One Hundred Love Sonnets: XVII

I don’t love you as if you were a rose of salt, topaz,
or arrow of carnations that propagate fire:
I love you as one loves certain obscure things,
secretly, between the shadow and the soul.

I love you as the plant that doesn’t bloom but carries
the light of those flowers, hidden, within itself,
and thanks to your love the tight aroma that arose
from the earth lives dimly in my body.

I love you without knowing how, or when, or from where,
I love you directly without problems or pride:
I love you like this because I don’t know any other way to love,
except in this form in which I am not nor are you,
so close that your hand upon my chest is mine,
so close that your eyes close with my dreams.

-Pablo Neruda

 [A straight rain is rare…]

A straight rain is rare and doors have suspicionsand I hold that names begin historiesand that the last century was a cruel one. I am pretendingto be a truck in Mexico. I am a woman with a long neck and a good burdenand I waddle efficiently. Activity never sleeps and no tale of crumbling cliffscan be a short one. I have to shift weight favorably. Happinesscan’t be settled. I brush my left knee twice, my right once,my left twice again and in that way advance. The alphabetand the cello can represent horses but I can only pretendto be a dog slurping pudding. After the 55 minutes it takes to finishmy legs tremble. All is forgiven. Yesterday is going the way of tomorrowindirectly and the heat of the sun is inadequate at this depth. I seethe moon. The verbs ought and can lack infinity and somewherebetween 1957 when the heat of the dry sun naughtily struck meand now when my secrets combine in the new order of cold rainsand night winds a lot has happened. Long phrasesare made up of short phrases that bear everything “in vain” or “allin fun” “for your sake” and “step by step” precisely. I too can spring.

-Lyn Hejinian

If You Are Over Staying Woke

the plants. Drink
plenty of water.
Don’t hear
the news. Get
bored. Complain
about the weather.
Keep a corkscrew
in your purse.
Swipe right
Don’t smile
unless you want
to. Sleep in.
Don’t see the news.
Remember what
the world is like
for white people.
Listen to
cricket songs.
Floss. Take pills.
Keep an
empty mind.
When you are
do not say
I’m never drinking
again. Be honest
when you’re up
to it. Otherwise
drink water
lie to yourself
turn off the news
burn the papers
skip the funerals
take pills
laugh at dumb shit
fuck people you
don’t care about
use the crockpot
use the juicer
use the smoothie maker
drink water
from the sky
don’t think
too much about the sky
don’t think about water
skip the funerals
close your eyes
whenever possible
When you toast
look everyone in the eyes
Never punctuate
the President
Write the news
into water
the fire escape
Burn the paper
Crumble the letters
Instead of
hyacinths pick
Water the hydrangeas
Wilt the news
White the hydrangeas
Drink the white
Waterfall the
cricket songs
Keep a song mind
Don’t smile
Don’t wilt

Lines for Winter

Tell yourself
as it gets cold and gray falls from the air
that you will go on
walking, hearing
the same tune no matter where
you find yourself—
inside the dome of dark
or under the cracking white
of the moon’s gaze in a valley of snow.
Tonight as it gets cold
tell yourself
what you know which is nothing
but the tune your bones play
as you keep going. And you will be able
for once to lie down under the small fire
of winter stars.
And if it happens that you cannot
go on or turn back
and you find yourself
where you will be at the end,
tell yourself
in that final flowing of cold through your limbs
that you love what you are.

-Mark Strand


Our high school principal wagged his finger
over two manila folders
lying on his desk, labeled with our names—
my boyfriend and me—
called to his office for skipping school.

The day before, we ditched Latin and world history
to chase shadows of clouds on a motorcycle.
We roared down rolling asphalt roads
through the Missouri River bottoms
beyond town, our heads emptied
of review tests and future plans.

We stopped on a dirt lane to hear
a meadowlark’s liquid song, smell
heart-break blossom of wild plum.
Beyond leaning fence posts and barbwire,
a tractor drew straight lines across the field
unfurling its cape of blackbirds.

Now forty years after that geography lesson
in spring, I remember the principal’s words.
How right he was in saying:
This will be part of
your permanent record.

-Margaret Hasse


A little heat in the iron radiator,
the dog breathing at the foot of the bed,

and the windows shut tight,
encrusted with hexagons of frost.

I can barely hear the geese
complaining in the vast sky,

flying over the living and the dead,
schools and prisons, and the whitened fields.

-Billy Collins