Are you old?
Am I young?
When are you going to die?
-Piper Jaden Levine (3 1/2 years old)
you’re never gonna guess...right
Days of Our Lives
The Corner of Broadway and Prospect
In the building trades
we die a hundred times
see a thousand murders
and a few dozen tasteful suicides
once a brother’s had enough.
Each layoff is an ending.
The next job brings rebirth.
That check will come again
after another safety orientation
and the meaningless doling of stickers.
and building America
with our livers ironically dying.
We go home to wash off the road
and expectorate lies told on tax forms.
Maybe that’s why
the real deal hits harder:
We’re accustomed to respawning
in some godforsaken elsewhere
on a different contractor’s payroll.
“See you on the next big one,”
we say in jest when two envelopes come.
What happens when that joke can’t be made?
In a lion’s share of confusion
those left will scratch their hard hats
as further proof and cursing
for a safely unspecified god.
My life was threadbare of you.
You are the unsewn unthreaded
Needle whose jab is ungentle,
Whose point is all heart and hem.
My attention is hinged on you;
I am not unsinged. Through you
As through the eye of a needle
I spy the soft counterpane,
Humane warmth uncanonized:
Private love is the secret history
Of all things—this tender past.
Tenderness is nerve uncauterized—
Only rough vivid protrusion
Between us, the nudge of care.
In the smithy of unlikely forgeries
This was of little consequence;
In the history of unlikely things,
You have no entry, are unchronicled,
And yet you seem to me the most
Improbable of all; you are canonical
In caring, and my memory unsparing of you.
This almost came out a love poem,
But happily I averted that end
All too damaging to the confessor:
Confession. But it bears concession
That every poem of confusion,
Every stuttered syllable, every line,
Cluttered thought or shuttered rhyme,
Every assertion of disinterestedness
Is a love poem prevented. I invented
A shelf; I rented a space in myself
In which to put you; I left indented
Every part of me once pressed by you;
I compressed myself to a size
Embraceable by you. My secret
History is traceable in every patch
That’s threaded through with you.
We are speckles, morsels, spoonfuls
Heaped with one another; I attach
To you as if to reattach something
Once part of me: attention plays tricks
On importance; we seemed threadbare—
Seaming’s slow fix—for life is snare
And snag and rip, and love is just repair.
Pink Skies and Black Eyes
During the storm
they came into the RV
and ate like goats—
drinking magenta wine
and hooting at each other well into the night.
Uncle Falls In
I make for you a woman
She takes the burning
You fill her
The woman waits;
there are no answers,
She will give you
any shapeless happiness.
Too often, I forget
the sharpness of my heart
It slices like a blade,
and recoils when you tremble
I don’t need gentleness.
I have risen from destruction
Once the warrior,
now I am the lead
Chess pieces fall
from the kitchen table,
cracking on the floor
beneath our dirty feet
I grab you by your shirt,
and you slip into me
I am the greatest thunderstorm
you will ever meet
If I have a blue brush,
I will paint the sky in all her seasons,
and the mountains in the distance.
I will paint oceans, and rivers, and streams,
and rain puddles, and snowy meadows.
I will paint dahlias, and delphiniums, and forget-me-nots.
I will paint the dog’s eyes,
and the jay on the railing.
I will paint the gods into this life,
and I will worship them all with my blue brush.
You were the early summer away and I the late. Now it is well
for windows: rusting bucket hung in which blueberries blurred is snowed
and swung. It scythes the barn. Snow seethes on headstone hills, the weight of white.
And when flannelled hand reaches in coal stove to scrape and grate crumbles
of flame, as pine in woods ferned frozen wreaths into itself for warm,
shapes of solitude become form.
-Robert C. Basner
Your beauty is man made.
Crafted through intelligence
And devotion; an artist was formed
by sculpting your arms,
Carving your chest,
Melting your old self to form something new.
Something strong and precise.
You take pride in your creation,
But I have pride too.
I come from the earth and the trees.
The rivers smoothed my curves
And the mountains shaped my stance.
I breathe cold, pure air and
your fumes make my head spin.
Still, I love what you made.
And I love the wild that made me.
Brown chestnut leaf
dancing across my weathered deck floor
-Anthony G. Herles
Red Wine and Clover
She tells me she will stay.
beyond my window make her feel
like the queen
of a country preparing
I tell her there is something
that I want
to tell her but leave it
She tells me red wine and clover
of the past.
Of the scrap metal beyond
she says nothing.
(comprised wholly of comments found
on a YouTube video)
what if in a hundred years a
troll king god emperor
pushed upon his enemies and
takes a shot every time potential war
for purely selfish reasons
who you are
a weapon of choice
all for it
old magician’s trick
down to earth
blown the world up
looking for something that doesn’t exist
you just know the doomed would
die happy in a low quality
the simple choice
good and evil
boomer-tier body slam cyber hacks
if you’re in it solely for the LOLs then
god bless the US
destroyed in atomic fire
alive in dark times
we could all laugh together
“Wow, what big peaches,” I said.
“Are they bigger than last year?”
“They are,” the owner said. “But
there are fewer than last year.”
“How come?” I said. “The weather,”
she said. “A lot of rain. More than
normal. And not enough sunny days
to dry things out a little. Less than
normal sun.” “So it’s a metaphor,”
I said. “How’s that?” she said. “You
know,” I said. “A short but gloriously
full life or a long but average life.”
“I’d rather have a bigger harvest of
smaller peaches,” she said. “My living
depends on it.” “I’m the opposite,”
I said. “I’d rather have a handful
of glorious poems than a truckload
of average ones. My immortality
depends on it.” “That’s the difference
between poems and peaches, I suppose,”
she said. “By the way, I enjoyed your
new book. The peaches are free.”
She delights in the most improbable.
like breaking her crayons to hear the pop.
a testament to the strength she’s developed in 967 days
But when she’s done
So are they
She wants no part of the tattered ones
I pick them up
Not able to teach her
that the tattered ones
paint the best stories.
Their armor easily
And willing shed to provide brilliant texture and contrast.
I’ll try to teach her to love
the broken ones
Even as they grow smaller and smaller
Speckled with hubris and laughter
And the hope
birds shaped like m’s
And clouds made the same way.
And tilted doors
I’ll tell her
Listen to their stories precious one
so that you may know yours.
-C. Z. Heyward