What I had, I spent on flowers.

illustration of a vase of hydrangeas with a bookshelf in the background, an egg and shells and a brass horse on the table in front of the vase.
Art by Kristina Closs

Last Will and Testament 

by Chiyuma Elliott

This twelvemonth, 
the birds sat on the housetops;
the little minutes were four thousand books. 
On the table, such odd trifles
kept your attention. Young lovers met; 
some of what you heard 
was the sea. Come away.
Let the grey paper confer 
with the eggshells
and the brass horse. 
Let summer wash its face
and stand in the pasture 
and gather up its green buttons. 
For pleasure its flowers on the table, 
and you are non plus
What I had, I spent on flowers. 

from Blue in Green

Then rise when you’re ready from your soul’s hard floor

illustration of a bee on a windowsill
Art by Kristina Closs


by Tracy K. Smith (1972-)

Submits to its own weight, 
the bulb of itself too full, 

too weak or too wise
to lift and go. 

And something blunt in me
remembers the old charade 

about putting a thing out 
of its misery. For it? For me? 

Sleep, Bee, deep and easy. 
Hive, heave, give, grieve. 

Then rise when you’re ready
from your soul’s hard floor

to sweet work 
or some war.

There is no world in which I am not haunted

My copy of the new chapbook TUNSIYA/AMRIKIYA by the Tunisian-American poet Leila Chatti (1990-) arrived just in time for the weekend, and it was so hard to choose just one from this stunning collection.

“Night Lament in Hergla”

This is what the fearful do:
when a burning star torments them, they go to the sea.
–Mahmoud Darwish

There is no world in which I am not haunted,
no willing God to relinquish me.
My mother taught me death comes
wailing from the shadows, my father
all ghosts exist in smoke. I search
the sky for light long extinguished,
make wishes on their bright graves.
In the dark I try every language you might
recognize but nothing calls you back;
the words hang in the air, their own
brief phantoms. The ocean offers
no solace; I stand at its black edge
as it retreats, draws close, backs away again.
Like this, your memory wavers
in the threshold. How many nights
your name appeared on my lips
like an incantation, how many times
you’ve arrived in a dream pale
as prayer at dawn–your absence
burns its hole through my waking.
I stalk the shores of your sleep,
which allow no entry. The moon
reveals nothing of heaven, a brined window.
You are gone, in this country and all others.