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13 July 2011 @ 05:48 pm
    NIGHT SAND

    When you injure me, as you must one day,
    I will move off like the slow armadillo over night sand,
    ambulating secretly inside his armor,

    ready to burrow deep or curl himself into a ball
    which will shelter his soft head, soft feet
    and tail from the heavy, rhythmic blows.

    Now can you see the silhouettes of ranchers’ hats
    and stick raised against the pick desert sky?

    Billy Collins
 
 
 
13 July 2011 @ 05:46 pm
    THE LOVERS

    She is about to come. This time,
    they are sitting up, joined below the belly,
    feet cupped like sleek hands praying
    at the base of each other’s spines.
    And when something lifts within her
    toward a light she’s sure, once again,
    she can’t bear, she opens her eyes
    and sees his face is turned away,
    one arm behind him, hands splayed
    palm down on the mattress, to brace himself
    so he can lever his hips, touch
    with the bright tip the innermost spot.
    And she finds she can’t bear it—
    not his beautiful neck, stretched and corded,
    not his hair fallen to one side like beach grass,
    not the curved wing of his ear, washed thin
    with daylight, deep pink of the inner body—
    what she can’t bear is that she can’t see his face,
    not that she thinks this exactly—she is rocking
    and breathing—it’s more her body’s though,
    opening, as it is, into its own sheer truth.
    So that when her hand lifts of its own violation
    and slaps him, twice on the chest,
    on that pad of muscled flesh just above the nipple,
    slaps him twice, fast, like a nursing child
    trying to get a mother’s attention,
    she’s startled by the sound,
    though when he turns his face to hers—
    which is what her body wants, his eyes
    pulled open, as if she had bitten—
    she does reach out and bite him, on the shoulder,
    not hard, but with the power infants have
    over those who have borne them, tied as they are
    to the body, and so, tied to the pleasure,
    the exquisite pain of this world.
    And when she lifts her face he sees
    where she’s gone, knows she can’t speak,
    is traveling toward something essential,
    toward the core of her need, so he simply
    watches, steadily, with an animal calm
    as she arches and screams, watches the face that,
    if she could see it, she would never let him see.

    Dorianne Laux
 
 
 
    WHEN YOU HAVE FORGOTTEN SUNDAY: THE LOVE STORY

    —And when you have forgotten the bright bedclothes on a Wednesday and a Saturday,
    And most especially when you have forgotten Sunday—
    When you have forgotten Sunday halves in bed,
    Or me sitting on the front-room radiator in the limping afternoon
    Looking off down the long street
    To nowhere,
    Hugged by my plain old wrapper of no-expectation
    And nothing-I-have-to-do and I’m-happy-why?
    And if-Monday-never-had-to-come—
    When you have forgotten that, I say,
    And how you swore, if somebody beeped the bell,
    And how my heart played hopscotch if the telephone rang;
    And how we finally went in to Sunday dinner,
    That is to say, went across the front room floor to the ink-spotted table in the southwest corner
    To Sunday dinner, which was always chicken and noodles
    Or chicken and rice
    And salad and rye bread and tea
    And chocolate chip cookies—
    I say, when you have forgotten that,
    When you have forgotten my little presentiment
    That the war would be over before they got to you;
    And how we finally undressed and whipped out the light and flowed into bed,
    And lay loose-limbed for a moment in the week-end
    Bright bedclothes,
    Then gently folded into each other—
    When you have, I say, forgotten all that,
    Then you may tell,
    Then I may believe
    You have forgotten me well.

    Gwendolyn Brooks
 
 
 
08 June 2011 @ 10:30 pm
    MILES AWAY

    I want you and you are not here. I pause
    in this garden, breathing the colour thought is
    before language into still air. Even your name
    is a pale ghost and, though I exhale it again
    and again, it will not stay with me. Tonight
    I make you up, imagine you, your movements clearer
    than the words I have you say you said before.

    Wherever you are now, inside my head you fix me
    with a look, standing here whilst cool late light
    dissolves into the earth. I have got your mouth wrong,
    but still it smiles. I hold you closer, miles away,
    inventing love, until the calls of nightjars
    interrupt and turn what was to come, was certain,
    into memory. The stars are filming us for no one.

    Carol Ann Duffy
     
     
     
      MUTUALLY ASSURED DESTRUCTION

      When I was nine, my father sliced his knee
      With a chainsaw. But he let himself bleed
      And finished cutting down one more tree
      Before his boss drove him to EMERGENCY.
      Late that night, stoned on morphine and beer,
      My father needed my help to steer
      His pickup into the woods. “Watch for deer,”
      My father said. “Those things just appear
      Like magic.” It was an Indian summer
      And we drove through warm rain and thunder,
      Until we found that chainsaw, lying under
      The fallen pine. Then I watched, with wonder,
      As my father, shotgun-rich and impulse-poor,
      Blasted that chainsaw dead. “What was that for?”
      I asked. “Son,” my father said. “Here’s the score.
      Once a thing tastes blood, it will come for more.”

      Sherman Alexie
     
     
     
    20 May 2011 @ 10:34 am
      LADY LAZARUS

      I have done it again.
      One year in every ten
      I manage it—

      A sort of walking miracle, my skin
      Bright as a Nazi lampshade,
      My right foot

      A paperweight,
      My face a featureless, fine
      Jew linen.

