Thursday, September 30, 2021

The Last Time I Got [ ] by Jameson Fitzpatrick

The Last Time I Got [ ]

I only let him
because he was sort of famous
and I wanted to say I had.
And the time before that,
because he was sort of straight
and I wanted to have my say—
and before that,
because he was there,
and he was going to.
Once Jacques got in,
where I wanted him,
but not all the way
and I wouldn’t let him
move it, I just
finished myself off and burst
into tears. It was fine,
I was fine, it was just a lot,
what Lot wouldn’t let
his neighbors do
to the angels. And he didn’t
even know they were angels.
Lot has nothing to do
with it, why I won’t.
Or can’t, if will isn’t the thing.
But isn’t the mind the body.
Isn’t mine, and what has
been done to it, and how:
plucked like a flower
plucked like a string.

Wednesday, September 29, 2021

Foreclosure by Lorine Niedecker


Tell em to take my bare walls down
my cement abutments
their parties thereof
and clause of claws
Leave me the land
Scratch out: the land
May prose and property both die out
and leave me peace

Tuesday, September 28, 2021

Notes from a Ruined City by Aria Aber

Notes from a Ruined City

On the mud-spattered steps
of Kabul’s blue mosque, a pomegranate half
vibrates with worms.
God has no clock
but the muezzin’s song,
which veils the city’s vascular glass
and dilapidated buildings
each fifth hour—it must.
Evenings, I rinse from my face
the city’s grime, its fried oils.
My eyelashes sweep, then blacken, like battery grease,
the handkerchief of time
until I see new again. In the night markets, fruit
clings to soft rain, fish with eyes like milk warm
the ice. Each apple wears, for a moment, your face—
I lost you. I lose you again. By my want,
its incessantness, I’m mystified,
as by the city’s graffiti, this native grief
I cannot read. Before you left me, we held each other
in the American hotel overlooking
this landlocked relief, our bodies exuding summer,
a halo of insects lighting up the balcony—amid the ruins
of the neighboring roof, one could see
two children sleep, like children,
on the white wood of a dismantled door.

Monday, September 27, 2021

Nothing Is Far by Robert Francis

Nothing Is Far

Though I have never caught the word
Of God from any calling bird,
I hear all that the ancients heard.
Though I have seen no deity
Enter or leave a twilit tree,
I see all that the seers see.
A common stone can still reveal
Something not stone, not seen, yet real.
What may a common stone conceal?
Nothing is far that once was near.
Nothing is hid that once was clear.
Nothing was God that is not here.
Here is the bird, the tree, the stone.
Here in the sun I sit alone
Between the known and the unknown.

Sunday, September 26, 2021

On The Death Of Friends In Childhood by Donald Justice

On The Death Of Friends In Childhood

We shall not ever meet them bearded in heaven
Nor sunning themselves among the bald of hell;
If anywhere, in the deserted schoolyard at twilight,
forming a ring, perhaps, or joining hands
In games whose very names we have forgotten.
Come memory, let us seek them there in the shadows. 

Saturday, September 25, 2021

Disbelief by Kamilah Aisha Moon


I have all of these
lily plants but not you,
nor peace.
How they ease
my breathing yet
trouble my mind,
of your soaring
too high to see
or reach,
beauty clanging
like bells
out of tune, time’s
up.         Leaves
so shiny & perfect
they look fake,
but a few brown ones
barely clinging &
curled in on themselves—
less supple, less everything
like me, let me know
they are real.
They are real. Too
real. Lord knows
you were the most real
one can ever be & now
you are really gone!
Your need is over,
but your giving goes on
& on.     Heaven is shedding
desire’s heavy robes, pure
devotion to love’s
bare essence.    You, flowered
& shiny in what’s left
of my heart, teaching me
to rally. No matter
how it may appear,
I’m not rootless.
Today & tomorrow
& the day after that,
you remain evergreen
& ours
somewhere not here,
as my tears land
in potted soil exiled
from its mother, Earth,
like me.

