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Wind-Wafted Wild Flowers by Muriel Strode


I will not follow where the path may lead, but I will go where there is no path, and I will leave a trail.

Infinitely will I trust nature's instincts and promptings, but I will not call my own perversions nature.

Each receives but that which is his own returning.
Each hears but that which is the echo of his own call.
Each feels but that which has eaten into his own heart.

I do not bemoan misfortune. To me there is no misfortune. I welcome whatever comes; I go out gladly to meet it.

It is no stigma to wear rags; the disgrace is in continuing to wear them.

Say not that this or that thing came to thwart you; it only came to test you.

There is hope for that genius who must overcome poverty, but there is almost none for that one who must overcome wealth.

The Aeolian must be in your breast, else the winds are in vain.

A great work demands a great sacrifice, and who is not capable of a great sacrifice is not capable of great work.

The earth shall yet surrender to him, and the fates shall do his will, who marches on, though the promised land proved to be but a mirage and the day of deliverance was cancelled. The gods shall yet anoint him, and the morning stars shall sing.

Not alone for that which is mine will I rejoice, but for that which has been withheld, which was coveted and longed for but denied, for I am what I am for having had to rise superior to the need.

His to rejoice with exceeding great joy who plucks the fruit of his planting, but his the divine anointing who watched and waited and toiled and prayed,—and failed,—and can yet be glad.

I would travel in all climes that I might return and tell you of the beauty of my own little garden plot.
I would explore heaven and hell that I might come back and tell you what a charming place is the earth.

Wishing will bring things in the degree that it incites you to go after them.

If the populace marched in file, 'twere my signal to break from the ranks.
If a thousand generations did thus and so, 'twere my cue to do otherwise.

I longed to build as you had builded, but I knew that your joy lay in the conception of your own design.
I longed to follow where your feet had trod, but I had watched your exhilaration as you felled a new way.
I longed to do that thing you did and be that thing you are, but I knew life's fulness was yours because you were yourself.

Let my grave be unmarked; I fear not to be forgotten.

Better than tiaras—the diadem of freedom.
Better than broad acres—a garden of heartsease.
Better than mines of gold—a mint of dreams.
Better than bars of molten silver—the silver of a laugh.
Better than strings of pearls—the crystal of a tear.
Better than bands of choristers—a lute in the soul.

I am life's mystery,—and I alone am its solution.
I am the dreamer of dreams,—and I am dreams come true.
I am the supplicant,—and I am the god that answers prayers.


Originally published in The Open Court, Vol XVII (No. 8), August, 1903

Sheenagh Pugh, 'Sometimes'


Sometimes




Sometimes things don't go, after all,
from bad to worse. Some years, muscadel
faces down frost; green thrives; the crops don't fail.
Sometimes a man aims high, and all goes well.

A people sometimes will step back from war,
elect an honest man, decide they care
enough, that they can't leave some stranger poor.
Some men become what they were born for.

Sometimes our best intentions do not go
amiss; sometimes we do as we meant to.
The sun will sometimes melt a field of sorrow
that seemed hard frozen; may it happen for you.

by Sheenagh Pugh

Good Day


Yesterday, I spent 60 dollars on groceries,
took the bus home,
carried both bags with two good arms back to my studio apartment
and cooked myself dinner.
You and I may have different definitions of a good day.
This week, I paid my rent and my credit card bill,
worked 60 hours between my two jobs,
only saw the sun on my cigarette breaks
and slept like a rock.
Flossed in the morning,
locked my door,
and remembered to buy eggs.
My mother is proud of me.
It is not the kind of pride she brags about at the golf course.
She doesn’t combat topics like, ”My daughter got into Yale”
with, “Oh yeah, my daughter remembered to buy eggs”
But she is proud.
See, she remembers what came before this.
The weeks where I forgot how to use my muscles,
how I would stay as silent as a thick fog for weeks.
She thought each phone call from an unknown number was the notice of my suicide.
These were the bad days.
My life was a gift that I wanted to return.
My head was a house of leaking faucets and burnt-out lightbulbs.
Depression, is a good lover.
So attentive; has this innate way of making everything about you.
And it is easy to forget that your bedroom is not the world,
That the dark shadows your pain casts is not mood-lighting.
It is easier to stay in this abusive relationship than fix the problems it has created.
Today, I slept in until 10,
cleaned every dish I own,
fought with the bank,
took care of paperwork.
You and I might have different definitions of adulthood.
I don’t work for salary, I didn’t graduate from college,
but I don’t speak for others anymore,
and I don’t regret anything I can’t genuinely apologize for.
And my mother is proud of me.
I burned down a house of depression,
I painted over murals of greyscale,
and it was hard to rewrite my life into one I wanted to live
But today, I want to live.
I didn’t salivate over sharp knives,
or envy the boy who tossed himself off the Brooklyn bridge.
I just cleaned my bathroom,
did the laundry,
called my brother.
Told him, “it was a good day.
Kait Rokowski (A Good Day)

