Pornography ⭐

Richard Siken

They shot him by the side of the road. The sun was tangled in his hair as he leaned against the car. He fingered his chest, just over his heart, as if touching it directly. —My car broke down. —You need oil and a belt. Take off your shirt. You could consider him compromised. There is no universe where he is not a hitchhiker asking a rancher for help, where he is not plugged in like a lamp. The doctor has to crack the ribs to get to the lungs. The plumber has to pull out the sink to get to the pipes in the walls. The pornographer has to adjust the bodies to catch the slant of the light. He moves them like furniture. In the barn, the rancher spreads a blanket and their clothes fall off considerably. They are technicians. It is a compliment. They clock and clam like eels and the night goes mink. I want to be them. I want to be like them. I want to fuck everything but I don't want to be touched. It's awful, my watching: the refusal to participate, the ogling and superiority, the approximation of a true desire. It's fake, but it isn't. It's art, but it isn't. They're pretending but it doesn't matter because they're actually doing it, exhausting themselves as the acting evaporates, peak beauty, that moment—the swan dive, the little death, a bird flying into a kitchen window, open or shut, this or nothing, it strips the bolts. The cameraman is standing very quietly. It looks like he is weeping.
Pornstars have sex on camera for money. Actors pretend to fall in love for money. Stunt people jump off buildings or run from explosions to pay the rent.

What Resembles The Grave But Isn't ⭐

Anne Boyer

Always falling into a hole, then saying “ok, this is not your grave, get out of this hole,” getting out of the hole which is not the grave, falling into a hole again, saying “ok, this is also not your grave, get out of this hole,” getting out of that hole, falling into another one; sometimes falling into a hole within a hole, or many holes within holes, getting out of them one after the other, then falling again, saying “this is not your grave, get out of the hole”; sometimes being pushed, saying “you can not push me into this hole, it is not my grave,” and getting out defiantly, then falling into a hole again without any pushing; sometimes falling into a set of holes whose structures are predictable, ideological, and long dug, often falling into this set of structural and impersonal holes; sometimes falling into holes with other people, with other people, saying “this is not our mass grave, get out of this hole,” all together getting out of the hole together, hands and legs and arms and human ladders of each other to get out of the hole that is not the mass grave but that will only be gotten out of together; sometimes the willful-falling into a hole which is not the grave because it is easier than not falling into a hole really, but then once in it, realizing it is not the grave, getting out of the hole eventually; sometimes falling into a hole and languishing there for days, weeks, months, years, because while not the grave very difficult, still, to climb out of and you know after this hole there’s just another and another; sometimes surveying the landscape of holes and wishing for a high quality final hole; sometimes thinking of who has fallen into holes which are not graves but might be better if they were; sometimes too ardently contemplating the final hole while trying to avoid the provisional ones; sometimes dutifully falling and getting out, with perfect fortitude, saying “look at the skill and spirit with which I rise from that which resembles the grave but isn’t!”

what i got

silas denver melvin

got bad. got worse. got suspended

for blessing the face of a transphobe

with the open palmed reckoning of my small hands.

got praised. got punished. got home & ma,

her crown bowed to the steering wheel,

her tired, dish-water knuckles smoothing

imagined creases from her Stevie Nicks skirt,

told me she understood, but couldn't condone.

got taken out of class. got put in therapy.

got threatened, thanked, spit at, spit on.

got everything but even. got medicated.

got put in a small room

with a suit-pressed man & a single particle wood table.

got asked if i thought id ever see heaven.

got a good look & measured my answer.

got considered like livestock.

got 5 days out of school like isolation

was a fever-trick to sweat out the sick they assigned to my blood.

got up on the last day, before the yolk-heavy sun

even broke the fragile line of the horizon,

before the cat birds could perch

on the white birch branches & begin their endless crying,

& thought to myself

let heaven start where my boots are laced

& allow no merciless crowd decide me otherwise,

which is to say…

i got out & from there, i have yet to stop.

Night Walk

Franz Wright

There must be thousands of people

in this city who are dying

to welcome you into their small bolted rooms,

to sit you down and tell you

what has happened to their lives.

And the night smells like snow.

Walking home, for a moment

you almost believe you could start again.

And an intense love rushes to your heart,

and hope. It's unendurable, unendurable.


Gwendolyn Brooks

Sit down. Inhale. Exhale.

