Today I share just one from a stunning series of poems with this same title from the collection A Fortune For Your Disaster, by the the great writer, poet, and cultural critic Hanif Abdurraqib.
“How Can Black People Write About Flowers at a Time Like This”
dear reader, with our heels digging into the good
mud at a swamp’s edge, you might tell me something
about the dandelion & how it is not a flower itself
but a plant made up of several small flowers at its crown
& lord knows I have been called by what I look like
more than I have been called by what I actually am &
I wish to return the favor for the purpose of this
exercise. which, too, is an attempt at fashioning
something pretty out of seeds refusing to make anything
worthwhile of their burial. size me up & skip whatever semantics arrive
to the tongue first. say: that boy he look like a hollowed-out grandfather
clock. he look like a million-dollar god with a two-cent
heaven. like all it takes is one kiss & before morning,
you could scatter his whole mind across a field.
from A Fortune For Your Disaster
by Jane Hirshfield
All day wondering
if I’ve become useless.
All day the osprey
white and black,
big dry sticks without leaves.
Late, I say to my pride,
You think you’re the feathered part
of this don’t you?
“Alone” by Philip Levine (1928-2015)
Sunset, and the olive grove flames
on the far hill. We descend
into the lunging shadows
of goat grass, and the air
deepens like smoke.
You were behind me, but when I turned
there was the wrangling of crows
and the long grass rising in the wind
and the swelling tips of grain
turning to water under a black sky.
All around me the thousand
small denials of the day
rose like insects to the flaming
of an old truth, someone alone
following a broken trail of stones
toward the deep and starless river.