Wednesday, March 31, 2021

Look by Fanny Howe


Look at the snow, the ice, the rock
that bucks like a waterfall.
No crocus, no beanstalk,
no fruit or sun-dripping
iridescent rain.
There will be no list
outside a courthouse door
giving your name or the hour
of your appearance.
No announcement of
which of your friends
was first, last or in the middle.
No more nostalgia. 
You are a farmer in winter now.

Tuesday, March 30, 2021

Guilty of Dust by Frank Bidart

Guilty of Dust
up or down from the infinite C E N T E R
B R I M M I N G at the winking rim of time
the voice in my head said
then I saw the parade of my loves
those PERFORMERS comics actors singers
forgetful of my very self so often I
desired to die to myself to live in them
then my PARENTS my FRIENDS the drained
SPECTRES once filled with my baffled infatuations
love and guilt and fury and
sweetness for whom
nail spirit yearning to the earth
then the voice in my head said

Monday, March 29, 2021

Undoing by Khadijah Queen


In winter traffic, fog of midday
shoves toward our machines—snow eclipses
the mountainscapes
I drive toward, keeping time against
the urge to quit moving. I refuse to not
know how not to, wrestling
out loud to music, as hovering me—automatic
engine, watching miles of sky on the fall—loves such
undoing, secretly, adding fuel to
what undoes the ozone, the endless nothing
manifested as sinkholes under permafrost.
Refusal, indecision—an arctic
undoing of us, interrupting cascades—
icy existences. I cannot drive through.

Sunday, March 28, 2021

You Were Wearing by Kenneth Koch

You Were Wearing

You were wearing your Edgar Allan Poe printed cotton blouse.
In each divided up square of the blouse was a picture of Edgar Allan Poe.
Your hair was blonde and you were cute. You asked me, "Do most boys think that most girls are bad?"
I smelled the mould of your seaside resort hotel bedroom on your hair held in place by a John Greenleaf Whittier clip.
"No," I said, "it's girls who think that boys are bad." Then we read Snowbound together.
And ran around in an attic, so that a little of the blue enamel was scraped off my George Washington, Father of His Country, shoes.
Mother was walking in the living room, her Strauss Waltzes comb in her hair.
We waited for a time and then joined her, only to be served tea in cups painted with pictures of Herman Melville.
As well as with illustrations from his book Moby Dick and from his novella, Benito Cereno.
Father came in wearing his Dick Tracy necktie: "How about a drink, everyone?"
I said, "Let's go outside a while." Then we went onto the porch and sat on the Abraham Lincoln swing.
You sat on the eyes, mouth, and beard part, and I sat on the knees.
In the yard across the street we saw a snowman holding a garbage can lid smashed into a likeness of the mad English king, George the Third.

Saturday, March 27, 2021

why some people be mad at me sometimes by Lucille Clifton

why some people be mad at me sometimes
they ask me to remember
but they want me to remember
their memories
and i keep on remembering

Friday, March 26, 2021

A Stranger by Saeed Jones

A Stranger

I wonder if my dead mother still thinks of me.
I know I don’t know her new name. I don’t know
her, not now. I don’t know if “her” is the word
burning in a stranger’s mind when he sees my dead
mother walking down the street in her bright black
dress. I wonder if he inhales the cigarette smoke
that will eventually kill him and thinks “I wish I knew
a woman who was both the light and every shadow
the light pierces.” I wonder if a passing glance at my dead
mother is enough to make a poet out of anyone. I wonder
if I’m the song she hums as she waits for the light to change
or if I’m just the traffic signal holding her up.

Thursday, March 25, 2021

Things You May Find Hidden in My Ear by Mosab Abu Toha

Things You May Find Hidden in My Ear

When you open my ear, touch it
My mother’s voice lingers somewhere inside.
Her voice is the echo that helps recover my equilibrium
when I feel dizzy during my attentiveness.
You may encounter songs in Arabic,
poems in English I recite to myself,
or a song I chant to the chirping birds in our backyard.
When you stitch the cut, don’t forget to put all these back in my ear.
Put them back in order as you would do with books on your shelf.
The drone’s buzzing sound,
the roar of an F-16,
the screams of bombs falling on houses,
on fields, and on bodies,
of rockets flying away—
rid my small ear canal of them all.
Spray the perfume of your smiles on the incision.
Inject the song of life into my veins to wake me up.
Gently beat the drum so my mind may dance with yours,
my doctor, day and night.

