FRIDAY OPEN THREAD: Happy National Poetry Month, Let’s Share Our Favorite Poems!

feature image via Unsplash

It’s April, and I’m here today to talk to you about National Poetry Month because what else do I even care so deeply about?

Poetry is, if we’re being as literal as possible, my life’s energy, homies. Langston Hughes has been my childhood love since my mom brought home a small booklet that had I, Too in it, I say the last lines even now, even now. When I was eight or nine and nervous about sitting next to a stranger on the airplane, my mom (who was sitting behind me) and I wrote the starts of poems the other had to finish, Post-Its clutched then shared between our finger tips. Poems got me through depression, anxiety, coming out, being rejected for coming out, coming out again and again, suicidality and the wrong diagnoses. Rachel McKibbens’ line, “When grief takes hold of you/you monster through it” (Oedipus) got me through intensive outpatient therapy and Panera and their hands and everything worse. Rachel McKibbens gave me the chance to say what I needed to say to my grandma when she was dying and dead and my family would not leave the hospital room to give the two of us privacy. Rachel McKibbens got me to Pink Door in 2015 when all my want was stolen and all the traces left just ended in voices repeating die, die, die. Pink Door gave me ways to unstick my words, yes, but also brought me poetry that gave me community and family and a reason to try.

I’m not going to lie to you: I’ve been really lost as of late and it’s not getting better soon. But I’m trying and the stanzas are pulling me through.

I want to share some of my favorite poems with you. And then maybe you can share some of your favorite poems with me?

“That’s how I participate in other people’s work. I carry it. The most important poems for us are the ones we carry.” – Ocean Vuong

Look in my front pocket and I got these (with first lines):

“Here, the sentence will be respected.”
38 by Layli Long Soldier

“i pledge allegiance to my/homies”
i pledge allegiance to no land by Safia Elhillo

“It’s hard for me to believe, but, believe/I do”
Omen To Get Your Ass Up by Angel Nafis

“Adam ate an apple”
(After God Herself) by Justice Ameer

“say it with your whole black mouth: i am innocent”
say it with your whole black mouth by Danez Smith

“I don’t know how to write a poem in metaphors anymore”
THE FBI USES MY PRONOUNS CORRECTLY WHEN THEY SEARCH MY APARTMENT FOR EVIDENCE by Linette Reeman

“I will not shoot myself”
Bullet Points by Jericho Brown

I get if poetry’s not your jam (though I’m one of those people who also believes music is poetry so feel free to insert that here instead), so go ahead and tell me whatever you wanna share, even if it’s not a poem! What’d you have for breakfast that lowkey set your soul on fire? Who’s coming over that you’re pretending you’re not super excited about but you’re gonna stop pretending cause your authentic self is more than enough and it’s a gift that both you and anyone around you gets to experience that? I wanna hear what you’re into this month! What’s got your heart like “finally a reason to stick around?”

Get in here and let me know, I’m so excited about you!!


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Alexis Smithers (Lex Lee) is a black nonbinary person creating on the East Coast. They've volunteered for Winter Tangerine and currently are a Web Development Student at Bloc. A 2015 Pink Door Fellow & 2016 Lambda Literary Emerging Writer, you can find more of their work on their website and listen to them scream about poetry & other interests on Twitter.

Alexis has written 26 articles for us.

90 Comments

  1. I adore every word Joshua Jennifer Espinoza has written be it a published poem or a tweet. But this one might be my favorite:

    Autopainophile

    My favorite thing is slowly pulling
    into my parking spot at home
    just as the song I’ve been feeling
    things to finally ends.

    All these movie moments and
    hand cutting wind in half dreams
    come for me as if
    sent by some light that wants
    to watch me survive.

    In the movies people like me
    don’t survive and it’s the same
    in real life so I make my own
    movies in my head and I last
    til the end and I am not
    happy even in my own
    fantasy but I am strong.

    I am holding the camera and
    pointing it at myself so I am
    trapped in my own gaze
    which is fine
    which feels great
    which is like the taste of my
    own blood
    which is great.

    I wish I loved my body the
    way you say I love my body and
    I wish the sun would stay just
    below the horizon forever.

    -Joshua Jennifer Espinoza

    • Ok firstly wow.

      And way behind that, that magic of a song ending just as you arrive at your destination is something that happens often enough that I came up with a word for it: synchophonia.

    • can we please just talk about how joshua jennifer espinoza pulled me out a depressive episode with her masterpiece, Outside Of The Body There Is Something Like Hope??? i mean There Shouldn’t Be Flowers is a yesyesyesalways but that book, even the title alone, reminds me how important few words can be. I love that poem. Especially the third stanza, I’m trying to figure out how to make these movies, I love that she provides an outline, a blueprint, a way to even tell us how to imagine it–I never would’ve imagined it.

  2. Poetry is my lifeblood. I have a box full of poetry books that I love to read when I’m feeling down or sad. My favorite one to read to help me is by Courtney Peppernell in Pillow Thoughts. It’s the very first one and is a sort of prologue.

    “Before we begin, I’d like to share a story.
    Once upon a time there was a jellyfish. We’ll call it
    You.
    You became lost sometimes
    You could be a little unsure
    You tried very hard
    But it didn’t feel like enough.
    I hate to spoil the ending
    But You is fine
    You is still here
    You is going to make it.”

  3. Everything Sor Juana Inez de la Cruz wrote is pure gold. Here’s her at her most misandrist. The English translation is below the Spanish.

    You Men – Sor Juana Ines de la Cruz

    (Español)
    Hombres necios que acusáis
    a la mujer sin razón,
    sin ver que sois la ocasión
    de lo mismo que culpáis:

    si con ansia sin igual
    solicitáis su desdén,
    ¿por qué quereis que obren bien
    si las incitáis al mal?

