the emergency room :: allison eir jenks

Independence Day

Even in a room crammed with agony, we’re suspicious
when the doctor escorts the well-dressed man first,

or the blonde with a nosebleed and cocaine on her collar.
We’re sick of loathing, of watching each other read

about wealth and weight loss, fed up with the hooker
who keeps telling us to feel her hollow leg,

and the schizophrenic who’d plucked
every hair on his body, and counts peanuts

and sunflower seeds, then plants them outside.
Outside, a nurse smokes, bragging of her firm thighs,

and the cop adjusts his balls when he asks her questions.
Someone turns up the volume—the war letters of dignitaries.

The newscaster’s combustible lips pop open.
She makes the former president cry for the public.

But we can’t stop thinking about bee stings and flesh
wounds, the veins on the doctor’s sanitary hands,

hearts in jars and color-coded diagrams of the body.
When the bone-faced man who tried to blow

his head off is lugged in, pleading for us to shoot him,
we almost lose interest in our own afflictions.

The doctors can’t find the skin to sew his face back on.
Fuck God, his voice vibrates like a transmitter.

And we flicker off into the secret sea that fills
our bodies with loneliness—a darkness

never touched by moonlight or a shark’s eyes,
while new patients leave shoeprints in his blood.

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love sleeps in the poet’s heart :: federico garcía lorca

You’ll never understand my love for you,
because you dream inside me, fast asleep.
I hide you, persecuted though you weep,
from the penetrating steel voice of truth.

Normalcy stirs both flesh and blinding star,
and pierces even my despairing heart.
Confusing reasoning has eaten out
the wings on which your spirit fiercely soared:

onlookers who gather on the garden lawn
await your body and my bitter grief,
their jumping horses made of light, green manes.

But go on sleeping now, my life, my dear.
Hear my smashed blood rebuke their violins!
See how they still must spy on us, so near!

in the evening :: anna akhmatova

There was such inexpressible sorrow
in the music in the garden.
The dish of oysters on ice
smelt fresh and sharp of the sea.

He said to me ‘I am a true friend!’
He touched my dress.
There is no passion
in the touch of his hands.

This is how one strokes a cat or a bird,
this is how one looks at a shapely horsewoman.
There is only laughter in his eyes
under the light gold of his eyelashes.

The violins’ mourning voices
sing above the spreading smoke:
‘Give thanks to heaven:
you are alone with your love for the first time.’

the world we want is us :: alice walker

It moves my heart to see your awakened faces;
the look of “aha!”
shining, finally, in
so many
wide open eyes.
Yes, we are the 99%
all of us
refusing to forget
each other
no matter, in our hunger, what crumbs
are dropped by
the 1%.
The world we want is on the way; Arundhati
and now we
are
hearing her breathing.
That world we want is Us; united; already moving
into it.

a face, a cup :: molly peacock

The thousand hairline cracks in an aged face
match the hairline cracks in an aged cup
and come from similar insults: careless, base
self-absorbed gestures from a younger face,
cruel and fine. Bang! Each disturbed trace
deepens to a visible crack. A break-up,
a mix-up, a wild mistake: these show in a face
like the hairline cracks in an ancient cup.

Neither wholly broken nor all used up
the cup becomes a visage, unstable.
One never knows what will crack it open
and finish it. Banged too hard on a table?
Yet happiness might crack a face open
in a better way: hairline tracery as laugh lines
releasing the joys of ancient thoughts
cupped into use, and suddenly able.

the laughing child :: w. s. merwin

When she looked down from the kitchen window
into the back yard and the brown wicker
baby carriage in which she had tucked me
three months old to lie out in the fresh air
of my first January the carriage
was shaking she said and went on shaking
and she saw I was lying there laughing
she told me about it later it was
something that reassured her in a life
in which she had lost everyone she loved
before I was born and she had just begun
to believe that she might be able to
keep me as I lay there in the winter
laughing it was what she was thinking of
later when she told me that I had been
a happy child and she must have kept that
through the gray cloud of all her days and now
out of the horn of dreams of my own life
I wake again into the laughing child

love poem :: dora malech

If by truth you mean hand then yes
I hold to be self-evident and hold you in the highest—
KO to my OT and bait to my switch, I crown
you one-trick pony to my one-horse town,
dub you my one-stop shopping, my space heater,
juke joint, tourist trap, my peep show, my meter reader,
you best batteries-not-included baring all or
nothing. Let me begin by saying if he hollers,
end with goes the weasel. In between,
cream filling. Get over it, meaning, the moon.
Tell me you’ll dismember this night forever,
you my punch-drunking bag, tar to my feather.
More than the sum of our private parts, we are some
peekaboo, some peak and valley, some
bright equation (if and then but, if er then uh).
My fruit bat, my gewgaw. You had me at no duh.