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“Olives, Bread, Honey and Salt”
Melissa Stein
The lanes are littered with the bodies of bees.
A torrent took them, swarming in branches
just as the white buds loosened their hearts
of pale yellow powder. Each body is a lover:
the one with skin blank as pages; the one
so moved by the pulse ticking in your throat;
the one who took your lips in his teeth
and wouldn’t let go; the one who turned
from you and lay there like a carcass. If we were
made to be whole, we wouldn’t be so lost
to each offering of tenderness and a story.
Therefore our greatest longing is our home.
There is always the one bee that circles and circles,
twitching its sodden wings. 

from Rough Honey by Melissa Stein

On the Metro | C. K. Williams

“On the Metro”
C.K. Williams

On the metro, I have to ask a young woman to move the packages beside her to make room for me;
she’s reading, her foot propped on the seat in front of her, and barely looks up as she pulls them to her.
I sit, take out my own book—Cioran, The Temptation to Exist—and notice her glancing up from hers
to take in the title of mine, and then, as Gombrowicz puts it, she “affirms herself physically,” that is,
becomes present in a way she hadn’t been before: though she hasn’t moved, she’s allowed herself
to come more sharply into focus, be more accessible to my sensual perception, so I can’t help but remark
her strong figure and very tan skin—(how literally golden young women can look at the end of summer.)
She leans back now, and as the train rocks and her arm brushes mine she doesn’t pull it away;
she seems to be allowing our surfaces to unite: the fine hairs on both our forearms, sensitive, alive,
achingly alive, bring news of someone touched, someone sensed, and thus acknowledged, known.
I understand that in no way is she offering more than this, and in truth I have no desire for more,
but it’s still enough for me to be taken by a surge, first of warmth then of something like its opposite:
a memory—a girl I’d mooned for from afar, across the table from me in the library in school now,
our feet I thought touching, touching even again, and then, with all I craved that touch to mean,
my having to realize it wasn’t her flesh my flesh for that gleaming time had pressed, but a table leg.
The young woman today removes her arm now, stands, swaying against the lurch of the slowing train,
and crossing before me brushes my knee and does that thing again, asserts her bodily being again,
(Gombrowicz again), then quickly moves to the door of the car and descends, not once looking back,
(to my relief not looking back), and I allow myself the thought that though I must be to her again
as senseless as that table of my youth, as wooden, as unfeeling, perhaps there was a moment I was not.

The Naming of Peoples | Vincent Buckley

“The Naming of Peoples”
Vincent Buckley

In the superb reductions of print
it seems all right to call them
by names they never heard, or used:
The Halberd People, the Blue Spear People.
If people were still named after their weapons,
we would be called
The Projectile People, or Those Who Kill From Afar,
or Spitting Poison People, or Anthrax Minders.
On the great lowlands rugged with grass
we squat beside snout and muzzle,
we are growing moustaches
and learning laws of trajectory. Our films
are of painted, unrazed small towns.
On the jetfighter’s broad jaw
we have painted: Homing Pigeon.

In the Park | Gwen Harwood

“In the Park”
Gwen Harwood

She sits in the park. Her clothes are out of date.
Two children whine and bicker, tug her skirt.
A third draws aimless patterns in the dirt.
Someone she loved once passes by – too late
to feign indifference to that casual nod.
“How nice,” et cetera. “Time holds great surprises.”
From his neat head unquestionably rises
a small balloon … “but for the grace of God …”
They stand awhile in flickering light, rehearsing
the children’s names and birthdays. “It’s so sweet
to hear their chatter, watch them grow and thrive,”
she says to his departing smile. Then, nursing
the youngest child, sits staring at her feet.
To the wind she says, “They have eaten me alive.”

from The Best 100 Poems of Gwen Harwood

Something New Every Day | Hannah Lowe

“Something New Every Day”
Hannah Lowe

The morning after the fried squid
and cocktail sausages, the red wine,
the long winter kiss you gave me at the bins,
I allow a colleague to talk me through systems
of animal classification - the molluscs,
annelids and arthropods that fill his days
at the blackboard, the simple worksheets
and diagrams of hooves, the fused
and un-fused paws I trace below my finger,
his eyes fixed to my hands.
His feelings for me are no secret
in these corridors. We pass in doorways
and stairwells, his eyes filling with tears
as clouds of chanting children swirl around us.
He hears nothing I say of registers
or the paperwork necessary
for museum trips, only watches intently
the shapes my mouth makes.
This is how I watched you last night,
your voice lapping silently
in the small cave of your mouth,
the slight twist of your teeth, your lips
exhaling white gusts below a streetlamp.
I learn something new every day -
today, that you and I are vertebrates
with endoskletons, we must
adapt to our environments.
It is more than likely you are covered in fur. 

