Wine comes in at the mouth
And love comes in at the eye;
That’s all we shall know for truth
Before we grow old and die.
I lift the glass to my mouth,
I look at you, and I sigh.
This poem is in the public domain.
There is no country to claim you when you die inside the word
There is no language to claim you when die inside the cage
The exiled cage breathes death at us
The cage of exile heaves private air at us
Don’t speak now
Breathe into the mouth of the wound
Dream into the foreclosure of your death
Look into the vulture of your wound
Look into the spider of your wound
Look closely into the algorithm that determines the depth of your wound
Whisper into the cage of exile
You have nothing to lose but this breath
Into the breath in your breath
Look into the absent body in your breath
Look into the absent I in your body
Look into the absent you in your body
No dust on your body no wound on your body no breath on your body no word on your body no fat on your body no arm on your body no tongue no shadow no rupture no breath no thought no cage no exile no word no code no silence
At the broken shadow in your broken shadow
At the flooded street in your flooded street
Look into the economy of your absence and whisper into the code you cannot speak
Look into the silence of the code
Do not speak directly of the breath
Do not speak directly of the suicide
Do not speak directly of the kids who tossed themselves into the river
Do not speak directly of the state that paid the kids to toss themselves into the river
Breathe the privatized wind breathe through the foreclosure of your mouth
Breathe the broken shadow into the broken shadow
Don’t take the money into the cage or they will kill you before it is time to kill you
Pray gently into the privatization of your absence
Die gently into the privatization of your absence
Pray gently into the accumulation of your absence
Die gently into the cage where the babies cry in your absence
Pray gently into the puffed-up corpses who grow and grow in your absence
The only breath in this cage is death
Copyright © 2020 by Daniel Borzutzky. Originally published in Poem-a-Day on October 23, 2020, by the Academy of American Poets.
My soul looked down from a vague height with Death, As unremembering how I rose or why, And saw a sad land, weak with sweats of dearth, Gray, cratered like the moon with hollow woe, And fitted with great pocks and scabs of plaques. Across its beard, that horror of harsh wire, There moved thin caterpillars, slowly uncoiled. It seemed they pushed themselves to be as plugs Of ditches, where they writhed and shriveled, killed. By them had slimy paths been trailed and scraped Round myriad warts that might be little hills. From gloom’s last dregs these long-strung creatures crept, And vanished out of dawn down hidden holes. (And smell came up from those foul openings As out of mouths, or deep wounds deepening.) On dithering feet upgathered, more and more, Brown strings towards strings of gray, with bristling spines, All migrants from green fields, intent on mire. Those that were gray, of more abundant spawns, Ramped on the rest and ate them and were eaten. I saw their bitten backs curve, loop, and straighten, I watched those agonies curl, lift, and flatten. Whereat, in terror what that sight might mean, I reeled and shivered earthward like a feather. And Death fell with me, like a deepening moan. And He, picking a manner of worm, which half had hid Its bruises in the earth, but crawled no further, Showed me its feet, the feet of many men, And the fresh-severed head of it, my head.
This poem is in the public domain.