Life has loveliness to sell,
All beautiful and splendid things,
Blue waves whitened on a cliff,
Soaring fire that sways and sings,
And children's faces looking up
Holding wonder in a cup.
Life has loveliness to sell,
Music like a curve of gold,
Scent of pine trees in the rain,
Eyes that love you, arms that hold,
And for your spirit's still delight,
Holy thoughts that star the night.
Spend all you have for loveliness,
Buy it and never count the cost;
For one white singing hour of peace
Count many a year of strife well lost,
And for a breath of ecstacy
Give all you have been, or could be.
I could string him back up the tree, if you’d like. Return his skin’s meaning to an easy distance, coal dust, blaze And Willie Brown him. You Love how the blood muddies the original, The way it makes a stage of my speechifying, this leeching Capital from his dying, Like an activist. I know
I’m not supposed to sing
Of his ringing Penetrability, some hole I open impose On the form—but all I see is bullets, bullets discerning him, As years ago it was rope. I could pull it tighter, finger each bullet deeper, If you’d like, an inch rougher, Far enough to where becomes that second heat, erotic.
I could use the erotic,
If you’d like, So ungarish, baring not too frank A mood, subtle so you need it.— Funny How some dark will move illicit if you close your eyes, The way, say, my black Pleasure is named too explicit for a page, but this menace I put in it is not.
I could yank and knot
The rope, if you’d like, him like a strange fragment In them trees, And the word “again” spelled out about his neck Would be the rope’s predicate till let wild, patterned and Fierce his moan. It is a tragedy. No. It is a sonnet, how I know Already how he ends,
But I could make him
Her, if you’d like, regender them till merely Canvas for your “empathy,” Soup for my mouth. Still, if I could but just get This blunt, Burnt lynched body up From on Out the pocket behind my eye
Masons, when they start upon a building, Are careful to test out the scaffolding;
Make sure that planks won’t slip at busy points, Secure all ladders, tighten bolted joints.
And yet all this comes down when the job’s done Showing off walls of sure and solid stone.
So if, my dear, there sometimes seem to be Old bridges breaking between you and me
Never fear. We may let the scaffolds fall Confident that we have built our wall.
For a while, I collected Nobel Laureates in literature ... ok, not collected the actual people or even their books, but their public appearances. It is something for which I will be forever indebted to Princeton. Mr. Heaney is one of them. Magical. And this poem is gorgeous.
This was after She had already asked if I would come visit her, had offered me a car, and acted like She could get me an intro to someone who is already my colleague.
I was telling someone else about my birthday trip to Nashville and the deer herd when She chirped, "When is your birthday?" both inserting herself, unwelcome, into the conversation and demonstrating how little She remembered about me. I looked at her quizzically and answered, "February 2nd."
"Oh, you are an Aquarian like me?" She said, big smile (I should say big fake smile).
I can't remember my exact reply, but I insinuated that She should know that. If we were friends once, She would know that. The only reason to try to rekindle a relationship is if we were friends once.
"My memory is so bad," She cooed, and did the head tilt to reinforce how cute She is. Barf emoji.
Why does anyone think that claiming to have a bad memory is somehow a get out of jail free card?
I don't have a bad memory. I remember with visual precision. Maybe it is just my curse. I remember in such a way that a song comes on, it will evoke the emotions as well as the actions I etched in my memory about a situation. I remember words, deeds, promises, and missteps (theirs and mine).
Who, however, wouldn't remember the woman who slept with everyone's boyfriends, especially the boyfriends of women She claimed to feel really close to?
There is more, but there is no need for more than that.
When I reminded a mutual friend just who She was, that friend said, "It was twenty five years ago," (true) and "She was nice to me, to us, this weekend."
She, had, in fact, rescued mutual friend's husband from the side of the road with a flat tire, and bought said husband a new tire for the car.
She throws money and attention.
I looked from mutual friend to her husband and said, "Be careful. That's how She does it."
I continued, "She ingratiates herself. Then goes for the partner."
Mutual friend's husband said, "I did get a vibe." I couldn't tell if he was kidding, and neither could his wife, so she said, "Really?" He only nodded in assent; I guess he wasn't kidding.
Even though She was with her husband at the time; it is no matter. She also dropped into at least one conversation that he was husband number four. Like everyone else, expendable, replaceable, just holding space until the next one came along, etc.
She asked, "Will you keep in touch?" [Note She had never given me any contact info and I had not offered any either.]
I looked at her, again hoping She could read my mind so I wouldn't
have to curse aloud at her. She did her head droop which I understood to
mean please. "Sure," I answered with my most tentative voice.
She could have the winning numbers to the lottery and I wouldn't take them from her.
Ghosts ~Kiki Petrosino After Anne Sexton
Some ghosts are my mothers
neither angry nor kind
their hair blooming from silk kerchiefs.
