Lines Off My Mind’s Shelf: Una poesia di mio

“I was intricately woven in the depths of the earth” – Psalm 139:15

Of the earth

The snow is an illusion 

masking         my youth

below it.

I wish I could hold it

and behold— 

               I’m old from it.

The labyrinth, latent behind—

my forehead— 

my eyes         donning 

sheets of an unmade bed.

My sister says you are the white and black

I face myself

an injured pigeon

woven in the depths

This is how you were made:


Lines Off My Mind’s Shelf

The other day, despite my desires, I was thinking perpetually of her hair. At the same time, it was long and short. Her fingernails could run through it,  just thick enough to carve ridges that would stay for a moment too long. 

She invited me to her apartment, and, naturally, I arrived there. I was thinking still about her hair, about her name, her motives. Despite my desire to let loose and enjoy myself, my mind rattled like an engine struggling to start.

Thinking as I was, the door opened to show her face. On the couch she sat smiling. Now, I would have gone if it weren’t for a pair of persuasive hands. 

“Are you relaxed?” she said. 

“Would you like a back rub?” she said. 

Thoughts percolated through my eyes; they could not see peacefulness. To where is this leading? Who is she, really?

She answered few of my thoughts—by no fault of her own—for she was not telepathic. However, I melted to her touch and I breathed to her thrust.

It came time to leave, “Good night,” she said. “Will I see you tomorrow?”

“Mmmhmm,” I said. Tense. 

Home was empty, no roommates around. I walked through the dark bedroom to switch on the lone bedside lamp. It was cold until I slipped into my pajamas and huddled underneath the duvet. I saw a blinking red light, a text from her, on my phone. The blink echoed into the vacant room, exposing the emptiness with each pulse. I let it beat in the space until I decided I wanted to be in my own company. I turned over the phone to smother the flashing red light and turned my mind to the pictures on the wall. Paintings and photographs smiled overhead, and I sunk low into the bed, in good company.

“With That Moon Language” – Hafiz

Admit something:

Everyone you see, you say to them, “Love me.”

Of course you do not do this out loud, otherwise
someone would call the cops.

Still, though, think about this, this great pull in us to connect.

Why not become the one who lives with a
full moon in each eye that is
always saying,

with that sweet moon language,
what every other eye in
this world is
dying to

Translation by Daniel Ladinsky

“The Waking” –

The Waking:: Roethke

I wake to sleep and take my waking slow.

I feel my fate in what I cannot fear. 

I learn by going where I have to go.


We think by feeling. What is there to know?

I hear my being dance from ear to ear.

I wake to sleep, and take my waking slow.


Of those so close beside me, which are you?

God bless the Ground! I shall walk softly there,

And learn by going where I have to go. 


Light takes the Tree; but who can tell us how?

The lowly worm climbs up a winding stair;

I wake to sleep, and take my waking slow.


Great Nature has another thing to do

To you and me; so take the lively air,

And, lovely, learn by going where to go.


This shaking keeps me steady. I should know.

What falls away is always. And is near. 

I wake to sleep, and take my waking slow.

I learn by going where I have to go. 

“Cold Reading” – Brendan Constantine

It’s really cold in here now,

easily forty below something,

and half the class is asleep.

Snow dazzles in the windows, 

makes a cake of each desk.

It’s really cold in here now.

I’ve been lecturing on the same

poem for twenty six hours

and half the class is asleep.

I want them to get it. I start

to talk about death again

and it’s really cold in here now.

One student has frozen solid, 

her hair snapping off in the wind

and half the class is asleep.

“See that” I say, “Lisa gets it.”

But it’s so cold in here now

half the class are white dunes

shifting to the sea.

:: Brendan Constantine