D(Y)D Someone Say Poems (?!?!?)
That Music Always Round Me
Walt Whitman, 1819 - 1892
That music always round me, unceasing, unbeginning, yet long
untaught I did not hear,
But now the chorus I hear and am elated,
A tenor, strong, ascending with power and health, with glad notes
of daybreak I hear,
A soprano at intervals sailing buoyantly over the tops of immense
A transparent base shuddering lusciously under and through the
The triumphant tutti, the funeral wailings with sweet flutes and
violins, all of these I fill myself with,
I hear not the volumes of sound merely, I am moved by the
I listen to the different voices winding in and out, striving,
contending with fiery vehemence to excel each other in
I do not think the performers know themselves—but now I think I
begin to know them
Sjohnna McCray, 1972
Driving the highway from Atlanta to Phoenix
means swapping one type of heat for another.
A bead of sweat rolls over my chest,
around my belly and evaporates
so quickly I forget I’m sweating.
Body chemistry changes like the color
of my skin: from yellow to sienna.
My sister says, it’s a dry heat.
At dusk, lightning storms over the mesas. Violets and grays lie down together. Mountains are the color of father’s hands, layers of dark—then light. People move west to die, retire in a life of dust, trade the pollen of the south for a thin coat of grit, the Arizona desert— promesas, promesas.
We stop on the outskirts of town
and think about being reborn.
When he places his mouth near my mouth
because he’s so obviously thirsty,
when he moves to the well
where my tongue spouts out
because we’re mostly made of water
two-thirds of me is certain:
este infierno vale la pena.
This hell is worth the risk
Riding Alone for Thousands of Miles
Sally Wen Mao
In Lijiang, the sign outside your hostel
glares: Ride alone, ride alone, ride
alone – it taunts you for the mileage
of your solitude, must be past
thousands, for you rode this plane
alone, this train alone, you’ll ride
this bus alone well into the summer night,
well into the next hamlet, town,
city, the next century, as the trees twitch
and the clouds wane and the tides
quiver and the galaxies tilt and the sun
spins us another lonely cycle, you’ll
wonder if this compass will ever change.
The sun doesn’t need more heat,
so why should you? The trees don’t need
to be close, so why should you?
Still Life with Antidepressants
The afternoon light lights
the room in a smudged
sheen, a foggy-eyed glow.
The dog digs at the couch,
low-growling at the mailman.
I’m spelling words with pills
spilled consolidating bottles:
yes and try and most of happy:
Maybe I’ll empty them all.
A woman I don’t know
is having a drill drill into her
skull. To get rid of the thing
requires entering the brain.
How to imagine a story
that ends with that ending?
I don’t know how to live my life,
but at least today I want to
Close your eyes he said and took my hand.
There was something he wanted to show me,
something I couldn’t see. Raised like a scar,
a seam running through the body, here
where the day went dark. I’d wanted to see
the limits of sight, to know where the painter
had found an edge, and stopped,
the day done and the brushes washed,
the figure left to dry, in the dark room
someone half made would try to close his open eye
and find that eye will stay open and never see,
never see the rearing horse he rides
you know the posture you’ve leant back in the saddle
the beast beneath you pulled at its reins and told it to quit
it can’t quit it’s trying to it’s trying to stop
the bit in the mouth and no sight in its eyes
seen and yet blind this was the drama
he wanted to show don’t you think or think
of the woman holding the room on her shoulders
have you ever felt like that like you are to keep
very still while the others move around you
in birth I remember the midwife took my reins
is that right she held me here and there
and reached inside she was touching my baby
I had nothing to do but let it happen
I let it happen so well trained really a vehicle
you ride me or drive me oh but if you are the head
I am the neck I will turn you to my advantage
will make you see what is wrought through me
Kevin Young, 1970
Lady, won’t you wait
out the hurricane
all night at my place—
we’ll take cover like
the lamps & I’ll
let you oil
my scalp. Please, I needs
a good woman’s hands
caught in my hair, turning
my knots to butter.
All night we’ll churn.
will lean in too soon—
you’ll leave out into
the wet world, winded
& alone, knowing
the me only
The Gift to Sing
James Weldon Johnson, 1871 - 1928
Sometimes the mist overhangs my path,
And blackening clouds about me cling;
But, oh, I have a magic way
To turn the gloom to cheerful day—
I softly sing.
And if the way grows darker still,
Shadowed by Sorrow’s somber wing,
With glad defiance in my throat,
I pierce the darkness with a note,
And sing, and sing.
I brood not over the broken past,
Nor dread whatever time may bring;
No nights are dark, no days are long,
While in my heart there swells a song,
And I can sing
Helen Hunt Jackson
Bending above the spicy woods which blaze,
Arch skies so blue they flash, and hold the sun
Immeasurably far; the waters run
Too slow, so freighted are the river-ways
With gold of elms and birches from the maze
Of forests. Chestnuts, clicking one by one,
Escape from satin burs; her fringes done,
The gentian spreads them out in sunny days,
And, like late revelers at dawn, the chance
Of one sweet, mad, last hour, all things assail,
And conquering, flush and spin; while, to enhance
The spell, by sunset door, wrapped in a veil
Of red and purple mists, the summer, pale,
Steals back alone for one more song and dance
On Speaking Quietly with My Brother
You who threw the rock at the back of my head
as hard as you could at four because you thought
this was how to make a stone skip on the ocean,
I have watched you in the dark of a yard
where we can only see each other by a lamp left on
some rooms away. We can see only
one another’s chin. Soon, you will stay up
through the night after I fall
into a laughing sleep. Two moths dust
the same screen for remembered light.
We have all been removed from the lyrics, brother,
our names will be stricken from the papers.
When I think of you and me and recall some
adolescent sunrise, standing on rooftops,
blue still the island but the bowl of it about
to fill with light, it is perhaps strange and horrible
to know one day one of us will die
and the other will be alive, volume turned up,
his mouth now weighing twice as much.
We cannot be excused from this
device of road and harrow, from this weight
we heft and heave. So, you will be the sister.
And I will be the sister. And you—
you are about to give me my words.
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