Not queens, but ghosts
who hum down the hall on their curved fins
sad as seahorses.
Not all ghosts are mothers.
I’ve counted them as I walk the beach.
Some are herons wearing the moonrise like lace.
Not lonely, but ghostly.
They stalk the low tide pools, flexing
their brassy beaks, their eyes.
But that isn’t all.
Some of my ghosts are planets.
Not bright. Not young.
Spiraling deep in the dusk of my body
as saucers or moons
pleased with their belts of colored dust
& hailing no others.
There is a deep well of pain, but it is like an old bruise. I only feel it when something pushes up against it. Really hard.
In the span of two days, I heard from three people who I care for deeply about the loss of a loved one. In each case, I knew the person who died, but not awfully well. I knew each well enough to mourn their loss to the universe, but not well enough to speak to their lives.
But the losses buffeted me anyway. Gently, at first, slow tears welled in my eyes and my heart was full of compassion for my friend who lost her mother, her father, her boyfriend.
Next the circumstances threatened to blow me over.
One is a mother whose funeral the daughter will not be able to attend lest she lose her ability to stay in this country. Damned GOP and their ridiculousness. The rage, the helplessness, the anguish I feel is only a small measure of what that daughter feels.
One is a daughter who has lost now both mother and father in the span of four months. She is in shock right now. She can believably say she is glad to not see either in pain. She is heartened that she and her sister did all that they could to bring their parents comfort in their last days. But the hard road of living in a world without those parents, whose strength and faith and love are measured by their daughters' lives, is just beginning. The first year is shock and rawness, but the blinding pain is waiting just around the corner. The second year will feel like the year of firsts - first Christmas without them, some milestone the grandparents did not get to see, and the need/yearning to have just one more talk about something with mom or dad. I know this road too well, so the pain feels fresh as if someone has just fiercely slapped me across the face.
One is a girlfriend (seems odd to call a grown woman that), a lover, a confidant who lost her love before they could really begin a life together. These circumstances are the ones that spring from my mouth first when I talk about these losses. In some way, they are the lesson: don't wait; live now; do what makes you happy; be with the person who brings you joy. It is remorseful grief, biting like the memory of tripping over something in public but not falling. It is deep and imperceptible to those around you, but it winds its way around your heart, threatening to squeeze the life out of it. This might be why one tries to grasp on to the lesson, cheerfully determined to not have to live this remorse again. But the deep loss of a loved one will not just rest in remorse, it will coil through her body, when she alone causing her body to writhe and her mind to seek oblivion.
I am unable to do more for these people than write them notes to say my heart aches with theirs.
But my grief is so close to the surface that my tears are for my losses and the anguish of grief as much as it is for theirs.
American Sonnet for My Past and Future Assassin ~Terrance Hayes
But there never was a black male hysteria
Breaking & entering wearing glee & sadness
And the light grazing my teeth with my lighter
To the night with the flame like a blade cutting
Me slack along the corridors with doors of offices
Orifices vomiting tears & fire with my two tongues
Loose & shooing under a high-top of language
In a layer of mischief so traumatized trauma
Delighted me beneath the tremendous
Stupendous horrendous undiscovered stars
Burning where I didn’t know how to live
My friends were all the wounded people
The black girls who held their own hands
Even the white boys who grew into assassins
You’re really faithful to your abusers, aren’t you? ~Samiya Bashir
love: first you pick up; then you lay down; then discard; then discard;
then discard. That’s love. Right? Did somebody say Dominoes? The
problem of a street game is you. You’re already doing it wrong. Doing it
wrong before you wake up. Before you walk up the street. Cross the
crowded corner. Case in point: When you reach the bones table, you stop.
Stare. Consider. Count. Think: This is a lovely afternoon for a
friendly game of dominoes! Call next. Figure they don’t hear. Call next
again. You call louder. You call in Spanish. Then you walk (again, with
the walking) into the bodega. Come out with four 40oz bottles. Suddenly
somebody hears. Suddenly the smell of holes burning pockets. Suddenly,
the game you watch ends. Like love. Right? Somebody?
In the evening, love returns,
Like a wand’rer ’cross the sea;
In the evening, love returns
With a violet for me;
In the evening, life’s a song,
And the fields are full of green;
All the stars are golden crowns,
And the eye of God is keen.
In the evening, sorrow dies
With the setting of the sun;
In the evening, joy begins,
When the course of mirth is done;
In the evening, kisses sweet
Droop upon the passion vine;
In the evening comes your voice:
“I am yours, and you are mine.”
Onliest man who lay hands on me. Pointer finger pad between my eyes.
