Poem for the Day: September 19th, 2021

When I Grow Up I Want to Be a List of Further Possibilities (Winner of the A. Poulin, Jr. Poetry Prize) by Chen Chen

In the Hospital by Chen Chen

My mother was in the hospital & everyone wanted to be my friend.
But I was busy making a list: good dog, bad citizen, short
skeleton, tall mocha. Typical Tuesday.
My mother was in the hospital & no one wanted to be her friend.
Everyone wanted to be soft cooing sympathies. Very reasonable
pigeons. No one had the tie & our solution to it
was to buy shinier watches. We were enamored with
what our wrists could declare. My mother was in the hospital
& I didn’t want to be her friend. Typical son. Tall latte, short tale,
bad plot, great wifi in the atypical café. My mother was in the hospital
& she didn’t want to be her friend. She wanted to be the family
grocery list. Low-fat yogurt, firm tofu. She didn’t trust my father
to be it. You always forget something, she said, even when
I do the list for you. Even then.

The language in this poem exposes both the terror and banality accompanying seeing someone you love ill. Small details become our refuge and religion.

I thought today’s poem would be apropos for the world we currently live in, where so much of our collective existence is focused on (the avoidance of needing to go to) hospitals. I’ve been enamored with Chen Chen’s poetry for years now, and his collection (pictured above) that includes “In the Hospital” was in my opinion one of the best of the 2010s. The language in this poem exposes both the terror and banality accompanying seeing someone you love ill. Small details become our refuge and religion.

In the end, we cannot do the thing that needs doing the most, which is healing, a return to vitality, a restoration to order.

We pick minutiae that can be controlled, or at least reasonably assessed, and make that our focus. We grapple with our incompetencies and make lists of all the things we can do and all the things we can’t. In the end, we cannot do the thing that needs doing the most, which is healing, a return to vitality, a restoration to order. That is always thanklessly out of our hands.

When I Grow Up I Want to Be a List of Further Possibilities was released in 2017 by BOA Editions, Ltd. and is available to order wherever books are sold.

Thanks as always for being a faithful reader of The Voracious Bibliophile. If you like what you see, please like, comment, follow, and subscribe to my email list to get notified of new posts as soon as they drop. You can also email me at fred.slusher@thevoraciousbibliophile.com or catch me on Twitter, Instagram, TikTok, and Pinterest @voraciousbiblog. Keep reading the world, one page (or pixel) at a time.

Poem for the Day: September 15th, 2021

Someone Somewhere is Googling “Stonewall,” Inauguration Day 2013 by Stephen S. Mills

A screen is filling with black and white images:
police officers, drag queens, and a few actual
stone walls. There are links to history pages,
organizations that have taken the name,
and the website for the bar where it all began.
A bar that now makes its money off of tourists
paying homage to the riots, raising a gin
and tonic to a movement that’s still not over,
but has changed direction. Today, people talk
of marriage. Of becoming like everyone else.
It’s cold outside and inside our Harlem
apartment. A place that knows something
about fighting, about surviving, about deciding
how to be equal. Here on this day our computer
screen is filled with a president taking a second
term. A president we’ve fought to keep.
A president willing to acknowledge our fight.
We’ve learned to adapt, you and I. To find
our own meaning. Our own way into love,
sex, happiness. In the coming years, we’ll make
choices, and yes, one day, we’ll probably be
legally tied to each other. Protected under
the law. Written down in the history books.
Two men. Two names. Two bodies.
But that act, no matter how simple or elegant,
will never capture our lives, or our history,
or our desire to be undefined.

© 2013 Stephen S. Mills. Someone Somewhere is Googling “Stonewall,” Inauguration Day 2013 first appeared in the Summer 2013 issue of Referential Magazine. Stephen S. Mills is the author of He Do the Gay Man in Different Voices, which won the 2012 Lambda Literary Award for Gay Poetry; A History of the Unmarried, which in 2015 was named to the American Library Association’s Over the Rainbow List; and Not Everything Thrown Starts a Revolution, which in 2019 was named to the American Library Association’s Over the Rainbow List. You can read more about Stephen and his work at his website.

Thanks as always for being a faithful reader of The Voracious Bibliophile. If you like what you see, please like, comment, follow, and subscribe to my email list to get notified of new posts as soon as they drop. You can also email me at fred.slusher@thevoraciousbibliophile.com or catch me on Twitter and Instagram @voraciousbiblog. Keep reading the world, one page (or pixel) at a time.

Poem for the Day: September 6th, 2021

The Same Word by Jacques J. Rancourt

Last night I watched the drag queen’s hip-pad
drift down her leg
and distort the full moon
of her figure. By dawn you won’t recall
how I hummed her song to you while you were
sleeping.
We call this a marriage, but it isn’t
called that
outside
this room. It isn’t called a thing. I’ve searched for
a word
that means what I mean it to - how we are a part
of the world as much as we are apart from it -

and it does not exist. Still, we make of this thing
an imitation, an effigy. Still, we make it each day
because we exist, weary phantom, as both the
flesh
and the illusion,
because we live together
even if we live as a drag queen does, drawing
applause from a world that holds her at bay.

Jacques J. Rancourt’s Books

In the Time of PrEP by Jacques J. Rancourt

Novena by Jacques J. Rancourt

Broken Spectre: Poems (due to be released on September 14th, 2021) by Jacques J. Rancourt

Thanks as always for being a faithful reader of The Voracious Bibliophile. If you like what you see, please like, comment, follow, and subscribe to my email list to get notified of new posts as soon as they drop. You can also email me at fred.slusher@thevoraciousbibliophile.com or catch me on Twitter and Instagram @voraciousbiblog. Keep reading the world, one page (or pixel) at a time.