    Combatís su resistencia
    y luego, con gravedad,
    decís que fue liviandad
    lo que hizo la diligencia.

    Parecer quiere el denuedo
    de vuestro parecer loco,
    al niño que pone el coco
    y luego le tiene miedo.

    Queréis, con presunción necia,
    hallar a la que buscáis,
    para pretendida, Thais,
    y en la posesión, Lucrecia

    ¿Qué humor puede ser más raro
    que el que, falto de consejo,
    el mismo empaña el espejo
    y siente que no esté claro?

    Con el favor y el desdén
    tenéis condición igual,
    quejándoos, si os tratan mal,
    burlándoos, si os quieren bien.

    Opinión, ninguna gana:
    pues la que más se recata,
    si no os admite, es ingrata,
    y si os admite, es liviana

    Siempre tan necios andáis
    que, con desigual nivel,
    a una culpáis por crüel
    y a otra por fácil culpáis.

    ¿Pues cómo ha de estar templada
    la que vuestro amor pretende,
    si la que es ingrata, ofende,
    y la que es fácil, enfada?

    Mas, entre el enfado y pena
    que vuestro gusto refiere,
    bien haya la que no os quiere
    y quejaos en hora buena.

    Dan vuestras amantes penas
    a sus libertades alas,
    y después de hacerlas malas
    las queréis hallar muy buenas.

    ¿Cuál mayor culpa ha tenido
    en una pasión errada:
    la que cae de rogada
    o el que ruega de caído?

    ¿O cuál es más de culpar,
    aunque cualquiera mal haga:
    la que peca por la paga
    o el que paga por pecar?

    Pues ¿para quée os espantáis
    de la culpa que tenéis?
    Queredlas cual las hacéis
    o hacedlas cual las buscáis.

    Dejad de solicitar,
    y después, con más razón,
    acusaréis la afición
    de la que os fuere a rogar.

    Bien con muchas armas fundo
    que lidia vuestra arrogancia,
    pues en promesa e instancia
    juntáis diablo, carne y mundo.

    (English)
    Silly, you men-so very adept
    at wrongly faulting womankind,
    not seeing you’re alone to blame
    for faults you plant in woman’s mind.

    After you’ve won by urgent plea
    the right to tarnish her good name,
    you still expect her to behave–
    you, that coaxed her into shame.

    You batter her resistance down
    and then, all righteousness, proclaim
    that feminine frivolity,
    not your persistence, is to blame.

    When it comes to bravely posturing,
    your witlessness must take the prize:
    you’re the child that makes a bogeyman,
    and then recoils in fear and cries.

    Presumptuous beyond belief,
    you’d have the woman you pursue
    be Thais when you’re courting her,
    Lucretia once she falls to you.

    For plain default of common sense,
    could any action be so queer
    as oneself to cloud the mirror,
    then complain that it’s not clear?

    Whether you’re favored or disdained,
    nothing can leave you satisfied.
    You whimper if you’re turned away,
    you sneer if you’ve been gratified.

    With you, no woman can hope to score;
    whichever way, she’s bound to lose;
    spurning you, she’s ungrateful–
    succumbing, you call her lewd.

    Your folly is always the same:
    you apply a single rule
    to the one you accuse of looseness
    and the one you brand as cruel.

    What happy mean could there be
    for the woman who catches your eye,
    if, unresponsive, she offends,
    yet whose complaisance you decry?

    Still, whether it’s torment or anger–
    and both ways you’ve yourselves to blame–
    God bless the woman who won’t have you,
    no matter how loud you complain.

    It’s your persistent entreaties
    that change her from timid to bold.
    Having made her thereby naughty,
    you would have her good as gold.

    So where does the greater guilt lie
    for a passion that should not be:
    with the man who pleads out of baseness
    or the woman debased by his plea?

    Or which is more to be blamed–
    though both will have cause for chagrin:
    the woman who sins for money
    or the man who pays money to sin?

    So why are you men all so stunned
    at the thought you’re all guilty alike?
    Either like them for what you’ve made them
    or make of them what you can like.

    If you’d give up pursuing them,
    you’d discover, without a doubt,
    you’ve a stronger case to make
    against those who seek you out.

    I well know what powerful arms
    you wield in pressing for evil:
    your arrogance is allied
    with the world, the flesh, and the devil!

    • “God bless the woman who won’t have you” !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

      “you’re the child that makes a bogeyman,
      and then recoils in fear and cries.” YES!!!!

      “So why are you men all so stunned
      at the thought you’re all guilty alike?” !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

      this should be taught to everybody tbh

      I was getting more and more fired up with every line I love this

  4. Sometimes if I am struggling I think of my younger self and how I love her unconditionally and want her to know that things have gone okay and I’ve made it this far, and I think that there is a future me having those thoughts about current me.

  5. Not of one much for poetry as I wish I was, even tho I did have a phase of trying to write some as a young teen. I was a terrible poet as most teenagers are.

    Occasionally an individual poem will spark, but for the most part they just pass me by or worse only one part of it does and the rest looks like dead weight to me.

    Never do pleasant poems really spark, only the ones that rend, tear or wail with passion like “Dulce et Decorum Est” by Wilfred Own and “Do not go gentle into that good night” by Dylan Thomas

    I do get amused by crude but adorable “Here I sit all broken hearted, came to shit but merely farted” on the wall of a bathroom stall.
    And I do greatly admire “The Chaos” by Gerard Nolst Trenité, read if you dare

    http://ncf.idallen.com/english.html

    but I don’t know if it qualifies as a poem

    • ive heard of the chaos before! my moms and english teacher and we love shit like this / i think it qualifies as a poem / crude and adorable poems are great they make me feel like i can be a kid again tbh

  6. I got into poetry at age 11 when I stumbled upon a poem written by Li Young Lee. I didn’t even really understand what I was reading, but I knew it was important.