Pinky knuckle cool on cheekbone. God of precision, blade at my throat,
for a half hour, you love me this way. Together we discover what I got
from my folks—widows peak, dandruff, hair growing fast in concentric
Claude, so damn beautiful, I can count on one hand the times I’ve
directly in your face, for fear I might never come back. You knower of
To get right I come to you. When I’m finna interview. When I’m finna
or party. When I must stunt, I come to you—
It is mostly you, but, not always. After all you gotta eat too.
So sometimes it’s Percival, face like stones, except when he’s smiling.
Sometimes it’s Junior who sings the whole time he lines up the crown.
No matter how soft my body or how many eyes find it and peel
when I walk in the shop in the chair, I am of them.
Not brother. Not sister. When he wields the razor and takes me
low it’s like when a woman gets close to the
mirror to slide the lipstick
on slow. Draws a line so perfect she
cuts her own self from the clay.
when did we become friends?
it happened so gradual i didn’t notice
maybe i had to get my run out first
take a big bite of the honky world and choke on it
maybe that’s what has to happen with some uppity youngsters
if it happens at all
the thought stark and irrevocable
of being here without you
beyond love, fear, regret or anger
into that realm children go
who want to care for/protect their parents
as if they could
and sometimes the lucky ones do
into the realm of making every moment
laughing as though laughter wards off death
each word given
received like spanish eight
treasure to bury within
against that shadow day
when it will be the only coin i possess
with which to buy peace of mind
We have encountered storms
Perfect in their drench and wreck
Each of us bears an ornament of grief
A ring, a notebook, a ticket torn, scar
It is how humans know their kind—
What is known as love, what can become
the heart’s food stored away for some future
Love remains a jewel in the hand, guarded
Shared fragments of earth & air drift & despair.
We ponder what patterns matter other than moons and tides:
musical beats—rumba or waltz or cha cha cha
cosmic waves like batons furiously twirling
colors proclaiming sparkle of darkness
as those we love begin to delight
in the stars embracing
praise poets and their pens ~JP Howard dedicated to my 30/30 crew
praise daily poems in my inbox
how they make me laugh in one stanza,
then break my heart the next
praise how poets hold onto our first loves,
and scent of mama, now gone
praise how we nurture our child self,
gently wrap her around stanzas,
baby girl is resilient
praise our spunk and our sadness,
let our writing heal
at home, at work, in cafés, even in the ICU
praise how we hold our memories up to light,
gentle and cupped in palm of hands
praise our rough and sexy poems,
sometimes that’s all we need
fiyah in the sheets
praise bebop and jazz
how my foot taps when i
speak your poems out loud
praise power of music and mama
who played Nancy Wilson all night long,
crying behind a closed door.
praise how i wrote a new poem this week,
while my sick child laid on my lap,
because everyone needs to heal, especially mamas.
Every time I open my mouth my teeth reveal
more than I mean to. I can’t stop tonguing them, my teeth.
Almost giddy to know they’re still there (my mother lost hers)
but I am embarrassed nonetheless that even they aren’t
pretty. Still, I did once like my voice, the way it moved
through the gap in my teeth like birdsong in the morning,
like the slow swirl of a creek at dusk. Just yesterday
a woman closed her eyes as I read aloud, and
said she wanted to sleep in the sound of it, my voice.
I can still sing some. Early cancer didn’t stop the compulsion
to sing but
there’s gravel now. An undercurrent
that also reveals me. Time and disaster. A heavy landslide
down the mountain. When you stopped speaking to me
what you really wanted was for me to stop speaking to you. To
stifle the sound of my voice. I know.
Didn’t want the quicksilver of it in your ear.
What does it mean
to silence another? It means I ruminate on the hit
of rain against the tin roof of childhood, how I could listen
all day until the water rusted its way in. And there I was
putting a pan over here and a pot over there to catch it.
When I rise up above the earth, And look down on the things that fetter me, I beat my wings upon the air, Or tranquil lie, Surge after surge of potent strength Like incense comes to me When I rise up above the earth And look down upon the things that fetter me.
The breaking dead leaves ’neath my feet A plaintive melody repeat, Recalling shattered hopes that lie As relics of a bygone sky.
Again I thread the mazy past, Back where the mounds are scattered fast— Oh! foolish tears, why do you start, To break of dead leaves in the heart?
I've Learned to Sing ~Georgia Douglas Johnson
I've learned to sing a song of hope, I've said goodbye to despair, I caught the note in a thrush's throat, I sang---and the world was fair! I've learned to sing a song of joy It bends the skies to me, The song of joy is the song of hope Grown to maturity.
I've learned to laugh away my tears As through the dark I go For love and laughter conquer fears My heart has come to know.
I've learned a song of happiness It is a song of love For love alone is happiness And happiness is love.
I am glad daylong for the gift of song, For time and change and sorrow; For the sunset wings and the world-end things Which hang on the edge of to-morrow. I am glad for my heart whose gates apart Are the entrance-place of wonders, Where dreams come in from the rush and din Like sheep from the rains and thunders.