, all the birds
Of Oxfordshire and Gloucestershire. 

Limen by Natasha Trethewey


All day I've listened to the industry
of a single woodpecker, worrying the catalpa tree
just outside my window. Hard at his task,
his body is a hinge, a door knocker
to the cluttered house of memory in which
I can almost see my mother's face.
She is there, again, beyond the tree,
its slender pods and heart-shaped leaves,
hanging wet sheets on the line—each one
a thin white screen between us. So insistent
is this woodpecker, I'm sure he must be
looking for something else—not simply
the beetles and grubs inside, but some other gift
the tree might hold. All day he's been at work,
tireless, making the green hearts flutter.

Wednesday, March 3, 2021

Dear March - Come in - (1320) by Emily Dickinson

Dear March - Come in - (1320)

Dear March - Come in –
How glad I am –
I hoped for you before –
Put down your Hat –
You must have walked –
How out of Breath you are –
Dear March, how are you, and the Rest –
Did you leave Nature well –
Oh March, Come right upstairs with me –
I have so much to tell -
I got your Letter, and the Birds –
The Maples never knew that you were coming –
I declare - how Red their Faces grew –
But March, forgive me –
And all those Hills you left for me to Hue –
There was no Purple suitable –
You took it all with you -
Who knocks? That April –
Lock the Door –
I will not be pursued –
He stayed away a Year to call
When I am occupied –
But trifles look so trivial
As soon as you have come
That blame is just as dear as Praise
And Praise as mere as Blame –

Tuesday, March 2, 2021

Sara in Her Father’s Arms by George Oppen

Sara in Her Father’s Arms

Cell by cell the baby made herself, the cells
Made cells. That is to say
The baby is made largely of milk. Lying in her father’s arms, the little seed eyes
Moving, trying to see, smiling for us
To see, she will make a household
To her need of these rooms—Sara, little seed,
Little violent, diligent seed. Come let us look at the world
Glittering: this seed will speak,
Max, words! There will be no other words in the world
But those our children speak. What will she make of a world
Do you suppose, Max, of which she is made.

Monday, March 1, 2021

Obit by Victoria Chang


My Mother’s Teeth—died twice, once in 1965, all pulled out from gum disease. Once again on August 3, 2015. The fake teeth sit in a box in the garage. When she died, I touched them, smelled them, thought I heard a whimper. I shoved the teeth into my mouth. But having two sets of teeth only made me hungrier. When my mother died, I saw myself in the mirror, her words in a ring around my mouth, like powder from a donut. Her last words were in English. She asked for a Sprite. I wonder whether her last thought was in Chinese. I wonder what her last thought was. I used to think that a dead person’s words die with them. Now I know that they scatter, looking for meaning to attach to like a scent. My mother used to collect orange blossoms in a small shallow bowl. I pass the tree each spring. I always knew that grief was something I could smell. But I didn’t know that it’s not actually a noun but a verb. That it moves.

