mercy beach :: kamilah aisha moon

Stony trails of jagged beauty rise
like stretch marks streaking sand-hips.
All the Earth has borne beguiles us
& battered bodies build our acres.

Babes that sleep in hewn rock cradles
learn to bear the hardness coming.
Tough grace forged in tender bones—
may this serve & bless them well.

They grow & break grief into islands
of sun-baked stone submerged in salt
kisses, worn down by the ocean’s ardor
relentless as any strong loving.

May they find caresses that abolish pain.
Like Earth, they brandish wounds of gold!

working dream :: john montague

At the end of a manuscript
I was studying, a secret message.
A star, a honeycomb, a seashell,
The stately glory of a peacock’s tail
Spiralled colour across the page
To end with a space between a lean I
And a warm and open-armed You.

An hour later, you were at the door;
I learnt the word that space was for.

up against it :: eamon grennan

It’s the way they cannot understand the window
they buzz and buzz against, the bees that take
a wrong turn at my door and end up thus
in a drift at first of almost idle curiosity,
cruising the room until they find themselves
smack up against it and they cannot fathom how
the air has hardened and the world they know
with their eyes keeps out of reach as, stuck there
with all they want just in front of them, they must
fling their bodies against the one unalterable law
of things—this fact of glass—and can only go on
making the sound that tethers their electric
fury to what’s impossible, feeling the sting in it.

the president has never said the word ‘black’ :: morgan parker

To the extent that one begins
to wonder if he is broken.

It is not so difficult to open
teeth and brass taxes.

The president is all like
five on the bleep hand side.

The president be like
we lost a young      boy today.

The pursuit of happiness
is guaranteed for all fellow      Americans.

He is nobody special like us.
He says brothers and sisters.

What kind of bodies are moveable
and feasts. What color are visions.

When he opens his mouth
a chameleon is inside, starving.

sparrow :: melissa kwasny

The dawns are numbered, as I am. Though I remain ever
after in a state of surprise, like a child, dumbfounded by
the word “Enter.” My name is small, a garden-mint, a
sprig to decorate a plate. I rarely try to speak for others,
and consider the words I say, not like the mockingbird
who repeats banalities, not like the robin, habitual, not
like the rabbits who are silent but move loquaciously.
Clack of dried pea pods, cloud of mosquitoes, one can
have too many roses in the house. The world is loud,
anguished by its processes. Though perhaps it is wrong
to settle, as I have settled, for the simple meal, the cutting
garden, the circumscribed stroll by the pond. When what
I want is to sing something monumental. My family is
rough. I wish I could smooth them. I have been lucky.
Not married out to trash men. But while I sleep, the
great winds come. Spruce forest. Pine forest. Fir forest.
A door opens. One slams shut.

a wind will come from the south :: circe maia

A wind will come from the south with unleashed rain
to beat on closed doors and on the windows
to beat on faces with bitter expressions.

Happy noisy waves will come
climbing paths and silent streets
through the port district.

Let the hardened city wash its face
its stones and dusty wood, worn out
its heart sombre.

Let there be surprise at least in the opaque
taciturn glances.
And let many people be frightened, and the children laugh
and the greenness of the water’s light wake us
bathe us, follow us.

Let it make us run and embrace each other
and let the doors of all the houses open
and the people come out
down the stairs, from the balconies,
calling to each other…

title :: oliver bendorf


Now a first-person declaration that verbs a noun.
Now a pet name, a yellow object, and a sensory experience.
Now something about what this poem is not.
Now the confession that you get nostalgic, but in your own words.
Now a couple things about how life has lately felt.
Now something that alludes to being lonely.
Now who or what it is you miss, and a question about how we recover.
Now a few things about the local flora
and a frank assessment of your current state.
Now a zoom out. Now something that is gone
and something that is still here. A strange pronouncement.
An assertion that X is Y.
Now a question. Now a question. Now another.

look back in utter confusion :: marge piercy

Sometimes I think I am a fiction
and only memories strung together
hold my life to some coherence.