Friday, September 24, 2021

Fragments for Subduing the Silence by Alejandra Pizarnik

Fragments for Subduing the Silence

    The powers of language are the solitary ladies who sing, desolate, with this voice of mine that I hear from a distance. And far away, in the black sand, lies a girl heavy with ancestral music. Where is death itself? I have wanted clarity in light of my lack of light. Branches die in the memory. The girl lying in the sand nestles into me with her wolf mask. The one she couldn’t stand anymore and that begged for flames and that we set on fire.
    When the roof tiles blow away from the house of language, and words no longer keep—that is when I speak.
    The ladies in red have lost themselves in their masks. Though they will return to sob among the flowers.
    Death is no mute. I hear the song of the mourners sealing the clefts of silence. I listen and the sweetness of your crying brings life to my grey silence.
    Death has restored to silence its own bewitching charm. And I will not say my poem and I will say it. Even if (here, now) the poem has no feeling, no future.
(translated by Yvette Siegert)

Ever by Meghan O'Rourke


Never, never, never, never, never.
—King Lear
Even now I can’t grasp “nothing” or “never.”
They’re unholdable, unglobable, no map to nothing.
Never? Never ever again to see you?
An error, I aver. You’re never nothing,
because nothing’s not a thing.
I know death is absolute, forever,
the guillotine—gutting—never to which we never say goodbye.
But even as I think “forever” it goes “ever”
and “ever” and “ever.” Ever after.
I’m a thing that keeps on thinking. So I never see you
is not a thing or think my mouth can ever. Aver:
You’re not “nothing.” But neither are you something.
Will I ever really get never?
You’re gone. Nothing, never—ever.

Wednesday, September 22, 2021

Trainee Priest at Rochuskapelle by Richard Scott

Trainee Priest at Rochuskapelle
Saint Sebastian stands covered with the hunger-cloth –
a hooded detainee from off the seminary television.
We must give up the sight of him to focus on the bare Easter altar.
Good Friday I will lift the veil, search his face for a clue of agony.
I don’t believe the sculptor’s lie, he cannot be at peace.
He is like me, young when he gave himself to God.
While the priests are diluting wine
I would have him tug off his sack, step down, walk…
I will lie him across my lap, pull out the cock-feathered arrows,
wash the holes in his body, sew them up
with my mother’s darning needle, ask if I will be forgiven
for wanting his delicate blood on my fingers.
But Sebastian is carved, I have traced the chisel’s evidence
with my thumb. I know my thread can’t heal –
he and his arrows are of the same body of Milanese oak.
There is no stop where either wound or weapon begin –
our devotion is a perpetual hurt. I am like him,
young, bound for a lifetime of suffering behind cloth. 

Tuesday, September 21, 2021

Dawn Revisited by Rita Dove

Dawn Revisited

Imagine you wake up
with a second chance: The blue jay
hawks his pretty wares
and the oak still stands, spreading
glorious shade. If you don't look back,
the future never happens.
How good to rise in sunlight,
in the prodigal smell of biscuits—
eggs and sausage on the grill.
The whole sky is yours
to write on, blown open
to a blank page. Come on,
shake a leg! You'll never know
who's down there, frying those eggs,
if you don't get up and see.

Monday, September 20, 2021

City That Does Not Sleep by Federico García Lorca

City That Does Not Sleep

In the sky there is nobody asleep. Nobody, nobody.
Nobody is asleep.
The creatures of the moon sniff and prowl about their cabins.
The living iguanas will come and bite the men who do not dream,
and the man who rushes out with his spirit broken will meet on the street corner
the unbelievable alligator quiet beneath the tender protest of the stars.
Nobody is asleep on earth. Nobody, nobody.
Nobody is asleep.
In a graveyard far off there is a corpse
who has moaned for three years
because of a dry countryside on his knee;
and that boy they buried this morning cried so much
it was necessary to call out the dogs to keep him quiet.
Life is not a dream. Careful! Careful! Careful!
We fall down the stairs in order to eat the moist earth
or we climb to the knife edge of the snow with the voices of the dead dahlias.
But forgetfulness does not exist, dreams do not exist;
flesh exists. Kisses tie our mouths
in a thicket of new veins,
and whoever his pain pains will feel that pain forever
and whoever is afraid of death will carry it on his shoulders.
One day
the horses will live in the saloons
and the enraged ants
will throw themselves on the yellow skies that take refuge in the eyes of cows.
Another day
we will watch the preserved butterflies rise from the dead
and still walking through a country of gray sponges and silent boats
we will watch our ring flash and roses spring from our tongue.
Careful! Be careful! Be careful!
The men who still have marks of the claw and the thunderstorm,
and that boy who cries because he has never heard of the invention of the bridge,
or that dead man who possesses now only his head and a shoe,
we must carry them to the wall where the iguanas and the snakes are waiting,
where the bear's teeth are waiting,
where the mummified hand of the boy is waiting,
and the hair of the camel stands on end with a violent blue shudder.
Nobody is sleeping in the sky. Nobody, nobody.
Nobody is sleeping.
If someone does close his eyes,
a whip, boys, a whip!
Let there be a landscape of open eyes
and bitter wounds on fire.
No one is sleeping in this world. No one, no one.
I have said it before.
No one is sleeping.
But if someone grows too much moss on his temples during the night,
open the stage trapdoors so he can see in the moonlight
the lying goblets, and the poison, and the skull of the theaters.

