-Pier Giorgio Di Cicco, “Solace”
There was always a great darkness
like a forest of arrows
So many ships in the past
their bows bearing women
as stalks bear eyes
The burning ships
that drove their bowsprits
between the thighs of dreams
With my ear to the ground
I hear the black prows coming
plowing the night
and the wind comes up
and I smell the sour wood
leaving a wake I want to be
left alone with
Night after night
like a sleeping knife that runs deep
through the belly
the tomb ships come
-Frank Stanford, “The Nocturnal Ships of the Past”
The sea isn’t even close.
I’ve learned that the face
is not enough. If you’re the quarry
where is the cart of extractions?
To gather like an invitation.
An arbalest zings though quarreling trees.
Wind like a treaty cannot wait.
Sometimes the war warbles:
I will send you lavender & antimatter.
I will send you the splintered telephone.
I will send you a blamable cufflink.
I will send you cucumber moons.
The infinite stretch of a black hole
is nothing like me. Nothing like
the acute faith that unfreezes
the face’s language. Had you flown
the quarantine flag in early light
what help could have—
what kind of help—
Sometimes I miss myself.
Sometimes I gather dead bees
in a soapy satchel.
Weather is whatever’s there.
My blue blue veins, circling.
I have faith in you. It’s my best
offer. My only offer. Twirl
a dirty curl with one hand & type
with the other that the forest holds.
Creativity is survival. I’m trying not to
miss myself anymore.
It has to do with feelings.
A few words ignite & signal biplanes
swooning through the chest.
Most only ash to anger, which these lilacs
extinguish. The sea is not wine-dark. It is lilacs.
My tresses, my tresses, mercy.
If you give a feeling away
then someone can help. Mortal kite,
the snap of an inchworm Crayon,
& letting it creep out of us.
Alleviation is a certain kind of space,
quavering. Unlike feelings, we cannot
eventually assuage language.
Ash caught in my blond. Out of bounds
of my green, your face. I’m not
trying to reach anything, I’m
reaching through it.
-Julia Cohen, “The Ache Poem”
Listen, you silk-hearted bastard,
I said in the bar last night,
You wear those dream clothes
Like a swan out of water.
Listen, you wool-feathered bastard,
My name, just for the record, is Leda.
I can remember pretending
That your red silk tie is a real heart
That your raw wool suit is real flesh
That you could float beside me with a swan’s touch
Of casual satisfaction.
But not the swan’s blood.
Waking tomorrow, I remember only
Somebody’s feathers and his wrinkled heart
Draped loosely in my bed.
-Jack Spicer, “One Night Stand”
“I didn’t kill myself
when things went wrong
I didn’t turn
to drugs or teaching
I tried to sleep
but when I couldn’t sleep
I learned to write
I learned to write
what might be read
on nights like this
by one like me”
-Leonard Cohen, from “The Only Poem”