If all my lovers stood in a line
what commonality would I see
except luck good and bad,

except need and accident,
desperation like a bad cough
recurring to convulse my body.

If all the clothes I wore were strung
on a blocklong clothesline, I’d see
not decoration but roles, all

in a row, selves slipped into, now
too tight, too loose, too short.
Discarded for a new foray.

But if my cats were lined up
I’d know exactly how I loved each
their games, their habits, how

they lived with me and died
leaving me. If all the edicts
I put forth, manifestos, summons,

all those didactic moments came
swarming, I’d duck and run. I
was so sure. Then not. Then not

at all. Yet I go stumbling on
bearing my nametag still wonder-
ing how I came to get here.

try to praise the mutilated world :: adam zagajewski

translated by Clare Cavanagh

Try to praise the mutilated world.
Remember June’s long days,
and wild strawberries, drops of rosé wine.
The nettles that methodically overgrow
the abandoned homesteads of exiles.
You must praise the mutilated world.
You watched the stylish yachts and ships;
one of them had a long trip ahead of it,
while salty oblivion awaited others.
You’ve seen the refugees going nowhere,
you’ve heard the executioners sing joyfully.
You should praise the mutilated world.
Remember the moments when we were together
in a white room and the curtain fluttered.
Return in thought to the concert where music flared.
You gathered acorns in the park in autumn
and leaves eddied over the earth’s scars.
Praise the mutilated world
and the gray feather a thrush lost,
and the gentle light that strays and vanishes
and returns.

hope wanted alive :: terese svoboda

A red-faced lion raises its maw.
I could be in the supermarket, saran wrap thrown back

but there’s Hope Wanted Alive scrawled along
all the mud-slick side streets

where kids roll bottle tops, kids hawk one seed—
in Nairobi the slum blues where I stop, gallery-wise.

Forty children in clean costumes of show-off
purport to live in the two rooms abutting the paintings.

You could drink the sugar cane at the end of the street
or you could set fire to it.

I did see truck tires without trucks.
I did see ice cream nobody would lick.

And slits up the side of a dress,
and always huge knives that cut,

in my case, canvas. A big painting
not in celebration of our president

but the red-faced lion, looking
for the supermarket, kids in claws,

bottle tops for eyes, nobody costumed
who isn’t running, politicians

with outstretched arms equaling
—or trying to—hope. I buy it.

solar :: philip larkin

Suspended lion face
Spilling at the centre
Of an unfurnished sky
How still you stand,
And how unaided
Single stalkless flower
You pour unrecompensed.

The eye sees you
Simplified by distance
Into an origin,
Your petalled head of flames
Continuously exploding.
Heat is the echo of your

Coined there among
Lonely horizontals
You exist openly.
Our needs hourly
Climb and return like angels.
Unclosing like a hand,
You give for ever.

bird-shaped cliff :: dean young

Sometimes I think about climbing
a telephone pole but then what?
Telephone poles now have almost nothing
to do with telephones but I liked
how a curly cord went into the receiver
then a sturdier black wire went into the wall
through the wall out to a pole then
miles and miles of wire pole wire pole
sometimes underground underwater to
whomever you needed who’d dry her hands
thinking Gosh now what or Thank heavens
or Oh no then say Hello as a question
or a lie then the intimate negotiations
and sorry confessions and flat jokes
would take word form from excited electrons
moving through the wire and sometimes
a cowboy would suddenly gallop to town
through dust and cactus Yup a storm’s
a-coming to call someone but the fates
always intend so the cowboy must listen
for the rest of his days to the phone
make a funny insect-performing-Beckett
sound until the operator comes on and says,
Sorry but that calling area’s been hit
by the blast and the cowboy thinks,
What blast? What blast? riding off
into the moonlessly blue chaparral.

becoming a redwood :: dana gioia

Stand in a field long enough, and the sounds
start up again. The crickets, the invisible
toad who claims that change is possible,

And all the other life too small to name.
First one, then another, until innumerable
they merge into the single voice of a summer hill.