    From Blossoms
    BY LI-YOUNG LEE

    From blossoms comes
    this brown paper bag of peaches
    we bought from the boy
    at the bend in the road where we turned toward
    signs painted Peaches.

    From laden boughs, from hands,
    from sweet fellowship in the bins,
    comes nectar at the roadside, succulent
    peaches we devour, dusty skin and all,
    comes the familiar dust of summer, dust we eat.

    O, to take what we love inside,
    to carry within us an orchard, to eat
    not only the skin, but the shade,
    not only the sugar, but the days, to hold
    the fruit in our hands, adore it, then bite into
    the round jubilance of peach.

    There are days we live
    as if death were nowhere
    in the background; from joy
    to joy to joy, from wing to wing,
    from blossom to blossom to
    impossible blossom, to sweet impossible blossom.

    • I love this poem!!!! One of my absolute favorites, thank you so much for reminding me. It always makes me think of the most delicious peach I’ve ever eaten, with my best friend at a farmers market, on a summer day that really did feel like living from joy to joy.

    • good grief i love li-young lee / those last two stanzas!!! my goodness

      The Gift makes me cry / v thankful for all the love i get in small and important ways

      The Gift

      To pull the metal splinter from my palm
      my father recited a story in a low voice.
      I watched his lovely face and not the blade.
      Before the story ended, he’d removed
      the iron sliver I thought I’d die from.

      I can’t remember the tale,
      but hear his voice still, a well
      of dark water, a prayer.
      And I recall his hands,
      two measures of tenderness
      he laid against my face,
      the flames of discipline
      he raised above my head.

      Had you entered that afternoon
      you would have thought you saw a man
      planting something in a boy’s palm,
      a silver tear, a tiny flame.
      Had you followed that boy
      you would have arrived here,
      where I bend over my wife’s right hand.

      Look how I shave her thumbnail down
      so carefully she feels no pain.
      Watch as I lift the splinter out.
      I was seven when my father
      took my hand like this,
      and I did not hold that shard
      between my fingers and think,
      Metal that will bury me,
      christen it Little Assassin,
      Ore Going Deep for My Heart.
      And I did not lift up my wound and cry,
      Death visited here!
      I did what a child does
      when he’s given something to keep.
      I kissed my father.

  7. Morning Poem
    Robin Becker

    Listen. It’s morning. Soon I’ll see your hand reach
    for my watch, the water will agitate in the kettle,
    but listen. Traffic. I want your dreams first. And
    to slide my leg beneath yours before the day opens.
    Wait. We slept late. You’ll be moody, the phone
    will ring, someone wanting something. Let me put
    my hands in your hair. Who I was last night I would
    be again. This is how the future holds me, how depression
    wakes with us; my body shelters it. Let me
    put my head on your breast. I know nothing lasts.
    I would try to hold you back, not out of meanness
    but fear. Oh my practical, my worldly-wise. You
    know how the body falters, falls in on itself. Tell me
    that we will never want from each other what we
    cannot have. Lie. It’s morning.

    • have you ever had words that no matter how you say them they always have to come out whispered / quiet / almost like a secret? this is how reading this poem feels to me i like it quite a lot

    • I
      LOVE
      EVE
      L
      EWING
      SO M U CH

      im so hurt they took electric arches off spotify i was really hoping more poetry would show up there if this took off

      and!!!! i agree that everyone should get her book haymarket always has deals of like 30% off books and up and its one of the best places to get books by marginalized writers!! (this month its half off certain books like the breakbeat poets 3 anthology: halal if you hear me edited by safia elhillo and fatimah asghar (creator of brown girls!!!))

      and honestly eve’s twitter is a thing of beauty too: https://twitter.com/eveewing

      • Agreeeeeee I am so happy to be alive and in Chicago at this time when this is all getting published, and grateful for my friend the literature professor who tweets about all the poets all the time. He brought eve ewing to read to his class last year and I went because I had seen her twitter it was the best.

  8. I don’t read as much poetry as I want to. The first poetry book I got was Cool Gardens by Serj Tankian(system of a down singer) a few months after it came out. Like his music some of the themes of his poetry were about genocide(in his case the Armenian genocide) and it felt relatable in some ways. Saw him perform some of it live at a benefit for the then striking grocery workers out here in L.A. He’s pretty friendly, but weird dude to meet in person(he had to take the group selfie with my camera back in 2005).

    How’s everyone week going? It’s been pretty good here, but also slow. The hell that’s 45 is affecting my business and neighborhood even more as less as less people from Mexico and central America are shopping here over fears of uncertainty. Plus, it be nice to have money to just move out and live alone. I had 5 people match me then within a second unmatch me on tinder, the fuck is up with that? Like did you mistakenly swipe right? Just so weird. I also spent my Sunday with a friend at an indie art show that was pretty good; but, also some of the white people, including the white women(cis-het from the look things) make some really middling/gimmicky art. A few times it had me saying some of my images could be here, which has revitalized me a bit to be honest.

    This weekend is my best friends birthday and then 2 days after that it’s my birthday so we are just going to get a sleazy room with a heart shaped roman tub again and just unwind. I may also give a private queer performance using some of the stuff I learned though here or something autostraddle linked to.

    Thought this poem was relevant to the topic. 2Pac’s The Rose That Grew From The Concrete. It’s a really good and uplifting poem and has since been painted over.

    • That never should’ve painted over, except maybe with a transparency of a rose.

      There’s some art that’s best in situ, buying a print or a copy seems wrong some how but still one is grateful a record of it survives at all.

