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A Poem a Day for April...

D. Allan

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April is Nation Poetry Month.

Write and post one of your own, if you please.

No rules. It doesn't have to rhyme or scan.


In the Library

by Charles Simic

for Octavio

There's a book called

"A Dictionary of Angels."

No one has opened it in fifty years,

I know, because when I did,

The covers creaked, the pages

Crumbled. There I discovered

The angels were once as plentiful

As species of flies.

The sky at dusk

Used to be thick with them.

You had to wave both arms

Just to keep them away.

Now the sun is shining

Through the tall windows.

The library is a quiet place.

Angels and gods huddled

In dark unopened books.

The great secret lies

On some shelf Miss Jones

Passes every day on her rounds.

She's very tall, so she keeps

Her head tipped as if listening.

The books are whispering.

I hear nothing, but she does.


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NSAP41_SMALL.JPGHome After Three Months Away

by Robert Lowell

Gone now the baby's nurse,

a lioness who ruled the roost

and made the Mother cry.

She used to tie

gobbets of porkrind in bowknots of gauze--

three months they hung like soggy toast

on our eight foot magnolia tree,

and helped the English sparrows

weather a Boston winter.

Three months, three months!

Is Richard now himself again?

Dimpled with exaltation,

my daughter holds her levee in the tub.

Our noses rub,

each of us pats a stringy lock of hair--

they tell me nothing's gone.

Though I am forty-one,

not forty now, the time I put away

was child's play. After thirteen weeks

my child still dabs her cheeks

to start me shaving. When

we dress her in her sky-blue corduroy,

she changes to a boy,

and floats my shaving brush

and washcloth in the flush. . . .

Dearest I cannot loiter here

in lather like a polar bear.

Recuperating, I neither spin nor toil.

Three stories down below,

a choreman tends our coffin's length of soil,

and seven horizontal tulips blow.

Just twelve months ago,

these flowers were pedigreed

imported Dutchmen; no no one need

distinguish them from weed.

Bushed by the late spring snow,

they cannot meet

another year's snowballing enervation.

I keep no rank nor station.

Cured, I am frizzled, stale and small.

- http://www.poets.org/viewmedia.php/prmMID/15285


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The Origin

by Jane Mead

of what happened is not in language—

of this much I am certain.

Six degrees south, six east—

and you have it: the bird

with the blue feathers, the brown bird—

same white breasts, same scaly

ankles. The waves between us—

house light and transform motion

into the harboring of sounds in language.—

Where there is newsprint

the fact of desire is turned from again—

and again. Just the sense

that what remains might well be held up—

later, as an ending.

Twice I have walked through this life—

once for nothing, once

for facts: fairy-shrimp in the vernal pool—

glassy-winged sharp-shooter

on the failing vines. Count me—

among the animals, their small

committed calls.—

Count me among

the living. My greatest desire—

to exist in a physical world.

- from poets.org


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Mother Doesn't Want a Dog

by Judith Viorst

Mother doesn't want a dog.

Mother says they smell,

And never sit when you say sit,

Or even when you yell.

And when you come home late at night

And there is ice and snow,

You have to go back out because

The dumb dog has to go.

Mother doesn't want a dog.

Mother says they shed,

And always let the strangers in

And bark at friends instead,

And do disgraceful things on rugs,

And track mud on the floor,

And flop upon your bed at night

And snore their doggy snore.

Mother doesn't want a dog.

She's making a mistake.

Because, more than a dog, I think

She will not want this snake.

-from www.poets.org


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Assault to Abjury

by Raymond McDaniel

Rain commenced, and wind did.

A crippled ship slid ashore.

Our swimmer's limbs went heavy.

The sand had been flattened.

The primary dune, the secondary dune, both leveled.

The maritime forest, extracted.

Every yard of the shore was shocked with jellyfish.

The blue pillow of the man o' war empty in the afterlight.

The threads of the jellyfish, spent.

Disaster weirdly neatened the beach.

We cultivated the debris field.

Castaway trash, our treasure.

Jewel box, spoon ring, sack of rock candy.

