by Traci Brimhall & Brynn Saito
The spires are lit by a low flame. Behind you,
a chorus of lamentations in the dark.
Approach the temple’s wide gate and begin
praying to the living. Be with the mystery
that cloaked itself in images.
The teeth missing from the saint’s skull
are collected on a string. Wear them close
to your thin body. When last were you beckoned
to the wilderness for a terror to behold
and resist? You could have been anything,
but you have been chosen to walk through the gate
as the world’s only daughter, aglow with solitude
and held up by a lean hope. Remove from your body
the desire for a useful love, and the plague
of angels will no longer haunt you. Only a fool
can tell the king the truth, and you lie to survive,
like everything mysterious. When your right hand
rises to the center of your chest to join the left
you find you have forgotten to kneel.
How can you hope to hear the howling that is God
when nothing around you is on fire?
The Soul Bone
by Susan Wood
Once I said I didn't have a spiritual bone
in my body and meant by that
I didn't want to think of death,
as though any bone in us
could escape it. Maybe
I was afraid of what I couldn't know
for certain, a thud like the slamming
of a coffin lid, as final and inexplicable
as that. What was the soul anyway,
I wondered, but a homonym for loneliness?
Now, in late middle age, or more, I like to imagine it,
the spirit, the soul bone, as though it were hidden
somewhere inside my body, white as a tooth
that falls from a child's mouth, a dove,
the cloud it can fly through. Like bones,
it persists. Little knot of self, stubborn
as wildflowers in a Chilmark field in autumn,
the white ones they call boneset, for healing,
or the others, pearly everlasting.
The rabbis of the Midrash believed in the bone
and called it the luz, just like the Spanish word
for light, the size of a chickpea or an almond,
depending on which rabbi was telling the story,
found, they said, at the top of the spine or the base,
depending. No one's ever seen it, of course,
but sometimes at night I imagine I can feel it,
shining its light through my body, the bone
luminous, glowing in the dark. Sometimes,
if you listen, you might even hear that light
deep inside me, humming its brave little song.
by Stacie Cassarino
I wanted to see where beauty comes from
without you in the world, hauling my heart
across sixty acres of northeast meadow,
my pockets filling with flowers.
Then I remembered,
it’s you I miss in the brightness
and body of every living name:
rattlebox, yarrow, wild vetch.
You are the green wonder of June,
root and quasar, the thirst for salt.
When I finally understand that people fail
at love, what is left but cinquefoil, thistle,
the paper wings of the dragonfly
aeroplaning the soul with a sudden blue hilarity?
If I get the story right, desire is continuous,
equatorial. There is still so much
I want to know: what you believe
can never be removed from us,
what you dreamed on Walnut Street
in the unanswerable dark of your childhood,
learning pleasure on your own.
Tell me our story: are we impetuous,
are we kind to each other, do we surrender
to what the mind cannot think past?
Where is the evidence I will learn
to be good at loving?
The black dog orbits the horseshoe pond
for treefrogs in their plangent emergencies.
There are violet hills,
there is the covenant of duskbirds.
The moon comes over the mountain
like a big peach, and I want to tell you
what I couldn’t say the night we rushed
North, how I love the seriousness of your fingers
and the way you go into yourself,
calling my half-name like a secret.
I stand between taproot and treespire.
Here is the compass rose
to help me live through this.
Here are twelve ways of knowing
what blooms even in the blindness
of such longing. Yellow oxeye,
viper’s bugloss with its set of pink arms
pleading do not forget me.
We hunger for eloquence.
We measure the isopleths.
I am visiting my life with reckless plenitude.
The air is fragrant with tiny strawberries.
Fireflies turn on their electric wills:
an effulgence. Let me come back
whole, let me remember how to touch you
before it is too late.
The Lost Hotels of Paris
by Jack Gilbert
The Lord gives everything and charges
by taking it back. What a bargain.
