silk

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Silk
Jacqui Germain
On this night, my body
unwound like a spool.
I was beneath a boy
who loved thread for all the things
he could make of it.

Tonight, I am smooth and pliable
like good silk before a snag.
I am a metaphor for anything
beautiful and ruinable when it
hooks on to sharp things.

He lays his full weight
on my torso and I am a leaf
pressed still onto the mattress,
pressed small and flat by something living
for the purpose of study.

I am not sad about this.
It’s here that I can feel all my edges,
visualize my outline best
against a hungry white backdrop.
I am not sad about this.

I am dry despite the spit
and I am dry despite the fire hydrant
opening along the sidewalk of my spine,
giving my dancing vertebrae reprieve
in such repressive heat.

Beneath the grunting face
of the simplest kind of sex,
when two people want things
that are not each other, so settle
for a drive-thru buffet of each other’s lips –

It’s okay. I am dry and sort of shiny
but dull on the other side
like good silk.

//

I don’t really remember the snagging
but at some point he stops
and looks down at our axis
to find blood.

I gave him a fake name
when we met, so I feel like
maybe the red is someone else’s
admission of guilt, a red slap

on my ass that melted into shame,
a kiss so hard and hungry
it poured its color onto the sheets

or maybe the fire hydrant’s water

ran out of blue and started
spraying out its own red self
from my opening that pretended
itself an altar, though it is not.

There’s blood, he said
and I am suddenly shooting with pain.
I have been so careful with my dry,
I forgot that water is needed here

so my body offers blood.
He finishes, and there are loose runs
all over my pillowcase,
a trail of pulled silk and ruin.

Photo by S L on Unsplash

sudden smells, sudden songs

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Sudden Smells, Sudden Songs
Alberto Ríos
Where does it all come from,
The sap of strangeness inside us,

The sudden flow of feeling — I love that song!
That lighter blood, that second breath,

That something where in the darkness
A knob is turned.

Who are we then? In that moment
We are not who we were a second ago:

A quick smell of rosemary changes us, that fast.
We stand up, familiar to ourselves,

Then sit down strangers. We are
Two people. Maybe more.

to netanyahu

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To Netanyahu
Naomi Shihab Nye
My Palestinian father named his donkey after you.
Yahu—everyone thought it was for the Internet,
but he knew. Now I think he insulted the donkey.

.

The donkey was friends with a horse, in a field.
They didn’t have much, but they shared it.
Pink flowers in spring—neither of them
tried to rule the field.

.

Your army just bombed a U.N. center for refugees.
Gaza, imprisoned in poverty for decades—
take that! More blood for supper.

.

Years since my father died,
his donkey still stands quietly
gazing from enormous eyes,
hanging his humble head.

Photo by TS Sergey on Unsplash

riddle

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Riddle
Vicki Feaver
Without you, I prefer the nights:
the darkness inside me

like the darkness around. All day
I am alone with my emptiness:

a white space, with nothing to feed it
but light and shadow.

My claw feet can’t follow you.
I have no voice to call you.

I only know you are near by scents-
orange oil, or lavender – and by a heat

that creeps up my cold skin
and tells me I will feel again

the weight of your body. You have no idea
how wonderful it is to hold you,

to have you lie so still, so happy.
When you move, I hear a whoosh

and you touch me in so many places
I’m trembling and tingling.

It’s spoiled by fear of your going.
Sometimes, I pretend I’m a cradle

for you to sleep in – but you always wake;
or a womb – but you still escape,

leaping out and leaving me.
So next time you come, I’ll be a coffin

filled with chilling water
in which you will stay for ever.

beg for it

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Now
Nick Flynn

Tomorrow,
or the day after, I’ll press my

mouth to your scar & run
my tongue along it

so I can taste how you were once
opened, so I can know where

you never closed. Each

scar’s a door, we know
that—I want to whisper into

yours, I want my hands

to hover over it, I want you
to whisper please

I want you (please please please)
to beg for it.

coda

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Coda
Daniel Simko
All night you have been tearing maps in your sleep.
Your autobiography.

The crows rowing overhead are too silent to be crows.
The sky shows its overbite.

It must be raining.
There is no place to go but home.