Yes, it’s hard to stand still, hour after hour,
fixed as a fencepost, hearing the steers
snort in the dark pasture, smelling the manure.

And paralyzed by the mystery of how a stone
can bear to be a stone, the pain
the grass endures breaking through the earth’s crust.

Unimaginable the redwoods on the far hill,
rooted for centuries, the living wood grown tall
and thickened with a hundred thousand days of light.

The old windmill creaks in perfect time
to the wind shaking the miles of pasture grass,
and the last farmhouse light goes off.

Something moves nearby. Coyotes hunt
these hills and packs of feral dogs.
But standing here at night accepts all that.

You are your own pale shadow in the quarter moon,
moving more slowly than the crippled stars,
part of the moonlight as the moonlight falls,

Part of the grass that answers the wind,
part of the midnight’s watchfulness that knows
there is no silence but when danger comes.

in your absence :: judith harris

Not yet summer,
but unseasonable heat
pries open the cherry tree.

It stands there stupefied,
in its sham, pink frills,
dense with early blooming.

Then, as afternoon cools
into more furtive winds,
I look up to see
a blizzard of petals
rushing the sky.

It is only April.
I can’t stop my own life
from hurrying by.
The moon, already pacing.

private beach :: jane kenyon

It is always the dispossessed—
someone driving a huge rusted Dodge
that’s burning oil, and must cost
twenty-five dollars to fill.

Today before seven I saw, through
the morning fog, his car leave the road,
turning into the field. It must be
his day off, I thought, or he’s out
of work and drinking, or getting stoned.
Or maybe as much as anything
he wanted to see
where the lane through the hay goes.

It goes to the bluff overlooking
the lake, where we’ve cleared
brush, swept the slippery oak
leaves from the path, and tried to destroy
the poison ivy that runs
over the scrubby, sandy knolls.

Sometimes in the evening I’ll hear
gunshots or firecrackers. Later a car
needing a new muffler backs out
to the road, headlights withdrawing
from the lowest branches of the pines.

Next day I find beer cans, crushed;
sometimes a few fish too small
to bother cleaning and left
on the moss to die; or the leaking
latex trace of outdoor love….
Once I found the canvas sling chairs
broken up and burned.

Whoever laid the fire gathered stones
to contain it, like a boy pursuing
a merit badge, who has a dream of work,
and proper reward for work.

in love with you :: kenneth koch


O what a physical effect it has on me
To dive forever into the light blue sea
Of your acquaintance! Ah, but dearest friends,
Like forms, are finished, as life has ends! Still,
It is beautiful, when October
Is over, and February is over,
To sit in the starch of my shirt, and to dream of your sweet
Ways! As if the world were a taxi, you enter it, then
Reply (to no one), “Let’s go five or six blocks.”
Isn’t the blue stream that runs past you a translation from the Russian?
Aren’t my eyes bigger than love?
Isn’t this history, and aren’t we a couple of ruins?
Is Carthage Pompeii? is the pillow the bed? is the sun
What glues our heads together? O midnight! O midnight!
Is love what we are,
Or has happiness come to me in a private car
That’s so very small I’m amazed to see it there?


We walk through the park in the sun, and you say, “There’s a spider
Of shadow touching the bench, when morning’s begun.” I love you.
I love you fame I love you raining sun I love you cigarettes I love you love
I love you daggers I love smiles daggers and symbolism.


