another night at sea level :: meg day

On the third day, I wrote to you
about the sky, its elastic way
of stretching so ocean-wide
that the only way to name it
was to compare it to Montana’s.
Lately, the sky is a ceiling
I wake to: broad & blank
& stubborn, stiff at the edges
like a fever cloth wrung out
& gone cold in the night, damp
with the wicking of latent ache.
But tonight I was walking
home along the coastline
& caught the huge moon
in my throat. There’s a man
somewhere on the planet
who has been to that moon,
who has stepped out of that sky,
& will never sleep the same
because of it. Will always be
sad or feel small, or wonder
how it is a person can be
a person, if being a person
is worrying about things;
whose eyes cannot see
what things are, but only
the slightness of them.
I think of writing to you
in this way—welcoming
the adventure of it—
& of being wrecked
proper, of being ruined.

sorrow is not my name :: ross gay

—after Gwendolyn Brooks

No matter the pull toward brink. No
matter the florid, deep sleep awaits.
There is a time for everything. Look,
just this morning a vulture
nodded his red, grizzled head at me,
and I looked at him, admiring
the sickle of his beak.
Then the wind kicked up, and,
after arranging that good suit of feathers
he up and took off.
Just like that. And to boot,
there are, on this planet alone, something like two
million naturally occurring sweet things,
some with names so generous as to kick
the steel from my knees: agave, persimmon,
stick ball, the purple okra I bought for two bucks
at the market. Think of that. The long night,
the skeleton in the mirror, the man behind me
on the bus taking notes, yeah, yeah.
But look; my niece is running through a field
calling my name. My neighbor sings like an angel
and at the end of my block is a basketball court.
I remember. My color’s green. I’m spring.

—for Walter Aikens

the most gentle revolution :: nikita gill

There are still versions of you that remember
a soft childhood filled with caring for everything
that the grown ups around you simply ignored.

The baby bird with a broken wing you healed,
the thirsty plants you always gave water to
the lonely and sad children you befriended.

We learn when we are young how to be kind,
we are so certain back then that we are here to help
each other through sorrow and through sadness too.

But when we grow up we forget the magic
that lies within each act of kindness, that it has
the facility to build true hope the way revolutions do.

Kindness was always your superpower.
And your gentle heart can still change the world
if only you believe you can and truly want to.

naming the heartbeats :: aimee nezhukumatathil

I’ve become the person who says Darling, who says Sugarpie,
Honeybunch, Snugglebear—and that’s just for my children.
What I call my husband is unprintable. You’re welcome. I am
his sweetheart, and finally, finally—I answer to his call and his
alone. Animals are named for people, places, or perhaps a little
Latin. Plants invite names for colors or plant-parts. When you
get a group of heartbeats together you get names that call out
into the evening’s first radiance of planets: a quiver of cobras,
a maelstrom of salamanders, an audience of squid, or an ostentation
of peacocks. But what is it called when creatures on this earth curl
and sleep, when shadows of moons we don’t yet know brush across
our faces? And what is the name for the movement we make when
we wake, swiping hand or claw or wing across our face, like trying
to remember a path or a river we’ve only visited in our dreams.

finale :: pablo neruda

translated by william o’daly

Matilde, years or days
sleeping, feverish,
here or there,
gazing off,
twisting my spine,
bleeding true blood,
perhaps I awaken
or am lost, sleeping:
hospital beds, foreign windows,
white uniforms of the silent walkers,
the clumsiness of feet.

And then, these journeys
and my sea of renewal:
your head on the pillow,
your hands floating
in the light, in my light,
over my earth.

It was beautiful to live
when you lived!

The world is bluer and of the earth
at night, when I sleep
enormous, within your small hands.

the tent :: naomi shihab nye

When did hordes of sentences start beginning with So?

As if everything were always pending,

leaning on what came before.

What can you expect?

Loneliness everywhere, entertained or kept in storage.

So you felt anxious to be alone.

Easier to hear, explore a city, room,

mound of hours, no one walking beside you.

Talking to self endlessly, but mostly listening.

This would not be strange.

It would be the tent you slept in.

Waking calmly inside whatever

you had to do would be freedom.

It would be your country.

The men in front of me had whole acres

in their eyes. I could feel them cross, recross each day.

Memory, stitched. History, soothed.

What we do or might prefer to do. Have done.

How we got here. Telling ourselves a story

till it’s compact enough to bear.

Passing the walls, wearing the sky,

the slight bow and rising of trees.

Everything ceaselessly holding us close.

So we are accompanied.

Never cast out without a line of language to reel us back.

That is what happened, how I got here.

So maybe. One way anyway.

A story was sewn, seed sown,

this was what patriotism meant to me—

to be at home inside my own head long enough

to accept its infinite freedom

and move forward anywhere, to mysteries coming.

Even at night in a desert, temperatures plummet,

billowing tent flaps murmur to one other.