I Wandered Lonely as a Cloud

I wandered lonely as a cloud

That floats on high o'er vales and hills,

When all at once I saw a crowd,

A host, of golden daffodils;

Beside the lake, beneath the trees,

Fluttering and dancing in the breeze.


Continuous as the stars that shine

And twinkle on the milky way,

They stretched in never-ending line

Along the margin of a bay:

Ten thousand saw I at a glance,

Tossing their heads in sprightly dance.


The waves beside them danced; but they

Out-did the sparkling waves in glee:

A poet could not but be gay,

In such a jocund company:

I gazed—and gazed—but little thought

What wealth the show to me had brought:

 

For oft, when on my couch I lie

In vacant or in pensive mood,

They flash upon that inward eye

Which is the bliss of solitude;

And then my heart with pleasure fills,

And dances with the daffodils.

-William Wordsworth

I Worried

I worried a lot. Will the garden grow, will the rivers
flow in the right direction, will the earth turn
as it was taught, and if not how shall
I correct it?

Was I right, was I wrong, will I be forgiven,
can I do better?

Will I ever be able to sing, even the sparrows
can do it and I am, well,
hopeless.

Is my eyesight fading or am I just imagining it,
am I going to get rheumatism,
lockjaw, dementia?

Finally I saw that worrying had come to nothing.
And gave it up. And took my old body
and went out into the morning,
and sang.

-Mary Oliver

What Do I Care

What do I care, in the dreams and the languor of spring,
That my songs do not show me at all? 
For they are a fragrance, and I am a flint and fire,
I am an answer, they are only a call. 

But what do I care, for love will be over so soon, 
Let my heart have its say and my mind stand idly by, 
For my mind is proud and strong enough to be silent,
It is my heart that makes my songs, not I. 

-Sara Teasdale

The More Loving One

Looking up at the stars, I know quite well
That, for all they care, I can go to hell,
But on earth indifference is the least
We have to dread from man or beast.

How should we like it were stars to burn
With a passion for us we could not return?
If equal affection cannot be,
Let the more loving one be me.

Admirer as I think I am
Of stars that do not give a damn,
I cannot, now I see them, say
I missed one terribly all day.

Were all stars to disappear or die,
I should learn to look at an empty sky
And feel its total dark sublime,
Though this might take me a little time.

-W.H. Auden

MY MOTHER SAYS I WASN’T A BAD GIRL, I WAS JUST BORED

          after Kim Addonizio
I wasn't the real thing, the bad girl by instinct
who wouldn't even call herself bad because 
that would mean at one point she considered what 
it might look like to be good. i was something 
less loveable- woke up before the bad girl sleeping
next to me & tinkered with her makeup till noon, 
followed her out the window so I could mimic
the way she bent her legs, monkey-fucked every 
cigarette so I didn't get caught fumbling with
the flint wheel on some dude's bic. i swung the bat 
in the right direction, undid enough belts
to fill a résumé right, but I never hailed the ride
on my own, never instigated the fight, never promised
a man i was good & meant it. the bad girl calls 
her body what it is - the shit - i called my body 
unfamiliar until it was looked at & then channeled 
everything i'd learned from the bad girl,
how to arch the back, curl the toes, don't be ashamed 
of the veins in your neck, she said once, they mean 
you're feeling something. the bad girl wants everyone 
around her to feel something & she wants to see proof. 
once, we smoked pcp from a dr pepper can
& lay in the dark, talking about our stomachs.
she was frustrated that she couldn't see anything,
so she had me hold a lighter above my torso
while she pulled up my shirt & watched as my belly 
rose & fell, each time i breathed her in. 

-Olivia Gatwood, life of the party

ALL THAT BLINDS US

1

You take off your shirt
and all of a sudden,
I have never seen a naked body before. 
I stare as if you could be eclipsed
at any moment. I look away,
everything becomes white.

2

You can't bring yourself to look at me.
My shoulders burn like a shadow
is trying to peel itself off.
I am the sidewalk crack,
a black cat, the superstition 
of a good woman. 

-Sierra DeMulder 

Death

Nor dread nor hope attend
A dying animal;
A man awaits his end
Dreading and hoping all;
Many times he died,
Many times rose again,
A great man in his pride
Confronting murderous men
Casts derision upon
Supersession of breath;
He knows death to the bone –
Man has created death.

-W.B. Yeats

'We ‘die’ in the course of our lives many times, through failure of nerve or failing to live in some other sense; yet we get another chance to make our lives good.'    -Shakespeare,  Julius Caesar

[little tree]

little tree
little silent Christmas tree
you are so little
you are more like a flower

who found you in the green forest
and were you very sorry to come away?
see          i will comfort you
because you smell so sweetly

i will kiss your cool bark
and hug you safe and tight
just as your mother would,
only don’t be afraid

look          the spangles
that sleep all the year in a dark box
dreaming of being taken out and allowed to shine,
the balls the chains red and gold the fluffy threads,

put up your little arms
and i’ll give them all to you to hold
every finger shall have its ring
and there won’t be a single place dark or unhappy

then when you’re quite dressed
you’ll stand in the window for everyone to see
and how they’ll stare!
oh but you’ll be very proud

and my little sister and i will take hands
and looking up at our beautiful tree
we’ll dance and sing
“Noel Noel”

-E.E. Cummings

Enough.

