Even in California
all of my friends require touch    

to get through winter.                
It’s true, I am waiting to be in love          

in front of the people I love.       
He says, I’m glad you’re here                       

& I want to cover his mouth
to warm my hands.        

Of course I understand              
how one would mistake

that earthquake for a passing train
but what do we do with the stillness                    

when after great change             
nothing moves, but his hand      

sliding a glass of wine
across the table

instructing me to drink              
with a single nod.

I bring the glass to my face                     
but don’t let a drop pass my lips.

Beside him, I am almost somewhere        
I’d like to be for a while.

To make him smile        
I tell him I am bad at sex.

To make him kiss me
I tell him when I’m happy

I go looking for things
I haven’t lost yet.

Copyright © 2022 by Hieu Minh Nguyen. Originally published in Poem-a-Day on August 3, 2022, by the Academy of American Poets.

Now you are gone I kiss your dented pillow
And wonder if it hungers like my breast
For the dear head we both have held in rest.

I said once: Love alone cannot assuage
My thirst, my hunger, love has no reply
For that wild questioning, for this fierce cry.

I said: there is no kiss can feed me now.
Perhaps love is life’s flower: I seek the root.
Yea, I have loved and love is dead sea fruit.

Yet, I lie here and kiss your dented pillow,
A trembling girl who loves you overmuch––
A harp in anguish for the player’s touch.

From On a Grey Thread (Will Ransom, 1923) by Elsa Gidlow. This poem is in the public domain. 

This word came to me
From one whose wisdom shapes
The destiny of many:
Let your thought be fruitful:
Men like grain and grapes.

I’ll not be loved of men for my gifts
If men want grain and grapes alone:
My thoughts are gnarled, fantastic trees,
Grown up untended, barely pruned,
From ancient seed I have not sown.

Their snake-mouthed roots are in my heart.
I feel them hungrily intense
Drawing the seething love-sap out.
Prodigally I feed them all
My being’s vivid affluence.

But thus far they have only borne
Veined blue buds that bloom to be
Scarred flowers of inhuman pain,
And little opening leaves, like eyes
Full of a grave futility.

Strange flowers foretell strange fruit
And gods stay breathless while they grow
Men call and look for grain and grapes,
Their homely, humble earth-warm fruits;
But heaven is silent. The gods may know.

From On a Grey Thread (Will Ransom, 1923) by Elsa Gidlow. This poem is in the public domain.