loneliness :: trumbull stickney

These autumn gardens, russet, gray and brown,
The sward with shrivelled foliage strown,
The shrubs and trees
By weary wings of sunshine overflown
And timid silences,—

Since first you, darling, called my spirit yours,
Seem happy, and the gladness pours
From day to day,
And yester-year across this year endures
Unto next year away.

Now in these places where I used to rove
And give the dropping leaves my love
And weep to them,
They seem to fall divinely from above,
Like to a diadem

Closing in one with the disheartened flowers.
High up the migrant birds in showers
Shine in the sky,
And all the movement of the natural hours
Turns into melody.

the libraries didn’t burn :: elaine equi

despite books kindled in electronic flames.

The locket of bookish love
still opens and shuts.

But its words have migrated
to a luminous elsewhere.

Neither completely oral nor written —
a somewhere in between.

Then will oak, willow,
birch, and olive poets return
to their digital tribes —

trees wander back to the forest?

touched by an angel :: maya angelou

We, unaccustomed to courage
exiles from delight
live coiled in shells of loneliness
until love leaves its high holy temple
and comes into our sight
to liberate us into life.

Love arrives
and in its train come ecstasies
old memories of pleasure
ancient histories of pain.
Yet if we are bold,
love strikes away the chains of fear
from our souls.

We are weaned from our timidity
In the flush of love’s light
we dare be brave
And suddenly we see
that love costs all we are
and will ever be.
Yet it is only love
which sets us free.

the chance :: arthur sze

The blue-black mountains are etched
with ice. I drive south in fading light.
The lights of my car set out before
me, and disappear before my very eyes.
And as I approach thirty, the distances
are shorter than I guess? The mind
travels at the speed of light. But for
how many people are the passions
ironwood, ironwood that hardens and hardens?
Take the ex-musician, insurance salesman,
who sells himself a policy on his own life;
or the magician who has himself locked
in a chest and thrown into the sea,
only to discover he is caught in his own chains.
I want a passion that grows and grows.
To feel, think, act, and be defined
by your actions, thoughts, feelings.
As in the bones of a hand in an X-ray,
I want the clear white light to work
against the fuzzy blurred edges of the darkness:
even if the darkness precedes and follows
us, we have a chance, briefly, to shine.

dawn :: john gould fletcher

Above the east horizon,
The great red flower of the dawn
Opens slowly, petal by petal;
The trees emerge from darkness
With ghostly silver leaves,
Dew powdered.
Now consciousness emerges
Reluctantly out of tides of sleep;
Finding with cold surprise
No strange new thing to match its dreams,
But merely the familiar shapes
Of bedpost, window-pane, and wall.

Within the city,
The streets which were the last to fall to sleep,
Hold yet stale fragments of the night.
Sleep oozes out of stagnant ash-barrels,
Sleep drowses over litter in the streets.
Sleep nods upon the milkcans by back doors.
And, in shut rooms,
Behind the lowered window-blinds,
Drawn white faces unwittingly flout the day.

But, at the edges of the city,
Sleep is already washed away;
Light filters through the moist green leaves,
It runs into the cups of flowers,
It leaps in sparks through drops of dew,
It whirls against the window-panes
With waking birds;
Blinds are rolled up and chimneys smoke,
Feet clatter past in silent paths,
And down white vanishing ways of steel,
A dozen railway trains converge
Upon night’s stronghold.

a score for tourist movies :: mary austin speaker

If music plays with film
then film is an illustration
of music’s movement.
Snap, blast, sever, sever, stop.
Even the dog twitching his ears.

If islands nestle in the ocean,
and a statue rises above the pilgrim,
then we are standing on a cliff
and the pilgrim has reached her goal.
The light is as pale as the back of her hand.

If the dancers twitch arrythmically
their dance is only partly kept.
At twenty-four frames per second,
film makes a lonely memory.
They sway staccato, staggered, stretched.

If drums repeat the pace
of film’s slip through the gate,
then the song’s refrain
retells film’s fades and cutaways.
Even its night-quiet darks.

