happy ending


Happy Ending
Fleur Adcock

After they had not made love
she pulled the sheet up over her eyes
until he was buttoning his shirt:
not shyness for their bodies – those
they had willingly displayed – but a frail
endeavour to apologise.

Later, though, drawn together by
a distaste for such ‘untidy ends’
they agreed to meet again; whereupon

they giggled, reminisced, held hands
as though what they had made was love –
and not that happier outcome, friends.


Photo by Masaaki Komori on Unsplash

aubade as fuel


Aubade as Fuel

Traci Brimhall

Your lip an abstraction of iris always arousing
the question of the bed. Which goodbye lasts?
Only yesterday my hands rich with dirt. I told you
Milkweed is my new salvation addiction. You know
I always need to save something, to control it.
I can make a pollen island, make your collarbone
a spiritual landscape, the air around us orange
and alive. The shape you left in the sheets
a Rorschach I read as a rattlesnake’s skeleton
in the silverware drawer, no, a fire in a cabin,
no, a cabin on fire, the absence it will make.
But look at me now, my heat signature a whole
bouquet of howling, straddling scarves of smoke.

love song


Love Song
A.R. Ammons

Like the hills under dusk you
fall away from the light:
you deepen: the green
light darkens
and you are nearly lost:
only so much light as
stars keep
manifests your face:
the total night in
myself raves
for the light along your lips.

the old land


The Old Land

In the old land,
People perished not from hunger
But from gorging on lust and liver.

Birds flew backward, thoughts swarmed
Against foreheads. Grass vined up stakes,
Sprouted out of the eyes of the impaled.

In the old land,
The mountains were seasonally flattened,
Carved and rolled up like woven prayer mats.

The sky was shallow and piebald in the fall,
Striped and shiny when it rained or snowed,
So splendorous we’d go blind, lose our minds.

In the old land,
Homes were made of honeycomb and straw,
Cars ran on blood, melted pennies, bones.

Streets zigzagged like startled antelopes.
Life and death were simple and whole,
No need for explanation, let alone hope.

In the old land,
Love was meant for strangers and their dogs,
Yowling, licking wounds, sore lymph nodes.

We were living our long lives at home,
Until we sank and resurfaced in this void,
Different skins, goggled eyes, nowhere to go.

Just to be as we were, we had to destroy
All the wrong distant lands, the many
Scared elsewheres, banging at our doors.

Photo by Matt Flores on Unsplash

i catch sight of the now


I Catch the Sight of the Now

Jorie Graham

unforgettable though then hardly noticed green

tiled ledge
just up to my right in the glistening shower stall, slightly above my open
eyes, square window in it, & slender citrine
lip onto which I place, gently, this first handful of hair—always I see it—the window-
pane up there letting anything in and out that
wishes to pass
thru—so freely—drops from the steam of the shower
on it, the slipping of forever & for-
ever all down the
pane, where, beyond the still-wet clump, all seems to shine and
murmur it’s just day, just this day, another day, filled with the only
of this minute, this split minute, in which if I
reach now I can feel
the years, the fissure in them,
these fractions here inside the
instant—oh mine—how mine—moving now so
differently, as if entering a room with frozen fingers and they say
no you cannot warm them here
at the fire,
there is no fire, there is no
room, actually there is nothing, though you can
start carving the nothing, you can test your strength
against the nothing, the subject is
loss, the dark is inside your
open mouth not knowing what else there is again to
say, a kind of howling without
sorrow, no amazement, no
wisdom, just the roomlessness of this your suddenly
suddenly everything, suddenly there is no more of what there
was, suddenly you do not die of fear you just fear, suddenly
there is no such thing as right or wrong yr hand is
a claw full of hair there is no
purification anywhere as the shower keeps streaming looking for
hollows, more hollows, this thread of the only
water cycle dragged down
into here to
run all over you, to rake yr
skinny neck & down inside of you where you
look up, open yr
mouth—to scream to sing to say the one
right word—as now the next
soft handful
comes, it is such a surprise, as you raise up yr
hand, high, full, to the ledge, to pile it on there—& what
will you do
now, shooting your gaze into those filaments, your years of having & not
knowing, still wet, in clumps, through which the daylight now is pouring itself,
though it is not pouring anything at all or into
anything at all because it’s just the planet
turning again and again into and out of the
dark which is not itself actually dark
at all.

all this and more


All This and More
Mary Karr

The Devil’s tour of hell did not include
a factory line where molten lead
spilled into mouths held wide,
no electric drill spiraling screws
into hands and feet, nor giant pliers
to lower you into simmering vats.
Instead, a circle of light
opened on your stuffed armchair,
whose chintz orchids did not boil and change,
and the Devil adjusted
your new spiked antennae
almost delicately, with claws curled
and lacquered black, before he spread
his leather wings to leap
into the acid-green sky.
So your head became a tv hull,
a gargoyle mirror. Your doppelganger
sloppy at the mouth
and swollen at the joints
enacted your days in sinuous
slow motion, your lines delivered
with a mocking sneer. Sometimes
the frame froze, reversed, began
again: the red eyes of a friend
you cursed, your girl child cowered
behind the drapes, parents alive again
and puzzled by this new form. That’s why
you clawed your way back to this life.
Photo by Adele Cave on Unsplash

doubled mirrors


Doubled Mirrors
Kenneth Rexroth

It is the dark of the moon.
Late at night, the end of summer,
The autumn constellations
Glow in the arid heaven.
The air smells of cattle, hay,
And dust. In the old orchard
The pears are ripe. The trees
Have sprouted from old rootstocks
And the fruit is inedible.
As I pass them I hear something
Rustling and grunting and turn
My light into the branches.
Two raccoons with acrid pear
Juice and saliva drooling
From their mouths stare back at me,
Their eyes deep sponges of light.
They know me and do not run
Away. Coming up the road
Through the black oak shadows, I
See ahead of me, glinting
Everywhere from the dusty
Gravel, tiny points of cold
Blue light, like the sparkle of
Iron snow. I suspect what it is,
And kneel to see. Under each
Pebble and oak leaf is a
Spider, her eyes shining at
Me with my reflected light
Across immeasurable distance.
Photo by Pete Nuij on Unsplash

cottonmouth country


Cottonmouth Country
Louise Glück

Fish bones walked the waves off Hatteras. And there were other signs That Death wooed us, by water, wooed us By land: among the pines An uncurled cottonmouth that rolled on moss Reared in the polluted air. Birth, not death, is the hard loss. I know. I also left a skin there.

Photo by Meg Jerrard on Unsplash

field of flowers


Field of Flowers
Carlos Drummond de Andrade


Campo de Flores

Photo by Darlene Lu on Unsplash