I have learned …

I have learned that people will stay, leave, save, and destroy you, but by far the most dangerous thing they can ever do is come back.

– Beau Taplin


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


How many times must I say
before you know
what I’m trying to say? I am writing this from the same bed the
caught up to me in. Now he sleeps in my eyes, in my tongue, my
my liver, my heart. Everywhere the
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
prison. I’m learning to become all
the space I need. I am learning how to be hallow


being filled
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


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

The Darkling Thrush

I leant upon a coppice gate
When Frost was spectre-grey,
And Winter’s dregs made desolate
The weakening eye of day.
The tangled bine-stems scored the sky
Like strings of broken lyres,
And all mankind that haunted nigh
Had sought their household fires.

The land’s sharp features seemed to be
The Century’s corpse outleant,
His crypt the cloudy canopy,
The wind his death-lament.
The ancient pulse of germ and birth
Was shrunken hard and dry,
And every spirit upon earth
Seemed fervourless as I.

At once a voice arose among
The bleak twigs overhead
In a full-hearted evensong
Of joy illimited;
An aged thrush, frail, gaunt, and small,
In blast-beruffled plume,
Had chosen thus to fling his soul
Upon the growing gloom.

So little cause for carolings
Of such ecstatic sound
Was written on terrestrial things
Afar or nigh around,
That I could think there trembled through
His happy good-night air
Some blessed Hope, whereof he knew
And I was unaware.

– Thomas Hardy

Hardy became frustrated with the response to his novels, especially Tess and Jude (1895) and only wrote poetry for the rest of his life. He wrote around 600 poems in his life and many help understand his sense of tenderness, realism, and tragedy.