      …uh yeah I’m still grieving the World Heritage sites destroyed by petty warlords fronting as champions of a faith that brought so much to the world in art, science and math.

    • i love that picture! its def unsurprising but something heavier than disappointing that they painted over it

      i hope you and your best friend have great birthdays!! this sounds like its gonna be a fantastic time!!

      and heck yes your art deserves to take up space!!!

    • “There are many kinds of open.” i love how audre lorde sneaks up and speaks when i need her most unexpectedly

      “Both bent and erect, we are all give
      and give back.” !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! tHIS LINE BREAK THO

      “Our hands remember how to turn
      the earth before we do.” mmm this is a really great poem, it felt like v small at first and exploded when i least expected it

      /

      “How can there be too many stars and hands, I ask you” !!!!!!!!!

      “Yes, I want to write that self-healing poem” is basically me all the time

    • unrelated: your profile pic is tHE BEST

      i like :

      “Making is the mirror in which we see ourselves. / “But *being* is making”

      i like how amy lowell’s snuck up on me in its meaning

  9. I found myself turning to poetry to help me out of a nasty little cycle of depression or something this spring.

    Here’s one of my favorites from Naomi Shihab Nye:

    Truth Serum

    We made it from the ground-up corn in the old back pasture.
    Pinched a scent of night jasmine billowing off the fence,
    popped it right in.
    That frog song wanting nothing but echo?
    We used that.
    Stirred it widely. Noticed the clouds while stirring.
    Called upon our ancient great aunts and their long slow eyes
    of summer. Dropped in their names.
    Added a mint leaf now and then
    to hearten the broth. Added a note of cheer and worry.
    Orange butterfly between the claps of thunder?
    Perfect. And once we had it,
    had smelled and tasted the fragrant syrup,
    placing the pan on a back burner for keeping,
    the sorrow lifted in small ways.
    We boiled down the lies in another pan till they disappeared.
    We washed that pan.

    • “the sorrow lifted in small ways” and i love that last line. i dont know how to explain it but it makes the hard things i always feel like i can do, suddenly seem possible. if that makes sense

  10. I love poetry that rips my heart out. I’m currently devouring Mary Lambert’s book. This is a snippet from her poem “How I Learned to Love”:
    When I was fifteen, I hated everything except for Weezer
    and maybe like two people. And cereal.
    One time a boy grabbed me in the music room
    and kissed my neck in front of everybody.
    I did not want to be kissed, but I thought I was supposed
    to want to be kissed. I did not know what to do.
    And so I laughed.
    I knew you were supposed to laugh after things like that
    The world had taught me to dress up my trauma
    in short skirts and secret bathroom crying,
    to protect the fragility of boys at all costs”

    I also love Sarah Kay. This is a bit from her poem “Private Parts”:
    The first love of my life never saw me naked. There was always a parent coming home in the half hour, always a little brother in the next room, always too much body and not enough time to show. it.

    Instead, I gave him my shoulder, my elbow, the bend of my knee. I lent him my corners, my edges, the parts of me I could afford to offer – the parts I had long since given up trying to hide.

    He never asked for more.

    He gave me back his eyelashes, the back of his neck, his palms – we held each piece we were given like it was a nectarine that could bruise if we weren’t careful. We collected them like we were trying to build an orchard.

    I also love Andrea Gibson and Megan Falley and Mary Oliver (I wept in my work bathroom when I found out she had died).
    I knew my ex was not for me because I took her to an Andrea Gibson show and not a single tear fell from her stone cold face.

    Happy Friday, ya’ll. Stay golden. <3

    • how….do you not cry at andrea gibson??? like: “I suppose we wear our traumas the way the guillotine wears gravity. Our lovers’ necks are so soft.”?????????????????? granted not everyone likes poetry but like……..THAT LINE ??? i think the first time i heard andrea gibson a v pretty girl in my high school class read sidewalk chalk and i was like i need to find this andrea gibson person immediately

      i know people are like its a cliche to quote wild geese bUT its a fucking great poem and i will quote it til the cows come home cause like?? “You do not have to be good.!!!!!! 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. how long have we needed permission like that im projecting but sTILL

      i love me some sarah kay like every time she performs a poem i fall in love her more

      and mary lambert, honestly i dont think ill ever be ready to read her book cause if im just sobbing when she starts saying “i know girls” in Body Love how am i gonna make it through a whole book like that???

  11. I’ve never been into poetry. Baking is my lifeblood.

    I found out this week that I have to have a hysterectomy. I never wanted kids and I’m getting too old for that anyway so that’s not really an issue for me. I’m not worried about the surgery itself. I’m worried about the recovery. With my depression, OCD, and PTSD I have to do certain things in order to keep them in check. Just a couple of weeks of not being able to exercise, clean, bake, and having to take it easy can send me into isolation and depression. I’m concerned that I will not be able to do all those little things I do on a daily basis in order to stay a functioning person. I’m meeting with the surgeon next week and I will discuss all of this with her. I’m hoping for a quick recovery. Also, to be honest, I have some camping trips and vacations coming up I don’t want to miss or not be able to enjoy. That might be a little selfish and first world problems stuff. I’m grateful for access to medical care. I’m also grateful I don’t have to miss out on a job or school. But the number of times in my life I actually looked forward to the future are very limited and I don’t want to mess with the good run I’ve been having lately.

    • Would a book of puzzles (crosswords and the like) or a handheld multiplayer online video game keep your mind busy or just frustrate you?

      I’ve never had to recover from major surgery but I have been bedridden, had my mobility impacted and unable to do physical things that are part of my mental self care. Puzzles and reading action packed fiction and mysteries every “free” second kept me afloat. Not completely above water, but enough that the Bad Thoughts weren’t drowning me and convincing me to not bother getting well.