If horns evoke an antique joy,
lens flares and close-ups send
their renderings into red relief.
How has mankind managed grief?
Light, noise, movement, breath.

If blood is to the body
as film is to the camera,
if film is a flat and lucid eye,
if light is a perishable gift,
then the night is the gate of the dark.

If light falls away with always
then film is a parcel of rest.
Panoramas, linked and strung
as castle-steps, lawns, the fine
iron bars of the castle gate.

If drums pace the beat of blood
and film is the speed of the rattle
of breath, then the dancers have
truly escaped us. We slow
as they quicken. We go and go.

their names :: sally bliumis-dunn

Like a rain I feel but cannot see,
the names of the dead, falling.

Silences I hear between
first names, middle, last

are slivers of empty air between
lines of rain. I want

to be in these tiny silences
that cannot hold their deaths

but join them to all silence –
rests in a piece of music,

the quiet beneath a rock,
the feather on a crow,

beak closed, wings
perfectly still.

another poem :: geoffrey g. o’brien

I bypassed all the compromise,
The first ten problems of speech
And the latest, the sharpest, the contest,
Then began, having already fallen,
To rise just less, weaker than
My chore, yours, made else
By othering, by day by day,
The schedules, the routes, task
Whose claim I forgot to throw off,
Rising less but somewhat up anyway
With a kind of strength for having
Done so several times before.
I mean all times so far
Which is the taste of coffee gone
This latest one, and that it sticks
Like nothing else has ever done.
It isn’t a calamity so much
As a disaster that it’s not one.
Things already were real, are
Never just. Did not just get,
Can’t help being so. This
Massive ordinary cloud
Where I surrendered to
Filling out a form in the rain
That doesn’t come or does,
Sent down or kept in overplus
Till the next storm’s approved,
The face notified of its context,
The sequence continuing west
West I said west, turning up
To receive some all,
To celebrate that share of sense
Breaking into day then run
After it as through gray games
I plan to win by losing only
Every time but one, the next
To last or after that, though
What it’s called when it comes
I don’t, I do, pretend to know.

coherence in consequence :: claudia rankine

Imagine them in black, the morning heat losing within this day that floats. And always there is the being, and the not-seeing on their way to—

The days they approach and their sharpest aches will wrap experience until knowledge is translucent, the frost on which they find themselves slipping. Never mind the loose mindless grip of their forms reflected in the eye-watering hues of the surface, these two will survive in their capacity to meet, to hold the other beneath the plummeting, in the depths below each step full of avoidance. What they create will be held up, will resume: the appetite is bigger than joy. indestructible. for never was it independent from who they are. who will be.

Were we ever to arrive at knowing the other as the same pulsing compassion would break the most orthodox heart.

backside :: chika sagawa

translated by Sawako Nakayasu

Night eats color,
Flower bouquets lose their fake ornaments.
Day falls into the leaves like sparkling fish
And struggles, like the lowly mud,
The shapeless dreams and trees
Nurtured outside this shriveled, deridable despair.
And the space that was chopped down
Tickles the weeds there by its feet.
Fingers stained with tar from cigarettes
Caress the writhing darkness.
And then the people move forward.

dearest god of exiles :: chelsea dingman

Black-lunged am I, dear
enemy. If you want the truth. Torn-tongued

beast blasting away. Strings & scotch
tape holding up my skin. I’m sick with

the silver moon, it’s chill
emptying my throat. I moved

away from myself
by winding along your miles. Finding

terror wherever I look
for it. Praying to hear less

of you, I pray for less
weather. In what bodies have I

moved? Whatever hurts
more, I seek. Stick the slim silver

blade in its sheath. I have
no need for a reminder: irrational

sky. Your stupid voice. Define me.
I dare you. Dump me in the river

slithering past. That cold, cold water.
I have no choices, when everywhere I look is

new. And you are everywhere.

spoken for :: li-young lee

I didn’t know I was blue,
until I heard her sing.

