There will be no stars—the poem has had enough of them. I think we can agree
we no longer believe there is anyone in any poem who is just now realizing
they are dead, so let’s stop talking about it. The skies of this poem
are teeming with winged things, and not a single innominate bird.
You’re welcome. Here, no monarchs, no moths, no cicadas doing whatever
they do in the trees. If this poem is in summer, punctuating the blue—forgive me,
I forgot, there is no blue in this poem—you’ll find the occasional
pelecinid wasp, proposals vaporized and exorbitant, angels looking
as they should. If winter, unsentimental sleet. This poem does not take place
at dawn or dusk or noon or the witching hour or the crescendoing moment
of our own remarkable birth, it is 2:53 in this poem, a Tuesday, and everyone in it is still
at work. This poem has no children; it is trying
to be taken seriously. This poem has no shards, no kittens, no myths or fairy tales,
no pomegranates or rainbows, no ex-boyfriends or manifest lovers, no mothers—God,
no mothers—no God, about which the poem must admit
it’s relieved, there is no heart in this poem, no bodily secretions, no body
referred to as the body, no one
dies or is dead in this poem, everyone in this poem is alive and pretty
okay with it. This poem will not use the word beautiful for it resists
calling a thing what it is. So what
if I’d like to tell you how I walked last night, glad, truly glad, for the first time
in a year, to be breathing, in the cold dark, to see them. The stars, I mean. Oh hell, before
something stops me—I nearly wept on the sidewalk at the sight of them all.
Copyright © 2019 by Leila Chatti. Originally published in Poem-a-Day on May 29, 2019, by the Academy of American Poets.
Of lavender and dawn
And this of purple noon
Unwinds in wisdom,
And this of night
Circles around me singing
To the very edge and presence of the young moon—
And it brushes the tip
This poem is in the public domain, and originally appeared in Others for 1919; An Anthology of the New Verse (Nicholas L. Brown, 1920).
In silence the heart raves. It utters words Meaningless, that never had A meaning. I was ten, skinny, red-headed, Freckled. In a big black Buick, Driven by a big grown boy, with a necktie, she sat In front of the drugstore, sipping something Through a straw. There is nothing like Beauty. It stops your heart. It Thickens your blood. It stops your breath. It Makes you feel dirty. You need a hot bath. I leaned against a telephone pole, and watched. I thought I would die if she saw me. How could I exist in the same world with that brightness? Two years later she smiled at me. She Named my name. I thought I would wake up dead. Her grown brothers walked with the bent-knee Swagger of horsemen. They were slick-faced. Told jokes in the barbershop. Did no work. Their father was what is called a drunkard. Whatever he was he stayed on the third floor Of the big white farmhouse under the maples for twenty-five years. He never came down. They brought everything up to him. I did not know what a mortgage was. His wife was a good, Christian woman, and prayed. When the daughter got married, the old man came down wearing An old tail coat, the pleated shirt yellowing. The sons propped him. I saw the wedding. There were Engraved invitations, it was so fashionable. I thought I would cry. I lay in bed that night And wondered if she would cry when something was done to her. The mortgage was foreclosed. That last word was whispered. She never came back. The family Sort of drifted off. Nobody wears shiny boots like that now. But I know she is beautiful forever, and lives In a beautiful house, far away. She called my name once. I didn't even know she knew it.
From New and Selected Poems 1923-1985 by Robert Penn Warren, published by Random House. Copyright © 1985 by Robert Penn Warren. Used by permission of William Morris Agency, Inc., on behalf of the author.
What things are steadfast? Not the birds. Not the bride and groom who hurry in their brevity to reach one another. The stars do not blow away as we do. The heavenly things ignite and freeze. But not as my hair falls before you. Fragile and momentary, we continue. Fearing madness in all things huge and their requiring. Managing as thin light on water. Managing only greetings and farewells. We love a little, as the mice huddle, as the goat leans against my hand. As the lovers quickening, riding time. Making safety in the moment. This touching home goes far. This fishing in the air.
From All of It Singing. Copyright © 2008 by Linda Gregg. Used with permission of Graywolf Press.