      But I’m me, not you distractions so might not be the thing
      I don’t like much human interaction when I’m feeling vulnerable, you might benefit from it.

    • hey you dont have to downplay how worried you are about keeping the good run youve been having. ive never had major recovery, just been with family who has, and im just sending good thoughts and wishes your way. and im w lex (reading/gaming help me a lot — can you ask people to check in with you at certain times?) , even though everyone is different, is there a way we can help you figure out ways to keep functioning (i know not necessarily at the same capacity but enough to keep you feeling as okay as you can in this situation)? i get it if not, but just want you to know we’re here if you need us

      what do you like to bake?

  12. I love poetry and I love you! Here are a couple of my favorites.

    Mary Oliver
    The Journey

    One day you finally knew
    what you had to do, and began,
    though the voices around you
    kept shouting
    their bad advice–
    though the whole house
    began to tremble
    and you felt the old tug
    at your ankles.
    “Mend my life!”
    each voice cried.
    But you didn’t stop.
    You knew what you had to do,
    though the wind pried
    with its stiff fingers
    at the very foundations,
    though their melancholy
    was terrible.
    It was already late
    enough, and a wild night,
    and the road full of fallen
    branches and stones.
    But little by little,
    as you left their voices behind,
    the stars began to burn
    through the sheets of clouds,
    and there was a new voice
    which you slowly
    recognized as your own,
    that kept you company
    as you strode deeper and deeper
    into the world,
    determined to do
    the only thing you could do–
    determined to save
    the only life you could save.

    Ellen Bass
    French Chocolates

    If you have your health, you have everything
    is something that’s said to cheer you up
    when you come home early and find your lover
    arched over a stranger in a scarlet thong.

    Or it could be you lose your job at Happy Nails
    because you can’t stop smudging the stars
    on those ten teeny American flags.

    I don’t begrudge you your extravagant vitality.
    May it blossom like a cherry tree. May the petals
    of your cardiovascular excellence
    and the accordion polka of your lungs
    sweeten the mornings of your loneliness.

    But for the ill, for you with nerves that fire
    like a rusted-out burner on an old barbecue,
    with bones brittle as spun sugar,
    with a migraine hammering like a blacksmith

    in the flaming forge of your skull,
    may you be spared from friends who say,
    God doesn’t give you more than you can handle
    and ask what gifts being sick has brought you.

    May they just keep their mouths shut
    and give you French chocolates and daffodils
    and maybe a small, original Matisse,
    say, Open Window, Collioure, so you can look out
    at the boats floating on the dappled pink water.

  13. It was written by a straight dude, but even so, this poem hangs near my bed (and Gary Young is one of the good ones, I promise). This was really helpful during my coming out phase:

    ‘My son wakes screaming. His dreams are real; he’s riding a horse, and the horse falls down. He’s so young, I don’t know how to tell him all our joy is wrung from that terror. Did you like it, I ask him. Fall down, he cries, fall down. Did you like riding the horse? And he looks at me, stops sobbing, and says, yes.’

    • oh! i wasnt prepared for this (and tbh there are a v many straight male poets i love like…….hanif abdurraqib makes up at least 22% of my poetry loving heart which doesnt sound like much but its a lot) i really love the whole thing and line wise i love, “all our joy is wrung from terror”

    • i like this line stanza:

      “To be bisexual is to be out of office, even to yourself
      Like a rare sexual Narnia and no spring in sight
      They won’t let you out of the closet to get back in again
      Deep in the winter coats, a little snow starts falling…”

      and “when a fish crawls up onto land?–thats bisexuality”

      always always always wild geese one of the best poems ever created (at least for me)

    • gotta respect frost i havent read him in forever but all youll hear me and my mom say is “we’ve got miles to go before we sleep” in regular conversation / this makes me think of the game heart in the woods (i havent finished but i think it fits!)

  14. I can’t pick a favorite. I just love all the usual subjects like Mary Oliver, Anne Sexton, Gwendoline Brooks, Emily of course.

    Mary Lambert’s latest book has some gems. When I bought it, I was afraid to read it for a month!

    Leslea Newman’s book of poetry inspired by Mathew Sheppard was a gut-punch as expected, but what really blew me away were all the different POVs she used. A fence, a road, a deer, the moon…

  15. happy friday! sorry that my fav is this one from anna akhmatova!

    Last Toast

    I drink to our ruined house
    To the dolor of my life
    To our loneliness together
    And to you I raise my glass
    To lying lips that have betrayed us,
    To dead-cold, pitiless eyes,
    That the world is brutal and coarse
    That God in fact has not saved us.

  16. OK I must admit that this is one of my favorite poems, even though it was written by a man:

    Survivor by Roger McGough

    Everyday

    I think about dying.

    About disease, starvation,

    violence, terrorism, war,

    the end of the world.

    It helps

    keep my mind off things.

  17. “No More Cake Here” by Natalie Diaz punches me in the face every time I read it:

    When my brother died
    I worried there wasn’t enough time
    to deliver the one hundred invitations
    I’d scribbled while on the phone with the mortuary:
    Because of the short notice no need to rsvp.
    Unfortunately the firemen couldn’t come.
    (I had hoped they’d give free rides on the truck.)
    They did agree to drive by the house once
    with the lights on— It was a party after all.

    I put Mom and Dad in charge of balloons,
    let them blow as many years of my brother’s name,
    jails, twenty-dollar bills, midnight phone calls,
    fistfights, and er visits as they could let go of.
    The scarlet balloons zigzagged along the ceiling
    like they’d been filled with helium. Mom blew up
    so many that she fell asleep. She slept for ten years—
    she missed the whole party.

    My brothers and sisters were giddy, shredding
    his stained T-shirts and raggedy pants, throwing them up
    into the air like confetti.

