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To put it simply: I love this love poem by T.C. Tolbert from his/her collection, Gephryomania.

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“What Space Faith Can Occupy”

I believe that witness is a magnitude of vulnerability.
That when I say love what I mean is not a feeling
nor a promise of a feeling. I believe in attention.
My love for you is a monolith of try.

The woman I love pays an inordinate amount
of attention to large and small objects. She is not
described by anything. Because I could not mean anything else,
she knows exactly what I mean.

Once upon a time a line saw itself
clear to its end. I have seen the shape
of happiness. (y=mx+b)
I am holding it. It is your hand.

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There’s so much going on in this breathless, breathtaking prose poem from Hanif Willis-Abdurraqib‘s collection The Crown Ain’t Worth MuchGive yourself time to read it slowly, and then once more.

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“DUDES, WE DID NOT GO THROUGH
THE HASSLE OF GETTING THESE
FAKE IDS FOR THIS JUKEBOX TO
NOT HAVE ANY SPRINGSTEEN”

& and it is the end of another summer where I have slept on my couch
for days only allowing another body to interrupt long enough for
our limbs to tangle like weeds up the side of a brick house,
reaching for something impossible. I promise there have always
been dishes spilling out of the sink, love. It’s how I discovered this
kind of hunger. Last week, Rick lit a cigarette & yelled across the
bar that the only difference between smoking & kissing someone
who smokes is the way mouths collide before death sits in your
lungs like an abandoned city & everyone laughed while I tried to
wipe another’s lip gloss from my cheek. Most people I know
cannot sleep until they crawl though someone else’s hollow.
There are nights when I wish we were all still children, but then
again, I suppose we may be or at least there is no other way to
explain how we make every doorway our own. The way we stain
ourselves & anything else that moves. The way we scream into
the dark like a siren & the weeping, yet another thing we never
mention in the morning. I think I am starting to vanish slowly
from head to toe. There are ten different ways to say sunset. The
bartender says my face is wearing all of them.

My copy of Louder than Heartsthe new and potent collection from Lebanese poet Zeina Hashem Beck, arrived in the mail just last week–and it’s been traveling close by me from room to room ever since.

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“I Dreamt We Threw Bread Crumbs”

I dreamt we threw bread crumbs
in the sea, waited to catch
a glimpse of our hunger, our hope,
rising out of this dark.

You fished out a tin can;
before we ate it
you told me to listen to the prayer
inside it—our prayer.

You mapped my body in chalk
on the sidewalk. My longing
was ruby-colored. I wore it
around my neck, and everything
was drunkenness and dance, every day
a kind of drowning—

the shawarma on the skewers,
the plastic roses in the children’s hands,
the antennas scribbled across the sky.
Only the clotheslines knew
of our leaving and returning,
and they wept.

Per my tradition of Earth Days past, let’s listen to Walt Whitman exalt in this earth–and our relationship to it–in this excerpt from “A Song of the Rolling Earth” from Leaves of Grass.  If you’d like to read the full text of the poem, here you go.

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“A Song of the Rolling Earth

1

A SONG of the rolling earth, and of words according,
Were you thinking that those were the words, those upright lines?
those curves, angles, dots?
No, those are not the words, the substantial words are in the
ground and sea,
They are in the air, they are in you.

Were you thinking that those were the words, those delicious sounds
out of your friends’ mouths?
No, the real words are more delicious than they.

Human bodies are words, myriads of words,
(In the best poems re-appears the body, man’s or woman’s, well-
shaped, natural, gay,
Every part able, active, receptive, without shame or the need of
shame.)

Air, soil, water, fire—those are words,
I myself am a word with them—my qualities interpenetrate with
theirs—my name is nothing to them,
Though it were told in the three thousand languages, what would
air, soil, water, fire, know of my name?

A healthy presence, a friendly or commanding gesture, are words,
sayings, meanings,
The charms that go with the mere looks of some men and women,
are sayings and meanings also.

The workmanship of souls is by those inaudible words of the earth,
The masters know the earth’s words and use them more than
audible words.

Amelioration is one of the earth’s words,
The earth neither lags nor hastens,
It has all attributes, growths, effects, latent in itself from the jump,
It is not half beautiful only, defects and excrescences show just as
much as perfections show.

