Your daughter is ugly.
She knows loss intimately,
carries whole cities in her belly.
As a child, relatives wouldn’t hold her.
She was splintered wood and sea water.
They said she reminded them of the war.
On her fifteenth birthday you taught her
how to tie her hair like rope
and smoke it over burning frankincense.
You made her gargle rosewater
and while she coughed, said
macaanto girls like you shouldn’t smell
of lonely or empty.
You are her mother.
Why did you not warn her,
hold her like a rotting boat
and tell her that men will not love her
if she is covered in continents,
if her teeth are small colonies,
if her stomach is an island
if her thighs are borders?
What man wants to lay down
and watch the world burn
in his bedroom?
Your daughter’s face is a small riot,
her hands are a civil war,
a refugee camp behind each ear,
a body littered with ugly things
doesn’t she wear
the world well.
"Do you think the dictionary ever says to itself
I’ve got these words that mean completely
different things inside myself
and it’s tearing me apart?"
— Dean Young in an excerpt from “Selected Recent and New Errors”
I have to tell you,
there are times when
the sun strikes me
like a gong,
and I remember everything,
even your ears.
"At first, heartbreak made me beautiful.
My skin fluoresced. I hypnotized trees.
The orphans followed me around town,
drunk on my pain. I ate only my own
hunger, gave off a scent like bitter oranges
or chlorine. Loss left me strangely whole,
as if my sadness, were it strong enough,
could turn your ship around. That was back
when I aged. Now, like an astronomer
who seeks no first causes, but only to map
the connections pinned out over the sea,
I want to diagram the light that shines out
through the holes you pricked into me."
— Maureen Thorson, in “Apples to Oranges”
"Longing, we say, because desire is full of endless distances."
— Robert Hass in an excerpt from “Meditation at Lagunitas”
if you don’t
lookin at you sometime
like she wanna
just grab you
& eat you up
if you do
I almost brought him soup. So strong
was my habit of caring for him,
I was willing to make it
from scratch, the flesh falling
from hen bones, the rings
of celery and translucent onions,
the round carrots floating,
the slim bay leaf slip
so potent I only need one.
"A poem is a private story, after all, no matter how apparently public. The reader is always overhearing a confession."
— Jorie Graham (via theparisreview)
"We all have bullets beneath our skin
we pray our lovers won’t flinch at when they find."
— Andrea Gibson