    When the clowns came in a few balloons slipped out
    the front door. They seemed to know where
    they were going and shrank to a fistful of red grins
    at the end of our cul-de-sac. The clowns played toy bugles
    until the air was scented with rotten raspberries.
    They pulled scarves from Mom’s ear—she slept through it.
    I baked my brother’s favorite cake (chocolate, white frosting).
    When I counted there were ninety-nine of us in the kitchen.
    We all stuck our fingers in the mixing bowl.

    A few stray dogs came to the window.
    I heard their stomachs and mouths growling
    over the mariachi band playing in the bathroom.
    (There was no room in the hallway because of the magician.)
    The mariachis complained about the bathtub acoustics.
    I told the dogs, No more cake here, and shut the window.
    The fire truck came by with the sirens on. The dogs ran away.
    I sliced the cake into ninety-nine pieces.

    I wrapped all the electronic equipment in the house,
    taped pink bows and glittery ribbons to them—
    remote controls, the Polaroid, stereo, Shop-Vac,
    even the motor to Dad’s work truck—everything
    my brother had taken apart and put back together
    doing his crystal meth tricks—he’d always been
    a magician of sorts.

    Two mutants came to the door.
    One looked almost human. They wanted
    to know if my brother had willed them the pots
    and pans and spoons stacked in his basement bedroom.
    They said they missed my brother’s cooking and did we
    have any cake. No more cake here, I told them.
    Well, what’s in the piñata? they asked. I told them
    God was and they ran into the desert, barefoot.
    I gave Dad his slice and put Mom’s in the freezer.
    I brought up the pots and pans and spoons
    (really, my brother was a horrible cook), banged them
    together like a New Year’s Day celebration.

    My brother finally showed up asking why
    he hadn’t been invited and who baked the cake.
    He told me I shouldn’t smile, that this whole party was shit
    because I’d imagined it all. The worst part he said was
    he was still alive. The worst part he said was
    he wasn’t even dead. I think he’s right, but maybe
    the worst part is that I’m still imagining the party, maybe
    the worst part is that I can still taste the cake.

  18. I’m back!

    I had time to read all the wonder you linked for us, and thank you thank you for a heart that’s started startled star-led anew.

    I am glad you exist Alexis, whichever way you twist and turn through life. Thank you for being here, for sharing this planet with us.

    Here’s a little poem for you, a smol gift in return.

    For Alexis. For Lex, who is:

    You held out eggshell fragments

    to us

    perfect, fragile

    Like you trusted us to understand

    what looks broken

    means

    something with wings

    or maybe,

    teeth.

    • OKAY BUT IM SCREAMING AT THIS COMMENT THERE IS A LOT FOR ME TO PROCESS HERE

      1. you wrote me a poem
      2. you read the poems i linked
      3. YOU
      4. WROTE
      5. ME
      6. A
      7. POEM

      I DO NOT HAVE WORDS AND THE LAST WORD IN THE POEM IS TEETH YOU KNOW ME SO WELL I LOVE THIS I LOVE YOU WOW im telling you the truth when i say im printing this, cutting it out and putting it somewhere i can see it everyday im so excited thank you WOW THANK YOU

  19. I am very much looking forward to reading everyone’s poetry recommendations! I studied poetry in college as a creative writing minor and was really big into Andrea Gibson and other spoken word poets. I used to wander around the campus after dark working on my memorization and delivery—will have to look up which poem of theirs it was and share it tomorrow.

    Mostly I just wanted to pop in and say that I adopted two of my foster kittens today! I haven’t had a kitten since I was in seventh grade and it’s freaking fantastic. 10/10 would recommend.

    • KITTENS THIS IS GREAT NEWS THIS IS SO GREAT WHAT ARE THEIR NAMES ???

      in my life i will adopt kitties but this lease and also my allergies are saying not yet, but you have inspired me to make it happen sooner rather than later

      i cant wait to hear which one you were practicing (also?? im in awe of people who can do slam poetry, like. i sort of did it but im always holding the paper up and wishing the people who run the place would make the room darker haha i so admire that you memorized and delivered it!!)

    • ” the point being that I can’t do what I want
      to do with my own body because I am the wrong” sCREAMING AT THIS LINE BREAK

      I love: “I am not wrong: Wrong is not my name
      My name is my own”

      i love this all so much thank you

  20. So much Marge Piercy! Rad angry feminist, gorgeous songs to love and work and the working class, every poem is perfect.

    “If they come in the night”
    Long ago on a night of danger and vigil
    a friend said, Why are you happy?
    he explained (we lay together
    on a hard cold floor) what prison
    meant because he had done
    time, and I talked of the death
    of friends. Why are you happy
    then, he asked, close to angry.

    I said, I like my life. If I
    have to give it back, if they
    take it from me, let me only
    not feel I wasted any, let me
    not feel I forgot to love anyone
    I meant to love, that I forgot
    to give what I held in my hands,
    that I forgot to do some little
    piece of work that wanted
    to come through.

    Sun and moonshine, starshine,
    the muted grey light off the waters
    of the bay at night, the white
    light of fog stealing in,
    the first spears of the morning
    touching a face
    I love. We all lose
    everything. We lose
    ourselves. We are lost.

    Only what we manage to do
    lasts, what love sculps from us;
    but what I count, my rubies, my
    children, are those moments
    wide open when I know clearly
    who I am, who you are, what we
    do, a marigold, an oakleaf, a meteor,
    with all my senses hungry and filled
    at once like a pitcher with light.

      • She has SO many sexy/sensual poems that really hit you, but I think the one you’re talking about–I thought about posting this one–is “Implications of One Plus One”:

        Implications Of One Plus One

        Sometimes we collide, tectonic plates merging,
        continents shoving, crumpling down into the molten
        veins of fire deep in the earth and raising
        tons of rock into jagged crests of Sierra.