Wednesday, March 24, 2021

The Cello by Ruth Padel

The Cello

I met him in the courtyard at dusk, where they weave the tents
at Sukkoth—a wanderer who had come into his own.
The olive tree had been hard-pruned along its central branch
and only the tips were in leaf, gray fingers stretching to light,
but you could see the new growth, a haze of turquoise rust. Roots
had blistered the sea-pebble paving into a mound like a verruca.
I thought of the black ceramic bird my mother notched
in the center of her pies, whose yellow beak cracked the crust.
He had a cello in his hand. The grain glowed peat-swirl
brown of a mountain tarn, but plum-maroon under the f-holes
as if someone had been at it with mammoth blood.
The spike glittered between one round stone
and the next. Take this, he said. I’m giving it to you.
I looked away, at marble grooves framing the half-dome
niche where a tap hangs over the copper cup chained
to the wall. I ran my finger down the neck and scroll.
I imagined lifting a handle stuck to the lip of a broken amphora
face down under the tree, like history keeping a lid on rising
roots. Every choice is a loss. The past is not where you left it.
That corridor you didn’t follow, the gate to unknown
woods, shadow grin of a winding stair, the door you never
found time to open—they whirl within, cracking the floor.
I met him at twilight where they put up the tents at Sukkoth,
a wanderer who had come into her own.

Tuesday, March 23, 2021

Economy by W. S. Merwin


No need to break the mirror.
Here is the face shattered,
Good for seven years of sorrow.

Monday, March 22, 2021

When They Say Pledge Allegiance, I Say by Hala Alyan

When They Say Pledge Allegiance, I Say

my country is a ghost // a mouth trying to say sorry and it comes out all smog // all citizen and bullet and seed // my country is a machine // a spell of bad weather // a feather lacing my mother’s black hair // I mean her dyed hair // I mean her blonde hair // I mean her hair matches my country // so shiny and borrowed and painted over // my country is a number
it is 1948 and my great-great-grandmother flattens bread with her hands // while my other great-great-grandmother prays with her hands // one watches her land disappear // the other builds a house on land that will disappear
my country is an airport line a year of highways an intermission // my country is Stockholm syndrome // is immigrant mouth saying thank you saying please saying // my country is no country but ghost // is no man but ghost // my country is dead // my country is name the dead // give them their salt
my country is a mouth trying to say pledge and it comes out all salt // my country is a mouth and nobody can pronounce my name // I mean my country forgets my name // I mean my country is always asking for my name // and I’m always saying it twice // spelling it like an address // my country is a number
it is 1967 and every Arab leader is crying every mother is clutching // the sons she has left and my great-grandmother names my mother // nostalgia while my other great-grandmother names my father // a gun // my country is all ghost // my grandmother is all ghost // my grandmother is a country I mean my grandmother is my country // I mean my country is a lie is an emptied house is one thousand cardboard boxes // my country is remember when we left Akka // I mean Gaza // I mean Homs // my country is a number
it is 1990 // my mother is crossing a border I mean desert I mean life // I am at her heels // I am paying attention // I mean I am learning to pray to a flag // I mean I am learning English // I mean I am forgetting Arabic
it is 1994 and I am falling in love with a white boy // a habit I’ll never kick
it is 2006 and my grandparents won’t evacuate // won’t leave another war // and all summer I dream of floods // collect bullets and love the wrong person
it is 2003 and I am in Beirut watching Baghdad burn because of America // I mean I am in my country // watching my country burn because of my // country
it is 2016 and who saw it coming // some saw it coming
it is 2020 and the women in Beirut are a sea // I mean my country // looks beautiful in red // I mean I look beautiful in red // I mean this country likes me in red
it is every year and my country is taken // I mean my country is stolen land // I mean all my countries are stolen land // I mean sometimes I am on the wrong side of the stealing // my country is an opening // I mean bloom // I mean bloom not like flower // but bloom like explosion // my country is a teacher // I mean do you want to see my passport // I mean do you like my accent // I mean I stole them // I mean I stole them // I mean where do you think I learned that from

