the fluffer talks of eternity :: d. a. powell

I can only give you back what you imagine.
I am a soulless man. When I take you
into my mouth, it is not my mouth. It is
an unlit pit, an aperture opened just enough
in the pinhole camera to capture the shade.

I have caused you to rise up to me, and I
have watched as you rose and waned.
Our times together have been innumerable. Still,
like a Capistrano swallow, you come back.
You understand: I understand you. Understand
each jiggle and tug. Your pudgy, mercurial wad.

I am simply a hand inexhaustible as yours
could never be. You’re nevertheless prepared to shoot.
If I could I’d finish you. Be more than just your rag.

From Poetry, February 2010

eyes :: rae armantrout

      After John Milton

Our light is never spent.
Is spent.

Thus have we scooped out
maceration reservoirs.

We will blaze forth
what remains
as pixels.

Great angels
fly at our behest
between towers,

along axons and dendrites,

so that things stand
as they stand

in the recruited present.

no more and no less :: mahmoud darwish

translated by fady joudah

I am a woman. No more and no less
I live my life as it is
thread by thread
and I spin my wool to wear, not
to complete Homer’s story, or his sun.
And I see what I see
as it is, in its shape,
though I stare every once
in a while in its shade
to sense the pulse of defeat,
and I write tomorrow
on yesterday’s sheets: there’s no sound
other than echo.
I love the necessary vagueness in
what a night traveler says to the absence
of birds over the slopes of speech
and above the roofs of villages
I am a woman, no more and no less

The almond blossom sends me flying
in March, from my balcony,
in longing for what the faraway says:
“Touch me and I’ll bring my horses to the water springs.”
I cry for no clear reason, and I love you
as you are, not as a strut
nor in vain
and from my shoulders a morning rises onto you
and falls into you, when I embrace you, a night.
But I am neither one nor the other
no, I am not a sun or a moon
I am a woman, no more and no less

So be the Qyss of longing,
if you wish. As for me
I like to be loved as I am
not as a color photo
in the paper, or as an idea
composed in a poem amid the stags …
I hear Laila’s faraway scream
from the bedroom: Do not leave me
a prisoner of rhyme in the tribal nights
do not leave me to them as news …
I am a woman, no more and no less

I am who I am, as
you are who you are: you live in me
and I live in you, to and for you
I love the necessary clarity of our mutual puzzle
I am yours when I overflow the night
but I am not a land
or a journey
I am a woman, no more and no less

And I tire
from the moon’s feminine cycle
and my guitar falls ill
string
by string
I am a woman,
no more
and no less!

the things :: donald hall

When I walk in my house I see pictures,
bought long ago, framed and hanging
—de Kooning, Arp, Laurencin, Henry Moore—
that I’ve cherished and stared at for years,
yet my eyes keep returning to the masters
of the trivial: a white stone perfectly round,
tiny lead models of baseball players, a cowbell,
a broken great-grandmother’s rocker,
a dead dog’s toy—valueless, unforgettable
detritus that my children will throw away
as I did my mother’s souvenirs of trips
with my dead father, Kodaks of kittens,
and bundles of cards from her mother Kate.

From The New Yorker

on inhabiting an orange :: josephine miles

All our roads go nowhere.
Maps are curled
To keep the pavement definitely
On the world.

All our footsteps, set to make
Metric advance,
Lapse into arcs in deference
To circumstance.

All our journeys nearing Space
Skirt it with care,
Shying at the distances
Present in air.

Blithely travel-stained and worn,
Erect and sure,
All our travels go forth,
Making down the roads of Earth
Endless detour.

suicide of a moderate dictator :: elizabeth bishop

This is a day when truths will out, perhaps;
leak from the dangling telephone earphones
sapping the festooned switchboards’ strength;
fall from the windows, blow from off the sills,
—the vague, slight unremarkable contents
of emptying ash-trays; rub off on our fingers
like ink from the un-proof-read newspapers,
crocking the way the unfocused photographs
of crooked faces do that soil our coats,
our tropical-wight coats, like slapped-at moths.

