30 August 2015

Now they are bones, the sweet ones

                                      by Dorianne Laux

Tonight I Am in Love

Tonight, I am in love with poetry,
with the good words that saved me,
with the men and women who
uncapped their pens and laid the ink
on the blank canvas of the page.

I am shameless in my love; their faces
rising on the smoke and dust at the end
of day, their sullen eyes and crusty hearts,
the murky serum now turned to chalk
along the gone cords of their spines.

I’m reciting the first anonymous lines
that broke night’s thin shell: sonne under wode.
A baby is born us bliss to bring. I have labored
sore and suffered death. Jesus’ wounds so wide.

I am wounded with tenderness for all who labored
in dim rooms with their handful of words,
battering their full hearts against the moon.

They flee from me that sometime did me seek.
Wake, now my love, awake: for it is time.
For God’s sake hold your tongue and let me love!

What can I do but love them? Sore throated
they call from beneath blankets of grass,
through the wind-torn elms, near the river’s
edge, voices shorn of everything but the one
hope, the last question, the first loss, calling

Slow, slow, fresh fount, keep time with my salt tears.
Whenas in silks my Julia goes, calling Why do I
languish thus, drooping and dull as if I were all earth?

Now they are bones, the sweet ones who once
considered a cat, a nightingale, a hare, a lamb,
a fly, who saw a Tyger burning, who passed
five summers and five long winters, passed them
and saved them and gave them away in poems.

They could not have known how I would love them,
worlds fallen from their mortal fingers.
When I cannot see to read or walk alone
along the slough, I will hear you, I will
bring the longing in your voices to rest
against my old, tired heart and call you back.

23 August 2015

The great ghost ships of his shoes

                                         by Deborah Digges

Seersucker Suit

To the curator of the museum, to the exhibition of fathers,
to the next room from this closet of trousers
and trousers, full sail the walnut hangers of shirts,
O the great ghost ships of his shoes.
Through the racks and the riggings,
belt buckles ringing and coins in coat pockets
and moths that fly up from the black woolen remnants,
his smell like a kiss blown through hallways of cedar,
the shape of him locked in his burial clothes,
his voice tucked deep in his name,
his keys and the bells to his heart,
I am passing his light blue seersucker suit
with one grass-stained knee,
and a white shirt, clean boxers, clean socks, a handkerchief.

16 August 2015

Echo of brutal laughter at the edge of the sea

                                                 by James Wright

Bari, Old and Young

       The old women of Bari near the sea sit in the small shadows of open doors. Their faces are beautifully darkened in the sunlight. Their hair is grey enough. They have seen the wars. They have known the young Germans blundering and falling out of the sky like poisoned moths. The young men in Bari today swagger and smirk as though no one had ever lived before, as though no one had ever died. Forever titivating their lank hair in the Adriatic breezes, voluptuously caressing their own armpits, they love to be told they are the lost youth, unemployed and betrayed by The System. Their motorcycles whinny insanely along the dark streets, and they are interested in women only to frighten them. They are too mindless to be skillful thieves. But the old women of Bari in their open doors know that young men will find something wlse to do, and I walk in this city as frighted as an old sea woman startled by moths.
       Once the old city of Bari rose and gathered its companions out of the sea. But the new city, a growth of our present desperate century squats a little inland, companionless. It is no place for solitude. Already the stony faces of new tall buildings are beginning to crumble.
       On my last day here, I will walk carefully through the barren places and find the past again, the old city where I can stand solitary beside the noble churches. And beyond the old city, even beyond the past, there is the sea itself, the ancient freshness of the natural world that God, stirring in His loneliness and unapproached in His light, breathed upon. The fragrance of the water moves heavily and slowly with mussel shells and the sighs of drowned men. There is nothing so heavy with earth as the sea's breath and the breath if fresh wilderness, the camomilla fields along the shore. I would like to stand among them and breathe their air, one more day of my life, before I have to turn around and make my way back to this present century, back through the ugliness of vicious young faces,w ho will leave no churches behind them in the fullness of their age, but only the blind scars of motorcycle tires, the wrinkles of panic on women's faces, and an echo of brutal laughter at the edge of the sea.

