for father and son

Jesús José Medrano went away
no more motel rooms to clean
he asked my dad to take his place

when Dad cried and looked the other way
the mortician closed the coffin on the body
Jesús José Medrano went away

He wore his best gray suit that day
hovered slowly above the family
he asked my dad to take his place

My father marched the casket to the grave
the relatives cried in the out-loud dream
Jesús José Medrano went away

My grandfather, farmworker among grapes,
measured a man tying vines in his teens
he asked my dad to take his place

Como un hombre, he would say
my father’s tears never seen
Jesús José Medrano went away
he asked my dad to take his place

From In the Cavity of Sunsets (Bilingual Press/Editorial Bilingüe, 2009). Copyright © 2009 by Michael Luis Medrano. Used with the permission of Bilingual Press/Editorial Bilingüe.

I was so small, so very much afraid.
I prayed my father might turn into light.
There was no price that I would not have paid

to pray the way the light knelt down and prayed.
I prayed that I might learn to be like light,
but I was small, and very much afraid,

and he stayed silent. Was I badly made?
His violin made sound turn into light,
and there’s no price that I would not have paid

to hear him play Thais each night. He made
it sound as though the bow was made of light.
Still I was small, and very much afraid

when he got mad and broke the things he’d made.
He tried and tried so hard to do things right,  
and there’s no price that he would not have paid

to sit with me at dusk and watch light fade.
Both of us were made from that same light,
And there’s no price we two would not have paid—
we who were small and very much afraid.

Copyright © 2016 by Marilyn Krysl. Originally published in December in 2016. Used with permission of the author.

There are days I believe there ain' nothing to fear
I perk up for green lights, my engine on call
But it could be the zombies are already near

That sleep that we feed every day of the year
What's up with your friends when they circle the mall?
There are nights when I think I have no one to fear

My Mom watches Oprah to brighten the drear
You can keep your eyes open, see nothing at all
But it might be the zombies are already near

You think life is s'posed to be lived in this gear?
I been askin' that question till my brain has gone raw
Certain days I believed I had nothing to fear

I have dreams that I'm driving with no way to steer
You can growl like a cello; you can chat like a doll
Don't it seem like the zombies are already here?

I think fear itself is a whole lot to fear
I have watched CNN till it made my skin crawl
I might be a zombie that's already here

I been pounding this door but don' nobody hear
You can drink till you think that you're seven feet tall
There were midnights I danced without nothin' to fear

You can fly through your days until time is a smear
Maybe blaze up the bong   or blog out a blog

There'll be days when it feels like there's nothing to fear
But you could be a zombie    that's already here.

Copyright © 2014 by Tim Seibles. Originally published in Split This Rock’s The Quarry: A Social Justice Poetry Database.

Do not go gentle into that good night,
Old age should burn and rave at close of day;
Rage, rage against the dying of the light.

Though wise men at their end know dark is right,
Because their words had forked no lightning they
Do not go gentle into that good night.

Good men, the last wave by, crying how bright
Their frail deeds might have danced in a green bay,
Rage, rage against the dying of the light.

Wild men who caught and sang the sun in flight,
And learn, too late, they grieved it on its way,
Do not go gentle into that good night.

Grave men, near death, who see with blinding sight
Blind eyes could blaze like meteors and be gay,
Rage, rage against the dying of the light.

And you, my father, there on the sad height,
Curse, bless, me now with your fierce tears, I pray.
Do not go gentle into that good night.
Rage, rage against the dying of the light.

From The Poems of Dylan Thomas, published by New Directions. Copyright © 1952, 1953 Dylan Thomas. Copyright © 1937, 1945, 1955, 1962, 1966, 1967 the Trustees for the Copyrights of Dylan Thomas. Copyright © 1938, 1939, 1943, 1946, 1971 New Directions Publishing Corp. Used with permission.

The art of losing isn’t hard to master;
so many things seem filled with the intent
to be lost that their loss is no disaster.

Lose something every day. Accept the fluster
of lost door keys, the hour badly spent.
The art of losing isn’t hard to master.

Then practice losing farther, losing faster:
places, and names, and where it was you meant
to travel. None of these will bring disaster.

I lost my mother’s watch. And look! my last, or
next-to-last, of three loved houses went.
The art of losing isn’t hard to master.

I lost two cities, lovely ones. And, vaster,
some realms I owned, two rivers, a continent.
I miss them, but it wasn’t a disaster.

Even losing you (the joking voice, a gesture
I love) I shan’t have lied. It’s evident
the art of losing’s not too hard to master
though it may look like (Write it!) like disaster.

From The Complete Poems 1927-1979 by Elizabeth Bishop, published by Farrar, Straus & Giroux, Inc. Copyright © 1979, 1983 by Alice Helen Methfessel. Used with permission of Farrar, Straus & Giroux, LLC. All rights reserved.

When I return, I'll come in clapboard, stained
chestnut, with lead-based paint on radiators,
old-fashioned, and a little bit insane

but sturdy to a fault. A spalting grain
on punky myrtle and no refrigerator
when I return. I'll come in clapboard, stained

shake shingles skittering on skewed roof planes
that snarl the corner lot like unpaid panders,
old-fashioned and a little bitten, saying,

"Leave our sightlines sharp. Let dormers train
What angles water sheds." They congregate for
when I return. I'll come in clapboard, stained

with varnished truth: you ran me down. You caned
old rockers with prefab splints, hack renovator
refashioning me bit by bit, insane

to strip as spilth fine bulrush. I'll maintain
myself, then. There will be no mediators
when I return. I'll come in clapboard. Stained,
old-fashioned, I'll come a little bit insane.

From Bar Book: Poems and Otherwise. Copyright © 2010 by Julie Sheehan. Used with permission of W. W. Norton & Company.