The gun will wait. The lake will wait.

The tall gall in the small seductive vial

will wait will wait:

will wait a week: will wait through April.

You do not have to die this certain day.

Death will abide, will pamper your postponement.

I assure you death can wait. Death has

a lot of time. Death can

attend to you tomorrow. Or next week. Death is

just down the street; is most obliging neighbor;

can meet you any moment.

You need not die today.

Stay here - through pout or pain or peskyness.

Stay here. See what the news is going to be tomorrow.

Graves grow no green that you can use.

Remember, green's your color. You are Spring.

After the Threesome, They Both Take You Home ⭐

Sue Hyon Bae

even though it’s so very late
and they have to report to their jobs
in a few hours, they both get in the car,
one driving, one shotgun, you in the back
like a child needing a drive to settle into sleep,
even though one could drive and the other
sleep, because they can’t sleep
without each other, they’d rather drive you
across the city rather than be apart for half an hour,
the office buildings lit pointlessly beautiful
for nobody except you to admire their reflections
in the water, the lovers too busy talking
about that colleague they don’t like,
tomorrow’s dinner plans, how once
they bought peaches on a road trip and ate and ate
until they could taste it in each other’s pores,
they get out of car together to kiss you goodnight,
you who have perfected the ghost goodbye,
exiting gatherings noiselessly, leaving only
a dahlia-scented perfume, your ribcage
compressing to slide through doors ajar and untouched,
yesterday you were a flash of white in a pigeon’s blinking eye,
in the day few hours old you stand solid and full
of other people’s love for each other
spilling over, warm leftovers.

Good Bones

Maggie Smith

Life is short, though I keep this from my children.
Life is short, and I’ve shortened mine
in a thousand delicious, ill-advised ways,
a thousand deliciously ill-advised ways
I’ll keep from my children. The world is at least
fifty percent terrible, and that’s a conservative
estimate, though I keep this from my children.
For every bird there is a stone thrown at a bird.
For every loved child, a child broken, bagged,
sunk in a lake. Life is short and the world
is at least half terrible, and for every kind
stranger, there is one who would break you,
though I keep this from my children. I am trying
to sell them the world. Any decent realtor,
walking you through a real shithole, chirps on
about good bones: This place could be beautiful,
right? You could make this place beautiful.

I Am So Depressed I Feel Like Jumping in the River Behind My House but Won’t Because I’m Thirty-Eight and Not Eighteen ⭐

Sandra Cisneros

Bring me a drink.
I need to think a little.
Paper. Pen.
And I could use the stink
of a good cigar–even
though the sun’s out.
The grackles in the trees.
The grackles inside my heart.
Broken feathers and stiff wings.

I could jump.
But I don’t.
You could kill me.
But you won’t.

The grackles
calling to each other.
The long hours.
The long hours.
The long hours.

Ah, Love, you smell of petroleum

Judy Grahn

Ah, Love, you smell of petroleum
and overwork
with grease on your fingernails
paint in your hair
there is a pained look in your eye
from no appreciation
you speak to me of the lilacs
and appleblossoms we ought to have
the banquets we should be serving,
afterwards rubbing each other for hours
with tenderness and genuine
olive oil
someday. Meantime here is your cracked plate
with spaghetti. Wash your hands &
touch me, praise
my cooking. I shall praise your calluses,
we shall dance in the kitchen of our imagination.

Jessica gives me a chill pill

Angie Sijun Lou

I keep waking up in different
beds and in this same
body. I have to say this
right away so you know
it didn't start with limbs
slackened, hair
oily, a cruelty towards
the sun. It started
in the backseat of Jessica's
Pepto-dismal truck. She
tied my hair back with
rubber bands when
the freeway passed clean
through us. Jessica says
I can feel like a cherry
blossom tree wobbling
under lightning. Jessica
has a forehead scar from
the deep end of a pool. I
ask Jessica what drowning
feels like and she says
not everything feels like
something else. That night
we lose the 7/11 lottery
but I draw my lucky
number, no quarters
so we scratch our tickets
with fingernails.