Like being young for a while. We are
allowed to visit hearts of women,
to go into their bodies so we feel
no longer alone. We are permitted
romantic love with it’s bounty and half-life
of two years. It is right to mourn
for the small hotels of Paris that used to be
when we used to be. My mansard looking
down on Notre Dame every morning is gone,
and me listening to the bell at night.
Venice is no more. The best Greek Islands
have drowned in acceleration. But it’s the having
not the keeping that is the treasure.
Ginsberg came to my house one afternoon
and said he was giving up poetry
because it told lies, that language distorts.
I agreed, but asked what we have
that gets it right even that much.
We look up at the stars and they are
not there. We see the memory
of when they were, once upon a time.
And that too is more than enough.
by Maxine Kumin
Hens have their gravel; gravel sticks
The way it should stick, in the craw.
And stone on stone is tooth
For grinding raw.
And grinding raw, I learn from this
To fill my crop the way I should.
I put down pudding stone
And find it good.
I find it good to line my gut
With tidy octagons of grit.
No loophole and no chink
Make vents in it.
And in it vents no slime or sludge;
No losses sluice, no terrors slough.
God, give me appetite
for stone enough.
I was extremely blessed when it came to Yuletide this year. I was written a story, and two treats, and they were all fucking delightful. Please read these and drop kudos or whatever that thing is because these were all successful in making me really, really happy, and people who do that are deserving of a lot of warmth.
Shimmers (King Arthur, 2004)
As the oldest of the knights under Arthur, Bors and Dagonet try to keep a certain sort of order, especially as Arthur grows into his own. Tristan and Lancelot, however, present problems.
I have this idea of a pre-film story featuring the knights and their travails, and all that jazz, and it's rattling around my skull, never to come out. Darling Anon took my prompt somewhere else, and I still absolutely adore what they came up with. Light-touch, with a wise, wise Dag, whose voice and viewpoint is so, so crucial to this story. A genius choice; I truly believe that.
Little Darling, It's Been a Long, Cold, Lonely Winter (Spooks, Ros/baby!HomeSec)
The second time was never going to be as easy as the first. Ros and a wildly AU post-S8 adventure.
So... post-S8 finale, Ros makes an escape and takes Andrew Lawrence with her. This piece is short but it does a lot of things: proves that Ros is a poor runaway, makes a charmer out of baby!HomeSec, and made me laugh quietly. Baby!HomeSec is my favourite thing in this story, but Ros' usual flair for undercutting is lovely, too.
In the Dead of Night (Weeds)
One night in Nebraska.
Guys. GUYS. Someone wrote me Sad!Silas. SAD SILAS.
This fic really got to me. I don't know - I think because Silas really got to me this season, and seeing things from his perspective really defines the boundaries of the world Nancy inhabits. This fic does that: delineates the mess that was the Botwins on the run, and nails Silas' growing outsider status. Except. Except he's not an outsider. He just feels that way. His internal monologue here is the ultimate delusional narrator. He just can't let it - them - go.
A few, choice recs; in short because I am lazy. The rest are at my delicious account.
Snow, Melting (Alice in Wonderland/Narnia)
Alice takes Susan down the rabbithole. Susan proves she's no wilting flower. A really lovely piece.
Working Title (Brick)
Kara plays games. I enjoy fics about Kara because they flesh out what was rather a one-dimensional character, and because they always make me think a little more about Brendan from the outside.
The Art of Fugue (Fringe)
All of the Astrid-centric fics this year have been lovely, lovely, but this one has a really nice moment with Walter. Guys, I need more Astrid fic. Gimme.
Persuasion to Joy (Mulan, 2009)
In which the Princess is determined to give Mulan her due happiness. What a fantastic story! It doesn't detract from the film's gravity at all; doesn't belittle the conclusion. It's a story about immense kindness.
Please read all the Justified fic I have bookmarked, because it's all really good. This fic is about Raylan, Ava, and Winona, and is so perfect, I can't even. That place Raylan gets stuck, between his desire to run and stay at all times, it's so clear here. Brilliant.
