second estrangement


Second Estrangement
Aracelis Girmay

Please raise your hand,
whomever else of you
has been a child,
lost, in a market
or a mall, without
knowing it at first, following
a stranger, accidentally
thinking he is yours,
your family or parent, even
grabbing for his hands,
even calling the word
you said then for “Father,”
only to see the face
look strangely down, utterly
foreign, utterly not the one
who loves you, you
who are a bird suddenly
stunned by the glass partitions
of rooms.
                                        How far
the world you knew, & tall,
& filled, finally, with strangers.

first estrangement


First Estrangement
Aracelis Girmay

I do not remember back then
when I was trying to leave one world
for the next, my girl-mother on the table,
all her darkness torn
for our two-headedness,

when around our violence, floated
the universe

years away from that staggering
out of one depth into another,
I remember her when I crack, again,
open the (already) starlight of the pomegranate,
when I bow my ear down toward it like a deer
without knowing why or from where
the hunger comes, faintly it screams

the memory of stars,
of estrangement, the lungs
pumping with air

I take, & take
what I cannot give back

Photo by Sahand Babali on Unsplash

my body when


e.e. cummings

i like my body when it is with your
body. It is so quite new a thing.
Muscles better and nerves more.
i like your body. i like what it does,
i like its hows. i like to feel the spine
of your body and its bones,and the trembling
-firm-smooth ness and which i will
again and again and again
kiss, i like kissing this and that of you,
i like, slowly stroking the,shocking fuzz
of your electric furr,and what-is-it comes
over parting flesh….And eyes big love-crumbs,

and possibly i like the thrill

of under me you so quite new

Photo by Scott Evans on Unsplash

all abundance


Paisley Rekdal

I have been taught never to brag but now
I cannot help it: I keep
a beautiful garden, all abundance,
indiscriminate, pulling itself
from the stubborn earth: does it offend you
to watch me working in it,
touching my hands to the greening tips or
tearing the yellow stalks back, so wild
the living and the dead both
snap off in my hands?
The neighbor with his stuttering
fingers, the neighbor with his broken
love: each comes up my drive
to receive his pitying,
accustomed consolations, watches me
work in silence awhile, rises in anger,
walks back. Does it offend them to watch me
not mourning with them but working
fitfully, fruitlessly, working
the way the bees work, which is to say
by instinct alone, which looks like pleasure?
I can stand for hours among the sweet
narcissus, silent as a point of bone.
I can wait longer than sadness. I can wait longer
than your grief. It is such a small thing
to be proud of, a garden. Today
there were scrub jays, quail,
a woodpecker knocking at the white-
and-black shapes of trees, and someone’s lost rabbit
scratching under the barberry: is it
indiscriminate? Should it shrink back, wither,
and expurgate? Should I, too, not be loved?
It is only a little time, a little space.
Why not watch the grasses take up their colors in a rush
like a stream of kerosene being lit?
If I could not have made this garden beautiful
I wouldn’t understand your suffering,
nor care for each the same, inflamed way.
I would have to stay only like the bees,
beyond consciousness, beyond
self-reproach, fingers dug down hard
into stone, and growing nothing.
There is no end to ego,
with its museum of disappointments.
I want to take my neighbors into the garden
and show them: Here is consolation.
Here is your pity. Look how much seed it drops
around the sparrows as they fight.
It lives alongside their misery.
It glows each evening with a violent light.

Photo by Eco Warrior Princess on Unsplash

after the winter


After the Winter
Claude McKay

Some day, when trees have shed their leaves
And against the morning’s white
The shivering birds beneath the eaves
Have sheltered for the night,
We’ll turn our faces southward, love,
Toward the summer isle
Where bamboos spire the shafted grove
And wide-mouthed orchids smile.

And we will seek the quiet hill
Where towers the cotton tree,
And leaps the laughing crystal rill,
And works the droning bee.
And we will build a cottage there
Beside an open glade,
With black-ribbed blue-bells blowing near,
And ferns that never fade.

Photo by Jez Timms on Unsplash



Not sure why/how all the words got cut off. Sigh.

Taije Silverman

Then happiness became an egg that broke
across our table. Fragments of shell
through which yolk pooled to placemats:
bright goopy gold that filled loose napkin folds
as if all I could wish for from luck.
My three-year-old pulls himself up alongside
to mash peas on his tray and meow at my hand
and command time to follow and stay. Can I have that
for a minute, is what he asks now about my wallet, 
or a ball, or an eraser, so he can bring them like a word
between his lips. Will you stay with me for a minute,
is what he whispers every evening, and then whispers,
One more minute while he stares at a bar on his crib
till his eyelids collapse. The minute is a smell of smoke.
A texture of leaves in a barrel of flame, the rasp
of a match in late sun. Just one, but the days pass
in cages for clouds, or for wayward balloons…
a minute’s the sound of the egg as it breaks
but its fragments still cleave to the origin shape.
That’s a mebble, says my son, about everything.
We sit at the table and count out the ways, our three
lucky stars, our ten lucky stars, we add them to how
many snowflakes it takes to transform the back yard
to a shell. We wanted the mebble, the mebble 
was over, the mebble was all we now had.

Photo by Alice Pasqual on Unsplash

mood ring


Mood Ring
Jaswinder Bolina

Inside me lived a small donkey. I didn’t
believe in magic, but the donkey
was a sucker for the stuff. Psychics,
illusionists, arthritics who’d predict
the rainfall. That was the year I had trouble
walking. I over-thought it and couldn’t
get the rhythm right. The donkey re-taught me.
“This foot. Yes, then that one. And swing
your arms as if you’re going to trial
to be exonerated of a crime
you’ve most definitely committed.”
Next, trouble sleeping because
I’d need to crank the generator in my chest
so frequently. Seeing I was overworked,
the donkey finally hauled it out—
it looked shiny and new, a silver dollar—
and tossed it into a flock of birds
who had to fly a long way to find safety.
I knew then I was a large and dangerous man,
what with this donkey living inside me,
but felt futile. One day, during
a final lesson on breathing,
the donkey asked what kind of jeans
I was wearing. I said, “The somber ones.”
“Poor kid.” “So will you be staying on
for a third year, donkey?” “No. I think
I should be leaving soon. I think
I should go and await your arrival beside
the crumpled river.” “Yes, I suppose
you have many important matters to attend to,
but maybe one day I will come and join you
for a drink or, perhaps, for a brief nap.”

Photo by Tim Mossholder on Unsplash