what could be more than a kiss? :: michael burkard

a scent.
a stone alive at last
after being worried for god knows how many years,

a piano
won by the little boy
who picked the right number of fish in the sea.

another kiss.
followed by another kiss.
followed by the dark starlight of jesus
                          by the dark starlight of a ship too far at sea
       at too late a date

at too late a time
no one can be on board such a ship—

no one can kiss like you
or the ocean approaching the rest of the night waiting world

From Harvard Review

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allow me :: chungmi kim

If I must worry about how
I will live in my old age
without wealth
I would be without health now
and how can I live to be
old?

If I must worry about how
I will live in my old age
without love
I would be without dreams now
and how can I go on living
another day?

Allow me to sit in the sun
and listen to the sky.
I will love you gently.

Allow me to stay in my room
and weave my rainbows.
I will love you truly.

Like a colt in the meadow
with no boundary
allow me

to wander around

till I hear the autumn
stealthily
strolling by my door.

I will be waiting
to be with you
then.

plea for forgiveness :: rodney jones

The old man William Carlos Williams, who had been famous for kindness
And for bringing to our poetry a mannerless speaking,

In the aftermath of a stroke was possessed by guilt
And began to construct for his wife the chronicle

Of his peccadilloes, a deplorable thing, a mistake,
Like all pleas for forgiveness, but he persisted

Blindly, obstinately, each day, as though in the end
It would relieve her to know the particulars

Of affairs she must have guessed at and tacitly permitted:
For she encouraged his Sunday drives across the river;

His poems suggest as much, anyone can see it.
The thread, the binding of the voice, is a single hair

Spliced from the different hairs of different lovers,
And it clings to his poems, blonde and dark,

Tangled and straight, and runs on beyond the page.
I carry it with me, saying, “I have found it so.”

It is a world of human blossoming, after all.
But the old woman, sitting there like rust —

For her, there would be no more poems of stolen
Plums, of round and firm trunks of young trees,

Only the candor of the bedpan and the fouled sheet,
When there could no longer have been any hope

That he would recover, when the thing she desired
Was not his health so much as his speechlessness.

spice night :: catherine bowman

It was your best friend’s birthday, 9:00 and late July. By the time
I got there wearing shorts and a T-shirt everyone was pretty spiced
on Corona and Lite. What’s-his-name Ramirez started telling jokes
about German Shepherds and Girl Scouts and then someone hurt a knee
trying to somersault and play volleyball with only the light of the moon
and oh yeah Joe Herder drove his ‘64 Cadillac right over the grass.

I think you had a date but you were sitting with me on the grass
and I didn’t feel guilty, in fact I was worrying about the time
because the night would end soon and I had come just to see you. The moon
was drenching the Balcones Fault Flood Basin with a pollen, a spice,
it happens every twelve years, and that’s when you put your hand on my knee
and that’s when Ramirez started telling a series of dead baby jokes.

Even Joe Herder and his crowd were getting tired of the bad jokes
because they started telling stories about smuggling heroin and grass
up from Mexico and I looked down and your hand was still on my knee
and they were talking about gunrunning, Mayan treasures, and doing time,
and the Hilton in downtown San Salvador as if they were modern day spice
pirates instead of Alamo Heights kids who had been given the moon

and suddenly the sky had changed and I realized that the moon
was using its comic sensibility to fool around, to make a joke,
just by being round and fat, it played up, it complemented the spice
of the lawn, a punchy waltz with the blunt edges of the grass,
without really thinking we were moving our toes, our teeth, in time.
This is when I decided to put my hand on your knee.

So there we were in the yard with our hands on each other’s knees,
watching the party, watching the crowd, and of course the moon.
I was tired but didn’t want to leave so I asked you about the time
your high school class went camping at Big Bend and you made a joke
about people who ask a lot of questions and then we left the grass
and went into Mrs. Schue’s house and down the hall where there was a spice

cabinet filled with, what else, hundreds of unlabeled jars of spices.
We opened all the bottles and played a game, our sweaty knees
shining in the dark. I guessed caraway, tarragon, and lemon grass;
you guessed others as we closed our eyes and inhaled the bottled moons.
Outside the volleyball game continued and the jokes.
We knew we had found that spice cabinet just in time.

Knees. Spice. Jokes. Moon. Grass. Time. Forever and ever. Amen.

mother doesn’t want a dog :: judith viorst

Mother doesn’t want a dog.
Mother says they smell,
And never sit when you say sit,
Or even when you yell.
And when you come home late at night
And there is ice and snow,
You have to go back out because
The dumb dog has to go.

Mother doesn’t want a dog.
Mother says they shed,
And always let the strangers in
And bark at friends instead,
And do disgraceful things on rugs,
And track mud on the floor,
And flop upon your bed at night
And snore their doggy snore.

Mother doesn’t want a dog.
She’s making a mistake.
Because, more than a dog, I think
She will not want this snake.

a litany for survival :: audre lorde

For those of us who live at the shoreline
standing upon the constant edges of decision
crucial and alone
for those of us who cannot indulge
the passing dreams of choice
who love in doorways coming and going
in the hours between dawns
looking inward and outward
at once before and after
seeking a now that can breed
futures
like bread in our children’s mouths
so their dreams will not reflect
the death of ours:

For those of us
who were imprinted with fear
like a faint line in the center of our foreheads
learning to be afraid with our mother’s milk
for by this weapon
this illusion of some safety to be found
the heavy-footed hoped to silence us
For all of us
this instant and this triumph
We were never meant to survive.

And when the sun rises we are afraid
it might not remain
when the sun sets we are afraid
it might not rise in the morning
when our stomachs are full we are afraid
of indigestion
when our stomachs are empty we are afraid
we may never eat again
when we are loved we are afraid
love will vanish
when we are alone we are afraid
love will never return
and when we speak we are afraid
our words will not be heard
nor welcomed
but when we are silent
we are still afraid

So it is better to speak
remembering
we were never meant to survive