Oh god, if you loved the film, please read this. It's hilarious. If you don't know what I'm talking about, please, please watch the film - and then read this. Gold.
by Ada Limón
What’s the drunk waxwing supposed to do
when all day’s been an orgy of red buds
on the winery’s archway off Gehricke Road
and it’s too far to make it home, too long
to fly, even as the sober crow goes. What’s
the point of passion when the pyracantha
berries keep the blood turned toward
obsess, obsess. Don’t you know those birds
are going to toss themselves to the streets
for some minor song of happiness? And
who can blame them? This life is hard.
And let me be the first to admit, when I
come across some jewel of pleasure, I too want
to squeeze that thing until even its seedy heart
evaporates like ethanol, want to throw my
bird-bones into the brush-fire until,
half-blind, all I can hear is the sound
of wings in the relentlessly delighted air.
by Clay Matthews
For three days I have seen sun and rain and now
snow falling but it has slowed to a blunder almost,
a blight. Winter. January 8th. I try to give the season
credit for its importance as one part of the cycle, thinking
pain is life, thinking pain is only weakness leaving the body,
thinking the cold is that which gives meaning to warmth,
our bodies finally finding each other in the morning
after a long night rolling one way and then the other
on either side of the bed. To divide and conquer. The division
is really all that’s needed you see the other is just aftermath
just war just silence just misunderstanding and today I fear
there is too much of this in the world I fear that we’re not getting it
right as people. I am not a dreamer like I used to be.
I don’t know if I believe in great things anymore
but that doesn’t mean great things can’t happen. When it was
April 7:30 and the sun was just going down and the streetlights
were coming on and the children were out in the streets
the neighbors with their dog, slapping at his mouth
while he barked, the two of us on the porch drinking something
on ice I don’t remember but I remember the cold of it going down
I remember asking St. Francis for the birds just a little bit longer.
These days it is more St. Anthony I call upon saying I think I have
lost my soul I think I have lost what I want to say, saying Tony, Tony,
Tony, please come around. The trees are so stark against the sky
today I feel a bit like I am living in a picture which is to say
I feel surreal and held in one place and held tenderly by the hand
of someone I once knew, folded and tucked away by someone else,
placed in one of those boxes we all have where we put
the things we cannot let go of, the things we want to keep
but not see, nor need to, and I think the heart is like that sometimes
that it holds distantly to what it might as well just let go.
I tell myself a thousand stories about myself. I tell myself You are
a good man, you are a bad man, you are wasting your life,
you are doing something right. From one day to the next
I am in love with myself or I am looking at myself disgusted
and tired of all the bullshit I repeat to one person after another
I meet on the streets or at family gatherings, all the same things
I have said over and over and over when wanting only to say
I really don’t want to talk or I really don’t even like you
or You are my family, my friend, why are we speaking
to each other like we haven’t known each other our whole lives,
like we weren’t there in that world of childhood together,
like we didn’t talk about girls or our lives in the future
or the big goddamn possibility of everything we might be
there is too little of that these days too little of you saying to me
I want more, I am not myself, of me saying to you I just want you
to not talk about the weather or the next president or all the children
even though I love the children we spend so much time outside
their world just looking in, the brothers and sisters and friends
and cousins, thinking Once life was that simple, once we smiled,
once we cried, once we ran through the house naked
with no thoughts of the windows or other humans no thoughts
of the real estate market except the large expanse of a room
as it stretched out in front, thinking I bet by god I can run
all the way to the other side. Now we run away, or rather
we do not run but we turn from each other very politely,
we spend a long time at doors and sometimes I have the urge
to say something very important to someone, sometimes
it is right on my tongue and I feel like I could make their life better
just by uttering a few words because people have done this thing
for me and I want to give it back and I can sometimes see
them wanting to give it back but we do not give it back, only
a hug which is the closest we can get or care to get or know how
anymore. We are real people. All grown up now. And I remember
going back to my hometown and running into some older woman
who knew me as a child, who I couldn’t remember if I wanted to
(and I do), who sees only the child in me held in a six-foot body,
sees not my mistakes, my faults, the ins and outs of thirty years
of making people proud and upsetting people, winning awards
and wrecking cars and doing drugs or staying sober they see
none of that, only the child as man, that mannish boy
and we have nothing at all to say to each other so they just stand
back and smile, and hug me as if I was something tender
enough to break, small enough not to notice, unless looking
very hard, very hard as I have grown older now to become.
