The moon will shine for God
knows how long.
As if it still matters. As if someone
is trying to recall a dream.
Believe the brain is a cage of light
& rage. When it shuts off,
something else switches on.
There’s no better reason than now
to lock the doors, the windows.
Turn off the sprinklers
& porch light. Save the books
for fire. In darkness,
we learn to read
what moves along the horizon,
across the periphery of a gun scope—
the flicker of shadows,
the rustling of trash in the body
of cities long emptied.
Not a soul lives
in this house &
this house & this
house. Go on, stiffen
the heart, quicken
the blood. To live
in a world of flesh
& teeth, you must
learn to kill
what you love,
& love what can die.
Copyright © 2016 by Burlee Vang. Originally published in Poem-a-Day on December 20, 2016, by the Academy of American Poets.
Sleep, little pigeon, and fold your wings,— Little blue pigeon with velvet eyes; Sleep to the singing of mother-bird swinging— Swinging the nest where her little one lies. Away out yonder I see a star,— Silvery star with a tinkling song; To the soft dew falling I hear it calling— Calling and tinkling the night along. In through the window a moonbeam comes,— Little gold moonbeam with misty wings; All silently creeping, it asks, "Is he sleeping— Sleeping and dreaming while mother sings?" Up from the sea there floats the sob Of the waves that are breaking upon the shore, As though they were groaning in anguish, and moaning— Bemoaning the ship that shall come no more. But sleep, little pigeon, and fold your wings,— Little blue pigeon with mournful eyes; Am I not singing?—see, I am swinging— Swinging the nest where my darling lies.
This poem is in the public domain.
We will smudge
our shoulder blades with wings of ash.
We will sow
your remaining ash in an untilled field.
red carnations, red dahlias, red hibiscus.
white doves and flutter white handkerchiefs.
to the field to watch brave bulls roam.
We will wait
for the grass to catch fire.
From The Small Claim of Bones (Bilingual Press/Editorial Bilingüe, 2014). Copyright © 2014 by Cindy Williams Gutiérrez. Used with the permission of Bilingual Press/Editorial Bilingüe.
This after-sunset is a sight for seeing,
Cliff-heads of craggy cloud surrounding it.
—And dwell you in that glory-show?
You may; for there are strange strange things in being,
Stranger than I know.
Yet if that chasm of splendour claim your presence
Which glows between the ash cloud and the dun,
How changed must be your mortal mould!
Changed to a firmament-riding earthless essence
From what you were of old:
All too unlike the fond and fragile creature
Then known to me….Well, shall I say it plain?
I would not have you thus and there,
But still would grieve on, missing you, still feature
You as the one you were.
This poem is in the public domain.
The world begins at a kitchen table. No matter what, we must eat to live.
The gifts of earth are brought and prepared, set on the table. So it has been since creation, and it will go on.
We chase chickens or dogs away from it. Babies teethe at the corners. They scrape their knees under it.
It is here that children are given instructions on what it means to be human. We make men at it, we make women.
At this table we gossip, recall enemies and the ghosts of lovers.
Our dreams drink coffee with us as they put their arms around our children. They laugh with us at our poor falling-down selves and as we put ourselves back together once again at the table.
This table has been a house in the rain, an umbrella in the sun.
Wars have begun and ended at this table. It is a place to hide in the shadow of terror. A place to celebrate the terrible victory.
We have given birth on this table, and have prepared our parents for burial here.
At this table we sing with joy, with sorrow. We pray of suffering and remorse. We give thanks.
Perhaps the world will end at the kitchen table, while we are laughing and crying, eating of the last sweet bite.
From The Woman Who Fell From the Sky (W. W. Norton, 1994) by Joy Harjo. Copyright © 1994 by Joy Harjo. Used with permission of the author.