Throw scissors at it. Fill it with straw and set it on fire, or set it off for the colonies with only some books and dinner- plates and a stuffed bear named Friend Bear for me to lose in New Jersey. Did I say me? Things have been getting less and less hypothetical since I unhitched myself from your bedpost. Everyone I love is too modern to be caught grieving. In order to be consumed first you need to be consumable, but there is not a single part of you I could fit in my mouth. In a dream I pull back your foreskin and reveal a fat vase stuffed with crow feathers. This seems a faithful translation of the real thing. Another way to harm something is to melt its fusebox, make it learn to live in the dark. I still want to suck the bones out from your hands, plant them like the seeds we found in an antique textbook, though those never sprouted and may not have even been seeds. When I was a sailor I found a sunken ziggurat, spent weeks diving through room after room discovering this or that sacred shroud. One way to bury something is to bury it forever. When I was water you poured me out over the dirt.
Copyright © 2017 by Kaveh Akbar. From Calling a Wolf a Wolf (Alice James Books, 2017). Used with permission of the author.
In some other life, I can hear you
breathing: a pale sound like running
fingers through tangled hair. I dreamt
again of swimming in the quarry
& surfaced here when you called for me
in a voice only my sleeping self could
know. Now the dapple of the aspen
respires on the wall & the shades cut
its song a staff of light. Leave me—
that me—in bed with the woman
who said all the sounds for pleasure
were made with vowels I couldn’t
hear. Keep me instead with this small sun
that sips at the sky blue hem of our sheets
then dips & reappears: a drowsy penny
in the belt of Venus, your aureole nodding
slow & copper as it bobs against cotton
in cornflower or clay. What a waste
the groan of the mattress must be
when you backstroke into me & pull
the night up over our heads. Your eyes
are two moons I float beneath & my lungs
fill with a wet hum your hips return.
It’s Sunday—or so you say with both hands
on my chest—& hot breath is the only hymn
whose refrain we can recall. And then you
reach for me like I could’ve been another
man. You make me sing without a sound.
Copyright © 2019 by Meg Day. Originally published in Poem-a-Day on July 1, 2019, by the Academy of American Poets.
Because the cathedral leaked yellow light
onto cobblestones like a slit carton of milk.
Because boxes of red wine emptied
down the throat’s swiveling street.
Because the music of my footsteps
like notes of ash.
Because he curved like a question mark
puncturing a flap of heaven.
Because litros tucked in brown paper bags,
two packs of Chesterfields a day,
at the breakfast table,
on the lip of a balcony.
Because I woke in a shrine
of my own stickiness.
Because his lips were aperitif.
Because my father kissed his forehead
outside the mosque,
the taste of rum and rose petals.
Because oranges bulging in coat pockets.
Because the condom held against the light,
swirling cities of children we would never conceive.
Because it broke,
the cartography of longing pulsed onto soft thigh.
Because the long walk home chaperoned by stray dogs,
the drunk’s grief of the Guadalquivir,
blue cough and jasmine rotting in my hair.
Because I passed out in the bar bathroom
and mistook the toilet for my mother’s legs.
Because the shard of glass in the singer’s throat.
Because he cried when he was happy.
Because the thief looked me in the eyes and didn’t take the purse.
Because the petroglyphs of our hands wounded the white walls,
how we made the world small,
siphoning god’s breath
to sweeten the blood-flavored noon.
Copyright © 2019 by Kendra DeColo. Originally published in Poem-a-Day on July 30, 2019, by the Academy of American Poets.