Turning and turning in the widening gyre
The falcon cannot hear the falconer;
Things fall apart; the centre cannot hold;
Mere anarchy is loosed upon the world,
The blood-dimmed tide is loosed, and everywhere
The ceremony of innocence is drowned;
The best lack all conviction, while the worst
Are full of passionate intensity.
Surely some revelation is at hand;
Surely the Second Coming is at hand.
The Second Coming! Hardly are those words out
When a vast image out of Spiritus Mundi
Troubles my sight: somewhere in sands of the desert
A shape with lion body and the head of a man,
A gaze blank and pitiless as the sun,
Is moving its slow thighs, while all about it
Reel shadows of the indignant desert birds.
The darkness drops again; but now I know
That twenty centuries of stony sleep
Were vexed to nightmare by a rocking cradle,
And what rough beast, its hour come round at last,
Slouches towards Bethlehem to be born?
This poem is in the public domain.
Teacher, they said to Jesus, The law of Moses says to stone her. What do you say? —John 8:5
You know how it is when your speeding car spins on the ice at night
and you think here it is?
When the deer spring across the headlights?
When you begin to slip down the steep and icy steps?
Now imagine someone is about to push you, someone you know
and then they don’t.
Copyright © 2017 by Marie Howe. From Magdalene (W. W. Norton, 2017). Used with permission of the author.
for the Geechee Gullah Ring Shouters
One of the women greeted me.
I love you, she said. She didn’t
Know me, but I believed her,
And a terrible new ache
Rolled over in my chest,
Like in a room where the drapes
Have been swept back. I love you,
I love you, as she continued
Down the hall past other strangers,
Each feeling pierced suddenly
By pillars of heavy light.
I love you, throughout
The performance, in every
Handclap, every stomp.
I love you in the rusted iron
Chains someone was made
To drag until love let them be
Unclasped and left empty
In the center of the ring.
I love you in the water
Where they pretended to wade,
Singing that old blood-deep song
That dragged us to those banks
And cast us in. I love you,
The angles of it scraping at
Each throat, shouldering past
The swirling dust motes
In those beams of light
That whatever we now knew
We could let ourselves feel, knew
To climb. O Woods—O Dogs—
O Tree—O Gun—O Girl, run—
O Miraculous Many Gone—
O Lord—O Lord—O Lord—
Is this love the trouble you promised?
From Wade in the Water (Graywolf Press, 2018). Copyright © 2018 by Tracy K. Smith. Used with the permission of Graywolf Press.
God-My-Father gave me three words:
From The Undressing: Poems by Li-Young Lee. Copyright © 2018 by Li-Young Lee. Used by permission of W. W. Norton & Company, Inc.
Did she know
there was more to life
than lions licking the furred
ears of lambs,
fruit trees dropping
their fat bounty,
the years droning on
Too much quiet
is never a good sign.
Isn’t there always
beneath the surface?
But what could she say?
The larder was full
and they were beautiful,
their bodies new
as the day they were made.
Each morning the same
flowers broke through
the rich soil, the birds sang,
again, in perfect pitch.
It was only at night,
when they lay together in the dark
that it was almost palpable—
the vague sadness, unnamed.
—call it what you will. What a relief
to feel the weight
fall into her palm. And after,
not to pretend anymore
that the terrible calm
Copyright © 2013 Danusha Laméris. “Eve, After” originally appeared in The Sun Magazine. Used with permission of the author.