ganymede

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Ganymede
Jericho Brown

A man trades his son for horses.
That’s the version I prefer. I like
The safety of it, no one at fault,
Everyone rewarded. God gets
The boy. The boy becomes
Immortal. His father rides until
Grief sounds as good as the gallop
Of an animal born to carry those
Who patrol and protect our inherited
Kingdom. When we look at myth
This way, nobody bothers saying
Rape. I mean, don’t you want God
To want you? Don’t you dream
Of someone with wings taking you
Up? And when the master comes
For our children, he smells
Like the men who own stables
In Heaven, that far terrain
Between Promise and Apology.
No one has to convince us.
The people of my country believe
We can’t be hurt if we can be bought.

 

those winter sundays

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Those Winter Sundays
Robert Hayden

Sundays too my father got up early
and put his clothes on in the blueblack cold,
then with cracked hands that ached
from labor in the weekday weather made
banked fires blaze. No one ever thanked him.
I’d wake and hear the cold splintering, breaking.
When the rooms were warm, he’d call,
and slowly I would rise and dress,
fearing the chronic angers of that house,
Speaking indifferently to him,
who had driven out the cold
and polished my good shoes as well.
What did I know, what did I know
of love’s austere and lonely offices?

evening song

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Evening Song
Jean Toomer

Full moon rising on the waters of my heart, 
Lakes and moon and fires, 
Cloine tires,
Holding her lips apart. 

Promises of slumber leaving shore to charm the moon, 
Miracle made vesper-keeps, 
Cloine sleeps, 
And I’ll be sleeping soon. 

Cloine, curled like the sleepy waters where the 
        moon-waves start, 
Radiant, resplendently she gleams, 
Cloine dreams, 
Lips pressed against my heart. 

mastercard

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I Take Master Card
(Charge Your Love to Me)
Nikki Giovanni
I’ve heard the stories
’bout how you don’t deserve me
’cause I’m so strong and beautiful and wonderful and you could
never live up to what you know I should have but I just want to let you know:I take Master Card

You can love me as much as your heart can stand
then put the rest on
account and pay the interest
each month until we get this thing settled You see we modern women do comprehend
that we deserve a whole lot more
than what is normally being offered but we are trying
to get aligned with the modern world

So baby you can love me all
you like ’cause you’re pre-approved
and you don’t have to sign on
the bottom line

Charge it up
’til we just can’t take no more
it’s the modern way

I take Master Card
to see your Visa
and I deal with a Discover but I don’t want any American
Express ’cause like the Pointer Sisters say:  I need a slow hand.

‘valentine of desire’

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Not Touching
Billy Collins
The valentine of desire is pasted over my heart
and still we are not touching, like things

in a poorly done still life
where the knife appears to be floating over the plate
which is itself hovering above the table somehow,

the entire arrangement of apple, pear, and wineglass
having forgotten the law of gravity,
refusing to be still,

as if the painter had caught them all
in a rare moment of slow flight
just before they drifted out of the room
through a window of perfectly realistic sunlight.

stake

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Stake
Jericho Brown

I am a they in most of America.
Someone feels lost in the forest 
Of we, so he can’t imagine
A single tree.  He can’t bear it.
A cross. A crucifixion.  Such
A Christian. All that wood
Headed his way in the fact
Of a man or a woman who
Might as well be a secret, so
Serious his need to see inside.
To cut down. To tell. How
Old will I get to be in a nation
That believes we can grow out
Of a grave? Can reach. Climb
High as the First State Bank.
Take a bullet. Break through
Concrete. The sidewalk.
The street someone crosses
When he sees wilderness where
He wanted his city. His cross-
Tie. His telephone pole.
Timber. Timbre. It’s an awful
Sound, and people pay to hear
It. People say bad things about
Me, though they don’t know
My name. I have a name. 
A stake. I settle. Dig. Die. 
Go underground. Tunnel
The ocean floor. Root. Shoot
Up like a thought someone
Planted. Someone planted
An idea of me. A lie. A lawn
Jockey. The myth of a wooded
Hamlet in America, a thicket,
Hell, a patch of sunlit grass
Where any one of us bursts into
One someone as whole as we.

to be in love

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To Be in Love
Gwendolyn Brooks

To be in love
Is to touch with a lighter hand.
In yourself you stretch, you are well.
You look at things
Through his eyes.
A cardinal is red.
A sky is blue.
Suddenly you know he knows too.
He is not there but
You know you are tasting together
The winter, or a light spring weather.
His hand to take your hand is overmuch.
Too much to bear.
You cannot look in his eyes
Because your pulse must not say
What must not be said.
When he
Shuts a door-
Is not there_
Your arms are water.
And you are free
With a ghastly freedom.
You are the beautiful half
Of a golden hurt.
You remember and covet his mouth
To touch, to whisper on.
Oh when to declare
Is certain Death!
Oh when to apprize
Is to mesmerize,
To see fall down, the Column of Gold,
Into the commonest ash.

sip

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Sip
Rudy Francisco

I take my compliments
the same way I take
my coffee.

I don’t drink coffee.

The last time I did,
it seared my entire mouth
and I couldn’t taste
anything for three days.

I’m still learning how to
let endearment sit until
it’s ready to be consumed,

hold it to my lips
and sip slowly.

separation

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Separation
Audre Lorde

The stars dwindle
and will not reward me
even in triumph.

It is possible
to shoot a man
in self defense
and still notice
how his red blood
decorates the snow.