In honor of National Poetry Month, The Thread is celebrating Poetry Fridays. Each Friday in April, we will publish a selection of poetry from local independent publishing houses Coffee House Press, Graywolf Press and Milkweed Editions.
Today's selections come from Hieu Minh Nguyen, Jenny Xie and Martha Collins.
The narrow clearing down to the river
I walk alone, out of breath
my body catching on each branch.
Small children maneuver around me.
Often, I want to return to my old body
a body I also hated, but hate less
Sometimes my friends—my friends
who are always beautiful & heartbroken
look at me like they know
I will die before them.
I think the life I want
is the life I have, but how can I be sure?
There are days when I give up on my body
but not the world.
I am alive. I know this. Alive now
to see the world, to see the river
rupture everything with its light.
"Heavy" from "Not Here." Copyright © 2018 by Hieu Minh Nguyen. Used with the permission of Coffee House Press.
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Eavesdropping on a mother
needling at her mule-brained son
stopping by the side of the road
to examine the dry socket of Agios Georgios
the root of this self-denial is long
all those years I was spared of seeing myself through myself
Now the stifling days disrobe
distance giving autonomy the arid space to grow
I'll rinse later this afternoon in the sea
then compose lines to you of reasonable length
to say the opening you left is wide enough for me
but I'm stunned to love aloneness
"Epistle" from "Eye Level." Copyright © 2018 by Jenny Xie. Used with the permission of Graywolf Press.
Open up for close
out soul-clothes everything
has to go closing
down time call them all
saints souls my own gone
ones: Andy Marcia Mary Alice
Mary Anne cloud of all carried out
outside my window: locust, cloth
of gold on the ground: its yellow
tabs linden hearts sweet gum stars
like cutouts from the same . . .
paper-napkin ghosts fill a tree near
the house where a year ago my friend—
rust-colored chrysanthemums rust-colored door
door to door the angel no the Lord
passed or did not pass—
the angel opened the prison
door doors to pass through, out
or in: our millions, more than any—
in the other story the Lord
said: to put a difference between
between one and another
a gun: at one end it's a good
gun because at the other's a cell
phone pill bottle toy gun nothing a
Trayvon Tamir Dontre Michael
Laquan Eric Rekia John: call
them out and the others, Black and many
"Leaving Behind," parts 1 - 4, from "Night Unto Night." Copyright © 2018 by Martha Collins. Used with the permission of Milkweed Editions.