This is not a small voice
you hear               this is a large
voice coming out of these cities.
This is the voice of LaTanya.
Kadesha. Shaniqua. This
is the voice of Antoine.
Darryl. Shaquille.
Running over waters
navigating the hallways
of our schools spilling out
on the corners of our cities and
no epitaphs spill out of their river mouths.

This is not a small love
you hear               this is a large
love, a passion for kissing learning
on its face.
This is a love that crowns the feet with hands
that nourishes, conceives, feels the water sails
mends the children,
folds them inside our history where they
toast more than the flesh
where they suck the bones of the alphabet
and spit out closed vowels.
This is a love colored with iron and lace.
This is a love initialed Black Genius.

This is not a small voice
you hear.

From Wounded in the House of a Friend. Copyright © 1995 by Sonia Sanchez. Used with the permission of Beacon Press.

I, being born a woman and distressed
By all the needs and notions of my kind,
Am urged by your propinquity to find
Your person fair, and feel a certain zest
To bear you body's weight upon my breast:
So subtly is the fume of life designed,
To clarify the pulse and cloud the mind,
And leave me once again undone, possessed.
Think not for this, however, the poor treason
Of my stout blood against my staggering brain,
I shall remember you with love, or season
My scorn with pity,—let me make it plain:
I find this frenzy insufficient reason
For conversation when we meet again. 

This poem is in the public domain.

if i believe 
in death be sure 
of this 
it is 

because you have loved me, 
moon and sunset 
stars and flowers 
gold crescendo and silver muting 

of seatides 
i trusted not, 
                        one night 
when in my fingers 

drooped your shining body 
when my heart 
sang between your perfect 
breasts 

darkness and beauty of stars 
was on my mouth petals danced 
against my eyes 
and down 

the singing reaches of 
my soul 
spoke 
the green-

greeting pale-
departing irrevocable 
sea 
i knew thee death. 

                                  and when 
i have offered up each fragrant 
night,when all my days 
shall have before a certain 

face become 
white 
perfume 
only, 

         from the ashes 
then 
thou wilt rise and thou 
wilt come to her and brush 

the mischief from her eyes and fold 
her 
mouth the new 
flower with 

thy unimaginable 
wings,where dwells the breath 
of all persisting stars

This poem is in the public domain.

I think a lot about the character everybody wanted to put babies inside of
a lot about cracked statues recovered satellites

I think a lot about voyager
I think a lot about gold
I think a lot about that thing the fork is going into

Are you ever the thing the fork is going into?
Are you ever driving through cotton fields at night
and everything around you is a pillow?

What words are you whispering into my pillow?
What words cast the spell that puts the babies inside of me?
What words make the moon just something good to look at but no place to go?

If I’m looking at my window and hear the hawk, is that the signal?
I think a lot about the longer my hair grows, the farther you are
about your face in my hair

I think a lot about becoming a pill you can swallow
I think a lot about growing my hair into a tent

Copyright © 2018 by Emily Hunerwadel. This poem originally appeared in Professional Crybaby (Poetry Society of America, 2018). Used with permission of the author.

Oh, solitude, where is the sting,
    That men ascribe to thee?
Where is the terror in thy mien?
    I look, but cannot see.

Where hidest thou, that loneliness
    The world pretends to fear?
While lying on thy loving breast
    I find my sweetest cheer.

They do not understand thee, no,
    They are but knaves or fools,
Or else they must discern in thee
    Dame Nature’s queen of schools.

For in thy care, with naught but books,
    The bards and saints of old,
Become my friends and to mine ear
    Their mystic truths unfold.

When problems and perplexities
    Of life becloud my mind,
I know in thee, oh, solitude,
    The answer I can find.

When grief and sorrow crowd my heart
    To breaking, with their fears
Within thy arms, oh, solitude,
    I find relief in tears.

And when I weary of the world’s
    Deceits and cares and strife,
I find in thee sweet rest and peace
    And vigorous new life.

My garden never is complete
    Without a blooming rose,
Nor is my life, oh, solitude,
    Without thy sweet repose.

This poem is in the public domain. Published in Poem-a-Day on August 1, 2020 by the Academy of American Poets.

What is water but rain but cloud but river but ocean 
but ice but tear.

What is tear but torn what is worn as skin as in as out
as out.

Exodus. I am trying to tell a tale that shifts like a gale
that hurricanes and casts a line

that buckles in wind that is reborn a kite a wing. 
I am far

from the passage far from the plane of descending
them,

suitcases passports degrees of mobility like heat 
like heat on their backs. 

This cluster of fine grapes Haitian purple beige
black brown.

Copyright © 2020 by Danielle Legros Georges. Originally published in Poem-a-Day on July 8, 2020 by the Academy of American Poets.

translated by Alejandro Cáceres Joseph

In the bosom of the sad evening
I called upon your sorrow… Feeling it was
Feeling your heart as well. You were pale
Even your voice, your waxen eyelids,

Lowered… and remained silent… You seemed
To hear death passing by… I who had opened
Your wound bit on it—did you feel me?—
As into the gold of a honeycomb I bit!

I squeezed even more treacherously, sweetly
Your heart mortally wounded,
By the cruel dagger, rare and exquisite,
Of a nameless illness, until making it bleed in sobs!
And the thousand mouths of my damned thirst
I offered to that open fountain in your suffering.
.  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  

Why was I your vampire of bitterness?
Am I a flower or a breed of an obscure species
That devours sores and gulps tears?

 


El vampiro

En el regazo de la tarde triste
Yo invoqué tu dolor… Sentirlo era
Sentirte el corazón! Palideciste
Hasta la voz, tus párpados de cera,

Bajaron… y callaste… y pareciste
Oír pasar la Muerte… Yo que abriera
Tu herida mordí en ella —¿me sentiste? —
Como en el oro de un panal mordiera!

Y exprimí más, traidora, dulcemente
Tu corazón herido mortalmente,
Por la cruel daga rara y exquisita
De un mal sin nombre, hasta sangrarlo en llanto!
Y las mil bocas de mi sed maldita
Tendí á esa fuente abierta en tu quebranto.
.  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  

¿Por qué fui tu vampiro de amargura?…
¿Soy flor ó estirpe de una especie obscura
Que come llagas y que bebe el llanto?

From Selected Poetry of Delmira Agustini: Poetics of Eros, published by Southern Illinois University Press. Translation copyright and selection © 2003 by Alejandro Cáceres. This poem appeared in Poem-a-Day on October 31, 2020.