Sunday, February 28, 2021

Dragonflies Mating by Robert Hass

Dragonflies Mating 

The people who lived here before us
also loved these high mountain meadows on summer mornings.
They made their way up here in easy stages
when heat began to dry the valleys out,
following the berry harvest probably and the pine buds:
climbing and making camp and gathering,
then breaking camp and climbing and making camp and gathering.
A few miles a day. They sent out the children
to dig up bulbs of the mariposa lilies that they liked to roast
at night by the fire where they sat talking about how this year
was different from last year. Told stories,
knew where they were on earth from the names,
owl moon, bear moon, gooseberry moon.
Jaime de Angulo (1934) was talking to a Channel Island Indian
in a Santa Barbara bar. You tell me how your people said
the world was made. Well, the guy said, Coyote was on the mountain
and he had to pee. Wait a minute, Jaime said,
I was talking to a Pomo the other day and he said
Red Fox made the world. They say Red Fox, the guy shrugged,
we say Coyote. So, he had to pee
and he didn’t want to drown anybody, so he turned toward the place
where the ocean would be. Wait a minute, Jaime said,
if there were no people yet, how could he drown anybody?
The Channelleño got a funny look on his face. You know,
he said, when I was a kid, I wondered about that,
and I asked my father. We were living up toward Santa Ynez.
He was sitting on a bench in the yard shaving down fence posts
with an ax, and I said, how come Coyote was worried about people
when he had to pee and there were no people? The guy laughed.
And my old man looked up at me with this funny smile
and said, You know, when I was a kid, I wondered about that.
Thinking about that story just now, early morning heat,
first day in the mountains, I remembered stories about sick Indians
and—in the same thought—standing on the free throw line.
St. Raphael’s parish, where the northern-most of the missions
had been, was founded as a hospital, was named for the angel
in the scriptures who healed the blind man with a fish
he laid across his eyes.—I wouldn’t mind being that age again,
hearing those stories, eyes turned upward toward the young nun
in her white, fresh-smelling, immaculately laundered robes.—
The Franciscan priests who brought their faith in God
across the Atlantic, brought with the baroque statues and metalwork crosses
and elaborately embroidered cloaks, influenza and syphilis and the coughing disease.
Which is why we settled an almost empty California.
There were drawings in the mission museum of the long, dark wards
full of small brown people, wasted, coughing into blankets,
the saintly Franciscan fathers moving patiently among them.
It would, Sister Marietta said, have broken your hearts to see it.
They meant so well, she said, and such a terrible thing
came here with their love. And I remembered how I hated it
after school—because I loved basketball practice more than anything
on earth—that I never knew if my mother was going to show up
well into one of those weeks of drinking she disappeared into,
and humiliate me in front of my classmates with her bright, confident eyes,
and slurred, though carefully pronounced words, and the appalling
impromptu sets of mismatched clothes she was given to
when she had the dim idea of making a good impression in that state.
Sometimes from the gym floor with its sweet, heady smell of varnish
I’d see her in the entryway looking for me, and I’d bounce
the ball two or three times, study the orange rim as if it were,
which it was, the true level of the world, the one sure thing
the power in my hands could summon. I’d bounce the ball
once more, feel the grain of the leather in my fingertips and shoot.
It was a perfect thing; it was almost like killing her.
When we say “mother” in poems,
we usually mean some woman in her late twenties
or early thirties trying to raise a child.
We use this particular noun
to secure the pathos of the child’s point of view
and to hold her responsible.

If you’re afraid now?
Fear is a teacher.
Sometimes you thought that
Nothing could reach her,
Nothing can reach you.
Wouldn’t you rather
Sit by the river, sit
On the dead bank,
Deader than winter,
Where all the roots gape?
This morning in the early sun,
steam rising from the pond the color of smoky topaz,
a pair of delicate, copper-red, needle-fine insects
are mating in the unopened crown of a Shasta daisy
just outside your door. The green flowerheads look like wombs
or the upright, supplicant bulbs of a vegetal pre-erection.
The insect lovers seem to be transferring the cosmos into each other
by attaching at the tail, holding utterly still, and quivering intently.
I think (on what evidence?) that they are different from us.
That they mate and are done with mating.
They don’t carry all this half-mated longing up out of childhood
and then go looking for it everywhere.
And so, I think, they can’t wound each other the way we do.
They don’t go through life dizzy or groggy with their hunger,
kill with it, smear it on everything, though it is perhaps also true
that nothing happens to them quite like what happens to us
when the blue-backed swallow dips swiftly toward the green pond
and the pond’s green-and-blue reflected swallow marries it a moment
in the reflected sky and the heart goes out to the end of the rope
it has been throwing into abyss after abyss, and a singing shimmers
from every color the morning has risen into.
My insect instructors have stilled, they are probably stuck together
in some bliss and minute pulse of after-longing
evolution worked out to suck the last juice of the world
into the receiver body. They can’t separate probably
until it is done.

Saturday, February 27, 2021

Filling Station by Elizabeth Bishop

Filling Station 

Oh, but it is dirty!
—this little filling station,
oil-soaked, oil-permeated
to a disturbing, over-all
black translucency.
Be careful with that match!
Father wears a dirty,
oil-soaked monkey suit
that cuts him under the arms,
and several quick and saucy
and greasy sons assist him
(it’s a family filling station),
all quite thoroughly dirty.
Do they live in the station?
It has a cement porch
behind the pumps, and on it
a set of crushed and grease-
impregnated wickerwork;
on the wicker sofa
a dirty dog, quite comfy.
Some comic books provide
the only note of color—
of certain color. They lie
upon a big dim doily
draping a taboret
(part of the set), beside
a big hirsute begonia.
Why the extraneous plant?
Why the taboret?
Why, oh why, the doily?
(Embroidered in daisy stitch
with marguerites, I think,
and heavy with gray crochet.)
Somebody embroidered the doily.
Somebody waters the plant,
or oils it, maybe. Somebody
arranges the rows of cans
so that they softly say:
to high-strung automobiles.
Somebody loves us all.