Jessica says
that's the sanctity of ritual—
a ceaselessness in how
I look at every drop
of rain before it touches
ground, the way Jessica
mouths my name in her
sleep eating each syllable like
a minor god. I'm coming out
as someone who loves
things unevenly, my theologies
strewn out in the dark,
this iPhone an almost oracle.
Jessica forces me to watch
every sunset even when I
am full. She puts her fingers
in my mouth and says open
your eyes. Open them.
You see the small-town girls
on big billboards? One day
that's us.


Muriel Rukeyser

Yes, we were looking at each other
Yes, we knew each other very well
Yes, we had made love with each other many times
Yes, we had heard music together
Yes, we had gone to the sea together
Yes, we had cooked and eaten together
Yes, we had laughed often day and night
Yes, we fought violence and knew violence
Yes, we hated the inner and outer oppression
Yes, that day we were looking at each other
Yes, we saw the sunlight pouring down
Yes, the corner of the table was between us
Yes, our eyes saw each other’s eyes
Yes, our mouths saw each other’s mouths
Yes, our breasts saw each other’s breasts
Yes, our bodies entire saw each other
Yes, it was beginning in each
Yes, it threw waves across our lives
Yes, the pulses were becoming very strong
Yes, the beating became very delicate
Yes, the calling the arousal
Yes, the arriving the coming
Yes, there it was for both entire
Yes, we were looking at each other

Text 21

Rudolf Schwarzkogler

weissgestrichene knochen, um damit zu trommeln
draht spannen und durchhacken
asche verschütten
ballons mit gas füllen
weissgestrichene puppen und kadaver aufhängen
einen ballon mit schaum füllen mit der peitsche aufschlagen

drum with whitewashed bones
stretch a wire and hack through it
spill ashes
fill balloons with gas
hang up whitewashed dolls and cadavers
fill a balloon with foam pop it with a whip

Amazon History of a Former Nail Salon Worker

Ocean Vuong


Advil (ibuprofen), 4 pack
Sally Hansen Pink Nail Polish, 6 pack
Clorox Bleach, industrial size
Diane hair pins, 4 pack
Seafoam handheld mirror
“I Love New York” T-shirt, white, small


Nongshim Ramen Noodle Bowl, 24 pack
Cotton Balls, 100 count
“Thank You For Your Loyalty” cards, 30 count
Toluene POR-15 40404 Solvent, 1 quart
UV LED Nail Lamp
Cuticle Oil, value pack
Clear Acrylic Nail Tips, 500 count


Advil (ibuprofen), 4 pack
Vicks VapoRub, twin pack
Portable Electric Nail Drill
Salonpas Heat-Activated muscle patch, 40 count
Lipstick, “Night Out Red”
Little Debbie Chocolate Zebra Cakes, 4 boxes


Large faux-clay planter pots, value set
Carnation Condensed Milk, 6 pack
Clear Nail Art Acrylic Liquid Powder Dish Bowl, 2 pcs
Birthday Card—Son—Pop-up Mother and Son effect
Nike Elite Basketball Shorts, men’s small


Saviland Holographic Gold Nail Powder, 6 colors
Nescafé Taster’s Choice Instant Coffee
Advil (ibuprofen), 4 pack
PIXNOR Pedicure Double-Sided Callus Remover
Bengay Medicated Cream, 3 pack


Newchic Ochre Summer Dress Floral Print, sz 6
Wrigley’s Doublemint Gum, 8 pack
Plastic Adirondack Lawn Chair, colonial blue


Nail buffers and files, 10 pcs
Coppertone Sunblock, 6 oz


CozyNites Fleece Blanket, pink
Sleep-Ease Melatonin caps, 90 count
Icy Hot Maximum Strength pain relief pads


Tampax, 24 count
Faux-Resin Hair clips, 3 pack


Advil (ibuprofen) Maximum Strength, 4 pack
True-Gro Tulip Bulbs, 24 pcs



Healthline Compact Trigger Release Folding Walker
Yankee Candle, Midsummer’s Night, large jar


Chemo-Glam cotton head scarf, sunrise pink
White Socks, women’s small, 12 pack


Chemo-Glam cotton scarf, flower garden print
“Warrior Mom” Breast Cancer awareness T-shirt, pink and white


Mueller 255 Lumbar Support Back Brace


Birthday Card—“Son, We Will Always Be Together,” Snoopy design


Eternity Aluminum Urn, Dove and Rose engraved, small
Perfect Memories picture frame, 8 x 11 in, black
Burt’s Bees lip balm, Honey, 1 pc



Easy-Grow Windowsill herb garden


YourStory Customized Memorial Plaque, 10 x 8 x 4 in
Winter coat, navy blue, x-small


Wool socks, grey, 1 pair

Regarding Power. Response: Negative.

