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.

So Much Happiness by Naomi Shihab Nye

It is difficult to know what to do with so much happiness.
With sadness there is something to rub against,
a wound to tend with lotion and cloth.
When the world falls in around you, you have pieces to pick up,
something to hold in your hands, like ticket stubs or change.

But happiness floats.
It doesn’t need you to hold it down.
It doesn’t need anything.
Happiness lands on the roof of the next house, singing,
and disappears when it wants to.
You are happy either way.
Even the fact that you once lived in a peaceful tree house
and now live over a quarry of noise and dust
cannot make you unhappy.
Everything has a life of its own,
it too could wake up filled with possibilities
of coffee cake and ripe peaches,
and love even the floor which needs to be swept,
the soiled linens and scratched records . . .

Since there is no place large enough
to contain so much happiness,
you shrug, you raise your hands, and it flows out of you
into everything you touch. You are not responsible.
You take no credit, as the night sky takes no credit
for the moon, but continues to hold it, and share it,
and in that way, be known.

cutting greens by Lucille Clifton

curling them around
i hold their bodies in obscene embrace
thinking of everything but kinship.
collards and kale
strain against each strange other
away from my kissmaking hand and
the iron bedpot.
the pot is black.
the cutting board is black,
my hand,
and just for a minute
the greens roll black under the knife,
and the kitchen twists dark on its spine
and i taste in my natural appetite
the bond of live things everywhere.

Self Portrait as so much potential by Chen Chen

Dreaming of one day being as fearless as a mango.
As friendly as a tomato. Merciless to chin & shirtfront.
Realizing I hate the word “sip.”
But that’s all I do.
I drink. So slowly.
& say I’m tasting it. When I’m just bad at taking in liquid.
I’m no mango or tomato. I’m a rusty yawn in a rumored year. I’m an arctic attic.
Come able & ampersand in the slippery polar clutter.
I am not the heterosexual neat freak my mother raised me to be.
I am a gay sipper, & my mother has placed what’s left of her hope on my brothers.
She wants them to gulp up the world, spit out solid degrees, responsible grandchildren ready to gobble.
They will be better than mangoes, my brothers.
Though I have trouble imagining what that could be.
Flying mangoes, perhaps. Flying mango-tomato hybrids. Beautiful sons.

One Hundred Love Sonnets: XVII by Pablo Neruda translated by Mark Eisner

I don’t love you as if you were a rose of salt, topaz,
or arrow of carnations that propagate fire:
I love you as one loves certain obscure things,
secretly, between the shadow and the soul.

I love you as the plant that doesn’t bloom but carries
the light of those flowers, hidden, within itself,
and thanks to your love the tight aroma that arose
from the earth lives dimly in my body.

I love you without knowing how, or when, or from where,
I love you directly without problems or pride:
I love you like this because I don’t know any other way to love,
except in this form in which I am not nor are you,
so close that your hand upon my chest is mine,
so close that your eyes close with my dreams.

Thanksgiving in the Anthropocene by Craig Santos Perez

Thank you, instant mashed potatoes, your bland taste
makes me feel like an average American. Thank you,

incarcerated Americans, for filling the labor shortage
and packing potatoes in Idaho. Thank you, canned

cranberry sauce, for your gelatinous curves. Thank you,
Ojibwe tribe in Wisconsin, your lake is now polluted

with phosphate-laden discharge from nearby cranberry
bogs. Thank you, crisp green beans, you are my excuse

for eating apple pie à la mode later. Thank you, indigenous
migrant workers, for picking the beans in Mexico’s farm belt,

may your children survive the season. Thank you, NAFTA,
for making life dirt cheap. Thank you, Butterball Turkey,

for the word, butterball, which I repeat all day butterball,
butterball, butterball because it helps me swallow the bones

of genocide. Thank you, dark meat, for being so juicy
(no offense, dry and fragile white meat, you matter too).

Thank you, 90 million factory-farmed turkeys, for giving
your lives during the holidays. Thank you, factory-farm

workers, for clipping turkey toes and beaks so they don’t scratch
and peck each other in overcrowded, dark sheds. Thank you,

genetic engineering and antibiotics, for accelerating
their growth. Thank you, stunning tank, for immobilizing

most of the turkeys hanging upside down by crippled legs.
Thank you, stainless steel knives, for your sharpened

edge and thirst for throat. Thank you, de-feathering
tank, for your scalding-hot water, for finally killing the last

still-conscious turkeys. Thank you, turkey tails, for feeding
Pacific Islanders all year round. Thank you, empire of

slaughter, for never wasting your fatty leftovers. Thank you,
tryptophan, for the promise of an afternoon nap;

I really need it. Thank you, store-bought stuffing,
for your ambiguously ethnic flavor, you remind me

that I’m not an average American. Thank you, gravy,
for being hot-off-the-boat and the most beautiful

brown. Thank you, dear readers, for joining me at the table
of this poem. Please join hands, bow your heads, and repeat

after me: “Let us bless the hands that harvest and butcher
our food, bless the hands that drive delivery trucks

and stock grocery shelves, bless the hands that cooked
and paid for this meal, bless the hands that bind

our hands and force-feed our endless mouth.
May we forgive each other and be forgiven.”

Thanksgiving by Ella Wheeler Wilcox

We walk on starry fields of white
And do not see the daisies;
For blessings common in our sight
We rarely offer praises.
We sigh for some supreme delight
To crown our lives with splendor,
And quite ignore our daily store
Of pleasures sweet and tender.

Our cares are bold and push their way
Upon our thought and feeling.
They hand about us all the day,
Our time from pleasure stealing.
So unobtrusive many a joy
We pass by and forget it,
But worry strives to own our lives,
And conquers if we let it.

There’s not a day in all the year
But holds some hidden pleasure,
And looking back, joys oft appear
To brim the past’s wide measure.
But blessings are like friends, I hold,
Who love and labor near us.
We ought to raise our notes of praise
While living hearts can hear us.

Full many a blessing wears the guise
Of worry or of trouble;
Far-seeing is the soul, and wise,
Who knows the mask is double.
But he who has the faith and strength
To thank his God for sorrow
Has found a joy without alloy
To gladden every morrow.

We ought to make the moments notes
Of happy, glad Thanksgiving;
The hours and days a silent phrase
Of music we are living.
And so the theme should swell and grow
As weeks and months pass o’er us,
And rise sublime at this good time,
A grand Thanksgiving chorus.