from cento for the night i said, "i love you"

nicole sealey

Men are so clueless sometimes,

like startled fish

living just to live.

We are dying quickly

but behave as good guests should:

patiently allowing the night

to have the last word.

And I just don't know,

you know? I never had a whole lot to say

while talking to strange men.



What allows some strangers to go past strangeness? Exchanging

yearning for permanence. And who wouldn't

come back to bed? Love—

How free are; how bound. Put here in love's name:

called John.  A name so common as

a name sung quietly from somewhere.

Like a cry abandoned someplace

in a city about which I know.



I love you, I say, desperate

to admit that

the flesh extends its vanity

to an unknown land

where all the wild swarm.

This is not death. It is something safer,

almost made of air—

I think they call it god.






[Sources: Yona Harvey, Federico García Lorca, June Jordan, Kwame Dawes, W. H. Auden, Ana Castillo, Erica Hunt, Muriel Rukeyser, Ed Roberson, Ruth Madievsky, Thylias Moss, Gregory Orr, Yusef Komunyakaa, Elizabeth Spires, Lyrae Van Clief-Stefanon, Tim Seibles, Nathalie Handal, Wisława Szymborska, Adélia Prado, Sonia Sanchez, Jean Sénac, Claribel Alegría, Remica L. Bingham-Risher, Sylvia Plath, Harryette Mullen, Emily Dickinson]