I’m going to open the borders of my hunger
and call it a parade.
But I’m lying if I said I was hungry.
If dying required practice,
I could give up the conditions for being alone.
I undress in the sun and stare at it
until I can stand its brightness no longer.
Why is it always noon in my head?
I’m going to run outside and whisper,
or hold a gun and say bang,
or hold a gun and not do anything at all.
The lamps that wait inside me say
come, the gift is the practice,
the price is the door.
From Cenzontle (BOA Editions, 2018). Copyright © 2018 by Marcelo Hernandez Castillo. Used with the permission of BOA Editions.
Neighbors nail the planks
dividing their yard from mine.
Our durable fence.
I walk half a block
before realizing I’ve
forgotten my mask.
One ant following
another, trusting we all
are going somewhere.
Stretched between two poles,
clothesline outside my window,
a robin’s rest stop.
Lemons fallen on
the sidewalk to be rescued
for my potpourri.
No one and nothing
touches me but this blue wind
with cool caresses.
Copyright © 2021 by Harryette Mullen. Originally published in Poem-a-Day on September 20, 2021, by the Academy of American Poets.
Let's ask a poet with no way of knowing.
Someone who can give us an answer,
another duplicity to help double the world.
What kind of poetry is all question, anyway?
Each question leads to an iceburn,
a snownova, a single bed spinning in space.
Poet, Decide! I am lonely with questions.
What is snow? What isn't?
Do you see how it is for me.
Melt yourself to make yourself more clear
for the next observer.
I could barely see you anyway.
A blizzard I understand better,
the secrets of many revealed as one,
becoming another on my only head.
It's true that snow takes on gold from sunset
and red from rearlights. But that's occasional.
What is constant is white,
or is that only sight, a reflection of eyewhites
and light? Because snow reflects only itself,
self upon self upon self,
is a blanket used for smothering, for sleeping.
For not seeing the naked, flawed body.
Concealing it from the lover curious, ever curious!
Who won't stop looking.
White for privacy.
Millions of privacies to bless us with snow.
Don't we melt it?
Aren't we human dark with sugar hot to melt it?
Anyway, the question—
if a dream is a construction then what
is not a construction? If a bank of snow
is an obstruction, then what is not a bank of snow?
A winter vault of valuable crystals
convertible for use only by a zen
sun laughing at us.
Oh Materialists! Thinking matter matters.
If we dream of snow, of banks and blankets
to keep our treasure safe forever,
what world is made, that made us that we keep
making and making to replace the dreaming at last.
To stop the terrible dreaming.
From Human Dark with Sugar by Brenda Shaughnessy. Published by Copper Canyon Press, 2008. Copyright © Brenda Shaughnessy. Reprinted by permission of Copper Canyon Press. All rights reserved.
I'm writing to you from the loneliest, most
secluded island in the world. I mean,
the farthest away place from anything else.
There are so many fruits here growing on trees
or on vines that wrap and wrap. Fruits
like I've never seen except the bananas.
All night the abandoned dogs howled.
I wonder if one dog gives the first howl, and if
they take turns who's first like carrying
the flag in school. Carrying the flag
way out in front and the others
following along behind in two long lines,
pairs holding hands. Also the roosters here crow
from 4am onward. They're still crowing right now
and it's almost noon here on the island.
Noon stares back no matter where you are.
Today I'm going to hike to the extinct volcano
and balance on the rim of the crater. Yesterday
a gust almost blew me inside. I heard
that the black widows live inside the volcano
far down below in the high grasses that you can't
see from the rim. Well, I was going to tell you
that this morning the bells rang and I
followed them and at the source of the bells,
there I found so many animals
all gathered together in a room
with carved wooden statues
and wooden benches and low wooden slats
for kneeling. And the animals were there
singing together, all their voices singing,
with big strong voices rising from even
the filthiest animals. I mean, I've seen animals
come together and sing before, except in
high fancy vaults where bits of colored glass
are pieced together into stories. Some days
I want to sing with them.
I wish more animals sang together all the time.
But then I can't sing sometimes
because I think of the news that happens
when the animals stop singing.
And then I think of all the medications
and their side effects that are advertised
between the pieces of news. And then I think
of all the money the drug companies spent
to videotape their photogenic, well-groomed animals,
and all the money they spent to buy
a prime-time spot, and I think, what money
buys the news, and what news
creates the drugs, and what
drugs control the animals, and I get so
choked I can't sing anymore, Lonely Animal.
I can't sing with the other animals. Because it's
hard to know what an animal will do when it
stops singing. It's complicated, you know, it's just
From Spring, published by University of Illinois Press. Copyright © 2008 by Oni Buchanan. Used with permission.
—for Patrick Rosal
Before, ache never seemed long like a tunnel
under the city flaring off another tunnel
the subway rumbled against, or the dark
jutting out of daylight’s reach up on 187th
when I know some part is inhabited and
that habitation looks out at me. I know
every uninhabited place lodges a thing looking
out. I have grown into a life, become middle
aged, deepened into the hidden inside, like
the day into its other half, or a memory
of a woman’s silence after she didn’t
want to be kissed, and I wonder when rot
began, and I wonder what other ideas the cabbie
had when he turned into the truck’s path.
Sometimes silence is emptier than some oaths
I have made. Hours change habits and late seeps
into early and rain, in another part of this
country, suddenly, heavily falls, flattens seams,
frays and splits them like I did away from a lover once
in a city where both of us were foreign, and she
the only person who recognized me for a thousand miles,
the only one who knew where I was. And
then not. This ache is empty like that.
Copyright © 2015 by Curtis Bauer. “Self Portrait in Dark Interior” originally appeared in Southern Indiana Review. Used with permission of the author.