Mary Jo Bang

We Are Only Human

 Nighttime amnesia.
The dream becoming
Cartoonish and mint-sequined.

A caboose climbing an emerald hill.
Daily we tend the garden.
Daily we wave

Our lashes like little flags
In a cordial wind. I? Who isn’t
Ever I in a circular now.

The toothbrush is ready.
The mouth comes to meet it.
Life begins and goes on.

The fall is always waiting.
We’re the always drifting above.


First appeared in Elegy (Graywolf Press, 2007)


Mary Jo Bang is author of seven books of poetry, most recently, The Last Two Seconds (Graywolf Press, 2015), winner of The National Book Critics Circle Award. Her book Elegy, from which the featured poem first appeared, also won The National Book Critics Circle Award in 2007. She published an acclaimed new translation of Dante’s Inferno. Bang has received a Guggenheim Fellowship, a Hodder Fellowship, and a Berlin Prize Fellowship. She currently teaches at Washington University in Saint Louis.