I would tell her
Except she wouldn't care
I'd write him
Except he'd never write me back
There is a rat they left hanging
I'd save it
Except it's dead
What is the force that swirls me
I asked of the wind
There was no reply
It was beyond me
And I was floating in it
Circles and circles
I've seen them throughout my life
I tried to answer them
They bled their mouths on me
Call me call me I begged of the moon
It did not listen
It had left me alone
So many years ago
And as the world collapsed
I mouthed the empty rhetoric of my time period
Call me call me
I begged of the wind
Copyright © 2017 by Dorothea Lasky. Originally published in Poem-a-Day on April 26, 2017, by the Academy of American Poets.
You always called late and drunk, your voice luxurious with pain, I, tightly wrapped in dreaming, listening as if to a ghost. Tonight a friend called to say your body was found in your apartment, where it had lain for days. You'd lost your job, stopped writing, saw nobody for weeks. Your heart, he said. Drink had destroyed you. We met in a college town, first teaching jobs, poems flowing from a grief we enshrined with myth and alcohol. I envied the way women looked at you, a bear blunt with rage, tearing through an ever-darkening wood. Once we traded poems like photos of women whose beauty tested God's faith. 'Read this one about how friendship among the young can't last, it will rip your heart out of your chest!' Once you called to say J was leaving, the pain stuck in your throat like a razor blade. A woman was calling me back to bed so I said I'd call back. But I never did. The deep forlorn smell of moss and pine behind your stone house, you strumming and singing Lorca, Vallejo, De Andrade, as if each syllable tasted of blood, as if you had all the time in the world. . . You knew your angels loved you but you also knew they would leave someone they could not save.
Copyright © 2002 by Philip Schultz. Reprinted with the permission of Harcourt, Inc. All rights reserved.
Love is a breach in the walls, a broken gate,
Where that comes in that shall not go again;
Love sells the proud heart’s citadel to Fate.
They have known shame, who love unloved. Even then,
When two mouths, thirsty each for each, find slaking,
And agony’s forgot, and hushed the crying
Of credulous hearts, in heaven—such are but taking
Their own poor dreams within their arms, and lying
Each in his lonely night, each with a ghost.
Some share that night. But they know love grows colder,
Grows false and dull, that was sweet lies at most.
Astonishment is no more in hand or shoulder,
But darkens, and dies out from kiss to kiss.
All this is love; and all love is but this.
This poem is in the public domain.
You’re used to it, the way,
in the first wide-eyed
minutes, climbing from parking lot
to fire trail, or rifling through
cupboards in a rented kitchen,
I can’t help but tell you
we should visit here again,
my reverie inserting
a variation in the season,
or giving friends the room
next door, in stubborn panic
to fix this happiness in place
by escaping from it.
“We’re here now,” you say,
holding out the book I bought
with its dog-eared maps and lists
and, on the cover, a waterfall,
white flecks frozen, very close.
Copyright © 2017 by Nate Klug. Originally published in Poem-a-Day on August 23, 2017, by the Academy of American Poets.
Lay your sleeping head, my love,
Human on my faithless arm;
Time and fevers burn away
Individual beauty from
Thoughtful children, and the grave
Proves the child ephemeral:
But in my arms till break of day
Let the living creature lie,
Mortal, guilty, but to me
The entirely beautiful.
Soul and body have no bounds:
To lovers as they lie upon
Her tolerant enchanted slope
In their ordinary swoon,
Grave the vision Venus sends
Of supernatural sympathy,
Universal love and hope;
While an abstract insight wakes
Among the glaciers and the rocks
The hermit's carnal ecstasy.
On the stroke of midnight pass
Like vibrations of a bell,
And fashionable madmen raise
Their pedantic boring cry:
Every farthing of the cost,
All the dreaded cards foretell,
Shall be paid, but from this night
Not a whisper, not a thought,
Not a kiss nor look be lost.
Beauty, midnight, vision dies:
Let the winds of dawn that blow
Softly round your dreaming head
Such a day of welcome show
Eye and knocking heart may bless,
Find the mortal world enough;
Noons of dryness find you fed
By the involuntary powers,
Nights of insult let you pass
Watched by every human love.
From Another Time by W. H. Auden, published by Random House. Copyright © 1940 W. H. Auden, renewed by the Estate of W. H. Auden. Used by permission of Curtis Brown, Ltd.
Thing of dirt and water and oxygen marked by thinking
and reacting and a couch
one may or may not be permitted
to sleep on. He may not permit me
to touch him or to take the bone
from his mouth, but he does, and that’s a choice
based on many factors, not the least of which
is his own desire to let me
do these things. How I could ever
think or feel myself more
deserving of a single thing than
this being, whom I call by a name the same way
my parents chose a name for me. The same way my genes
went expressing themselves to make my face exactly
my face. This isn’t special. Or this is special. But it’s one
answer, the same, for us both.
Copyright © 2016 by Holly Amos. Originally published in Poem-a-Day on August 2, 2016, by the Academy of American Poets.