Sunday, March 21, 2021

Without End by Adam Zagajewski

Without End

Also in death we are going to live,
only in a different way, delicately, softly,
dissolved in music;
one by one called out to the corridor,
lonely and yet in a group,
like schoolmates from the same class
which extends beyond the Ural Mountains
and reaches the Quaternary. Released
from unending conversation on politics,
open and candid, at ease, even though
shutters are being closed with a bang
 and hail will rattle on the windowsill
in Turkish march, dashing,
as usual. The world of appearances won’t fade away
at once, for a long time it will continue
to grumble and curl like a wet
page thrown into the fire. The quest for perfection
will find fulfillment casually, it will bypass
all obstacles just as the Germans
learned how to bypass the Maginot Line. Paltry
things, forgotten, kites made of the thinnest
paper, brittle leaves from past autumns,
will recover their immortal dignity and the systems,
big and victorious, will wither like a giant’s sex.
No longing anymore. It will overtake
itself, amazed that it chased for so long
its erotic shadow. And we will be no more,
not having learned yet
how to live at such an altitude.
(Translated by Clare Cavanagh)

Saturday, March 20, 2021

I Lost My Horse by Cecily Parks

I Lost My Horse

I was looking for an animal, calf or lamb,
in the wire, metal and hair along the fence line.
Wire, metal and hair and there, in the gully, a man
I was pretending was dead. I pretended
to leave him where the woods met the meadow,
walking fast because I’d left my horse lashed
to a fence I lost track of two valleys
ago. Like a horse, I shied from the dead.
Here, calf. Here, lamb. I listened, wanting
(without my horse, my calf or lamb) to be
whipsmart rather than wanted. I wore orange
on antelope season’s first afternoon 
and waited for the click that means the safety is
off. When I spoke, my story was about picking
skulls clean. I wanted everything to be
afraid of me, the horseless girl who wanted
to kill a dead man again. The white bed
with a window behind its headboard became
ice on the meadow road and a tree to stop
a truck dead. I meant to trace my boot steps
back to the fence where things went wrong,
find my horse mouthing the bit, tied up by her
reins. I looked for the horse because she looked
safe enough to love. I looked for the calf
or lamb because there was no calf or lamb.
The man left before I could leave him, and I pretended
the world was afraid of me because I was alone.

Friday, March 19, 2021

Song of Chickens by Jack Mapanje

Song of Chickens

Master, you talked with bows,
Arrows and catapults once
Your hands steaming with hawk blood
To protect your chicken.
Why do you talk with knives now,
Your hands teaming with eggshells
And hot blood from your own chicken?
Is it to impress your visitors?

Thursday, March 18, 2021

Our Generation by Carl Dennis

Our Generation

Whatever they say about us, they have to agree
We managed to bridge the gap between
Those who arrived before us and those who’ve followed.
We learned enough at the schools available
To fill the entry-level positions at the extant sawmills
Our elders managed, at banks, freight yards, and hospitals,
Then worked our way up to positions of trust.
There we were, down on the shop floor
Or up in the manager’s office, or outside the office
On scaffolds, washing the windows.
Did we work with joy? With no less joy
Than people felt in the generations before us.
And on weekends and weekday evenings
We did our best to pursue the happiness
Our founders encouraged us to pursue
And with equal gusto. Whatever they say about us,
They can’t deny that we filled the concert halls,
Movie houses, malls, and late-night restaurants.
We took our bows onstage or waited on tables
Or manned the refreshment booths to earn a little extra
For the things we wanted, the very things
Pursued by the generations before us
And likely to be pursued by generations to come:
Children and lawns and cars and beach towels.
And now and then we stood back to admire
The colorful spectacle, the endless variety,
As others before us admired it, and then returned
To fill our picnic baskets, drive to the park,
And use the baseball diamonds just as their makers
Intended they should be used. And if we too
Crowded into the square to cheer the officials
Who proclaimed our country as fine in fact
As it is in theory, a few of us, confined to a side street,
Carried signs declaring a truth less fanciful.
A few unheeded, it’s true, but no more unheeded
Than a similar few in generations before us
Who hoped that the truth in generations to come,
Though just as homely, would find more followers.

