as if opening a crepe sail
on a raft of linden
downriver with no
glacial cut swerve down
soft like bourbon if I could
ask the waters then
to chop to shake
an apology when you cry
I feel a wet bank in me
ring dry here I’ll wrap you
in the piano shawl from the upright
to your fists a spray
of dandelion and comb my last
compassion to grasp.
Goodbye, friend. Willows
dip to your lips
dew from their leafed
digits feast now
on the cold blue soup
of sky the iron from bankwater
gilts your blood I’ll break
a bottle on your gunwale
and read broken
poems from the shore
as the dark river
curls back white from the cheap timber
as if letting what’s made to drift
Copyright © 2014 by Thomas Dooley. Used with permission of the author.
The sun rears her unlikely head
In this late spring,
I walk past rubber black boots decorated
With brightly colored umbrellas
In a useless attempt to block the rain.
Up the subway to 14th street
Around the corner to 12th
I climb to the tenth or the eighth floor
Depending on your bodily condition.
I keep vigil over this resting.
My body is a candle, glowing
Until you make the transition
Back into or out of this life.
This is among the things that could happen.
This is among the things that happened.
For now, you reside in imposed silence.
Dying is just another commodity and
The soul wants routine.
The soul wants sameness, boredom.
The soul wants letting go.
Over us, the palmed stars.
Copyright @ 2014 by Jennifer Bartlett. Used with permission of the author. This poem appeared in Poem-a-Day on August 13, 2014.
you have since swallowed
so much blood, the sailboats
rap violently about the docks,
and how heavy the gulls’ wings
have grown, how sour, sourly
beloved, and what shall we then
call it, this consternation, a blue
funk, some pestilence, which hangs
or blooms or paints itself silently
within the many courtyards
of the body, or across that high
court of the skull, what looms
like another steamrolled peony,
or some pink paper moon.
Copyright © 2018 Amaud Jamaul Johnson. This poem originally appeared in Kenyon Review, November/December 2018. Used with permission of the author.
If I could have put you in my heart,
If but I could have wrapped you in myself,
How glad I should have been!
And now the chart
Of memory unrolls again to me
The course of our journey here, here where we part.
And of, that you had never, never been
Some of your selves, my love, that some
Of your several faces I had never seen!
And still they come before me, and they go,
And I cry aloud in the moments that intervene.
And oh, my love, as I rock for you to-night,
And have not any longer and hope
To heal the suffering, or to make requite
For all your life of asking and despair,
I own that some of me is dead to-night.
This poem is in the public domain.
everything that made you
the first sound
of your whole life
ebbs and dips
in a green line burned
across your last hope;
a stream of black bile
sighs at the quick of her mouth.
the anchor of your faith
has come undone
from the ankles bare
under the sheet,
your body’s mirror
a window onto backlight.
all the laying on of hands
becomes a gnashing of teeth,
your uncle’s hand
a flag to the alarms
a do not resuscitate,
the halt of padding feet.
how startled the last breath.
how surprising the relief.
afterthought of your arms
awake keeping your brother
from falling into dust;
here; hold him, hold him up;
as she held him—hold him;
though it's not enough,
hold him, in the chasm
of the last room
on the longest night,
her brother weeps
into the wall.
From Soul Sister Revue: A Poetry Compilation (Jamii Publishing, 2020). Copyright © 2020 R. Erica Doyle. Used by permission of the author.