A bicycle exoskeleton without wheels, grasshopper green.

Our dead ten speed.

We rested in red mangrove and sheltered in sheets.

Our bruises blushed backwards, our blisters did.

is it true is it true

God help us we tried to stay shattered but we just got better.

We grew adept, we caught the fish as they fled.

We skinned the fish, our knife clicked like an edict.

We were harmed, and then we healed.

More about the author and the book here


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Terzanelle: Manzanar Riot 1199960480_ff22269e57_o.jpg

by Claire Kageyama-Ramakrishnan

This is a poem with missing details,

of ground gouging each barrack's windowpane,

sand crystals falling with powder and shale,

where silence and shame make adults insane.

This is about a midnight of searchlights,

of ground gouging each barrack's windowpane,

of syrup on rice and a cook's big fight.

This is the night of Manzanar's riot.

This is about a midnight of searchlights,

a swift moon and a voice shouting, Quiet!

where the revolving searchlight is the moon.

This is the night of Manzanar's riot,

windstorm of people, rifle powder fumes,

children wiping their eyes clean of debris,

where the revolving searchlight is the moon,

and children line still to use the latrines.

This is a poem with missing details,

children wiping their eyes clean of debris—

sand crystals falling with powder and shale.

Read more about the terza-rima form at wikipedia and at poets.org

about the author

"Shadow Mountain" is the winner of the Four Way Books Intro Series in Poetry, selected by acclaimed poet Kimiko Hahn. The first years of the 21st century have been marked by a global uneasiness over untold stories: forgotten prisoners, unjustified wars, secret decisions. In "Shadow Mountain", Claire Kageyama-Ramakrishnan gives voice to older, too-easily forgotten tragedies, urging us to learn a present lesson. She draws on the stories of Japanese-Americans interned at Manzanar Relocation Center, California, and on her own childhood and memories of her grandparents, examining the fault-line between family life and communal experience."Shadow Mountain" is captivating in its imagery, enchanting in its sounds, and a must read for anyone interested in the history of Japanese-American citizens and their children. Ranging in her forms from sonnet to terzanelle to fragmented, obstructed free verse, Kageyama-Ramakrishnan is a heartfelt interlocutor. http://bookshop.blackwell.com/jsp/id/Shadow_Mountain/9781884800849


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Poet and businessman Wallace Stevens said that poetry is "a response to the daily necessity of getting the world right."

Nomad Exquisite

by Wallace Stevens

As the immense dew of Florida

Brings forth

The big-finned palm

And green vine angering for life,

As the immense dew of Florida

Brings forth hymn and hymn

From the beholder,

Beholding all these green sides

And gold sides of green sides,

And blessed mornings,

Meet for the eye of the young alligator,

And lightning colors

So, in me, come flinging

Forms, flames, and the flakes of flames.

More than any other modern poet, Stevens was concerned with the transformative power of the imagination. Composing poems on his way to and from the office and in the evenings, Stevens continued to spend his days behind a desk at the office, and led a quiet, uneventful life.

Though now considered one of the major American poets of the century, he did not receive widespread recognition until the publication of his Collected Poems, just a year before his death.


Recommended poems:

Thirteen Ways of Looking at a Blackbird

Metaphors of a Magnifico

Wikipedia Article

Filreis Stevens Site


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The Assignation

by Ciaran Carson

I think I must have told him my name was Juliette,

with four syllables, you said, to go with violette.

I envisaged the violet air that presages snow,

the dark campaniles of a city beginning to blur

a malfunctioning violet neon pharmacy sign

jittering away all night through the dimity curtains.

Near dawn you opened them to a deep fall and discovered

a line of solitary footprints leading to a porch:

a smell of candle-wax and frankincense; the dim murmur

of a liturgy you knew but whose language you did not.

The statues were shrouded in Lenten violet, save one,

a Virgin in a cope of voile so white as to be blue.

As was the custom there, your host informed you afterwards&em;

the church was dedicated to Our Lady of the Snows.

emailed from by www.poets.org


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Cuadrados y Angulos

by Alfonsina Storni

Casas enfiladas, casas enfiladas,

casas enfiladas.