Today’s a day when those who work
are idling. Those who played must work
and hurry, too, to get it downe,
with little dignity or none.
The newspapers are sold; the kiosk shutters
crash down. But anyway, in the night
the headlines wrote themselves, see, on the streets
and sidewalks everywhere; a sediment’s splashed
even to the first floors of apartment houses.

This is a day that’s beautiful as well,
warm and clear. At seven o’clock I saw
the dogs being walked along the famous beach
as usual, in a shiny gray-green dawn,
leaving their paw prints draining in the wet.
The line of breakers was steady and the pinkish,
segmented rainbow steadily hung above it.
At eight, two little boys were flying kites.

clouds :: kay ryan

A blue stain
creeps across
the deep pile
of the evergreens.
From inside the
forest it seems
like an interior
matter, something
wholly to do
with trees, a color
passed from one
to another, a
requirement
to which they
submit unflinchingly
like soldiers or
brave people
getting older.
Then the sun
comes back and
it’s totally over.

this kind of thing doesn’t happen often and when it does you should pay attention :: john stone

      i thank heaven somebody’s crazy
      enough to send me a daisy
            –e.e. cummings

On Piedmont Road, going north,
before my car there floated forth

a soapy bubble in the traffic,
glistening and holographic.

It drifted down into my path,
this ghostly sphere from someone’s bath.

I watched it bob and almost tickle
A Harley-Davidson motorcycle

then rise (as it got quite exhausted)
That’s where I left it, fair and frosted.

For this unexpected act
I thank heaven (I think), in fact,

that someone went to all the trouble
to blow me a bubble.

somewhere or other :: christina rossetti

Somewhere or other there must surely be
The face not seen, the voice not heard,
The heart that not yet—never yet—ah me!
Made answer to my word.

Somewhere or other, may be near or far;
Past land and sea, clean out of sight;
Beyond the wandering moon, beyond the star
That tracks her night by night.

Somewhere or other, may be far or near;
With just a wall, a hedge, between;
With just the last leaves of the dying year
Fallen on a turf grown green.

fuck :: kim addonizio

There are people who will tell you
that using the word fuck in a poem
indicates a serious lapse
of taste, or imagination,

or both. It’s vulgar,
indecorous, an obscenity
that crashes down like an anvil
falling through a skylight

to land on a restaurant table,
on the white linen, the cut-glass vase of lilacs.
But if you were sitting
over coffee when the metal

hit your saucer like a missile,
wouldn’t that be the first thing
you’d say? Wouldn’t you leap back
shouting, or at least thinking it,

over and over, bell-note riotously clanging
in the church of your brain
while the solicitous waiter
led you away, wouldn’t you prop

your shaking elbows on the bar
and order your first drink in months,
telling yourself you were lucky
to be alive? And if you wouldn’t

say anything but Mercy or Oh my
or Land sakes, well then
I don’t want to know you anyway
and I don’t give a fuck what you think

of my poem. The world is divided
into those whose opinions matter
and those who will never have
a clue, and if you knew

which one you were I could talk
to you, and tell you that sometimes
there’s only one word that means
what you need it to mean, the way

there’s only one person
when you first fall in love,
or one infant’s cry that calls forth
the burning milk, one name

that you pray to when prayer
is what’s left to you. I’m saying
in the beginning was the word
and it was good, it meant one human

entering another and it’s still
what I love, the word made
flesh. Fuck me, I say to the one
whose lovely body I want close,

and as we fuck I know it’s holy,
a psalm, a hymn, a hammer
ringing down on an anvil,
forging a whole new world.

Found via FU: an anthology of fuck you poems

jazz :: angela ball

I’d like to know everything
A jazz artist knows, starting with the song
“Goodbye Pork Pie Hat.”

Like to make some songs myself:
“Goodbye Rickshaw,”
“Goodbye Lemondrop,”
“Goodbye Rendezvous.”

