fear poem, or I give you back :: joy harjo

I release you, my beautiful and terrible
fear. I release you. You were my beloved
and hated twin, but now, I don’t know you
as myself. I release you with all the
pain I would know at the death of
my children.
You are not my blood anymore.
I give you back to the soldiers
who burned down my home, beheaded my children,
raped and sodomized my brothers and sisters.
I give you back to those who stole the
food from our plates when we were starving.
I release you, fear, because you hold
these scenes in front of me and I was born
with eyes that can never close.
I release you
I release you
I release you
I release you
I am not afraid to be angry.
I am not afraid to rejoice.
I am not afraid to be black.
I am not afraid to be white.
I am not afraid to be hungry.
I am not afraid to be full.
I am not afraid to be hated.
I am not afraid to be loved.
to be loved, to be loved, fear.
Oh, you have choked me, but I gave you the leash.
You have gutted me but I gave you the knife.
You have devoured me, but I laid myself across the fire.
I take myself back, fear.
You are not my shadow any longer.
I won’t hold you in my hands.
You can’t live in my eyes, my ears, my voice
my belly, or in my heart my heart
my heart my heart
But come here, fear
I am alive and you are so afraid of dying.

mint :: elaine terranova

Already, we’d be driving past
those trees, that part of the forest.
Even briefly, it refreshed you.
It was like mint in August
though that sting would be gone
with summer. The ground
tarnishing first, and soon the leaves.
I thought then, men don’t stop.
They want so much to get on.
What we said, incidental
yet hammered into the mind.
Talk like a magnet, so it draws you
together or away. We made a line
around that part of the forest,
the exact shape of our attention.
Even after, I remember
how it was taken up and moved
along with us, into the dim
living room. Each holding a glass,
ice colliding in water. A tiny
mirrored sun caught in the trees.
The same sadness that darkened
our features. Later, bed
without making love, without
the chance of a reprieve.

tradition :: juliana spahr

I hold out my hand.
I hand over
and I pass on.
I hold out my hand.
I hold out my hand.
I hand over
and I pass on.
Some call this mothering,
this way I begin each day by holding out my hand and then all day
     long pass on.
Some call this caretaking,
this way all day and all night long, I hold out my hand and take engine
     oil additive into me and then I pass on this engine oil additive to
     this other thing that once was me, this not really me.
This soothing obligation
This love.
This hand over
and this pass on.
This part of me and this not really me.
This me and engine oil additive.
This me and not really me and engine oil additive.
Back and forth.

All day long, like a lion I lie where I will with not really me
and I bestow upon not really me
refractive index testing oils and wood preservatives.
I lie with not really me all day long,
and so I bequeath not really me a honeyed wine of flame retardants
     and fire preventing agents.
I make a milk like nectar,
a honeyed nectar of capacitor dielectrics, dyes, and electrical insulation
and I pass it on every two hours to not really me.
Not really me is a ram perched on a cliff above a stream,
unable to be quenched by the flame retardant in furniture.
Not really me comes near
and takes a nectar of insulated pipes, and some industrial paints.
Later I pass the breast cup to not really me,
a breast cup filled with sound insulation panels and imitation wood
     with a little nectar and sweetness.
And not really me drinks it and then complains a little,
rebuking me, for my cakes of nuts and raisins
are cakes of extraction of crude petroleum and natural gas,
for my apples are filled with televisions and windshield wiper blades.
On my breast are the curls of not really me
and against the brow of not really me wafts plasticizer used in heat
     transfer systems.
As drinking not really me takes in anger and in need
not really me drinks from the hand of that sweetest sleep the juice of me
that cup of adhesives,
that cup of fire retardants,
of pesticide extenders.
And as not really me drinks
I cradle the moon and not really me in my right hand
my lips kissing with the dedusting agents and wax extenders.
Then later in the night,
the bed scattered with the stains of cutting oils and gas-transmission
     turbines,
the blankets with blends of hydraulic fluid,
we lie there together
handing over and passing on
filled up and attempting to think our way through
economics and labor and time and biology
me and not really me
together.