Wednesday, March 17, 2021

Suggested Donation by Heather Christie

Suggested Donation

In the morning I drink
coffee until I can see
a way to lobe life
again. It’s okay, there’s
no difference between
flying and thinking
you’re flying until
you land. Somehow
I own like six nail clippers
and I honestly can’t
remember ever buying
even one. My sister
came to visit and
saw them in a small
wooden bowl. I
heard her laughing in
the bathroom. I hope
she never dies. There’s
no harm in hoping
until you land.
The deer are awake.
Is one pregnant?
If they kept diaries
the first entry would
read: Was born
Was Licked
Tried Walking
Then they’d walk
away and no second
entry would ever exist.
I run the deer’s
archive. It’s very
light work. Visitors
must surrender
their belongings.
Surrender to me
your beautiful shirt.

Tuesday, March 16, 2021

Red Brocade by Naomi Shihab Nye

Red Brocade

The Arabs used to say,
When a stranger appears at your door,
feed him for three days
before asking who he is,
where he’s come from,
where he’s headed.
That way, he’ll have strength
enough to answer.
Or, by then you’ll be such good friends
you don’t care.
Let’s go back to that
Rice? Pine nuts?
Here, take the red brocade pillow.
My child will serve water
to your horse.
No, I was not busy when you came!
I was not preparing to be busy.
That’s the armor everyone put on
to pretend they had a purpose
in the world.
I refuse to be claimed.
Your plate is waiting.
We will snip fresh mint
into your tea.

Monday, March 15, 2021

Elegy for a Dead Labrador by Lars Gustafsson

Elegy for a Dead Labrador

Here there may be, in the midst of summer,
a few days when suddenly it’s fall.
Thrushes sing on a sharper note.
The rocks stand determined out in the water.
They know something. They’ve always known it.
We know it too, and we don’t like it.
On the way home, in the boat, on just such evenings
you would stand stock-still in the bow, collected,
scouting the scents coming across the water.
You read the evening, the faint streak of smoke
from a garden, a pancake frying
half a mile away, a badger
standing somewhere in the same twilight
sniffing the same way. Our friendship
was of course a compromise; we lived
together in two different worlds: mine,
mostly letters, a text passing through life,
yours, mostly smells. You had knowledge
I would have given much to have possessed:
the ability to let a feeling—eagerness, hate, or love—
run like a wave throughout your body
from nose to tip of tail, the inability
ever to accept the moon as fact.
At the full moon you always complained loudly against it.
You were a better Gnostic than I am. And consequently
you lived continually in paradise.
You had a habit of catching butterflies on the leap,
and munching them, which some people thought disgusting.
I always liked it. Why
couldn’t I learn from you? And doors.
In front of closed doors you lay down and slept
sure that sooner or later the one would come
who’d open up the door. You were right.
I was wrong. Now I ask myself, now this
long mute friendship is forever finished,
if possibly there was anything I could do
which impressed you. Your firm conviction
that I called up the thunderstorms
doesn’t count. That was a mistake. I think
my certain faith that the ball existed,
even when hidden behind the couch,
somehow gave you an inkling of my world.
In my world most things were hidden
behind something else. I called you “dog,”
I really wonder whether you perceived me
as a larger, noisier “dog”
or as something different, forever unknown,
which is what it is, existing in that attribute
it exists in, a whistle
through the nocturnal park one has got used to
returning to without actually knowing
what it is one is returning to. About you,
and who you were, I knew no more.
One might say, from this more objective
standpoint, we were two organisms. Two
of those places where the universe makes a knot
in itself, short-lived, complex structures
of proteins that have to complicate themselves
more and more in order to survive, until everything
breaks and turns simple once again, the knot
dissolved, the riddle gone. You were a question
asked of another question, nothing more,
and neither had the answer to the other.
(translated by Yvonne L. Sandstroem)