(Translated by Robert Bly)

Thursday, September 16, 2021

Winter Song for One Who Suffers by Brenda Hillman

Winter Song for One Who Suffers

The stars stand up
behind the day. A known dove balances
on its claw
at the window. A cosmic incident
of darkness has begun
   & a mild excess of beauty
  will be offered to the dead,
 which they will eat. On a hill
the wise man serves the people,
your thought splits
in half when he speaks of the old
revolts, the return
of apocalypse, motive & advancement.
   A soul can crouch
  a long time while the heart
 expands to reach its edges.
What is missing past the glitter
of the harvest?
     Friend, you chose
to live. How? You did. So many
choices, not just two, encrypted
behind the mystery of the sun,
then the hurt was set aside,
 indeterminate chaos
called in by love.

Wednesday, September 15, 2021

Bottleglass by Kaveh Akbar


go ahead tread on me
see if I care I am already
unhuggable as a cactus
and too big to fit on any
lap keep your excuses
short or better yet keep
them to yourself any
animal you live with will
eventually eat you or
at least want to even
birds especially birds
it’s not betrayal if they’re
hungry or very
bored I am hot as
bottleglass pulled from
a fire my liver can’t
handle Tylenol any fever
is like a needle pricking
through my pupils into
my brain I am boiling
down to broth you are
full of spermicide and
the guilt of the
conqueror tell me
what that feels like using
only verbs then carve
my initials into your
halo watch me
disappear in luxury
like a beautiful name-
less planet with three
moons and a dead sun

Tuesday, September 14, 2021

Drinking by Gabriela Mistral


I remember people’s gestures,
They were gestures of giving me water.
In the Valley of Rio Blanco
Where the Aconcagua rises,
I went to drink, I leapt to drink
In the whip of a waterfall
That fell in a stiff mane
And broke white and rigid.
I glued my mouth to the foaming
And the blessed water burnt me,
And for three days my mouth was bleeding
From that drink of the Aconcagua.
In the country of Mitla,
A day of cicadas, of sun and of walking,
I bent to a pool and an Indian came
To hold me over the water.
And my head, like a fruit
Was between the palms of his hands.
I drank and what I was drinking
Was my face and his face together
And in a flash I knew
That my race was the flesh of Mitla.
On the Island of Puerto Rico
At the time of the blue-filled siesta,
My body at rest, the waves in a frenzy,
And the palms like a hundred mothers,
A little girl gracefully opened
A cocoanut close to my mouth
And I drank as a daughter,
Her mother’s milk, milk of the palmtrees.
And I have drunk no sweeter
With the soul nor with the body.
In the house of my childhood,
My mother brought me water.
Between one drink and another,
I looked at her over the jar.
My head I raised higher and higher
The jar sank lower and lower.
And still I keep the valley
I keep my thirst and her look.
This shall be eternity
For we are still as we were.
 I remember people’s gestures,
They were gestures of giving me water.
(translated by H.R. Hays)

Monday, September 13, 2021

To Himself by Mark Strand

To Himself

So you've come to me now without knowing why;
Nor why you sit in the ruby plush of an ugly chair, the sly
Revealing angle of light turning your hair a silver gray;
Nor why you have chosen this moment to set the writing of years
Against the writing of nothing; you who narrowed your eyes,
Peering into the polished air of the hallway mirror, and said
You were mine, all mine; who begged me to write, but always
Of course to you, without ever saying what it was for;
Who used to whisper in my ear only the things
You wanted to hear; who comes to me now and says
That it's late, that the trees are bending under the wind,
That night will fall; as if there were something
You wanted to know, but for years had forgotten to ask,
Something to do with sunlight slanting over a table
And chair, an arm rising, a face turning, and far
In the distance a car disappearing over the hill.

