Mothers by Nikki Giovanni
the last time i was home to see my mother we kissed exchanged pleasantries and unpleasantries pulled a warm comforting silence around us and read separate books
i remember the first time i consciously saw her we were living in a three room apartment on burns avenue
mommy always sat in the dark i don't know how i knew that but she did
that night i stumbled into the kitchen maybe because i've always been a night person or perhaps because i had wet the bed she was sitting on a chair the room was bathed in moonlight diffused through tiny window panes she may have been smoking but maybe not her hair was three-quarters her height which made me a strong believer in the samson myth and very black
i'm sure i just hung there by the door i remember thinking: what a beautiful lady she was very deliberately waiting perhaps for my father to come home from his night job or maybe for a dream that had promised to come by "come here" she said "i'll teach you a poem: i see the moon the moon sees me god bless the moon and god bless me" i taught that to my son who recited it for her just to say we must learn to bear the pleasures as we have borne the pains
People-Shaped Universes by Nikita Gill
Someone once told me, We are the universe expressing itself as a human for a while.
It makes me think of every person I meet as their own little universe,
each with their own planets of thoughts and solar systems of dreams and galaxies of emotions in their bloodstreams.
People are so much bigger on the inside than they seem on the outside.
Imagine a whole world of universes constantly bumping into each other,
listening and learning, and sometimes, just sometimes,
building a perishable forever together.
Hearing Impairment by Les Murray
Hearing loss? Yes, loss is what we hear who are starting to go deaf. Loss trails a lot of weird puns in its wake, viz. Dad's a real prism of the Left— you'd like me to repeat that? THE SAD SURREALISM OF THE DEAF.
It's mind over mutter at work guessing half what the munglers are saying and society's worse. Punchlines elude to you as Henry Lawson and other touchy drinkers have claimed. Asides, too, go pasture. It's particularly nasty with a wether.
First you crane at people, face them while you can still face them. But grudgually you give up dinnier parties; you begin to think about Beethoven; you Hanover next visit here on silly Narda Fearing—I SAY YOU CAN HAVE AN EXQUISITE EAR AND STILL BE HARD OF HEARING.
It seems to be mainly speech, at first, that escapes you—and that can be a rest, the poor man's escape itch from Babel. You can still hear a duck way upriver, a lorry miles off on the highway. You can still say boo to a goose and read its curt yellow-lipped reply. You can shout SING UP to a magpie,
but one day soon you must feel the silent stopwatch chill your ear in the doctor's rooms, and be wired back into a slightly thinned world with a faint plastic undertone to it and, if the rumours are true, snatches of static, music, police transmissions: it's a BARF minor Car Fourteen prospect.
But maybe hearing aids are now perfect and maybe it's not all that soon. Sweet nothings in your ear are still sweet; you've heard the human range by your age and can follow most talk from memory; the peace of the graveyard's well up on that of the grave. And the world would enjoy peace and birdsong for more moments
if you were head of government, enquiring of an aide Why, Simpkins, do you tell me a warrior is a ready flirt? I might argue—and flowers keep blooming as he swallows his larynx to shriek our common mind-overloading sentence: I'M SORRY, SIR, IT'S A RED ALERT!
I Live in the Woods of My Words by Hannah Emerson
I live in the branches of the trees. I live in the great keeping freedom of the really helpful down yearning in the grown of the forest floor. The words fall from the sky like snow on this day. They become the floor of the forest. The ground from which all things grow into the towards. It is great great dream of life try to dream. I live in each letter that is where you will find me. They have been given to us as keys to the great breathing hope of life. I always wanted to live there but couldn't live there until the poetry gave me life of words.
Peripheral by Hannah Emerson
Yes I prefer the peripheral because it limits the vision.
It does focus my attention. Direct looking just is too
much killing of the moment. Looking oblique littles
the moment into many helpful moments.
Moment moment moment moment keep in the moment.
Freedom of Speech (what the head-of-school told me) by Naomi Shihab Nye
We would appreciate if you would not
(you know in this strange climate taking into account problems we have had misunderstandings angry parents insults Facebook postings teachers being fired demonstrations floods)
mention the president
Moon Over Gaza by Naomi Shihab Nye
I am lonely for my friends. They liked me, trusted my coming. I think they looked up at me more than other people do.
I who have been staring down so long see no reason for the sorrows humans make. I dislike the scuffle of bombs blasting very much. It blocks my view.
A landscape of grieving feels different afterwards. Different sheen from a simple desert, rubble of walls, silent children who once said my name like a prayer.
Sometimes I am bigger than a golden plate, a giant coin, and everyone gasps.
Maybe it is wrong that I am so calm.
