It’s neither red
It doesn’t melt
or turn over,
break or harden,
so it can’t feel
It doesn’t have
a tip to spin on,
it isn’t even
just a thick clutch
I feel it inside
its cage sounding
a dull tattoo:
I want, I want—
but I can’t open it:
there’s no key.
I can’t wear it
on my sleeve,
or tell you from
the bottom of it
how I feel. Here,
it’s all yours, now—
but you’ll have
to take me,
Copyright © 2017 Rita Dove. Used with permission of the author.
Two full cypress trees in the clearing
intertwine in a way that almost makes
them seem like one. Until at a certain angle
from the blue blow-up pool I bought
this summer to save my life, I see it
is not one tree, but two, and they are
kissing. They are kissing so tenderly
it feels rude to watch, one hand
on the other’s shoulder, another
in the other’s branches, like hair.
When did kissing become so
dangerous? Or was it always so?
That illicit kiss in the bathroom
of the Four-Faced Liar, a bar
named after a clock, what was her
name? Or the first one with you
on the corner of Metropolitan
Avenue, before you came home
with me forever. I watch those green
trees now and it feels libidinous.
I want them to go on kissing, without
fear. I want to watch them and not
feel so abandoned by hands. Come
home. Everything is begging you.
From The Hurting Kind by Ada Limón (Minneapolis: Milkweed Editions, 2022). Copyright © 2022 by Ada Limón. Reprinted with permission from Milkweed Editions. milkweed.org
When face to face we stand
And eye to eye,
How far apart we are——
As far, they say, as God can ever be
From what, they say, is Hell.
. . . . .
But, when we stand
Fronting the other,
Mile after mile slipping in between,
O, close are we,
As close as is the shadow to the body,
As breath, to life, . . . . . . . .
As kisses are to love.
. . . . .
From Caroling Dusk (Harper & Brothers, 1927), edited by Countee Cullen. This poem is in the public domain.
I’m waiting for the words to catch up to my heart which is
elliptical at the moment there’s an apology
even I am expecting to bore out of my throat
but what for what for
I am continuing to write in a font that displeasures me
everything shifts so rapidly
my body the environment my body the environment
why not return to something as aggressively unspectacular as arial
a font for all my first thoughts today I typed the words
and deleted and retyped deleted and retyped
inside of the collapse I am still holding on to narrative
this is not sentiment it is how I keep my family together
when I breathe in deep enough I feel it all the old anger
waiting to become newer anger not having the words
can feel like not having something to hit I think I wrote that in another poem
what is the equation that solves everything ideas are commodity
even the idea that ideas are commodity I don’t even know
what I have to sell I’ve spent my entire life living on a fault line
I know all that’s been made is inherently broken.
This is not me being dour this is me writing a note
that says I miss you I meant that the other way
but the one you were thinking works, too
Copyright © 2023 by Jason Bayani. Originally published in Poem-a-Day on May 22, 2023, by the Academy of American Poets.
SAY my love is easy had,
Say I’m bitten raw with pride,
Say I am too often sad,––
Still behold me at your side.
Say I’m neither brave nor young,
Say I woo and coddle care,
Say the devil touched my tongue,––
Still you have my heart to wear.
But say my verses do not scan,
And I get me another man!
From Enough Rope (Boni & Liveright, 1926) by Dorothy Parker. This poem is in the public domain.
I made mosaics
laid my heart’s tiles on display.
Now, you walk on them.
Copyright © 2016 by Andrea Sanderson. This poem originally appeared in Texas Observer, January 2016. Used with permission of the author.
Looking up at the stars, I know quite well
That, for all they care, I can go to hell,
But on earth indifference is the least
We have to dread from man or beast.
How should we like it were stars to burn
With a passion for us we could not return?
If equal affection cannot be,
Let the more loving one be me.
Admirer as I think I am
Of stars that do not give a damn,
I cannot, now I see them, say
I missed one terribly all day.
Were all stars to disappear or die,
I should learn to look at an empty sky
And feel its total dark sublime,
Though this might take me a little time.
From Homage to Clio by W. H. Auden, published by Random House. Copyright © 1960 W. H. Auden, renewed by the Estate of W. H. Auden. Used by permission of Curtis Brown, Ltd.
The truth is that I fall in love
so easily because
a dozen times some days.
I've lived whole lives,
grown old, and died
in the arms of other women
in no more time
than it takes the 2-train
to get from City Hall to Brooklyn,
which brings me back
to you: the only one
I fall in love with
at least once every day—
there are no other
lovely women in the world,
but because each time,
dying in their arms,
I call your name.
From Boy (University of Georgia Press, 2008). Copyright © 2008 by Patrick Phillips. Used with permission of University Georgia Press.