Rape Joke | Patricia Lockwood




The rape joke is that you were 19 years old.

The rape joke is that he was your boyfriend.

The rape joke it wore a goatee. A goatee.

Imagine the rape joke looking in the mirror, perfectly reflecting back itself, and grooming itself to look more like a rape joke. “Ahhhh,” it thinks. “Yes. A goatee.”

No offense.


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Wild by Tony Hoagland


In late August when the streams dry up



and the high meadows turn parched and blond,

bears are squeezed out of the mountains
down into the valley of condos and housing developments.

All residents are therefore prohibited
from putting their garbage out early.

The penalty for disobedience will be
bears: large black furry fellows

drinking from your sprinkler system,
rolling your trashcans down your lawn,

bashing through the screen door of the back porch to get their
first real taste of a spaghetti dinner,

while the family hides in the garage
and the wife dials 1-800-BEARS on her cell phone,

a number she just made up
in a burst of creative hysteria.

Isn't that the way it goes?
Wildness enters your life and asks

that you invent a way to meet it,
and you run in the opposite direction

as the bears saunter down Main Street
sending station wagons crashing into fire hydrants,

getting the police department to phone
for tranquilizer guns,

the dart going by accident into the
neck of the unpopular police chief,

who is carried into early retirement
in an ambulance crowned with flashing red lights,

as the bears inherit the earth,
full of water and humans and garbage,

which looks to them like paradise.

pole dancer // Andrea Gibson




Pole Dancer // Andrea Gibson



She pole dances to Gospel hymns
Came out to her family in the middle of Thanksgiving grace.
I knew she was trouble
two years before our first date.
But my heart was a Labrador Retriever
with its head hung out the window of a car
tongue flapping in the wind
on a highway going 95
whenever she walked by.

So I mastered the art of crochet
and I crocheted her a winter scarf
and one night at the bar I gave it to her with a note
that said something like,
I hope this keeps your neck warm.
If it doesn't give me a call.

The key to finding love
is fucking up the pattern on purpose
is skipping a stitch,
is leaving a tiny, tiny hole to let the cold in
and hoping she mends it with your lips.

This morning I was counting her freckles.
She has five on the left side of her face, seven on the other
and I love her for every speck of trouble she is.
She's frickin' awesome.
Like popcorn at a drive-in movie
that neither of us has any intention of watching.
Like Batman and Robin
in a pick-up truck in the front row with the windows steamed up.
Like Pacman in the eighties,
she swallows my ghosts.

Slaps me on my dark side and says,
"Baby, this is the best day ever."
So I stop listening for the sound of the ocean
in the shells of bullets I hoped missed us
to see there are white flags from the tips of her toes
to her tear ducts
and I can wear her halos as handcuffs
'cause I don't wanna be a witness to this life,
I want to be charged and convicted,
ear lifted to her song like a bouquet of yes
because my heart is a parachute that has never opened in time
and I wanna fuck up that pattern,
leave a hole where the cold comes in and fill it every day with her sun,
'cause anyone who has ever sat in lotus for more than a few seconds
knows it takes a hell of a lot more muscle to stay than to go.