Cuadrados, cuadrados, cuadrados.

Casas enfiladas.

Las gentes ya tienen el alma cuadrada,

ideas enfila

y ángulo en la espalda.

Yo misma he vertido ayer una ágrima,

Dios mio, cuadrada.

by Alfonsina Storni. John A. Crow, John T. Reed, John E. Englekirk, Irving A. Leonard, An Anthology of Spanish American Literature. New York: Meridith Corp., 1968. Squares and Angles

Houses in a line, in a line,

In a line there,

Squares, squares, squares,

Even people now have square souls,

Ideas in file, I declare,

And on their shoulders, angles wear.

Just yesterday I shed a tear and it

Oh, God, was square!

-Translated by Willis Knapp Jones. Spanish American Literature in Translation: A Selection of Poetry, Fiction, and Drama since 1888. New York: Frederick Ungar Publishing Co., 1963. (Cuadrados y Angulos/Squares and Angles)


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by Alan Shapiro

What was it like before the doctor got there?

Till then, we were in the back seat of the warm

dark bubble of the old Buick. We were where

we'd never not been, no matter where we were.

And when the doctor got there?

Everything outside was in a rage of wind and sleet,

we were children, brothers, safe in the back seat,

for once not fighting, just listening, watching the storm.

Weren't you afraid that something bad might happen?

Our father held the wheel with just two fingers

even though the car skidded and fishtailed

and the chains clanged raggedly over ice and asphalt.

Weren't you afraid at all?

Dad sang for someone to fly him to the moon,

to let him play among the stars, while Mom

held up the lighter to another Marlboro.

But when the doctor started speaking. . .

The tip of the Marlboro was a bright red star.

Her lips pursed and she released a ring of Saturn,

which dissolved as we caught at it, as my dad sang Mars.

When you realized what the doctor was saying. . .

They were closer to the storm in the front seat.

The high beams, weak as steam against the walled swirling,

only illuminated what we couldn't see.

When he described it, the tumor in the brain and what it meant. . .

See, we were children. Then we weren't. Or my brother wasn't.

He was driving now, he gripped the steering wheel

with both hands and stared hard at the panicked wipers.

What did you feel?

Just sleet, the slick road, the car going way too fast,

no brother beside me in the back seat, no singing father,

no mother, no ring of Saturn to catch at as it floats.

from Poets.org


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A Pot of Tea

by Richard Kenney

Loose leaves in a metal ball

Or men in a shark cage steeping,

Ideas stain the limpid mind

Even while it's sleeping:

Ginseng or the scent of lymph

Or consequences queasing

Into wide awareness, whence,

Like an engine seizing

Society remits a shudder

Showing it has feeling,

And the divers all have shaving cuts

And the future's in Darjeeling—

Blind, the brain stem bumps the bars

Of the shark cage, meanwhile, feeding,

And the tea ball's cracked, its leaves cast

To catastrophic reading:

Ideas are too dangerous.

My love adjusts an earring.

I take her in my arms again

And think of Hermann Göring,

And all liquidities in which

A stain attracts an eating,

And of my country's changing heart,

And hell, where the blood is sleeting.



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maggie and milly and molly and may

by E. E. Cummings


maggie and milly and molly and may

went down to the beach(to play one day)

and maggie discovered a shell that sang

so sweetly she couldn't remember her troubles,and

milly befriended a stranded star

whose rays five languid fingers were;

and molly was chased by a horrible thing

which raced sideways while blowing bubbles:and

may came home with a smooth round stone

as small as a world and as large as alone.

For whatever we lose(like a you or a me)

it's always ourselves we find in the sea


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Alpha Zulu

by Gary Lilley

I know more people dead than people alive,

my insomniac answer to self-addressed prayers

is that in the small hours even God drinks alone.

My self-portrait; gray locks in the beard, red eyes

burning back in the mirror, the truths of grooves

and nicks on my face, one missing tooth.

I'm a man who's gathered too many addresses,

too many goodbyes. There's not much money

or time left to keep on subtracting from my life.