Sunday, September 12, 2021

The Past Suffers Too by Ben Purkert

The Past Suffers Too

The bumper sticker says Live In The Moment! on a Jeep
that cuts me off. I’m working to forget it, to let go
of everything but the wheel in my hands,
as a road connects two cities without forcing them
to touch. When I drive by something, does it sway
toward me or away? Does it slip into the past
or dance nervously in place? The past suffers
from anxiety too. It goes underground, emerging
once in a blue moon to hiss. I hear the grass never
saying a word. I hear it spreading its arms across
each grave & barely catch a name. My dying wish
is scattering now before every planet. I want places to
look forward to. Listen: the earth is a thin voice
in a headset. It’s whispering breathe... breathe...
but who believes in going back? 

A New Day Dawns by Nikky Finney

A New Day Dawns

On the occasion of the Confederate flag falling in South Carolina, July 10, 2015
It is the pearl-blue peep of day.
All night the palmetto sky
Was seized with the aurora
And alchemy of the remarkable.
A blazing canopy of newly minted
Light fluttered in while we slept.
We are not free to go on as if
Nothing happened yesterday.
Not free to cheer as if all our
Prayers have finally been answered
Today. We are free only to search
The yonder of each other’s faces,
As we pass by, tip our hat, hold a
Door ajar, asking silently,
Who are we now? Blood spilled
In battle is two-headed: horror &
Sweet revelation. Let us put the
Cannons of our eyes away forever.
Our one and only Civil War is done.
Let us tilt, rotate, strut on. If we,
The living, do not give our future
The same honor as the sacred dead,
Of then and now—we lose everything.
The gardenia air feels lighter on this
New day, guided now by iridescent
Fireflies, those atomlike creatures
Of our hot summer nights, now begging
Us to team up and search with them
For that which brightens every
Darkness. Soon, it will be just us
Again, alone, beneath the swirling
Indigo sky of South Carolina. Alone &
Working on the answer to our great
Day’s question: Who are we now?
What new human cosmos can be made
Of this tempest of tears, this upland
Of inconsolable jubilation? In all our
Lifetimes, finally, this towering
Undulating moment is here. 

Friday, September 10, 2021

Two Drops by Zbigniew Herbert

Two Drops

          No time to grieve for roses when the forests are burning.
          -- Juliusz Slowacki
The forests were on fire—
they however
wreathed their necks with their hands
like bouquets of roses
People ran to the shelters—
he said his wife had hair
in whose depths one could hide
Covered by one blanket
they whispered shameless words
the litany of those who love
When it got very bad
they leapt into each other’s eyes
and shut them firmly
So firmly they did not feel the flames
when they came up to the eyelashes
To the end they were brave
To the end they were faithful
To the end they were similar
like two drops
stuck at the edge of a face
(translated by Peter Dale Scott) 

Visits to St. Elizabeths by Elizabeth Bishop

Visits to St. Elizabeths

This is the house of Bedlam.
This is the man
that lies in the house of Bedlam.
This is the time
of the tragic man
that lies in the house of Bedlam.
This is a wristwatch
telling the time
of the talkative man
that lies in the house of Bedlam.
This is a sailor
wearing the watch
that tells the time
of the honored man
that lies in the house of Bedlam.
This is the roadstead all of board
reached by the sailor
wearing the watch
that tells the time
of the old, brave man
that lies in the house of Bedlam.
These are the years and the walls of the ward,
the winds and clouds of the sea of board
sailed by the sailor
wearing the watch
that tells the time
of the cranky man
that lies in the house of Bedlam.
This is a Jew in a newspaper hat
that dances weeping down the ward
over the creaking sea of board
beyond the sailor
winding his watch
that tells the time
of the cruel man
that lies in the house of Bedlam.
This is a world of books gone flat.
This is a Jew in a newspaper hat
that dances weeping down the ward
over the creaking sea of board
of the batty sailor
that winds his watch
that tells the time
of the busy man
that lies in the house of Bedlam.
This is a boy that pats the floor
to see if the world is there, is flat,
for the widowed Jew in the newspaper hat
that dances weeping down the ward
waltzing the length of a weaving board
by the silent sailor
that hears his watch
that ticks the time
of the tedious man
that lies in the house of Bedlam.
These are the years and the walls and the door
that shut on a boy that pats the floor
to feel if the world is there and flat.
This is a Jew in a newspaper hat
that dances joyfully down the ward
into the parting seas of board
past the staring sailor
that shakes his watch
that tells the time
of the poet, the man
that lies in the house of Bedlam.
This is the soldier home from the war.
These are the years and the walls and the door
that shut on a boy that pats the floor
to see if the world is round or flat.
This is a Jew in a newspaper hat
that dances carefully down the ward,
walking the plank of a coffin board
with the crazy sailor
that shows his watch
that tells the time
of the wretched man
that lies in the house of Bedlam.

