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Seven excerpts, before twenty-seven

They say birthdays are a time for introspection. Well, I found my old college notebook from one of my poetry classes early this morning, and it did make me think about some of my favorite poems.

From "You Are Jeff" by Richard Siken

You're in a car with a beautiful boy, and he won't tell you that he loves
you, but he loves you. And you feel like you've done something terr-
ible, like robbed a liquor store, or swallowed pills, or shoveled yourself
a grave in the dirt, and you're tired. You're in a car with a beautiful boy,
and you're trying not to tell him that you love him, and you're trying to
choke down the feeling, and you're trembling, but he reaches over and
he touches you, like a prayer for which no words exist, and you feel your
heart taking root in your body, like you've discovered something you
don't even have a name for.

From "Small Wire" by Anne Sexton

As it has been said:
Love and a cough
cannot be concealed.
Even a small cough.
Even a small love.

From "Rain" by Danton Remoto

But you are here,
in the country of my mind,
wiping away the maps
of mist
on the window pane,
lying beside me,
as the pulse of the pillows and sheets—
even the very throb of rain—
begins to quicken.

From "Wild Geese" by Mary Oliver

You do not have to be good.
You do not have to walk on your knees
for a hundred miles through the desert, repenting.
You only have to let the soft animal of your body
love what it loves.

Tell me about despair, yours, and I will tell you mine.

Meanwhile the world goes on.

From "Before Bed" by Zora Howard

I is a still wet concrete
and here comes you,
a brazen unkempt boy,
carving your gang signs all up alongside me with an unassuming stick.
Where is your home training?
Why do you make the city of me so unbecoming?
Your language is hardening in this landscape of mine.
Everyone will pass here
and what will they find?
That I am your block,
I am your boulevard,
your bayou,
And baby,
I don’t mind,
I don’t mind,
I don’t mind.

From "Send Me To The Moon" by Conchitina Cruz

Lay down your arms where I can
                stay in them and send me to the moon, forget the freaks
we ran away from one afternoon by the library, the guard whistling in the hall,
                                       the howl and swagger and the fall—
               Haven’t we all made that jump? Haven’t we all heard
the plunk, the mere grunt of you,
                        the mere spunk of you, reeking of musk
        while teaching me physics, crawling down the road piss drunk
                                                   at 3 am, plastered and master
         to none, pushing my head down in cars all over town—
                                             Don’t we all stoop and deliver?
And so, what now, hopping from bed to bed, all red with rage,
                         the age of the wine on the label tossed
                                                  in the wastebasket, the taste
         of it all, the last of it all, the pale madness of this song,
my thong tugged at again
               by your wandering fingers, still smelling of
                                 another sweet wonder—Don’t we all
have another? Where are my fangs?
        Where are my pangs of guilt for my sins, where the wince
                          in the eternal threat of end, how mend the night’s
            idiosyncrasy, the spittoon in the fantasy
                                         of ordinary life, your wife,
                             my darling nonbeliever, my unwarranted claim.

"It is not impossible to survive—" by Lauryn K. Alleyne

You have mastered solitude, struggled to unpack
the thick realities of time and matter. Love has flattened
you. Measured, you have faced your least loveliness.

How fragile God’s graffiti, the text of us scrawled
wild, twisted into this renegade, complex sentence
of living! How the making betrays and becomes us!

Look at the tree revise its body daily, spectacularly
rendered through the small violence of loss. If nothing
else, learn this: You are not broken, but rearranged.