Photo by Kasturi Roy on Unsplash

invisible horse

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My Invisible Horse and the Speed of Human Decency
Matthew Olzmann

People always tell me, “Don’t put the cart
before the horse,” which is curious
because I don’t have a horse.
Is this some new advancement in public shaming—
repeatedly drawing one’s attention
to that which one is currently not, and never
has been, in possession of?
If ever, I happen to obtain a Clydesdale,
then I’ll align, absolutely, it to its proper position
in relation to the cart, but I can’t
do that because all I have is the cart. 
One solitary cart—a little grief wagon that goes
precisely nowhere—along with, apparently, one
invisible horse, which does not pull,
does not haul, does not in any fashion
budge, impel or tow my disaster buggy
up the hill or down the road.
I’m not asking for much.  A more tender world
with less hatred strutting the streets.
Perhaps a downtick in state-sanctioned violence
against civilians.  Wind through the trees.
Water under the bridge. Kindness.
LOL, says the world. These things take time, says
the Office of Disappointment. Change cannot
be rushed, says the roundtable of my smartest friends.
Then, together, they say, The cart!
They say, The horse!
They say, Haven’t we told you already?
So my invisible horse remains
standing where it previously stood:
between hotdog stands and hallelujahs,
between the Nasdaq and the moon’s adumbral visage,
between the status quo and The Great Filter,
and I can see that it’s not his fault—being
invisible and not existing—
how he’s the product of both my imagination
and society’s failure of imagination.
Watch how I press my hand against his translucent flank.
How I hold two sugar cubes to his hypothetical mouth.
How I say I want to believe in him,
speaking softly into his missing ear.

Image – E Wolfe, 2018

effervescent unarticulated

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Newly Married
David Whyte
Awake at midnight
in the darkened
house,
I look up
at the full, bright
white circle
of the moon
and walk aglow
in the pale light,
the frost outside
a perfect reflected
snow of whiteness
edging
my lifted hands,
against the spreading
night, my pointed finger
following, through
a window pane,
a single glittering
star adrift
in a vault
of the black sky,
while around me
the moonlight
paints every single wall
a shade
of silvered white,
outlining
the dark, moving center
of the silhouette
I call a self.

In a life defined
by difficult
passages
I am that
rare tidal
hardly ever
experienced thing,
a walking
glowing, undefined
lamp of anticipatory
happiness, looking
over the roof tops
of an unsuspecting world,
a disturbing
effervescent unarticulated
someone who has
promised something
he has promised
to reflect on
and live through
and come to understand.

Beneath the covers
I hear her
silent breathing
like an unspoken
vow to the luminous
circle of all the seasons,
to the coming and going
of breath and memory,
to the spring before
we knew each other,
to the end of the moist
Irish summer
when we first had met,
and then to that
Italian October
still living in our cells,
when we walked
in Florence
among the
falling leaves.

One thing
I have learned.

How difficult
it is to die
from my disbelief
and kneel
down
to the truer
underlying
font of happiness
waiting to break
the enclosing surface,
to believe
in my body that
I deserve
the full spacious
sense of
not being
thirsty anymore,
of living
a present
contentment.

But this spacious
season,
this cold winter night,
following a mid-winter
wedding,
under the pale white
moon
or the frosted sun,
I am strangely
in the midst
of this happiness,
full of memories
of past happiness,
as if I could hold
each epoch
in my
hands again.

I am full
of clear forgiveness
to what clouded
that happiness
and I am careful
and alert to what
is needed to
keep our present
joy.

I am a groom
to the possibility
my vows expressed
and my hands
and my arms
and my speech
and my thoughts
are shaped
to the care
of that possibility.

She sleeps
and I walk
under the moon
close to her
breath and her body,
not wanting
to wake her,
wanting to wake
and reach for
her sleeping hand
under the covers
to feel that slowly
curling palm
in mine telling me
this happiness is
unutterably ancient,
living at a rested
eternal center
where I have allowed
myself
to come to ground,
and fall,
all at the same time,
which is after all
not only
a foundation
and a falling toward
the other,
but toward
a shared future
never experienced
before,
to become real
on both the inside
and the outside
in the company of another
and I realize
as I take her hand
under the moonlight,
that I have been
newly
married all my life,
courting the
morning
hours since
childhood,
down on my knees
to the possibilities
of the day,
alert, in the ferry line
off the island,
to every
pilgrim possibility
of travel,
committed fully
to the next view
along the road,
to the beckoning
horizon
of everything
that appears
and disappears,
like the
miracle touch
of this palm in mine,
so physical,
so real,
this frosted
silver
evanescent night
amidst
all the
grievous
vanishing.

I want to open
the doors
to the garden
and stride out
into the quiet
neighborhood,
knocking on doors
and waking everyone
from their own quiet
romance with sleep,
shouting,
I am a man
in
love with
possibility,
and most
especially,
most intimately
most surprisingly,
as they stand
there in their
pyjamed
surprised,
wondering
at their
previously sane
neighbor
now pointing
at the
frosted upstairs
windows
of our nearby house,
with that one particular
form of possibility
sleeping so quietly,
so unsuspectingly,
so companionably,
so warmly
beneath
the moonlit sheets.

Photo by chuttersnap on Unsplash