song

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Song
Laura Kasischke

The floor of the brain, the roof
of the mouth, the locked
front door, the barn
burned down, a dog
tied to a tree, not howling, a dark
shed, an empty garage, a basement
in which a man might sip
his peace, in peace,
and a table
in a kitchen
at which
the nightingales feasted on fairy tales,
the angels stuffed themselves with fog

And a tiny room at the center of it all,
and a beautiful woman the size of a matchstick
singing the song that ruined my father:

his liver
his life

The kind of song a quiet man
might sing a silent house around.

Photo by Anne Nygård on Unsplash

50

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Fifty
Christian Wiman

“Renouncing kingship like a snot of phlegm”
I go out into the park. I have my death with me,
iron friend, and a few feather regrets
that one by one lift from me in the wind.
I have two daughters and one cloud, an old oak
and a great love, elected solitude, given sun.
There never was a now this golden one.

Photo by Simon Wilkes on Unsplash

the subject of retreat

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The Subject of Retreat
Yona Harvey

Your black coat is a door
in the storm. The snow
we don’t mention
clings to your boots & powders
& puffs. & poof. Goes.
Dust of the fallen. Right here
at home. The ache
of someone gone-missing. Walk it off
like a misspoken word.
Mound of snow. Closed door.
I could open it.

Or maybe just, you know—
brush it off.

Then what? The snow
on the other side. The sound
of what I know & your, no, inside it.

 

Photo by Yang Deng on Unsplash

on starting

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On Starting
Phil Kaye

Your ideas are fish
you are trying to catch
with your bare hands

only with a quiet mind
is the surface glassy enough
for you to plunge your arms below
hold on to
the squirming gift
wide-eyed & fat
stunned at its own reflection
as it inhales out of the water

 

portrait

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Portrait

Strong women
know the taste
of their own hatred
I must always be
building nests
in a windy place
I want the safety of oblique numbers
that do not include me
a beautiful woman
with ugly moments
secret and patient
as the amused and ponderous elephants
catering to Hannibal’s ambition
as they swayed on their own way
home.

Photo by Sreenivas on Unsplash

morning song

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Morning Song
Alan Dugan

Look, it’s morning, and a little water gurgles in the tap.
I wake up waiting, because it’s Sunday, and turn twice more
than usual in bed, before I rise to cereal and comic strips.
I have risen to the morning danger and feel proud,
and after shaving off the night’s disguises, after searching
close to the bone for blood, and finding only a little,
I shall walk out bravely into the daily accident.

popocatepetl

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Popocatepetl
Isaac Berliner

Popo—
laying stolid with a plumage of stone,
crying from your body, with a quiet scream,
are thousands of years.in the bluish dawn of rose,
the sun hides its whitish head
with rainbow stripes,
like a hair band.Winds—
hidden monsters in the gallop,
throwing themselves onto you, yelling as they pillage,
humming songs and whistling
from unknown lands.

what secrets,
stored in the passing of generations,
are hidden inside you?

what scars
stapled in blood,
are engraved in individual stones?

Carry me inside your body, Popo,
stone-like,
conveying
your mysteries in my silence.

Popo—
furtive hoary giant,
the sun throws you a ray
in the darkening moments of dusk,
enlightening you fully.

I see in you now
ancient generations gone,
their blood spilled
from your vertebral column.

What plethora of travelers wandered on your silvery skin?
Have you counted their steps?

At your knees
death announces its journey,
and on your back,
this frigid, whitish inscrutability
pours . . .

 

courage

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Courage
Anne Sexton

It is in the small things we see it.
The child’s first step,
as awesome as an earthquake.
The first time you rode a bike,
wallowing up the sidewalk.
The first spanking when your heart
went on a journey all alone.
When they called you crybaby
or poor or fatty or crazy
and made you into an alien,
you drank their acid
and concealed it.

Later,
if you faced the death of bombs and bullets
you did not do it with a banner,
you did it with only a hat to
cover your heart.
You did not fondle the weakness inside you
though it was there.
Your courage was a small coal
that you kept swallowing.
If your buddy saved you
and died himself in so doing,
then his courage was not courage,
it was love; love as simple as shaving soap.

Later,
if you have endured a great despair,
then you did it alone,
getting a transfusion from the fire,
picking the scabs off your heart,
then wringing it out like a sock.
Next, my kinsman, you powdered your sorrow,
you gave it a back rub
and then you covered it with a blanket
and after it had slept a while
it woke to the wings of the roses
and was transformed.

Later,
when you face old age and its natural conclusion
your courage will still be shown in the little ways,
each spring will be a sword you’ll sharpen,
those you love will live in a fever of love,
and you’ll bargain with the calendar
and at the last moment
when death opens the back door
you’ll put on your carpet slippers
and stride out.

Photo by Nick Nice on Unsplash