He piles her boxes in the courtyard under
a tarp, the bookshelves, microwave, spare phone,
and though his friends make clear they wonder
why he would help her move, he says, “It’s fine.
I want to save her money, help her out.”
And he does—helps her move out, feeling weight
tear at his muscles. Now he is without
her things. They are inside the truck, her freight,
then on the freeway, then in her new flat,
then gone. He’s glad to ache in shoulder blades
and arms. It means that though she’s left him flat,
left him behind like old footprints, he’s made 
a choice as well, to move her, remove her,
a choice to move past, not be moved by her.

From Sad Jazz: Sonnets (Sheep Meadow Press, 2005) by Tony Barnstone. Copyright © 2005 by Tony Barnstone. Used with the permission of the author. 

Like the Japanese cherry blossoms wedded to the soil’s palm
planted in front of the train station; or the yellow-black dance
of the tiger swallowtail’s wings as it flees; or the echoes that follow
after I thunder loud against the kitchen cabinets; or the summer fire
hitched to the air we breathe—the chuckle of ash sneaking into our lungs;
or the way your eyes elope when you’ve had enough of my
tit-for-tat-I’m-right-your-wrong song; or wind—always, there is wind—
that kicks the kink of the whine and wail of the German shepherd left behind;
or the night’s bat wing splashed against the living room window
as I sleep on the couch; or the final five-hundred pairs of northern spotted owls
married to the asylum of pine and bark and nest and play in the State we claim,
the owls now near-threatened with their thirteen hoots and barks and whistles,
with their shabby dresses and dark-in-love stares, their piece of the American pie—
don’t they, too, deserve the kickshaws of what this handsome planet
has to offer, don’t we? . . . Don’t leave me. We may not be a pair of owls
nested in the forest of Douglas firs trying to make muss a home
humans made of this land, timber harvestings and land conversions.
I may have farmed a muck of our land, too,
but Babe, no matter the season of fresh lavender and children playing
in the hallway, no matter the bowls of leftover ramen mean with age,
no matter the abysmal cycle of lists I conjure in this poem, no matter
if every last owl has escaped—Lord, let them escape—the foul-fowl lust
of humankind, no matter the huff I hang on your every word,
I love you. You are where I belong.

Copyright © 2022 by Luther Hughes. Originally published in Poem-a-Day on August 18, 2022, by the Academy of American Poets.