Epithalamium

I tell you, I felt like an elephant
that night, the night of the harvest.
Each furrow put on airs in the moonlight,
and the stars were so much confetti
that took more than one lifetime to fall …

I blundered about, wondered where to sit;
I asked after you. My trunk was so heavy—
and can you believe the effort it took
to lift that enormous head? I cut a figure
in my tux—Madras, scarlet cummerbund—

but my ears, big as pup tents, or two ’40’s
hats, heard everything & gave me away …
I stood in the garden, munching the trees—
I had a case of nerves! When you emerged,
gowned in confetti, I felt like the roar

of the crowd in your ears like small bells—
I was everywhere with good intentions!
When I sat on the bench, how could I know
you’d flip up over me, into the shrubs?
And if I spoke of the mud bath—so cooling,

& a protection against flies—I was only
practicing the lost art of conversation.
I’d forgotten my index cards with the topics,
after all my years wandering the high grasses …
As I watched you limp back to the dance,

I vowed I’d become a gazebo for you, a bower!
Oh, anything to hold you in my arms …
My bleating stopped the music, signaled
everyone into the garden—so embarrassing!
But as they all honked into our presence,

I tell you, I felt like an elephant, seeing
the faces above the collars: lizard, goat, rhino.
Like a high school reunion you pass up,
or waking from a dream, admitting everything …
And you saw it, too—smiling, rubbing my trunk.

— James Cummins, author of Then & Now

The Reading

Run your hand over the poem,
and you already know it.

Feel the round of the R to begin;
curl under the opening line and cup
the first y so you can feel its tail
tickling. Run your hand across its side
and gather up the poem,
the cup, the tail and begin down.

You will do this again, but for now
you already know what’s coming
before you know it—
the way I knew I would find you.

I knew the way a hand knows,
before a syllable is spoken.

—L.L. Barkat, author of the fiction-poetry title The Novelist

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Sonnet (With Children)

My love is like a deep and placid lake…
Not now, sweetie, Daddy’s busy, OK?
OK: my love’s a deep and peaceful lake…
Here, Daddy can fix it. All better. Now go play.
Um, my love, yes—a rose that blooms in spring…
You tell her Daddy says she has to share.
My love’s… My love’s a lake that blooms—no, that springs…
On the wall?! Her what?! No, wait—I’ll be right there.
OK—love, lake, spring, joy, flower bedding…
And why is the house so quiet now, I wonder?
Ah, fuck it! (Whoops! Don’t say that!) You know where I’m heading.
Don’t touch a thing—I need to get the plunger!
Forgive me, love, but time, as you know, is ticking.
So here: no you, no joy, no life. No kidding.

— Gabriel Spera

For more Gabriel Spera poems, see The Rigid Body

This poem appeared in Every Day Poems

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New Moon

Moonrise is not forever,
so in this brief hour
while we are tidal,
ebbing and flowing,
show me your light.

—Lorna Cahall

This love poem appeared in Every Day Poems. Subscribe now, for a year of happy mornings.

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Ontology

She can be a nest.
She’s got the necessary equipment.
Two breasts
you could rest your head between.
She can be a string of pearls,
rounded between your fingers,
as you count the time
between ivory knots.
She is, yes, the artichoke
with the impossible heart
a man might seek for tenderness.
She is the cherry,
containing a center stone
you work around with an agile tongue.
Sometimes she would like to be
just a white dress. Not the satin kind,
but the plain cotton,
with the simple buttons
you’d undo down the back,
wondering how a body hides within
such easy transparency.

—L.L. Barkat, author of the fiction/poetry title The Novelist

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Life Outside

To punish me, Adam has taken over
the trees: Don’t touch any this time.
He lets the ripe fruit fall and dissolve
in the grass. I envy those flies
that just ride their wings into sweetness.

What do I say? I wish I could return to the tree
and turn away. I wish we could lie
naked in a field and nibble figs.
Now my stomach stirs like rocks
in a river. I can only wait
for him to pull a few roots and toss them
over his shoulder: Eat.

He is becoming the earth again.
It sifts through his hair
and settles in the creases of his skin.
His back ripples under the sun
like the mountains baking in the distance.

Sometimes, he stops and looks up,
as if a voice were breaking
through the trees. For a moment I see
his eyes, then they float over my shoulder,
as if another woman stood behind me,
beckoning him toward paradise.

—Tania Runyan

For more Tania Runyan poems, see A Thousand Vessels

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Einstein’s Happiest Moment

Einstein’s happiest moment
occurred when he realized
a falling man falling
beside a falling apple
could also be described
as an apple and a man at rest
while the world falls around them.

And my happiest moment
occurred when I realized
you were falling for me,
right down to the core, and the rest,
relatively speaking, has flown past
faster than the speed of light.

— Richard Berlin

For more Richard Berlin poems, see Secret Wounds

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