I have a rendezvous with Death
At some disputed barricade,
When Spring comes back with rustling shade
And apple-blossoms fill the air—
I have a rendezvous with Death
When Spring brings back blue days and fair.

It may be he shall take my hand
And lead me into his dark land
And close my eyes and quench my breath—
It may be I shall pass him still.
I have a rendezvous with Death
On some scarred slope of battered hill,
When Spring comes round again this year
And the first meadow-flowers appear.

God knows ’twere better to be deep
Pillowed in silk and scented down,
Where love throbs out in blissful sleep,
Pulse nigh to pulse, and breath to breath,
Where hushed awakenings are dear...
But I’ve a rendezvous with Death
At midnight in some flaming town,
When Spring trips north again this year,
And I to my pledged word am true,
I shall not fail that rendezvous.

This poem is in the public domain.

since feeling is first
who pays any attention 
to the syntax of things
will never wholly kiss you;

wholly to be a fool
while Spring is in the world

my blood approves,
and kisses are a better fate 
than wisdom
lady i swear by all flowers. Don’t cry
—the best gesture of my brain is less than
your eyelids’ flutter which says

we are for each other: then
laugh, leaning back in my arms
for life’s not a paragraph

And death i think is no parenthesis

This poem is in the public domain. Published in Poem-a-Day on April 16, 2022, by the Academy of American Poets.

And a man said, Speak to us of Self-Knowledge.
And he answered, saying:
Your hearts know in silence the secrets of the days and the nights.
But your ears thirst for the sound of your heart’s knowledge.
You would know in words that which you have always known in thought.
You would touch with your fingers the naked body of your dreams.

And it is well you should.
The hidden well-spring of your soul must needs rise and run murmuring to the sea;
And the treasure of your infinite depths would be revealed to your eyes.
But let there be no scales ot weigh your unknown treasure;
And seek not the depths of your knowledge with staff or sounding line.
For self is a sea boundless and measureless.

Say not, “I have found the truth,” but rather, “I have found a truth.” 
Say not, "I have found the path of the soul.” Say rather, “I have met the soul walking upon my path.”
For the soul walks upon all paths.
The soul walks not upon a line, neither does it grow like a reed.
The soul unfolds itself, like a lotus of countless petals.

From The Prophet (Knopf, 1923). This poem is in the public domain.

“The subject of lesbianism is very ordinary;”
            — Judy Grahn

in darkness of March’s midnight          she is eyes:
            moon rays rebound lake ripples to eggplant purple walls
your hands find her body         face lies upturned, opened
            smaller than weeks prior. She knows you prefer protruding hip bones,
feels hungered for by you,       not memory of the boy, her brother 
diaphragms guttural groan,      cold in body bag not on pleated comforter,
            you’ve described your favorite body your type as “heroin skinny” 
she knows you like the ripples of her torso but            before you knew her brother  
also concave trajectory to pelvis bones            as drug addict,
            loving you is an argument with the impossible.

Copyright © 2023 by Sarah Cooper. Originally published in Poem-a-Day on January 4, 2023, by the Academy of American Poets.

To understand what it would be like
          to remove my clothes
as painters do in portraits of themselves

          I imagine I’m the woman
who knows her body
          no longer belongs to the young artist

who painted herself before she had children,
          before her topography was changed
by forces erosive as water and wind,

          and yet she goes on painting it,
the girdle of her earth that is now an etched terrain
          crossed with silver rivulets.

And hills, I want to say to her.
          Valleys. Then hummocks,
hot springs, hoodoo. What is art about

          if not depression? Uplift? Depression
again?
At which she straightens
          the flesh of her shoulders and neck

to face me before I disappear
          into landscape,
my favorite state of undress.

Copyright © 2018 Allison Funk. This poem originally appeared in The Cincinnati Review, Summer 2018. Used with permission of the author.

Friendships—died June 24, 2009, once
beloved but not consistently beloved. 
The mirror won the battle.  I am now
imprisoned in the mirror.  All my selves
spread out like a deck of cards. It’s true,
the grieving speak a different language. 
I am separated from my friends by
gauze.  I will drive myself to my own
house for the party. I will make small
talk with myself, spill a drink on myself. 
When it’s over, I will drive myself back
to my own house.  My conversations
with other parents about children pass
me on the staircase on the way up and
repeat on the way down.  Before my
mother’s death, I sat anywhere. Now I
look for the image of the empty chair
near the image of the empty table.  An
image is a kind of distance.  An image
of me sits down.  Depression is a glove
over the heart.  Depression is an image
of a glove over the image of a heart.

Copyright © 2018 by Victoria Chang. Originally published in Kenyon Review. Used with the permission of the poet.

You lead me to that place 
where addicts give themselves up. 
I have given myself to the linear     to 
the straight line. 

No longer turning. 
No longer considering 
that which could 
have occurred. 

I’m a rocket blasting into 
the unknowable. 
No more pondering     forever 
heavy     forever sick with it. 

No longer booming fados. 
Or sitting in rooms with suicidal 
guitarists plucking sunrise. 
No more addiction among addicts. 

I’m confessing this to them. 
They are moaning. 
They are asking me to leave. 
I leave you here. 

From Aurora Americana (Princeton University Press, 2023) by Myronn Hardy. Copyright © 2023 by Myronn Hardy. Used with the permission of the publisher.

What would you like, little bone-star?

Would the suicided person please stand up?
Would they please tell the height of their pain
            the very top of the trees of it
            where it extends dentricles upward

would we prefer their death or this saying of it?

they would sit with the right person
the right person
and tell their pain.
that person would build a shield around the pain
a thin wooden structure half circle uneven
fluted.
they would leave it there for three days.

on the third would pick it up
and say                      their words. What words they have.
This would be the listening & the telling.

Copyright © 2020 by Helen Dimos. Originally published in Poem-a-Day on June 5, 2020 by the Academy of American Poets.