Probable Poem for the Furious Infant

by Jaswinder Bolina

Probably you’ll solve gravity, flesh 
out our microbiomics, split our God 
particles into their constituent bits 
of christs and antichrists probably, 
probably you’ll find life as we know it 
knitted into nooks of the chattering 
cosmos, quaint and bountiful as kismet 
and gunfights in the movies probably, 
probably, probably you have no patience
for the movies there in your eventual 
arrondissement where you have more
credible holography, more inspiring
actual events, your ghazals composed 
of crow racket, retrorockets, glaciers 
breaking, your discotheques wailing
probably, probably, probably, probably 
too late a sentient taxi airlifts you 
home over a refurbished riverbank, 
above the rebuilt cathedral, your head 
dozing easy in the crook of your arm,
emptied of any memory of these weeks 
we haven’t slept you’ve been erupting 
into that hereafter like a hydrant on fire, 
like your mother is an air raid, and I am 
an air raid, and you’re a born siren 
chasing us out of your airspace probably
we’ve caught 46 daybreaks in 39 days, 
little emissary arrived to instruct us,
we wake now you shriek us awake,
we sleep now you leave us to sleep.

Remember the Boys

by Rachel McKibbens

chucking rocks at the wasps’ nest,
their gathered hum then sudden sting
at the nape of my neck. Oh, how I paid—
still pay—for the recklessness
of boys. Little Bretts. Little Jeffs.
Little knives to my breast. 
How lucky they were to never 
be held down, to never see
their voices crawl the air like fire!

How desperately I yearned to be them,
to storm the halls in macho gospel:
matching blue jackets, blood-filled
posture and made-you-flinch. 
How different would I be, 
how much bigger, if I had been
given room enough to be 
a country’s golden terror? 

Amidah: On Our Feet We Speak To You

by Marge Piercy

We rise to speak
a web of bodies aligned like notes of music.

Bless what brought us through
the sea and the fire; we are caught
in history like whales in polar ice.

Yet you have taught us to push against the walls,
to reach out and pull each other along,
to strive to find the way through
if there is no way around, to go on.
To utter ourselves with every breath
against the constriction of fear,
to know ourselves as the body born from Abraham
and Sarah, born out of rock and desert.

We reach back through two hundred arches of hips
long dust, carrying their memories inside us
to live again in our life, Isaac and Rebecca,
Rachel, Jacob, and Leah. We say words shaped
by ancient use like steps worn into rock.

Bless the quiet of sleep
easing over the ravaged body, who quiets
the troubled waters of the mind to a pool
in which shines the placid broad face of the moon.

Bless the teaching of how to open
in love so all the doors and windows of the body
swing wide on their rusty hinges
and we give ourselves with both hands.

Bless what stirs in us compassion
for the hunger of the chickadee in the storm
starving for seeds we can carry out,
the wounded cat wailing in the alley,
what shows us our face in a stranger,
who teaches us what we clutch shrivels
but what we give goes off in the world
carrying bread to people not yet born.

Bless the gift of memory
that breaks unbidden, released
from a flower or a cup of tea
so the dead move like rain through the room.

Bless what forces us to invent
goodness every morning and what never frees
us from the cost of knowledge, which is
to act on what we know again and again.

All living are one and holy, let us remember
As we eat, as we work, as we walk and drive.
All living are one and holy, we must
make ourselves worthy.

We must act out justice and mercy and healing
as the sun rises and as the sun sets,
as the moon rises and the stars wheel above us,
we must repair goodness…

We will try to be holy,
We will try to repair the world given us to hand on.
Precious is this treasure of words and knowledge and deeds that moves inside us,
Holy is the hand that works for peace and for justice,
Holy is the mouth that speaks for goodness
holy is the foot that walks toward mercy.

Let us lift each other on our shoulders and carry each
other along.
Let holiness move in us.
Let us pay attention to its small voice,
Let us see the light in others and honor that light.

Remember the dead who paid our way here dearly, dearly
and remember the unborn for whom we build our houses.

Praise the light that shines before us, through us, after us, Amen.

I Am Like a Leaf

by Yone Noguchi

The silence is broken: into the nature 
  My soul sails out, 
Carrying the song of life on his brow,
   To meet the flowers and birds.

When my heart returns in the solitude, 
   She is very sad,
Looking back on the dead passions
  Lying on Love’s ruin. 

I am like a leaf
   Hanging over hope and despair, 
Which trembles and joins 
  The world’s imagination and ghost. 

No, You Shut Up

by Raymond McDaniel

The world baffles with sounds,
the worst of which is a human voice.
You would think that with a judgment like that
I would hate crowds, but better a pub’s intermingled dozens
than the sound of one fool speaking his mind.
The dozens drum and buzz and hum.
Against the dozens I could ring a wet glass
and sing C above high C,
could settle a bet with bold harmonics,
could stun down the bark of a barracks of dogs.
But against one idiot all another idiot can do is shout.
Imagine a life in which shouting was the precondition
for every action, if you had to shout to step, shout to sit,
shout loudly to effect any outcome.
What when you did speak would you say?
What wouldn’t sound old to you, 
about what could you not say I’ve heard this before?
What a relief it would be to scream yourself hoarse,
to be forced into silence,
the one note you know you can always hold.