These few words are enough. 
If not these words
This breath.
This sitting here.
This opening to life
we have refused again and again
until now. 

It is not enough to know.
It is not enough to follow the inward road
conversing in secret,
It is not enough to see straight ahead
To gaze at the unborn thinking the silence belongs to you.
It is not enough to hear even the tiniest edge of rain.
You must go the place where everything waits.
There where you finally rest
Even one word will do.
One word or the poem of your hand
turning outward in the gesture of gift
And how we are truly amazed to find
the great silence asking so little. 
One word only. 

-David Whyte

Until now. Until now. Until now...

Sarah Ruhl…

On Italo Calvino’s essay on “Lightness” in Six Memos For The New Millenium:

A suspicion that lightness is not deeply serious (but instead whimsical) pervades aesthetic discourse. But what if lightness is a philosophical choice to temper reality with strangeness, to temper the intellect with emotion, and to temper emotion with humor. Lightness is then a philosophical victory over heaviness. A reckoning with the humble and the small and the invisible.

The Mountaintop

In truth, you still expect to order your life
in peace; you continue to long for glamour and passion.

To guard against the destiny
you don’t really know, you work furiously.

Pensive and unathletic as you are, you have
your own intricate schedule,

with your shopping bags and appointments.
You always forget you’re a bag of blood.

In sleep, these things lose
their power over you.

Meaninglessness does to you
what it can. When you wake, you have no ideas;

the heart is momentarily light.
As you slip back into the days, you find

you haven’t done with certain notions yet.
You read all the time, help yourself to a plate of oysters.

The dreams become fresh and astounding once more,
renewed by the drama of betrayal.

Even the self you take to be so real
falls away while you labor,

and the only stones left are the ones in your throat,
forgone things you have to get down fast

or else you’ll choke. At last, you don’t even know
what you feel for yourself.

The mountaintop: you can keep your books
and your music there. What’s bad in one story

is good in another. Something has made you brave.
There is more to life than writing.

-Sandra Lim

Mr. Darcy

Then we are in the back seat of a car kissing
           not the light kind but one where our
    hands are on each other’s cheeks holding
                 each other’s heads as if they will fall

off why does so much love come at the beginning
           then disappear then once again at the moment
      before death why can’t the same kind exist
                  in between in the breaths in the

afternoon in the sitting room in a place of costumes
            little girls dress like princesses one pink one
      blue one yellow they wear plastic heels because
                 they still think they will never fall.

-Victoria Chang

Alone

Lying, thinking
Last night
How to find my soul a home
Where water is not thirsty
And bread loaf is not stone
I came up with one thing
And I don’t believe I’m wrong
That nobody,
But nobody
Can make it out here alone.

Alone, all alone
Nobody, but nobody
Can make it out here alone.

There are some millionaires
With money they can’t use
Their wives run round like banshees
Their children sing the blues
They’ve got expensive doctors
To cure their hearts of stone.
But nobody
No, nobody
Can make it out here alone.

Alone, all alone
Nobody, but nobody
Can make it out here alone.

Now if you listen closely
I’ll tell you what I know
Storm clouds are gathering
The wind is gonna blow
The race of man is suffering
And I can hear the moan,
‘Cause nobody,
But nobody
Can make it out here alone.

Alone, all alone
Nobody, but nobody
Can make it out here alone

-Maya Angelou

Working Miracles

What’s it going to take

to incite a revolution

for love? Nothing came easy

to Helen Keller except

knowing everyone needs love

and wants to be heard,

deserves the chance to live,

to help because everyone has

something unique to give,

to share before they die.

Helen’s gift came from being

Stuck in the silent dark alone

with no way out known

until Annie groped her way into

the damp chamber of Helen’s cave

and pulled her screaming

into the light of connection,

expression, where they could see

and tell us what they’d found

down there, together, deep

in the human heart: that love is

Most certainly blind.

So maybe we all need to go

back into the cave, learn

to lean on each other

in the dark, like infants,

fall in love again with voices,

the smell of skin, with touch,

body heat, intimacy. Maybe

then we can rediscover

our vulnerability and value

love as much as fear.

-Mark Gibbons

Dear P.