        Sometimes your hands drift on me, milkweed’s
        airy silk, wingtip’s feathery caresses,
        our lips grazing, a drift of desires gathering
        like fog over warm water, thickening to rain.

        Sometimes we go to it heartily, digging,
        burrowing, grunting, tossing up covers
        like loose earth, nosing into the other’s
        flesh with hot nozzles and wallowing there.

        Sometimes we are kids making out, silly
        in the quilt, tickling the xylophone spine,
        blowing wet jokes, loud as a whole
        slumber party bouncing till the bed breaks.

        I go round and round you sometimes, scouting,
        blundering, seeking a way in, the high boxwood
        maze I penetrate running lungs bursting
        toward the fountain of green fire at the heart.

        Sometimes you open wide as cathedral doors
        and yank me inside. Sometimes you slither
        into me like a snake into its burrow.
        Sometimes you march in with a brass band.

        Ten years of fitting our bodies together
        and still they sing wild songs in new keys.
        It is more and less than love: timing,
        chemistry, magic and will and luck.

        One plus one equal one, unknowable except
        in the moment, not convertible into words,
        not explicable or philosophically interesting.
        But it is. And it is. And it is. Amen.

  21. My week was slow but suddenly very fast and I’ve acquired supplies for my experiments in food. Asorbic acid powder for all my fruit dehydration needs, cheese for making cheez-its, frozen blueberries for muffins, and buttermilk for a multitude of things mwhahaha.

    I’m going to try to post a video, no idea if it’ll work

    “The Chaos” by Gerard Nolst Trenité

    Here is but a SMALL sample of this ridiculous-is-this-even-a-poem:

    “Dearest creature in creation,
    Study English pronunciation.
    I will teach you in my verse,
    Sounds like corpse, corps, horse, and worse.
    I will keep you, Suzy, busy,

    Make your head with heat grow dizzy.
    Tear in eye, your dress will tear.
    So shall I! Oh hear my prayer.
    Just compare heart, beard, and heard,
    Dies and diet, lord and word,

    Sword and sward, retain and Britain.
    (Mind the latter, how it’s written.)
    Now I surely will not plague you with such words as plaque and ague.
    But be careful how you speak…”

  22. My war is long, A fight against the world I was raised in
    “congratulations, it’s a boy!”
    But I never fit.
    It took 14 years to find who I was, and another 9 to fully embrace it.
    For no one wants who you truly are, they want an image, a fairy tale, a perfect doppelganger.
    My war is against myself, who I am versus who the world wants me to be.
    Too tall, too big, too queer, too wrong, too butch, too femme.
    It’s never enough.
    The darkness creeps ever closer, gnawing on my heart, fracturing myself into pieces of stain glass.
    I grasp onto flotsam, trying to stay afloat amidst in the typhoon of my own anxiety.
    My war is against a lie, for only I can say who I am.
    The world has no say.
    I am myself.
    F*ck anyone else who says otherwise.
    It took too long to get here, I’m not going back.
    My war is burning out, for the two sides realize they are one
    wed together in one body.
    Hand in hand they walk, in the woods of my dreams.
    Finally putting to rest the blades of malice.
    They walk toward the future, uncertain and fragile.
    The war is over, embers snuffed out.
    For I am perfect, and there’s nothing to fight about.
    My hair is beautiful, its curls like roots of a tree, the frizz defiant like my spirit.
    My eyes are beautiful, a piercing storm-grey, like the ocean on a cloudy day.
    My facial fuzz is beautiful, soft and fluffy, to be proud of, never ashamed.
    My belly is beautiful, it’s size nothing to hold in hatred.
    My legs are beautiful, their length all the envy, especially in thigh-high boots.
    I am beautiful. Nothing about me is a mistake, as the divine makes none.
    My war is just beginning, as the world is not ready for me.
    My existence is resistance.
    My allies are many, for we all fight the same war.
    Know that you are not alone in this fight.
    Whether you hide in the shadows to survive til tomorrow, or raise you fist publicly in defiance,
    You are not alone.

    • “It took too long to get here, I’m not going back.” and ” Nothing about me is a mistake” are my favorite lines and this is important and thank you for sharing and wow just thank you

  23. Oh, how to choose?!

    Very, very in love with this entire collection by Kaveh Akbar: https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/34146688-calling-a-wolf-a-wolf

    And this poem by Paige Lewis: https://www.poetryfoundation.org/poetrymagazine/poems/145218/you-can-take-off-your-sweater-ive-made-today-warm

    And this poem (not to mention the collection by the same name) by Fatimah Asghar: https://www.poetryfoundation.org/poetrymagazine/poems/92374/if-they-should-come-for-us

    Really enjoying all the recommendations happening here!

    • hello yes to all three of these!!!!!!! im gonna read calling a wolf a wolf this month and am hYPED LIKE SHIT

      i got to see kaveh and fatimah perform in a small event like two years ago and its one of my absolute favorite memories they are just as full of light and brave and wow in person i love when that happens

  24. LEX i love this topic so much, thank you for opening up to us and thank you for sharing the poems you carry. here’s one of my favorites. i’ve been considering getting a tattoo of the last line for a long time now and i think one day i just might do it.

