For Three Poets

by Flynn O’Brien

Denis Johnson

Saturday’s catastrophe hit the skids when the sunrise petered out
and joy crashed there like he said and ended

you bloodied, selfish man, we thank you

that supper of molded rubber
smells of cancer and discipline

but a voice sympathetic as a snare
eyes like reveille

feed

you never tasted better

we slunk for you
sterile and fearless

Frank O’Hara

I’d like to think he wasn’t drunk
but had had enough of fear
and impossible indemnity

a pale starfish on the cool sand
arms and legs adequate, undefended
against the eternal night everywhere

and as his joy rises and the black sand
accepts a faint glow, with the all he opens
and is certain:

life can run you over like an incalculable bastard

life neither cares nor doesn’t if you live
with that fear or if you don’t

Rachel Wetzsteon

Simple,
each morning is
a new breath, a small light
gently nudging my pretend death
awake.

I rise
so the day will
know I care, know I try
to meet its loveliness again.
I try

to let
it breathe for me,
to me, its respiring
is me and my air only its,
I know,

but it’s
rough, feels forced, this
remembering always,
never coming naturally
like light

or joy
in the morning
outside of me, where I
can’t quite believe in teacups and
rainstorms,

simple
things to hold dear.
I try to let them help
but there’s no end it seems to the
trying.