Night Windows

The neighbors are making love again, their sighed, resonant
cries drawn out unexpectedly, honestly, into a summer night
that was longing for them, waiting to be filled.

My cats stir and shift on their pillows.

And if,
at an exhibition, I am struck dumb standing in front of
Hopper’s “Night Windows,” it is not by the half-dressed woman,
or the breeze that flies out of the painting and lifts my hair,

but by the love that renders them and strips them bare.

My own loves and failures, of which even now it is difficult to speak,
have been forgiven here. I am like the happy man next door.
I can hear him whistling in the shower.

- Mary Anne McFadden

There Is Some Kiss

There is some kiss we want
with our whole lives,
the touch of spirit on the body.

Seawater begs the pearl
to break its shell.

And the lily, how passionately
it needs some wild darling.

At night, I open the window
and ask the moon to come
and press its face against mine.
Breathe into me.

- Rumi

And I have felt
      A presence that disturbs me with the joy
      Of elevated thoughts; a sense sublime
      Of something far more deeply interfused,
      Whose dwelling is the light of setting suns,
      And the round ocean and the living air,
      And the blue sky, and in the mind of man;
      A motion and a spirit, that impels                             
      All thinking things, all objects of all thought,
      And rolls through all things.

- William Wordsworth

Bleecker Street, Summer

Summer for prose and lemons, for nakedness and languor,
for the eternal idleness of the imagined return,
for rare flutes and bare feet, and the August bedroom
of tangled sheets and the Sunday salt, ah violin!
When I press summer dusks together, it is
a month of street accordions and sprinklers
laying the dust, small shadows running from me.

It is music opening and closing, Italia mia, on Bleecker,
ciao, Antonio, and the water-cries of children
tearing the rose-coloured sky in streams of paper;
it is dusk in the nostrils and the smell of water
down littered streets that lead you to no water,
and gathering islands and lemons in the mind.
There is the Hudson, like the sea aflame.
I would undress you in the summer heat,
and laugh and dry your damp flesh if you came.
- Derek Walcott

Are All Of The Break-ups In Your Poems Real?

If by real you mean as real as a shark tooth stuck
in your heel, the wetness of a finished lollipop stick,
the surprise of a thumbtack in your purse—
then Yes, every last page is true, every nuance,
bit, and bite. Wait. I have made them up—all of them—
and when I say I am married, it means I married
all of them, a whole neighborhood of past loves.
Can you imagine the number of bouquets, how many
slices of cake? Even now, my husbands plan a great meal
for us—one chops up some parsley, one stirs a bubbling pot
on the stove. One changes the baby, and one sleeps
in a fat chair. One flips through the newspaper, another
whistles while he shaves in the shower, and every single
one of them wonders what time I am coming home.
- Aimee Nezhukumatathil

Six Words of Advice

Six Words of Advice – by Tibetan teacher, Tilopa

Let go of what has passed.
Let go of what may come.
Let go of what is happening now.
Don’t try to figure anything out.
Don’t try to make anything happen.
Relax, right now, and rest.

translation by Ken McLeod

You can only go with loves in this life.

—Ray Bradbury

You have made some mistakes

and you may not be where you want to be,

but that has nothing to do with your future.

- Zig Ziglar


Waking by Kālidāsa

Even the man who is happy
glimpses something
or a hair of sound touches him

and his heart overflows with a longing
he does not recognize

then it must be that he is remembering
in a place out of reach
shapes he has loved

in a life before this

the print of them still there in him waiting.

- Kālidāsa (4th century, India) 
translated by W.S. Merwin

The body is lazy, the mind is vibrant and the soul is luminous. Yogic practices develop the body to the level of the vibrant mind so that the body and the mind, having both become vibrant, are drawn towards the light of the soul.

—B.K.S Iyenger “The Tree of Yoga” (via erinltompkins)

Love after Love

The time will come
when, with elation
you will greet yourself arriving
at your own door, in your own mirror
and each will smile at the other’s welcome,

and say, sit here. Eat.
You will love again the stranger who was your self.
Give wine. Give bread. Give back your heart
to itself, to the stranger who has loved you

all your life, whom you ignored
for another, who knows you by heart.
Take down the love letters from the bookshelf,

the photographs, the desperate notes,
peel your own image from the mirror.
Sit. Feast on your life.

- Derek Walcott

40 Love Letters

Dear Dennis,
I still think of you.

Dear Andre,
I saw you kiss her.
I haven’t looked back.