I was never aware so much
had been lost
even before I was born.
There was so much to lose
even before I knew
what it meant to choose.

Born blue,
living blue unconfessed, blue
in concealment, I’ve lived all my life
at the plinth
of greater things than me.

Morning is greater
with its firstborn light and birdsong.
Noon is taller, though a moment’s realm.
Evening is ancient and immense, and
night’s storied house more huge.

But I had no idea.
And would have died without a clue,
except she began to sing. And I understood

my soul is a bride enthralled by an unmet groom,
or else the groom wholly spoken for, blue
in ardor, happy in eternal waiting.

I heard her sing and knew
I would never hear the true

name of each thing
until I realized the abysmal
ground of all things. Her singing
touched that ground in me.

Now, dying of my life, everything is made new.
Now, my life is not my life. I have no life
apart from all of life.

And my death is not my death,
but a pillow beneath my head, a rock
propping the window open
to admit the jasmine.

I heard her sing,
and I’m no longer afraid.
Now that I know what she knows, I hope
never to forget
how giant the gone
and immaculate the going.
How much I’ve already lost.
How much I go on losing.
How much I’ve lived
all one blue. O, how much
I go on living.

force visibility :: solmaz sharif

Everywhere we went, I went
in pigtails
no one could see—

ribbon curled
by a scissor’s sharp edge,
the bumping our cars

undertook when hitting
those strips
along the interstate

meant to shake us
awake. Everywhere we went
horses bucking

their riders off,
holstered pistols
or two Frenchies

dancing in black and white
in a torn-apart
living room,

on the big screen
our polite cow faces
lit softly

by New Wave Cinema
I will never
get into. The soft whir

of CONTINUOUS STRIP IMAGERY.
What is fascism?
A student asked me

and can you believe
I couldn’t remember
the definition?

The sonnet,
I said.
I could’ve said this:

our sanctioned twoness.
My COVERT pigtails.
Driving to the cinema

you were yelling
This is not
yelling
you corrected

in the car, a tiny
amphitheater. I will
resolve this
I thought

and through that
RESOLUTION, I will be
a stronger compatriot.

This is fascism.
Dinner party
by dinner party,

waltz by waltz,
weddings ringed
by admirers, by old

couples who will rise
to touch each other
publicly.

In INTERTHEATER TRAFFIC
you were yelling
and beside us, briefly

a sheriff’s retrofitted bus.
Full or empty
was impossible to see.

at night, by marriage: :: lisa ciccarello

Here is how I control my heart: I string each thought one behind the next, like beads.

I wear the answers I am waiting to give. The jewelry becomes heavy as soil.

My long blink is a scream & a yes. There are things I have to say, but they do not yet know the questions they must ask. & a blink is no word; if they misunderstand—

A heart is just soil. Ask anyone. A heartbeat is a blink. A long blink is a scream. A longer blink is sleep. All night I am screaming.

four-word lines :: may swenson

Your eyes are just
like bees, and I
feel like a flower.
Their brown power makes
a breeze go over
my skin. When your
lashes ride down and
rise like brown bees’
legs, your pronged gaze
makes my eyes gauze.
I wish we were
in some shade and
no swarm of other
eyes to know that
I’m a flower breathing
bare, laid open to
your bees’ warm stare.
I’d let you wade
in me and seize
with your eager brown
bees’ power a sweet
glistening at my core.

the armadillo :: elizabeth bishop

for Robert Lowell

This is the time of year
when almost every night
the frail, illegal fire balloons appear.
Climbing the mountain height,

rising toward a saint
still honored in these parts,
the paper chambers flush and fill with light
that comes and goes, like hearts.

Once up against the sky it’s hard
to tell them from the stars—
planets, that is—the tinted ones:
Venus going down, or Mars,

or the pale green one. With a wind,
they flare and falter, wobble and toss;
but if it’s still they steer between
the kite sticks of the Southern Cross,

receding, dwindling, solemnly
and steadily forsaking us,
or, in the downdraft from a peak,
suddenly turning dangerous.

