I am a walker. I follow the sun as it angles
Into the evening on an edge where

A thoroughfare meets a hill of empty houses,
And as it spreads through back roads, I walk

Into nights—imaginary city—into nights
I walk changed, to be changed like a character

In a story I might read at the diner
On a damp morning when I don’t feel right, or

By the fire, folded into fire, days or nights
Or days again, walking with a map in

My head, a little blood in my teeth. If I walk
Out into my own block, and don’t know

Where I am, things may even out in
Neighborhoods I’ve never been to as I

Begin to feel at home, and forget what I am
After. I walk along the edge of the airfield.

The city swells in and out of my descriptions.
I can’t make fit these words falling from

My mouth. Ships in the yard at a distance,
Then close. Clouds precede me as I walk

Home—it’s not far now—between two
Memories, sidewalk shifting among

Mailboxes, streetlights, apartment complexes,
All of it settling into the orange domes

Of the synagogue, where Farmington Avenue
Dips down into the city, meets the rise of

Its buildings. This is where I’m from.
My city made real. I am elegant. Tiresome.

The avenue, I can’t be precise now about how
It was then, though I see I’m still this person

In here, nestled among words. They aren’t mine.
Stopping under a tree by a wall. Darkness

Cast like a light. I’m lying alone on a bench,
Feet on the arm, fingers on the sidewalk,

Buzzing with caffeine. The police come, but
I sit up and they stay in their cars. I am so

Able to be large and harmless. Thought beating
In the heart. Every yard a very varnished green.

I come and go and come and go all night. Past
The familiar gas station, through the white

Squares of the divinity school, mansion rows,
Wide and wealthy. Perhaps I depend too much

On a breeze rising unexpectedly out of
The night’s heat? No matter. Long after curfew,

And I could care less which city or street.
There are rules to these things, but I’ve walked

Beyond them. I’m the figure in the distance.
Not everything has to be a struggle, I say.

Originally printed in Salt Hill. Copyright © 2017 by Samuel Amadon. Used with the permission of the author.

And whom do I call my enemy?
An enemy must be worthy of engagement.
I turn in the direction of the sun and keep walking.
It’s the heart that asks the question, not my furious mind.
The heart is the smaller cousin of the sun.
It sees and knows everything.
It hears the gnashing even as it hears the blessing.
The door to the mind should only open from the heart.
An enemy who gets in, risks the danger of becoming a friend.

Harjo, Joy, Conflict Resolution for Holy Beings: Poems; Copyright © 2015 by W. W. Norton & Company. Reprinted with permission of Anderson Literary Management LLC, 244 Fifth Avenue, Floor 11, New York, NY 10001.

The tires on my bike are flat.
The sky is grouchy gray.
At least it sure feels like that
Since Hanna moved away.

Chocolate ice cream tastes like prunes.
December's come to stay.
They've taken back the Mays and Junes
Since Hanna moved away.

Flowers smell like halibut.
Velvet feels like hay.
Every handsome dog's a mutt
Since Hanna moved away.

Nothing's fun to laugh about.
Nothing's fun to play.
They call me, but I won't come out
Since Hanna moved away.

From If I Were in Charge of the World and Other Worries . . ., published by Macmillan, 1981. Used with permission.

No matter how old you are,
it helps to be young
when you’re coming to life,

to be unfinished, a mysterious statement,
a journey from star to star.
So break out a box of Crayolas

and draw your family
looking uncomfortably away
from the you you’ve exchanged

for the mannequin
they named. You should
help clean up, but you’re so busy being afraid

to love or not
you're missing the fun of clothing yourself
in the embarrassment of life.

Frost your lids with midnight;
lid your heart with frost;
rub them all over, the hormones that regulate

the production of love
from karmic garbage dumps.
Turn yourself into

the real you
you can only discover
by being other.

Voila! You’re free.
Learn to love the awkward silence
you are going to be.

From The Future Is Trying to Tell Us Something: New and Selected Poems (Sheep Meadow Press, 2017). Copyright © 2017 by Joy Ladin. Used with the permission of the author.

Not every day but most days that summer

I went calmly and quietly and climbed

to the sixth floor of the library and walked

not fast and not slow but with purpose

down the last row and reached

almost without looking to the same

place on the shelf and pulled out

the large book and carried it to a chair

that looks out toward the ridge, to a mountain

that is there, whether it is or it isn’t,

the mountain people love, maybe for this,

love and die with all their love,

trying, and I opened to the page

where I left off before, and sometimes the library

announced it was closing, sometimes I got hungry,

sometimes it looked like rain, and I’d close the book

and carry it again, with purpose, back to its exact

place on the shelf, and I’d walk down the stairs

and out of the building, and it was like

I’d left it ticking.

Copyright © 2017 Jill Osier. Used with permission of the author. This poem originally appeared in The Southern Review, Summer 2017.

The library is dangerous—
Don’t go in. If you do

You know what will happen.
It’s like a pet store or a bakery—

Every single time you’ll come out of there
Holding something in your arms.

Those novels with their big eyes.
And those no-nonsense, all muscle

Greyhounds and Dobermans,
All non-fiction and business,

Cuddly when they’re young,
But then the first page is turned.

The doughnut scent of it all, knowledge,
The aroma of coffee being made

In all those books, something for everyone,
The deli offerings of civilization itself.

The library is the book of books,
Its concrete and wood and glass covers

Keeping within them the very big,
Very long story of everything.

The library is dangerous, full
Of answers. If you go inside,

You may not come out
The same person who went in.

Copyright © 2017 by Alberto Ríos. Used with the permission of the author.