every day

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Every Day
Ingeborg Bachmann

War is no longer declared,
only continued. The monstrous
has become everyday. The hero
stays away from battle. The weak
have gone to the front.
The uniform of the day is patience,
its medal the pitiful star of hope above the heart.

The medal is awarded
when nothing more happens,
when the artillery falls silent,
when the enemy has grown invisible
and the shadow of eternal armament
covers the sky.

It is awarded
for desertion of the flag,
for bravery in the face of friends,
for the betrayal of unworthy secrets
and the disregard
of every command.

Original

Alle Tage

Der Krieg wird nicht mehr erklärt,
sondern fortgesetzt. Das Unerhörte
ist alltäglich geworden. Der Held
bleibt den Kämpfen fern. Der Schwache
ist in die Feuerzonen gerückt.
Die Uniform des Tages ist die Geduld,
die Auszeichnung der armselige Stern
der Hoffnung über dem Herzen.

Er wird verliehen,
wenn nichts mehr geschieht,
wenn das Trommelfeuer verstummt,
wenn der Feind unsichtbar geworden ist
und der Schatten ewiger Rüstung
den Himmel bedeckt.

Er wird verliehen
für die Flucht von den Fahnen,
für die Tapferkeit vor dem Freund,
für den Verrat unwürdiger Geheimnisse
und die Nichtachtung
jeglichen Befehls.

fixed

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Idée Fixe
Catherine Barnett

No woman wants to be low-hanging fruit,
my glamorous girlfriend says, but I’m indiscriminate
and love all fruit, I’m tempted to list each kind
right here, in and out of season,
because even just saying the names gives me pleasure,
as does saying your name.
I’m not alone with my passion — my whole family,
we’re a little off in this regard,
we can spend hours talking about cantaloupe
or arguing over how many flats to buy
when it’s Peach-O-Rama at the Metropolitan.
Once I even drove half a day to get to Pence Orchards
where I met and took photos of Bert Pence,
who sold me three boxes of peaches at wholesale prices.
He was so good to me, as was the late-summer freestone
I picked as I walked back through the orchard
in the August heat to the entrance gates,
which were nothing like the Gates of Hell.
On the contrary, I was in heaven there in Yakima.
I can still smell that single peach, which was profusely
low-hanging, it was the definition of low-hanging,
it fell into my hands, as you did —
or perhaps as I did into yours —
but that was months ago.
When I walked past the stands yesterday,
on what should have been the first day of spring,
all produce had been covered with heavy blankets
to keep it warm, to mitigate harm.
Today the temperature dropped so low
someone thought to remove the fruit entirely and stash it away.
With this strange weather we’re having, will I see you again?
I can’t help myself.

confessional

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Confessional
Nick Flynn

I admit you haven’t heard from me
in a while. In me there’s a little liar.
And a little thief. And a little whore.
Forgive me—while writing these words
I was lost in a trance . . . the sky wild
blue, fruit trees jeweled with ice
. . . if not

for what I’d promised, I wouldn’t be here
at all. You were with me when I found that
box in the basement—opening it was like
entering a room & having (at last!) someone else
breathe for me. No one, as you know,
sets out to lose their mind. This poem began
as a secret—not from you, I didn’t know you

then. Now, it wears its shame like a halo.
Please, take it, rip it up, put it in your glass.
We can watch it dissolve.

Photo by Macu ic on Unsplash

new moon

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New Moon
Ted Kooser

How much it must bear on its back,
a great ball of blue shadow,
yet somehow it shines, keeps up
an appearance. For hours tonight,
I walked beneath it, learning.
I want to be better at carrying sorrow.
If my face is a mask, formed over
the shadows that fill me,
may I smile on the world like the moon.

Photo by Dean Hayton on Unsplash

my wisdom

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My Wisdom
Naomi Shihab Nye

When people have a lot
they want more
When people have nothing
they will happily share it
*
Some people say
never getting your way
builds character
By now our character must be
deep and wide as a continent
Africa, Australia
giant cascade of stars
spilling over our huge night
*
Where did the power go?
Did it enjoy its break?
Is power exhausted?
What is real power?
Who really has power?
Did the generator break?
Do we imagine silence
more powerful because
it might contain everything?
Quiet always lives
inside noise.
But does it get much done?
*
Silence waits
for truth to break it
*
Calendars can weep too
They want us to have better days
*
Welcome to every minute
Feel lucky you’re still in it
*
No bird builds a wall
*
Sky purse
     jingling
           change
*
Won’t give up
our hopes
            for anything!
*
Not your fault
You didn’t make the world
*
How dare this go on and on?
cried the person who believed in praying
God willing     God willing        God willing
There were others who prayed
   to ruins & stumps
*
Open palms
     hold more
*
Refuse to give
   mistakes
      too much power
*
Annoying person?
Person who told me to stay home
and do what other girls do?
If you disappeared
I still might miss you
*
Babies want to help us
They laugh
for no reason
*
Pay close attention to
a drop of water
on the kitchen table
*
You cannot say one word about religion
and exclude Ahmad

 

geodes

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Geodes
Jared Carter

They are useless, there is nothing
to be done with them, no reason, only

the finding: letting myself down holding
to ironwood and the dry bristle of roots

into the creekbed, into clear water shelved
below the outcroppings, where crawdads spurt

through silt; clawing them out of clay, scrubbing
away the sand, setting them in a shaft of light

to dry. Sweat clings in the cliff’s downdraft.
I take each one up like a safecracker listening

for the lapse within, the moment crystal turns
on crystal. It is all waiting there in darkness.

I want to know only that things gather themselves
with great patience, that they do this forever.