Physics says: go to sleep. Of course
you’re tired. Every atom in you
has been dancing the shimmy in silver shoes
nonstop from mitosis to now.
Quit tapping your feet. They’ll dance
inside themselves without you. Go to sleep.
Geology says: it will be all right. Slow inch
by inch America is giving itself
to the ocean. Go to sleep. Let darkness
lap at your sides. Give darkness an inch.
You aren’t alone. All of the continents used to be
one body. You aren’t alone. Go to sleep.
Astronomy says: the sun will rise tomorrow,
Zoology says: on rainbow-fish and lithe gazelle,
Psychology says: but first it has to be night, so
Biology says: the body-clocks are stopped all over town
History says: here are the blankets, layer on layer, down and down.
— Albert Goldbarth, “The Sciences Sing a Lullaby” (via oofpoetry)
Before you know what kindness really is
you must lose things,
feel the future dissolve in a moment
like salt in a weakened broth.
What you held in your hand,
what you counted and carefully saved,
all this must go so you know
how desolate the landscape can be
between the regions of kindness.
How you ride and ride
thinking the bus will never stop,
the passengers eating maize and chicken
will stare out the window forever.
Before you learn the tender gravity of kindness,
you must travel where the Indian in a white poncho
lies dead by the side of the road.
You must see how this could be you,
how he too was someone
who journeyed through the night with plans
and the simple breath that kept him alive.
Before you know kindness as the deepest thing inside,
you must know sorrow as the other deepest thing.
You must wake up with sorrow.
You must speak to it till your voice
catches the thread of all sorrows
and you see the size of the cloth.
Then it is only kindness that makes sense anymore,
only kindness that ties your shoes
and sends you out into the day to mail letters and
only kindness that raises its head
from the crowd of the world to say
it is I you have been looking for,
and then goes with you every where
like a shadow or a friend.
— Naomi Shihab Nye, “Kindness” (via oofpoetry)
I keep telling you ‘I love you’
and it comes out as an apology.
I’m sorry. You want it to be bolder, bigger, less pathetic.
‘Love’ has become a fighting word for us.
You argue that you love me more. I don’t object.
I turn over in bed, sob into the pillow, pity myself.
I mumble it back to you because you
like the way it sounds coming out of my mouth.
We’ve turned caring for each other into a duty dance
that’s cheapened ‘love.’
It has become another way of apologizing
as you roll your eyes and say, ‘Sorry, I forgot to buy milk’,
a habit with every evening’s, ‘Night, love you too’,
a promise we keep breaking:
‘Of course I won’t, I love you’,
It hits me that we no longer know what it means
when you slap me across the face and instantly,
I tell you I love you. I can’t help it.
I have spent months associating it with this much pain.
My insides are bullet-holed basins where the past goes to die.
I feel death when you stand close.
Stay away from me.
I love you.
— Lora Mathis, “We Need a New Word for ‘Love,’ It’s Overused” (via oofpoetry)