The Trees by Jericho Brown
In my front yard live three crape myrtles, crying trees We once called them, not the shadiest but soothing During a break from work in the heat, their cool sweat
Falling into us. I don't want to make more of it. I'd like to let these spindly things be Since my gift for transformation here proves
Useless now that I know everyone moves the same Whether moving in tears or moving To punch my face. A crape myrtle is
A crape myrtle. Three is a family. It is winter. They are bare. It's not that I love them Every day. It's that I love them anyway.
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On Earth We're Briefly Gorgeous by Ocean Vuong
Tell me it was for the hunger & nothing less. For hunger is to give the body what it knows
it cannot keep. That this amber light whittled down by another war is all that pins my hand to your chest.
You, drowning between my arms— stay.
You, pushing your body into the river only to be left with yourself— stay.
Gardening Secrets of the Dead by Lee Herrick
When the light pivots, hum — not so loud the basil will know, but enough to water it with your breath. Gardening has nothing to do with names like lily or daisy. It is about verbs like uproot, traverse, hush. We can say it has aspects of memory and prayer, but mostly it is about refraction and absence, the dead long gone when the plant goes in. A part of the body. Water and movement, attention and dirt.
Once, I swam off the coast of Belize and pulled seven local kids along in the shallow Caribbean, their brown bodies in the blue water behind me, the first one holding my left hand like a root, the last one dangling his arm under the water like a lavender twig or a flag in light wind. A dead woman told me: Gardening, simply, is laughing and swimming a chorus of little brown miracles in water so clear you can see yourself and your own brown hands becoming clean.
Funny Business by Mikko Harvey
I wonder if later I will forgive myself for having denied my loved ones demonstrations of my loving them. I was too busy demonstrating myself to the universe. I was too busy turning strangers into sites of worship. I was so, so busy considering the symbolism of the fish's boiled eyeball as it sat there on the platter. I was feeling uncomfortable in the presence of the wide smile of the holographic customer service associate. I Googled what delphiniums are. I took my shirt off and rolled around in the yard, pretending to be a little worm while actual worms were rolling around in the yard and I actually crushed one to death.
Coping by Audre Lorde
It has rained for five days running the world is a round puddle of sunless water where small islands are only beginning to cope a young boy in my garden is bailing out water from his flower patch when I ask him why he tells me young seeds that have not seen sun forget and drown easily.
Fragments of Sappho, by Anne Carson
105A as the sweetapple reddens on a high branch high on the highest branch and the apple pickers forgot--- no, not forgot: were unable to reach
105B like the hyacinth in the mountains that shepherd men with their feet trample down and in the ground the purple flower
The Woman in the Moon by Carol Ann Duffy
Darlings, I write to you from the moon where I hide behind famous light. How could you think it ever a man up here? A cow jumped over. The dish ran away with
the spoon. What reached me were your joys, griefs, here's-the-craic, losses, longings, your lives brief, mine long, a talented loneliness. I must have a thousand names for the earth, my blue vocation.
Round I go, the moon a diet of light, sliver of pear, wedge of lemon, slice of melon, half an orange, silver onion; your human sound falling through space, childbirth's song, the lover's song, the song of death.
Devoted as words to things, I gaze, gawp, glare; deserts where forests were, sick seas. When night comes, I see you gaping back as though you hear my Darlings, what have you done, what have you done to the world?
little prayer by Danez Smith
let ruin end here
let him find honey where there was once a slaughter
let him enter the lion's cage & find a field of lilacs
let this be the healing & if not let it be
The Summer Day by Mary Oliver
Who made the world? Who made the swan, and the black bear? Who made the grasshopper? This grasshopper, I mean— the one who has flung herself out of the grass, the one who is eating sugar out of my hand, who is moving her jaws back and forth instead of up and down— who is gazing around with her enormous and complicated eyes. Now she lifts her pale forearms and thoroughly washes her face. Now she snaps her wings open, and floats away. I don't know exactly what a prayer is. I do know how to pay attention, how to fall down into the grass, how to kneel down in the grass, how to be idle and blessed, how to stroll through the fields, which is what I have been doing all day. Tell me, what else should I have done? Doesn't everything die at last, and too soon? Tell me, what is it you plan to do with your one wild and precious life?
