They said to say goodnight
And not goodbye, unplugged
The TV when it rained. They hid
Money in mattresses
So to sleep on decisions.
Some of their children
Were not their children. Some
Of their parents had no birthdates.
They could sweat a cold out
Of you. They’d wake without
An alarm telling them to.
Even the short ones reached
Certain shelves. Even the skinny
Cooked animals too quick
To catch. And I don’t care
How ugly one of them arrived,
That one got married
To somebody fine. They fed
Families with change and wiped
Their kitchens clean.
Then another century came.
People like me forgot their names.
Jericho Brown (2015)
“Dried roses…” Were these from some walk
All those years ago? Were you the one
Was with me? Did we talk?
Who else had come along?
Memory can stand upright
Like an ordered row of stiff stems,
Dead echo of flowering heads,
Roses once white, pink and red.
Back of them the blackness,
Backdrop for all our lives,
The wonders we thought to remember
Still life, still life.
Robert Creeley (1999)
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)
All my life,
since I was ten,
I've been waiting
to be in
this hell here
all I've ever
Alice Notley (1982)
from Just Whistle: A Valentine
DUSTY APPLES IN A DUSTY KITCHEN. Ferns brushing their
fronds. Sound of water. Sloshing. Body atop an ice-cream parlor
chair. Finger tracing salt on the table. The body on its hinges.
Midafternoon hysterics. What does the body want. For God’s
sake? What a lousy situation. A good whipping. A night or two
in the pokey wouldn’t hurt. To meet another body coming
through the halm. Swinging its plums freely. Awhistling.
C.D. Wright (1993)
Learn a trade
to sit at desk
Lorine Niedecker (1964)
Imagine you wake up
with a second chance: The blue jay
hawks his pretty wares
and the oak still stands, spreading
glorious shade. If you don't look back,
the future never happens.
How good to rise in sunlight,
in the prodigal smell of biscuits—
eggs and sausage on the grill.
The whole sky is yours
to write on, blown open
to a blank page. Come on,
shake a leg! You'll never know
who's down there, frying those eggs,
if you don't get up and see.
Rita Dove (1999