Inside the symposium of your sweetest look’s
Sunflower awning by the nurse-faced chrysanthemums childhood
Again represents a summer spent sticking knives into porcelain raspberries, when China’s
Still a country! Oh, King Edward abdicated years later, that’s
Exactly when. If you were seventy thousand years old, and I were a pill,
I know I could cure your headache, like playing baseball in drinking-water, as baskets
Of towels sweetly touch the bathroom floor! O benches of nothing
Appear and reappear—electricity! I’d love to be how
You are, as if
The world were new, and the selves were blue
Which we don
Until it’s dawn,
Until evening puts on
The gray hooded selves and the light brown selves of . . .
Water! your tear-colored nail polish
Kisses me! and the lumberyard seems new
As a calm
On the sea, where, like pigeons,
I feel so mutated, sad, so breezed, so revivified, and still so unabdicated—
Not like an edge of land coming over the sea!

by and bay :: john beer

Now the passenger pigeons flock across the sky,
Plunging the Central Valley grasshopper into darkness
As the Snake River sucker pushes upstream
And the golden toad relaxes. A passing skiff
Startles a lone gravenche in Switzerland,
Just as a pair of blue pike swerve
To avoid an anchor. The harelip sucker
Stays on course. A phantom shiner
Might have swerved to snap up a three-tooth caddisfly,
Or even Blackburn’s weevil, but it’s hard to tell
Why the white-winged sandpiper wheels
At the distant warble of a black-footed parakeet.
Gould’s emerald has a tiny, ferocious heart.
Domed Mauritius tortoises are clannish,
Often clashing with saddle-backed Mauritius tortoises,
Though the saddle-backed Rodrigues tortoise
Enjoys friendly relations with the domed Rodrigues tortoise.
The Santa Fe Island tortoise keeps to itself, brooding
Over its sufferings. The Japanese wolf sniffs the air.
The Tasmanian wolf bursts into a sprint,
The Arabian ostrich could outpace a sprinting bicyclist,
And the legs of the sprinting red gazelle blur beneath it,
Like the rapidly beating wings of the Kosrae crake.
The Kosrae starling is nesting. In one tree
The Cascade funnel-web spider lays a trap,
While in another, the American chestnut moth
Sleeps fitfully. The dodo is too trusting.
The laughing owl can be heard across the island.
The roar of the Caspian tiger resounds in a canyon.
Children shudder at the sound of the Bombay lion.
But not even the Caribbean monk seal
Hears the Caribbean monk seal mite silently make
Its home in the manner of the passenger pigeon mite,
Burrowing into the ear canal.

                                                          The warm river water

Through which the Durango shiner darts
Reflects a spectacled cormorant. On drafts of air
A dusky seaside sparrow rises. Its shadow falls
On a school of stumptooth minnows. The sunlight
Barely filters down to a Bodensee-kilch,
But a red-headed green macaw glimmers.
The Kona grosbeak filches fruit from volcanoes
Sloping down to the shore where Galápagos damsels
Frolic and spawn. The bezoule makes a rare
Appearance. Heath hens gather by the pond.

Only when the North Island giant moa starts to wonder
About what happened to the South Island giant moa
Does the upland moa give any thought
To the whereabouts of the eastern moa. Meanwhile,
The coastal moa seems to have gone off
After the heavy-footed moa, which follows
In its turn the tracks of the crested moa,
Wandering the islands looking for Mantell’s moa.
None of them have seen a bush moa in a while.

Even as the quagga poses for its photograph,
The St. Croix racer is slithering out of the frame
In eager pursuit of a big-eared hopping mouse.
This may be the moment the Queen of Sheba’s gazelle
Takes its leave, along with the Atlas bear,
The Palestinian painted frog, and several others.
The aurochs left long ago. The lapping waves
Echo the strokes of the sea mink, but like
The Japanese river otter, it’s nowhere
To be seen. What will the confused moth do?
The same as Darwin’s rice rat. Years go by,
And the Martinique macaw flies through none of them.
Melville might have encountered a Nuka Hiva monarch,
But Nabokov never pinned a Xerces blue.
Cloned, the Pyrenean ibex lived
A few seconds more. The paradise parrot
Sported the spectrum on its plumage. Bluebucks
Only looked blue while alive. The Miller’s rail
Survives in a painting. Labrador ducks ate mussels.
The crescent nail-tail wallaby once was common.
The thylacine appeared four million years ago.
Rats killed off the mysterious starling.

i woke up—smiling :: ha jin

            to L. Y.