And I think sometimes I am too much of a man being man.
I am too much jealousy, too much indifference, too much
paranoia as it comes on, too much guilt. I drag the guilt around
like a dead shadow, a heavy shadow, and sometimes
I don’t even know what I feel guilty for, only that it seems
I should, that it is my destiny. Day to day I am happy or hurting
or both and not knowing how not to be, not knowing how
to be everything I want to be for you, everything I feel like I can be,
everything I feel like we can all be for each other, goddamnit
I’m dreaming again, it seems again I am a dreamer, but I don’t care
today, I don’t even care about knowing how my caring comes to me,
how I care so much, how I do. Winter. I’m taking it for what it is.
The longest season, it seems. The darkest. The hardest
and by some accounts that makes it worth the most in the end,
worth every bit of blossoming I can stand.
There Were Footsteps in the Garden
by Frank X. Gaspar
I can’t figure out the earth, everything saying yes and no
at the same time, everything shedding its hair and licking
its teeth and waiting to be eaten. And then there are the
great wings of the galaxies I’m looking at as they shudder
through the wilderness like spirits until they stoop through
my garden of lenses and mirrors. What is the loneliness
of all those shattered islands, what is so lofty, so hungry,
so intelligent, so needy about them? I’m reading in a holy
book about how the color red shifts and retreats in this
sidereal world, as though the stars are trying to hide
their forms from one another, as though they are afraid
of their nakedness─they all race away, and only the distance
grows, only the distraction, as if that were the point. Now
the yard is so quiet I can hear the snails being pulled
through the long grass by some reckless force beyond their
snail imagination. There are sayings now that would help me.
They would be nothing by daylight. The words try to avoid
embarrassment too. How can you blame them? But in
these pure hungers of the night it is another story. Precisely
another story, and then another and another. Oh, there were
footsteps in the Garden, all right. There was a firmament
hung with lights. But that was then. This is now. That’s what
makes me ask for the next story. That’s what makes me curl
in the blanket on the shivering grass and stare outward. That’s
what makes tonight so safe for this one thing I’m trying to say.
Song the Breasts Sing to the Late-in-Life Boyfriend
by Sharon Olds
When you touch them, their skin feels like the surface
of a soap bubble, tensile and shimmering,
the oils of many colors moving
in swirls, like the Coriolis winds of the globe.
When you hold them, it feels as if, within each,
there’s a solar system, majestic, lawful,
playful. When you hold one in your grip, a moment –
gently, but not sentimentally, and
shake it, there starts to snow a flurry
in my chest and belly, and lower belly,
where the flakes settle and sparkle. And when you
touch their centers, the tips of my ears grow
points, when your fingers nip their centers in the
bud, the blood flowers of engorgement
blossom. I like that you like that one of the
stem-stubs will sometimes draw inside, into
its hill, like an ostrich bloom which blooms,
lover of the dark, down into the ground.
When you hold them I feel like plunder adored
which adores being plundered. The mouths of your hands
honor the food of my flesh in its season,
and if it were reasonable to thank you
for doing what you like, I would thank you within reason,
but as it is not, I thank you beyond reason.
How to Be a Cowgirl in a Studio Apartment
by Carolyn Creedon
Paint the ceiling blue and let it dry. See pamphlet “How to Paint a Ceiling.” Chalk a large circle to represent the sun. A light bulb will do as well. Start close to the sun and trace Mercury. Trace each planet. Finish with Pluto. Pour each color into a plastic container. Paint each planet and the sun.
—from anonymous pamphlet, “How to Paint the Solar System on Your Ceiling”
Don’t let the people at Ace Hardware tell you you need a man.