your airplanes | Rachel McKibbens

“your airplanes”
Rachel McKibbens
over breakfast,
my father asks what you see in me.
I bite the inside of my cheek,
shove a forkful of pancakes into my mouth,
notice the salt shaker eyeing my wounds.
you launch “I love yous”
from a Brooklyn fire escape.
they travel 3,000 postcard miles
and collapse into my ear, exhausted.
I pinch their noses,
breathe new life into their lungs,
fold them into airplanes,
send them back to you
and wait.
there isn’t a building
taller than two stories
here in Orange County.
not a single fire escape.
no point in jumping.
the worst that could happen
is a broken leg or heart.
this is why the sad kids get
so goddamn creative around here.
the mayor’s son rigged his noose
to raise with the garage door
when the Mercedes came home.
a nine-year old leapt into the lion’s cage
at Prentice Park Zoo after
her dog was hit by a car.
on our wedding day,
when I tell you “I do,”
it’s because I do.
it’s because you understand
how ten-thousand dollar apologies
still keep fathers worthless,
it’s because my ribcage expands
every time I think of you,
it’s for all the things
you see in me
and pretend
not to notice.

from Pink Elephant by Rachel McKibbens

Solstice: voyeur | Bob Hicock

“Solstice: voyeur”
Bob Hicock
I watched the young couple walk into the tall grass and close
the door of summer behind them, their heads floating
on the golden tips, on waves that flock and break like starlings
changing their minds in the middle of changing their minds,
I saw their hips lay down inside those birds, inside the day
of shy midnight, they kissed like waterfalls, like stones
that have traveled a million years to touch, and emerged
hybrid, some of her lips in his words, all of his fists
opened by trust like morning glories, and I smelled green
pouring out of trees into grass, grass into below, I stood
on the moment the earth changes its mind about the sun,
when hiding begins, and raised my hand from the hill
into the shadows behind the lovers, and contemplated
their going with my skin, and listened to the grass
in wind call us home like our mothers before dark.

Fast Gas | Dorianne Laux

“Fast Gas”
Dorianne Laux

for Richard

Before the days of self service,
when you never had to pump your own gas,
I was the one who did it for you, the girl
who stepped out at the sound of a bell
with a blue rag in my hand, my hair pulled back
in a straight, unlovely ponytail.
This was before automatic shut-offs
and vapor seals, and once, while filling a tank,
I hit a bubble of trapped air and the gas
backed up, came arcing out of the hole
in a bright gold wave and soaked me — face, breasts,
belly and legs. And I had to hurry
back to the booth, the small employee bathroom
with the broken lock, to change my uniform,
peel the gas-soaked cloth from my skin
and wash myself in the sink.
Light-headed, scrubbed raw, I felt
pure and amazed — the way the amber gas
glazed my flesh, the searing,
subterranean pain of it, how my skin
shimmered and ached, glowed
like rainbowed oil on the pavement.
I was twenty. In a few weeks I would fall,
for the first time, in love, that man waiting
patiently in my future like a red leaf
on the sidewalk, the kind of beauty
that asks to be noticed. How was I to know
it would begin this way: every cell of my body
burning with a dangerous beauty, the air around me
a nimbus of light that would carry me
through the days, how when he found me,
weeks later, he would find me like that,
an ordinary woman who could rise
in flame, all he would have to do
is come close and touch me.

I Was Minor | Olena Kalytiak Davis

”I Was Minor”

Olena Kalytiak Davis

In this life,
I was very minor.

I was a minor lover.
There was maybe a day, a night
or two, when I was on.

I was, would have been,
a minor daughter,
had my parents lived.

I was a minor runner. I was
a minor thinker. In the middle
distance, not too fast.

I was a minor mother: only
two, and sometimes,
I was mean to them.

I was a minor beauty.
I was a minor Buddhist.
There was a certain symmetry, but
it, too, was minor.

My poems were not major
enough to even make me
a “minor poet,”

but I did sit here
instead of getting up, getting
the gun, loading it.

killing myself.

Compassion for the Minotaur | – Terry

“Compassion for the Minotaur”
Terry Blackhawk

We need it
for the same reason
we say we grieve—for ourselves,
not for those who’ve gone.
For nights when touch isn’t enough
and a partner’s peaceful breath
will not lure us into sleep
but we must stare out at the room
unable to name the dark
while all we’ve tried to hide
roars up from the basement
and follows us when we step outside
ourselves, so that we hear
in the traffic’s whine
or the homeless man’s rage
that echoes through the tunnels of the MTA
the same despairing bleat
that must have burst from the snout
of the helpless baby
when he saw his mother’s
horrified gaze and understood
that it fell on no gleaming hide
or ears sweet to scratch
but a creature angular and strange
whom she could not possibly cradle,
or croon to, or take as her own.


poetry, exceptindreams
a poem some days

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