Wednesday, September 8, 2021

Is It True All Legends Once Were Rumors by Carl Phillips

Is It True All Legends Once Were Rumors

And it was as we’d been told it would be: some stumbling wingless;
others flew beheaded. But at first when we looked at them, we could
see no difference, the way it can take a while to realize about how
regretfulness is not regret. As for being frightened: though for many
animals the governing instinct, when most afraid, is to attack, what about
the tendency of songbirds, in a storm, toward silence—is that fear, too?
For mostly, yes, we were silent—tired, as well, though as much out of
boredom as for the need to stretch a bit, why not the rest on foot, we
at last decided—and dismounting, each walked with his horse close
beside him. We mapped our way north by the stars, old school, until there
were no stars, just the weather of childhood, where it’s snowing forever. 

Tuesday, September 7, 2021

How Dark the Beginning by Maggie Smith

How Dark the Beginning 

All we ever talk of is light—
let there be light, there was light then,
good light—but what I consider
dawn is darker than all that.
So many hours between the day
receding and what we recognize
as morning, the sun cresting
like a wave that won’t break
over us—as if  light were protective,
as if  no hearts were flayed,
no bodies broken on a day
like today. In any film,
the sunrise tells us everything
will be all right. Danger wouldn’t
dare show up now, dragging
its shadow across the screen.
We talk so much of  light, please
let me speak on behalf
of  the good dark. Let us
talk more of how dark
the beginning of a day is.

Monday, September 6, 2021

Coyote, with Mange by Mark Wunderlich

Coyote, with Mange

Oh, Unreadable One, why   
have you done this to your dumb creature?   
Why have you chosen to punish the coyote   
rummaging for chicken bones in the dung heap,   
shucked the fur from his tail   
and fashioned it into a scabby cane?   
Why have you denuded his face,   
tufted it, so that when he turns he looks   
like a slow child unhinging his face in a smile?   
The coyote shambles, crow-hops, keeps his head low,   
and without fur, his now visible pizzle   
is a sad red protuberance,   
his hind legs the backward image   
of a bandy-legged grandfather, stripped.   
Why have you unhoused this wretch   
from his one aesthetic virtue,   
taken from him that which kept him   
from burning in the sun like a man?   
Why have you pushed him from his world into mine,   
stopped him there and turned his ear   
toward my warning shout?

Sunday, September 5, 2021

Love Poem with Apologies for My Appearance by Ada Limón

Love Poem with Apologies for My Appearance

Sometimes, I think you get the worst
of me. The much-loved loose forest-green
sweatpants, the long bra-less days, hair
knotted and uncivilized, a shadowed brow
where the devilish thoughts do their hoofed
dance on the brain. I’d like to say this means
I love you, the stained white cotton T-shirt,
the tears, pistachio shells, the mess of orange
peels on my desk, but it’s different than that.
I move in this house with you, the way I move
in my mind, unencumbered by beauty’s cage.
I do like I do in the tall grass, more animal-me
than much else. I’m wrong, it is that I love you,
but it’s more that when you say it back, lights
out, a cold wind through curtains, for maybe
the first time in my life, I believe it.