      Peel off the napkin
      O my enemy.
      Do I terrify?—

      The nose, the eye pits, the full set of teeth?
      The sour breath
      Will vanish in a day.

      Soon, soon the flesh
      The grave cave ate will be
      At home on me

      And I a smiling woman.
      I am only thirty.
      And like the cat I have nine times to die.

      This is Number Three.
      What a trash
      To annihilate each decade.

      What a million filaments.
      The peanut-crunching crowd
      Shoves in to see

      Them unwrap me hand and foot—
      The big strip tease.
      Gentlemen, ladies

      These are my hands
      My knees.
      I may be skin and bone,

      Nevertheless, I am the same, identical woman.
      The first time it happened I was ten.
      It was an accident.

      The second time I meant
      To last it out and not come back at all.
      I rocked shut

      As a seashell.
      They had to call and call
      And pick the worms off me like sticky pearls.

      Dying
      Is an art, like everything else.
      I do it exceptionally well.

      I do it so it feels like hell.
      I do it so it feels real.
      I guess you could say I've a call.

      It's easy enough to do it in a cell.
      It's easy enough to do it and stay put.
      It's the theatrical

      Comeback in broad day
      To the same place, the same face, the same brute
      Amused shout:

      'A miracle!'
      That knocks me out.
      There is a charge

      For the eyeing of my scars, there is a charge
      For the hearing of my heart—
      It really goes.

      And there is a charge, a very large charge
      For a word or a touch
      Or a bit of blood

      Or a piece of my hair or my clothes.
      So, so, Herr Doktor.
      So, Herr Enemy.

      I am your opus,
      I am your valuable,
      The pure gold baby

      That melts to a shriek.
      I turn and burn.
      Do not think I underestimate your great concern.

      Ash, ash—
      You poke and stir.
      Flesh, bone, there is nothing there—

      A cake of soap,
      A wedding ring,
      A gold filling.

      Herr God, Herr Lucifer
      Beware
      Beware.

      Out of the ash
      I rise with my red hair
      And I eat men like air.

      Sylvia Plath
     
     
     
      PREFACE TO A TWENTY VOLUME SUICIDE NOTE

      Lately, I’ve become accustomed to the way
      The ground opens up and envelopes me
      Each time I go out to walk the dog.
      Or the broad edged silly music the wind
      Makes when I run for a bus…

      Things have come to that.

      And now, each night I count the stars.
      And each night I get the same number.
      And when they will not come to be counted,
      I count the holes they leave.

      Nobody sings anymore.

      And then last night I tiptoed up
      To my daughter’s room and heard her
      Talking to someone, and when I opened
      The door, there was no one there…
      Only she on her knees, peeking into

      Her own clasped hands

      Amiri Baraka
     
     
     
    09 May 2011 @ 10:23 am
      MORNING

      I’ve got to tell you
      how I love you always
      I think of it on grey
      mornings with death

      in my mouth the tea
      is never hot enough
      then and the cigarette
      dry the maroon robe

      chills me I need you
      and look out the window
      at the noiseless snow

      At night on the dock
      the buses glow like
      clouds and I am lonely
      thinking of flutes

      I miss you always
      when I go to the beach
      the sand is wet with
      tears that seem mine

      although I never weep
      and hold you in my
      heart with a very real
      humor you’d be proud of

      the parking lot is
      crowded and I stand
      rattling my keys the car
      is empty as a bicycle

      what are you doing now
      where did you eat your
      lunch and were there
      lots of anchovies it

      is difficult to think
      of you without me in
      the sentence you depress
      me when you are alone

      Last night the stars
      were numerous and today
      snow is their calling
      card I’ll not be cordial

      there is nothing that
      distracts me music is
      only a crossword puzzle
      do you know how it is

      when you are the only
      passenger if there is a
      place further from me
      I beg you do not go

      Frank O’Hara
     
     
     
    08 May 2011 @ 02:37 pm
      THE LANGUAGE

      Locate I
      love you
      some-
      where in

      teeth and
      eyes, bite
      it but

      take care not
      to hurt, you
      want so

      much so
      little. Words
      say everything.

      I
      love you

      again,

      then what
      is emptiness
      for. To

      fill, fill.
      I heard words
      and words full

      of holes
      aching. Speech
      is a mouth.

      Robert Creeley
     
     
     
      THE BRAIN TO THE HEART

      Stars tied to breath
      don’t have to be there
      when you look.
      No more than drops
      of blood on ginkgo
      leaves & inconsequential

      eggs & frog spittle
      clinging to damp grass.
      Sure, I’ve seen doubts
      clustered like peacock
      eyes flash green fire.
      So what?

      When days are strung together,
      the hourglass fills
      with worm’s dirt.
      What do you take
      the brain for? I know
      how hard you work

      in that dark place, but
      I can’t be tied down
      to shadows of men
      in trenches you won’t
      forget. You look at
      a mulberry leaf

      like a silkworm does, with all your insides,
      but please don’t ask me to be responsible.

      Yusef Komunyakaa