Sunday, March 14, 2021

Supercell by Ange Mlinko


I’m waiting for this shrub to sew itself back in its soil.
Hearing its roots rip when I transplanted it made me ill
(though a cress or a lettuce remains my most favorite food).
A wind tore it up again, or it was undermined by flood.
Through the sorghum fields between Victoria and Lavaca,
a supercell, spurting electricity, smothered the ton of lava,
mounted in the sky, that characterizes sunset there.
But the tapestried sorghum fields created an atmosphere
that defied the monotony I associate with agriculture.
Planting, for me, means flowers, fitting embouchure
for birds; or aloes, answering to a sculptural imperative
to induce repose, and not just keep us, Lord, alive.
This hardy Duranta attracts hummingbirds and butterflies.
May it thrive, and sew itself in as the soil dries.
Between Victoria and Lavaca, in my mind’s eye
I saw a thousand Comanche in cumulonimbi
racing thirty hundred stolen horses over the prairie
to the sea. When the sorghum field, that tapestry,
was little more than “Chocolate Swale” (a sign stuck in the silt,
née swamp), official history passed the bolus of guilt
back and forth, from the Comanche, who kept back captives,
to the Texans, who (in what may have been an interpretive
blunder) slaughtered the chiefs, back to the Comanche,
who torched their captives in revenge and went on “an orgy
of horse-thieving.” While at night Comanche jump
on Texas with a thump, the dream of one Buffalo Hump
results in enough calico and ribbon to get lost in
(as I sew myself into this clay) riding back to Austin.
Too late. Juliet Constance managed to get her hem wet
but they seized her and stripped her down to the whalebone corset
—flummoxed. While the townspeople watched from dinghies offshore,
on that hand-over-hand surf, helpless, they later swore
her whalebone corset wouldn’t budge. They saw the town burning,
the warehouses looted; and in the smoke’s going and returning,
Comanche donning the top hats and pigeon-tailed coats.
Adorned with all the brass buttons a merchant ship could float,
and twirling their parasols and festooning each his horse
with ribbon, the Comanche rode off. In the cumulonimbus
of their dust, they took our bibelot Juliet.
Buffalo Hump, meet Whalebone Corset!
For a gold watch her young husband perished. El Dorado:
where there’s pyrite in the piranha, gilt in the sweet potato.
Gold in the sorghum tassels, gold in the sargassum weed
strewing the shore where they put Juliet on a stolen steed.
Gold when wet, that is; rust-brown when dry; furring the coast,
drying at different rates in the sun, so gold and rust co-roast.
It seemed a herd of buffalo was barbered by some god at first.
But in these alien bouquets tossed from the largest sea on earth,
and bounded by no lands, live animals find harbor.
Exquisite minnow worlds of crabs, shrimp—sheer automata—
crawfish cling to the tangle and grape (cf. “sargasso”).
I’ve seen the gulls in their tuxedo’d appetite clothed go
pecking there. Meanwhile, into an upended frisbee’d
world my kids shake the bundles of sargassum seaweed,
collecting their own marine menagerie for observation.
The liverish waves play on, sunlight doled out in rations
from grape-stained clouds to whiten froth exploding in our ears.
A sulfurous wind blows in, then as suddenly disappears.
The deep-blue, upended frisbee looks like nothing less
than a saucer of primal soup from Genesis,
the first meal of the first day. By the seventh all Creation and we
were invited to the feast of ourselves, into perpetuity.
She was saved a second time, that Juliet,
when a crop of arrows foundered on her whalebone corset.
Saved, then, with nothing more than a sunburn. And still
nothing more than a stone commemorating Linnville
between new tract housing and the littoral.
Calico of wildflowers sewing themselves to the soil,
and a man licking his arrowhead, that his DNA be
shot through the heart that pins her to the ponderosa tree.

