Tuesday, July 28, 2015

On my mind: To have without holding

Learning to love differently is hard,
love with the hands wide open, love
with the doors banging on their hinges,
the cupboard unlocked, the wind
roaring and whimpering in the rooms
rustling the sheets and snapping the blinds
that thwack like rubber bands
in an open palm.

It hurts to love wide open
stretching the muscles that feel
as if they are made of wet plaster,
then of blunt knives, then
of sharp knives.

It hurts to thwart the reflexes
of grab, of clutch ; to love and let
go again and again. It pesters to remember
the lover who is not in the bed,
to hold back what is owed to the work
that gutters like a candle in a cave
without air, to love consciously,
conscientiously, concretely, constructively.

I can’t do it, you say it’s killing
me, but you thrive, you glow
on the street like a neon raspberry,
You float and sail, a helium balloon
bright bachelor’s button blue and bobbing
on the cold and hot winds of our breath,
as we make and unmake in passionate
diastole and systole the rhythm
of our unbound bonding, to have
and not to hold, to love
with minimized malice, hunger
and anger moment by moment balanced.

The Lovers by Timothy Liu

I was always afraid 
of the next card

the psychic would turn 
over for us—
                              Forgive me 
for not knowing 
how we were

every card in the deck.
You can’t say it that way any more.   
Bothered about beauty you have to   
Come out into the open, into a clearing, 
And rest. Certainly whatever funny happens to you 
Is OK. To demand more than this would be strange 
Of you, you who have so many lovers,   
People who look up to you and are willing   
To do things for you, but you think 
It’s not right, that if they really knew you . . . 
So much for self-analysis. Now, 
About what to put in your poem-painting:   
Flowers are always nice, particularly delphinium.   
Names of boys you once knew and their sleds,   
Skyrockets are good—do they still exist? 
There are a lot of other things of the same quality   
As those I’ve mentioned. Now one must 
Find a few important words, and a lot of low-keyed, 
Dull-sounding ones. She approached me 
About buying her desk. Suddenly the street was   
Bananas and the clangor of Japanese instruments.   
Humdrum testaments were scattered around. His head 
Locked into mine. We were a seesaw. Something   
Ought to be written about how this affects   
You when you write poetry: 
The extreme austerity of an almost empty mind 
Colliding with the lush, Rousseau-like foliage of its desire to communicate   
Something between breaths, if only for the sake   
Of others and their desire to understand you and desert you 
For other centers of communication, so that understanding 
May begin, and in doing so be undone.

Sunday, July 26, 2015

Saturday, July 25, 2015

"My words
reach you as through a telephone
where some submarine echo of my voice
blurts knowledge you can't use"

Saturday, July 18, 2015

Androgyne by Stephen Dunn

My lost love, back when Zeus split us in two-
our intelligence and completeness
a threat to the gods-this ache
began, this perpetual wandering…

I’ve seen you in the teeming, concupiscent
streets, I married you, at dusk I followed you
into bars; ever time I found you
I recognized you as someone seen before.
I could not choose not to respond to desire.
Only you understand.

Old now, I admit to you
I’ve been content for hours watching deer
play out their nimble, nervous lives.
I’ve considered flowers and without sadness
watched them drop their yellow leaves.

In dreams you still whisper to me
and in dreams I whisper back.
But we make fewer plans.

I will tell you, Androgyne, what I learned today
about the sublime. It’s that moment
when a compound changes
from one state to another. It’s chemistry.
All lovers know it’s chemistry,
not physics, that makes the world go round.

And maybe when we meet again
after one of our long journeys toward the other,
you will find me wishing
to do little more than brush back
a lock of hair that’s fallen
across your face, too close to an eye.

We’ll be sitting side by side,
noontime, in a park.
We’ll not be able to see the sun
due to the excess of light.
I’ll raise my hand to your face
and you’ll tilt your cheek my way,
and I’ll move that lock of hair, now gray,
to where I’ve always liked it to be.

Saturday, July 11, 2015

Custom by Carl Phillips

There is a difference it used to make,
seeing three swans in this versus four in that
quadrant of sky. I am not imagining. It was very large, as its
effects were. Declarations of war, the timing fixed upon for a sea-
             departure; or,
about love, a sudden decision not to, to pretend instead to a kind
of choice. It was dramatic, as it should be. Without drama,
what is ritual? I look for omens everywhere, because they are everywhere
to be found. They come to me like strays, like the damaged,
something that could know better, and should, therefore—but does not:
a form of faith, you've said. I call it sacrifice—an instinct for it, or a habit
             at first, that
becomes required, the way art can become, eventually, all we have
of what was true. You shouldn't look at me like that. Like one of those
on whom the birds once settled freely.

Friday, July 10, 2015

The Tender Gesture Can Resurrect The World by Kate Light

The tender gesture can resurrect the world
that’s fallen out around you, heedlessly, again.
It needn’t be much: a finger lifting your chin,
and lips touching your eyes, cheek on herle
of hair-oh to let out the cry, a skirled
longing that may be as old as the begin-
ning of you, when you screamed. Outside, let me in!
and probably already terribly hurt.
I’ve had the wish to dissolve myself
when it was too much, in a whisper, a stealth
of undoing; to con-, or sub-, or retrovert.
The gesture of despair projects
Louder than words; tenderness surrounds and resurrects

Wednesday, July 8, 2015

Desire by Jane Hirshfield

For years, the habit of wanting you,
carried like something unnoticed,
lint in a pocket, or manzanita
seed waiting a fire-
you come to me
changed, an old photograph
blurred with motion,
the shutter too low to keep you the same.
After a while, the light, an old habit
between us, drains off:
simple to meet, to walk towards evening
in a park at the continent’s edge;
simple to talk
until conversation drains off,
a newly decanted wine,
and we’re left with the sediment dark
at bottom between us,
simple to say,
and all the decision pours out of my life,
leaving me buoyant, empty, to float
towards your hand.