And I want to grow
strong as the last patch of sage on a hillside
stretching towards the lightning.
God has always been an arsonist.
Heaven has always been on fire.
She is a butterfly knife bursting from a cocoon in my belly.
Love is a half moon hanging above Baghdad
promising to one day grow full,
to pull the tides through our desert wounds
and fill every clip of empty shells with the ocean.
Already there is salt on my lips.

Lover, this is not just another poem.
This is my goddamn revolt.
I am done holding my tongue like a bible.
There is too much war in every verse of our silence.
We have all dug too many trenches away from ourselves.

This time I want to melt like a snowman in Georgia,
'til my smile is a pile of rocks you can pick up
and skip across the lake of your doubts.

Trust me,
I have been practicing my ripple.
I have been breaking into mannequin factories
and pouring my pink heart into their white paint.
I have been painting the night sky upon the inside of doorframes
so only moonshine will fall on your head in the earthquake.
I have been collecting your whispers and your whiplash
and your half-hour-long voice mail messages.
Lover, did you see the sunset tonight?
Did you see Neruda lay down on the horizon?
Do you know it was his lover who painted him red,
who made him stare down the bullet holes
in his country's heart?

I am not looking for roses.
I want to break like a fever.
I want to break like the Berlin Wall.
I want to break like the clouds
so we can see every fearless star,
how they never speak guardrail,
how they can only say fail.

"Stars," Oktay Rifat




Near the book a notebook
near the notebook a glass
near the glass a child
in the child's hand a cat.
And far away stars stars.

Wait // Galway Kinnell


Wait
by Galway Kinnell



Wait, for now.
Distrust everything, if you have to.
But trust the hours. Haven't they
carried you everywhere, up to now?
Personal events will become interesting again.
Hair will become interesting.
Pain will become interesting.
Buds that open out of season will become lovely again.
Second-hand gloves will become lovely again,
their memories are what give them
the need for other hands. And the desolation
of lovers is the same: that enormous emptiness
carved out of such tiny beings as we are
asks to be filled; the need
for the new love is faithfulness to the old.

Wait.
Don't go too early.
You're tired. But everyone's tired.
But no one is tired enough.
Only wait a while and listen.
Music of hair,
Music of pain,
music of looms weaving all our loves again.
Be there to hear it, it will be the only time,
most of all to hear,
the flute of your whole existence,
rehearsed by the sorrows, play itself into total exhaustion.

Unusable Elegy // Zachary Harris


Unusable Elegy // Zachary Harris

Sometimes the living make us very sad. This is not an unusual condition.

There is a fine bronze threaded through the pears and butter. I am sad

for this bronze. I am sad when I watch Bea Arthur on television. Once

I saw a dead fish, unblemished, half-buried in the mud on the lip of a

pond. I mistook it for a knife, and I was sad first for the fish, and sad

second for myself, who so easily lapsed into the sinister. I am sad when

Bea slips on a beaded caftan the color of a nightcat because now that

caftan is empty and guileless. There is a certain way in which the sunset

directs the light in my third-floor walk-up. I am sad to have to pick up

these pieces. Bea eats cheesecake, and I am sad first for her because

no one should eat that much cheesecake, and sad second for myself,

for having none. It makes me sad to read Oliver Twist because I have

often felt orphaned. There is a way in which everyone is an orphan.

Bea is going out on a date. She kisses her smallish mother goodnight,

opens the door, and sees that there are no stars.

Building of Unseen Cats


When I woke up, it was the middle of the night and
my building was on fire. The hallway was not filled
with smoke, and then quickly it was. I rescued a few
older men from their bathtubs, a few babies from
their cribs. Outside, the air was filled with hair.
Everyone but me was holding a plastic cage with a
cat in it. We weren’t supposed to have cats in my
building, but there they all were, an invisible nation
suddenly uncurtained into a blinding and brutal
world. Everyone looked at me with a face that said
let’s never speak of this. Let’s not look directly at what
is meant to be loved in secret. Let’s, for example,
imagine the sea is always, constantly, and forever
spilling toward us, that our screaming building is
something worth escaping.

Zachary Schomburg

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