The wind shrills forth 
From the white cold North 
Where the gates of the Storm-god are; 
And ragged clouds, 
Like mantling shrouds,
Engulf the last, dim star. 

Through naked trees, 
In low coulees, 
The night-voice moans and sighs; 
And sings of deep, 
Warm cradled sleep, 
With wind-crooned lullabies. 

He stands alone 
Where the storm’s weird tone
In mocking swells; 
And the snow-sharp breath 
Of cruel Death 
The tales of its coming tells. 

The frightened plaint
Of his sheep sound faint
Then the choking wall of white—
Then is heard no more, 
In the deep-toned roar, 
Of the blinding, pathless night. 

No light nor guide,
Save a mighty tide
Of mad fear drives him on;
‘Till his cold-numbed form 
Grows strangely warm;
And the strength of his limbs is gone. 

Through the storm and night
A strange, soft light 
O’er the sleeping shepherd gleams;
And he hears the word 
Of the Shepherd Lord 
Called out from the bourne of dreams. 

Come, leave the strife 
Of your weary life;
Come unto Me and rest 
From the night and cold, 
To the sheltered fold,
By the hand of love caressed. 

The storm shrieks on,
But its work is done—
A soul to its God has fled;
And the wild refrain 
Of the wind-swept plain, 
Sings requiem for the dead.

This poem is in the public domain. Published in Poem-a-Day on November 17, 2019, by the Academy of American Poets.

I believe that witness is a magnitude of vulnerability.
That when I say love what I mean is not a feeling
nor promise of a feeling. I believe in attention.
My love for you is a monolith of try.

The woman I love pays an inordinate amount
of attention to large and small objects. She is not
described by anything. Because I could not mean anything else,
she knows exactly what I mean.

Once upon a time a line saw itself
clear to its end. I have seen the shape
of happiness. (y=mx+b)
I am holding it. It is your hand.

Originally published in Gephyromania. Copyright © 2014 by TC Tolbert. Used with the permission of the poet.

missing Melissa – dust turned to waves
in the desert – okra coming up two months
too late – a forward breaking gate opening
into someone else’s field – I walk by
a window and I do not understand how little I see
you – but so clearly the wasp backing out
of a hole inside a long dead
tree – when we were children we lived
with our grandparents and I remember without
sadness mostly the sound of tires screaming into
the street – the porchlight welcomes
whatever intercepts it – I praise
insistence – I kiss
my love because our best friend died
when we were 5 years old – a brain tumor –
and then again at 7, 11, 17…43 – bodies
killing themselves by growing
beyond their own capacity – I am building
a bed for our visitors – it is infuriating how little
I understand about re-joining wood already broken
piece by piece – anticipate everything
I hear God saying to no one – I am still listening
when you stop, for a moment, breathing
in your sleep – I am recognizable
now as a part of the man who made me –
every man is a suspect – inside my own mouth
I am annoyed by who I cannot seem to be –
do you miss this Melissa – every part of our body
is ash aching to be reminded it is ash – unlike fire
reaching through the face of every forest
in order to be incited by wind or offered
some relief – I’ve learned to flinch
by standing absolutely still – it isn’t death exactly living
without you – the purpose of a rope
is to borrow someone else’s strength – that’s why
I’m calling you – when I pray I hear nothing
so clearly as our new voice
singe-scoured and full of disbelief –


Originally published in American Poetry Review. Copyright © 2019 by TC Tolbert. Used with the permission of the poet.

Sometimes I tremble like a storm-swept flower,
And seek to hide my tortured soul from thee,
Bowing my head in deep humility
Before the silent thunder of thy power.
Sometimes I flee before thy blazing light,
As from the specter of pursuing death;
Intimidated lest thy mighty breath,
Windways, will sweep me into utter night.
For oh, I fear they will be swallowed up—
The loves which are to me of vital worth,
My passion and my pleasure in the earth—
And lost forever in thy magic cup!
I fear, I fear my truly human heart
Will perish on the altar-stone of art!

This poem is in the public domain. Published in Poem-a-Day on May 19, 2018, by the Academy of American Poets.

Like light but
in reverse we billow.

We turn a corner
and make the hills

You rearrange
my parts until no
more hurting.

No more skin-sunk
nighttime fear.

No more blameless death.

My hair loses its atoms.
My body glows
in the dark.

Planets are smashed
into oblivion,
stripped of their power
to name things.

Our love fills the air.

Our love eats
the deadly sounds men
make when they see
how much magic
we have away
from them.

Copyright © 2017 by Joshua Jennifer Espinoza. Reprinted from Split This Rock’s The Quarry: A Social Justice Poetry Database.