    To the Woman Crying Uncontrollably in the Next Stall
    Kim Addonizio

    If you ever woke in your dress at 4am ever
    closed your legs to a man you loved opened
    them for one you didn’t moved against
    a pillow in the dark stood miserably on a beach
    seaweed clinging to your ankles paid
    good money for a bad haircut backed away
    from a mirror that wanted to kill you bled
    into the back seat for lack of a tampon
    if you swam across a river under rain sang
    using a dildo for a microphone stayed up
    to watch the moon eat the sun entire
    ripped out the stitches in your heart
    because why not if you think nothing &
    no one can / listen I love you joy is coming

    • VANESSA thank you

      this poem has come up on my facebook/twitter/insta feed at least four times separately within the past two months and its a sign!!!!!!!! that 1) this poem is going to be v important this year so im now on the lookout for the little miracles itll probably bring and 2) you should get that tattoo (if you want to)

  25. Yay! I love, love, love this.

    The Empty Glass
    BY LOUISE GLÜCK

    I asked for much; I received much.
    I asked for much; I received little, I received
    next to nothing.

    And between? A few umbrellas opened indoors.
    A pair of shoes by mistake on the kitchen table.

    O wrong, wrong—it was my nature. I was
    hard-hearted, remote. I was
    selfish, rigid to the point of tyranny.

    But I was always that person, even in early childhood.
    Small, dark-haired, dreaded by the other children.
    I never changed. Inside the glass, the abstract
    tide of fortune turned
    from high to low overnight.

    Was it the sea? Responding, maybe,
    to celestial force? To be safe,
    I prayed. I tried to be a better person.
    Soon it seemed to me that what began as terror
    and matured into moral narcissism
    might have become in fact
    actual human growth. Maybe
    this is what my friends meant, taking my hand,
    telling me they understood
    the abuse, the incredible shit I accepted,
    implying (so I once thought) I was a little sick
    to give so much for so little.
    Whereas they meant I was good (clasping my hand intensely)—
    a good friend and person, not a creature of pathos.

    I was not pathetic! I was writ large,
    like a queen or a saint.

    Well, it all makes for interesting conjecture.
    And it occurs to me that what is crucial is to believe
    in effort, to believe some good will come of simply trying,
    a good completely untainted by the corrupt initiating impulse
    to persuade or seduce—

    What are we without this?
    Whirling in the dark universe,
    alone, afraid, unable to influence fate—

    What do we have really?
    Sad tricks with ladders and shoes,
    tricks with salt, impurely motivated recurring
    attempts to build character.
    What do we have to appease the great forces?

    And I think in the end this was the question
    that destroyed Agamemnon, there on the beach,
    the Greek ships at the ready, the sea
    invisible beyond the serene harbor, the future
    lethal, unstable: he was a fool, thinking
    it could be controlled. He should have said
    I have nothing, I am at your mercy.

    • yes! i have been trying to read gluck but had no idea where to begin and you came in with a door and said start here and what a start!!

      “To be safe,
      I prayed. I tried to be a better person.”

      IS THIS NOT ME WOW i love this!!!

  26. Peanut Butter
    BY EILEEN MYLES (a they/them lesbian icon!!)

    I am always hungry
    & wanting to have
    sex. This is a fact.
    If you get right
    down to it the new
    unprocessed peanut
    butter is no damn
    good & you should
    buy it in a jar as
    always in the
    largest supermarket
    you know. And
    I am an enemy
    of change, as
    you know. All
    the things I
    embrace as new
    are in
    fact old things,
    re-released: swimming,
    the sensation of
    being dirty in
    body and mind
    summer as a
    time to do
    nothing and make
    no money. Prayer
    as a last re-
    sort. Pleasure
    as a means,
    and then a
    means again
    with no ends
    in sight. I am
    absolutely in opposition
    to all kinds of
    goals. I have
    no desire to know
    where this, anything
    is getting me.
    When the water
    boils I get
    a cup of tea.
    Accidentally I
    read all the
    works of Proust.
    It was summer
    I was there
    so was he. I
    write because
    I would like
    to be used for
    years after
    my death. Not
    only my body
    will be compost
    but the thoughts
    I left during
    my life. During
    my life I was
    a woman with
    hazel eyes. Out
    the window
    is a crooked
    silo. Parts
    of your
    body I think
    of as stripes
    which I have
    learned to
    love along. We
    swim naked
    in ponds &
    I write be-
    hind your
    back. My thoughts
    about you are
    not exactly
    forbidden, but
    exalted because
    they are useless,
    not intended
    to get you
    because I have
    you & you love
    me. It’s more
    like a playground
    where I play
    with my reflection
    of you until
    you come back
    and into the
    real you I
    get to sink
    my teeth. With
    you I know how
    to relax. &
    so I work
    behind your
    back. Which
    is lovely.
    Nature
    is out of control
    you tell me &
    that’s what’s so
    good about
    it. I’m immoderately
    in love with you,
    knocked out by
    all your new
    white hair

    why shouldn’t
    something
    I have always
    known be the
    very best there
    is. I love
    you from my
    childhood,
    starting back
    there when
    one day was
    just like the
    rest, random
    growth and
    breezes, constant
    love, a sand-
    wich in the
    middle of
    day,
    a tiny step
    in the vastly
    conventional
    path of
    the Sun. I
    squint. I
    wink. I
    take the
    ride.

    • “And
      I am an enemy
      of change, as
      you know. All
      the things I
      embrace as new
      are in
      fact old things,
      re-released: ” —-> my autism was like BITCH ME TOO

      i love how i came here like oh of course! eileen myles, gotta love her and even knowing that its eileen myles this poem still pulled a trap door from under me like “oh no buddy its not gonna be just a walk in the park here, we’ve got some feelings to attend to” i love it

  27. some things:

    thANK you for your recommendations i miss poetry a lot and youre all helping me get back into it

    im prbly never gonna shut up about poems/etc. so if you want i got a twitter list of them! –> https://twitter.com/DangerLove12/lists/write

    and a little thread ( https://twitter.com/DangerLove12/status/1114716528136597506 )im trying to keep up to date with sales from various presses during april! since they usually have specials this month

    okay love you all hope youre well

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