Except for needs I can pack everything I have

into my old black sea-bag. To all the bloods

I'll raise a bourbon, plant my elbow on the bar

and drink to the odds that one more shot

won't have me wearing a suit of blues.

I'm so exposed, with you all of me is at risk,

and if that's only one side of being in love

that's the one deep down that proves it.

Here you are sleeping with me, narcotic as night,

naked as an open hand, and the skinny of it is,

what makes you think I am afraid of this

when I once lived in a cave, moss on the cold wall,

all my bones scattered across the floor.

About the book : http://www.poets.org/sponsor-book-profile.php/prmSponsorID/126/prmBookID/577


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by Karen Chase

Our love is not the short

courtly kind but

upstream, down,

long inside — enjambed,

enjoined, conjoined, and

jammed, it's you, enkindler,

enlarger, jampacked man of many

stanzas, my enheartener – love

runs on from line to

you, from line to me and me

to you, from river to sea and sea to

land, hits a careless coast, meanders

way across the globe — land

ahoy! water ahoy! — love

with no end, my waters go

wherever you are, my stream

of consciousness.



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Compulsively Allergic to the Truth

by Jeffrey McDaniel

I'm sorry I was late.

I was pulled over by a cop

for driving blindfolded

with a raspberry-scented candle

flickering in my mouth.

I'm sorry I was late.

I was on my way

when I felt a plot

thickening in my arm.

I have a fear of heights.

Luckily the Earth

is on the second floor

of the universe.

I am not the egg man.

I am the owl

who just witnessed

another tree fall over

in the forest of your life.

I am your father

shaking his head

at the thought of you.

I am his words dissolving

in your mind like footprints

in a rainstorm.

I am a long-legged martini.

I am feeding olives

to the bull inside you.

I am decorating

your labyrinth,

tacking up snapshots

of all the people

who've gotten lost

in your corridors.

- http://www.poets.org/viewmedia.php/prmMID/20059


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by Pura López-Colomé

Translated by Forrest Gander

Reanimated, spirit restored,

reincorporated, body restored,

I contemplate between dreams

the scene I've stolen

like the one who took fire,

like the one who opened the devil box

out of curiosity,

like the one who saw her equal

and her life's love

were the same and so effortlessly

brought them together.

I took exactly

what was not mine,

with my eyes.

I saw the sea inside you:

on your surface, mud.

I kissed you like a shipwreck,

like one who insufflates the word.

With my lips I traveled

that entire continent,

Adam, from dirt, Nothing.

I knew myself in your substance,

grounded there,

emitting aromatic fumes,

an amatory banquet of ashes.



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Father's Day

by James Tate

My daughter has lived overseas for a number

of years now. She married into royalty, and they

won't let her communicate with any of her family or

friends. She lives on birdseed and a few sips

of water. She dreams of me constantly. Her husband,

the Prince, whips her when he catches her dreaming.

Fierce guard dogs won't let her out of their sight.

I hired a detective, but he was killed trying to

rescue her. I have written hundreds of letters

to the State Department. They have written back

saying that they are aware of the situation. I

never saw her dance. I was always at some

convention. I never saw her sing. I was always

working late. I called her My Princess, to make

up for my shortcomings, and she never forgave me.

Birdseed was her middle name.

-from http://www.poets.org/viewmedia.php/prmMID/19824


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Carrion Comfort

by Gerard Manley Hopkins (1844-1889)

Not, I'll not, carrion comfort, Despair, not feast on thee;

Not untwist--slack they may be--these last strands of man

In me ór, most weary, cry I can no more. I can;

Can something, hope, wish day come, not choose not to be.

But ah, but O thou terrible, why wouldst thou rude on me

Thy wring-world right foot rock? lay a lionlimb against me? scan

With darksome devouring eyes my bruisèd bones? and fan,

O in turns of tempest, me heaped there; me frantic to avoid thee

and flee?

Why? That my chaff might fly; my grain lie, sheer and clear.

Nay in all that toil, that coil, since (seems) I kissed the rod,

Hand rather, my heart lo! lapped strength, stole joy, would laugh, chéer.

