By Michelle Y. Burke
You love your friend, so you fly across the country to see her.
Your friend is grieving. When you look at her, you see that something’s missing.
You look again. She seems all there: reading glasses, sarcasm, leather pumps.
What did you expect? Ruins? Demeter without arms in the British Museum?
Your friend says she believes there’s more pain than beauty in the world.
When Persephone was taken, Demeter damned the world for half the year.
The other half remained warm and bountiful; the Greeks loved symmetry.
On the plane, the man next to you read a geometry book, the lesson on finding the circumference of a circle.
On circumference: you can calculate the way around if you know the way across.
You try across with your friend. You try around.
I don’t believe in an afterlife, she says. But after K. died, I thought I might go after her.
In case I’m wrong. In case she’s somewhere. Waiting.
Source: Poetry (March 2015)
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Emily Dickinson at the Poetry Slam
I will tell you why she rarely ventured from her house.
It happened like this:
One day she took the train to Boston,
made her way to the darkened room,
put her name down in cursive script
and waited her turn.
When they read her name...
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Ok, we’ve rendered
What were we trying
to get rid of?
We exposed the homeless
character of desire
to the weather.
Shall we talk
about the weather
worsening four times
faster than expected,
until the joy
of pattern recognition
Until the crest
My partner wants me to write them a poem about Sheryl Crow
but all I want to do is marry them on a beach
that refuses to take itself too seriously.
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Over time, I’ve learned that love is most astonishing
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Fairy Tale with Laryngitis and Resignation Letter
You remember the mermaid makes a deal,
her tongue evicted from her throat,
and moving is a knife-cut with every step.
This is what escape from water means.
Dear Colleagues, you write, for weeks
I’ve been typing this letter in the bright
kingdom of my imagination....
We gathered in a field southwest of town,
several hundred hauling coolers
and folding chairs along a gravel road
dry in August, two ruts of soft dust
that soaked into our clothes
and rose in plumes behind us.
By noon we could discern their massive coils