I cannot consider scent without you, I cannot
think that color so gay, so Japanese, so vernal
without you; not assassination or any death in any spring. I think of you
and I am man-and-woman, flawed as a Lincoln,
welcoming as a window-box, and so tenderly alliterative as to draw one near—
at times, perhaps, to withdraw from all—yes,
without you I am without pulse in that dooryard, that blooming unfurling
so tell me finally, is last as in the last time or to make something last
—to hold, to hold you, to memorize fast—
Copyright © 2019 by Kimiko Hahn. Originally published in Poem-a-Day on December 12, 2019, by the Academy of American Poets.
In the Shreve High football stadium,
I think of Polacks nursing long beers in Tiltonsville,
And gray faces of Negroes in the blast furnace at Benwood,
And the ruptured night watchman of Wheeling Steel,
Dreaming of heroes.
All the proud fathers are ashamed to go home.
Their women cluck like starved pullets,
Dying for love.
Their sons grow suicidally beautiful
At the beginning of October,
And gallop terribly against each other's bodies.
From The Branch Will Not Break by James Wright, published by Wesleyan University Press. Copyright © 1959, 1960, 1961, 1962, 1963 James Wright. Used with permission.
Enchantée, says the key in my hand.
When I try to turn it, it turns to sand.
Time is an upgrade, says the front desk.
Reserved for our most valued guests.
Time is an anemone, says the new hire.
Enemy. Amenity. Profanity. Dire.
Whatever you’ve forgotten,
they provide. Loved one,
plot line, pack of minutes?
Glass eyes, false teeth, all sleep is gratis.
we look in our hotel linens.
From Human Hours. Copyright © 2018 by Catherine Barnett. Used with the permission of The Permissions Company, Inc., on behalf of Graywolf Press.
This evening I shared a cab with a priest who said it was a fine day to ride cross town with a writer. But I can't finish the play I said, it's full of snow. The jaywalkers walked slowly, a cigarette warmed someone's hand. Some of the best sermons don't have endings, he said while the tires rotated unceasingly beneath us. All over town people were waiting and doubleparked and making love and waiting. The temperature dropped until the shiverers zipped their jackets and all manner of things started up again.
From The Game of Boxes by Catherine Barnett. Copyright © 2012 by Catherine Barnett. Published by Graywolf Press. Used by permission of the publisher. All rights reserved.