Born by Lee Herrick
I was born in an ocean of poor magic near a songwriter with stories
but no maps, strung out on local wine and rice.
I was born because the magic and the birds were certain they'd seen me before.
There were no gasps or hands clapping nor arias or sobs. I was there
on the grass, a full head of black hair, eyes that asked, will you say a little more
a curiosity that became desire, then death, then desire again.
Runaway Child by Ada Limón
The ocean was two things once, in two places, north it was the high
icy waves of Bodega Bay, Dillon, and Limantour, and south it was the blue ease
of Oceanside and Encinitas, umbrellas in a sleepy breeze.
It took me years to realize those two blues were the same ocean.
I thought they must be separate. Must be cleaved in the center by a fault line.
On a call just now with my grandmother she mentions how all the flowers
I've sent are from my garden, so I let her believe it. Sweet lies of the mind.
She says she's surprised I like to grow things, didn't think
I was that kind of girl, she always thought I was a runaway child.
She flicks her hand away, to show me her hand becoming a bird, swerving
until it is a white gull in the wind. She repeats: a runaway child.
Mercy is not frozen in time, but flits about frantically, unsure where to land.
As children, they'd bring us to the ocean, divorce distraction and summer,
we'd drift with the tide southward until we'd almost lose sight of them,
waving dramatically for our return, shouting until we came back to the shore.
Once, when she was watching us, I tried to run away, four or five years old,
and when I got to the end of the driveway, she didn't try to stop me. Even shut the door.
And so I came back. She knew what it was to be unloved, abandoned by her mother,
riding her bike by her father's house with his other children, late afternoons,
before her grandmother would call her home for supper. Some days, I think
she would have let me leave, some days I think of her shaking on the shore.
Now, she thinks all the flowers I've sent are from my garden. Grown
from seeds and tended. She gets a kick out of it, this runaway child
so overly loved, she could dare to drift away from it all.
Panic Attack by Les Murray
The body had a nightmare. Awake. No need of the movie.
No need of light, to keep hips and shoulders rotating in bed on the gimbals of wet eyes.
Pounding heart, chest pains— should it be the right arm hurting?
The brain was a void or a blasted-out chamber— shreds of speech in there, shatters of lust and prayer.
No one can face their heart or turn their back on it.
Bowel stumbled to bowl, emptied, and emptied again till the gut was a train crawling in its own tunnel,
slowly dragging the nightmare down with it, below heart level. You would not have died
the fear had been too great but: to miss the ambulance moment—
Relax. In time, your hourglass will be reversed again.
If I Should Fail by Ada Limón
The ivy eating the fence line, each tendril multiplying by green tendril, if I should fail the seeds lifted out and devoured by bristled marauders, blame only me and the strip of sun which bade me come to lie down snakelike on my belly, low snake energy, and be tempted by the crevices between the world and not world, if I should fail know I stared long into fractures and it seemed to me a mighty system of gaps one could slither into and I was made whole in that knowledge of a sleek nothingness.
Testimony by Lee Herrick
I heard the American poet groan like his farmworker mother bent into California's central question like a rake or a comma or a death that was not a death but a rising fire or a shotgun in a wheat field.
I heard the father say to himself to hell with it before he wrote a seven page manifesto on the crimes of lemon trees whose leaves become little whispers in our dream like yellow flowers floating on a lake.
I heard anger come into the night I heard the night bring you down I heard the down say please madam I heard a woman say Hmong means free I heard freedom like kingdom.
For Earth's Grandsons by Joy Harjo
Stand tall, no matter your height, how dark your skin Your spirit is all colors within You are made of the finest woven light From the iridescent love that formed your mothers, fathers Your grandparents all the way back on the spiral road— There is no end to this love It has formed your bodies Feeds your bright spirits And no matter what happens in these times of breaking— No matter dictators, the heartless, and liars No matter—you are born of those Who kept ceremonial embers burning in their hands All through the miles of relentless exile Those who sang the path through massacre All the way to sunrise You will make it through—
Shadows by Mary Oliver
Everyone knows the great energies running amok cast terrible shadows, that each of the so-called senseless acts has its thread looping back through the world and into a human heart. And meanwhile the gold-trimmed thunder wanders the sky; the river may be filling the cellars of the sleeping town. Cyclone, fire, and their merry cousins bring us to grief—but these are the hours with the old wooden-god faces; we lift them to our shoulders like so many black coffins, we continue walking into the future. I don't mean there are no bodies in the river, or bones broken by the wind. I mean everyone who has heard the lethal train-roar of the tornado swears there was no mention ever of any person, or reason—I mean the waters rise without any plot upon history, or even geography. Whatever power of the earth rampages, we turn to it dazed but anonymous eyes; whatever the name of the catastrophe, it is never the opposite of love.