Pádraig Ó Tuama

Responsum of the Congregation for the
Doctrine of the Faith to a dubium
regarding the blessing of the unions of
persons of the same sex TO THE
Church have the power to give the
blessing to unions of persons of the
same sex? RESPONSE: Negative.
Explanatory Note

Therefore, only those realities which
are in themselves ordered to serve those
ends are congruent with the essence of
the blessing imparted by the Church.
For this reason, it is not licit to impart a
blessing on relationships, or
partnerships, even stable, that involve
sexual activity outside of marriage (i.e.,
outside the indissoluble union of a man
and a woman open in itself to the
transmission of life), as is the case of
the unions between persons of the same
. The presence in such relationships
of positive elements, which are in
themselves to be valued and
appreciated, cannot justify these
relationships and render them

legitimate objects of an ecclesial
blessing, since the positive elements
exist within the context of a union not
ordered to the Creator’s plan.
Furthermore, since blessings on persons
are in relationship with the sacraments,
the blessing of homosexual unions
cannot be considered licit. This is
because they would constitute a certain
imitation or analogue of the nuptial
blessing invoked on the man and
woman united in the sacrament of
Matrimony, while in fact “there are
absolutely no grounds for considering
homosexual unions to be in any way
similar or even remotely analogous to
God’s plan for marriage and family.

The declaration of the unlawfulness of
blessings of unions between persons of
the same sex is
not therefore, and is not
intended to be, a form of unjust
discrimination, but rather a reminder of
the truth of the liturgical rite and of the
very nature of the sacramentals, as the
Church understands them.
The Christian community and its
Pastors are called to welcome with
respect and sensitivity persons with

homosexual inclinations, and will know
how to find the most appropriate ways,
consistent with Church teaching, to
proclaim to them the Gospel in its
fullness. At the same time, they should
recognize the genuine nearness of the
Church – which prays for them,
accompanies them and shares their
journey of Christian faith – and receive
the teachings with sincere openness.

The answer to the proposed dubium
does not preclude the blessings given to
individual persons with homosexual
, who manifest the will to
live in fidelity to the revealed plans of
God as proposed by Church teaching.
Rather, it declares illicit any form of
blessing that tends to acknowledge their
unions as such. In this case, in fact, the
blessing would manifest not the
intention to entrust such individual
persons to the protection and help of
God, in the sense mentioned above, but
to approve and encourage a choice and
a way of life that cannot be recognized
objectively ordered to the revealed
plans of God.

At the same time, the Church recalls
that God Himself never ceases to bless
each of His pilgrim children in this
world, because for Him “we are more
important to God than all of the sins
that we can commit”. But he does not
and cannot bless sin: he blesses sinful
man, so that he may recognize that he is
part of his plan of love and allow
himself to be changed by him. He in
fact “takes us as we are, but never
leaves us as we are”.

For the above mentioned reasons, the
Church does not have, and cannot have, the
power to bless unions of persons of the same
sex in the sense intended above. The Sovereign
Pontiff Francis, at the Audience granted to the
undersigned Secretary of this Congregation, was
informed and gave his assent to the publication of the
above-mentioned Responsum ad dubium, with the annexed
Explanatory Note. Rome, from the Offices of the
Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, the 22nd of
February 2021, Feast of the Chair of Saint Peter,
Apostle. Luis F. Card. Ladaria, S.I. Prefect ✠ Giacomo Morandi
Archbishop tit. of Cerveteri Secretary [1] FRANCIS, Apostolic
Exhortation Amoris laetitia, 250. [2] SYNOD OF BISHOPS, Final
Document of the XV Ordinary General Assembly, 150. [3] SECOND
VATICAN ECUMENICAL COUNCIL, Constitution on the Sacred
Liturgy Sacrosanctum Concilium, 60. [4] RITUALE ROMANUM ex
Decreto Sacrosancti Oecumenici Concilii Vaticani II instauratum
auctoritate Ioannis Pauli PP. Il promulgatum, De bendictionibus,
Praenotanda Generalia, n.9. [5] Ibidem, n. 10. [6] Catechism of the
Catholic Church, 2357. [7] In fact, the nuptial blessing refers back to
the creation account, in which God's