Friday, February 26, 2021

Poem by the Bridge at Ten-Shin by Frederick Seidel

Poem by the Bridge at Ten-Shin

This jungle poem is going to be my last.
This space walk is.
Racing in a cab through springtime Central Park,
I kept my nose outside the window like a dog.
The stars above my bed at night are vast.
I think it is uncool to call young women Ms.
My darling is a platform I see stars from in the dark,
And all the dogs begin to bark.
My grunting gun brings down her charging warthog,
And she is frying on white water, clinging to a log,
And all the foam and fevers shiver.
And drink has made chopped liver of my liver!
Between my legs it’s Baudelaire.
He wrote about her Central Park of hair.
I look for the minuterie as if I were in France,
In darkness, in the downstairs entrance, looking for the light.
I’m on a timer that will give me time
To see the way and up the stairs before the lights go out.
The so delicious Busby Berkeley dancers dance
A movie musical extravaganza on the staircase with me every night.
Such fun! We dance. We climb. We slip in slime.
We’re squirting squeezes like a wedge of lime!
It’s like a shout.
It’s what minuterie is all about.
Just getting to the landing through the dark
That has been interrupted for a minute is a lark.
And she’s so happy. It is grand!
I put my mobile in her ampersand.
The fireworks are a fleeting puff of sadness.
The flowers when they reach the stars are tears.
I don’t remember poems I write.
I turn around and they are gone.
I do remember poor King Richard Nixon’s madness.
Pierre Leval, we loved those years!
We knocked back shots of single malt all night.
Beer chasers gave dos caballeros double vision, second sight—
Twin putti pissing out the hotel window on the Scottish dawn.
A crocodile has fallen for a fawn.
I live flap copy for a children’s book.
He wants to lick. He wants to look.
A tiny goldfinch is his Cupid.
Love of cuntry makes men stupid.
It makes men miss Saddam Hussein!
Democracy in Baghdad makes men think
Monstrosity was not so bad.
I followed Gandhi barefoot to
Remind me there is something else till it began to rain.
The hurricane undressing of democracy in Baghdad starts to sink
The shrunken page size of the New York Times, and yet we had
A newspaper that mattered once, and that is sad,
But that was when it mattered. Do
I matter? That is true.
I don’t matter but I do. I lust for fame,
And after never finding it I never was the same.
I roared into the heavens and I soared,
And landed where I started on a flexing diving board.
I knew a beauty named Dawn Green.
I used to wake at the crack of Dawn.
I wish I were about to land on Plymouth Rock,
And had a chance to do it all again but do it right.
It was green dawn in pre-America. I mean
Great scented forests all along the shore, which now are gone.
I’ve had advantages in life and I pronounce Iraq “Irrock.”
The right schools taught me how to tock.
I’m tocking Turkey to the Kurds but with no end in sight.
These peace tocks are my last. Goodbye, Iran. Iran, good night.
They burned the undergrowth so they could see the game they hunt.
That made the forest a cathedral clear as crystal like a cunt.
Their arrows entered red meat in the glory
Streaming down from the clerestory.
Carine Rueff, I was obsessed—I was possessed! I liked your name.
I liked the fact Marie Christine Carine Rue F was Jewish.
It emphasized your elegance in Paris and in Florence.
You were so blond in Rue de l’Université!
The dazzling daughter of de Gaulle’s adviser Jacques Rueff was game
For anything. I’m lolling here in Mayfair under bluish
Clouds above a bench in Mount Street Gardens, thinking torrents.
Purdey used to make a gun for shooting elephants.
One cannot be the way one was back then today. It went away.
I go from Claridge’s to Brands Hatch racing circuit and come back
To Claridge’s, and out and eat and drink and bed, and fade to black.
The elephants were old enough to die but were aghast.
The stars above this jungle poem are vast.
To Ninety-second Street and Broadway I have come.
Outside the windows is New York.
I came here from St. Louis in a covered wagon overland
Behind the matchless prancing pair of Eliot and Ezra Pound.
And countless moist oases took me in along the way, and some
I still remember when I lift my knife and fork.
The Earth keeps turning, night and day, spit-roasting all the tanned
Tired icebergs and the polar bears, which makes white almost contraband.
The biosphere on a rotisserie emits a certain sound
That tells the stars that Earth was moaning pleasure while it drowned.
The amorous white icebergs flash their brown teeth, hissing.
They’re watching old porn videos of melting icebergs pissing.
The icebergs still in panty hose are lesbians and kissing.
The rotting ocean swallows the bombed airliner that’s missing.

