Fortress of Legos

"We must have the stubbornness to accept our gladness in the ruthless furnace of this world"

On My Sober Anniversary

Noelle Kocot

A plausible place, this sea of air.
Somehow, the fragments of a later
Time get pulled out of the memory.
The earth surges up, the snow covers
Us. The blackened lungs of a bird
Cry out in the shaped bones
Of my hands. Walls of dust,
The bright little stars above us,
Who can crawl into the tiny black
Sky with reverse symmetry?
My brother, you really filled my head,
And now it’s time for me to fly
Out with or without the beautiful passages
Where my mind used to be.

Kocot wrote this on a sober anniversary, after doing an internal housecleaning. I love the hope it ends with.

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Seeing the Body

Rachel Eliza Griffiths

Not hers but mine. Not hers ever again. Ever

hers, my body pulled through, two

long windows open in the dark of birth,

the gold cord raised too in its wake. Awake,

the first morning. The first morning & all,

all the windows were closed inside. A blindness

scalding broken sight. The silence pulled through

my nostrils & veins, the ether of air failing

flesh. I get up from the shape I once was

& open the white blinds in my brother’s house.

The light is specific. It is the 29th morning

of July. Last night they dragged me howling from her

body in the room. The room had a name,

number 3315, in the cardiac wing. In the room

I saw her winged shape leave, rise, forgive the

vessel that fled her. Now mine or ours, I

stare in the mirror while everyone sleeps

the aggrieved sleep of the living. Behind my eyes

a dead woman looks back at me with no trace

of recognition. I say ‘Mother’ & my own

feral mouth opens. Closes without any light.

Motherhood and daughterhood.

Kansas

Gary Jackson

It’s love you left, we’ll say
when you never come back
for bells for the dead, for the grave
stone heads: the only ones
that don’t keep count. Don’t
we know it’s love that keeps you
away, that marks every mile
devotion? You would’ve went
to the end with each one,
made Orpheus turn back.
Would’ve fell / would’ve leapt /
would’ve left. The living is easy
/ the leaving is easy / living
with ghosts, it was easy
to give up your home
to your father, struck
with the same grief
of living, demanding
what are you gonna do
with my mama’s house?
Shorn grass & damp dirt:
they’ll put me in the middle.
I kick the ground like tires,
feeling dumb without flowers /
tokens / grief / anything
in my hands. You’ll bring me
back home, won’t you? Stamp
it down, as if the flat earth
could answer sometimes this,
too, is love. You left.

An exploration of why we leave, and why we don’t come back.

Vapor

Sara Eliza Johnson

When it happens the rain
is not black but powder.

A noise bleeds from your ears
and everything quakes

alive inside you:
the circuits of the flowers

lighting up across a meadow,
the nanoglow

of a sea years from here
—:And like the flash

across an event horizon,
your thought disappears

:—and then the mind
threshed, and then the brain

a perfume of proto-pollen:
a microscopic cloud

radiating in a geranium
in the meadow of another country:

a powder the elk eat
in the sudden black rain.

Mm. Beautiful, a poem about an end.

Red Sky

Caryl Pagel

Instead of posting the poem, I’m linking to it so that the formatting is correct. I too subscribe to a philosophy that reveres red wine.

Song for the Festival

Gretchen Marquette

At the May Day parade, my mask made of moss
and bark, my hair full of flowers, my friend beside me,
her pretty red mouth under the hawk’s beak
of her mask of green sage.

At the children’s pageant, music
died in the speakers. The shadow
of a crow passed over. My hair a crown
of flowers, yellow and red roses large as fists,
flowers on which I’d spent my last $20
at the mercado.

But beauty wasn’t enough. Being admired
by strangers was not enough.

I saw a girl, wandering, looking for her mother.
I knelt down, lowered my mask, showed her
my face. She’s looking for you too, I say.
She tries to spot her mother’s yellow dress.
A gold dog passes, happy and white-faced,
wearing pink nylon fairy wings. The girl points
and laughs; the hard part of her day
is over.

The people I’m looking for—I don’t know where they are.
I don’t know the color of their clothing. From across the park
I see the dark windows of my apartment.

Spring has arrived.
Let me not despair.

In anticipation of the hopefully impending spring.

Blood Argument

April Bernard

You insist
that the world belongs to a stony-hearted goat-god—
how every time we act, we enact
his vileness; how this is no
ecstasy, just a bad labored joke.

Your body in spasm
longs to strip the flesh, but if you do
there will be nothing left but the busy
bone-clatter of tactics.

*

I will listen instead to the river,
cold as time, smelling of blood-brown leaves.

I’ve also been known to posit that the being in charge of the universe must have a sick sense of humor.

Testament Scratched into a Water Station Barrel (Translation #11)

I was unable to format this poem correctly here, so instead I’m linking to where I found it, over at Poetry Foundation.

February 29

Jane Hirshfield

An extra day—

Like the painting’s fifth cow,
who looks out directly,
straight toward you,
from inside her black and white spots.

An extra day—

Accidental, surely:
the made calendar stumbling over the real
as a drunk trips over a threshold
too low to see.

An extra day—

With a second cup of black coffee.
A friendly but businesslike phone call.
A mailed-back package.
Some extra work, but not too much—
just one day’s worth, exactly.

An extra day—

Not unlike the space
between a door and its frame
when one room is lit and another is not,
and one changes into the other
as a woman exchanges a scarf.

An extra day—

Extraordinarily like any other.
And still
there is some generosity to it,
like a letter re-readable after its writer has died.

In honor of yesterday’s leap day – a poem written about the loss of someone the poet cared about.

Long Night Full Moon

D.A. Powell

You only watch the news to find out
where the fires are burning, which way
the wind is blowing, and whether
it will rain. Forecast ahead but first:
A mother’s boy laid out
in the street for hours.
These facts don’t wash away.

Mm. Yes. One more poem about an experience other than my own.