Cheer whom though? The hero whose heaven-handling flung me,

fóot tród

Me? or me that fought him? O which one? is it each one? That night,

that year

Of now done darkness I wretch lay wrestling with (my God!) my God.

- from http://www.poets.org/viewmedia.php/prmMID/15803

More about the poet: http://www.poets.org/poet.php/prmPID/284

also at: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gerard_Manley_Hopkins


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No, Love Is Not Dead

by Robert Desnos (French surrealist, 1900 - 1945)

No, love is not dead in this heart these eyes and this mouth

that announced the start of its own funeral.

Listen, I've had enough of the picturesque, the colorful

and the charming.

I love love, its tenderness and cruelty.

My love has only one name, one form.

Everything disappears. All mouths cling to that one.

My love has just one name, one form.

And if someday you remember

O you, form and name of my love,

One day on the ocean between America and Europe,

At the hour when the last ray of light sparkles

on the undulating surface of the waves, or else a stormy night

beneath a tree in the countryside or in a speeding car,

A spring morning on the boulevard Malesherbes,

A rainy day,

Just before going to bed at dawn,

Tell yourself-I order your familiar spirit-that

I alone loved you more and it's a shame

you didn't know it.

Tell yourself there's no need to regret: Ronsard

and Baudelaire before me sang the sorrows

of women old or dead who scorned the purest love.

When you are dead

You will still be lovely and desirable.

I'll be dead already, completely enclosed in your immortal body,

in your astounding image forever there among the endless marvels

of life and eternity, but if I'm alive,

The sound of your voice, your radiant looks,

Your smell the smell of your hair and many other things

will live on inside me.

In me and I'm not Ronsard or Baudelaire

I'm Robert Desnos who, because I knew

and loved you,

Is as good as they are.

I'm Robert Desnos who wants to be remembered

On this vile earth for nothing but his love of you.

A la mysterieuse

- from: http://www.poets.org/viewmedia.php/prmMID/19461


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by Marianne Moore (1887 - 1972)

I, too, dislike it: there are things that are important beyond

all this fiddle.

Reading it, however, with a perfect contempt for it, one

discovers in

it after all, a place for the genuine.

Hands that can grasp, eyes

that can dilate, hair that can rise

if it must, these things are important not because a

high-sounding interpretation can be put upon them but because

they are

useful. When they become so derivative as to become


the same thing may be said for all of us, that we

do not admire what

we cannot understand: the bat

holding on upside down or in quest of something to

eat, elephants pushing, a wild horse taking a roll, a tireless

wolf under

a tree, the immovable critic twitching his skin like a horse

that feels a flea, the base-

ball fan, the statistician--

nor is it valid

to discriminate against "business documents and

school-books"; all these phenomena are important. One must make

a distinction

however: when dragged into prominence by half poets, the

result is not poetry,

nor till the poets among us can be

"literalists of

the imagination"--above

insolence and triviality and can present

for inspection, "imaginary gardens with real toads in them,"

shall we have

it. In the meantime, if you demand on the one hand,

the raw material of poetry in

all its rawness and

that which is on the other hand

genuine, you are interested in poetry.

from - http://www.poets.org/viewmedia.php/prmMID/15654


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Learning to Speak

by Liz Rosenberg

She was the quietest thing I'd ever seen.

It was so restful, being in her company

For hours, neither of us uttering a word.

I'd read the paper, look up, and she would smile,

Her lips half-pursed, just tucked up at the ends

As if holding a blithe secret.

When I fed her, she'd silently nod and smile,

Like immigrants you see

In train stations or in the movies,

She'd take the bowl from my hands

And nod again and smile again

And neither of us would say a word

From sunup to sunset.

When son and husband came home,

Both talking at once, both talking

With their mouths full,

My daughter and I could only look at them

With our dark quiet eyes.

Siddown, she says now.

I sit down

Without argument.


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Mummy of a Lady Named Jemutesonekh

XXI Dynasty

by Thomas James

My body holds its shape. The genius is intact.

Will I return to Thebes? In that lost country

The eucalyptus trees have turned to stone.

