1. Here

    on Venus, time passes slowly because
    we are all preoccupied with love.
    The trees build up like sponges,
    the crust under us accumulates like coral,
    we begin to feel the long pressure
    the jewel feels, if the jewel feels,
    and, although this is suspicious belief,
    we welcome the illusion with that thrill
    formerly reserved for the profane.
    His hands are under her buttocks;
    her legs are bent on his shoulders;
    their extensions are the piping for
    “the best that has been thought or said.”
    The image is of a brain for all space.
    The universe, remember, is a ribbon
    where we follow back to the beginning
    and so meet that one of whom you were thinking
    when you mistook being here for being there.

    By Marvin Bell.

  2. Orion

    Far back when I went zig-zagging
    through tamarack pastures
    you were my genius, you
    my cast-iron Viking, my helmed
    lion-heart king in prison.
    Years later now you’re young

    my fierce half-brother, staring
    down from that simplified west
    your breast open, your belt dragged down
    by an old-fashioned thing, a sword
    the last bravado you won’t give over
    though it weighs you down as you stride

    and the stars in it are dim
    and maybe have stopped burning.
    But you burn, and I know it;
    as I throw back my head to take you in
    and old transfusion happens again:
    divine astronomy is nothing to it.

    Indoors I bruise and blunder
    break faith, leave ill enough
    alone, a dead child born in the dark.
    Night cracks up over the chimney,
    pieces of time, frozen geodes
    come showering down in the grate.

    A man reaches behind my eyes
    and finds them empty
    a woman’s head turns away
    from my head in the mirror
    children are dying my death
    and eating crumbs of my life.

    Pity is not your forte.
    Calmly you ache up there
    pinned aloft in your crow’s nest,
    my speechless pirate!
    You take it all for granted
    and when I look you back

    it’s with a starlike eye
    shooting its cold and egotistical spear
    where it can do least damage.
    Breath deep! No hurt, no pardon
    out here in the cold with you
    you with your back to the wall.

    By Adrienne Rich.

  3. Saint Judas

    When I went out to kill myself, I caught
    A pack of hoodlums beating up a man.
    Running to spare his suffering, I forgot
    My name, my number, how my day began,
    How soldiers milled around the garden stone
    And sang amusing songs; how all that day
    Their javelins measured crowds; how I alone
    Bargained the proper coins, and slipped away.

    Banished from heaven, I found this victim beaten,
    Stripped, kneed, and left to cry. Dropping my rope
    Aside, I ran, ignored the uniforms:
    Then I remembered bread my flesh had eaten,
    The kiss that ate my flesh. Flayed without hope,
    I held the man for nothing in my arms.

    By James Wright.

  4. Bloody Men

    Bloody men are like bloody buses
    You wait for about a year
    And as soon as one approaches your stop
    Two or three others appear.
    You look at them flashing their indicators,
    Offering you a ride.
    You’re trying to read the destinations,
    You haven’t much time to decide.
    If you make a mistake, there is no turning back.
    Jump off, and you’ll stand there and gaze
    While the cars and the taxis and lorries go by
    And the minutes, the hours, the days.

    By Wendy Cope.

  5. To A Reason

    A tap of your finger on the drum releases all sounds and initiates the new harmony.
    A step of yours is the conscription of the new men and their marching orders.
    You look away: the new love!
    You look back,—the new love!
    “Change our fates, shoot down the plagues, beginning with time,” the children sing to you. “Build wherever you can the substance of our fortunes and our wishes,” they beg you.
    Arriving from always, you’ll go away everywhere.

    By Arthur Rimbaud.
    Translated from French by John Ashbery.

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    Find me here in New York alone with the Alone
    going to lady psychiatrist who says Make time in your life
    for someone you can call darling, honey, who holds you dear
    can get excited & lay his head on your heart in peace.

    By Allen Ginsberg.

  7. Love Poem

    Speak earth and bless me with what is richest
    make sky flow honey our of my hips
    rigid as mountains
    spread over a valley
    carved out by the mouth of rain.

    And I knew when I entered her I was
    high wind in her forests hollow
    fingers whispering sound
    honey flowed
    from the split cup
    impaled on a lance of tongues
    on the tips of her breasts on her navel
    and my breath
    howling into her entrances
    through lungs of pain.

    Greedy as herring-gulls
    or a child
    I swing out over the earth
    over and over

    By Audre Lorde.

  8. Carrefour

    O You,
    Who came upon me once
    Stretched under apple-trees just after bathing,
    Why did you not strangle me before speaking
    Rather than fill me with the wild white honey of your words
    And then leave me to the mercy
    Of the forest bees.

    By Amy Lowell.

  9. Love Song

    Like the hills under dusk you
    fall away from the light:
    you deepen: the green
    light darkens
    and you are nearly lost:
    only so much light as
    stars keep
    manifests your face:
    the total night in
    myself raves
    for the light along your lips.

    By A. R. Amons.

  10. Mongrel Heart

    Up the dog bounds to the window, baying
    like a basset his doleful, tearing sounds
    from the belly, as if mourning a dead king,

    and now he’s howling like a beagle – yips, brays,
    gagging growls – and scratching the sill paintless,
    that’s how much he’s missed you, the two of you,

    both of you, mother and daughter, my wife
    and child. All week he’s curled at my feet,
    warming himself and me watching more TV,

    or wandered the lonely rooms, my dog shadow,
    who like a poodle now hops, amped-up windup
    maniac yo-yo with matted curls and snot nose

    smearing the panes, having heard another car
    like yours taking its grinding turn down
    our block, or a school bus, or bird-squawk,

    that’s how much he’s missed you, good dog,
    companion dog, dog-of-all-types, most excellent dog
    I told you once and for all we should never get.

    By David Baker.