we won’t tell you where it lies, as in time we might need the minor intimacy of that secret. just creatures, heavy with hope & begging against the grave song inside our living, we have agreed his death is the one cold chord we refuse to endure from the sorry endlessness of the blues. & if ever we fail to bear the rate at which we feel the world pining for the body of our boy, we can conjure that mole—the small brown presence of it tucked where only tenderness would think to look—& recall when it seemed nothing about our child could drift beyond the terrible certainty of love’s reach.
Copyright © 2019 by Geffrey Davis. Originally published in Poem-a-Day on March 26, 2019, by the Academy of American Poets.
Before you kissed me only winds of heaven Had kissed me, and the tenderness of rain— Now you have come, how can I care for kisses Like theirs again? I sought the sea, she sent her winds to meet me, They surged about me singing of the south— I turned my head away to keep still holy Your kiss upon my mouth. And swift sweet rains of shining April weather Found not my lips where living kisses are; I bowed my head lest they put out my glory As rain puts out a star. I am my love's and he is mine forever, Sealed with a seal and safe forevermore— Think you that I could let a beggar enter Where a king stood before?
This poem is in the public domain.
for Yehuda Amichai
You threw off your exile
by clothing yourself in praise,
Yehuda, saying, my nation
is alive, Amichai, in me,
inhabiting your own body,
your mother-beloved skin.
I’m hairy like you, and afraid,
like you, I’m half-animal
and half-angel, uncertain
where my tenderness ends
and cruelty begins. We
did what we had to do,
you wrote, which in translation
Yehuda, I want your clarity—
to love you, not close the gates
of my heart like a nation
trying to make itself a home
but winding up with a state.
Psalmist, you spoke so tenderly
of peace, but the war persists.
All I have for you is this poem:
a man photographs the sudden
undulating hills. Behind him,
a woman he loves now dreams
that their bed’s legs grow roots
beneath, overnight, and spreads
a canopy of branches that shoot
pink blooms open and open,
now green with shushing leaves
that shelter and shadow the rucked
bedsheets, the branches burdened
with red apples, apples like eyes
ready to be praised
Copyright © 2019 by Philip Metres. Originally published in Poem-a-Day on October 28, 2019, by the Academy of American Poets.
Everyone’s so quick to blame my
tenderness. My wound opening like a mouth
to kiss an arrow’s steel beak.
A beautiful man, now, plants his face
in Trojan sand while I tell
the secrets of his body—
make the ground red with truth.
Red with the death of Achilles, felled
by an arrow’s bite when nothing—
nothing—could puncture his Kevlar skin.
Everyone skips ahead to the moral: don’t
be a heel. For just one day I felt
sun where the chafing bonds of sandal
should have been. Without me, he’d be
just more fodder for the cannon.
I made him a hero, Troy’s poster
boy. Everyone forgets I was part of him,
I needed him—that even as he died,
I tasted each pulse—
that I could not hold back its rush of red
birds or the season to which they flew.