Here is a description of hundreds of years in which I never comprehend it is hundreds of years, passing “We lived together,” I write, but what does that mean Last night A. convinced me you are a parasite OK, you’re a parasite, that’s interesting My blood mixes with the blood of the flea And we’re having another poetry lesson It always takes hundreds of years You’ve interrupted us in the midst of our poetry lesson I mean “you,” the reader, have interrupted “us” By which I mean, the bad “you” and, of course, “me” Out of which construction some American relativism Comes… Meanwhile, the flea has returned to Iowa Ah, flea, let’s look into your affairs! You seem to have learned a lot from poetry I truly admired that line about how A phone charger has become entangled in a tree And your love of leopards is a neat neoclassical reference Dionysus animatedly squirting things Here I’ll insert a description of …… ……………………………………. [plus provisional knowledge claim] I wish I could say, “The bad ‘you’ stomps Upon its hat,” or maybe its “hat” Or perhaps “it” “gnashes” “its” soft “teeth” But instead the bad “you” stalks me on email It sends word to remind me that it is “here” I mean, nonchalant, therefore Because this is also poetry Which is why it is part of the lesson And reinforced during office hours The sublime plum The immortal peach The slow death of the humanities Due to pluralism and (?) expense “If I can’t have them nobody can” Is what I wished he’d said Instead he asked me who the fuck I think I am in the Foxhead And the brown stick of the Iowa River We didn’t know much but we knew the river Things occurred and I can remember What my body is, in the traditional manner No politics, except in poems No deeds, except figuratively Here is a description of the pink color of heaven and in standing water Heavens have fallen I am 24 Here is a thread of ice Penetrating the human sciences Once you are here, there is only living Once you were And believed I was good until you no longer believed this Of me
Copyright © 2018 by Lucy Ives. Originally published in Poem-a-Day on March 26, 2018, by the Academy of American Poets.
I have gone out, a possessed witch,
haunting the black air, braver at night;
dreaming evil, I have done my hitch
over the plain houses, light by light:
lonely thing, twelve-fingered, out of mind.
A woman like that is not a woman, quite.
I have been her kind.
I have found the warm caves in the woods,
filled them with skillets, carvings, shelves,
closets, silks, innumerable goods;
fixed the suppers for the worms and the elves:
whining, rearranging the disaligned.
A woman like that is misunderstood.
I have been her kind.
I have ridden in your cart, driver,
waved my nude arms at villages going by,
learning the last bright routes, survivor
where your flames still bite my thigh
and my ribs crack where your wheels wind.
A woman like that is not ashamed to die.
I have been her kind.
From The Complete Poems by Anne Sexton, published by Houghton Mifflin Company. Copyright © 1981 by Linda Gray Sexton. Used with permission.
This is like a life. This is lifelike.
I climb inside a mistake
and remake myself in the shape
of a better mistake—
a nice pair of glasses
without any lenses,
shoes that don’t quite fit,
a chest that always hurts.
There is a checklist of things
you need to do to be a person.
I don’t want to be a person
but there isn’t a choice,
so I work my way down and
kiss the feet.
I work my way up and lick
I give you my skull
to do with whatever you please.
You grow flowers from my head
and trim them too short.
I paint my nails nice and pretty
and who cares. Who gives a shit.
I’m trying not to give a shit
but it doesn’t fit well on me.
I wear my clothes. I wear my body.
I walk out in the grass and turn red
at the sight of everything.
Copyright © 2015 by Joshua Jennifer Espinoza. Used with the permission of the author.
Yet I was, in peculiar truth, a very lucky boy.
In any case, the story begins
with darkness. A classroom.
A broom closet. A bowl of bruised
light held over a city. Or, the story
begins with a child playing
the role of an ashy plum—
how it rises to meet the man's teeth
or doesn't. How the skin is broken
or breaks because the body just wants
what it wants: to be a hallway
where men hang their photos
on the wall. Does that make sense?
To want to own the image of the man
but not the man? To bask in that memory
of what first nailed you to the dark?
From Sympathetic Little Monster (Ricochet Editions, 2016). Copyright © 2016 by Cameron Awkward-Rich. Used with permission of the author.
1. I wear my grandmother’s bones like a housedress through the city. Some nights the block tells me all its problems. I’ll meet you at the top of the biggest rock in Rolesville or on train headed to a reading in Queens, just tell me where. I promise to gather your bones only for good. I was not swallowed by the darkness between two buildings. I don’t want to die in the south like so many of mine. I want to be carried back. 2. I dreamed we were digging in a field in Rolesville looking for an earth we knew the name of. You stepped into the hole, looked behind you and gestured me in. I saw every lover who held you while your children slept in rooms of small heaters, you wrap the blankets so tight, afraid of any cold that might get in. 3. I said my goodbyes, my dead will not come. I will not see a cardinal in the city so I drew one on my chest. A coop inside a coop inside of me. Leaving is necessary some say. There is a whole ocean between you and a home you can’t fix your tongue to speak. Others do not want me no further than a length of a small yard, they ask where are you going Tyree? Your mama here, you’ve got stars in your eyes. A ship in your movement.
Copyright © 2018 by Tyree Daye. Originally published in Poem-a-Day on February 23, 2018, by the Academy of American Poets.
Maybe it’s easier, having been named
after someone: nobody
expects that you’ll rule the underworld
or judge the dead, but
they call you Pluto anyway. Planet, too.
I know a girl like you
who used to be a thing she isn’t anymore
but hasn’t changed at all.
Whose orbit didn’t circle straight—whose
size & distance never quite
seemed right—but no one cared til now.
I was a woman once:
rounded by my own gravity, cat-called
into hades by men who
could not see this gem of a hard rock
was not made magnetic
for the likes of them. Hey little mama—
don’t take it so hard.
So we are frigid. So we stay relegated
out here with our kin.
I’ll wear my fade tight & my tie loose
if you play your radio loud.
They say we’re known only in comparison
to that which surrounds
us, so I’d guess they’ll hear our signal soon.
I was a woman once,
but that’s not the farthest thing from the sun
another universe might’ve
let me be: another universe might’ve let us be.
Originally printed in The South Carolina Review. Copyright © 2017 by Meg Day. Used with the permission of the author.