blessing on man and woman is related
to their fruitful union (cf. Gen 1:28) and
their complementarity (cf. Gen
2:18-24). [8] FRANCIS, Apostolic
Exhortation Amoris laetitia, 251. [9] Cf.
Homosexualitatis problema On the
Pastoral Care of Homosexual Persons,
15. [10] De benedictionibus in fact
presents an extended list of situations

for which to invoke the blessing of the
Homosexualitatis problema On the
Pastoral Care of Homosexual Persons,
7. [12] FRANCIS, General Audience of
December 2, 2020, Catechesis on
Prayer, the blessing. [13] Ibidem.


Mary Oliver

Sweet Jesus, talking
 his melancholy madness,
  stood up in the boat
   and the sea lay down,

silky and sorry.
 So everybody was saved
  that night.
   But you know how it is

when something
 different crosses
  the threshold -- the uncles
   mutter together,

the women walk away,
 the young brother begins
  to sharpen his knife.
   Nobody knows what the soul is.

It comes and goes
 like the wind over the water --
  sometimes, for days,
   you don't think of it.

Maybe, after the sermon,
 after the multitude was fed,
  one or two of them felt
   the soul slip forth

like a tremor of pure sunlight
 before exhaustion,
  that wants to swallow everything,
   gripped their bones and left them

miserable and sleepy,
 as they are now, forgetting
  how the wind tore at the sails
   before he rose and talked to it --

tender and luminous and demanding
 as he always was --
  a thousand times more frightening
   than the killer storm.


Frog K

When I was young, I believed ponies grew up

to be horses. Years later, one of the times

I died, I only asked, “Why me?” And God told me

I had almost been right about the ponies, just

looking at it backwards. Things, God told me,

grow smaller. Horses grow up to be ponies,

and ships grow up to be boats, and lions

grow up to be housecats, and cities grow up

to be suburbs, and billboards grow up to be

bumper stickers, and armies grow up to be

police, and sodomy trials grow up to be

quiet and private little suicides, and

every genocide grows up to be statistics.


Solmaz Sharif

Studies suggest How may I help you officer? is the single most disarming thing to say and not What’s the problem? Studies suggest it’s best the help reply My pleasure and not No problem. Studies suggest it’s best not to mention problem in front of power even to say there is none. Gloria Steinem says women lose power as they age and yet the loudest voice in my head is my mother. Studies show the mother we have in mind isn’t the mother that exists. Mine says: What the [ ] are you crying for? Studies show the baby monkey will pick the fake monkey with fake fur over the furless wire monkey with milk, without contest. Studies show to negate something is to think it anyway. I’m not sad. I’m not sad. Studies recommend regular expressions of gratitude and internal check-ins. Enough, the wire mother says. History is a kind of study. History says we forgave the executioner. Before we mopped the blood we asked: Lord Judge, have I executed well? Studies suggest yes. What the [ ] are you crying for, officer? the wire mother teaches me to say, while studies suggest Solmaz, have you thanked your executioner today?

Fuck Your Lecture on Craft, My People Are Dying

Noor Hindi

Colonizers write about flowers.
I tell you about children throwing rocks at Israeli tanks
seconds before becoming daisies.
I want to be like those poets who care about the moon.
Palestinians don’t see the moon from jail cells and prisons.
It’s so beautiful, the moon.
They’re so beautiful, the flowers.
I pick flowers for my dead father when I’m sad.
He watches Al Jazeera all day.
I wish Jessica would stop texting me Happy Ramadan.
I know I’m American because when I walk into a room something dies.
Metaphors about death are for poets who think ghosts care about sound.
When I die, I promise to haunt you forever.
One day, I’ll write about the flowers like we own them.

A Name

Ada Limón

When Eve walked among
the animals and named them—
nightingale, red-shouldered hawk,
fiddler crab, fallow deer—
I wonder if she ever wanted
them to speak back, looked into
their wide wonderful eyes and
whispered, Name me, name me.

Most Wanted

Mohja Kahf

Warning: God has slipped the noose.
We must confirm the worst
of our righteous fears –
God has escaped the mosque,
the synagogue, the church
where we’ve locked up God for years.

God is on the loose.

