whose influences, we said,
made us passive and over-polite
whose relationships with our fathers
we derided at consciousness-raising groups
whose embroidered pillowcases still accuse us
on the shelves of our modern lives
they have become interesting old women
they are too busy to write often
they wish we wouldn't worry about them
they are firm about babysitting
they are turning out okay
Leona Gom (1986)
Ghosts of Spring
The ghost of Spring
clearing my throat
I make the first move
Joseph Ceravolo (1979)
Morning Love Poem
Dreamt last night I fed you, unknowingly,
something you were allergic to.
And you were gone, like that.
You don’t have even a single allergy,
but still. The dream cracked. Cars nose-dived
off snow banks into side streets. Sometimes
dreams slip poison, make the living
dead then alive again, twirling
in an unfamiliar room.
It’s hard to say I need you enough.
Today I did. Walked into your morning
shower fully clothed. All the moments
we stop ourselves just because we might
feel embarrassed or impractical, or get wet.
Tara Skurtu (2017)
Instant coffee with slightly sour cream
in it, and a phone call to the beyond
which doesn’t seem to be coming any nearer.
"Ah daddy, I wanna stay drunk many days"
on the poetry of a new friend
my life held precariously in the seeing
hands of others, their and my impossibilities.
Is this love, now that the first love
has finally died, where there were no impossibilities?
Frank O'Hara (1956)
None of us have felt good this year:
pus around the eyes,
sores that come and go with no explanation.
But we still believe we will come through it!
I signal this news
by lifting a little finger.
James Tate (1970)
On a scrap of paper in the archive is written
I have forgotten my umbrella. Turns out
in a pandemic everyone, not just the philosopher,
is without. We scramble in the drought of information
held back by inside traders. Drop by drop. Face
covering? No, yes. Social distancing? Six feet
under for underlying conditions. Black.
Just us and the blues kneeling on a neck
with the full weight of a man in blue.
Eight minutes and forty-six seconds.
In extremis, I can’t breathe gives way
to asphyxiation, to giving up this world,
and then mama, called to, a call
to protest, fire, glass, say their names, say
their names, white silence equals violence,
the violence of again, a militarized police
force teargassing, bullets ricochet, and civil
unrest taking it, burning it down. Whatever
contracts keep us social compel us now
to disorder the disorder. Peace. We’re out
to repair the future. There’s an umbrella
by the door, not for yesterday but for the weather
that’s here. I say weather but I mean
a form of governing that deals out death
and names it living. I say weather but I mean
a November that won’t be held off. This time
nothing, no one forgotten. We are here for the storm
that’s storming because what’s taken matters.
Claudia Rankine (2020)
Ha, This One's About Insomnia Too
My bed is a godless church
yet I still pray there every night.
Am I a fool? I can almost hear
other worshippers in their far-
off corners, the small breath
of their hands unclasping.
Ariel Francisco (2020)
At the California Institute of Technology
I don't care how God-damn smart
these guys are: I'm bored.
It’s been raining like hell all day long
and there’s nothing to do.
Richard Brautigan (1967)
(Written while poet-in-residence
at the California Institute of Technology)
If you suddenly and unexpectedly feel joy,
don’t hesitate. Give in to it. There are plenty
of lives and whole towns destroyed or about
to be. We are not wise, and not very often
kind. And much can never be redeemed.
Still, life has some possibility left. Perhaps this
is its way of fighting back, that sometimes
something happens better than all the riches
or power in the world. It could be anything,
but very likely you notice it in the instant
when love begins. Anyway, that’s often the
case. Anyway, whatever it is, don’t be afraid
of its plenty. Joy is not made to be a crumb.