I was told that I was a sad man.
Sadness is a fatal disease in this place
where happiness is a key to success.
If you are sad, you are doomed to fail—
you can’t please your boss,
your long face won’t attract customers,
a few sighs are enough
to let your friends down.

Yesterday afternoon I met Pham,
a Vietnamese man who was once a general.
He came to this country
after nine years’ imprisonment.
Now he works hard as a custodian
and always avoids
meeting his former soldiers here,
because every one of them
is doing better than he is.
“Sadness,” he told me,
“is a luxury for me.
I have no time for it.
If I feel sad
I won’t be able to support my family.”

His words filled me with shame,
although I learned long ago
a busy bee feels no sorrow.
He made me realize I’m still a fortunate one
and ought to be happy and grateful
for having food in my stomach
and books to read.

I returned home humming a cheerful tune.
My wife smiled wondering
why I had suddenly become lighthearted.
My son followed me, laughing and frolicking,
while I was capering on the floor.

Last night
I went to a party in my dream.
Voices and laughter were drifting in a large hall
that was full of paintings and calligraphy.
Strolling with ease
I ran into the handwriting of yours
hung in the air
piece by piece waving like wings.
Dumbfounded, I turned
and saw you sitting on a chair,
motionless, the same lean detached face,
only your blue clothes had grown darker.
Something snapped in my chest
and my tears flowed.
What’s the use of promising?
I have promised, a hundred times,
but never returned. Wherever we go
our cause is the same:
to make a living and raise children.
If a poem arises, it’s merely
an accidental blessing.

For several hours my heart ached,
but I woke up—smiling.

on an airplane, considering night :: carole oles

Light holds in the stratosphere.
Night doesn’t fall,
dark starts down there.

All day it piles up like bills
in the towers and houses,
in the cigarette butts
of officials and in blouses
of women who wait.

Dark collects in the children’s ears,
fills the mouths of old men
who almost. Dark wears
the grass. Birds listen
and when dark says now
they sing no comment.

Like a sigh from below
night lifts through the air vent,
like a widow
night reaches to touch what it can’t.

cousin nancy :: t. s. eliot

Miss Nancy Ellicott
Strode across the hills and broke them,
Rode across the hills and broke them—
The barren New England hills—
Riding to hounds
Over the cow-pasture.

Miss Nancy Ellicott smoked
And danced all the modern dances;
And her aunts were not quite sure how they felt about it,
But they knew that it was modern.

Upon the glazen shelves kept watch
Matthew and Waldo, guardians of the faith,
The army of unalterable law.

poets at lunch :: stanley moss

          to W.S. Merwin

I said, “Nothing for the last time.”
You said, “Everything for the last time.”
Later I thought you made everything more
precious with “everything for the last time”:
the last meditation, the last falling asleep,
the last dream before the final makebelieve,
the last kiss good night,
the last look out the window at the last moonlight.
Last leaves no time to hesitate.
I would drink strong coffee before my last sleep.
I’d rather remember childhood, rehearse forgiveness,
listen to birdsong or a Spanish housemaid singing,
scrubbing a tiled floor in Seville—
I’d scrub and sing myself. O Susanna
Susanna, quanta pena mi costi.

I would strangle the snakes of lastness
like Herakles in his crib
before I cocked my ear to Mozart for the last time.
There is not sky or clouds enough to cover
the music I would hear for the last time.
I know a bank whereon the wild thyme of
everything for the last time grows, covered with
deadly nightshade and poison hemlock.

No last, no first, thinking in the moment,
years ago, you prepared the soil in Hawaii
before you planted your palm trees, then shared
most of your days and nights with them as equals.
You built your house with a Zen room.
I made no prayer when I dug a hole
and pushed in a twelve-foot white pine,
root ball locked in green plastic netting.
I did not cut the netting, so twenty years later
a tall, beautiful, white pine died.
I lynched the roots. To save my life
I would let them seize, cut out a bear’s heart,
I would partake in its flesh.
But you would die before you’d let them kill that bear.
Again, I say, “Nothing for the last time.”
You say, “Everything for the last time.”
Sailor, I would have killed a stranger
to save the world. Sailor, you would not.
We kissed goodbye on the cheek.
I hope not for the last time.

