Let me draw a sonnet at this godless hour,
in one sitting, at the sudden taste of you.
#SelfEvidentTruth: reality forms from the verge
of chance—particles not seen but tongued.
Another you wafts in as soon as the other
you leaves, my random turnstile of thirst.
But suddenly, alone. Just a memory of taste:
Poached eggs, pancakes, tenderness, knowing
that I have eaten not only what I made but what all
of you served in return, quenched only if swallowed.
Taste has always been a second-rate sense,
unlike our sight, unlike Euler’s Equation that
sees light in chaos. All works of nature evolve
from one moment of coincidence. An absence,
a rebellion, the fifteenth line of a sonnet.
Copyright © 2022 by Bino A. Realuyo. Originally published in Poem-a-Day on January 25, 2022, by the Academy of American Poets.
Because the bee
In my bonnet
Is the B in my bed,
Who I can’t and I
Won’t stop bumping;
We do the humpty
Hump. My big nose
Nestled in her sassafras.
At attention, we round
Each other out. At ease,
Her peach is a galaxy.
Now and later is a square
I quietly hold on my tongue,
My mouth an empty gesture.
Spaced out between her legs,
I am an astronaut.
The gravity of my offense
Adds up to a rational number.
When the heavens are free
From light, I sit desire on my lap.
She is stardust; And I,
As it were, am impossible.
When she asks for space
She is the future. When she
Asks for a room, it is the end.
I place before her chutes,
Ladders, and whatever else
Might fall from the sky.
Copyright © 2021 by Alison C. Rollins. Originally published in Poem-a-Day on January 18, 2021, by the Academy of American Poets.
And when, on this island on which
I love you, there is only so much land
to drive on, a few hours to encircle
in entirety, and the best of our lands
are touristed, the beaches foam-laced
with rainbowing suntan oil,
the mountains tattooed with asphalt,
pocked by telescoped domes,
hotels and luxury condos blighting
the line between ocean and sky,
I find you between the lines
of such hard edges, sitting on
the kamyo stool, a bowl of coconut,
freshly grated, at your feet.
That I hear the covert jackaling
of helicopters and jets overhead
all night through our open jalousies,
that my throat burns from the scorch
of the grenaded graves of my ancestors,
the vog that smears the Koʻolaus into a blur
of greens, that I wake to hear the grind
of you blending vegetables and fruit,
machine whirl-crunching coffee beans,
your shoulder blades channelling ocean,
a steady flux of current.
Past the guarded military testing grounds,
amphibious assault vehicles emerging
from the waves, beyond the tangles
of tarp cities lining the roads, past
the thick memory of molasses coating
the most intimate coral crevices,
by the box jellyfish congregating under
ʻOle Pau and Kāloa moons, at the park
beneath the emptied trees, I come
to find you shaking five-dollar coconuts
(because this is all we have on this island),
listening to the water to guess
its sweetness and youth.
On this island on which I love you,
something of you is in the rain rippling
through the wind that make the pipes
of Waikīkī burst open. Long brown
fingers of sewage stretch out
from the canal, and pesticided
tendrils flow from every ridge
out to sea, and so we stay inside
to bicker over how a plumeria tree
moves in the wind, let our daughters
ink lines like coarse rootlets
in our notebooks, crayon lines
into ladders on our walls
and sheets. Their first sentences
are sung, moonlit blowhole plumes
of sound that calls pebbles to couple,
caverns to be carved, ʻuala to roll
down the hillside again, and I could
choke on this gratitude for you all.
This island is alive with love,
its storms, the cough of alchemy
expelling every parasitic thing,
teaching me to love you with
the intricacies of island knowing,
to depend on the archipelagic
spelling of you lying next to me,
our blue-screen flares their own
floating islands after our daughter
has finally fallen asleep,
to trust in the shape and curve
of your hand reaching out to hold mine
making and remaking an island our own.
From When the Light of the World was Subdued, Our Songs Came Through: A Norton Anthology of Native Nations Poetry (W.W. Norton & Company, 2020). Copyright © 2020 by Brandy Nālani McDougall. Used with the permission of the poet.