20 poets, 10 poems, 25 years of National Poetry Month

Ghazal of Dark Death

    I want to sleep the sleep of the apples,
I want to get far away from the busyness of the cemeteries.
I want to sleep the sleep of that child
who longed to cut his heart open far out at sea.

  I don’t want them to tell me again how the corpse keeps all its
how the decaying mouth goes on begging for water.
I’d rather not hear about the torture sessions the grass arranges
nor about how the moon does all its work before dawn
with its snakelike nose.

  I want to sleep for half a second,
a second, a minute, a century,
but I want everyone to know that I am still alive,
that I have a golden manger inside my lips,
that I am the little friend of the west wind,
that I am the elephantine shadow of my own tears.

  When it’s dawn just throw some sort of cloth over me
because I know dawn will toss fistfuls of ants at me,
and pour a little hard water over my shoes
so that the scorpion claws of the dawn will slip off.

  Because I want to sleep the sleep of the apples,
and learn a mournful song that will clean all earth away from me,
because I want to live with that shadowy child
who longed to cut his heart open far out at sea.

Federico García Lorca
Federico García Lorca
Federico García Lorca (1898–1936) was a Spanish poet and dramatist born near Grenada. In 1919, Lorca moved to Madrid, where his first full-length play was produced followed by the publication of a collection of poems based on Spanish folklore. In the early 1920s, he was part of an artist’s group known as Generación del 27, which included Salvador Dalí and Luis Buñuel, who exposed the young poet to Surrealism. In 1928, his poetry collection Romancero Gitano brought Lorca far-reaching fame; it was reprinted seven times during his lifetime. In August 1936, shortly after the outbreak of the Spanish Civil War, he was arrested in Granada and is believed to have been murdered by Fascist forces.
Natalie Diaz
Selected By
Natalie Diaz
Natalie Diaz is Mojave American and an enrolled member of the Gila River Indian Tribe. She is the author of Postcolonial Love Poem (Graywolf Press, 2020), which was a finalist for the National Book Award and the Forward Prize in Poetry, and When My Brother Was an Aztec (Copper Canyon Press, 2012), winner of an American Book Award. A language activist, Diaz received a MacArthur Foundation fellowship in 2018 and is director of the Center for Imagination in the Borderlands and the Maxine and Jonathan Marshall Chair in Modern and Contemporary Poetry at Arizona State University.
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