Touch by Erica Jong

The house of the body
is a stately manor
open for nothing
never to the public.
for the owner of the house,
the key-holder-
the body swings open
like Ali Baba’s mountain
glistening with soft gold
& red jewels.
These cannot be stolen
or sold for money.
They only glisten
when the mountain opens
by magic
or its own accord.
The gold triangle of hair,
its gentle ping,
the pink quartz crystals
of the skin,
the ruby nipples,
the lapis
of the veins
that swim the breast. . .
The key-holder
is recognized
by the way he holds
the body.
He is recognized
by touch.
Touch is the first sense to awaken
after the body’s little death
in sleep.
Touch is the first sense
to alert the raw red infant
to a world of pain.
The body glimmers
on its dark mountain
pretending ignorance of this.

Two Set Out on Their Journey by Galway Kinnell

We sit side by side,
brother and sister, and read
the book of what will be, while a breeze
blows the pages over—
desolate odd, cheerful even,
and otherwise. When we come
to our own story, the happy beginning,
the ending we don’t know yet,
the ten thousand acts
encumbering the days between,
we will read every page of it.
If an ancestor has pressed
a love-flower for us, it will lie hidden
between pages of the slow going,
where only those who adore the story
ever read. When the time comes
to shut the book and set out,
we will take childhood’s laughter
as far as we can into the days to come,
until another laughter sounds back
from the place where our next bodies
will have risen and will be telling
tales of what seemed deadly serious once,
offering to us oldening wayfarers
the light heart, now made of time
and sorrow, that we started with.

(to crave what the light does crave) by Kevin Goodan

to crave what the light does crave
to shelter, to flee
to gain desire of every splayed leaf
to calm cattle, to heat the mare
to coax dead flies back from slumber
to turn the gaze of each opened bud
to ripe the fruit to rot the fruit
and drive down under the earth
to lord gentle dust
to lend a glancing grace to llamas
to gather dampness from fields
and divide birds
and divide the ewes from slaughter
and raise the corn and bend the wheat
and drive tractors to ruin
burnish the fox, brother the hawk
shed the snake, bloom the weed
and drive all wind diurnal
to blanch the fire and clot the cloud
to husk, to harvest,
sheave and chaff
to choose the bird
and voice the bird
to sing us, veery, into darkness

There Are Birds Here By Jamaal May

 For Detroit
There are birds here,
so many birds here
is what I was trying to say
when they said those birds were metaphors
for what is trapped
between buildings
and buildings. No.
The birds are here
to root around for bread
the girl’s hands tear
and toss like confetti. No,
I don’t mean the bread is torn like cotton,
I said confetti, and no
not the confetti
a tank can make of a building.
I mean the confetti
a boy can’t stop smiling about
and no his smile isn’t much
like a skeleton at all. And no
his neighborhood is not like a war zone.
I am trying to say
his neighborhood
is as tattered and feathered
as anything else,
as shadow pierced by sun
and light parted
by shadow-dance as anything else,
but they won’t stop saying
how lovely the ruins,
how ruined the lovely
children must be in that birdless city.

Life by Abdellatif Laâbi

translated by André Naffis-Sahely

It’s enough I woke up
the sun to my right
the moon to my left
and that I walked
from my mother’s womb
to the threshold of this century
It’s enough that I tasted this fruit
I wrote about what I witnessed
I never kept quiet about the horrors
I did all I could
and everything I took, I gave over to love
is nothing short of a miracle
that nobody sees
O wounded body
wounded soul
admit you’ve been happy
Just between us
admit it

Two Hours on the Train by Abdellatif Laâbi

translated by André Naffis-Sahely

During two hours on the train
I rerun the film of my life
Two minutes per year on average
Half an hour for childhood
Another half-hour for prison
Love, books, wandering
take up the rest
the hand of my companion
gradually melts into mine
and her head on my shoulder
is as light as a dove
When we arrive
I’ll be fifty or so
and still have
about an hour
to live