Monomoy by, Carl Phillips
Somewhere, people must still do things like fetch
water from wells in buckets, then pour it out
for those animals that, long domesticated, would
likely perish before figuring out how to get
for themselves. That dog, for example, whose
refusal to leave my side I mistook, as a child,
for loyalty — when all along it was just blind ... What
is it about vulnerability that can make the hand
draw back, sometimes, and can sometimes seem
the catalyst for rendering the hand into sheer force,
destructive? Don’t you see how you’ve burnt almost
all of it, all the tenderness, away, someone screams
to someone else, in public — and looking elsewhere,
we walk quickly past, as if even to have heard
that much might have put us at risk of whatever fate
questions like that
spring from. Estrangement —
like sacrifice — begins as a word at first, soon it’s
the stuff of drama, cue the follow-up tears that
attend drama, then it’s pretty much the difference
between waking up to a storm and waking up
inside one. Who can say how she got there —
in the ocean, I mean — but I once watched a horse
make her way back to land mid-hurricane: having
ridden, surfer-like, the very waves that at any moment
could have overwhelmed her in their crash to shore, she
shook herself, looked back once on the water’s restlessness —
history’s always restless — and the horse stepped free.
A Certain Kind Of Eden by, Kay Ryan
It seems like you could, but
you can’t go back and pull
the roots and runners and replant.
It’s all too deep for that.
You’ve overprized intention,
have mistaken any bent you’re given
for control. You thought you chose
the bean and chose the soil.
You even thought you abandoned
one or two gardens. But those things
keep growing where we put them—
if we put them at all.
A certain kind of Eden holds us thrall.
Even the one vine that tendrils out alone
in time turns on its own impulse,
twisting back down its upward course
a strong and then a stronger rope,
the greenest saddest strongest
kind of hope.
Adolescence by, Adrienne Su
The trouble was not about finding acceptance.
Acceptance was available in the depths of the mind
And among like people. The trouble was the look into the canyon
Which had come a long time earlier
And spent many years being forgotten.
The fine garments and rows of strong shoes,
The pantry stocked with good grains and butter—
Everything could be earned by producing right answers.
Answers were important, the canyon said,
But the answers were not the solution.
A glimpse into the future had shown the prairie
On which houses stood sturdily.
The earth was moist and generous, the sunlight benevolent.
The homesteaders dreamed up palaces and descendants,
And the animals slept soundly as stones.
It was a hard-earned heaven, the self-making
Of travelers, and often, out on the plains,
Mirages rose of waterfalls, moose, and rows of fresh-plowed soil,
But nobody stopped to drink the false water.
Real water being plentiful, they were not thirsty.
A few made their fortunes from native beauty,
Others from native strength, but most from knowledge,
As uncertainties in science could be written off to faith.
Faith was religious and ordinary life physical,
And spiritual was a song that had not yet arrived.
Your World, Georgia Douglas Johnson
Your world is as big as you make it.
I know, for I used to abide
In the narrowest nest in a corner,
My wings pressing close to my side.
But I sighted the distant horizon
Where the skyline encircled the sea
And I throbbed with a burning desire
To travel this immensity.
I battered the cordons around me
And cradled my wings on the breeze,
Then soared to the uttermost reaches
With rapture, with power, with ease!
Mama Said, Calvin Forbes
The slice I ate I want it back
Those crumbs I swept up
I’d like my share again
I can still taste it like it was
The memory by itself is delicious
Each bite was a small miracle
Both nourishing and sweet
I wish I had saved just a little bit
I know it wasn’t a literal cake
It’s the thought that counts
Like a gift that’s not store-bought
Making it even more special
Like a dream that makes you
Want to go back to sleep
You can’t have your cake
And eat it too Momma said
I was defiant and hardheaded
And answered yes I can too
The look she gave me said boy
I hope you aren’t a fool all your life