Hatred is the new love. Rage is right. Touch
is touch. The collars of the coat, turned down,
point up. The corners of our hearts are smoothed
with rough. Our glass breaks slick, our teeth
rip soft. The mollusk of me, shell-less.
If the future once was, the past predicted
us. The street gives off rhythm. The sun
gives off dusk. When we walk, we
pour backward. When we have nothing,
it’s enough. The hunger leaves us satisfied,
the fullness leaves us wrung. The sum of all
its parts is whole, the reap of it has roots, not
took or plucked. Far apart, we move inside
our clothes: open is old, young is closed. The fangs
we used to bare are milk teeth grown from gums.
The fire we used to be scathed by numbs. We
run on the track of our consumption, done.
We’ve been ice when liquid is our natural state.
We’ve worn our husks, we’ve clenched our fists.
We scold and punish, scrape, pay a price.
We dole out in slanders what has no weight.
We pay in cringing for the moments. We open
injuries in one another. We lacerate places
that flex like knuckles, crack and grow. We are
sipping from the water’s thirst. We were lost
at first. From the finish, begun. We undergo
the pain the other knows. We are cartoon yards
where dogs dig for lost bones. Esoteric,
we are full of holes. That need to be filled.
That need to be dug. We are under-loved.
We are under-known. Give to us and we are
downcast and uplifted and sift like water
and sand like stone. We are greedy, we are
gone. We are helpless, we are prone. Drain us
or fill us and we’ll ache a vast installment.
Let us empty. Let us alone. Madness
is our happiness. Sadness is our home.
Copyright © 2015 by Jennifer Militello. “Oxymoronic Love” was originally published in The Kenyon Review. Used with permission of the author.
I saw you as I passed last night,
Framed in a sky of gold;
And through the sun’s fast paling light
You seemed a queen of old,
Whose smile was light to all the world
Against the crowding dark.
And in my soul a song there purled—
Re-echoed by the lark.
I saw you as I passed last night,
Your tresses burnished gold,
While in your eyes a happy bright
Gleam of your friendship told.
And I went singing on my way;
On, on into the dark.
But in my heart still shone the day,
And still—still sang the lark.
This poem is in the public domain. Published in Poem-a-Day on July 25, 2020, by the Academy of American Poets.
My heart’s desire was like a garden seen
On sudden through the opening of a door
In the grey sheet of life, unguessed before
But now how magic in sun-smitten green:
Wide cedar-shaded lawns, the glow and sheen
Of borders decked with all a gardener’s lore,
Long shaven hedges of old yew, hung o’er
With gossamer, wide paths to please a queen,
Whose happy silken skirts would brush the dew
From peonies and lupins white and blue.
Enchanted, there I lingered for a space,
Forgetful of the street, of tasks to do.
But when I would have entered that sweet place
The wind rose and the door slammed in my face.
This poem is in the public domain.
Yesterday I held your hand,
Reverently I pressed it,
And its gentle yieldingness
From my soul I blessed it.
But to-day I sit alone,
Sad and sore repining;
Must our gold forever know
Flames for the refining?
Yesterday I walked with you,
Could a day be sweeter?
Life was all a lyric song
Set to tricksy meter.
Ah, to-day is like a dirge,—
Place my arms around you,
Let me feel the same dear joy
As when first I found you.
Let me once retrace my steps,
From these roads unpleasant,
Let my heart and mind and soul
All ignore the present.
Yesterday the iron seared
And to-day means sorrow.
Pause, my soul, arise, arise,
Look where gleams the morrow.
This poem is in the public domain. Published in Poem-a-Day on May 16, 2020 by the Academy of American Poets.