For Him I Sing by Walt Whitman
For him I sing, I raise the present on the past, (As some perennial tree out of its roots, the present on the past,) With time and space I him dilate and fuse the immortal laws, To make himself by them the law unto himself.
City Without Sleep by Federico García Lorca (Nocturne of the Brooklyn Bridge)
No one sleeps in the sky. No one. No one sleeps. The creatures of the moon smell and circle their cabins. Live iguanas will come to bite the men who don't dream and he who flees with broken heart will find on the corners the still, incredible crocodile under the tender protest of the stars.
No one sleeps in the world. No one. No one sleeps. There is a dead man in the farthest cemetery who for three years complains of the dry landscape on his knee; and the boy they buried this morning wept so much they had to call the dogs to quiet him down.
Life is not a dream. Look! We fall down the stairs to eat damp earth or we ascend to the edge of snow with a chorus of dead dahlias. But there's no forgetting, no sleep: living flesh. Kisses bind the lips in a tangle of recent veins and those who suffer, suffer without rest and those who fear death will carry it on their shoulders.
One day horses will live in the taverns and furious ants will attack the yellow skies that take refuge in the eyes of cows.
Some other day we'll see the resurrection of mounted butterflies and even as we wander through a landscape of gray sponges and mute ships we'll see our ring glow and roses pour forth from our tongue. Look! Those who still bear traces of claw and squall, that boy who cries because he knows nothing of the invention of the bridge or that dead man who has only his head and one shoe, they must be taken to the wall where iguanas and serpents are waiting, where the bear's teeth are waiting, where a child's mummified hand is waiting, and the hair of the camel bristles with a violent blue chill.
No one sleeps in the sky. No one. No one sleeps. But if someone closes his eyes, beat him, my children, beat him! Even if there's a panorama of open eyes and bitter incandescent sores. No one sleeps in the world. No one.
I've already said it. No one sleeps. But if at night someone has an excess of moss on his temples, then open the trap doors so the moon lets him see the false cups, the poison, and the skull of the theaters.
I remember lightning.
I remember wild red poppies in Italy.
I remember selling blood every three months on Second Avenue.
I remember a boy I once made love with and after it was all over he asked me if I believed in God.
I remember when I thought that anything old was very valuable.
Anaphora as Coping Mechanism by Ocean Vuong
Can't sleep so you put on his grey boots—nothing else—& step inside the rain. Even though he's gone, you think, I still want to be clean. If only the rain were gasoline, your tongue a lit match, & you can change without disappearing. If only he dies the second his name becomes a tooth in your mouth. But he doesn't. He dies when they wheel him away & the priest ushers you out of the room, your palms two puddles of rain. He dies as your heart beats faster, as another war coppers the sky. He dies each night you close your eyes & hear his slow exhale. Your fist choking the dark. Your fist through the bathroom mirror. He dies at the party where everyone laughs & all you want is to go into the kitchen & make seven omelets before burning down the house. All you want is to run into the woods & beg the wolf to fuck you up. He dies when you wake & it's November forever. A Hendrix record melted on a rusted needle. He dies the morning he kisses you for two minutes too long, when he says Wait followed by I have something to say & you quickly grab your favorite pink pillow & smother him as he cries into the soft & darkening fabric. You hold still until he's very quiet, until the walls dissolve & you're both standing in the crowded train again. Look how it rocks you back & forth like a slow dance seen from the distance of years. You're still a freshman. You're still terrified of having only two hands. & he doesn't know your name yet but he smiles anyway. His teeth reflected in the window reflecting your lips as you mouth Hello—your tongue a lit match.
Instead of Depression by Andrea Gibson
try calling it hibernation. Imagine the darkness is a cave in which you will be nurtured by doing absolutely nothing. Hibernating animals don't even dream. It's okay if you can't imagine spring. Sleep through the alarm of the world. Name your hopelessness a quiet hollow, a place you go to heal, a den you dug, Sweetheart, instead of a grave.