— Maya C. Popa, from "Wound Is the Origin of Wonder," Wound Is the Origin of Wonder
It takes a special kind of mediocrity to be offensive and boring at the same time.
If the language is boring, there should at least be some emotions or ideas or something.
Boring through, or thoroughly boring?
I was very boring today.
Sometimes the dystopia was boring.
At least everyone was boring at the same time about something inherently interesting.
Sometimes it feels like if I’m not fascinated, I’m bored.
— Elisa Gabbert, from "New Theories on Boredom," Normal Distance
An end to grief so utter, I’m the mouth
it speaks with. What do I do?
Thread the past through the present’s eye?
Ask that we meet in the blasted heath between?
She said, no, no, that won’t be necessary.
Just forgive him: first for living, then for dying.
What are days for if not to let go of days.
— Maya C. Popa, from "Reading," Wound Is the Origin of Wonder
It is my intention to listen, but my hands
keep giggling while reminding me
I don’t get to be a human being
for very long, as if this were the punchline to a joke
whose first half I missed. I arrived too late.
I typically arrive about three years too late.
I wish I had been able to sit in that white,
aromatic kitchen and look you in the face,
but I was not ready. I was still on my way.
— Mikko Harvey, from "Wind-Related Ripple in the Wheatfield," Let the World Have You
— Shane McCrae, from "Vivian Maier Considers Heaven from a Bench in Rogers Beach Park Chicago," Cain Named the Animal
One day, this grief / will seal from feeling, /a cool politeness round a thin raised scar.
— Maya C. Popa, from "M40," Wound Is the Origin of Wonder
— Robin Coste Lewis, from To the Realization of Perfect Helplessness
the more you
— Mikko Harvey, from "Microsleep," Let the World Have You
— Shane McCrae, from "Whom I Have Blocked Out," Cain Named the Animal
— Shane McCrae, from "Worldful," Cain Named the Animal
There’s a culture of anxiety that is almost encouraging: “Go ahead! Feel bad!”
I almost always feel better the day after feeling really bad, but then the next day, I feel a little worse again.
When Robert Lowell read Sylvia Plath’s last poems he said they make one feel “almost all other poetry is about nothing.”
— Elisa Gabbert, from "We Taste Nothing Pure," Normal Distance
The past. It’s so still.
— Elisa Gabbert, from "Malice & the Unknown," Normal Distance
you will embrace love with a long-handled spoon
you will pick through love’s flesh for fish bones
you tell yourself, you will not choke or die for love
you are afraid to believe this.
— DaMaris B. Hill, from "What You Talking ’Bout," Breath Better Spent
Like the dead-seeming, cold rocks, I have memories within that came out of the material that went to make me.
— Zora Neale Hurston, from Dust Tracks on a Road, as excerpted in DaMaris B. Hill's Breath Better Spent
When I’m suffering I don’t ask for help.
I’m afraid they’ll come and try
To take my pain away.
— Elisa Gabbert, from "Dramedy," Normal Distance
Be who you are, even if it kills you.
It will. Over and over again,
Even as you live.
Break my heart, why don’t you?
— Joy Harjo, from "Break My Heart," Weaving Sundown in a Scarlet Light
but now, ambered under
this streetlight, he pulls me in
for a kiss again and I decide,
briefly, to let the world kill
itself however it chooses: yes,
I hear the sirens and I am their
scream but tonight, I will moan
a future into my man’s mouth.
— Saeed Jones, from "Alive at the End of the World," Alive at the End of the World