Locked away we’re like a Russian novel:
the hermit and the cowboy,
me stepping from the train.
A world of snow. Whose Great Coat a den
of baby foxes skinned and sewn together.
We’re a field of stars,
all the peasants’ sheep shorn in haste
made into a carpet placed beneath my feet,
the stationmaster’s son sent through the night to find us
this small room.
’s the foxes and the wolves.
’s the doves with their curved necks
waiting out the rain. ’s the grass
starting to shake. ’s the medals
on whose own bureau, the silver
glinting on whose horse’s bridle.
I said, Samovar sounds like a knight.
It’s just a fancy tea pot. ’s my samovar,
the steam that makes my cheeks glow
so all the women talk. ’s the snow
covering the wolf’s tracks,
the party of sleds sent out and not returning
gives me whose alphabet of notes
One by one each day. ’s a thousand pages
read across the endless plains til rides hard
beneath my window and helps me down
as the first flakes fall and I say,
You brought the first snow for me.
From Rocket Fantastic (Persea Books, 2017). Copyright © 2017 by Gabrielle Calvocoressi. Used with the permission of Persea Books.
is even more fun than going to San Sebastian, Irún, Hendaye, Biarritz, Bayonne
or being sick to my stomach on the Travesera de Gracia in Barcelona
partly because in your orange shirt you look like a better happier St. Sebastian
partly because of my love for you, partly because of your love for yoghurt
partly because of the fluorescent orange tulips around the birches
partly because of the secrecy our smiles take on before people and statuary
it is hard to believe when I’m with you that there can be anything as still
as solemn as unpleasantly definitive as statuary when right in front of it
in the warm New York 4 o’clock light we are drifting back and forth
between each other like a tree breathing through its spectacles
and the portrait show seems to have no faces in it at all, just paint
you suddenly wonder why in the world anyone ever did them
at you and I would rather look at you than all the portraits in the world
except possibly for the Polish Rider occasionally and anyway it’s in the Frick
which thank heavens you haven’t gone to yet so we can go together for the first time
and the fact that you move so beautifully more or less takes care of Futurism
just as at home I never think of the Nude Descending a Staircase or
at a rehearsal a single drawing of Leonardo or Michelangelo that used to wow me
and what good does all the research of the Impressionists do them
when they never got the right person to stand near the tree when the sun sank
or for that matter Marino Marini when he didn’t pick the rider as carefully
as the horse
it seems they were all cheated of some marvelous experience
which is not going to go wasted on me which is why I’m telling you about it
From The Collected Poems of Frank O’Hara by Frank O’Hara, copyright © 1971 by Maureen Granville-Smith, Administratrix of the Estate of Frank O’Hara, copyright renewed 1999 by Maureen O’Hara Granville-Smith and Donald Allen. Used by permission of Alfred A. Knopf, an imprint of the Knopf Doubleday Publishing Group, a division of Penguin Random House LLC. All rights reserved.
since feeling is first
who pays any attention
to the syntax of things
will never wholly kiss you;
wholly to be a fool
while Spring is in the world
my blood approves,
and kisses are a better fate
lady i swear by all flowers. Don’t cry
—the best gesture of my brain is less than
your eyelids’ flutter which says
we are for each other: then
laugh, leaning back in my arms
for life’s not a paragraph
And death i think is no parenthesis
This poem is in the public domain. Published in Poem-a-Day on April 16, 2022, by the Academy of American Poets.
Today when persimmons ripen
Today when fox-kits come out of their den into snow
Today when the spotted egg releases its wren song
Today when the maple sets down its red leaves
Today when windows keep their promise to open
Today when fire keeps its promise to warm
Today when someone you love has died
or someone you never met has died
Today when someone you love has been born
or someone you will not meet has been born
Today when rain leaps to the waiting of roots in their dryness
Today when starlight bends to the roofs of the hungry and tired
Today when someone sits long inside his last sorrow
Today when someone steps into the heat of her first embrace
Today, let this light bless you
With these friends let it bless you
With snow-scent and lavender bless you
Let the vow of this day keep itself wildly and wholly
Spoken and silent, surprise you inside your ears
Sleeping and waking, unfold itself inside your eyes
Let its fierceness and tenderness hold you
Let its vastness be undisguised in all your days
Originally published in Come, Thief (Knopf, 2011); all rights reserved. Copyright © by Jane Hirshfield. Reprinted with the permission of the author, all rights reserved.
love in the time of COVID is no different than
love at any other time: that is, full of loneliness.
Only more so. Pre-COVID, there were possibilities:
clandestine meetings at Trader Joe’s, Fisk’s Jubilee
Singers’ Balm in Gilead at Tuesdays’ pancake suppers.
All attempted All for naught. Post-COVID, love will still
be a hungry disciple with her wimple being what it always
was; her overcoat continuing to thin in all the places it was
already thinning; her outline identical to that surrounding
a bloodhound, run over. And even that outline will dissolve.
Some say that among COVID’s symptoms are a loss of
taste, a loss of smell. And the love loss during this COVID-
without-end emits the stink of Valentine’s remains stashed
in reliquaries, a bitter taste of beetroot laid on his holy table.
Copyright © 2023 by Lynne Thompson. Originally published in Poem-a-Day on February 16, 2023, by the Academy of American Poets.