When the pickup truck, with its side mirror,
almost took out my arm, the driver’s grin
reflected back; it was just a horror
show that was never going to happen,
don’t protest, don’t bother with the police
for my benefit, he gave me a smile—
he too was startled, redness in his face—
when I thought I was going, a short while,
to get myself killed: it wasn’t anger
when he bared his teeth, as if to caution
calm down, all good, no one died, ni[ght, neighbor]—
no sense getting all pissed, the commotion
of the past is the past; I was so dim,
he never saw me—of course, I saw him.
Copyright © 2020 by Tommye Blount. Originally published in Poem-a-Day on February 19, 2020 by the Academy of American Poets.
Might night right sight?
The first thing she did after we blindfolded her
and turned her in circles by her shoulders
for where she thought her target hung
and hit tree trunk instead, with one strike
against it split the stick
in half to jagged dagger
fists. The donkey gently swayed
within reach, barely grazed
and staring straight ahead with the conviction
inherent to its kind at the horizon
that a gaze
paper mane fluttering in the breeze of a near miss,
belly ballasted with melting chocolate kisses,
drawn grin belying its
of ritual and craft. She's grinning
too, and laughing, regaining
planting her feet in a samurai stance.
She brandishes her splinter.
There's no harm in letting her
take another turn
her around again.
We think we know how this ends,
how good it feels to play at this,
violence and darkness,
that harbors something sweet.
Originally printed in The Hopkins Review. Copyright © 2015 by Dora Malech. Used with the permission of the author.
I rose at the dead of night,
And went to the lattice alone
To look for my Mother’s ghost
Where the ghostly moonlight shone.
My friends had failed one by one,
Middle-aged, young, and old,
Till the ghosts were warmer to me
Than my friends that had grown cold.
I looked and I saw the ghosts
Dotting plain and mound:
They stood in the blank moonlight,
But no shadow lay on the ground:
They spoke without a voice
And they leaped without a sound.
I called: ‘O my Mother dear,’—
I sobbed: ‘O my Mother kind,
Make a lonely bed for me
And shelter it from the wind.
‘Tell the others not to come
To see me night or day:
But I need not tell my friends
To be sure to keep away.’
My Mother raised her eyes,
They were blank and could not see:
Yet they held me with their stare
While they seemed to look at me.
She opened her mouth and spoke;
I could not hear a word,
While my flesh crept on my bones
And every hair was stirred.
She knew that I could not hear
The message that she told
Whether I had long to wait
Or soon should sleep in the mould:
I saw her toss her shadowless hair
And wring her hands in the cold.
I strained to catch her words,
And she strained to make me hear;
But never a sound of words
Fell on my straining ear.
From midnight to the cockcrow
I kept my watch in pain
While the subtle ghosts grew subtler
In the sad night on the wane.
From midnight to the cockcrow
I watched till all were gone,
Some to sleep in the shifting sea
And some under turf and stone:
Living had failed and dead had failed,
And I was indeed alone.
This poem is in the public domain.