Last night another big one fell.
It splattered like an egg of fire
against the cliff behind the house.
The flame ran down. We saw the pair

of owls who nest there flying up
and up, their whirling black-and-white
stained bright pink underneath, until
they shrieked up out of sight.

The ancient owls’ nest must have burned.
Hastily, all alone,
a glistening armadillo left the scene,
rose-flecked, head down, tail down,

and then a baby rabbit jumped out,
short-eared, to our surprise.
So soft!—a handful of intangible ash
with fixed, ignited eyes.

Too pretty, dreamlike mimicry!
O falling fire and piercing cry
and panic, and a weak mailed fist
clenched ignorant against the sky!

the embankment :: t. e. hulme

(The fantasia of a fallen gentleman on a cold, bitter night.)

Once, in finesse of fiddles found I ecstasy,
In the flash of gold heels on the hard pavement.
Now see I
That warmth’s the very stuff of poesy.
Oh, God, make small
The old star-eaten blanket of the sky,
That I may fold it round me and in comfort lie.

abeyance :: rebecca foust

letter to my transgender daughter

I made soup tonight, with cabbage, chard
and thyme picked outside our back door.
For this moment the room is warm and light,
and I can presume you safe somewhere.
I know the night lives inside you. I know grave,
sad errors were made, dividing you, and hiding
you from you inside. I know a girl like you
was knifed last week, another set aflame.
I know I lack the words, or all the words I say
are wrong. I know I’ll call and you won’t answer,
and still I’ll call. I want to tell you
you were loved with all I had, recklessly,
and with abandon, loved the way the cabbage
in my garden near-inverts itself, splayed
to catch each last ray of sun. And how
the feeling furling-in only makes the heart
more dense and green. Tonight it seems like
something one could bear.

Guess what, Dad and I finally figured out Pandora,
and after all those years of silence, our old music
fills the air. It fills the air, and somehow, here,
at this instant and for this instant only
—perhaps three bars—what I recall
equals all I feel, and I remember all the words.

