Johnny, the kitchen sink has been clogged for days, some utensil probably fell down there.
And the Drano won’t work but smells dangerous, and the crusty dishes have piled up
waiting for the plumber I still haven’t called. This is the everyday we spoke of.
It’s winter again: the sky’s a deep, headstrong blue, and the sunlight pours through
the open living-room windows because the heat’s on too high in here and I can’t turn it off.
For weeks now, driving, or dropping a bag of groceries in the street, the bag breaking,
I’ve been thinking: This is what the living do. And yesterday, hurrying along those
wobbly bricks in the Cambridge sidewalk, spilling my coffee down my wrist and sleeve,
I thought it again, and again later, when buying a hairbrush: This is it.
Parking. Slamming the car door shut in the cold. What you called that yearning.
What you finally gave up. We want the spring to come and the winter to pass. We want
whoever to call or not call, a letter, a kiss—we want more and more and then more of it.
But there are moments, walking, when I catch a glimpse of myself in the window glass,
say, the window of the corner video store, and I'm gripped by a cherishing so deep
for my own blowing hair, chapped face, and unbuttoned coat that I’m speechless:
I am living. I remember you.
From What the Living Do, copyright © 1998 by Marie Howe. Used by permission of W. W. Norton. All rights reserved.
Moon that is linking our daughters’
Choices, and still more beginnings,
Threaded alive with our shadows,
These are our bodies’ own voices,
Powers of each of our bodies,
Threading, unbroken, begetting
Flowers from each of our bodies.
These are our spiraling borders
Carrying on your beginnings,
Chaining through shadows to daughters,
Moving beyond our beginnings,
Moon of our daughters, and mothers.
Copyright © 2016 by Annie Finch. Originally published in Poem-a-Day on November 9, 2016, by the Academy of American Poets.
Copyright © 2017 by Lynn Melnick. Originally published in Poem-a-Day on October 26, 2017, by the Academy of American Poets.
I wanted a man's face looking into the jaws and throat
With something proud on his face, so proud no smash
of the jaws,
No gulp of the throat leaves the face in the end
With anything else than the old proud look:
Even to the finish, dumped in the dust,
Lost among the used-up cinders,
This face, men would say, is a flash,
Is laid on bones taken from the ribs of the earth,
Ready for the hammers of changing, changing years,
Ready for the sleeping, sleeping years of silence.
Ready for the dust and fire and wind.
I wanted this face and I saw it today in an Aztec mask.
A cry out of storm and dark, a red yell and a purple prayer,
A beaten shape of ashes
waiting the sunrise or night,
something or nothing,
Originally published in 1913, this poem is in the public domain.
The petals fall in the fountain,
the orange coloured rose-leaves,
Their ochre clings to the stone.
This poem is in the public domain.
Scent of Plumeria, and the smell of burning.
Not one or the other, but both. Destruction, and the blossom.
Sweetheart, I'm afraid. That boy with the rifle breaks
the catechism in two. And in two. Let me
see us whole, beside the sea. My body
busy, paying attention to yours. Already
we rock each other with our voices. Already
we're braiding the invisible cord. That burning
hut on T.V. isn’t ours, but could be. My body
could be hers, child at dead breast. That blossom
of blood and bone could be your face. Let me
say truth: no place, no one, is safe. The breaking
of vows, we know, is a given. Sweetheart, you’ll break
my heart. I’ve broken yours, but look: already
you love me again. Destruction and the blossom: let me
say it another way: that soldier, burning
to become fabulous, torches the thatch (see blossomy
flame) of the enemy’s hospital: cut to my body,
clay taking shape in your hands. Body by body,
war piled on war: when will the heart break
all the way open? Thunder of mortar, blossom
in the gutter. The soldier firing the mortar already
dead. How we live: running from the burning
field, into each other's arms. Let me
lie along your side. Give me something to hold. Let me
ride those waves pouring from your fingers. The bodies
of the disappeared toll like bells. Our koan burns:
it cannot be solved. The whole and the broken,
dream and nightmare: your hand in my hair, already
familiar, could be the torturer's. Vase and its blossoms
camouflage for the bomb. You love where you can. Blossom:
a thing of promise. That's us. Now: let me
let this go. Our glass, half full—already
there's more—swells toward the rim. Ours the bodies
the death squads passed by. The refugees make a break
for the fence, running for their lives, crossing this burning,
broken, blossoming Century. They've already
paid our dues. Sweetheart, let me show you how,
hand on the body's book, now swear the burning vow.
From Warscape with Lovers (Cleveland State University Poetry Center, 1997). Copyright © 1997 by Marilyn Krysl. Used with permission of the author.