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Jennifer Militello

Ode to Love

About this Poem 

“In this poem, love is an avocado seed aspiring to roots, a grandfather clock, a stocked pond, and a nuclear weapons test. ‘Ode to Love’ features the many ironies love keeps tucked beneath its unwieldy wings.”
Jennifer Militello

Ode to Love

Jennifer Militello

Place its toothpicked pit in water, watch the grist
of its insides grow. Witness its populous bloom,

honeycombed with rough. Its cobblestones grip
the heart in its mitt, a closed fist thickened

and gritty as silt. The swamp of the plumb beat
adamant as weeds. The dish of which is salted

by complexities or cries. It is a house in which
we cannot live, the quiver on the arrow

we cannot launch. It grows late over Nevada
as we watch. Strikes its gullies: we grow burnt

as a moth. Mimics a sleep of archives and
the small lies all forget. Mimics all laughter

broken by the time it leaves the mouth.
With its moving parts, its chimes, its gleam,

it muddies our archways, lying low, gives off
noise and steam; its mechanics clear the fence.

It must be wooed. Must be quieted. Hush. It must
be soothed. Has a snag. Has a bleed. A drape.

Flaps awkwardly, at its edges, a heron. At
its center, a wide bottom perfect with fish.
 

Copyright © 2015 by Jennifer Militello. Originally published in Poem-a-Day on April 20, 2015, by the Academy of American Poets. 

Copyright © 2015 by Jennifer Militello. Originally published in Poem-a-Day on April 20, 2015, by the Academy of American Poets. 

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Sam Beam of Iron & Wine at Poetry & the Creative Mind, New York City, 2015. Photo credit: Jennifer Trahan.
poem

Still I Rise

You may write me down in history
With your bitter, twisted lies,
You may trod me in the very dirt
But still, like dust, I'll rise.

Does my sassiness upset you?
Why are you beset with gloom?
'Cause I walk like I've got oil wells
Pumping in my living room.

Just like moons and like suns,
With the certainty of tides,
Just like hopes springing high,
Still I'll rise.

Did you want to see me broken?
Bowed head and lowered eyes?
Shoulders falling down like teardrops,
Weakened by my soulful cries?

Does my haughtiness offend you?
Don't you take it awful hard
'Cause I laugh like I've got gold mines
Diggin' in my own backyard.

You may shoot me with your words,
You may cut me with your eyes,
You may kill me with your hatefulness,
But still, like air, I'll rise.

Does my sexiness upset you?
Does it come as a surprise
That I dance like I've got diamonds
At the meeting of my thighs?

Out of the huts of history's shame
I rise
Up from a past that's rooted in pain
I rise
I'm a black ocean, leaping and wide,
Welling and swelling I bear in the tide.

Leaving behind nights of terror and fear
I rise
Into a daybreak that's wondrously clear
I rise
Bringing the gifts that my ancestors gave,
I am the dream and the hope of the slave.
I rise
I rise
I rise.
Maya Angelou
1978
Nan Knutsen's second graders at Falcon Heights Elementary School in Falcon Heights, Minnesota, celebrating Poem in Your Pocket Day
Alberto Ríos at the Southwestern Poetry Festival, New York Historical Society, 1991
collection

Classic Books of American Poetry

This collection of books showcases the masterpieces of American poetry that have influenced—or promise to influence—generations of poets. Take a look.

collection

A Poet's Glossary

Each week we feature a new term from Academy Chancellor Edward Hirsch's April 2014 book A Poet's Glossary. Ten years in the making, Hirsch's book is an international, inclusive collection of the poetic terms that define the art form.