Archive for the ‘poetry’ Category


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My progress report
concerning my journey to the palace of wisdom
is discouraging.
I lack certain indispensable aptitudes.
Furthermore, it appears
that I packed the wrong things.
– Inventory / On Being 52 by James Baldwin

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This beautiful poem by Sharon Olds on the complicated relationships we sometimes have with parents.


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Blowjob (Vulgar Slang)

I never thought of it as a line of work.
I did not think of myself, with my lunch pail,
going to the job and punching my time clock in and out.
Surely that act was not divided
into management, who were owners,
and staff, who had no share in the profit.
is that what they thought?
That it was boring for us and we couldn’t wait ’til we could break for lunch?
They thought that they were rulers commanding us against our will,
there was a thrill in that?
A payback for having to do what mom says when dad’s at work
blowing his master?
So that the one who was being given suck after hours
already gave at the office?
It’s weird thinking about it from a bosses point of view:
looking down at the working head,
the alienated labor,
looking down the pay scale, too.
If they were both engaged in the same act
it wouldn’t be a job, would it,
but play.
Play in the house of the gods of pleasure.
At least “blow” is not a word from commerce
but the golden rule of music:
know, as you would be known.
Blow, as you would be blown.

– Sharon Olds

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We Alone

We alone can devalue gold
by not caring
if it falls or rises
in the marketplace.
Wherever there is gold
there is a chain, you know,
and if your chain
is gold
so much the worse
for you.
Feathers, shells
and sea-shaped stones
are all as rare.
This could be our revolution:
to love what is plentiful
as much as
what’s scarce.

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A Small Needful Fact by Ross Gay.

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This beautiful poem from Jenny Johnson which is accidentally so perfect for poor Orlando.

In the Dream

I was alone in a dyke bar we’d traversed before
or maybe it was in a way all our dives

merging together suddenly as one intergalactic composite,
one glitter-spritzed black hole,

one cue stick burnished down to a soft blue nub.
Picture an open cluster of stars

managing to forever stabilize in space
without a landlord scheming to shut the place down.

Anyways, I was searching for someone there
whom we hadn’t seen in years—in what

could have been Sisters, Babes, the Lex, the Pint,
the Palms, or the E Room? but the room

had no end and no ceiling.
Though I could see all of our friends or exes

with elbows up or fingers interlocked
on table tops zinging with boomerangs.

Maybe the tables were spinning, too. I can’t be sure.
But just as a trap that trips before

hammering a mouse is not humane
the dream changed—or the alarm

that I carry in my breast pocket in my waking life
was sounding. Because in the dream,

three people on bar stools, who were straight
or closeted? but more importantly angry

turned and the room dwindled
like a sweater full of moths eating holes

through wool. Or they were humans, sure,
but not here to love

with jawlines set to throw epithets like darts
that might stick or knick or flutter past

as erratically as they were fired.
You could say their hostility was a swirl

nebulous as gas and dust,
diffuse as the stress

a body meticulously stores.
Like how when I was shoved in grade school

on the blacktop in my boy jeans
the teacher asked me if I had a strawberry

because the wound was fresh as jam, glistening
like pulp does after the skin of a fruit is

peeled back clean with a knife.
I was in the dream as open to the elements,

yet I fired back. And I didn’t care who eyed me
like warped metal to be pounded square.

I said: Do you realize where you are?

And with one finger I called our family forth
and out of the strobe lights, they came.

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He’s Got Your Number, All Right

Kathryn Hummel

I said: Sweetie, Baby—
what were you thinking
when you pulled out that double-headed match
and stuffed it right back in the box?
Honey! Child!
As your Uncle I gotta tell you
to raise a whole lot more hell.
Don’t pass up a chance to burn two heads
hold two flames, light a double cigarette
à la the seductive mode of Paul Henreid.

I’ve got your number, all right, and
all those eights it contains are miserable.
Flip them onto their side and think: multiple infinities
yeah, like orgasms—
just get a little more…rock ’n’ roll.

Take the asp by the pincers, the opener by the can.
I don’t wanna know what you do with those operators:
the Text Jerk and the Snack Bar Guy,
the Steves and Sris and Judases,
but raise some hell I’m begging you.

I got a dedicated line to you, so now you dedicate one to me?
Girl Child!
You can’t seize the right attitude from poetry.

Think of that
asthmatic masturbator panting down the line,
the latest guy who stood you up, just last night;
this one driving you to what we hope
is the airport you need to fly from.

The half-dozen friends you never call
but keep stored in your phone like numeric skeletons;
the other half-dozen you wear down to the bone.
The two who’ve blocked your digits;
the ones who see right through you
as well as the ones who don’t.

You can’t control who forgets you, so let me just say:
Goodbye, Sweetie.
Have a great time and try not to worry.
We all—they all—have grasped
your goddamn number, all right.

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Twenty Questions
after Donald Justice

Is it constant in your land?
Does it rain constantly?
Are you a real character?
Have you ever got your hands dirty?
Is your passport current?
Are we closely related?
Do you honestly believe what you are saying?
Would you like to see the menu?
When did you last examine a scruple?
Have you ever forgotten your lines in public?

When were you last in the Holy Land?
Where is it precisely?
Are you a forerunner?
Have you ever been truly sorry?
Are you Cancer?
Do you worry about the future of the novel?
Have you found those binoculars?
Who watered the pitch in 1958?
Have you ever rhapsodised?
Would you mind completing a short survey?

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