Someday, I’ll love Dean Rader
the way the blue jay
loves the sparrow egg,
or perhaps the way the waves love the curve they give
themselves to when giving is no longer an option
like falling or dreaming
or even being on this earth,
in this body.
Someday I’ll love my body, itself a form of silence,
which is not the same as being quiet,
even though we are sentenced to this language with its strange letters,
their shapes like bowls, small sticks, the bellies of pregnant women,
as though everything spelled
must also be birthed and broken,
cracked open and spilled,
filled with the absence of what won’t do,
like waiting for the earth to tap out your name.
I never knew I loved my name,
can someone who has never believed his name love it?
Once on a train to Serbia a soldier woke me from a dream I still remember
and pointed a gun at my right shoulder.
I never knew
I loved my shoulder until I placed my son’s head there
our first night home from the hospital,
his chest lifting like an umbrella
in a storm. I don’t like comparing my son to an umbrella,
though he has known what it is to be folded,
to be wet and cold.
Someday I will love the cold,
not just as metaphor but as a means to clarity,
which is what I need this November night,
the moon swinging in its black noose over the city,
the entire world hooded,
lined up against a wall and waiting,
the way a reader waits,
for a poem to get where it’s going.
Someday I will love the poem,
the way I will love being afraid,
but this is not what I want to say.
It is something more like this:
the future is not what it used to be,
and even that is only part of it.
The other part has something to do with speculation,
like what awaits us when we remove the hood.
I never knew I loved blindness.
The punishment for sight is always forgiveness.
Someday I will love forgiveness,
but it is difficult to love what has not been earned.
My grandfather when he was tenderest would call me Dean Dean,
and I felt like a child
in the body of a boy who believed he had the ideas of a man.
Every morning after breakfast he and my grandmother
would throw leftover toast into the backyard for the birds.
I just remembered the birds and the bread.
I love them both.
Someday I will love more things,
and I will not think of death,
and even if I do I will not feel saddened by the end
of the person who wears my name,
even though it is always easy to mourn
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Copyright © 2021 by Dean Rader. Originally published in Poem-a-Day on April 30, 2021, by the Academy of American Poets.
This neighborhood was mine first. I walked each block twice:
drunk, then sober. I lived every day with legs and headphones.
It had snowed the night I ran down Lorimer and swore I’d stop
at nothing. My love, he had died. What was I supposed to do?
I regret nothing. Sometimes I feel washed up as paper. You’re
three years away. But then I dance down Graham and
the trees are the color of champagne and I remember—
There are things I like about heartbreak, too, how it needs
a good soundtrack. The way I catch a man’s gaze on the L
and don’t look away first. Losing something is just revising it.
After this love there will be more love. My body rising from a nest
of sheets to pick up a stranger’s MetroCard. I regret nothing.
Not the bar across the street from my apartment; I was still late.
Not the shared bathroom in Barcelona, not the red-eyes, not
the songs about black coats and Omaha. I lie about everything
but not this. You were every streetlamp that winter. You held
the crown of my head and for once I won’t show you what
I’ve made. I regret nothing. Your mother and your Maine.
Your wet hair in my lap after that first shower. The clinic
and how I cried for a week afterwards. How we never chose
the language we spoke. You wrote me a single poem and in it
you were the dog and I the fire. Remember the courthouse?
The anniversary song. Those goddamn Kmart towels. I loved them,
when did we throw them away? Tomorrow I’ll write down
everything we’ve done to each other and fill the bathtub
with water. I’ll burn each piece of paper down to silt.
And if it doesn’t work, I’ll do it again. And again and again and—
Copyright © 2021 by Hala Alyan. Originally published in Poem-a-Day on January 8, 2021, by the Academy of American Poets.
after a bottle of chianti Don’t mistake me, I’ve pondered this before. But tonight I’m serious. One bottle and the end is certain. Tomorrow: Lawyer. Boxes. Road map. More wine. while walking the dog Paris won’t even notice. I’ll feed the pup, pack a quick bag, take out the trash, and slip away into the night. Home to Sparta. Or Santa Monica. An island off the southernmost tip of Peru. Disappear. Like fog from a mirror. while paying the bills Guess I’ll have to give up that whole new career plan. Academic dreams. House-and-yard dreams. Stay on like this a few more years. Or forever. Face the bottomless nights in solitude. Wither. Drink. Write poems about dead ends. Drink more. Work. Pay rent. End. when Paris comes home drunk Call Clytemnestra. Make a plan. Move a few things into Clym’s spare room, storage for the rest. Set up arbitration. File what needs to be filed. Head to Athens. Or back to Crown Heights. Maybe find a roommate in Fort Greene. All I know is out out out. Sure, I can blame the past or the scotch or my own smartmouth or my worst rage, but blame is a word. I need a weapon. when Menelaus writes a letter As if. from the ocean floor Bathtub. Ocean. Whichever. All this water. Yes, Paris pulled me from the ruby tub. Menelaus fed me to the river a year before that. Metaphorical, and not at all. O, a girl and her water. Such romance. Gaudy. And gauche. How do I leave what cared enough to keep me? What of those goddamn ships? That ridiculous horse? All those men? Now, wretched little me. All this dizzy sadness. How many kings to tame one woman? Silence her? How many to put her under?
Copyright © 2019 by Jeanann Verlee. Originally published in Poem-a-Day on February 26, 2019, by the Academy of American Poets.