In the burned house I am eating breakfast.
You understand: there is no house, there is no breakfast,
yet here I am.
The spoon which was melted scrapes against
the bowl which was melted also.
No one else is around.
Where have they gone to, brother and sister,
mother and father? Off along the shore,
perhaps. Their clothes are still on the hangers,
their dishes piled beside the sink,
which is beside the woodstove
with its grate and sooty kettle,
every detail clear,
tin cup and rippled mirror.
The day is bright and songless,
the lake is blue, the forest watchful.
In the east a bank of cloud
rises up silently like dark bread.
I can see the swirls in the oilcloth,
I can see the flaws in the glass,
those flares where the sun hits them.
I can't see my own arms and legs
or know if this is a trap or blessing,
finding myself back here, where everything
in this house has long been over,
kettle and mirror, spoon and bowl,
including my own body,
including the body I had then,
including the body I have now
as I sit at this morning table, alone and happy,
bare child's feet on the scorched floorboards
(I can almost see)
in my burning clothes, the thin green shorts
and grubby yellow T-shirt
holding my cindery, non-existent,
radiant flesh. Incandescent.
From Morning in the Burned House by Margaret Atwood. Copyright © 1995 by Margaret Atwood. Published in the United States by Houghton Mifflin Co., published in Canada by McClelland and Stewart, Inc. All rights reserved.
gone 700 years today
leaving us here, in the
which was Paradise once
but which we soiled
and are about to
turn into hell, or
at least an Inferno
for homo sap sap, the
— if it comes to that —
left, there will be
it will move
on, even without us
it will rejoice in us
gone — I can hear the
the trees too
the air cooling
the sea cooling
it will be the real paradise
the one sans-sapiens,
that arrogant inter-
Copyright © 2022 by Pierre Joris. Originally published in Poem-a-Day on June 27 2022, by the Academy of American Poets.
The scientists say fungi are more closely related to animals—to us—
than multicellular plants. The truth: the shiitake in your fridge
would treat you better than half the men in the bar tonight,
and it’d taste better too.
I won’t cry when the Anthropocene ends.
Instead, I’ll breathe in the spores and thank God.
You’re calling it the apocalypse,
and I tell you that it means lifting the veil—
I tell you this thing is ancient—a revelation. This is the last orgasm.
It’s Eternity. Soft skulls of mushrooms are pushing up
through our pores
and I’m whispering to you that they’re loving us like men would—
eating us raw, sucking on our bones, marrying our bodies—
only, this is better than men.
But when the mycelium fills my mouth, and I can no longer
breathe, I want to tell you how
you remind me of the moon; to hold your hand;
to let you know
I’m still here, but this
You’re looking at me with eyes that ask
if this is the end, but I think:
This feels like
Copyright © 2021 Edwin WIlliamson. This poem originally appeared on poets.org as part of the 2021 University and College Poetry Prizes. Used with permission of the author.
translated by Tess O’Dwyer
My tanks were filled with gasoline and wars. I was a lead soldier. I marched
against the smoke of the city. There were difficult moments and there were,
Hello! How are you? They were all worth the same. I had two pennies. I
could enter the city. But they closed the doors on me. I closed my soul on
them. They didn’t know what had happened. Did my soul pass by here?
Body, I said to you, how are you? I have been a lead soldier. The voice that
said it was not what it said. I almost swear by the road. But the segment,
the march loaded with clay, eyes of asphalt, hands of lime, legs of drill,
navels of cement, resounded, resounded, resounded—the anvils of the
hammer against the beams of the body—drilling, drilling, drilling me.
Marching in time, the wall and the latch, the heart, my soul, the precipice of
the trucks. And everything was black, black, black, white—like the asphalt.
And the world closed its doors—anvils and hammers against the sleeping
men—the doors of the heart, cities everywhere and little lead soldiers.
Giannina Braschi, Libro de payasos y bufones, El imperio de los sueños, 1988. Translation Tess O’Dwyer, Empire of Dreams, 1994.