where even a fragment of a man could undo me

illustration of a navy blue block with herbs wrapped in paper flanking a pale yellow square with the silhouette of a man walking into the light
Art by Kristina Closs

History of Pleasure

by Richie Hofmann 

I walked by myself to the market
past ruins with broken
bodies of stone, where even
a fragment of a man could undo me. 
I bought herbs wrapped in paper.
Light shone through the glass of our apartment. 
You had been showering,
the smell of mint invaded the room, your hair was wet. 

from A Hundred Lovers

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What I love Understands itself As properly scarce.  

illustration of a silhouette of a heart surrounded by branches, leaves, an owl, a sparrow, and blue flecked strawberries
Art by Kristina Closs

I Know What I Love

by Jericho Brown

It comes from the earth.
It is green with deceit.
Sometimes what I love 
Shows up at three 
In the morning and 
Rushes in to turn me
Upside down. Some-
Times what I love just
Doesn’t show up at all.  
It can hurt me if it 
Means to…because 
That’s what in love
Means. What I love 
Understands itself 
As properly scarce.  
It knows I can’t need 
What I don’t go without.  
Some nights I hold 
My breath. I turn as in
Go bad. When I die 
A man or a woman will
Clean up the mess 
A body makes. They’ll
Talk about gas prices
And the current drought 
As they prepare the blue-
Black cadaver that still,
As the dead do, groans:
I wanted what anyone 
With an ear wants— 
To be touched and 
Touched by a presence
That has no hands.

from The Tradition