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Because | Linda Pastan

“Because”
Linda Pastan
Because the night you asked me,
the small scar of the quarter moon
had healed - the moon was whole again;
because life seemed so short;
because life stretched out before me
like the halls of a nightmare;
because I knew exactly what I wanted;
because I knew exactly nothing;
because I shed my childhood with my clothes -
they both had years of wear in them;
because your eyes were darker than my father’s;
because my father said I could do better;
because I wanted badly to say no;
because Stanly Kowalski shouted “Stella…;”
because you were a door I could slam shut;
because endings are written before beginnings;
because I knew that after twenty years
you’d bring the plants inside for winter
and make a jungle we’d sleep in naked;
because I had free will;
because everything is ordained;
I said yes.

I almost went to bed... | Leonard Cohen

“I almost went to bed…”
Leonard Cohen
I almost went to bed
without remembering
the four white violets
I put in the button-hole
of your green sweater
and how I kissed you then
and you kissed me
shy as though I’d
never been your lover 

Tree | Jane Hirshfield

“Tree”
Jane Hirshfield
It is foolish
to let a young redwood
grow next to a house.
Even in this
one lifetime,
you will have to choose.
That great calm being,
this clutter of soup pots and books—
Already the first branch-tips brush at the window.
Softly, calmly, immensity taps at your life. 

Reusing Words | Hal Sirowitz

“Reusing Words”
Hal Sirowitz
Don’t think you know everything,
Father said, just because you’re good
with words. They aren’t everything.
I try to say the smallest amount possible.
Instead of using them indiscriminately
I try to conserve them. I’m the only one
in this household who recycles them. I
say the same thing over & over again,
like “Who forgot to turn out the lights?
Who forgot to clean up after themselves
in the bathroom?” Since you don’t listen
I never have to think of other things to say.

The Opposite of Nostalgia | Eric Gamalinda

“The Opposite of Nostalgia”
Eric Gamalinda
You are running away from everyone
who loves you,
from your family,
from old lovers, from friends.
They run after you with accumulations
of a former life, copper earrings,
plates of noodles, banners
of many lost revolutions.
You love to say the trees are naked now
because it never happens
in your country. This is a mystery
from which you will never
recover. And yes, the trees are naked now,
everything that still breathes in them
lies silent and stark
and waiting. You love October most
of all, how there is no word
for so much splendor.
This, too, is a source
of consolation. Between you and memory
everything is water. Names of the dead,
or saints, or history.
There is a realm in which
—no, forget, it,
it’s still too early to make anyone understand.
A man drives a stake
through his own heart
and afterwards the opposite of nostalgia
begins to make sense: he stops raking the leaves
and the leaves take over
and again he has learned
to let go. 

The Orange | Wendy Cope

“The Orange”
Wendy Cope
At lunchtime I bought a huge orange
The size of it made us all laugh.
I peeled it and shared it with Robert and Dave—
They got quarters and I had a half.
And that orange it made me so happy,
As ordinary things often do
Just lately. The shopping. A walk in the park
This is peace and contentment. It’s new.
The rest of the day was quite easy.
I did all my jobs on my list
And enjoyed them and had some time over.
I love you. I’m glad I exist.

He Did Love | Anna Akhmatova

“Он любил… ”
Анна Ахматова
Он любил три вещи на свете:
За вечерней пенье, белых павлинов
И стертые карты Америки.
Не любил, когда плачут дети,
Не любил чая с малиной
И женской истерики
…А я была его женой.Translated from the Russian
“He Did Love”
Anna Akhmatova
He did love three things in this world:
Choir chants at vespers, albino peacocks,
And worn, weathered maps of America.
And he did not love children crying,
Or tea served with raspberries,
Or woman’s hysteria.
…And I was his wife.
“Looking at MRI Scans of My Brain”
Alison Townsend
My husband and I held the films up against the sliding glass door in
Oregon the summer it seemed my sadness might never go away, trying
to make sense of whatever illness swirled there in black and white and
gray, so terrible the river winding through me seemed more real than I
was, somewhere beneath the Douglas fir’s shawl of liquid silver, the
grape leaves unfurling their fuzz of green.
Here were thought and memory, feeling and dream. I stared into those
transparent sheets of myself my husband traced with one finger as I’d
seen him trace our route across a ten thousand foot mountain, follow-
int the convoluted folds and cross sections as patiently as he followed
the slow lines of elevation.
And I thought, This is what matters–the transparent mind that lets the
world through like a window, one we can open any time, whenever we
want, the wind in our hair, mysterious, fern-delicate, human. Or is it his
standing beside me that I remember, ready to remind me that what felt
crazy was only a matter of degree, my footing on that mountain easily
recovered by reaching my hand out to his as he balanced, just a few steps
ahead, impossibly steady before me?

Hanging Fire | Audre Lorde

“Hanging Fire”
Audre Lorde
I am fourteen
and my skin has betrayed me
the boy I cannot live without
still sucks his tumb
in secret
how come my knees are
always so ashy
what if I die
before the morning comes
and momma’s in the bedroom
with the door closed.
I have to learn how to dance
in time for the next party
my room is too small for me
suppose I de before graduation
they will sing sad melodies
but finally
tell the truth aout me
There is nothing I want to do
and too much
that has to be done
and momma’s in the bedroom
with the door closed.
Nobody even stops to think
about my side of it
I should have been on Math Team
my marks were better than his
why do I have to be
the one
wearing braces
I have nothing to wear tomorrow
will I live long enough
to grow up
and momma’s in the bedroom
with the door closed.

The Shadow Voice | Margaret Atwood

“The Shadow Voice”
Margaret Atwood
My shadow said to me:
what is the matter
Isn’t the moon warm
enough for you
why do you need
the blanket of another body
Whose kiss is moss
Around the picnic tables
The bright pink hands held sandwiches
crumbled by distance. Flies crawl
over the sweet instant
You know what is in these blankets
The trees outside are bending with
children shooting guns. Leave
them alone. They are playing
games of their own.
I give water, I give clean crusts
Aren’t there enough words
flowing in your veins
to keep you going. 

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poetry, exceptindreams
exceptindreams
a poem some days

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