What a privilege …

What a privilege it was to matter to you.

– Beau Taplin

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Corpse Song

I enter your night
like a darkened boat, a smuggler

These lanterns, my eyes
and heart are out

I bring you something
you do not want:

news of the country
I am trapped in,

news of your future:
soon you will have no voice

(I resent your skin, I resent
your lungs, your glib assumptions

Therefore sing now
while you have the choice

(My body turned against me
too soon, it was not a tragedy

(I did not become
a tree or a constellation

(I became a winter coat the children
thought they saw on the street corner

(I became this illusion,
this trick of ventriloquism

this blind noun, this bandage
crumpled at your dream’s edge

or you will drift as I do
from head to head

swollen with words you never said,
swollen with hoarded love.

I exist in two places,
here and where you are.

Pray for me
not as I am but as I am.

– Margaret Atwood

Should the Fox Come Again to My Cabin in the Snow

Then, the winter will have fallen all in white

and the hill will be rising to the north,

the night also rising and leaving,

dawn light just coming in, the fire out.

Down the hill running will come that flame

among the dancing skeletons of the ash trees.

I will leave the door open for him.

– Patricia Fargnoli

Savoring Fargnoli’s collection, “Winter.”

Talking to Grief

Ah, Grief, I should not treat you
like a homeless dog
who comes to the back door
for a crust, for a meatless bone.
I should trust you.

I should coax you
into the house and give you
your own corner,
a worn mat to lie on,
your own water dish.

You think I don’t know you’ve been living
under my porch.
You long for your real place to be readied
before winter comes. You need
your name,
your collar and tag. You need
the right to warn off intruders,
to consider
my house your own
and me your person
and yourself
my own dog.

– Denise Levertov

It began right here.

A HUMBLING at my knees. I let him record me doing it all.

I wanted to watch me be a monster later. I didn’t know

 

he’d leave me with all these vultures grazing my veins.
Me: the dead lion that keeps dying. Him: the flies that won’t leave

 

my
blood
alone.
How many times must I say
blood
before you know
what I’m trying to say? I am writing this from the same bed the
devil
caught up to me in. Now he sleeps in my eyes, in my tongue, my
dick
my liver, my heart. Everywhere the
blood
is he sleeps. & I knew

 

before I knew & I can’t tell you how. Something in my body’s song
sang sharp or sang flat

lined. How can I explain to you that ghosts

 

have always been real & I am learning to become one? They say
it’s not a death

sentence like it used to be. But is it not
still life?

 

I will die in this
blood
prison. I’m learning to become all
the space I need. I am learning how to be hallow

 

being filled
brought
me
to
this. & what is this? Do I dare tell you
I laughed today? For a second I was unhaunted. I was the sun

 

& not the light of some dead star. I was last week. I was negative.
But I’m not that, not the sun either. I am a house swollen with the
dead

 

but I am still a home. This bed where it happened is where I
sleep.
– Danez Smith