different heights

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Each from Different Heights
Stephen Dunn
That time I thought I was in love
and calmly said so
was not much different from the time
I was truly in love
and slept poorly and spoke out loud
to the wall
and discovered the hidden genius
of my hands.
And the times I felt less in love,
less than someone,
were, to be honest, not so different
either.
Each was ridiculous in its own way
and each was tender, yes,
sometimes even the false is tender.
I am astounded
by the various kisses we’re capable of.
Each from different heights
diminished, which is simply the law.
And the big bruise
from the longer fall looked perfectly white
in a few years.
That astounded me most of all.

Photo by Kai Dahms on Unsplash

still-lived memory

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Cleave
David Whyte

To hold together and to split apart
at one and the same time,
like the shock of being born,
breathing in this world
while lamenting for the one we’ve left.

No one needs to tell us
we are already on our onward way,
no one has to remind us
of our everyday and intimate
embrace
with disappearance.

We were born saying goodbye
to what we love,
we were born
in a beautiful reluctance,
not quite ready
to breathe in this new world,
we are here and we are not,
we are present while still not
wanting to admit we have arrived.

Not quite arrived in our minds
yet always arriving in the body,
always growing older
while trying to grow younger,
always in the act
of catching up,
of saying hello
or saying goodbye
finding strangely,
in each new and imagined future
the still-lived memory
of a previous,
precious life.

Photo by chuttersnap on Unsplash

cause of death

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Cause of Death: Fox News
Tony Hoagland
Toward the end he sat on the back porch,
sweeping his binoculars back and forth
over the dry scrub-brush and arroyos,

certain he saw Mexicans
moving through the creosote and sage
while the TV commentators in the living room,

turned up loud enough for a deaf person to hear,
kept pouring gasoline on his anxiety and rage.

In the end he preferred to think about illegal aliens,
about welfare moms and healthcare socialists,
than about the uncomfortable sensation of the disease

crawling through his tunnels in the night,
crossing the river between his liver and his spleen.
It was just his luck

to be born in the historical period
that would eventually be known
as the twilight of the white male dinosaur,

feeling weaker and more swollen every day,
with the earth gradually looking more like hell
and a strange smell rising from the kitchen sink.

In the background those big male voices
went on and on, turning the old crank
about hard work and god, waving the flag

and whipping the dread into a froth.
Then one day my father had finished
his surveillance, or it had finished him,

and the cable-TV guy
showed up at the house apologetically
to take back the company equipment:

the complicated black box with the dangling cord,
and the gray rectangular remote control,
like a little coffin.

Photo by Kev Seto on Unsplash

november for beginners

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November for Beginners
Rita Dove
Snow would be the easy
way out—that softening
sky like a sigh of relief
at finally being allowed
to yield. No dice.
We stack twigs for burning
in glistening patches
but the rain won’t give.

So we wait, breeding
mood, making music
of decline. We sit down
in the smell of the past
and rise in a light
that is already leaving.
We ache in secret,
memorizing

a gloomy line
or two of German.
When spring comes
we promise to act
the fool. Pour,
rain! Sail, wind,
with your cargo of zithers!

Photo by Jessica Fadel on Unsplash

full-throttle foliage of november

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November
Maggie Dietz

Show’s over, folks. And didn’t October do
A bang-up job? Crisp breezes, full-throated cries
Of migrating geese, low-floating coral moon.

Nothing left but fool’s gold in the trees.
Did I love it enough, the full-throttle foliage,
While it lasted? Was I dazzled? The bees

Have up and quit their last-ditch flights of forage
And gone to shiver in their winter clusters.
Field mice hit the barns, big squirrels gorge

On busted chestnuts. A sky like hardened plaster
Hovers. The pasty river, its next of kin,
Coughs up reed grass fat as feather dusters.

Even the swarms of kids have given in
To winter’s big excuse, boxed-in allure:
TVs ricochet light behind pulled curtains.

The days throw up a closed sign around four.
The hapless customer who’d wanted something
Arrives to find lights out, a bolted door.

Photo by Gabriel Garcia Marengo on Unsplash

 

star block

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Star Block
Kay Ryan
There is no such thing
as star block.
We do not think of
locking out the light
of other galaxies.
It is light
so rinsed of impurities
(heat, for instance)
that it excites
no antibodies in us.
Yet people are
curiously soluble
in starlight.
Bathed in its
absence of insistence
their substance
loosens willingly,
their bright
designs dissolve.
Not proximity
but distance
burns us with love.

the sigh

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The Sigh
Ted Kooser
You lie in your bed and sigh
and the springs deep in the mattress
sing out with the same low note,
mocking your sadness. It’s hard––
not the mattress, but life.
Life is hard. All along
you thought you could trust in
your own bed, your own sorrow.
You thought you were sleeping alone.