Dusty lemons

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Dusty Lemons

Maja Lukic

I was as blank today as you can
imagine, lost the way to circle back
to the beginning or even last summer.
I remember those days we wore matching
lemon flower dresses. I remember the
morbid anatomy of lemons and suburban
front yards. We posed for photographs
in our lemon dresses. We were little girls
on film, locked in a disposable camera—
they couldn’t shake us out—our 90s
faces came into view, pale as a circle
of dead peonies floating in ice water.

Today I’ve positioned myself against
starting but against stopping too.
Days and days repeat in superfluous
museums of routine. September slowly
becomes the sun behind dusty squares
of autumn glass. The wind carries rarities
with scissors and thin and remote streets
hold adjacent together like masked sisters,
existing for no reason other than
remembering minerals and footsteps
and how light once was on my face.

A story I’ve heard before—when my
mother was little, she lived in a house
of women on a lane of cherry trees.
She was a lemon and held one in her
open palm. They were poor, the lemons
were expensive. Devoured in secret,
she was punished for eating it
but loved the bitter wave across
her mouth, a dusty lemon.

This morning, fall bloomed and summer
died all at once like a person shedding
blonde hair faster than anyone predicted,
but as blank as you could imagine. Roses
crumbled to the sky and I remembered
we lived in a cottage of roses once—
there were wrong ways to hold a rose
so I learned by pain to be correct.
Lemons were luxury, and it was
wartime everywhere and elsewhere,
but I lived in a deathless garden
of flowers and infinite spring.

Rare to feel something other than
autumn, a nonspecific blankness.
Can you imagine? I carry lemon acid
with me, scrape a serrated knife across
the back of my hand, squeeze lemon
over it. Still remembering those thorns
on which I ripped my child skin,
I rip & rip again.

they say

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They Say
Laura Kasischke

one-twelfth of our lives is wasted
standing in a line.

The sacred path of that.

Ahead of me, a man in black, his broad back.
Behind me, a woman like me
unwinding her white veils.

And beyond us all, the ticket-taker, or the old
lady with our change, or

the officials with our food, our stamps, our unsigned papers, our
gas masks, our inoculations.

It hasn’t happened yet.
It hasn’t begun or ended.
It hasn’t granted us its bliss
or exploded in our faces.
The baby watches the ceiling from its cradle.
The cat stares at the crack in the foundation.
The grandfather flies the sick child’s kite higher
and higher. I set

my husband’s silverware on the table.

I place a napkin beside
my son’s plate.

Soon enough,
but not tonight.
Ahead of us, that man’s black back.
Behind us, her white veils.

Ahead of us, the nakedness, the gate.

Behind us, the serene errand-boy, the cigarette, the wink-and-nod, the waiting.

Beyond that, too late.

Photo by Adrien Delforge on Unsplash

drowning another

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Drowning Another Peasant Inquisition
Andrei Codrescu

Jealousy runs only skin deep.
Underneath lies the joy of not possessing.
Thus spoke the sage caressing
his one and only claim to love

as all were seated, thinking.

Between friends silence is your best bet,
he continued.
O oneness of bodies firmly planted breasts
and proudly set cocks

as on the streets, the rest
are pulled along by long streaks of bad luck

of which we know the reason.
The many windows framed in yellow light
are pulled together making
mind structures, more mind chains
around the masses, falling through the season.

One day to see
One day you will be free

That day you come and see me
That day you see me, hear

Photo by John-Mark Smith on Unsplash

sonnet on fidelity

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Sonnet on Fidelity

Vinícius de Moraes

Above all, to my love I’ll be attentive
First and always, with care and so much
That even when facing the greatest enchantment
By love be more enchanted my thoughts.I want to live it through in each vain moment
And in its honor I’ll spread my song
And laugh my laughter and cry my tears
When you are sad or when you are content.And thus, when later comes looking for me
Who knows, the death, anxiety of the living,
Who knows, the loneliness, end of all lovers

I’ll be able to say to myself of the love (I had):
Be not immortal, since it is flame
But be infinite while it lasts.

Translation

Sonêto de fidelidade

De tudo, ao meu amor serei atento
Antes, e com tal zelo, e sempre, e tanto
Que mesmo em face do maior encanto
Dele se encante mais meu pensamento.