voir dire :: justin marks

I live in New York City and a horse
goes clopping by my window.
Then I don’t
hear the horse anymore.
All promises
have been broken.
I lie in bed and pretend
to sleep. On occasion
I see babies sleeping,
little ones lying
on their backs
with baby bones
and skeletons
and organs that function.
They see and hear
and taste and smell.
They learn to speak and feel
awkwardness and shame.
It’s good that we don’t
remember being babies.
It’s good to feel good.
Sometimes I fall
for things I shouldn’t.
I think of my parents
with a kind
of regret and sympathy
for us all. A process,
like anything else.
A series of questions
raised in silence.
It’s an adventure
inside my body right now,
not knowing what will happen.
Something gets forced in,
returns out.
Whatever it is,
I say it alone,
aloud. I decide
on a course of thought
or action, and inevitably
wind up pursuing the other.
I’m happy
to be indignant,
but also just happy.
I share a pizza
and movie with my wife.
She is like a carrot
and I’m a little rabbit.
Our babies will be orange.
A bug is pressed
into a book’s pages
on the shelf.
Tourists get their pictures taken
in front of great works of art.
A young couple French
-kisses outside
the Museum of Sex.
The moon is full and shining
magnificently over
the rivers, Hudson and East.
I’m 6 feet tall and tone deaf,
a truly terrible singer.
I’ve always been swayed
by the belief that the maker
should not be able to see
himself in his art. I see
nothing but myself.
Plastic flowers in a lush,
green garden on
the Lower East Side, Avenue C.
Pinocchio standing before
a table of wood-working tools.
I know you know
I’m spying on you
spying on me
spying on you. That’s
what makes this fun,
right? Penetrate to
the most high god
and you’ll go insane,
I hear. Even
the speed of light
isn’t fast enough
to save you.
But don’t be afraid.
It’s only the pressure
that’s difficult to bear.
Amusement park rides,
even children’s corkscrew
playground slides
make me nauseous.
Mothers yell at their children
and their children cry.
The limits of my linear mind.
I sometimes believe everything
I’ll ever do or say
is already inside
someone else.
What was I thinking
when I marked that passage
in the book that read,
This is older than towns?
As a child, my favorite
part of the day was coming home
and getting the mail,
wondering what,
if anything, was addressed
to me. I wish sleep
was a switch I could simply throw.
Sobriety and intoxication as well.
The immense joy I receive
when reading my sent emails.
Also in finally getting straight
the spellings of decent
and descent.
All day at the beach,
children stomp
out of the surf and onto
the shore. New organisms,
in the grand scheme of things.
My back is terribly sun-burnt.
Peeling. I get chills and forget
everything I’ve learned.
I’m a Mayflower
descendent. My great
-great grandfather
was a Russian-Jewish immigrant.
Riding in a cab
up the West Side Highway,
a little tipsy,
the salt-water air
and boat fumes…
I get incredibly inspired,
but not for long.
A bowl of fresh
blueberries and glass
after glass of water
await my arrival
home.
A hard-boiled
egg for breakfast.
The cat. My wife.
The future generation
we have yet to have.
Where did this weight
I’ve gained come from?
Why can’t I lose it?
I’m in my early-thirties,
my grandparents are dead
and my parents are old.
Frequent déjà vu
renders everything inevitable.
When my wife comes home
she will kiss me and remove
her clothes, stretch out
across the bed and we will
discuss the day. Most
of my good fortune
is a fluke.
The bad as well.
That’s as far
as it ever seems to go.
Another flabby body
at the gym
trying to look good,
a relation relating itself
to itself.
There are no answers,
only variations
in understanding.
Which is the purpose
of speech. Words.
Again and again.
It’s to myself I mostly talk.
A man walking past
me on the subway platform chants,
Christmas, Christmas, Christmas.
On a large envelope I drop
in the mail I write repeatedly,
Do Not Bend.
Discovery of one thing
by way of another.
The material of the cosmos crumpling
until all possible paths
narrow to one.
I’m completely addicted
to my email. Can’t go without
checking it every few minutes.
Connection to the outside
world via the virtual.
Things either occur
or they don’t.
The lavender my mother helped
my wife transplant is dying.
One of the more satisfactory
experiences of my life
was moshing so hard
I broke my retainer.
Twenty-three years ago.
There are no
discreet events. History
is in everything.
And memory. Dim
notions coming into focus,
then fading.
In a different life
I’d like to have been
a B-movie star.
Napping on the couch I tell
myself I’m not sleeping at all, just
relaxing, absorbing
the sound of traffic,
the sun and air
through the open window.
Putting a little spring
back in my step.
All this love
and hatred in my heart.
But if I could just stay awake,
if I could just stay awake long enough
it might all work out. This day
barely begun.

self help :: bruce covey

A chicken soup for the rainbow lover’s soul.
A chicken soup for the lover of chicken soup.
A carnage of birds, a devastation.
Chicken soup for the dried-up garden—
It’s been a lousy summer sucking us dry.
Chicken soup for the grocery list.
Chicken soup for unwanted potatoes.
Chicken soup for extinct animals.

In the west, the sun sets upon chicken soup.
With or without noodles or rice or barley,
Or vegetables—canned or otherwise—
Carrots and celery or egg drop chicken soup—
Chicken eggs, of course—or the alphabet
Or chili sauce. Chicken soup for chili lovers,
For the spicy soul. Chicken butchered
& boiled specifically for your cold.
A chicken soup for the cold soul,
A chicken soup for the sole of your shoe.

A chicken soup for decision making:
Does she love me? Or love me not?
Knots tied with chicken soup.
Chicken soup tied and sold in knots.
38 ways to tie your soup, to be tied.
Chicken soup for the protection of others.

A prayer to chicken soup, may it bring me
A winning lottery ticket. Chicken soup
For recovering alcoholics who still
Need hydration. A hydrangea’s
Chicken soup—to be loved like no other.

