How time slowed when any thought
or apprehension of the next instant
vanished (no obligation, then or later),
how in that long moment, all at once,
yet without surprise, how what was close
was present in a sudden suspense,
as such things rarely exist
as they did then, each apart from all, <...Read more
Our paper house sat
on the banks of the red river
and though mother
wasn't like other mothers
I was like other girls
trapped and lonely
and painting pictures
in the stars. I was slick
with old birth or early longing,
already halfway between
who I wanted to be...Read more
I took the night train there,
To cross the straits
my boxcar crept onto a barge-there was screeching,
several tremendous thuds,
then with a growl
I was already half-awake,
anxious for a volcano, neolithic shrines,
islands to explore
off the main island...
We've been told space
is like two dark lips colliding
like science fiction
it outlines a small cosmos
where fear hides in a glow
where negative space
becomes a place for wishing
a constellation of hazy tunes
of faint sharp vowels
a glossary of meteors
a ...Read more
to the sheer
About this poem
"There is ...Read more
There were strollers, outgrown, circulated till a wheel fell off.
Anna's infant RockaRoo went to Francesca then to Sophia
who gave it back to Anna when she had the twins.
Travel cribs traveled between homes and the green vest
Sophia knitted for Ming's first was worn by all the next babies.
Onesies, drawstring gowns,...Read more
O cloud-pale eyelids, dream-dimmed eyes,
The poets labouring all their days
To build a perfect beauty in rhyme
Are overthrown by a woman's gaze
And by the unlabouring brood of the skies:
And therefore my heart will bow, when dew
Is dropping sleep, until God burn time,
Before the unlabouring stars and you...Read more
Our ancestors in the earth are not
Ashamed of us. The strong smell
Of dirt, the delirious rabbits, the
Clocks are all disappearing. A
Prehistoric gift acquires the smell
Of salt. I grasp onto winter's tail.
Some water plants are lying around.
Smell & taste, I have had good
Luck in ...Read more
The child tells me, put a brick in the tank,
don't wear leather, don't eat brisket,
snapper, or farmed salmon-not tells,
orders-doesn't she know the sluice gates
are wide open and a trillion gallons
wasted just for the dare of it?
Until the staring eye shares that thrill,
witnessing: I am just ...Read more
Once I was:
lone brown spot
in a garden
of upright stems
what do you have to say
let your dry lips open
let cocoa powder
rain onto our desks
they stared at me
for six days
as if I were a peach pit
as if by lunchtime
I would be ...Read more
Why is anyone in the world so terrible. Real catastrophe
and catastrophizing. If we only knew when it was going to happen.
I saw you put your hands on the floor. Intimacy without disturbances.
The scope here of memorization, planets. The history of children
sitting still. You are so cute in all your facebook photos...Read more
The birds were louder this morning,
raucous, oblivious, tweeting their teensy bird-brains out.
It scared me, until I remembered it's Spring.
How do they know it? A stupid question.
Thank you, birdies. I had forgotten how promise feels.
About this poem
"In an uncollected early essay called '...Read more
Here are old things:
And here are scraps of new goods,
Needles and thread,
An expectant thimble,
A pair of silver-toothed scissors.
Thimble on a finger,
New thread through an eye;
Needle, do not linger,
Hurry as you ply.
If you ever would be ...Read more
That whisper takes the voice
Of a Spirit, speaking to me,
Close, but invisible,
And throws me under a spell
At the kindling vision it brings;
And for a moment I rejoice,
And believe in transcendent things
That would make of this muddy earth
A spot for the splendid birth
Of everlasting lives, ...Read more
This wall is a great stairway, walls
are things that shoot up, keep out, line
the places where we mark the halls
that carry our names. The busts
of this one and that one, this history
is in the hard labor of hearts, thrusts
of piston and valve. I sit down
at the first house, dizzy at the ...Read more
Your eye moving
left to right across
the plowed lines
looking to touch down
on the first
shoots coming up
like a frieze
from the dark where
and wood-lice gorge
Red haze atop
the far ...Read more
Sisterhood of the Good Death, Bahia, Brazil
August 14, ca. 1850
Tomorrow, after we've led the procession
following Our Lady of the Good Death
back to our chapel, two hundred Sisters,
in our white eyelet headwraps and dresses
and the company of the Ancestors,
will dance a Glory samba, with our neighbors <...Read more
Here is how I control my heart: I string each thought one behind the next, like beads.
I wear the answers I am waiting to give. The jewelry becomes heavy as soil.
My long blink is a scream & a yes. There are things I have to say, but they do not yet know the questions they must ask. & a blink is no word; if they misunderstand-
at 93, you determined to pick up and go-
and stay gone. the job nkrumah called you to,
to create, at last, your encyclopedia africana
(encompassing a continent chipped
like wood beneath an axe, a large enough
diaspora to girdle the globe, and a mere four
thousand years) was either well-deserved
My wife's new pink slippers
have gay pom-poms.
There is not a spot or a stain
on their satin toes or their sides.
All night they lie together
under her bed's edge.
Shivering I catch sight of them
and smile, in the morning.
Later I watch them
descending the stair,
hurrying through the ...Read more