Promise you wont forget
each time we met
we kept our clothes on
despite obvious intentions
to take them off,
seldom kissed or even slept,
talked to spend desire,
worn exhausted from regret.
Continue our relationship apart
under surveillance, torture, persecuted
confinement’s theft; no must or sudden blows
when embodied spirits mingled
despite fall’s knock
we rode the great divide
of falsehood, hunger and last year
From Supplication: Selected Poems of John Wieners, edited by Joshua Beckman, CAConrad, and Robert Dewhurst © 2015 John Wieners Literary Trust, Raymond Foye, Administrator. Reprinted with the permission of The John Wieners Literary Trust.
in community those who do not
the man i was drawing and dreaming was six foot three two hundred twenty pounds
six foot two one hundred eighty-five pounds
six foot three one hundred forty-five pound
six foot five two hundred ten pounds
a little sketch of his white woman
i didn’t know where to put myself
I am nobody’s woman I belong to myself because I am unable to forgive
but what is because
I am I said unable to forgive
they say I am his other woman
but I don’t belong to anybody nor the streets I don’t know any other way
unable and because
I know him and he knows me
when he says
come here girl!
that is what i do
not anybody but the one who is the very one who is the one who
can know I do not forgive the ones who have the same quality for warring
they love the soldier I was raised to be the war in me
like I love him I do not forgive I do not give anybody my money
the struggle is over
i think i hold freedom inside me which is probably why i dream about
who i want inside me who among my sweet friends
all of whom treat me like the
they believe me to be
in their hearts
i’m not embarrassed to say i am the other woman
it’s an open secret it’s a
on the street with a man i want very badly
i know i am eclipsed by his actual glamor
a wake anybody conscious could move into
when i say “a man i want” he’s black because
because because because because
the quest reveals
love to be what i have to offer and what i have for
he is a criminal he is a liar he is high as a motherfucker
on his way over here right now
soon i’ll need a new pair of spectacles
somebody to pick up the tab for afterschool
to pay off my loans
this is something we can negotiate
to be claimed
belonging to him as the root business
our instructive adhesion
taking place within unwillingness to forgive surrounding terrors
blocked in terms of sociogeny
i think about having a secretary
i wish for a girl
to shield me from incoming emails
and misogynist blows
simone is in a meeting she cannot come to the phone right now (POW) she sleeps naked
(GBOSA) her skin is very delicate though papery to her own touch she will
accept flowers yes ranunculus and dahlia (SMACK) she is saying hold on
Copyright © 2022 by Simone White. Originally published in Poem-a-Day on July 28, 2022, by the Academy of American Poets.
And when, on this island on which
I love you, there is only so much land
to drive on, a few hours to encircle
in entirety, and the best of our lands
are touristed, the beaches foam-laced
with rainbowing suntan oil,
the mountains tattooed with asphalt,
pocked by telescoped domes,
hotels and luxury condos blighting
the line between ocean and sky,
I find you between the lines
of such hard edges, sitting on
the kamyo stool, a bowl of coconut,
freshly grated, at your feet.
That I hear the covert jackaling
of helicopters and jets overhead
all night through our open jalousies,
that my throat burns from the scorch
of the grenaded graves of my ancestors,
the vog that smears the Koʻolaus into a blur
of greens, that I wake to hear the grind
of you blending vegetables and fruit,
machine whirl-crunching coffee beans,
your shoulder blades channelling ocean,
a steady flux of current.
Past the guarded military testing grounds,
amphibious assault vehicles emerging
from the waves, beyond the tangles
of tarp cities lining the roads, past
the thick memory of molasses coating
the most intimate coral crevices,
by the box jellyfish congregating under
ʻOle Pau and Kāloa moons, at the park
beneath the emptied trees, I come
to find you shaking five-dollar coconuts
(because this is all we have on this island),
listening to the water to guess
its sweetness and youth.
On this island on which I love you,
something of you is in the rain rippling
through the wind that make the pipes
of Waikīkī burst open. Long brown
fingers of sewage stretch out
from the canal, and pesticided
tendrils flow from every ridge
out to sea, and so we stay inside
to bicker over how a plumeria tree
moves in the wind, let our daughters
ink lines like coarse rootlets
in our notebooks, crayon lines
into ladders on our walls
and sheets. Their first sentences
are sung, moonlit blowhole plumes
of sound that calls pebbles to couple,
caverns to be carved, ʻuala to roll
down the hillside again, and I could
choke on this gratitude for you all.
This island is alive with love,
its storms, the cough of alchemy
expelling every parasitic thing,
teaching me to love you with
the intricacies of island knowing,
to depend on the archipelagic
spelling of you lying next to me,
our blue-screen flares their own
floating islands after our daughter
has finally fallen asleep,
to trust in the shape and curve
of your hand reaching out to hold mine
making and remaking an island our own.
From When the Light of the World was Subdued, Our Songs Came Through: A Norton Anthology of Native Nations Poetry (W.W. Norton & Company, 2020). Copyright © 2020 by Brandy Nālani McDougall. Used with the permission of the poet.
When did you first know you were bisexual?
I will never know how the pleasure I give feels as a body receives it.
I fear strangers, Naomi, even the ones I love. I count their turned backs on the subway.
Some nights I fear even the subway itself—or is it my reflection in the yellowed glass, how I cannot see the city moving beyond me?
I want each round mirror to open as a window might.
Perhaps I always knew, but I mistrusted my knowing. I once stacked my journals to the height of a beloved and embraced them.
Every poem I’ve read to you has been written in this direction. Each word a line on the map I haven’t yet finished that leads me to you.
In college, I got ready for a party with two women I loved who loved each other.
I watched Diana flip Jean’s hair from her freckled shoulders before zipping her into her dress:
the same gesture I’d made in the mirror, alone, before I arrived at their apartment.
I watched them pass Jean’s mascara wand fluently between them, one’s licked fingers curling the other’s lashes, and a question split me at my spine—
like a hand gently cracking a new book’s cover, ready to understand.
Copyright © 2021 by Rachel Mennies. Originally published in Poem-a-Day on May 28, 2021, by the Academy of American Poets.
Odd how you entered my house quietly,
Quietly left again.
While you stayed you ate at my table,
Slept in my bed.
There was much sweetness,
Yet little was done, little said.
After you left there was pain,
Now there is no more pain.
But the door of a certain room in my house
Will be always shut.
Your fork, your plate, the glass you drank from,
The music you played,
Are in that room
With the pillow where last your head was laid.
And there is one place in my garden
Where it’s best that I set no foot.
This poem is in the public domain. Published in Poem-a-Day on June 5, 2022, by the Academy of American Poets.