Or maybe even blues:

If you fall in love with me I’ll make you pancakes
All morning. If you fall in love with me
I’ll make you pancakes all night.
If you don’t like pancakes
We’ll go to the creperie. If you don’t like pancakes
We’ll go to the creperie.
If you don’t like to eat, handsome boy,
Don’t you hang around with me.

On second thought, I’d rather find
The fanciest music I can, and hear all of it.

I’d rather love somebody
And say his name to myself every day
Until I fall apart.

reverence :: julie cadwallader-staub

The air vibrated
with the sound of cicadas
on those hot Missouri nights after sundown
when the grown-ups gathered on the wide back lawn,
sank into their slung-back canvas chairs
tall glasses of iced tea beading in the heat

and we sisters chased fireflies
reaching for them in the dark
admiring their compact black bodies
their orange stripes and seeking antennas
as they crawled to our fingertips
and clicked open into the night air.

In all the days and years that have followed,
I don’t know that I’ve ever experienced
that same utter certainty of the goodness of life
that was as palpable
as the sound of the cicadas on those nights:

my sisters running around with me in the dark,
the murmur of the grown-ups’ voices,
the way reverence mixes with amazement
to see such a small body
emit so much light.

on finding a turtle shell in daniel boone national forest :: jeff worley

This one got tired
of lugging his fortress
wherever he went,
was done with duck and cover
at every explosion
through rustling leaves
of fox and dog and skunk.
Said au revoir to the ritual
of pulling himself together. . .

I imagine him waiting
for the cover of darkness
to let down his hinged drawbridge.
He wanted, after so many
protracted years of caution,
to dance naked and nimble
as a flame under the moon—
even if dancing just once
was all that the teeth
of the forest would allow.

From American Life in Poetry

unwise purchases :: george bilgere

They sit around the house
not doing much of anything: the boxed set
of the complete works of Verdi, unopened.
The complete Proust, unread:

The French-cut silk shirts
which hang like expensive ghosts in the closet
and make me look exactly
like the kind of middle-aged man
who would wear a French-cut silk shirt:

The reflector telescope I thought would unlock
the mysteries of the heavens
but which I only used once or twice
to try to find something heavenly
in the windows of the high-rise down the road,
and which now stares disconsolately at the ceiling
when it could be examining the Crab Nebula:

The 30-day course in Spanish
whose text I never opened,
whose dozen cassette tapes remain unplayed,

save for Tape One, where I never learned
whether the suave American
conversing with a sultry-sounding desk clerk
at a Madrid hotel about the possibility
of obtaining a room
actually managed to check in.

I like to think
that one thing led to another between them
and that by Tape Six or so
they’re happily married
and raising a bilingual child in Seville or Terra Haute.

But I’ll never know.
Suddenly I realize
I have constructed the perfect home
for a sexy, Spanish-speaking astronomer
who reads Proust while listening to Italian arias,

and I wonder if somewhere in this teeming city
there lives a woman with, say,
a fencing foil gathering dust in the corner
near her unused easel, a rainbow of oil paints
drying in their tubes

on the table where the violin
she bought on a whim
lies entombed in the permanent darkness
of its locked case
next to the abandoned chess set,

a woman who has always dreamed of becoming
the kind of woman the man I’ve always dreamed of becoming
has always dreamed of meeting.

And while the two of them discuss star clusters
and Cézanne, while they fence delicately
in Castilian Spanish to the strains of Rigoletto,

she and I will stand in the steamy kitchen,
fixing up a little risotto,
enjoying a modest cabernet,
while talking over a day so ordinary
as to seem miraculous.

learning from history :: david ferry

They said, my saints, my slogan-sayers sang,
Be good, my child, in spite of all alarm.

They stood, my fathers, tall in a row and said,
Be good, be brave, you shall not come to harm.

I heard them in my sleep and muttering dream,
And murmuring cried, How shall I wake to this?

They said, my poets, singers of my song,
We cannot tell, since all we tell you is

But history, we speak but of the dead.
And of the dead they said such history

(Their beards were blazing with the truth of it)
As made of much of me a mystery.

only so much :: rachel hadas

I bend to the open notebook; distracted, turn my head.
Tiny brown ants are climbing up a stalk of goldenrod.

