“...because in the dying world it was set burning.”
We are not making love but
all night long we hug each other.
Your face under my chin is two brown
thoughts with no right name, but opens to
eyes when my beard is brushing you.
The last line of the album playing
is Joan Armatrading’s existential stuff,
we had fun while it lasted.
You inch your head up toward mine
where your eyes brighten, intense,
as though I were observer and you
a doppled source. In the blue light
in the air we suddenly leave our selves
and watch two salt-starved bodies
lick the sweat from each others’ lips.
When the one mosquito in the night
comes toward our breathing, the pitch
of its buzz turns higher
till it’s fat like this blue room
and burning on both of us;
now it dies like a siren passing
down a street, the color of blood.
I pull the blanket over our heads
about to despair because I think
everything intense is dying, but you,
you, even asleep, hold onto all
you think I am, more than I think,
so intensely you can feel me
hugging back where I have gone.
From Across the Mutual Landscape (Graywolf Press, 1984). Copyright © 1984 by Christopher GIlbert. Published in Poem-a-Day on February 14, 2020, by the Academy of American Poets with permission of The Permissions Company inc. on behalf of Graywolf Press.
a pocket can sometimes be
a kind of prison,
I have never lived in
a cash economy where the bill
fold unfolds to find someone
creased in the middle,
but perhaps credit moves
the same, the way it scores
the pocket and the body
boxed and bureaued
the edge of a card
cuts anything akin to skin
a Dollar, a Euro, a World
Bank, a debt to erase, a wait
a race, a weight.
From The Next Verse Poets Mixtape: Volume One (Central Square Press, 2016). Copyright © 2016 by Fred L. Joiner. Used with the permission of the poet.
I am a body schooling,
a ball of fish, flashing
and many, in these early days
of feeling, of love.
When I learned,
hours ago, of fish songs
that swell like birdsong
in the morning,
how they foghorn or buzz
for food, or mates
or space, I thought,
now aren’t I a humming thing?
Yes, you say,
a body of oceans
And the sea anemone in me,
growing on the wreckage
of an old ship—
can they grow that way,
I wonder, on an ending—
Still this bright and tentacled
which reaches and filters
whatever it needs
from this strong current,
and the current too that carries
the sea cucumbers,
the rough mammals,
the life, both vertebrate
even the batfish,
the black jewfish,
and the terapontid,
it all swells and breaks in me
like a chorus at dusk.
Originally published in Sewanee Review, Fall 2017. Copyright © 2017 by Donika Kelly. Used with the permission of the poet.
I am taken with the hot animal
of my skin, grateful to swing my limbs
and have them move as I intend, though
my knee, though my shoulder, though something
is torn or tearing. Today, a dozen squid, dead
on the harbor beach: one mostly buried,
one with skin empty as a shell and hollow
feeling, and, though the tentacles look soft,
I do not touch them. I imagine they
were startled to find themselves in the sun.
I imagine the tide simply went out
without them. I imagine they cannot
feel the black flies charting the raised hills
of their eyes. I write my name in the sand:
Donika Kelly. I watch eighteen seagulls
skim the sandbar and lift low in the sky.
I pick up a pebble that looks like a green egg.
To the ditch lily I say I am in love.
To the Jeep parked haphazardly on the narrow
street I am in love. To the roses, white
petals rimmed brown, to the yellow lined
pavement, to the house trimmed in gold I am
in love. I shout with the rough calculus
of walking. Just let me find my way back,
let me move like a tide come in.
Copyright © 2017 by Donika Kelly. Originally published in Poem-a-Day on November 20, 2017, by the Academy of American Poets.