John Beecher, “If I Forget Thee, O Birmingham!


Like Florence from your mountain.
Both cast your poets out
for speaking plain.



You bowl your bombs down aisles
where black folk kneel
to pray for your blacker souls.



Dog-town children bled
A, B, O, AB as you.
Christ’s blood is not more red.



Burning my house to keep
them out, you sowed wind. Hear it blow!
Soon you reap.


Maggie Nelson, “Written Deer”

Why does this written doe bound through these written woods?
                           —Wisława Szymborska

My handwriting is all over these woods. 
No, my handwriting is these woods,

each tree a half-print, half-cursive scrawl, 
each loop a limb. My house is somewhere 
here, & I have scribbled myself inside it.

What is home but a book we write, then 
read again & again, each time dog-earing

different pages. In the morning I wake 
in time to pencil the sun high. How 
fragile it is, the world—I almost wrote

the word but caught myself. Either one 
could be erased. In these written woods,

branches smudge around me whenever 
I take a deep breath. Still, written fawns 
lie in the written sunlight that dapples

their backs. What is home but a passage
I’m writing & underlining every time I read it.