poetry

Saudade

By Anna McDonald

The city wraps itself
up in me.
Covers its ears in me.
Tried me on in one
of those public nudity
dressing rooms they used
to have at Loehmann’s.
How I loved in my loneliness
the comfort of those pantings
& unpantings. How that dressing
room is no longer there, as many
people from that dressing room
just got up and walked out,
onto the next myth, died or bore
a child or didn’t. Perhaps it was
an accident. Haven’t thought of me
since. Should I stop hating
my own nostalgia, which
places me here on the corner
of my sadness so many
years later on a mild evening,
looking up into lit windows,
dinnertimes not my own?
The city wraps me up
in itself, does with me as air does to
particulate matter.
Lets me float around invisible
killing people I don’t know.

Thanks

by W.S. Merwin

Listen
with the night falling we are saying thank you
we are stopping on the bridges to bow from the railings
we are running out of the glass rooms
with our mouths full of food to look at the sky
and say thank you
we are standing by the water thanking it
standing by the windows looking out
in our directions

back from a series of hospitals back from a mugging
after funerals we are saying thank you
after the news of the dead
whether or not we knew them we are saying thank you

over telephones we are saying thank you
in doorways and in the backs of cars and in elevators
remembering wars and the police at the door
and the beatings on stairs we are saying thank you
in the banks we are saying thank you
in the faces of the officials and the rich
and of all who will never change
we go on saying thank you thank you

with the animals dying around us
taking our feelings we are saying thank you
with the forests falling faster than the minutes
of our lives we are saying thank you
with the words going out like cells of a brain
with the cities growing over us
we are saying thank you faster and faster
with nobody listening we are saying thank you
thank you we are saying and waving
dark though it is

Time is over, or it’s not

If death is not the end, I’d like to know what is.
For all eternity we don’t exist,
except for now.
In my gumshoe mac, I shuffled to the clifftop,
Stood well back,
and struck a match to light my life;
And as it flared it fell in darkness
Lighting nothing but itself.
I saw my life fall and thought:
Well, kiss my physics!
Time is over, or it’s not,
But this I know:
Life passes through us like the blade
Of bamboo growing through the prisoner pegged down in the glade
It pierces your blood, you screaming head –
Life is what happened to the dead.
Forever we do not exist
Except for now.
Life passes through us like a beam
Of charcoal green – a golden gleam,
The opposite of how it seems:
It’s not you that goes through life
life is the knife that cuts your dream
Around the seam
And leaves you turned on in the stream, laughing with your mouth open,
Until the stream is gone,
Leaving you cracked mud,
Not even there to be absent,
From the heartbeat of a dying fish.
In bed, upstairs, I feel your pulse run with the clock
And reach your hand
And lock us with our fingers
As if we were bumping above the Pole.
Yet I know by dawn
Your hand will be dry bone
I’ll have slept through your goodbye,no matter how long I wake.
Life winds on,
Through Cheri and Karl who can no longer smell chocolate,
Or see with wonder wind inflate the sail,
Or answer mail
Life flies on
Through Katy who was Catherine but is bound for Kate
Who looks over her shoulder at the demon Azmodeus,
And sees the Daily Mail
(I clutch my purse. I had it just now.)
Life slices through
The frozen butter in the Alpine wreck.
(I found your photo upside down
I never kissed a girl so long,
So long, so lovely or so wrong)
Life is what kills you in the end
And I can cry
But you won’t be there to be sorry
You were made of life
For ever we did not exist
We woke and for a second kissed.

-Robyn Hitchcock

To the New Year

With what stillness at last
you appear in the valley
your first sunlight reaching down
to touch the tips of a few
high leaves that do not stir
as though they had not noticed
and did not know you at all
then the voice of a dove calls
from far away in itself
to the hush of the morning

so this is the sound of you
here and now whether or not
anyone hears it this is
where we have come with our age
our knowledge such as it is
and our hopes such as they are
invisible before us
untouched and still possible

– W.S. Merwin

Love after Love

The time will come
when, with elation
you will greet yourself arriving
at your own door, in your own mirror
and each will smile at the other’s welcome,

and say, sit here. Eat.
You will love again the stranger who was your self.
Give wine. Give bread. Give back your heart
to itself, to the stranger who has loved you

all your life, whom you ignored
for another, who knows you by heart.
Take down the love letters from the bookshelf,

the photographs, the desperate notes,
peel your own image from the mirror.
Sit. Feast on your life.

– Derek Walcott

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