Henceforth beware:
You may find God in heathen beauty.
You may stumble upon God unaware.
Take appropriate measures:
You may have to behave
as if each human being
could reflect God’s face.

For A Girl Who Likes the Word Wow

Anis Mojgani

snow angels

mud angels

grass angels

pudding angels

water angels

field angels

cloud angels

chiffon angels

taffeta angels

smoke angels

music angels

sand angels

beach angels

street angels

asphalt angels

palm tree angels

car angels

floor angels

mattress angels

skin angels

and God lied down in a big field of it

waving His arms and legs

and laughing loud like it was the first time

and made you

Doctor's Note

Chen Chen

Please excuse Chen Chen from class. He is currently dead. He came in last Thursday, exhibiting clear signs of dying, such as saying in a clear voice, I am nothing except the wish to listen to Coldplay, & after one too many plays of their 2002 hit “The Scientist,” he is dead. Though few have improved from this condition, Chen Chen has been prescribed long baths in chicken stock & more recent music. Also, some rudimentary Tai Chi early each morning in his room with the curtains drawn. Medically speaking, Chen Chen’s current state is very gross. It would be unwise, however, to try to force Chen Chen, physically or with the promise of new Buffy episodes, back into life. It would be unwise & gross to reach out to Chen Chen’s parents. They are not his emergency contacts & have exhibited clear signs of wishing he were dead, such as saying in a clear voice, You’d be better off dead. Better than whatever you are with other men. Of course, after learning of Chen Chen’s death, they fell to their knees, into a state commonly referred to as “utter devastation.” & it was, in a medical sense, satisfying to hear of their “utter devastation.” But studies show that this state is ultimately bupkis. Studies predict that if Chen Chen recovers, it will take around three months for his parents to find his fully restored state unsatisfying. Or, if he remains his remains, they will find themselves fully content with the memory of Chen Chen, their sweet Chen Chen, before he became so whatever he was. They will think of him, so fondly, while sharing a bowl of strawberry ice cream, the last thing they remember him loving.

When I Say That Loving Me Is Kind Of Like Being A Chicago Bulls Fan

Hanif Abdurraqib

what I mean is that my father can tell a bunch of cool stories about back in the day when I was truly great. there is a mountain of gold that has gathered dust in the corner where I used to sleep, and look at all of these pictures. in this one, I am wearing rainbow shorts and hurling rocks at a shoreline. in this one, I am smiling in the glow of 13 lit candles pushed into a sheet of dark sugar. you may ask why I allow my face to drown in less and less joy with each passing year and I will say I just woke up one day and I was a still photo in everyone else’s home but my own. or I will say I promise that my legs just need another season, and then I will be who you fell in love with again. and then I will probably just say I’m sorry that there was once a tremendous blue sky and then a decade of hard, incessant rain.

Warming Her Pearls

Carol Ann Duffy

for Judith Radstone

Next to my own skin, her pearls. My mistress
bids me wear them, warm them, until evening
when I'll brush her hair. At six, I place them
round her cool, white throat. All day I think of her,

resting in the Yellow Room, contemplating silk
or taffeta, which gown tonight? She fans herself
whilst I work willingly, my slow heat entering
each pearl. Slack on my neck, her rope.

She's beautiful. I dream about her
in my attic bed; picture her dancing
with tall men, puzzled by my faint, persistent scent
beneath her French perfume, her milky stones.

I dust her shoulders with a rabbit's foot,
watch the soft blush seep through her skin
like an indolent sigh. In her looking-glass
my red lips part as though I want to speak.

Full moon. Her carriage brings her home. I see
her every movement in my head.... Undressing,
taking off her jewels, her slim hand reaching
for the case, slipping naked into bed, the way

she always does.... And I lie here awake,
knowing the pearls are cooling even now
in the room where my mistress sleeps. All night
I feel their absence and I burn.

What a Gazan Should Do During an Israeli Air Strike

Mosab Abu Toha

Turn off the lights in every room / sit in the inner hallway of the house / away from the windows / stay away from the stove / stop thinking about making black tea / have a bottle of water nearby / big enough to cool down / children’s fear / get a child’s kindergarten backpack and stuff / tiny toys and whatever amount of money there is / and the ID cards / and photos of late grandparents, aunts, or uncles / and the grandparents’ wedding invitation that’s been kept for a long time / and if you are a farmer, you should put some strawberry seeds / in one pocket / and some soil from / the balcony flowerpot in the other / and hold on tight / to whatever number there was / on the cake / from the last birthday.

