Barely-morning pink curtains
drape an open window. Roaches scatter,
the letter t vibrating in cottonwoods.
His hair horsetail and snakeweed.
I siphon doubt from his throat
for the buffalograss.
Seep willow antler press against
the memory of the first man I saw naked.
His tongue a mosquito whispering
its name a hymn on mesquite,
my cheek. The things we see the other do
collapse words into yucca bone.
The Navajo word for eye
hardens into the word for war.
Copyright © 2019 by Jake Skeets. Originally published in Poem-a-Day on September 12, 2019, by the Academy of American Poets.
I can laugh now.
Have you not heard my laughter?
It leads the winds:
They come tumbling and bubbling after.
I have learned to laugh.
I have learned to laugh with my spirit
And with my soul.
Listen. Do you not hear it?
I shall quench the world.
I shall sear the stars with my laughter;
Shrivel the moon and the sun
And make new ones after.
For life’s skeleton
I shall make flesh from desires;
Then of my mounting laughter
Build it a temple with mocking spires.
I shall laugh to heaven.
I shall laugh below hell and above.
I shall laugh forever.
It was laughter God died of.
From On a Grey Thread (Will Ransom, 1923) by Elsa Gidlow. This poem is in the public domain.