It isn’t clear what goal they hope to reach.
I pick up a sharpened pencil, start to sketch.

A passing cloud; the sky goes dull. I shut
the notebook and open it from the back, to write.

There is only so much we can notice all at once.
Now this morning’s dream makes an appearance:

packed lecture hall where students overflow
to aisles and floor. What do they want to know?

I have the sense they’re gathered here to learn
some kind of surgery. The brain donation

card, wallet-size, arrived in this morning’s mail.
I close the notebook. The patient ants still crawl.

A sudden breeze: the grasses toss their tops.
Wild strawberry runners are clambering over this rock,

where, if I sat here long enough, eventually
the tough, lithe tendrils would also crisscross me.

I could climb down from my temporary tower,
go to the house and fill a glass with water,

get out my watercolors, dip my brush,
memorialize this moment with a wash

of color; sketch the runners, trace a border,
as if imitation equalled order.

Or I could take a walk down to the brook
or stretch out in the hammock with a book

or let my thoughts’ red runners trace a line
to the null magnet of my husband’s brain,

the hospital where he’s “undergoing observation,”
the arid wide plateau of the condition—

a battleground to which I will return.
But there is room for only so much attention.

From The New Yorker

in praise of coldness :: jane hirshfield

“If you wish to move your reader,”
Chekhov wrote, “you must write more coldly.”

Herakleitos recommended, “A dry soul is best.”

And so at the center of many great works
is found a preserving dispassion,
like the vanishing point of quattrocento perspective,
or the tiny packets of desiccant enclosed
in a box of new shoes or seeds.

But still the vanishing point
is not the painting
the silica is not the blossoming plant.

Chekhov, dying, read the timetables of trains.
To what more earthly thing could he have been faithful?—
Scent of rocking distances,
smoke of blue trees out the window,
hampers of bread, pickled cabbage, boiled meat.

Scent of the knowable journey.

Neither a person entirely broken
nor one entirely whole can speak.

In sorrow, pretend to be fearless. In happiness, tremble.

when you are old :: w. b. yeats

When you are old and grey and full of sleep,
And nodding by the fire, take down this book,
And slowly read, and dream of the soft look
Your eyes had once, and of their shadows deep;

How many loved your moments of glad grace,
And loved your beauty with love false or true,
But one man loved the pilgrim soul in you,
And loved the sorrows of your changing face;

And bending down beside the glowing bars,
Murmur, a little sadly, how Love fled
And paced upon the mountains overhead
And hid his face amid a crowd of stars.

lucky :: michael blumenthal

Off to the market to buy a lottery ticket,
I consider the possibilities of luck: good luck.
bad luck, beginner’s luck, hard luck, the luck
of the draw, and I realize I am lucky, in fact,
to be here at all, on this benignly lit street
on a night in October, as luck would have it,
and I know that it’s not just the luck of
the Irish, but any man’s, to walk the streets
of his town, beneath the shapely moon,
and ponder the dumb luck that brought him here,
against all odds, into the vast lottery of minnow
and ovum, and to know he has once again lucked out,
this very night, spent as it has been without
accident or incident, a small testimonial
to the quietudes that are still possible,
the only half-felt wish for some grand stroke
of luck that will change everything, that will
change, really, nothing at all, our lives being,
in some sense, beyond the vicissitudes
of luck and yearning, the night being lovely,
the day finite, many of those we know whose luck
has already run out, and we not yet among them,
thank the beneficence of Lady Luck, our stars
just now flickering into flame
as the night lucks in.