Someone will        love you     many will      love

you         many will brother you   some of these

loves will        bother you   some   will      leave you

one might        haunt   you      hunt you in your

sleep        make you       weep the tearless kind of

weep the         kind of weep   that drowns your

organs     slowly    there are little oars  in your body      

little boats   grab onto them and row and        row

someone will tell you      no       but you won’t   know

he is    right until you have   already        wrung your  

own heart dry    your hands dripping knives    until

you have    already   reached your hands into       his       

body and put them through his        heart     love is

the only thing that       is not    an       argument.

-Victoria Chang

“You deserve a lover…” by Frida Kahlo

You deserve a lover who wants you disheveled, with everything and all the reasons that wake you up in a haste and the demons that won’t let you sleep.

You deserve a lover who makes you feel safe, who can consume this world whole if he walks hand in hand with you; someone who believes that his embraces are a perfect match with your skin.

You deserve a lover who wants to dance with you, who goes to paradise every time he looks into your eyes and never gets tired of studying your expressions.

You deserve a lover who listens when you sing, who supports you when you feel shame and respects your freedom; who flies with you and isn’t afraid to fall.

You deserve a lover who takes away the lies and brings you hope, coffee, and poetry.

All of these things… A want. A need. I love this.

WHAT TO DO AFTER YOU’VE MEMORIZED THE FACE OF THE PERSON YOU LOVE

Find the smallest pore on their cheek and name it.

Count how many eyelashes go missing at the end of the day and mourn.

Measure precisely how many kisses it takes to get from elbow to wrist.

Study their knees, meticulously.

-Sierra DeMulder

“B” (If I Should Have a Daughter)

If I should have a daughter, instead of mom, she’s going to call me Point B,

because that way she knows that no matter what happens,
at least she can always find her way to me.

And I am going to paint the Solar Systems on the backs of her hands,
so she has to learn the entire universe before she can say ‘Oh, I know that like the back of my hand’

And she’s going to learn that this life will hit you,
hard,
in the face,
wait for you to get back up, just so it can kick you in the stomach
but getting the wind knocked out of you is the only way to remind your lungs how much they like the taste of air.

There is hurt, fear that cannot be fixed by band aids or poetry
so the first time she realizes that Wonder Woman isn’t coming
I’ll make sure she knows she does not have to wear the cape all by herself
because no matter how wide you stretch your fingers,
your hands will always be too small to catch all the pain you want to heal.

Believe me, I’ve tried

And baby, I’ll tell her, don’t keep your nose up in the air like that
I know that trick, I’ve done it a million times
You’re just smelling for smoke so you can follow the trail
back to a burning house so you can find the boy who lost everything in the fire
to see if you can save him.

Or else find the boy who lit the fire in the first place to see if you can change him
But I know she will anyway, so instead, I’ll always keep an extra supply of chocolate
and rainboots nearby.

Because there is no heartbreak that chocolate can’t fix.
Ok, there’s a few heartbreaks that chocolate can’t fix,
but that’s what the rainboots are for because rain will
wash away everything if you let it.

I want her to look at the world through the underside of a glass bottomed boat
To look through a microscope at the galaxies that exist on the pinpoint of a human mind
Because that’s the way my mom taught me. That there’ll be days like this.

There’ll be days like this, my mama said.
When you open your hands to catch, and wind up with only blisters and bruises;
When you step out of the phone booth and try to fly

And the very people you want to save are the ones standing on your cape;
When your boots will fill with rain, and you’ll be up to your knees in disappointment
and those are the very days you have all the more reason to say thank you

because there’s nothing more beautiful than the way the ocean refuses to stop
kissing the shoreline no matter how many times it is sent away.

You will put the win in win some … lose some.
You will put the star in starting over and over.

And no matter how many land mines erupt in a minute
be sure your mind lands on the beauty of this funny place called life.
And yes, on a scale from one to over-trusting, I am pretty damn naive.

But I want her to know that this world is made out of sugar.
It can crumble so easily.
But don’t be afraid to stick your tongue out and taste it.
Baby, I’ll tell her, remember your mama is a worrier
and your papa is a warrior.

And you’re the girl with small hands and big eyes who never stops asking for more.
Remember that good things come in threes and so do bad things and
always apologize when you’ve done something wrong

but don’t you ever apologize for the way your eyes refuse to stop shining,
your voice is small but don’t ever stop singing.

And when they finally hand you a heartache,
when they slip war and hatred under your door and offer you handouts on street corners
of cynicism and defeat, you tell them that
they
really ought to meet your mother.

-Sarah Kay

Thirst

Another morning and I wake with thirst
for the goodness I do not have. I walk
out to the pond and all the way God has
given us such beautiful lessons. Oh Lord,
I was never a quick scholar but sulked
and hunched over my books past the hour
and the bell; grant me, in your mercy,
a little more time. Love for the earth
and love for you are having such a long
conversation in my heart. Who knows what
will finally happen or where I will be sent,
yet already I have given a great many things
away, expecting to be told to pack nothing,
except the prayers which, with this thirst,
I am slowly learning.

-Mary Oliver