The swear jar isn’t empty. Full of flowers
instead of coins it makes a cursed bouquet
of love-me-nots, a tangled vine of credit
extended to one most likely to default.
Such a trifling bargain, flowers for mercy.
O Nature, predatory lender!
Risk is the commuter bus I ride between damnation
and wonder. Stitch my wounds loosely. Give me chastity,
O Lord, says the Berber Saint,
for miracle and sin are kindred. Each is hatched
from a broken law.
Copyright © 2020 by Gregory Pardlo. Originally published in Poem-a-Day on May 19, 2020 by the Academy of American Poets.
Sapphire's lyre styles plucked eyebrows bow lips and legs whose lives are lonely too my last nerve's lucid music sure chewed up the juicy fruit you must don't like my peaches there's some left on the tree you've had my thrills a reefer a tub of gin don't mess with me I'm evil I'm in your sin clipped bird eclipsed moon soon no memory of you no drive or desire survives you flutter invisible still
From Muse & Drudge, page 1, by Harryette Mullen, published by Singing Horse Press. Copyright © 1995 by Harryette Mullen. Used by permission. All rights reserved.
arrives early for the date
to tell him she's late
he watches her bio clock balk on seepy time
petals out of rhythm docked for trick crimes
flunked the pregnancy test
mistimed space probe, she aborted
legally blind justice, she miscarried
scorched and salted earth, she's barren
when Aunt Haggie's chirren throws
an all original ball
the souls ain't got a stray word
for the woman who's wayward
dead to the world
let earth receive her piece
let every dark room repair her heart
let nature and heaven give her release
From Muse & Drudge, page 39, by Harryette Mullen, published by Singing Horse Press. Copyright © 1995 by Harryette Mullen. Used by permission. All rights reserved.
mister arty martyr a jackass to water changing partners in the middle of a scream bereft of flavor for lack of endeavor he chooses a heifer and loses forever delirious boozer he smoothes her sutures removes a moocher from her future a thing of shreds and patches hideous scarecrow she puts teeth in any nightmare of the man who sleeps with matches
From Muse & Drudge, page 72, by Harryette Mullen, published by Singing Horse Press. Copyright © 1995 by Harryette Mullen. Used by permission. All rights reserved.