Do pick one up anyway, if he looks red and ripe. A cowgirl needs
nourishment, and some nights, to lie on her back and let something
bloom above her, looming like the stars. A cowgirl’s hardware
is indispensable—big-spurred boots, canteen, and a saddle to go—
useful, but always that soft underbelly she won’t be revealing.
No need for the little black dress: a flannel shirt, jeans, a steaming
pan of wieners, and some bourbon. And him, over there. “Hey You!”
He’ll come over. He’ll have to. You’re a renegade, a rough ride, a rogue feeling.
Paint the ceiling blue and let it dry. See pamphlet “How to Paint a Ceiling.”
Get him there. Rein him in a little; don’t let him roam too much.
You’re well-schooled in herding. Circle him, if you must, with a lasso,
then lead him—carry him, if you must, over one shoulder—over
his objections, over a bottle of wine, to the bed. Make him docile.
Hum like a whittled banjo. It helps if you know how to pet a wild
animal, or how to rub two sticks together with your hands, or shell
peanuts husk by husk—cowgirl skills that will come in handy when
rustling up blades of grass to whistle on, or handling unpredictable
forces that scare so easily. Undo his fly. Make him rise and swell.
Chalk a large circle to represent the sun. A light bulb will do as well.
Remember, he’s borrowed, cowgirl; you don’t buy things, the stars
you ride under slide over you like yellow peanuts, the big sky just
a rented ceiling, the big sun a borrowed bulb, a giant library card
from God. The planets unmoored are not your marbles, and the warm
man you rolled with, rode and sweated with, will go back to his natural
habitat, glistening wet. This is your rule: the cowgirl’s status quo.
Bowls are only good for what they hold, branches for the scratch they
itch, stones for chalking circles of the light. Even your rope just
rings out the moon, your banjo mouth twangs out a temporary tempo.
Start close to the sun and trace Mercury. Trace each planet. Finish with Pluto.
Tear it Down
by Jack Gilbert
We find out the heart only by dismantling what
the heart knows. By redefining the morning,
we find a morning that comes just after darkness.
We can break through marriage into marriage.
By insisting on love we spoil it, get beyond
affection and wade mouth-deep into love.
We must unlearn the constellations to see the stars.
But going back toward childhood will not help.
The village is not better than Pittsburgh.
Only Pittsburgh is more than Pittsburgh.
Rome is better than Rome in the same way the sound
of racoon tongues licking the inside walls
of the garbage tub is more than the stir
of them in the muck of the garbage. Love is not
enough. We die and are put into the earth forever.
We should insist while there is still time. We must
eat through the wildness of her sweet body already
in our bed to reach the body within the body.
In the City of Light
by Larry Levis
The last thing my father did for me
Was map a way: he died, & so
Made death possible. If he could do it, I
Will also, someday, be so honored. Once,
At night, I walked through the lit streets
Of New York, from the Gramercy Park Hotel
Up Lexington & at that hour, alone,
I stopped hearing traffic, voices, the racket
Of spring wind lifting a newspaper high
Above the lights. The streets wet,
And shining. No sounds. Once,
When I saw my son be born, I thought
How loud this world must be to him, how final.
That night, out of respect for someone missing,
I stopped listening to it.
Out of respect for someone missing,
I have to say
This isn't the whole story.
The fact is, I was still in love.
My father died, & I was still in love. I know
It's in bad taste to say it quite this way. Tell me,
How would you say it?
The story goes: wanting to be alone & wanting
The easy loneliness of travelers,
I said good-bye in an airport & flew west.
It happened otherwise.
And where I'd held her close to me,
My skin felt raw, & flayed.
Descending, I looked down at the light lacquering fields
Of pale vines, & small towns, each
With a water tower; then the shadows of wings;
My only advice is not to go away.
Or, go away. Most
Of my decisions have been wrong.
When I wake, I lift cold water
To my face. I close my eyes.
A body wishes to be held, & held, & what
Can you do about that?
