Hope you all enjoy.
At this time of night no one buys matches
If they have cash to burn. They’re all at home
Fires newly lit in glowing iron stoves
Fat bellies apple-red and satisfied
The cold of morning still nine hours away
When they give birth to ashes, sleep, and dream.
My matches sleep in rows, lie head-to-toe
In box-beds. Night-caps of white phosphorus
Warm them until they rise to meet the sun
As equals. The vapors of their making
Eat their makers' bones. “Brief lives are best,”
They say and say and say until they die.
I pass a clutch of men, their tin-can stove
Of pigeon stew too meager for them all—
Just six of them, but might as well be sixty.
They simmer with the promise of a brawl
While my stomach yowls, loud as tomcat lust.
There are no cats here since the winter came.
My matches wake to violence and light
And a sound like the hissing of great cats
And burn until they die. They promise only
To burn, but not for how long, or how well
And yet they cost the same. You cannot know.
You cannot know until you strike the match.
I strike the first one on an iron stair,
The second in an alley, then the rest.
In each flare, with each whiff of sulphur breath
I see a dream of plenty, kind visions
Of family, until it gutters, dies
And falls to join the others, each the same:
The cold black nodding head, the bright white wood
The length that’s left to burn, that never will.
It's getting cold. Put some brandy
in that flask. We'll get a sub
on the way out of town if you're
hungry. I like those boots.
We're going up to the Seven
Sisters. It's a limestone cliff
where the Mississinewa River
carved columns in the rock.
The sunset shadows move across
like a gate. There's never
anyone there. The nearest house
is a mile away, and I know the guy
who lives in it. He isn't going
to say anything. We'll have fun.
And bring that little purse gun
of yours. I'll show you how close
you have to get to hit something.
JANE EYRE, UNBANNED
—upon hearing of a bill to ban books with gay characters in Alabama libraries
You think of Mr. Rochester, mad wives
in attics, Jane herself, as plain as flan.
You don’t remember Helen Burns, Jane’s friend
from school. Reader, I married her. I pressed
my eighth-grade self between those pages like
a flower, left for later hands. Helen.
"I like to have you near me," she would cough,
romantically consumptive, after Jane
sneaked to her sick-bed. "Are you warm, darling?"
We’ll always find ourselves inside the book,
no matter what the book, no matter how
little we’re given. I was twelve; gay meant
nothing to me. I only knew I’d go
to Lowood Institution, rise at dawn,
bare knuckles to the switch, choke down the gruel,
pray to the bell, if this meant I could hold
another girl all night, if I could clasp—
this even if she died there while I slept,
this even if I died there in my sleep.