Saturday, March 13, 2021

The Sea is History by Derek Walcott

The Sea is History

Where are your monuments, your battles, martyrs?
Where is your tribal memory? Sirs,
in that grey vault. The sea. The sea
has locked them up. The sea is History.
First, there was the heaving oil,
heavy as chaos;
then, like a light at the end of a tunnel,
the lantern of a caravel,
and that was Genesis.
Then there were the packed cries,
the shit, the moaning:
Bone soldered by coral to bone,
mantled by the benediction of the shark's shadow,
that was the Ark of the Covenant.
Then came from the plucked wires
of sunlight on the sea floor
the plangent harps of the Babylonian bondage,
as the white cowries clustered like manacles
on the drowned women,
and those were the ivory bracelets
of the Song of Solomon,
but the ocean kept turning blank pages
looking for History.
Then came the men with eyes heavy as anchors
who sank without tombs,
brigands who barbecued cattle,
leaving their charred ribs like palm leaves on the shore,
then the foaming, rabid maw
of the tidal wave swallowing Port Royal,
and that was Jonah,
but where is your Renaissance?
Sir, it is locked in them sea-sands
out there past the reef's moiling shelf,
where the men-o'-war floated down;
strop on these goggles, I'll guide you there myself.
It's all subtle and submarine,
through colonnades of coral,
past the gothic windows of sea-fans
to where the crusty grouper, onyx-eyed,
blinks, weighted by its jewels, like a bald queen;
and these groined caves with barnacles
pitted like stone
are our cathedrals,
and the furnace before the hurricanes:
Gomorrah. Bones ground by windmills
into marl and cornmeal,
and that was Lamentations—
that was just Lamentations,
it was not History;
then came, like scum on the river's drying lip,
the brown reeds of villages
mantling and congealing into towns,
and at evening, the midges' choirs,
and above them, the spires
lancing the side of God
as His son set, and that was the New Testament.
Then came the white sisters clapping
to the waves' progress,
and that was Emancipation—
jubilation, O jubilation—
vanishing swiftly
as the sea's lace dries in the sun,
but that was not History,
that was only faith,
and then each rock broke into its own nation;
then came the synod of flies,
then came the secretarial heron,
then came the bullfrog bellowing for a vote,
fireflies with bright ideas
and bats like jetting ambassadors
and the mantis, like khaki police,
and the furred caterpillars of judges
examining each case closely,
and then in the dark ears of ferns
and in the salt chuckle of rocks
with their sea pools, there was the sound
like a rumour without any echo
of History, really beginning.

Friday, March 12, 2021

Not Even This by Ocean Vuong

Not Even This 
I used to be a fag now I’m a checkbox.
The pen tip jabbed in my back, I feel the mark of progress.
I will not dance alone in the municipal graveyard at midnight, blasting sad
songs on my phone, for nothing.
I promise you, I was here. I felt things that made death so large it was
indistinguishable from air—and I went on destroying inside it like wind in
a storm.
The way Lil Peep says I’ll be back in the mornin’  when you know how it ends.
The way I kept dancing when the song was over, because it freed me.
The way the streetlight blinks once, before waking up for its night shift, like
we do.
The way we look up and whisper sorry to each other, the boy and I, when
there’s teeth.
When there’s always teeth, on purpose.
When I threw myself into gravity and made it work. Ha.
I made it out by the skin of my griefs.
I used to be a fag now I’m lit. Ha.
Once, at a party set on a rooftop in Brooklyn for an “artsy vibe,” a young
woman said, sipping her drink, You’re so lucky. You’re gay plus you get to
write about war and stuff. I’m just white. [Pause.] I got nothing. [Laughter,
glasses clinking.]
Unlike feelings, blood gets realer when you feel it.
Because everyone knows yellow pain, pressed into American letters, turns
to gold.
Our sorrow Midas-touched. Napalm with a rainbow afterglow.
I’m trying to be real but it costs too much.
They say the Earth spins and that’s why we fall but everyone knows it’s the
It’s been proven difficult to dance to machine gun fire.
Still, my people made a rhythm this way. A way.
My people, so still, in the photographs, as corpses.
My failure was that I got used to it. I looked at us, mangled under the TIME
photographer’s shadow, and stopped thinking, Get up, get up.
I saw the graveyard steam in the pinkish dawn and knew the dead were still
breathing. Ha.
If they come for me, take me home take me out.
What if it wasn’t the crash that made me, but the debris?
What if it was meant this way: the mother, the lexicon, the line of cocaine on
the mohawked boy’s collarbone in an East Village sublet in 2007?
What’s wrong with me, Doc? There must be a pill for this.
Too late—these words already shrapnel in your brain.
Impossible in high school, I am now the ultimate linebacker. I plow through
the page, making a path for you, dear reader, going nowhere.
Because the fairy tales were right. You’ll need magic to make it out of  here.
Long ago, in another life, on an Amtrak through Iowa, I saw, for a few blurred
seconds, a man standing in the middle of a field of winter grass, hands at his
side, back to me, all of him stopped there save for his hair scraped by low
When the countryside resumed its wash of gray wheat, tractors, gutted
barns, black sycamores in herdless pastures, I started to cry. I put my copy
of Didion’s The White Album down and folded a new dark around my head.
The woman beside me stroked my back saying, in a Midwestern accent that
wobbled with tenderness, Go on son. You get that out now. No shame in
breakin’ open. You get that out and I’ll fetch us some tea. Which made me
lose it even more.
She came back with Lipton in paper cups, her eyes nowhere blue and there.
She was silent all the way to Missoula, where she got off and said, patting my
knee, God is good. God is good.
I can say it was beautiful now, my harm, because it belonged to no one else.
To be a dam for damage. My shittiness will not enter the world, I thought,
and quickly became my own hero.
Do you know how many hours I’ve wasted watching straight boys play video
Time is a mother.
Lest we forget, a morgue is also a community center.
In my language, the one I recall now only by closing my eyes, the word for
love is Yêu.
And the word for weakness is Yếu.
How you say what you mean changes what you say.
Some call this prayer. I call it watch your mouth.
When they zipped my mother in a body bag I whispered: Rose, get out of there.
Your plants are dying.
Enough is enough.
Body, doorway that you are, be more than what I’ll pass through.
Stillness. That’s what it was.
The man in the field in the red sweater, he was so still he became, somehow,
more true, like a knife wound in a landscape painting.
Like him, I caved.
I caved and decided it will be joy from now on. Then everything opened. The
lights blazed around me into a white weather
and I was lifted, wet and bloody, out of my mother, screaming
and enough.

