My lovers suffocate me,
Crowding my lips, thick in the pores of my skin,
Jostling me through streets and public halls, coming naked to me at night,
Calling my name from flower-beds, vines, tangled underbrush,
Lighting on every moment of my life,
Noiselessly passing handfuls out of their hearts and giving them to be mine.

-- Walt Whitman, Leaves of Grass

“In Second Grade Miss Lee I Promised Never To Forget You And I Never Did”

In a letting-go moment
Miss Lee the Teacher
Who was not married
And who the next year was not at school,
Said to us, her second grade,
French lovers in the morning
Keep an apple next to the bed,
Each taking a bite
On first waking, to take away
The blackish breath of the night,
You know the kind.
A bite and then kissing,
And kissing like that was better.
I saw her once more
When she came to sell encyclopedias.
I was always her favorite -
The erasers, and the way she looked at me.
I promised, but not to her face,
Never to forget
The story of the apples.
Miss Lee all blond and thin,
Like a real movie star
If she would have just combed herself more.
Miss Lee, I promised,
I would keep apples
For you.

-- Alberto Rios