Violence thrives like violet on the vine, but I’m rare
today, with you. I came to Napa nappy-headed,
impressively unconcerned, with heft to me. Air
kisses the wine we bring to lip: I’m not wedded
to folks, I say, the way I was. Parts of me have died
with more to expire; troubled times have changed
us both. Left to silence, a question rises—if you lied
to spare me wrath turned inward. You’ve arranged
any moment of peace I’ve ever lived in: Love, it’s hard
to trust a good thing these days, harder still to be one.
Crimson colors in our stemmed glasses. Sorry-ass bard,
feeling no ounce of romance toward the world. No gun
could woo me, though. I want to be here. Need to be—
me, the half-full fool of us. I can’t imagine what you see.
Copyright © 2023 by Cortney Lamar Charleston. Originally published in Poem-a-Day on February 2, 2023, by the Academy of American Poets.
I am taken with the hot animal
of my skin, grateful to swing my limbs
and have them move as I intend, though
my knee, though my shoulder, though something
is torn or tearing. Today, a dozen squid, dead
on the harbor beach: one mostly buried,
one with skin empty as a shell and hollow
feeling, and, though the tentacles look soft,
I do not touch them. I imagine they
were startled to find themselves in the sun.
I imagine the tide simply went out
without them. I imagine they cannot
feel the black flies charting the raised hills
of their eyes. I write my name in the sand:
Donika Kelly. I watch eighteen seagulls
skim the sandbar and lift low in the sky.
I pick up a pebble that looks like a green egg.
To the ditch lily I say I am in love.
To the Jeep parked haphazardly on the narrow
street I am in love. To the roses, white
petals rimmed brown, to the yellow lined
pavement, to the house trimmed in gold I am
in love. I shout with the rough calculus
of walking. Just let me find my way back,
let me move like a tide come in.
Copyright © 2017 by Donika Kelly. Originally published in Poem-a-Day on November 20, 2017, by the Academy of American Poets.