A chicken soup for Barry Bonds—
May he break Hank Aaron’s record.
Stick a pin in the chicken soup & bet
On its opponent. 30-Love. Match point.
A chicken soup for winners.
A chicken soup for losers.
Chicken soup for those who tie or draw.
The 60-plus occupations of soup.
Chicken for Sue, born in the year
Of the snake. The snake that ate
An alligator and died. They both died.

A chicken soup for the one who is eaten.
A chicken soup for the one who eats
Things other than chicken soup.
Transcending the bowl. A meta-bowl
Chicken soup for the transcended bowl.
Chicken soup for the transcending soup.
Chicken soup for the Marxist, steering
Away from values associated with heirarchies.
Chicken soup for the mud wrestler,
The roller derby queen. Chicken soup
For dairy queen, for the queen of hearts,

For Lady Di and the paparazzi,
For clean and dirty kings and queens.
For kiwis with wings, for the royal
Food pyramid. Chicken soup in
January, it’s so nice
To slip upon the sliding ice.

sleepover :: rachel hadas

Ida and Isidor Straus sleep side by side
eternally in an Egyptian galley
fronting their Woodlawn mausoleum.
Symbolically they lie. Their boat is small;
nor was her body recovered from the Titanic.
And yet the image of the voyage holds.

Why not embark? A river runs behind me
on the other side of this dark window.
A dream called Night Boat
arranged us side by side in a black craft,
sailing the river of forgetfulness
until the stars went out.

It was poetic license. I didn’t dream that boat.
The boat was dream, and we were passengers
balanced on the slippery cusp of daylight,
unless you had already disembarked
in some shadowy port,
leaving me to sail along alone.

downpour :: agnes d. moore

This shower comes down so straight—
It falls like stars
Upon the asphalt and the tops of cars.
Through the grey window with its clouded pane
We see full gutters quilted by the rain.
They swirl along delightedly to meet
The four quick-silver corners of the street.

How sad to see a stealthy culvert take
So beautiful, so promising a lake!

shirt :: robert pinsky

The back, the yoke, the yardage. Lapped seams,
The nearly invisible stitches along the collar
Turned in a sweatshop by Koreans or Malaysians

Gossiping over tea and noodles on their break
Or talking money or politics while one fitted
This armpiece with its overseam to the band

Of cuff I button at my wrist. The presser, the cutter,
The wringer, the mangle. The needle, the union,
The treadle, the bobbin. The code. The infamous blaze

At the Triangle Factory in nineteen-eleven.
One hundred and forty-six died in the flames
On the ninth floor, no hydrants, no fire escapes—

The witness in a building across the street
Who watched how a young man helped a girl to step
Up to the windowsill, then held her out

Away from the masonry wall and let her drop.
And then another. As if he were helping them up
To enter a streetcar, and not eternity.

A third before he dropped her put her arms
Around his neck and kissed him. Then he held
Her into space, and dropped her. Almost at once

He stepped to the sill himself, his jacket flared
And fluttered up from his shirt as he came down,
Air filling up the legs of his gray trousers—

Like Hart Crane’s Bedlamite, “shrill shirt ballooning.”
Wonderful how the pattern matches perfectly
Across the placket and over the twin bar-tacked

Corners of both pockets, like a strict rhyme
Or a major chord. Prints, plaids, checks,
Houndstooth, Tattersall, Madras. The clan tartans

Invented by mill-owners inspired by the hoax of Ossian,
To control their savage Scottish workers, tamed
By a fabricated heraldry: MacGregor,

Bailey, MacMartin. The kilt, devised for workers
To wear among the dusty clattering looms.
Weavers, carders, spinners. The loader,

The docker, the navvy. The planter, the picker, the sorter
Sweating at her machine in a litter of cotton
As slaves in calico headrags sweated in fields:

George Herbert, your descendant is a Black
Lady in South Carolina, her name is Irma
And she inspected my shirt. Its color and fit

And feel and its clean smell have satisfied
Both her and me. We have culled its cost and quality
Down to the buttons of simulated bone,

