Looking up at the stars, I know quite well
That, for all they care, I can go to hell,
But on earth indifference is the least
We have to dread from man or beast.

How should we like it were stars to burn
With a passion for us we could not return?
If equal affection cannot be,
Let the more loving one be me.

Admirer as I think I am
Of stars that do not give a damn,
I cannot, now I see them, say
I missed one terribly all day.

Were all stars to disappear or die,
I should learn to look at an empty sky
And feel its total dark sublime,
Though this might take me a little time.

From Homage to Clio by W. H. Auden, published by Random House. Copyright © 1960 W. H. Auden, renewed by the Estate of W. H. Auden. Used by permission of Curtis Brown, Ltd.

“The subject of lesbianism is very ordinary;”
            — Judy Grahn

in darkness of March’s midnight          she is eyes:
            moon rays rebound lake ripples to eggplant purple walls
your hands find her body         face lies upturned, opened
            smaller than weeks prior. She knows you prefer protruding hip bones,
feels hungered for by you,       not memory of the boy, her brother 
diaphragms guttural groan,      cold in body bag not on pleated comforter,
            you’ve described your favorite body your type as “heroin skinny” 
she knows you like the ripples of her torso but            before you knew her brother  
also concave trajectory to pelvis bones            as drug addict,
            loving you is an argument with the impossible.

Copyright © 2023 by Sarah Cooper. Originally published in Poem-a-Day on January 4, 2023, by the Academy of American Poets.

My life is a grey thread,
A thin grey stretched out thread, 
And when I trace its course, I moan: 
How dull! How dead!

But I have gay beads.
A pale one to begin,
A blue one for my painted dreams, 
And one for sin,
Gold with coiled marks,
Like a snake’s skin.

For love an odd bead 
With a deep purple glow;
A green bead for a secret thing 
That few shall know;
And yellow for my thoughts 
That melt like snow.

A red bead for my strength,
And crimson for my hate;
Silver for the songs I sing 
When I am desolate;
And white for my laughter 
That mocks dull fate.

My life is a grey thread 
Stretching through Time’s day;
But I have slipped gay beads on it 
To hide the grey.

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