Thursday, February 25, 2021

A Trip on the Staten Island Ferry by Audre Lorde

A Trip on the Staten Island Ferry

Dear Jonno
there are pigeons who nest
on the Staten Island Ferry
and raise their young
between the moving decks
and never touch
Every voyage is a journey.
Cherish this city
left you by default
include it in your daydreams
there are still        secrets
in the streets
even I have not discovered
who knows if the old men
shining shoes on the Staten Island Ferry
carry their world        in that box
slung across their shoulders
if they share their lunch
with the birds flying
back and forth
on an endless journey
if they ever find their way
back home.

Wednesday, February 24, 2021

Poem for Passengers by Matthew Zapruder

Poem for Passengers 

Like all strangers who temporarily
find themselves moving in the same direction
we look out the window
without really seeing or down at our phones
trying to catch the dying signal
then the famous lonesome whistle
so many singers have sung about
blows and our bodies shudder
soon we pick up speed
and pass the abandoned factories
there has lately been so much conversation about
through broken windows they stare 
asking us to decide
but we fall asleep next to each other
riding into the tunnel
sharing without knowing the same dream
in it we are carrying something
an empty casket somehow so heavy
only together can we carry it
over a bridge in the snow
emerging suddenly into the light
we wake and open our laptops
or a book about murder
or a glossy magazine
though we are mostly awake
part of us still goes on solving 
problems so great they cannot be named
even once we have reached our destination
and disembark into whatever weather
for a long time there is a compartment
within us filled with analog silence
inside us the dream goes on and on 

Tuesday, February 23, 2021

Marsyas, After by Monica Youn

Marsyas, After

Dust loves me now, along with
leaflets, plastic bags, anything
unattached, anything looking for
somewhere to stop, something
to emblazon. Too painful
to brush them off, the day’s
adhesions, too much
a reënactment. I float in my tub
of blood-warm water; element
of indecision, if only
it could be my habitat,
if only the sawtoothed air
didn’t insist on its own
uninterrupted necessity.
I hate it, but, lacking skin, I’ve lost
my capacity for scorn: that
was my failing—not excess
of pride, but that stooping
to pick up their accoutrements,
as if emulation could engender
equality. I stain everything
I touch, it all stains me;
my raw surface is an unlidded eye,
each stimulus its own white-
hot knife, but why would I
submit to be resheathed?
To lessen pain? What used
to distinguish me is already
defeated, limp trophy
flag of conquest; now I could be
like them if I chose.
But the acidulated
rain imposes a least
common denominator
democracy, it scours away
the pigments they used
to humanize their marmoreal self-
regard, their eyes gone dull
as the calluses I would rather
suffer forever than become.

Monday, February 22, 2021

Ode with Interruptions by Rick Barot

Ode with Interruptions

Someone is in the kitchen washing the dishes.
Someone is in the living room watching the news.
Someone in a bedroom is holding a used stamp
with tweezers and adding it to his collection.
Someone is scolding a dog, barking now for
decades, a different dog for each of the decades.
Someone is reading the paper and listening to
a baseball game on the radio at the same time — 
At the base of the altar, you drop some coins
into a wooden box and the lights reveal the vast,
worn painting in front of you. The holy subject
is illuminated for a few minutes before it is dim
again. There are churches all over Italy where
you can do this. The smell of incense, stone — 
Someone is taking the ashes out of the small
cave of the fireplace, though this might have been
a hundred years ago, when the house was new
and we didn’t live in it. Someone is writing
a letter on thin blue paper. Someone is putting
down the needle onto a spinning record, just so.
On the couch, someone is sleeping. Upstairs,
someone is looking into the bathroom mirror — 
While we were waiting for her surgery to finish,
I walked around the hospital and came across
a waiting room that had an enormous aquarium.
The black fish with red stripes, the yellow fish
with blue stripes, the triangle fish, the cylinder
fish, the little orange schools and the cellophane
glints of their quick turns in the box of water,
among arrangements of coral, the city of bones — 
Someone is walking down the creaking staircase
in the dark, a hand sliding on the rail. Someone
is on the telephone, which means nobody else
can use it for another hour. Someone in his room
is doing homework, me or someone almost like
me, twenty, fifty years ago. Someone is reading
in her room. Someone is talking to the gray wall.
Someone is talking to the gray wall. In summer,
on a hot afternoon, someone peels at a corner
of wallpaper and sees more wallpaper beneath — 
I used to think that to write poems, to make art,
meant trying to transcend the prosaic elements
of the self, to arrive at some essential plane, where
poems were supposed to succeed. I was wrong.

