All day on all my days,
the lives I’m not to process wash in;
anxieties lullaby on
and quite like to be gotten among;
but now—and now—one old,
abundant flower just screws up the room.
Copyright © 2016 by Graham Foust. Originally published in Poem-a-Day on October 4, 2016, by the Academy of American Poets.
but they are fooling themselves, if there's a window open you might have a chance, if you hadn't all gone to Holy Name, if the world didn't change, if you only bent the laws of physics so much, if the tides weren't so strong on the Hudson, if you didn't have to go, if it wasn't a dream you still believed in, if that different kind of memory didn't take hold, if your muscle memory didn't steady you, if you didn't have orders you couldn't ship, if you didn't see what you saw, if the crawl wasn't always hungry, if there weren't celebrities in every sphere, if you didn't know all the criminals in the neighborhood, if nothing ever happened here, if it wasn't a country club, if there wasn't magic in actuality, if you didn't dislocate the phrase, if you didn't grind the blue sky, if it hadn't been a downward trajectory, if the shadow didn't undo itself, if you all weren't all on break, if everyone didn't shut down, if Canada wasn't in the escape plans, if the future wasn't sparkling with nostalgia
From A Country Road Going Back in Your Direction (Argos Books, 2015). Copyright © 2015 by Stephanie Gray. Used with permission of the author.
It’s like ants and more ants. West, east their little axes hack and tease. Your sins. Your back taxes. This is your Etna, your senate of dread, at the axis of reason, your taxi to hell. You see your past tense— and next? A nest of jittery ties. You’re ill at ease, at sea, almost in- sane. You’ve eaten your saints. You pray to your sins. Even sex is no exit. Ah, you exist.
you wanted the end
with a serpentine
greed. How to negotiate
mist, the fibrous
To cease to exist
and to die
are two different things entirely.
But you knew this,
Some days you knelt on coins
in those yellow hours.
You lit a flame
to your shadow
scorpions with your naked fingers.
So touched by the sadness of hair
in a dirty sink.
The malevolent smell
When instead of swallowing a fistful
of white pills,
you decided to shower,
the palm trees
nodded in agreement,
of crickets singing
behind your swollen eyes.
The masked bird
turned to you
with a shred of paper hanging
from its beak.
hair wet and fragrant,
you cupped a goat's face
his trembling horns.
It fell prostrate,
passed through you
like a swift
and generous storm.
"Six Months After Contemplating Suicide" first appeared in the December 2015 issue of Poetry. Copyright © 2015 Erika L. Sánchez.
I went to the worst of bars hoping to get killed. but all I could do was to get drunk again. worse, the bar patrons even ended up liking me. there I was trying to get pushed over the dark edge and I ended up with free drinks while somewhere else some poor son-of-a-bitch was in a hospital bed, tubes sticking out all over him as he fought like hell to live. nobody would help me die as the drinks kept coming, as the next day waited for me with its steel clamps, its stinking anonymity, its incogitant attitude. death doesn't always come running when you call it, not even if you call it from a shining castle or from an ocean liner or from the best bar on earth (or the worst). such impertinence only makes the gods hesitate and delay. ask me: I'm 72.
Copyright © 2005 by Charles Bukowski. From Slouching Toward Nirvana: New Poems. Reprinted with permission of HarperCollins Publishers.
sometimes I think the gods deliberately keep pushing me into the fire just to hear me yelp a few good lines. they just aren't going to let me retire silk scarf about neck giving lectures at Yale. the gods need me to entertain them. they must be terribly bored with all the others and I am too. and now my cigarette lighter has gone dry. I sit here hopelessly flicking it. this kind of fire they can't give me.
From The Continual Condtion by Charles Bukowski. Copyright © 2009 by Linda Lee Bukowski. Used by permission of Ecco Books, an imprint of HarperCollins.
Sometimes I don’t know if I’m having a feeling
so I check my phone or squint at the window
with a serious look, like someone in a movie
or a mother thinking about how time passes.
Sometimes I’m not sure how to feel so I think
about a lot of things until I get an allergy attack.
I take my antihistamine with beer, thank you very much,
sleep like a cut under a band aid, wake up
on the stairs having missed the entire party.
It was a real blast, I can tell, for all the vases
are broken, the flowers twisted into crowns
for the young, drunk, and beautiful. I put one on
and salute the moon, the lone face over me
shining through the grates on the front door window.
You have seen me like this before, such a strange
version of the person you thought you knew.
Guess what, I’m strange to us both. It’s like
I’m not even me sometimes. Who am I? A question
for the Lord only to decide as She looks over
my résumé. Everything is different sometimes.
Sometimes there is no hand on my shoulder
but my room, my apartment, my body are containers
and I am thusly contained. How easy to forget
the obvious. The walls, blankets, sunlight, your love.
Copyright © 2015 by Matthew Siegel. Originally published in Poem-a-Day on June 8, 2015, by the Academy of American Poets.