Because there are faces I might never see again,
There are two things I want to remember
About light, & what it does to us.
Her bright, green eyes at an airport--how they widened
As if in disbelief;
And my father opening the gate: a lit, & silent
My only advice is not to go away. / Or, go away. Most // Of my decisions have been wrong.
Do you enjoy Supernatural? I know that quite a few of you do, and that quite a few of you have a fondness for Castiel. Guys. I have a fic for you that you are going to lap the hell up.
One of the big bang challenges that ran this year was sncross_bigbang in which participants produced entries that crossover with Supernatural. I was extremely privileged to read and help to edit a first-rate entry for this challenge, and I can honestly say that it is an excellent read regardless of whether or not you know the show.
Weep, Little Lion Man was written by the wealth of wit and talent more commonly known in these spheres as zeitheist. It's a Supernatural/American Gods crossover set during season 5, in which Castiel continues his quest for God and comes across a pantheon of others. It is both funny and touching, and features a host of carefully drawn characters. It is a living, breathing world of a fic.
This is emphatically not Hammer of the Gods though it does a similar thing in introducing other mythologies to the Supernatural world, and was written before that episode was aired. Where Hammer of the Gods was superficial and a fairly offensive mixing of the pantheons, zeitheist's fic is a warm character piece for Castiel whilst also weaving in a world of other delights. I myself do not know American Gods, but it didn't matter: but not a single word goes to waste in this fic. I am re-reading it now, having decided once again last weekend to get caught up with the show, and I am getting so much more from it. But the beauty of this fic - of zeitheist's writing - is that you don't need to know either the show or the book; you just need to know that it is a road trip narrative in which the journey, as ever, is more important than the destination.
The girl led him through the dusty, uneven roads, her stride unhurried even as the sun dropped lower and lower in the sky. They passed other citizens along the way, many of whom looked at Castiel suspiciously, some of whom quickly averted their eyes and hurried onwards. Several cars caked in gravel-chalk slowed to a crawl as they passed, so that they could peer at Castiel closely. Castiel felt exposed beneath their stares, and he found himself winding tighter and tighter like a coiled spring, his palms burning with restless violence.
She didn’t talk to Castiel, which was fine by him. Some of the older denizens called out to her as they passed, sounding concerned or intruiged, but her replies were always terse. Once they walked by a group of children who jeered and sang at Castiel, until the girl tossed a sharp gesture over her shoulder that made them all boo and scatter.
Eventually, the girl glanced at Castiel and asked: “What’s your name?”
She shrugged. “I wanted to see if I recognized it. I only really know the main four.”
The reminder of Castiel’s archangel brothers was particularly unwelcome, and he found himself saying: “If I were one of them, then you’d be dead right now.”
If she was bothered by his tone, then the girl didn’t say it. “Figures. Aren’t they supposed to be warriors or some shit?” She cast Castiel a deeply unimpressed look out of the corner of her eye. “You don’t look much like a fighter, so what does that make you? One of the ones that sing praises? Hosannah, hosannah, and all that junk?”
They didn’t speak after that.
Run, don't walk. You're going to love it.
by Frank Dullaghan
As I move, the space about me
buildings resolving into solidity,
quiet people moving into and out of focus.
Nothing is certain or fixed.
Only the map in my head keeps me straight.
I feel old. Mid-morning. February.
I’m starting on a three-hour journey to a late shift.
My tall son is already at college.
He will be trying to follow patterns of instruction,
trying to focus as his mind whitens.
Yesterday he stared at the wall –
two hours unplugged from the world.
His doctor says he needs structure,
that the drugs will kick in in a few weeks.
For now, what’s real keeps unpeeling.
He sleeps a lot. Outside my carriage window
the landscape lengthens, the sky lifts.
Two Indian boys sit next to me.
I listen to the music of their talk.
It seems a long time before I realise
they are speaking in English.
Whole and Without Blessing
by Linda Gregg
What is beautiful alters, has undertow.
Otherwise I have no tactics to begin with.