Thanks

by W. S. Merwin

Listen
with the night falling we are saying thank you
we are stopping on the bridges to bow from the railings
we are running out of the glass rooms
with our mouths full of food to look at the sky
and say thank you
we are standing by the water thanking it
standing by the windows looking out
in our directions

back from a series of hospitals back from a mugging
after funerals we are saying thank you
after the news of the dead
whether or not we knew them we are saying thank you

over telephones we are saying thank you
in doorways and in the backs of cars and in elevators
remembering wars and the police at the door
and the beatings on stairs we are saying thank you
in the banks we are saying thank you
in the faces of the officials and the rich
and of all who will never change
we go on saying thank you thank you

with the animals dying around us
taking our feelings we are saying thank you
with the forests falling faster than the minutes
of our lives we are saying thank you
with the words going out like cells of a brain
with the cities growing over us
we are saying thank you faster and faster
with nobody listening we are saying thank you
thank you we are saying and waving
dark though it is

Mira pushes aside the mountain you are climbing

by Purvi Shah

Desire is never one way. Black
          snakes crawl through your throat. The divine longs

for human proximity to divinity. The divine longs
            for touch. You have not wanted

a body. And you have
            wanted. A careless
tongue can make chatter
but unrequited love
          can make an avalanche.
Your teeth chatter and you know

            somewhere a funeral parade is moving, one ant
after another marching. Your snake shed its skins as the curve of a               pilgrimage
          awaiting dawn. Heaven is too much a metaphor

to be of use to a lover weeping for
a false love. Every shaman needs a healer
and every God a devotee they can admire.

When God comes back from the pilgrimage, you are more
          plump. Everyone can see your wisdoms
sprouting. This time — dangerous. Even women

          will cast stones. Watch the people’s hands: they carry
shards of their half-spoken dreams. But you have

                          invented an embrace. In the first worship,
you make the one devoted to devotion devoted to you.

You bring the mountain
into your lips. Without

prayer, your mouth blooms.

The Belladonna of Sadness

by Sally Wen Mao

Spring in Hell and everything’s blooming.

I dreamt the worst was over but it wasn’t.

Suppose my punishment was fields of lilies sharper than razors, cutting up fields of lies.

Suppose my punishment was purity, mined and blanched.

They shunned me only because I knew I was stunning.

Then the white plague came, and their pleas were like a river.

Summer was orgiastic healing, snails snaking around wrists.

In heat, garbage festooned the sidewalks.

Old men leered at bodies they couldn’t touch

until they did. I shouldn’t have laughed but I laughed

at their flesh dozing into their spines, their bones crunching like snow.

Once I was swollen and snowblind with grief, left for dead

at the castle door. Then I robbed the castle and kissed my captor,

my sadness, learned she was not a villain. To wake up in this verdant field,

to watch the lilies flay the lambs. To enter paradise,

a woman drinks a vial of amnesia. Found in only the palest

flowers, the ones that smell like rotten meat. To summon the stinky

flower and access its truest aroma, you have to let its stigma show.

You have to let the pollen sting your eyes until you close them.

[Erratum: Found Ecology Piece]

by Todd Fredson

It is easy to erase it—a touch of the delete key on this keyboard. Barely moving my finger. Versus how much intention it took to use the eraser on a pencil, to flip the pencil around my thumb and scrub out the lead etched on the paper.

Stone and rain laugh at me. The amount of time it takes to get marks out of stone (gouges, rough edges, grooves) by rubbing them with water.

Where You Go When She Sleeps

by T.R. Hummer

What is it when a woman sleeps, her head bright
In your lap, in your hands, her breath easy now as though it had never been
Anything else, and you know she is dreaming, her eyelids
Jerk, but she is not troubled, it is a dream
That does not include you, but you are not troubled either,
It is too good to hold her while she sleeps, her hair falling
Richly on your hands, shining like metal, a color
That when you think of it you cannot name, as though it has just
Come into existence, dragging you into the world in the wake
Of its creation, out of whatever vacuum you were in before,
And you are like the boy you heard of once who fell
Into a silo full of oats, the silo emptying from below, oats
At the top swirling in a gold whirlpool, a bright eddy of grain, the boy
You imagine, leaning over the edge to see it, the noon sun breaking
Into the center of the circle he watches, hot on his back, burning
And he forgets his father’s warning, stands on the edge, looks down,
The grain spinning, dizzy, and when he falls his arms go out, too thin
For wings, and he hears his father’s cry somewhere, but is gone
Already, down in a gold sea, spun deep in the heart of the silo,
And when they find him, he lies still, not seeing the world
Through his body but through the deep rush of grain
Where he has gone and can never come back, though they drag him
Out, his father’s tears bright on both their faces, the farmhands
Standing by blank and amazed—you touch that unnamable
Color in her hair and you are gone into what is not fear or joy
But a whirling of sunlight and water and air full of shining dust
That takes you, a dream that is not of you but will let you
Into itself if you love enough, and will not, will never let you go.