Courtesy of The Writer’s Almanac

woman to man :: ai

Lightning hits the roof,
shoves the knife, darkness,
deep in the walls.
They bleed light all over us
and your face, the fan, folds up,
so I won’t see how afraid
to be with me you are.
We don’t mix, even in bed,
where we keep ending up.
There’s no need to hide it:
you’re snow, I’m coal,
I’ve got the scars to prove it.
But open your mouth,
I’ll give you a taste of black
you won’t forget.
For a while, I’ll let it make you strong,
make your heart lion,
then I’ll take it back.

promises are for liars :: james galvin

Because, you know,
Either you’re going
To do it or
You’re not.
Slight as light
Reflected from the stream
Onto the wavering
Willow leaves,
Eternal love
Doesn’t need
Eternity, see?
A cyclone of sand-
Hill cranes
Rises from the corn
Slathering the
Ephemeral work.
Let’s don’t worry.
Let’s don’t ask.
Our institutions
Are standing by.
But I keep thinking
How easy it is
To get lost in the sky
With nothing holy
To defend.

the city in which i loved you :: li-young lee

I will arise now, and go
about the city in the streets,
and in the broad ways I will seek. . .
whom my soul loveth.

            Song of Songs 3:2

And when, in the city in which I love you,
even my most excellent song goes unanswered,
and I mount the scabbed streets,
the long shouts of avenues,
and tunnel sunken night in search of you….

That I negotiate fog, bituminous
rain ringing like teeth into the beggar’s tin,
or two men jackaling a third in some alley
weirdly lit by a couch on fire, that I
drag my extinction in search of you….

Past the guarded schoolyards, the boarded-up churches, swastikaed
synagogues, defended houses of worship, past
newspapered windows of tenements, among the violated,
the prosecuted citizenry, throughout this
storied, buttressed, scavenged, policed
city I call home, in which I am a guest….

A bruise, blue
in the muscle, you
impinge upon me.
As bone hugs the ache home, so
I’m vexed to love you, your body

the shape of returns, your hair a torso
of light, your heat
I must have, your opening
I’d eat, each moment
of that soft-finned fruit,
inverted fountain in which I don’t see me.

My tongue remembers your wounded flavor.
The vein in my neck
adores you. A sword
stands up between my hips,
my hidden fleece send forth its scent of human oil.

The shadows under my arms,
I promise, are tender, the shadows
under my face. Do not calculate,
but come, smooth other, rough sister.
Yet, how will you know me

among the captives, my hair grown long,
my blood motley, my ways trespassed upon?
In the uproar, the confusion
of accents and inflections,
how will you hear me when I open my mouth?

Look for me, one of the drab population
under fissured edifices, fractured
artifices. Make my various
names flock overhead,
I will follow you.
Hew me to your beauty.

Stack in me the unaccountable fire,
bring on me the iron leaf, but tenderly.
Folded one hundred times and
creased, I’ll not crack.
Threshed to excellence, I’ll achieve you.

But in the city
in which I love you,
no one comes, no one
meets me in the brick clefts;
in the wedged dark,

no finger touches me secretly, no mouth
tastes my flawless salt,
no one wakens the honey in the cells, finds the humming
in the ribs, the rich business in the recesses;
hulls clogged, I continue laden, translated

by exhaustion and time’s appetite, my sleep abandoned
in bus stations and storefront stoops,
my insomnia erected under a sky
cross-hatched by wires, branches,
and black flights of rain. Lewd body of wind

jams me in the passageways, doors slam
like guns going off, a gun goes off, a pie plate spins
past, whizzing its thin tremolo,
a plastic bag, fat with wind, barrels by and slaps
a chain-link fence, wraps it like clung skin.

In the excavated places,
I waited for you, and I did not cry out.
In the derelict rooms, my body needed you,
and there was such flight in my breast.
During the daily assaults, I called to you,

and my voice pursued you,
even backward
to that other city
in which I saw a woman
squat in the street

beside a body,
and fan with a handkerchief flies from its face.
That woman
was not me. And
the corpse

lying there, lying there
so still it seemed with great effort, as though
his whole being was concentrating on the hole
in his forehead, so still
I expected he’d sit up any minute and laugh out loud:

that man was not me;
his wound was his, his death not mine.
And the soldier
who fired the shot, then lit a cigarette:
he was not me.