Home, I look into my brass telescope—
at the far end, where the moon and distant stars
should be, I see my eye looking back at me,
it’s twinkling and winking like a star. I go to bed.
My dogs, donkeys and wife are sleeping. I am safe.
You are home with your wife
you met and decided to marry in four days.

photo of a girl on a beach :: carmen giménez smith

Once when I was harmless
and didn’t know any better,

a mirror to the front of me
and an ocean behind,

I lay wedged in the middle of daylight,
paper-doll thin, dreaming,

then I vanished. I gave the day a fingerprint,
then forgot.

I sat naked on a towel
on a hot June Monday.

The sun etched the inside of my eyelids,
while a boy dozed at my side.

The smell of all oceans was around us—
steamy salt, shell, and sweat,

but I reached for the distant one.
A tide rose while I slept,

and soon I was alone. Try being
a figure in memory. It’s hollow there.

For truth’s sake, I’ll say she was on a beach
and her eyes were closed.

She was bare in the sand, long,
and the hour took her bit by bit.

electrons :: ruth madievsky

The eye chews the apple,
sends the brain
an image of the un-apple. Which is similar
to the way I throw my voice
like a Frisbee, like salt
over a shoulder, a birthday party
where someone’s brother
is grilling hot dogs, a little speed
in his blood,
some red balloons. The eye
is the most deceptive
organ in the body.
Followed closely by the hand,
which refuses to accept
that touch comes down
to the repulsion of electrons,
so that when I hold
the hand of the person I love,
mostly I am pushing
him away. Which has something to do
with the striking resemblance
between a bag
of individually wrapped candies
and the human heart.
The sticky glass
of their shattering. How love
can crack like a tooth
kissing a sidewalk,
the way right now someone’s car leapfrogs
a sidewalk, her body
making love to the windshield
and becoming
the windshield. And still the fireflies glow
with their particular sorrow.
The police tape
separating the mind from everything
that is not the mind
proves imaginary. My eyes
find the face
of the person I love
and pull out their fork and knife.

the sigh :: ted kooser

You lie in your bed and sigh,
and the springs deep in the mattress
sing out with the same low note,
mocking your sadness. It’s hard—
not the mattress, but life.
Life is hard. all along
you thought you could trust in
your own bed, your own sorrow.
You thought you were sleeping alone.

Courtesy of S.P.

peaches :: adrienne su

A crate of peaches straight from the farm
has to be maintained, or eaten in days.
Obvious, but in my family, they went so fast,
I never saw the mess that punishes delay.

I thought everyone bought fruit by the crate,
stored it in the coolest part of the house,
then devoured it before any could rot.
I’m from the Peach State, and to those

who ask But where are you from originally,
I’d like to reply The homeland of the peach,
but I’m too nice, and they might not look it up.
In truth, the reason we bought so much

did have to do with being Chinese—at least
Chinese in that part of America, both strangers
and natives on a lonely, beautiful street
where food came in stackable containers

and fussy bags, unless you bothered to drive
to the source, where the same money landed
a bushel of fruit, a twenty-pound sack of rice.
You had to drive anyway, each house surrounded

by land enough to grow your own, if lawns
hadn’t been required. At home I loved to stare
into the extra freezer, reviewing mountains
of foil-wrapped meats, cakes, juice concentrate,

mysterious packets brought by house guests
from New York Chinatown, to be transformed
by heat, force, and my mother’s patient effort,
enough to keep us fed through flood or storm,

provided the power stayed on, or fire and ice
could be procured, which would be labor-intensive,
but so was everything else my parents did.
Their lives were labor, they kept this from the kids,

who grew up to confuse work with pleasure,
to become typical immigrants’ children,
taller than their parents and unaware of hunger
except when asked the odd, perplexing question.