The buttonholes, the sizing, the facing, the characters
Printed in black on neckband and tail. The shape,
The label, the labor, the color, the shade. The shirt.

heart :: dorianne laux

The heart shifts shape of its own accord—
from bird to ax, from pinwheel
to budded branch. It rolls over in the chest,
a brown bear groggy with winter, skips
like a child at the fair, stopping in the shade
of the fireworks booth, the fat lady’s tent,
the corn dog stand. Or the heart
is an empty room where the ghosts of the dead
wait, paging through magazines, licking
their skinless thumbs. One gets up, walks
through a door into a maze of hallways.
Behind one door a roomful of orchids,
behind another, the smell of burned toast.
The rooms go on and on: sewing room
with its squeaky treadle, its bright needles,
room full of file cabinets and torn curtains,
room buzzing with a thousand black flies.
Or the heart closes its doors, becomes smoke,
a wispy lie, curls like a worm and forgets
its life, burrows into the fleshy dirt.
Heart makes a wrong turn.
Heart locked in its gate of thorns.
Heart with its hands folded in its lap.
Heart a blue skiff parting the silk of the lake.
It does what it wants, takes what it needs, eats
when it’s hungry, sleeps when the soul shuts down.
Bored, it watches movies deep into the night,
stands by the window counting the streetlamps
squinting out one by one.
Heart with its hundred mouths open.
Heart with its hundred eyes closed.
Harmonica heart, heart of tinsel,
heart of cement, broken teeth, redwood fence.
Heart of bricks and boards, books stacked
in devoted rows, their dusty spines
unreadable. Heart
with its hands full.
Hieroglyph heart, etched deep with history’s lists,
things to do. Near-sighted heart. Club-footed heart.
Hard-headed heart. Heart of gold, coal.
Bad juju heart, singing the low down blues.
Choir boy heart. Heart in a frumpy robe.
Heart with its feet up reading the scores.
Homeless heart, dozing, its back against the Dumpster.
Cop-on-the-beat heart with its black billy club,
banging on the lid.

evening sun :: jane kenyon

Why does this light force me back
to my childhood? I wore a yellow
summer dress, and the skirt
made a perfect circle.
                                   Turning and turning
until it flared to the limit
was irresistible . . . . The grass and trees,
my outstretched arms, and the skirt
whirled in the ochre light
of any early June evening.
                                   And I knew then
that I would live,
and go on living: what sorrow it was;
and still what sorrow ignites
but does not consume
my heart.

a short note to my very critical and well-beloved friends and comrades :: june jordan

First they said I was too light
Then they said I was too dark
Then they said I was too different
Then they said I was too much the same
Then they said I was too young
Then they said I was too old
Then they said I was too interracial
Then they said I was too much a nationalist
Then they said I was too silly
Then they said I was too angry
Then they said I was too idealistic
Then they said I was too confusing altogether:
Make up your mind! They said. Are you militant
or sweet? Are you vegetarian or meat? Are you straight
or are you gay?

And I said, Hey! It’s not about my mind.

how I might sound if I left myself alone :: lisa russ spaar

Turning to watch you leave,
I see we must always walk toward

other loves, river of   heaven
between two office buildings.

Orphaned cloud, fish soup poppling,
book spined in the open palm. Unstoppable light.

I think it is all right.
Or do tonight, garden toad

a speaking stone,
young sound in an old heart.

Annul the self? I float it,
a day lily in my wine. Oblivion?

I love our lives,
keeping me from it.

entanglement :: jane hirshfield

A librarian in Calcutta and an entomologist in Prague
sign their moon-faced illicit emails,
ton entanglée.”

No one can explain it.
The strange charm between border collie and sheep,
leaf and wind, the two distant electrons.

There is, too, the matter of a horse race.
Each person shouts for his own horse louder,
confident in the rising din
past whip, past mud,
the horse will hear his own name in his own quickened ear.

Desire is different:
desire is the moment before the race is run.

Has an electron never refused
the invitation to change direction,
sent in no knowable envelope, with no knowable ring?

