Poetry | Harper's Magazine

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Poetry

Three Poems

grief (disarmament) You’re a terrible witness. Wore stage outfits to testimony and upon returning home in search of his remains, you were really hunting down his flesh of guns. There…

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Two Poems

optimism One sleeps on the rock above a pool of tap water while the other tries to climb the sloped wall, slides down. Tries, slides. Stern face with its one…

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Among the Undressed

after “Interstices: A Small Drama of Words” by Hortense Spillers Stepping into the painting, backing up a moment to its edge, any further we’d fall out of the picture, we…

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Three Poems

“Catalpa 29th August 2014,” a unique cyanotype triptych by Tom Fels © The artist. Courtesy Atlas Gallery, London drought Deer raise their ears, as he steps on gravel, then lower…

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Joy*

Like motion, clouds, and cold The advantages of being Also its disadvantages. My child was sleeping lightly, Crying out from time To time in response To one dim version Of…

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Two Poems

and what my species did A woman who cries is not essential personnel. Salt water conducts her to the brink. The first sign of illness is a dry mouth. My…

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Nomenclature for the Time Being

The apocalyptic reports have come true, dilute in our arterial solvent the atrocities saturate our latent notebooks we stay awake lambent there are iridium rectangles under our tables we meet…

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Two Poems

rose-crowned night girl I am pointless. This I come to know, by pressing ear to night’s machinery. Outside, the words rub each other until they are dull: calibrate, resurface, surface,…

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Pippi Longstocking

It happened sometimes you asked me To play with you or differentiate Between black birds or help find Three things wrong and I said no Grackles sing like old springs…

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Two Poems

this pig i This pig I live with really does hover over much of what I do and say it’s in the room I lie in daily when I try…

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Three Poems

vesey on the eve Maybe he should have split every tongue among his fellow Israelites whether they swore on their souls or not. Or gone it alone, based on the…

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The Book of Breezes

Then your curiosity returns to you Just a little wet with tears I welcome it home since I’ve been wondering— At evening—what is violet saying?— It speaks to the part…

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Reasons for Staying

The October leaves coming down, as if called. Morning fog through the wild rye beyond the train tracks. A cigarette. A good sweater. On the sagging porch. While the family…

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Three Poems

self-care Have you tried rose hydrosol? Smoky quartz in a steel bottle of glacial water? Tincture drawn from the stamens of daylilies grown on the western sides of two-story homes?…

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Four Sonnets

each letter Everyone crowded in that movie theater you found a seat to my left some thirty years later saying little, facing the screen while I use my hair to…

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Woolworth

for/after BPK Across the street from the men in bars of booze, Music, and confinement, a dog walked into a diner To find diners eating, a cat eating, a mouse…

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Two Poems

hearsay What did you say I said? What? And in that dream I was married to her, and she, I don’t know who she was, perhaps she was you, Perhaps…

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Detail of the Rice Chest

In the 2015 Korean film The Throne, the rice chest sits in the center of the vast, symmetrical courtyard of Changgyeonggung Palace. The film is called The Throne in English;…

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Little Music

What a lot of little music can do? The blind farmer Daylights in his cabbage row, going crouched down between leafy skulls, knows. He rises indifferent, far-gazing as a fine…

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Two Poems

think back Say an idea is math without numbers. For instance, you could say that an idea distorts consciousness as a massive object distorts space. Such distortion is sometimes known…

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Three Poems

“you certainly have the right to your thoughts in this minefield”   All that’s dammed-up in your head, hammered by the whitewater current of your knowing better— the daily small…

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I Imitate You

1960s newspaper clippings and teeth hang on a string—Like a book of life I’m in the kitchen with my killer Picking all the teeth out of a mouth harp Cigarette-ing…

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Basement Suite

Left to our use are the fixtures and appliances Repented of by the homeowners Who don’t realize this is a way to know them. In the basement one is closer…

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Resistances

The prepositions you’re most likely to encounter after the title of a poem are “for” or “to” and sometimes “after”—“for my daughter”; “to Bobby”; “after Pound”; etc. They signify dedication,…

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Battlefield and Wind Chime

Tongo Eisen-Martin’s poems are echo chambers of vernaculars and unofficial languages. He both registers the damage caused by systemic racism and evinces—and by his work extends—the rich modes of resistance…

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