Femininity is a sickness. I open my eyes
out of this fever and see the meaning
of my life clearly. A thing like a hill.
I proclaim myself whole and without blessing,
or need to be blessed. I belong to no one. I do not move.
Am not required to move. I lie naked on a sheet.
and the indifferent sun warms me.
I was bred for slaughter, like the other
animals. To suffer exactly at the center,
where there are no clues except pleasure.
Fear of Happiness
by A.E. Stallings
Looking back, it’s something I’ve always had:
As a kid, it was a glass-floored elevator
I crouched at the bottom of, my eyes squinched tight,
Or staircase whose gaps I was afraid I’d slip through,
Though someone always said I’d be all right—
Just don’t look down or See, it’s not so bad
(The nothing rising underfoot). Then later
The high-dive at the pool, the tree-house perch,
Ferris wheels, balconies, cliffs, a penthouse view,
The merest thought of airplanes. You can call
It a fear of heights, a horror of the deep;
But it isn’t the unfathomable fall
That makes me giddy, makes my stomach lurch,
It’s that the ledge itself invents the leap.
But What I Really Want To Say Is
I am showing you my life. It is afternoon
as I write: The summer has given up its sticky heat
in place of rain, premature but as gray
as ever. I cannot see far
or as deeply as where you are, but when I tell you
what I tell you, you must believe me.
I am showing you my mother, the way she rearranges
furniture you wouldn’t even think
the wood’s been eaten into. When I tell you forgive
her skittishness, I rely on what you know
of the term. Similarly, you must understand
that I choose not to speak of my father. Similarly,
you must understand when I tell you several stories
about my father, each annulling each.
I do not intend to be true,
only truthful. I am showing you how
I have loved: not enough, or too much, the result of both
being termination. But when I say
there were days when my cheek pressed against
someone’s sweaty back signified
forever, I mean for the moment
to be acknowledged, I mean there have been
a few, and they have all felt the same. I am being sentimental:
I know no way to speak of the self
without amplification. I am showing you what the bruise
on my thigh means. I am showing you
the implication of a sigh, behind a sneer, and what the proper
response should have been. I am showing you shame,
string it up and place it around your neck. Most of all,
I am telling you what I want is for you to tell me
It is mine, too. Not an epiphany, not a punch line,
but a mirror, but a kiss, but in the air, perfume, effluvium.
by Rebecca Seiferle
Digging, on the fourth day, you find a stone
feather, an angel's wing, torn from the house
of the king. In the postclassic age, the people
ransacked the kingly lintel for the threshold
of their house. They went into the inviolate temples
and took what they wanted. Perhaps,
they could still hear the wings rustling, fixed
and trembling to the frame of heaven, like a living bat
nailed to a doorway, still trying to take flight,
to return to the cave of origins that in a classical age
was also the door to the sky. Whose history
has power over me? you ask when you wake
in the morning from nightmares of Maya gods.
Whose wing is that brushing by? you ask,
not sure if the fever is your own or the sun's,
as you hear that someone else, a village girl,
died in the place where you were standing
just a moment ago. When the villagers stole
that divine wing and fixed it to their door, perhaps,
they hoped to calm its humming, to bind it
to the order of their ordinary days, as you do now,
trying not to touch it with your fingers
as you pull it from the ground.
by Paul Guest
on hearing of efforts to declassify Pluto as a planet
Little star, how lost to us you are already
and more to become, so small
that we here, distant and large and not ice
only, would demote you
to bobbin status, unplanet, chink of light
in a sky of major and minor
fire. For all your long orbit, who here cares:
some nights I try my heart at it
but little happens. The trees hoard a music
in them that must be locusts
aching to mate, to make more,
even to die. Clouds scuff the scarred moon
until it’s easy to forget you —
to think of water clotted
with green, where once I read Neruda
and Ovid distracted not by light
skipping off the scalloped lake
but by the memory of lace and sheer and bra —
by whom I loved. In that moment,
and in this one, I could not be
more human, to the dead sky
making apologies heard by no one, by nothing.