Sunday, February 21, 2021

Driving to Cádiz by Taneum Bambrick

Driving to Cádiz

A kind of bird like swan but more triangular
dives and lifts behind the knives of a tractor—
five paper airplanes poking at turned dirt.
Sometimes, he wears the condom
for hours after he falls asleep. I feel carried.
His body becomes the way I think.
Not being hungry but wanting
to halve something.
I’ve never finished with a man
without needing to repeat, in my head,
that I want him inside me.
We pass by piles of salt, orange cattle.
He asks me to rate the day.
We both know there’s nothing emptier
than recognition in a new landscape.

Saturday, February 20, 2021

The Lost Son by Theodore Roethke

The Lost Son

1. The Flight
At Woodlawn I Heard the dead cry:
I was lulled by the slamming of iron,
A slow drip over stones,
Toads brooding wells.
All the leaves stuck out their tongues;
I shook the softening chalk of my bones,
Snail, snail, glister me forward,
Bird, soft-sigh me home,
Worm, be with me.
This is my hard time.
Fished in an old wound,
The soft pond of repose;
Nothing nibbled my line,
Not even the minnows came.
Sat in an empty house
Watching shadows crawl,
There was one fly.
Voice, come out of the silence.
Say something.
Appear in the form of a spider
Or a moth beating the curtain.
Tell me:
Which is the way I take;
Out of what door do I go, Where and to whom?
                    Dark hollows said, lee to the wind,
                    The moon said, back of an eel,
                    The salt said, look by the sea,
                    Your tears are not enough praise,
                    You will find no comfort here,
                    In the kingdom of bang and blab.
                    Running lightly over spongy ground,
                    Past the pasture of flat stones,
                    The three elms,
                    The sheep strewn on a field,
                    Over a rickety bridge
                    Toward the quick-water, wrinkling and rippling.
                    Hunting along the river,
                    Down among the rubbish, the bug-riddled foliage,
                    By the muddy pond-edge, by the bog-holes,
                    By the shrunken lake, hunting, in the heat of summer.
The shape of a rat?
                                        It’s bigger than that.
                                        It’s less than a leg
                                        And more than a nose,
                                        Just under the water
                                        It usually goes.
                    Is it soft like a mouse?
                    Can it wrinkle his nose?
                    Could it come in the house
                    On the tips of its toes?
                                        Take the skin of a cat
                                        And the back of an eel,
                                        Then roll them in grease,–
                                        That’s the way it would feel.
                                        It’s sleek as an otter
                                        With wide webby toes
                                        Just under the water
                                        It usually goes.
2. The Pit
Where do the roots go?
                    Look down under the leaves.
Who put the moss there?
                    These stones have been here too long.
Who stunned the dirt into noise?
                    Ask the mole, he knows.
I feel the slime of a wet nest.
                    Beware Mother Mildew.
Nibble again, fish nerves.
3. The Gibber
At the wood’s mouth,
By the cave’s door,
I listened to something
I had heard before.
Dogs of the groin
Barked and howled,
The sun was against me,
The moon would not have me.
The weeds whined,
The snakes cried
The cows and briars
Said to me: Die.
What a small song. What slow clouds. What dark water.
Hath the rain a father? All the caves are ice. Only the snow’s here.
I’m cold. I’m cold all over. Rub me in father and mother.
Fear was my father, Father Fear.
His look drained the stones.
                    What gliding shape
                    Beckoning through halls,
                    Stood poised on the stair,
                    Fell dreamily down?
                    From the mouths of jugs
                    Perched on many shelves,
                    I saw substance flowing
                    That cold morning.
                    Like a slither of eels
                    That watery cheek
                    As my own tongue kissed
                    My lips awake.
Is that the storm’s heart? The ground is unstilling itself.
My veins are running nowhere. Do the bones cast out their fire?
Is the seed leaving the old bed? These buds are live as birds.
Where, where are the tears of the world?
Let the kisses resound, flat like a butcher’s palm;
Let the gestures freeze; our doom is already decided.
All the windows are burning! What’s left of my life?
I want the old rage, the lash of primordial milk!
Goodbye, goodbye, old stones, the time-order is going,
I have married my hands to perpetual agitation,
I run, I run to the whistle of money.
                    Money money money
                    Water water water
                    How cool the grass is.
                    Has the bird left?
                    The stalk still sways.
                    Has the worm a shadow?
                    What do the clouds say?
                    These sweeps of light undo me.
                    Look, look, the ditch is running white!
                    I’ve more veins than a tree!
                    Kiss me, ashes, I’m falling through a dark swirl.
4. The Return
                    The way to the boiler was dark,
                    Dark all the way,
                    Over slippery cinders
                    Through the long greenhouse.
                    The roses kept breathing in the dark.
                    They had many mouths to breathe with.
                    My knees made little winds underneath
                    Where the weeds slept.
                    There was always a single light
                    Swinging by the fire-pit,
                    Where the fireman pulled out roses,
                    The big roses, the big bloody clinkers.
                    Once I stayed all night.
                    The light in the morning came slowly over the white
                    There were many kinds of cool
                    Then came steam.
Scurry of warm over small plants.
Ordnung! ordnung!
Papa is coming!
                    A fine haze moved off the leaves;
                    Frost melted on far panes;
                    The rose, the chrysanthemum turned toward the light.
                    Even the hushed forms, the bent yellowy weeds
                    Moved in a slow up-sway.
5. “It was beginning winter”
It was beginning winter,
An in-between time,
The landscape still partly brown:
The bones of weeds kept swinging in the wind,
Above the blue snow.
It was beginning winter,
The light moved slowly over the frozen field,
Over the dry seed-crowns,
The beautiful surviving bones
Swinging in the wind.
Light traveled over the wide field;
The weeds stopped swinging.
The mind moved, not alone,
Through the clear air, in the silence.
                    Was it light?
                    Was it light within?
                    Was it light within light?
                    Stillness becoming alive,
                    Yet still?
A lively understandable spirit
Once entertained you.
It will come again.
Be still.