Quero vivê-lo em cada vão momento
E em louvor hei de espalhar meu canto
E rir meu riso e derramar meu pranto
Ao seu pesar ou seu contentamento.

E assim, quando mais tarde me procure
Quem sabe a morte, angústia de quem vive
Quem sabe a solidão, fim de quem ama

Eu possa me dizer do amor (que tive):
Que não seja imortal, posto que é chama
Mas que seja infinito enquanto dure.

Photo by Kelly Sikkema on Unsplash

many movements

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A Song for Many Movements

Nobody wants to die on the way
and caught between ghosts of whiteness
and the real water
none of us wanted to leave
our bones
on the way to salvation
three planets to the left
a century of light years ago
our spices are separate and particular
but our skins sing in complementary keys
at a quarter to eight mean time
we were telling the same stories
over and over and over.

Broken down gods survive
in the crevasses and mudpots
of every beleaguered city
where it is obvious
there are too many bodies
to cart to the ovens
or gallows
and our uses have become
more important than our silence
after the fall
too many empty cases
of blood to bury or burn
there will be no body left
to listen
and our labor
has become more important
than our silence

Our labor has become
more important
than our silence.

Photo by Scott Umstattd on Unsplash

i don’t miss it

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I Don’t Miss It

Tracy K. Smith

But sometimes I forget where I am,
Imagine myself inside that life again.
Recalcitrant mornings. Sun perhaps,
Or more likely colorless light
Filtering its way through shapeless cloud.
And when I begin to believe I haven’t left,
The rest comes back. Our couch. My smoke
Climbing the walls while the hours fall.
Straining against the noise of traffic, music,
Anything alive, to catch your key in the door.
And that scamper of feeling in my chest,
As if the day, the night, wherever it is
I am by then, has been only a whir
Of something other than waiting.
We hear so much about what love feels like.
Right now, today, with the rain outside,
And leaves that want as much as I do to believe
In May, in seasons that come when called,
It’s impossible not to want
To walk into the next room and let you
Run your hands down the sides of my legs,
Knowing perfectly well what they know.

story of my death

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Story of My Death

Leopoldo Lugones

I dreamed of death and it was quite simple:
a silk thread enwrapped me,
and each kiss of yours
with a turn unraveled me.
And each of your kisses
was a day;
and the time between two kisses,
a night. Death is quite simple.
And little by little the fatal thread
unwrapped itself. I no longer controlled it
but for a single bit between my fingers . . .
Then, suddenly, you became cold,
and no longer kissed me . . .
I let the thread go, and my life vanished.

Translation

Historia de mi muerte

Soñé la muerte y era muy sencillo;
una hebra de seda me envolvía,
y a cada beso tuyo,
con una vuelta menos me ceñía
y cada beso tuyo
era un día;
y el tiempo que mediaba entre dos besos
una noche. La muerte era muy sencilla.

Y poco a poco fue desenvolviéndose
la hebra fatal. Ya no la retenía
sino por solo un cabo entre los dedos…
Cuando de pronto te pusiste fría
y ya no me besaste…
y solté el cabo, y se me fue la vida.

Photo by amirali mirhashemian on Unsplash

on virtue

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On Virtue

Phillis Wheatley

O thou bright jewel in my aim I strive
To comprehend thee. Thine own words declare
Wisdom is higher than a fool can reach.
I cease to wonder, and no more attempt
Thine height t’explore, or fathom thy profound.
But, O my soul, sink not into despair,
Virtue is near thee, and with gentle hand
Would now embrace thee, hovers o’er thine head.
Fain would the heaven-born soul with her converse,
Then seek, then court her for her promised bliss.
Auspicious queen, thine heavenly pinions spread,
And lead celestial Chastity along;
Lo! now her sacred retinue descends,
Arrayed in glory from the orbs above.
Attend me, Virtue, thro’ my youthful years!
O leave me not to the false joys of time!
But guide my steps to endless life and bliss.
Greatness, or Goodness, say what I shall call thee,
To give an higher appellation still,
Teach me a better strain, a nobler lay,
O Thou, enthroned with Cherubs in the realms of day!

the attempted rescue

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The Attempted Rescue
Alan Dugan

I came out on the wrong
side of time and saw
the rescue party leave.
“How long must we wait?”
I said. “Forever. You
are too far gone to save,
too dangerous to carry off
the precipice, and frozen stiff
besides. So long. You
can have our brandy. That’s life.”