I Have Not Lingered in European Monasteries

Leonard Cohen

I have not lingered in European monasteries

and discovered among the tall grasses tombs of knights

who fell as beautifully as their ballads tell;

I have not parted the grasses

or purposefully left them thatched.

I have not released my mind to wander and wait

in those great distances

between the snowy mountains and the fishermen,

like a moon,

or a shell beneath the moving water.

I have not held my breath

so that I might hear the breathing of God,

or tamed my heartbeat with an exercise,

or starved for visions.

Although I have watched him often

I have not become the heron,

leaving my body on the shore,

and I have not become the luminous trout,

leaving my body in the air.

I have not worshipped wounds and relics,

or combs of iron,

or bodies wrapped and burnt in scrolls.

I have not been unhappy for ten thousand years.

During the day I laugh and during the night I sleep.

My favourite cooks prepare my meals,

my body cleans and repairs itself,

and all my work goes well.

cis people asking cis questions ⭐

silas denver melvin

did you cut the blood out yourself & try again? have you told your doctor? your daddy? what do you think your mother will say? is your body normal as i want it to be? can you define normal? do you mind my asking? can i ask some more? have you found a god who approves? does the church board their windows? do boys wilt when you kiss them? did you cut the blood out yourself & try again? what do you look like in your dreams? are you sexed? do you want to be? does your dog still come when you call his name? are you virus or wine? is your name more important than the one you were born under? how phantom is your [ ]? when did you learn to dress your shame? do you wear it well? do strangers find you fuckable? do you want them to? are you more rot or riot? do you think you belong in sports? or television? how about the world? are you wanted? did you cut the blood out yourself & try again? did you try again? did you try again?

The Mask

Maya Angelou

We wear the mask that grins and lies.
It shades our cheeks and hides our eyes.
This debt we pay to human guile
With torn and bleeding hearts…
We smile and mouth the myriad subtleties.
Why should the world think otherwise
In counting all our tears and sighs.
Nay let them only see us while
We wear the mask.

We smile but oh my God
Our tears to thee from tortured souls arise
And we sing Oh Baby doll, now we sing…
The clay is vile beneath our feet
And long the mile
But let the world think otherwise.
We wear the mask.

When I think about myself
I almost laugh myself to death.
My life has been one great big joke!
A dance that’s walked a song that’s spoke.
I laugh so hard HA! HA! I almos’ choke
When I think about myself.

Seventy years in these folks’ world
The child I works for calls me girl
I say “HA! HA! HA! Yes ma’am!”
For workin’s sake
I’m too proud to bend and
Too poor to break
So…I laugh! Until my stomach ache
When I think about myself.
My folks can make me split my side
I laugh so hard, HA! HA! I nearly died
The tales they tell sound just like lying
They grow the fruit but eat the rind.
Hmm huh! I laugh uhuh huh huh…
Until I start to cry when I think about myself
And my folks and the children.

My fathers sit on benches,
Their flesh count every plank,
The slats leave dents of darkness
Deep in their withered flank.
And they gnarled like broken candles,
All waxed and burned profound.
They say, but sugar, it was our submission
that made your world go round.

There in those pleated faces
I see the auction block
The chains and slavery’s coffles
The whip and lash and stock.

My fathers speak in voices
That shred my fact and sound
They say, but sugar, it was our submission
that made your world go round.

They laugh to conceal their crying,
They shuffle through their dreams
They stepped ’n fetched a country
And wrote the blues in screams.
I understand their meaning,
It could an did derive
From living on the edge of death
They kept my race alive
By wearing the mask! Ha! Ha! Ha! Ha! Ha!

what they did yesterday afternoon

Warsan Shire

they set my aunts house on fire
i cried the way women on tv do
folding at the middle
like a five pound note.
i called the boy who use to love me
tried to ‘okay’ my voice
i said hello
he said warsan, what’s wrong, what’s happened?

i’ve been praying,
and these are what my prayers look like;
dear god
i come from two countries
one is thirsty
the other is on fire
both need water.

later that night
i held an atlas in my lap
ran my fingers across the whole world
and whispered
where does it hurt?

it answered