Elizabeth it is in vain you say
"Love not" — thou sayest it in so sweet a way:
In vain those words from thee or L.E.L.
Zantippe's talents had enforced so well:
Ah! if that language from thy heart arise,
Breath it less gently forth — and veil thine eyes.
Endymion, recollect, when Luna tried
To cure his love — was cured of all beside —
His follie — pride — and passion — for he died.

This poem is in the public domain.

You on the bed beside me hold
One arm straight up till it is cold,
Then let it fall, the softest part
Lying for warmth against my heart. 
My fingers with your fingers’ ends
Play in and out; a foot defends 
Deep regions from another foot. 
You turn and find my eyes.  I put
A curious palm where it is seized
By a quick hand—but you are pleased. . . . 
There is a third one in the room. 
See—in the sun, where the figures bloom
Blood-red on the rug—somebody kneels? 
Time smiles at us, and rests his heels. 
Outside a hundred horses graze. 
He will drive on; but now he stays. 
Soon I must follow hence, and slip
Into my place beneath the whip. . . . 
He smiles upon us.  Come, forget!
He has not thought of rising yet. 

This poem is in the public domain. 

For Valentine

my girl positioned for a twerk session-
             knees bent, hands below the thigh, tongue out, head
turned to look at her body’s precession. 

she in tune. breath in. breasts hang. hips freshen. 
            she slow-wine. pulse waistline to a beat bled
for her, un-guilt the knees for the session.

fair saint of vertebrae- backbone blessing,
            her pop- in innate. her pop- out self- bred,
head locked into her holied procession. 

dance is proof she loves herself, no questions-
            no music required, no crowd needed. 
she arched into a gateway, protecting-

this dance is proof she loves me, no guessing. 
            a bronx bedroom, we hip-to-hip threaded. 
she turn to me, tranced by her possessin’. 

she coils herself to, calls forth a legend-
round bodied booty, bounce a praise ballad.
she break hold, turn whole in a twerk session. 
body charmed, spell-bent, toward progressing.

From i shimmer sometimes, too (Button Poetry, 2019) Copyright © 2019 by Porsha Olayiwola. Used with permission of the author.

I've decided to waste my life again,
Like I used to: get drunk on
The light in the leaves, find a wall
Against which something can happen,

Whatever may have happened
Long ago—let a bullet hole echoing
The will of an executioner, a crevice
In which a love note was hidden,

Be a cell where a struggling tendril
Utters a few spare syllables at dawn.
I've decided to waste my life
In a new way, to forget whoever

Touched a hair on my head, because
It doesn't matter what came to pass,
Only that it passed, because we repeat
Ourselves, we repeat ourselves.

I've decided to walk a long way
Out of the way, to allow something
Dreaded to waken for no good reason,
Let it go without saying,

Let it go as it will to the place	
It will go without saying: a wall
Against which a body was pressed
For no good reason, other than this.

From May Day by Phillis Levin. Copyright © 2008 by Phillis Levin. Used by permission of Penguin. All rights reserved.


We don’t even remember
what we look like anymore.

Down here, everything is wrapped
in cloth and tied with yarn.

            The light
            inching through the swell—

            our backs glossy
            as a tooth dipped in honey.



Sometimes I want to climb down a tree in secret.
I want to stand in front of a crowd
and whisper a speech in secret.

                         If they can kiss you,
                         they can kill you.




You’re a star, honey,
everyone wants your picture.



             We’ve done this before.

We’ve played every couple in every movie
rubbing makeup on our faces that smears underwater.

                        You keep stuffing my plastic face
             in your plastic mouth
             thinking this will all make it better.

It might.

                                                             What if we rose
                                                above the water
                                                where the moon wraps
                                                             its legs around a man
                                                             too old to care?


I’m only saying what you want to hear.
You’ve heard every variation before.
             Nothing happens twice.




                            There isn’t anything interesting up there.
                            Only young lovers brimming over
                            with extinct longing.

Everything has a shadow and a yawn.
             Twiceness is not a thing of this world.



Be still, our children will come.

                            If you happen to come across someone,
                            and if they ask, say
                            he’s just playing dead.

                                          And then you’ll believe it yourself
                                          and will light a candle for me.

                            Nothing will convince you that prayer is a removal of self—
                                                    a distancing.

            Let’s continue this drowning
to remember what we look like.

                                          Let’s keep waking underwater
                                          until one of us gets it right.

Go ahead, sharpen yourself against these rocks.

                            Dress me in all your wet clothes.

Originally published in Cenzontle (BOA Editions, 2018). Copyright © 2018 by Marcelo Hernandez Castillo. Used with the permission of the poet.