Time Does Not Bring Relief... // Edna St. Vincent Millay

Time does not bring relief; you all have lied

Who told me time would ease me of my pain!
I miss him in the weeping of the rain;
I want him at the shrinking of the tide;
The old snows melt from every mountain-side,
And last year’s leaves are smoke in every lane;
But last year’s bitter loving must remain
Heaped on my heart, and my old thoughts abide.
There are a hundred places where I fear
To go,—so with his memory they brim.
And entering with relief some quiet place
Where never fell his foot or shone his face
I say, “There is no memory of him here!”
And so stand stricken, so remembering him

The Black Art // Anne Sexton.

A woman who writes feels too much,
those trances and portents!
As if cycles and children and islands
weren't enough; as if mourners and gossips
and vegetables were never enough.
She thinks she can warn the stars.
A writer is essentially a spy.
Dear love, I am that girl.

A man who writes knows too much,
such spells and fetiches!
As if erections and congresses and products
weren't enough; as if machines and galleons
and wars were never enough.
With used furniture he makes a tree.
A writer is essentially a crook.
Dear love, you are that man.

Never loving ourselves,
hating even our shoes and our hats,
we love each other, precious, precious.
Our hands are light blue and gentle.
Our eyes are full of terrible confessions.
But when we marry,
the children leave in disgust.
There is too much food and no one left over
to eat up all the weird abundance.

Summer Ends // Charles Jensen

I will not name you again.

I will not reduce you like a memory to your smallest parts,
little fantastic machine-heart slaving away its heat
little controlled burn
little smolder-fire wicking toward the dry brush.

I will not replace this moment with the next,
will not exchange you with clocks,
with steady breaths or the tsk-tsk of the nearest metronome
the pulse of lost touches that never made landfall.

I will not end when the summer ends,
this small, small moment bird-like in its nervousness
our bodies near touch-to-touch
there are new nervous octaves nested in my throat

which will be anything for you,
be bird for you,
be timepiece of wrists for you, be shadow and wind for you,
be jeans for you. Licks for you. Oh, summer ends

bemoaning its own misfortune. I sit near you
and the dusk comes on like the dizzy sweet sting of your cologne.

For you I could be the longest day, all of your sunlight,
if for me you made yourself coda,
made nightfall, made yourself nest.

You Loved a Woman Once // Keetje Kuipers

She told you of childhood summers, mayflies trembling
beside the bridge of her nose, hunting frogs. Skinning them
on a brick, the house smelling like their small, fried legs.

All she wanted was for you to carry her home in a canoe
with paddles, life vests, a flare. You promised
to teach her how to swim when she was in your arms.

Your own body, broken into so many times, became a clear lake
for her to bathe in. Remember pulling the one tiny, suckering
leech from below her neck, the pale collarbone Braille it left.

You said the boat was her shoulder in your mouth, even when
you couldn't bear her epaulets of freckles, even when nothing
but a body would do and there was no body but her own.

Below her—lily pads, dragonflies, the worms
dug up last summer and thrown from the dock to see fish
rise in a boil—now all snapped raw in the frozen pond. And speaker,

coded "you"—what about the light straining through her dampened
hair, will you catch it in your jaws? There's the smell of paper
on her skin and you pressing her body like a flower in a book.

The Space Between // Elena Georgiou.

stuck in an unnamed place
half way between love and in love,
you call me late at night and ask
if i'm sleeping. i tell you, i'm writing.
you ask about what? love, i say.

when i write about us, i stop myself
from saying we make love or we have sex.
i search for a euphemism that won't bind me,
won't define us. i arrive at the phrase
move together. and only now, in writing
this poem, do i see how fitting it is.

the way we moved together verticallyCollapse )

From: Scar // Amy Ash.

I want, when I am no longer with you,
to hold more weight in your life
than a handful of sand.

I want the next woman
who touches your skin to feel
a letter of my name
under her fingertips.

Of course,
if you were an earthquake, I'd crumble to dust.
You speak of crevasses we create.
Sometimes, I feel the ground begin
to separate

when you only clear your throat.

For Eli // Andrea Gibson.

Eli came back from Iraq
and tattooed a teddy bear onto the inside of his wrist
above that a medic with an IV bag
above that an angel
but Eli says the teddy bear won't live
and I know I don't know but I say, "I know"
cause Eli's only twenty-four and I've never seen eyes
further away from childhood than his
eyes old with a wisdom
he knows I'd rather not have
Eli's mother traces a teddy bear onto the inside of my arm
and says, "not all casualties come home in body bags"
and I swear

I'd spend the rest of my life writing nothing but the word 'light'Collapse )

Chemotherapy // Meghan O’Rourke.

The decomposing squirrel in the yard,
a plump sack. That night
I bled for hours, like a dumb animal.
The evening news: Mother’s doing fine today.
By Wednesday, I could smell the body from the porch.
I couldn’t make myself not look.
First the flies on its brown eyes,
then the mice in its tapering ribs.
Soon it looked like the remains of a fish,
a furry scalp, a plush dead thing.
I drank lemonade and gin in the shade
as the neighbor’s cat stalked the bossy blue jays.
(Mothers, in this case.)
They kept up the noise for hours.
Last night it was just a skeleton,
light enough to be lifted by the wind.

Wounds // Yevgeny Yevtushenko

I have been wounded so often and so painfully,
dragging my way home at the merest crawl,
impaled not only by malicious tongues--
one can be wounded even by a petal.

And I myself have wounded--quite unwittingly--
with casual tenderness while passing by,
and later someone felt the pain,
it was like walking barefoot over the ice.

So why do I step upon the ruins
of those most near and dear to me,
I, who can be so simply and so sharply wounded
and can wound others with such deadly ease?

Translated by Arthur Boyars and Simon Franklin

Unrequited Love // Yevgeny Yevtushenko

Love unrequited is a crushing yoke;
but if you see love as a game,
a trophy,
then unrequited love’s absurd, a joke--
like Cyrano de Bergerac’s odd profile.
One day a hard-boiled Russian in the theater
said to his wife, in words that clearly hurt her:
"Why does this Cyrano upset you all?
The fool!
Now I, for instance, I would never
allow some bitch to get me in a fever...
I’d simply find another one--
that’s all."
Behind his wife’s reproachful eyes there gleamed
a beaten, widowed look of desperation.
From every pore her husband oozed,
it seemed,
the lethal sweat of crude self-satisfaction.
How many are like him--
great healthy men,
who, lacking the capacity to suffer,
call women "chicks" or "broads";
it sounds much tougher.
Yet am I not myself a bit like them?Collapse )