Once, branches nudged me, dropping swollen blossoms,

And passionflowers lit my father's garden.

Is it still there, that place of mottled shadow,

The scarlet flowers breathing in the darkness?

I remember how I died. It was so simple!

One morning the garden faded. My face blacked out.

On my left side they made the first incision.

They washed my heart and liver in palm wine—

My lungs were two dark fruit they stuffed with spices.

They smeared my innards with a sticky unguent

And sealed them in a crock of alabaster.

My brain was next. A pointed instrument

Hooked it through my nostrils, strand by strand.

A voice swayed over me. I paid no notice.

For weeks my body swam in sweet perfume.

I came out Scoured. I was skin and bone.

Thy lifted me into the sun again

And packed my empty skull with cinnamon.

They slit my toes; a razor gashed my fingertips.

Stitched shut at last, my limbs were chaste and valuable,

Stuffed with a paste of cloves and wild honey.

My eyes were empty, so they filled them up,

Inserting little nuggets of obsidian.

A basalt scarab wedged between my breasts

Replaced the tinny music of my heart.

Hands touched my sutures. I was so important!

They oiled my pores, rubbing a fragrance in.

An amber gum oozed down to soothe my temples.

I wanted to sit up. My skin was luminous,

Frail as the shadow of an emerald.

Before I learned to love myself too much,

My body wound itself in spools of linen.

Shut in my painted box, I am a precious object.

I wear a wooden mask. These are my eyelids,

Two flakes of bronze, and here is my new mouth,

Chiseled with care, guarding its ruby facets.

I will last forever. I am not impatient —

My skin will wait to greet its old complexions.

I'll lie here till the world swims back again.

When I come home the garden will be budding,

White petals breaking open, clusters of night flowers,

The far-off music of a tambourine.

A boy will pace among the passionflowers,

His eyes no longer two bruised surfaces.

I'll know the mouth of my young groom, I'll touch

His hands. Why do people lie to one another?



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Sleep Door

by Kazim Ali

a light knocking on the sleep door

like the sound of a rope striking the side of a boat

heard underwater

boats pulling up alongside each other

beneath the surface we rub up against each other

will we capsize in

the surge and silence

of waking from sleep

you are a lost canoe, navigating by me

I am the star map tonight

all the failed echoes

don't matter

the painted-over murals

don't matter

you can find your way to me

by the faint star-lamp

we are a fleet now

our prows zeroing in

praying in the wind

to spin like haywire compasses

toward whichever direction

will have us



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After the Movie

by Marie Howe

My friend Michael and I are walking home arguing about the movie.

He says that he believes a person can love someone

and still be able to murder that person.

I say, No, that's not love. That's attachment.

Michael says, No, that's love. You can love someone, then come to a day

when you're forced to think "it's him or me"

think "me" and kill him.

I say, Then it's not love anymore.

Michael says, It was love up to then though.

I say, Maybe we mean different things by the same word.

Michael says, Humans are complicated: love can exist even in the

murderous heart.

I say that what he might mean by love is desire.

Love is not a feeling, I say. And Michael says, Then what is it?

We're walking along West 16th Street—a clear unclouded night—and I hear my voice

repeating what I used to say to my husband: Love is action, I used to say

to him.

Simone Weil says that when you really love you are able to look at

someone you want to eat and not eat them.

Janis Joplin says, take another little piece of my heart now baby.

Meister Eckhardt says that as long as we love images we are doomed to

live in purgatory.

Michael and I stand on the corner of 6th Avenue saying goodnight.

I can't drink enough of the tangerine spritzer I've just bought—

again and again I bring the cold can to my mouth and suck the stuff from

the hole the flip top made.

What are you doing tomorrow? Michael says.

But what I think he's saying is "You are too strict. You are

a nun."

Then I think, Do I love Michael enough to allow him to think these things

of me even if he's not thinking them?

Above Manhattan, the moon wanes, and the sky turns clearer and colder.

Although the days, after the solstice, have started to lengthen,

we both know the winter has only begun.



O frabjous day! Callooh! Callay!

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