vessels :: paisley rekdal

Shouldn’t it ache, this slit
into the sweet
and salt mix of waters

composing the mussel,
its labial meats
winged open: yellow-

fleshed, black and gray
around the tough
adductor? It hurts

to imagine it, regardless
of the harvester’s
denials, swiveling

his knife to make
the incision: one
dull cyst nicked

from the oyster’s
mantle—its thread of red
gland no bigger

than a seed
of trout roe—pressed
inside this mussel’s

tendered flesh.
Both hosts eased
open with a knife

(as if anything
could be said to be eased
with a knife):

so that one pearl
after another can be
harvested, polished,

added to others
until a single rope is strung
on silk. Linked

by what you think
is pain. Nothing
could be so roughly

handled and yet feel
so little, your pity
turned into part of this

production: you
with your small,
four-chambered heart,

shyness, hungers, envy: what
in you could be so precious
you would cleave

another to keep it
close? Imagine
the weeks it takes to wind

nacre over the red
seed placed at another
heart’s mantle. The mussel

become what no one
wants to:
vessel, caisson, wounded

into making us
the thing we want
to call beautiful.

litany :: elise paschen

To light the dark
of you where no
light has explored,

to trek the deserts,
accept mirages,
swim gulfs, inhabit

the islands, caves,
the rooms and alcoves
of you, the chambers,

to chart the arteries,
to join the valves,
the bolts, the nails,

to open windows,
to hazard exits,
fall through trap floors,

to upend drawers,
slam doors, to shatter
the glass of you,

but most of all,
awake or sleeping,
to learn to say:

No more to you.

passerby, these are words :: yves bonnefoy

Passerby, these are words. But instead of reading
I want you to listen: to this frail
Voice like that of letters eaten by grass.

Lend an ear, hear first of all the happy bee
Foraging in our almost rubbed-out names.
It flits between two sprays of leaves,
Carrying the sound of branches that are real
To those that filigree the unseen gold.

Then know an even fainter sound, and let it be
The endless murmuring of all our shades.
Their whisper rises from beneath the stones
To fuse into a single heat with that blind
Light you are as yet, who can still gaze.

Listen simply, if you will. Silence is a threshold
Where, unfelt, a twig breaks in your hand
As you try to disengage
A name upon a stone:

And so our absent names untangle your alarms.
And for you who move away, pensively,
Here becomes there without ceasing to be.

happenstance :: rita dove

When you appeared it was as if
magnets cleared the air.
I had never seen that smile before
or your hair, flying silver. Someone
waving goodbye, she was silver, too.
Of course you didn’t see me.
I called softly so you could choose
not to answer—then called again.
You turned in the light, your eyes
seeking your name.

at twenty-three weeks she can no longer see anything south of her belly :: thom ward

I’m painting my wife’s toes
In Revlon Super Color Forty Nine.
I’ve no idea what I’m doing.
She asked me to get the bottle,
then crashed on our bed,
muscle-sore, pelvis-aching.
Lifting the brush, I skim
the excess polish across the glass,
daub a smidgen on her nail,
push it out in streaks
over the perfect surface
to the cuticle’s edge.
I’m painting my wife’s toes.
I’ve no idea what I’m doing.
The smell of fresh enamel
intoxicates. Each nail I glaze
is a tulip, a lobster,
a scarlet room where women
sit and talk, their sleek,
tinctured fingers sparking the air.

love poem :: sophie cabot black

Which cannot be written tries anyway—
From one room to another, each time startled
And does not want to hear of the already

Passed through, the country of before.
Poem that at each door believes itself
In the room closest to the end

Where finally everything will be gone over,
Dismantled, held up, carefully laid back down
While talked into the beauty which can turn

In a minute. To hear of every other
Poem written is to begin
Revision and what cannot be left enough

Alone and so the lovers look at each other
Until none else can come near. Poem
Which never wanted anything but this

Tries anyway, so brave, unable to know where
She heads; unwrapping until only a gift
Which cannot be given as it cannot be let go.