What Kind of Times Are These by Adrienne Rich

There’s a place between two stands of trees where the grass grows uphill
and the old revolutionary road breaks off into shadows
near a meeting-house abandoned by the persecuted
who disappeared into those shadows.

I’ve walked there picking mushrooms at the edge of dread, but don’t be fooled
this isn’t a Russian poem, this is not somewhere else but here,
our country moving closer to its own truth and dread,
its own ways of making people disappear.

I won’t tell you where the place is, the dark mesh of the woods
meeting the unmarked strip of light—
ghost-ridden crossroads, leafmold paradise:
I know already who wants to buy it, sell it, make it disappear.

And I won’t tell you where it is, so why do I tell you
anything? Because you still listen, because in times like these
to have you listen at all, it’s necessary
to talk about trees.

I look at the world by Langston Hughes

I look at the world
From awakening eyes in a black face—
And this is what I see:
This fenced-off narrow space
Assigned to me.

I look then at the silly walls
Through dark eyes in a dark face—
And this is what I know:
That all these walls oppression builds
Will have to go!

I look at my own body
With eyes no longer blind—
And I see that my own hands can make
The world that’s in my mind.
Then let us hurry, comrades,
The road to find.

Changeling by Hieu Minh Nguyen

Standing in front of a mirror, my mother tells me she is ugly
says the medication is making her fat. I laugh & walk her
back to the bed. My mother tells me she is ugly in the same voice
she used to say no woman could love you & I watch her
pull at her body & it is mine. My heavy breast.
My disappointing shape. She asks for a bowl of plain broth
& it becomes the cup of vinegar she would pour down my throat.
Everyday after school, I would kneel before her.
I would remove my clothes & ask her to mark the progress.
It’s important that I mention, I truly wanted to be beautiful
for her. In my dreams I am thin & if not thin, something better.
I tell my mother she is still beautiful & she laughs. The room fills
with flies. They gather in the shape of a small boy. They lead her
back to the mirror, but my reflection is still there.

[The grass is beneath my head] by F. S. Flint

The grass is beneath my head;
and I gaze
at the thronging stars
in the night.

They fall… they fall…
I am overwhelmed,
and afraid.

Each leaf of the aspen
is caressed by the wind,
and each is crying.

And the perfume
of invisible roses
deepens the anguish.

Let a strong mesh of roots
feed the crimson of roses
upon my heart;
and then fold over the hollow
where all the pain was.

Elegy by D. H. Lawrence

The sun immense and rosy
Must have sunk and become extinct
The night you closed your eyes for ever against me.

Grey days, and wan, dree dawnings
Since then, with fritter of flowers –
Day wearies me with its ostentation and fawnings.

Still, you left me the nights,
The great dark glittery window,
The bubble hemming this empty existence with lights.

Still in the vast hollow
Like a breath in a bubble spinning
Brushing the stars, goes my soul, that skims the bounds like a swallow?

I can look through
The film of the bubble night, to where you are.
Through the film I can almost touch you.

My Heart and I by Elizabeth Barrett Browning

I.
ENOUGH ! we’re tired, my heart and I.
We sit beside the headstone thus,
And wish that name were carved for us.
The moss reprints more tenderly
The hard types of the mason’s knife,
As heaven’s sweet life renews earth’s life
With which we’re tired, my heart and I.

II.
You see we’re tired, my heart and I.
We dealt with books, we trusted men,
And in our own blood drenched the pen,
As if such colours could not fly.
We walked too straight for fortune’s end,
We loved too true to keep a friend ;
At last we’re tired, my heart and I.

III.
How tired we feel, my heart and I !
We seem of no use in the world ;
Our fancies hang grey and uncurled
About men’s eyes indifferently ;
Our voice which thrilled you so, will let
You sleep; our tears are only wet :
What do we here, my heart and I ?

IV.
So tired, so tired, my heart and I !
It was not thus in that old time
When Ralph sat with me ‘neath the lime
To watch the sunset from the sky.
Dear love, you’re looking tired,’ he said;
I, smiling at him, shook my head :
‘Tis now we’re tired, my heart and I.

V.
So tired, so tired, my heart and I !
Though now none takes me on his arm
To fold me close and kiss me warm
Till each quick breath end in a sigh
Of happy languor. Now, alone,
We lean upon this graveyard stone,
Uncheered, unkissed, my heart and I.

VI.
Tired out we are, my heart and I.
Suppose the world brought diadems
To tempt us, crusted with loose gems
Of powers and pleasures ? Let it try.
We scarcely care to look at even
A pretty child, or God’s blue heaven,
We feel so tired, my heart and I.

VII.
Yet who complains ? My heart and I ?
In this abundant earth no doubt
Is little room for things worn out :
Disdain them, break them, throw them by
And if before the days grew rough
We once were loved, used, — well enough,
I think, we’ve fared, my heart and I.

Heart by Sally Bliumis-Dunn

She has painted her lips
hibiscus pink.
The upper lip dips
perfectly in the center

like a Valentine heart.
It makes sense to me—
that the lips, the open

ah of the mouth
is shaped more like a heart
than the actual human heart.
I remember the first time I saw it—

veined and shiny
as the ooze of a snail—
if this were what
we had been taught to draw

how differently we might have
learned to love.