About this Poem 

"This poem appeared at a time when I was writing fragmented short poems with short lines like 'moon / lights / out / windows / and seas' or 'light sand / which blows up / with air,' and it felt, in comparison, almost like a long narrative exposition on a moment of emotion. As far as I can remember, I started writing it in my apartment in Seattle and finished writing it in the park about a mile away. Like most of my poems, I prefer this to be read aloud."
—Joshua Beckman

[I'm not with my]

Joshua Beckman

I’m not with my blue toes or my doggies
nor am I under any arched roof rotting blossoms
in my drain, sunlight pouncing upon me,
nor am I fixed like a tree, nor am I unfixed
like a wind. I ate an apple, that’s fine
and after Anthony left I got a whiskey.
I stared a bit like a shadow at a book,
a fold in my shirt showed a monk’s bowing head
in a column of dusty light, but I just basically
used it to cover up my arm which was prickling
now because of some awful thing within me.
Big nasty sun making me feel old and then
this lovely gold bird flew up to my lunch.
An actual family of little white turnips
rolling over in the boiling pot like some
clouds is how I act. A great blue sky for a bed
and that beauty make me happy again.

Copyright © 2013 by Joshua Beckman. Used with permission of the author. This poem appeared in Poem-A-Day on August 23, 2013. Browse the Poem-A-Day archive.

Joshua Beckman

Joshua Beckman was born in New Haven, Connecticut, and earned his BA

by this poet


Unslide the door,
uncap the lazy little coffee cup.
The pasty people must be part of the dinner.
And a city turns its incapacity in,
foolish city. She was naked
and her halo all crushed against
the pillow while she slept, but I
didn’t care. Wake and totter.
Place a hand over


The going. The letters. The staying.
The life of the little boy. The staying
and the life of the little boy. The
letter. The mushrooms. Dear Mom,
I’m writing to say how good it felt
when we took the mushrooms. Our skin.
The boy getting on the bus and the
street lamp. It’s getting

Oh, atlas
you forgot my island.