why make me this way

all painted and poet brown

like black women sleeping in silk caps

praying it lays their hair flat

not born but bred 

to carry the cotton sack

a touch away from the fairy tales

we tell ourselves


buried bones triple axle across a lake of frozen dreams


The way I’m is

I’ve loved left and leapt

changing my heart’s mind with the cool breeze of a whim

unable to warm my daughter’s hands

the invisible man,

whose breaths give him away in winter 


I put on normalcy like a stiff cloak

to tackle the little anxieties of the day

at home, unsheathed and alone

I wonder aloud

Why I’m made this way


Smear this idea of fate 

on with a thick brush

dipping in faith

to replenish the bristles

as I write the rest down

from my burning castle


My Stop Is Grand

I have no illusion
some fusion
of force and form
will save me,
of bonelight
ungrave me

as when the L
shooting through a hell
of ratty alleys
where nothing thrives
but soot
and the ratlike lives
that have learned to eat it

screechingly peacocked
a grace of sparks
so far out and above
the fast curve that jostled
and fastened us
into a single shock of—
I will not call it love

but at least some brief
and no doubt illusionary belief
that in some surge of brain
we were all seeing
one thing:
a lone unearned loveliness
struck from an iron pain.

Already it was gone.
Already it was bone,
the gray sky
and the encroaching skyline
pecked so clean
by raptor night
I shuddered at the cold gleam

we hurtled toward
like some insentient herd
plunging underground at Clark
and Division.
And yet all that day
I had a kind of vision
that’s never gone completely away

of immense clear-paned towers
and endlessly expendable hours
through which I walked
teeming human streets,
filled with a shine
that was most intimately me
and not mine.

–Christian Wiman