of the past as I walk
by a window boarded-up
in winter and in
summer hot where
spiders lived and dust
in that storefront
that was his home. Or
a madcap air in May
or a combination
of words can bring
a voice to the surface
—it’s that I … at the
thought of him
which, more today
is like approaching
a grave. His calls
before my first visit
are ash now. Cities
changed their names:
Corning became Davis,
D.C. I know
and the ends
of things. I
But still, it is
there (he who
needs). But isn’t
it time this grew
I loose myself
and, though unsteady,
move on—the way
the arrow, suddenly
survives the string?
with Akhmatova and Rilke
for my father
From After Rubén (Red Hen Press, 2020) by Francisco Aragón. Copyright © 2020 by Francisco Aragón. Used with permission of The Permissions Company LLC on behalf of Red Hen Press, redhen.org.
after Marie Howe
in the wordless beginning
iguana & myrrh
magma & reef ghost moth
& the cordyceps tickling its nerves
& cedar & archipelago & anemone
dodo bird & cardinal waiting for its red
ocean salt & crude oil now black
muck now most naïve fumbling plankton
every egg clutched in the copycat soft
of me unwomaned unraced
unsexed as the ecstatic prokaryote
that would rage my uncle’s blood
or the bacterium that will widow
your eldest daughter’s eldest son
my uncle, her son our mammoth sun
& her uncountable siblings & dust mite & peat
apatosaurus & nile river
& maple green & nude & chill-blushed &
yeasty keratined bug-gutted i & you
spleen & femur seven-year refreshed
seven-year shedding & taking & being this dust
& my children & your children
& their children & the children
of the black bears & gladiolus & pink florida grapefruit
here not allied but the same perpetual breath
held fast to each other as each other’s own skin
cold-dormant & rotting & birthing & being born
in the olympus of the smallest
possible once before once
Copyright © 2020 by Marissa Davis. Originally published in Poem-a-Day on July 1, 2020, by the Academy of American Poets.
O’ King build me more templar
more handsome and muscular.
Build me a chest made of barley fire.
Set it ablaze each morning for sunlight.
Build me legs quick as a chariot,
light as a doe’s, strong as a current runs through a river. It
must all mean something if I am the third son of my father. It
must all mean something if my body is a ravaged temple.
What does it mean if his body is a ravaged temple? Wretched chariots
we carry burdened with copper and birch bark inside muscled
and fatty hearts. Siken wrote about bodies being possessed by light,
I should have known those antlers were never copper but always fire.
Your tongue always tasted of fire.
The ash of it.
The lie of it. But one hundred legs of running men leaves me light
around the temples.
I have a weakness for muscular.
I have a brain full of char rioting
in an underwater circus. I hold my breath as his chariot
is unplugged from the wall. The immediate silence. No more fire
here. I wanted you to be muscular
and fit, healthy as an ox. The attraction I feel for it.
We can only build the most modest of temples
when all we have is moonlight.
Moonlit / chariot / racing toward a temple
fire / The idea of it / muscular
I’ve always loved Absalom, not because he’s handsome and muscular
but because he had the King’s heart. Let there be light.
Let it / arrive in a horse-drawn carriage.
Let it arrive as fire.
O’ King build my body a temple,
make my heart more corpuscular than muscular. Make me a chariot
light of ire.
It's so lonely and cold inside this scalpel-ruined templum.
Copyright © 2020 by b: william bearhart. Reprinted with the permission of Carrie Bearhart. Published in Poem-a-Day on November 30, 2020, by the Academy of American Poets.