Friday, February 19, 2021

Monet’s “Waterlilies” by Robert Hayden

Monet’s “Waterlilies”

Today as the news from Selma and Saigon
poisons the air like fallout,
            I come again to see
the serene great picture that I love.
Here space and time exist in light
the eye like the eye of faith believes.
            The seen, the known
dissolve in iridescence, become
illusive flesh of light
            that was not, was, forever is.
O light beheld as through refracting tears.
Here is the aura of that world
            each of us has lost.
Here is the shadow of its joy.

Thursday, February 18, 2021

#36 by Vera Pavlova


To converse with the greats 
by trying their blindfolds on; 
to correspond with books 
by rewriting them; 
to edit holy edicts, 
and at the midnight hour 
to talk with the clock by tapping a wall 
in the solitary confinement of the universe.

(Translated by Steven Seymour) 

poem where no one is deported by José Olivarez

poem where no one is deported

now i like to imagine la migra running
into the sock factory where my mom
& her friends worked. it was all women
who worked there. women who braided
each other’s hair during breaks.
women who wore rosaries, & never 
had a hair out of place. women who were ready
for cameras or for God, who ended all their sentences
with si dios quiere. as in: the day before 
the immigration raid when the rumor
of a raid was passed around like bread
& the women made plans, si dios quiere.
so when the immigration officers arrived
they found boxes of socks & all the women absent.
safe at home. those officers thought
no one was working. they were wrong.
the women would say it was god working.
& it was god, but the god 
my mom taught us to fear
was vengeful. he might have wet his thumb
& wiped la migra out of this world like a smudge
on a mirror. this god was the god that woke me up
at 7am every day for school to let me know
there was food in the fridge for me & my brothers.
i never asked my mom where the food came from,
but she told me anyway: gracias a dios.
gracias a dios del chisme, who heard all la migra’s plans
& whispered them into the right ears
to keep our families safe.