Salvation comes by Christ alone, The only Son of God; Redemption now to every one, That love his holy Word. Dear Jesus, we would fly to Thee, And leave off every Sin, Thy tender Mercy well agree; Salvation from our King. Salvation comes now from the Lord, Our victorious King. His holy Name be well ador'd, Salvation surely bring. Dear Jesus, give thy Spirit now, Thy Grace to every Nation, That han't the Lord to whom we bow, The Author of Salvation. Dear Jesus, unto Thee we cry, Give us the Preparation; Turn not away thy tender Eye; We seek thy true Salvation. Salvation comes from God we know, The true and only One; It's well agreed and certain true, He gave his only Son. Lord, hear our penetential Cry: Salvation from above; It is the Lord that doth supply, With his Redeeming Love. Dear Jesus, by thy precious Blood, The World Redemption have: Salvation now comes from the Lord, He being thy captive slave. Dear Jesus, let the Nations cry, And all the People say, Salvation comes from Christ on high, Haste on Tribunal Day. We cry as Sinners to the Lord, Salvation to obtain; It is firmly fixed, his holy Word, Ye shall not cry in vain. Dear Jesus, unto Thee we cry, And make our Lamentation: O let our Prayers ascend on high; We felt thy Salvation. Lord, turn our dark benighted Souls; Give us a true Motion, And let the Hearts of all the World, Make Christ their Salvation. Ten Thousand Angels cry to Thee, Yea, louder than the Ocean. Thou art the Lord, we plainly see; Thou art the true Salvation. Now is the Day, excepted Time; The Day of the Salvation; Increase your Faith, do not repine: Awake ye, every Nation. Lord, unto whom now shall we go, Or seek a safe abode? Thou has the Word Salvation Too, The only Son of God. Ho! every one that hunger hath, Or pineth after me, Salvation be thy leading Staff, To set the Sinner free. Dear Jesus, unto Thee we fly; Depart, depart from Sin, Salvation doth at length supply, The Glory of our King. Come, ye Blessed of the Lord, Salvation greatly given; O turn your Hearts, accept the Word, Your Souls are fit for Heaven. Dear Jesus, we now turn to Thee, Salvation to obtain; Our Hearts and Souls do meet again, To magnify thy Name. Come, Holy Spirit, Heavenly Dove, The Object of our Care; Salvation doth increase our Love; Our Hearts hath felt they fear. Now Glory be to God on High, Salvation high and low; And thus the Soul on Christ rely, To Heaven surely go. Come, Blessed Jesus, Heavenly Dove, Accept Repentance here; Salvation give, with tender Love; Let us with Angels share. Finis.
This poem is in the public domain.
for Marilyn Monroe
I buried Mama in her wedding dress
and put gloves on her hands,
but I couldn't do much about her face,
blue-black and swollen,
so I covered it with a silk scarf.
I hike my dress up to my thighs
and rub them,
watching you tip the mortuary fan back and forth.
Hey. Come on over. Cover me all up
like I was never here. Just never.
Come on. I don't know why I talk like that.
It was a real nice funeral. Mama's.
I touch the rhinestone heart pinned to my blouse.
Honey, let's look at it again.
See. It's bright like the lightning that struck her.
I walk outside
and face the empty house.
You put your arms around me. Don't.
Let me wave goodbye.
Mama never got a chance to do it.
She was walking toward the barn
when it struck her. I didn't move;
I just stood at the screen door.
Her whole body was light.
I'd never seen anything so beautiful.
I remember how she cried in the kitchen
a few minutes before.
She said, God. Married.
I don't believe it, Jean, I won't.
He takes and takes and you just give.
At the door, she held out her arms
and I ran to her.
She squeezed me so tight:
I was all short of breath.
And she said, don't do it.
In ten years, your heart will be eaten out
and you'll forgive him, or some other man, even that
and it will kill you.
Then she walked outside.
And I kept saying, I've got to, Mama,
hug me again. Please don't go.
From The Collected Poems of Ai. Copyright © Copyright 2010 by Ai. Used with the permission of W.W. Norton & Company Ltd.
I was called back into the dark during an early morning flyover onto a rusty mauve plain fields overrun with a low river of tar the smell of burning grass carried from the east flowing upward through neon bright signs of pharmaceuticals and snow a bronze liquid of promise a fleeting and always-ending sleep the remains of chipped concrete eating away the foundations of every building tables of salt rising over the whole country I was called onto a platform in the north a miles- wide outpost where I sat waiting to hear what new harm my sisters had conjured they reached me by phone through a star or their dreams a breaking request from our father that had traveled through a long and oily channel I could understand its beauty the rainbow-thick shimmer of pigment and poison a seeping fissure of love before the apocalypse the ruin or just the overhanging clouds yesterday a maker of brine and sauerkraut told me the world would end by corrosion and decay I’m not so sure I hear the eruption between refusal and insistence or maybe just a truck driving through
Copyright © 2020 by Samuel Ace. Originally published in Poem-a-Day on June 2, 2020 by the Academy of American Poets.
From Oceanic (Copper Canyon Press, 2018). Copyright © 2018 by Aimee Nezhukumatathil. Used with the permission of The Permissions Company, Inc.m on behalf of Copper Canyon Press, www.coppercanyonpress.org. All rights reserved.