And the ones I do not see
in cities all over the world,
the ones sitting, standing, lying down, those
in prisons playing checkers with their knocked-out teeth:
they are not me. Some of them are

my age, even my height and weight;
none of them is me.
The woman who is slapped, the man who is kicked,
the ones who don’t survive,
whose names I do not know;

they are not me forever,
the ones who no longer live
in the cities in which
you are not,
the cities in which I looked for you.

The rain stops, the moon
in her breaths appears overhead.
The only sound now is a far flapping.
Over the National Bank, the flag of some republic or other
gallops like water on fire to tear itself away.

If I feel the night
move to disclosures or crescendos,
it’s only because I’m famished
for meaning; the night
merely dissolves.

And your otherness is perfect as my death.
Your otherness exhausts me,
like looking suddenly up from here
to impossible stars fading.
Everything is punished by your absence.

Is prayer, then, the proper attitude
for the mind that longs to be freely blown,
but which gets snagged on the barb
called world, that
tooth-ache, the actual? What prayer

would I build? And to whom?
Where are you
in the cities in which I love you,
the cities daily risen to work and to money,
to the magnificent miles and the gold coasts?

Morning comes to this city vacant of you.
Pages and windows flare, and you are not there.
Someone sweeps his portion of sidewalk,
wakens the drunk, slumped like laundry,
and you are gone.

You are not in the wind
which someone notes in the margins of a book.
You are gone out of the small fires in abandoned lots
where human figures huddle,
each aspiring to its own ghost.

Between brick walls, in a space no wider than my face,
a leafless sapling stands in mud.
In its branches, a nest of raw mouths
gaping and cheeping, scrawny fires that must eat.
My hunger for you is no less than theirs.

At the gates of the city in which I love you,
the sea hauls the sun on its back,
strikes the land, which rebukes it.
What ardor in its sliding heft,
a flameless friction on the rocks.

Like the sea, I am recommended by my orphaning.
Noisy with telegrams not received,
quarrelsome with aliases,
intricate with misguided journeys,
by my expulsions have I come to love you.

Straight from my father’s wrath,
and long from my mother’s womb,
late in this century and on a Wednesday morning,
bearing the mark of one who’s experienced
neither heaven nor hell,

my birthplace vanished, my citizenship earned,
in league with stones of the earth, I
enter, without retreat or help from history,
the days of no day, my earth
of no earth, I re-enter

the city in which I love you.
And I never believed that the multitude
of dreams and many words were vain.

how beautiful :: mary jo bang

A personal lens: glass bending rays
That gave one that day’s news
Saying each and every day,

Just remember you are standing
On a planet that’s evolving.
How beautiful, she thought, what distance does

For water, the view from above or afar.
In last night’s dream, they were back again
At the beginning. She was a child

And he was a child.
A plane lit down and left her there.
Cold whitening the white sky whiter.

Then a scalpel cut her open for all the world
To be a sea.

almond blossom :: d. h. lawrence

Even iron can put forth,
Even iron.

This is the iron age,
But let us take heart
Seeing iron break and bud,
Seeing rusty iron puff with clouds of blossom.

The almond-tree,
December’s bare iron hooks sticking out of earth.

The almond-tree,
That knows the deadliest poison, like a snake
In supreme bitterness.

Upon the iron, and upon the steel,
Odd flakes as if of snow, odd bits of snow,
Odd crumbs of melting snow.

But you mistake, it is not from the sky;
From out the iron, and from out the steel,
Flying not down from heaven, but storming up,
Strange storming up from the dense under-earth
Along the iron, to the living steel
In rose-hot tips, and flakes of rose-pale snow
Setting supreme annunciation to the world.

Nay, what a heart of delicate super-faith,
Iron-breaking,
The rusty swords of almond-trees.

Trees suffer, like races, down the long ages.
They wander and are exiled, they live in exile through long ages
Like drawn blades never sheathed, hacked and gone black,
The alien trees in alien lands: and yet
The heart of blossom,
The unquenchable heart of blossom!

Look at the many-cicatrised frail vine, none more scarred and frail,
Yet see him fling himself abroad in fresh abandon
From the small wound-stump.

Even the wilful, obstinate, gummy fig-tree
Can be kept down, but he’ll burst like a polyp into prolixity.

