Let us begin with a simple line,
Drawn as a child would draw it, 
To indicate the horizon,

More real than the real horizon,
Which is less than line,
Which is visible abstraction, a ratio.

The line ravishes the page with implications
Of white earth, white sky!

The horizon moves as we move, 
Making us feel central.
But the horizon is an empty shell—

Strange radius whose center is peripheral.
As the horizon draws us on, withdrawing, 
The line draws us in, 

Requiring further lines, 
Engendering curves, verticals, diagonals,
Urging shades, shapes, figures…

What should we place, in all good faith,
On the horizon? A stone?
An empty chair? A submarine?

Take your time. Take it easy. 
The horizon will not stop abstracting us.

From Resurrection Updated: Collected Poems 1975-1997 by James Galvin. Copyright © 1997 by James Galvin. Reprinted by permission of Copper Canyon Press.

The art of losing isn’t hard to master;
so many things seem filled with the intent
to be lost that their loss is no disaster.

Lose something every day. Accept the fluster
of lost door keys, the hour badly spent.
The art of losing isn’t hard to master.

Then practice losing farther, losing faster:
places, and names, and where it was you meant
to travel. None of these will bring disaster.

I lost my mother’s watch. And look! my last, or
next-to-last, of three loved houses went.
The art of losing isn’t hard to master.

I lost two cities, lovely ones. And, vaster,
some realms I owned, two rivers, a continent.
I miss them, but it wasn’t a disaster.

Even losing you (the joking voice, a gesture
I love) I shan’t have lied. It’s evident
the art of losing’s not too hard to master
though it may look like (Write it!) like disaster.

From The Complete Poems 1927-1979 by Elizabeth Bishop, published by Farrar, Straus & Giroux, Inc. Copyright © 1979, 1983 by Alice Helen Methfessel. Used with permission of Farrar, Straus & Giroux, LLC. All rights reserved.

for Donald Grace

 

Underneath your skin, your heart
moves.  Your chest
rises at its touch.  A small bump
appears, every
second.  We watch for what appears
to be hours.

Our hands log the time: the soft
light, darkness
underneath your eyes.  Our bodies
intersect like highways
with limitless access and perfect spans
of attention.

We pay for this later.  I pay
for breakfast.  We
can’t stay long.  We take off
to the museum
and watch the individual colors
as they surface

in the late works of Matisse.
They move the way
your heart moves, the way we breathe.
You draw your own
breath, then I draw mine.  This is
truly great art.

From A Fast Life: The Collected Poems of Tim Dlugos (Nightboat Books, 2011). Copyright © 2011 by The Estate of Tim Dlugos. Used by permission of Nightboat Books.

You have sweet flowers for your pleasure;
    You laugh with the bountiful earth
In its richness of summer treasure:
    Where now are your flowers and your mirth?
Petals and cadenced laughter,
    Each in a dying fall,
Droop out of life; and after
    Is nothing; they were all.

But we from the death of roses
    That three suns perfume and gild
With a kiss, till the fourth discloses
    A withered wreath, have distilled
The fulness of one rare phial,
    Whose nimble life shall outrun
The circling shadow on the dial,
    Outlast the tyrannous sun.

This poem is in the public domain.