Dear Patrick,
You’re just too young.

Dear Eric,
I said horrible things about you.
Your teeth are fine,
it’s the rest of you I don’t like.

Dear Greg,
Thank you for the poem, for every single scar.

Dear William,
I love you, simple.
I like that we will never be we.

Dear Jay,
The bruises fell off eventually.

Dear Michael,
I’ll never be enough to fill the shoes
that will one day stand at your side.

Dear Ben,
I did read your letters.
All of them.

Dear Freeman,
I’ll never stop looking over my shoulder,
boots laced, ready to run.

Dear Jon,
I’ll always love you.
You are all there ever was.

Dear Derek,
There was no one thing,
your everything is impossible.

Dear Eddie,
We are refracting magnets.
We will battle this to the end.

Dear Dennis,
I still think of you.

Dear Ryan,
Sex under the streetlight was a delicious accident.

Dear Kevin,
Your kiss came too late.
My lips were already dancing in the other room with Jon.

Dear Ethan,

Dear Joseph,
I said you were too pretty.
They said to try it anyway.
They are fools.

Dear Avery,
You are the definition of unrequited.

Dear Skippy,
I’m sorry about the whiskey
and the tampon.
I’m sorry I never called you.

Dear Nate,
Until you mocked my smile, I was yours.

Dear Marc,
I like your wife too much.
Is your brother still single?

Dear Mitch,
You were my biggest mistake.
I’m sure that only makes your smile more sinister.

Dear Allen,
While you poured Guinness for Patrick,
I pictured you bending me over the bar.

Dear Graham,
I’d have swallowed that bullet.

Dear Miguel,
You said a man never forgets his first redhead.
What color are my eyes?

Dear Dennis,
I still think of you.

Dear Francis,
I’d have broken you in half.

Dear Chris,
I’m sorry I stalked you.
I’d try to forget me, too.

Dear Dex,
I can’t be with you again.
Just accept it.

Dear Dr. Matthews,
I’ll have you fired.

Dear Aiden,
I wrote a poem about you.
It’s everyone’s favorite.
I find it trite.

Dear Logan,
I think I finally stopped wanting you.

Dear Cynthia,
I was drunk.
I thought you were, too.

Dear Ricky,
Maybe it was the red dress
or because I was fifteen.
Your brother married my mother
on the same day I first touched your cock.
Maybe you’re still a pervert.
Call me.

Dear Jeff,
I was your biggest mistake.

Dear Robert,
You are more than beer and vomit.
You are more than I could ever put into a poem.

Dear Dennis,
I still think of you.

Dear Dennis,
I keep your photos in a box.
Each one, still in its frame.

Excerpt from Self-Improvement

Sometimes we are asked 
to get good at something we have 
no talent for, 
or we excel at something we will never 
have the opportunity to prove. 

Often we ask ourselves 
to make absolute sense 
out of what just happens, 
and in this way, what we are practicing 

is suffering, 
which everybody practices, 
but strangely few of us 
grow graceful in. 

The climaxes of suffering are complex, 
costly, beautiful, but secret. 

So the avenues we walk down, 
full of bodies wearing faces, 
are full of hidden talent: 
enough to make pianos moan, 
sidewalks split, 
streetlights deliriously flicker.

- Tony Hoagland, excerpt from “Self-Improvement”


When sadness overwhelms us,
for a moment we are saved
by small adventures
of memory or attention:
the taste of fruit, the taste of water,
the face a dream gives back to us,
the early jasmines of November,
the endless yearning of a compass,
the book we thought we’d lost,
the pulse of a hexameter,
the little key that unlocks a house,
the smell of a library or sandalwood,
the archaic name of an avenue,
the colors of a map,
an unforeseen etymology,
the smoothness of a filed-down nail,
the date that we were looking for,
the count of twelve dark ringing bells,
the physical pain we didn’t expect.

There are eight million Shinto gods
who secretly travel this earth of ours.
These modest beings come to touch us.
They touch us.  Then they wander on.

- Jorge Luis Borges

I Dream Of You

I dream of you far.  I dream of you near.
You’re the same either way, singular and precise.
You change to soft music in the depths of my eyes.
As though, through a glance, I could see through my ear.

You see, you’re inside me as much as outside
as you offer up your heart-song, open and wide.
And hidden in my temples, it’s your pounding I hear,
as you flow into me and then slowly disappear.

- Jules Supervielle