A story told often: after the lecture, the widow
insisting the universe rests on the back of a turtle.
And what, the physicist
asks, does the turtle rest on?

Very clever, young man, she replies, very clever,
but it’s turtles all the way down.

And so a woman in Beijing buys for her love,
who practices turtle geometry in Boston, a metal trinket
from a night-market street stall.

On the back of a turtle, at rest on its shell,
a turtle.
Inside that green-painted shell, another, still smaller.

This continues for many turtles,
until finally, too small to see
or to lift up by its curious, preacherly head
a single un-green electron
waits the width of a world for some weightless message
sent into the din of existence for it alone.

Murmur of all that is claspable, clabberable, clamberable,
against all that is not:

You are there. I am here. I remember

resolution :: william brewer

Today is a new year and winter
and there are so many things
I’m ready to think about.

Like that it’s morning
and the power plant
is a womb for clouds.

The clouds aren’t real
because no matter
how hard I look I see

only clouds in them, not rabbits
or a pirate ship or hands.
The sliding glass door

before me should be cold
if I touch it but it won’t be
because I can’t feel anything anymore

after flooding my body
too many times
with an army of synthetic soldiers.

I know now this isn’t
a solution. I now know
so much more. I know

that last night five thousand
blackbirds dropped dead
over an Arkansas suburb

and it wasn’t my fault.
I’ve only ever killed a robin
and I’ve never been to Arkansas.

This year I won’t feel
responsible. Last night
I was out on the deck

watching fireworks chew
through the air, flocks
of green and gold that showered

back to earth. Last night
in Arkansas, nightfeather
was everywhere. Did they fall

at once or scatter? This year
I won’t ask questions
like these and I won’t be

disappointed when
I’ve come up with an answer.
I don’t need answers.

I can go to the mailbox
and find a tally
of the grams I’ve shot-up

equated to the hours
of daylight I’ve got left
and be fine, knowing

that it’s time to make
some changes. Last night
was the last night

I’m high. I mean it. While everyone
was drinking and ringing in
the New Year, I stood in the yard

and decided that sometimes
you have to tell yourself
you’re the first person

to look out over
the silent highway
at the abandoned billboard

lit up by the moon
and think it’s selling a new
and honest life.

All you’ve got to do is take it.
It’s simple, even when you know
you’re not the first

to stand on a lawn of frozen dark
and scratch his arm
dreaming of the future.

I know there are ways to feel
different than how I do
just before the train pulls in,

or when I walk the halls
when everyone’s asleep,
or when I’m asked to hold

the shotgun, or when my brother
won’t give me cash when
he’s just trying to help

and way back
in the ruins of my mind,
I want to make a blackbird

of him. I’m capable of that.
And so are you. I dreamt
disappointment

is like finding a balloon
in a drawer. Once it floats out,
you can’t fit it back in.

It just hangs there.
I just hang there on a string.
This year I won’t be

okay with that. In two days
I’ll admit myself
in exchange for putting out

the white fire on my scalp.
A paper cup, a pill,
an I.V.’s plastic needle

dry-humping an old
stab spot. My bones
will announce themselves

by packing up and moving out,
I’ll melt into my bed sheets
like I used to melt

into upholstery. They’ll say
the hard part’s coming.
When you can’t

take anything for the pain,
the pain takes you.
I’ll wait. I’ll be ready,

I’ll look out
my picture window
where across the street

they’ll be building a bigger,
better ward. Open floors
of steel stacked up

with tarps for walls
that fill like sails,
a galleon on the caustic waters

of the troubled. Blasts
of light from welders
like headless phoenixes

that would burn my eyes
if closer. Two things
brought together

through an arc
of white energy. I like
the sound of that.

But I’ll be there to pull myself apart.
It’ll start. I’ll hear
a blizzard coming

and think maybe someone
should do something about it.
The cold is already here,

filling up the window.
Maybe the window
was a bad idea?

Imagine that, the first window.
All that light bursting in.
No wind. And the world,

finally at a distance.
A thing to be looked at,
not felt.