And the almond-tree, in exile, in the iron age!

This is the ancient southern earth whence the vases were baked,
amphoras, craters, cantharus, oenochoe, and open-hearted cylix,
Bristling now with the iron of almond-trees

Iron, but unforgotten,
Iron, dawn-hearted,
Ever-beating dawn-heart, enveloped in iron against the exile, against the ages.

See it come forth in blossom
From the snow-remembering heart
In long-nighted January,
In the long dark nights of the evening star, and Sirius, and the Etna snow-wind through the long night.

Sweating his drops of blood through the long-nighted Gethsemane
Into blossom, into pride, into honey-triumph, into most exquisite splendour.
Oh, give me the tree of life in blossom
And the Cross sprouting its superb and fearless flowers!

Something must be reassuring to the almond, in the evening star, and the snow-wind, and the long, long nights,
Some memory of far, sun-gentler lands,
So that the faith in his heart smiles again
And his blood ripples with that untenable delight of once-more-vindicated faith,
And the Gethsemane blood at the iron pores unfolds, unfolds,
Pearls itself into tenderness of bud
And in a great and sacred forthcoming steps forth, steps out in one stride
A naked tree of blossom, like a bridegroom bathing in dew, divested of cover,
Frail-naked, utterly uncovered
To the green night-baying of the dog-star, Etna’s snow-edged wind
And January’s loud-seeming sun.

Think of it, from the iron fastness
Suddenly to dare to come out naked, in perfection of blossom, beyond the sword-rust.
Think, to stand there in full-unfolded nudity, smiling,
With all the snow-wind, and the sun-glare, and the dog-star baying epithalamion.

Oh, honey-bodied beautiful one,
Come forth from iron,
Red your heart is.
Fragile-tender, fragile-tender life-body,
More fearless than iron all the time,
And so much prouder, so disdainful of reluctances.

In the distance like hoar-frost, like silvery ghosts communing on a green hill,
Hoar-frost-like and mysterious.

In the garden raying out
With a body like spray, dawn-tender, and looking about
With such insuperable, subtly-smiling assurance,
Sword-blade-born.

Unpromised,
No bounds being set.
Flaked out and come unpromised,
The tree being life-divine,
Fearing nothing, life-blissful at the core
Within iron and earth.

Knots of pink, fish-silvery
In heaven, in blue, blue heaven,
Soundless, bliss-full, wide-rayed, honey-bodied,
Red at the core,
Red at the core,
Knotted in heaven upon the fine light.

Open,
Open,
Five times wide open,
Six times wide open,
And given, and perfect;
And red at the core with the last sore-heartedness,
Sore-hearted-looking.

if truth is the lure, humans are fishes :: jane hirshfield

Under each station of the real,
another glimmers.
And so the love of false-bottomed drawers
and the salt mines outside Kraków,
going down and down without drowning.
A man harms his wife, his child.
He says, “Here is the reason.”
She says, “Here is the reason.”
The child says nothing,
watching him led away.
If truth is the lure, humans are fishes.
All the fine bones of that eaten-up story,
think about them.
Their salt-cod whiteness on whiteness.

From The New Yorker

the accompanist :: dick allen

I’ve always worried about you—the man or woman
at the piano bench,
night after night receiving only such applause
as the singer allows: a warm hand please,
for my accompanist
. At concerts,
as I watch your fingers on the keys,
and how swiftly, how excellently
you turn sheet music pages,
track the singer’s notes, cover the singer’s flaws,
I worry about whole lifetimes,
most lifetimes
lived in the shadows of reflected fame;
but then the singer’s voice dies
and there are just your last piano notes,
not resentful at all,
carrying us to the end, into those heartfelt cheers
that spring up in little patches from a thrilled audience
like sudden wildflowers bobbing in a rain
of steady clapping. And I’m on my feet, also,
clapping and cheering for the singer, yes,
but, I think, partially likewise for you
half-turned toward us, balanced on your black bench,
modest, utterly well-rehearsed,
still playing the part you’ve made yours.