The American Poetry Review, May/June 2015.

09 August 2015

The two seconds taken to assess the situation

                                                     by Mark Doty

                                                  In Two Seconds

Tamir Rice, 2002-2014

                                   the boy's face
climbed back down the twelve-year tunnel

of its becoming, a charcoal sunflower
swallowing itself. Who has eyes to see,

or ears to hear? If you could see
what happens fastest, unmaking

the human irreplaceable, a star
falling into complete gravitational

darkness from all points of itself, all this:

the held loved body into which entered
milk and music, honeying the cells of him:

who sang to him, strokend the nap
of the scalp, kissed the flesh-knot

after the cord completed its work
of fueling into him the long history

of those those suffering
was made more bearable

by the as-yet-unknown of him,

playing alone in some unthinkable
future city, a Cleveland,

whatever that might me.
Two seconds. To elapse:

the arck of joy in the conception bed,
the labor of hands repeated until

the hands no longer required attention,
so that as the woman folded

her hopes for him sank into the fabric
of his shirts nad underpants. Down

they go, swirling down into the maw
of a greater dark. Treasure box,

comic books, pocket knife, bell from a lost cat's collar,
why even begin to enumerate them

when behind every tributary
poured into him comes rushing backward

all he hasn't been yet. Everything
that boy could have thought or made,

sung or theorized, built on the quavering
but continuous structure

that had preceded him sank into
an absence in the shape of a boy

playing with a plastic gun in a city park
in Ohio, in the middle of the afternoon.

When I say two seconds, I don't mean the time
it took him to die. I mean the lapse between

the instant the cruiser braked to a halt
on the grass, between that moment

and the one in which the officer fired his weapon.
The two seconds taken to assess the situation.

I believe it is part of the work
of poetry to try on at least

the moment and skin of another,
for this hour I respectfully decline.

I refuse it. May that officer
be visited every night of his life
by an enormity collapsing in front of him

into an incomprehensible bloom,
and the voice that howls out of it.

If this is no poem then . . .

But that voice – erased boy,
beloved of time, who did nothing
to no one, and became

nothing because of it – I know that voice
is one of the things we call poetry.
It isn't only to his killer he's speaking.

The American Poetry Review, May/June 2015.

02 August 2015

Death collecting souls for recycling

                                           by Kim Addonizio

from The Sonnets

I hate clocks & mirrors I hate all roses
& trees especially trees even evergreens
are felled & strung with lights & ornaments
I hate ornaments & wind-up crèches
playing “Silent Night” with plastic cows breathing
over a plastic baby I hate babies please don't have one
it will ruin yr beautiful tits forever
you'll have to push a stroller a 40-pound shopping cart
before you like a plow 18 years you'll toil
what a waste paint something green
get a show somewhere with white walls
& people drinking wine I love wine I love
taking it in my mouth then kissing
it into yours having enough / & time

my glass shall not persuade me I am sober
after three French 75s in the bar mirror
our hair messed up & the bartender
carded us both then look I death my days
but not yet this afternoon it's elsewhere
collecting souls for recycling mine's metallic
scrape the rust off it's still shiny
yours is egg cartons wrapping paper
birthdays weddings congratulations Christmas
mine is Deepest Sympathy Sorry For Your Loss
hearing the champagne hiss in the bottle
& gin to kill the apple maggot
when threatened it walks sideways & mimics a spider
lay down beside you & felt so much older.

it's that time of year ice in the trees
snow like dirty light piled beside the trash bags
city gardens behind chain link fences
mired in white except for an occasional rat
everyone lately has cancer
Philip Seymour Hoffman is dead of an overdose
everyone's sad & fascinated
black night is falling in a song
I prefer the one about the glow-worm
illuminate yon woods primeval
come to my bed my aeronautical glimmer
draw a treble clef a few notes will swoop down
nothings lasts anyway
& we leave nothing behind

From The American Poetry Review, May/June 2015.