I’d like to think we had agreed upon this together,
that we had a tradition,
that we agreed these things explained us to us
but when not really me wakes
after drinking the pharmaceuticals and photo chemicals
night after night
and day after day
not really me will sing a song of rebuke,
sing the song of not really me, the song that
goes like Salutations to brominated fire retardants of Koppers Ind.
goes like Salutations to water/oil repellant paper coating of 3M
goes like Salutations to wiper blades of Asahi
goes like Salutations to bike chain lubrication of Clariant International
goes like Salutations to wire and cable insulation of Daikin
goes like Salutations to pharmaceutical packaging of DuPont
goes like Salutations to nail polish of Dyneon
goes like Salutations to engine oil additive of Agrevo E
goes like Salutations to hair curling and straightening of Agsin Ptd. Ltd.
goes like Salutations to insecticide and termiticide for empty green-
     houses of Chevron Chemical
goes like Salutations to greenhouse flowers of Monsanto
goes like Salutations to insecticide to kill fire ants of Rigo Co.
goes like Salutations to plasticizers of US Borax Inc.
Not really me’s song will go on and on
Not really me will sing it all night long
hour after hour for weeks on end.
It will have eighty-five company names in it.
It will have twenty-one chemical functions in it.
It will have ninety-seven products in it.
It will have two hundred trade names in it.
Not really me’s song will rotate through these names in all their
     combinations.
And then it will end with another part that is as long as the first and
     inventories the chemicals that not really me does not yet know.
But oh those of you who are not really me at all
I say let wisdom be your anvil and knowledge your hammer.
Hand this over.
Pass this on.

it couldn’t be done :: edgar guest

Somebody said that it couldn’t be done,
     But he with a chuckle replied
That “maybe it couldn’t,” but he would be one
     Who wouldn’t say so till he’d tried.
So he buckled right in with the trace of a grin
     On his face. If he worried he hid it.
He started to sing as he tackled the thing
     That couldn’t be done, and he did it.

Somebody scoffed: “Oh, you’ll never do that;
     At least no one ever has done it”;
But he took off his coat and he took off his hat,
     And the first thing we knew he’d begun it.
With a lift of his chin and a bit of a grin,
     Without any doubting or quiddit,
He started to sing as he tackled the thing
     That couldn’t be done, and he did it.

There are thousands to tell you it cannot be done,
     There are thousands to prophesy failure;
There are thousands to point out to you one by one,
     The dangers that wait to assail you.
But just buckle in with a bit of a grin,
     Just take off your coat and go to it;
Just start in to sing as you tackle the thing
     That “cannot be done,” and you’ll do it.

when I grow up I want to be a list of further possibilities :: chen chen

To be a good
ex/current friend for R. To be one last

inspired way to get back at R. To be relationship
advice for L. To be advice

for my mother. To be a more comfortable
hospital bed for my mother. To be

no more hospital beds. To be, in my spare time,
America for my uncle, who wants to be China

for me. To be a country of trafficless roads
& a sports car for my aunt, who likes to go

fast. To be a cyclone
of laughter when my parents say

their new coworker is like that, they can tell
because he wears pink socks, see, you don’t, so you can’t,

can’t be one of them. To be the one
my parents raised me to be—

a season from the planet
of planet-sized storms.

To be a backpack of PB&J & every
thing I know, for my brothers, who are becoming

their own storms. To be, for me, nobody,
homebody, body in bed watching TV. To go 2D

& be a painting, an amateur’s hilltop & stars,
simple decoration for the new apartment

with you. To be close, J.,
to everything that is close to you—

blue blanket, red cup, green shoes
with pink laces.

To be the blue & the red.
The green, the hot pink.

georgette :: erín moure

Dignified is a heartsong here
Harsh traverse of the unknown

“Better to go down dignified”
Ekes out
constant

What gives in us, or won’t give
(her smile seen once in the Red Café)

Turns sparkless
Into sparklers

One “s” less
One “r” more, Georgette

— — — — —

The new wall we built that year
where the house side had been torn out

Grammar we called in

like a bet on narrative

— — — — —

Now I am the only one who hasn’t yet gone in;
and I have these sentences

(fissures in the hand)

the knot :: susan stewart

The problem was how to begin with the end
and then it turned out there were two ends:
the end within the continuing
that, continuing, enveloped
the end. You passed yourself
coming and going, went through
one loop, then another,
what was behind drawn
through at a
slide until
it rose
before you, sprung.
Tangle like a bramble,
like a rose. Start,
start again against
the tight-
ening. A knife
could give up
on patience, but you
were born among
the dull and
kind, who wait
for Spring, and
lightening
and lightning.