I have eaten my dinner
Do not despair
I have eaten my dinner and the Devil
When he comes will see
I have intact
A peripatetic philosophy
That prizes above all
But burnt asparagus red wine
Red wine like the red sky
The red slit of sky above you with
Salmon edges its holes
A turquoise belt at the horizon hiding
The woods I lie in
After a long walk
After a long walk through bramble pea shoots
Toasted old bread to dip
A creek warble short
After a long walk what is
Current what awaits
What will break
The thrall of the Devil
Copyright © 2016 Caryl Pagel. Used with permission of the author.
A man can’t die where there is no earth because there will be no place to bury him. His body is the sky and understands the language of birds. His body says the earth is made of everything that has fallen from Heaven while no one was looking. He promises to defy gravity and then return home. A man can’t reach for the sky and not feel he is falling. It goes on forever and the birds talk about the awesomeness of flight while the oxen labor in the fields, while the cows eat grass and dream of slaughter. A man can’t talk about flight because one day, there will be no sky, just the body covered in earth. And now the sky is empty of birds. And now the earth is covered in flowers.
Copyright © 2017 by W. Todd Kaneko. Originally published in Poem-a-Day on December 14, 2017, by the Academy of American Poets.
Whatever I care for, someone else loves it
more, deserves it more: the doe with her
whole mouth crushing the phlox or the seer
who adores my future, whereas I could
take it or leave it. I know I’ll disappear.
It won’t be glamorous. It won’t be like when
the Mona Lisa was stolen and the tourists all
lined up to pay their respects at the empty
spot on the wall of the Louvre.
I’ve never actually even seen the sky.
I’ve only ever seen effluents, seen wattage.
The only night I remember is the dinner
of neighbors at which a man I never
had met before said I don’t fear dying—
look at the past, people have been dying forever, and—
then he stopped and shook his head—
I drank too much. I was almost saying
that people have died forever and all
of them survived, but of course—he made
a hard laugh—God, of course they didn’t survive.
From Hard Child. Copyright © 2017 by Natalie Shapero. Used with the permission of The Permissions Company, Inc., on behalf of Copper Canyon Press, www.coppercanyonpress.org.
I am so small walking on the beach at night under the widening sky. The wet sand quickens beneath my feet and the waves thunder against the shore. I am moving away from the boardwalk with its colorful streamers of people and the hotels with their blinking lights. The wind sighs for hundreds of miles. I am disappearing so far into the dark I have vanished from sight. I am a tiny seashell that has secretly drifted ashore and carries the sound of the ocean surging through its body. I am so small now no one can see me. How can I be filled with such a vast love?
From Lay Back the Darkness by Edward Hirsch Copyright © 2003 by Edward Hirsch. Excerpted by permission of Knopf, a division of Random House, Inc. All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.