Thursday, March 11, 2021

Man Eating by Jane Kenyon

Man Eating

The man at the table across from mine
is eating yogurt. His eyes, following
the progress of the spoon, cross briefly
each time it nears his face. Time,
and the world with all its principalities,
might come to an end as prophesied
by the Apostle John, but what about
this man, so completely present
to the little carton with its cool,
sweet food, which has caused no animal
to suffer, and which he is eating
with a pearl-white plastic spoon.

Wednesday, March 10, 2021

American Wedding by Essex Hemphill

American Wedding

In america,
I place my ring
on your cock
where it belongs.
No horsemen
bearing terror,
no soldiers of doom
will swoop in
and sweep us apart.
They’re too busy
looting the land
to watch us.
They don’t know
we need each other
They expect us to call in sick,
watch television all night,
die by our own hands.
They don’t know
we are becoming powerful.
Every time we kiss
we confirm the new world coming.
What the rose whispers
before blooming
I vow to you.
I give you my heart,
a safe house.
I give you promises other than
milk, honey, liberty.
I assume you will always
be a free man with a dream.
In america,
place your ring
on my cock
where it belongs.
Long may we live
to free this dream.

Tuesday, March 9, 2021

Poetry, a Natural Thing by Robert Duncan

Poetry, a Natural Thing

Neither our vices nor our virtues   
further the poem. “They came up   
      and died 
just like they do every year 
      on the rocks.” 
      The poem 
feeds upon thought, feeling, impulse, 
      to breed    itself, 
a spiritual urgency at the dark ladders leaping. 
This beauty is an inner persistence 
      toward the source 
striving against (within) down-rushet of the river,   
      a call we heard and answer 
in the lateness of the world 
      primordial bellowings 
from which the youngest world might spring, 
salmon not in the well where the   
      hazelnut falls 
but at the falls battling, inarticulate,   
      blindly making it. 
This is one picture apt for the mind. 
A second: a moose painted by Stubbs, 
where last year’s extravagant antlers   
      lie on the ground. 
The forlorn moosey-faced poem wears   
      new antler-buds, 
      the same, 
“a little heavy, a little contrived”, 
his only beauty to be   
      all moose.

Monday, March 8, 2021

Young Relics by Emma Hine

Young Relics

They broke into houses,
my sisters. The empty ones,
just built, where nobody had yet
tried to sleep. Little mounds
of sawdust still in the corners,
no floorboards loose.
I imagine them being the way
I’ve seen them be with horses,
hands gentle on the walls—after all,
a house must learn to hold a family
with all its quivering systems
of energy and grief. I once saw Sierra
with a colt that wasn’t ready
to be ridden. She stood in the stall
and talked until his heart rate slowed.
All through our neighborhood
new houses were dark and panicking.
Enter sisters.
Bringing comfort where it wasn’t
supposed to be, no key for entry,
no light allowed, just a ritual gift
for the rooms alone to remember:
hands on their painted flanks.
Voices in the eaves.