Saturday, September 4, 2021

Faint Music by Robert Hass

Faint Music

Maybe you need to write a poem about grace.
When everything broken is broken,   
and everything dead is dead,
and the hero has looked into the mirror with complete contempt,
and the heroine has studied her face and its defects
remorselessly, and the pain they thought might,
as a token of their earnestness, release them from themselves
has lost its novelty and not released them,
and they have begun to think, kindly and distantly,
watching the others go about their days—
likes and dislikes, reasons, habits, fears—
that self-love is the one weedy stalk
of every human blossoming, and understood,
therefore, why they had been, all their lives,   
in such a fury to defend it, and that no one—
except some almost inconceivable saint in his pool
of poverty and silence—can escape this violent, automatic
life’s companion ever, maybe then, ordinary light,
faint music under things, a hovering like grace appears.
As in the story a friend told once about the time   
he tried to kill himself. His girl had left him.
Bees in the heart, then scorpions, maggots, and then ash.   
He climbed onto the jumping girder of the bridge,   
the bay side, a blue, lucid afternoon.
And in the salt air he thought about the word “seafood,”
that there was something faintly ridiculous about it.
No one said “landfood.” He thought it was degrading to the rainbow perch
he’d reeled in gleaming from the cliffs, the black rockbass,   
scales like polished carbon, in beds of kelp
along the coast—and he realized that the reason for the word   
was crabs, or mussels, clams. Otherwise
the restaurants could just put “fish” up on their signs,   
and when he woke—he’d slept for hours, curled up   
on the girder like a child—the sun was going down
and he felt a little better, and afraid. He put on the jacket   
he’d used for a pillow, climbed over the railing   
carefully, and drove home to an empty house.
There was a pair of her lemon yellow panties
hanging on a doorknob. He studied them. Much-washed.   
A faint russet in the crotch that made him sick   
with rage and grief. He knew more or less
where she was. A flat somewhere on Russian Hill.   
They’d have just finished making love. She’d have tears   
in her eyes and touch his jawbone gratefully. “God,”   
she’d say, “you are so good for me.” Winking lights,   
a foggy view downhill toward the harbor and the bay.   
“You’re sad,” he’d say. “Yes.” “Thinking about Nick?”
“Yes,” she’d say and cry. “I tried so hard,” sobbing now,
“I really tried so hard.” And then he’d hold her for a while—
Guatemalan weavings from his fieldwork on the wall—
and then they’d fuck again, and she would cry some more,   
and go to sleep.
                        And he, he would play that scene
once only, once and a half, and tell himself
that he was going to carry it for a very long time
and that there was nothing he could do
but carry it. He went out onto the porch, and listened   
to the forest in the summer dark, madrone bark
cracking and curling as the cold came up.
It’s not the story though, not the friend
leaning toward you, saying “And then I realized—,”
which is the part of stories one never quite believes.   
I had the idea that the world’s so full of pain
it must sometimes make a kind of singing.
And that the sequence helps, as much as order helps—
First an ego, and then pain, and then the singing. 

Friday, September 3, 2021

Summer in a Small Town by Linda Gregg

Summer in a Small Town

When the men leave me,
they leave me in a beautiful place.
It is always late summer.
When I think of them now,
I think of the place.
And being happy alone afterwards.
This time it’s Clinton, New York.
I swim in the public pool
at six when the other people
have gone home.
The sky is grey, the air hot.
I walk back across the mown lawn
loving the smell and the houses
so completely it leaves my heart empty.

Thursday, September 2, 2021

Death and the City by Rowan Ricardo Phillips

Death and the City

Yesterday’s newspaper becomes last week’s
Newspapers spread out like a hand-held fan
In front of the face of the apartment
Door. A dog does the Argos-thing inside,
Waiting beside O as though his body
Is but an Ithaca waiting the soul’s
Return. Neil the Super will soon come up
With the key but only in time to find
Doreen, the on-the-down-low-friend-with-perks,
There already, kneeling between the two,
Stroking the hair of both O and the dog,
Wondering who had been walking the dog.

Wednesday, September 1, 2021

Chinese Poem by J. D. McClatchy

Chinese Poem

Whatever change you were considering,
Do not plant another tree in the garden.
One tree means four seasons of sadness:
What is going,
                                          What is coming,
What will not come,
                                          What cannot go.
Here in bed, through the south window
I can see the moon watching us both,
Someone's hand around its clump of light.
Yours? I know you are sitting out there,
Looking at silver bloom against the black.
That drop from your cup on the night sky's
Lacquer you wipe away with your sleeve
As if its pleated thickets were the wide space
Between us, though you know as well as I do
This autumn is no different from the last.