The earth does not withhold, it is generous enough,
The truths of the earth continually wait, they are not so conceal’d
either,

They are calm, subtle, untransmissible by print,
They are imbued through all things conveying themselves willingly,
Conveying a sentiment and invitation, I utter and utter,
I speak not, yet if you hear me not of what avail am I to you?
To bear, to better, lacking these of what avail am I?

(Accouche! accouchez!
Will you rot your own fruit in yourself there?
Will you squat and stifle there?)

The earth does not argue,
Is not pathetic, has no arrangements,
Does not scream, haste, persuade, threaten, promise,
Makes no discriminations, has no conceivable failures,
Closes nothing, refuses nothing, shuts none out,
Of all the powers, objects, states, it notifies, shuts none out.

 

On this morning before Earth Day, I offer this ominous psalm by Lo Kwa Mei-en from her 2015 collection, Yearling.
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“The Extinction Diaries: Psalm”

The world is another cage I cannot map. Once
emptied, the ocean will sit down, a love song inside it:
a black fish mouthing Hallelujah to the walls, opening
itself on them for good. Glory being, beloved,

our mane was dynamite. We fell asleep with a jet
strand swallowed and for life couldn’t light it. Not like
a gun in the hand. The lands of what cannot illumine
grow deep and a mouth roots then uproots like an

ant-engined hill. Nothing eats. To know what once could
is to know why. No river shatters past as fed as a city
of straight lines and no tender enters the fault
of our body. From its deeps, the white coin of vertebrae

in a bowl of hips tells the future. May the meek inherit
something gorgeous. May I. May a geography of
defiant climes shock the ocean’s flesh, its fish many
thunders—may they ring true. May we. May

I run in our sleep, keeping up and more with kings
too great to see in the dark. Too great to see grow
the tides, each made in the image of a shut door.
Behind, god, a school of tongues, singing the keys.

Here’s a stunning punch in the gut/mind/heart from Morgan Parker‘s powerful new collection, There Are More Beautiful Things Than Beyoncé

Photo of Morgan Parker

“These Are Dangerous Times, Man”

Do you know what I would do
with the glory of everyone?
I would set it on my tongue.
I’ve been meaning to sing this
against chamomile hissing
up from the grates.
Not because it is
dark but because of how
I interpret the rules.
While tree trunks
grow into their pleats,
I continue to respect
unwritten codes.
The world would crumble
without my unwavering
sacrifice. I try to write
a text message
to describe
all my feelings
but the emoticon hands
are all white.
White Whine.
White flowers in a river.
Some plantation
stuck in my teeth like a seed.
I think the phone is racist.
The phone doesn’t care about Black people.
The phone is the nation
that loves the phone.
Otherwise my feelings are unable
to be expressed.
A white thumb pointed down.
You are
everything good.
I suck color
out of the night and then
your finger bones.
We become
a beautiful collection
of knots
trembling on the floor.
I need to know
what it feels like to be softened.
Tender filet on a fresh
wood block.
Small, warm body
in a field, un-itching.
Our bodies
never synchronized
enough.

I’m completely taken by the intensity of John Rybicki’s poems of loss, life, and love in When All the World is Old, which he wrote in homage to his wife Julie Moulds, who died of cancer 16 years after she was diagnosed at the age of 29.
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“This Noise from My Fingers”

It astounds me the ways
I scale the sky. Every day I have to
relearn my body.

Who will tell us to the world?
Our children whose heads we breathe into
like seashells casting those spells

our mothers once wooed us with?
A playground where we became the mist
hanging over everything?

We knew it was our insides
tugged inside out at last.
Once when I was a boy on the dodge

hopping fences, I let my leg hang over the lip
to that other world. I stopped
on top of that wobbly fence,

and hit the pause button on the world.
I held it all: the shadows from the plum tree
whose fruit we used to peg cars with;

the dust from my father’s broom;
even the boys chasing after me.
I knew the time was passing

and took even the shadows of the branches
into those pockets God had sewn
into my body for the traveling.

I kissed the moment flush
on the mouth then let it go,
surrendered again to the earth

with silencers on my tennis shoes.
Maybe time itself came brushing
the trail behind me until it vanished

clean off the grass, and I took up residence
with all the other balloons
floating along the landscape.