sorrow is not my name :: ross gay

—after Gwendolyn Brooks

No matter the pull toward brink. No
matter the florid, deep sleep awaits.
There is a time for everything. Look,
just this morning a vulture
nodded his red, grizzled head at me,
and I looked at him, admiring
the sickle of his beak.
Then the wind kicked up, and,
after arranging that good suit of feathers
he up and took off.
Just like that. And to boot,
there are, on this planet alone, something like two
million naturally occurring sweet things,
some with names so generous as to kick
the steel from my knees: agave, persimmon,
stick ball, the purple okra I bought for two bucks
at the market. Think of that. The long night,
the skeleton in the mirror, the man behind me
on the bus taking notes, yeah, yeah.
But look; my niece is running through a field
calling my name. My neighbor sings like an angel
and at the end of my block is a basketball court.
I remember. My color’s green. I’m spring.

—for Walter Aikens

the most gentle revolution :: nikita gill

There are still versions of you that remember
a soft childhood filled with caring for everything
that the grown ups around you simply ignored.

The baby bird with a broken wing you healed,
the thirsty plants you always gave water to
the lonely and sad children you befriended.

We learn when we are young how to be kind,
we are so certain back then that we are here to help
each other through sorrow and through sadness too.

But when we grow up we forget the magic
that lies within each act of kindness, that it has
the facility to build true hope the way revolutions do.

Kindness was always your superpower.
And your gentle heart can still change the world
if only you believe you can and truly want to.

naming the heartbeats :: aimee nezhukumatathil

I’ve become the person who says Darling, who says Sugarpie,
Honeybunch, Snugglebear—and that’s just for my children.
What I call my husband is unprintable. You’re welcome. I am
his sweetheart, and finally, finally—I answer to his call and his
alone. Animals are named for people, places, or perhaps a little
Latin. Plants invite names for colors or plant-parts. When you
get a group of heartbeats together you get names that call out
into the evening’s first radiance of planets: a quiver of cobras,
a maelstrom of salamanders, an audience of squid, or an ostentation
of peacocks. But what is it called when creatures on this earth curl
and sleep, when shadows of moons we don’t yet know brush across
our faces? And what is the name for the movement we make when
we wake, swiping hand or claw or wing across our face, like trying
to remember a path or a river we’ve only visited in our dreams.

finale :: pablo neruda

translated by william o’daly

Matilde, years or days
sleeping, feverish,
here or there,
gazing off,
twisting my spine,
bleeding true blood,
perhaps I awaken
or am lost, sleeping:
hospital beds, foreign windows,
white uniforms of the silent walkers,
the clumsiness of feet.

And then, these journeys
and my sea of renewal:
your head on the pillow,
your hands floating
in the light, in my light,
over my earth.

It was beautiful to live
when you lived!

The world is bluer and of the earth
at night, when I sleep
enormous, within your small hands.