The lamp is like a capsized ship

——or like a lantern gone drunk

And she’s to sleep by it

——or stare wide-eyed at its light askew

And she’s to read to it

——to put it to sleep

And she’s to dream in it

——warmly aglow as a leopard

whose body is shadow and light

——Whose body isn’t?

She’s missing again

——Where did she go?


——Is she spiraling?

Less energy than that…

——Will the bedsheets accommodate her?

She’s alone in them, alone where she can

easily breathe

——despite the horrors the stretchers the gasping …?

How can anyone

——breathe easily …. She must

be still as a Bradford Pear in uneasy shadow…

——That tree that self-destructs that tree that neuters the real pear trees

What a blow it was so beautiful and erect at first—

——and she so lonely

Lonely as a cup

——Here is a card:

She needs the Lion today, the one who leaves

gold footprints in the marsh

Copyright © 2024 by Alessandra Lynch. Originally published in Poem-a-Day on April 5, 2024, by the Academy of American Poets.

Surely there was a river, once, but there is no river here. Only a sound of drowning in the dark between the trees. The sound of wet, and only that. Surely there was a country that I called my country, once. Before the thief who would be king made other countries of us all. Before the bright screens everywhere in which another country lives. But what is it, anyway, to live—to breathe, to act, to love, to eat? Surely there was a real earth, wild and green, here, blossoming. Land of milk and honey, once. Land of wind-swept plains and blood, then of shackles and of iron. And then the black smoke of its cities and the laying down of laws. Under which some flourished—if you call that flourishing—and from which others would have fled had there been anywhere to flee. My country, which is cruel, and which is beautiful and lost. Surely, there were notes that made a song, a pledge of birds. And not a child in any cage, no man or woman in a ditch. Surely, what we meant was to anoint some other god. One made of wind and starlight, pulsing, heart that matched the human heart. Surely that god watches us, now, one eye in the river, one eye where the river was.


Copyright © 2024 by Cecilia Woloch. Originally published in Poem-a-Day on April 4, 2024, by the Academy of American Poets.

(Being an Occasional Poem for All Q&As Henceforth)

For Jamal Cyrus and Tomás Morin, and all kith who make do to make work

“Do you also make work that isn’t political?”

I mean, do we make work

about where and when we were

raised: the three-whistle corner store

the empty coke bottle trill

the nickname that doesn’t nick us

as we blow through customs

with a toothpick smile

and hell-no eyes, sweet fools

greasing the bike chains

for this day, always saying

someone better fix this street

light? Do we flicker at night

when the kids are sleeping

dim, bright, dim, bright, do we?

Do we, at times, make work

about who breaks the news

to us at breakfast and how the syrup

she’s holding is now trembling, how

she’s beating, beating, beating

what no one can now eat, the mouth

fumbling for what no one

can now say? Do we make it

work with mirrors held

to the bottom of lakes, with combs

pulled through palms, with thumbs

flipping the bills, with two bags

and three names

at the border?

I mean, do we make work

about the road that crackles

with sirens or about Dad’s hydrangeas

which came up again that summer

violet clouds of bruises and pinker

than the Hubba Bubba we were popping

so loud, no one could stand us

but we grinned and grinned because

any air left in us meant

we could still answer

years later

a question like this?

Copyright © 2024 by Divya Victor. Originally published in Poem-a-Day on April 3, 2024, by the Academy of American Poets.

Still they ask in podcast
and electronic ink: How are you doing?

And they keep you in their hearts, pump you
to their minds, circulate you unimagined.

Take all the space you need, they say, 
empathy loves the damaged.

You offer no solutions. Only clarity
they don’t believe, only they
get to tell the future
what to be.

Then they pump you
into their viscera, and feel you
bilious, ineffable, cast iron, butterfly.

Their questions like a shovel
that doesn’t know what earth is,
but digging anyway.

They hope you would say:
“I am multigenerational
and can fracture natural
bonds in my DNA,”

for this they can sell
to a tycoon press, a Carnegie
of thought dissemination.

And your answer comes:
“Things are a seasickness
and no land in sight.

Your peeping is no witness.”

Copyright © 2024 by Fady Joudah. Originally published in Poem-a-Day on April 2, 2024, by the Academy of American Poets.

            There is a valley in the story I can’t leave until
I admit I did not attend the burial beneath it.

            Drop the pencil with no hilt—arrow the page—
I’ll become what it leads to. The histories have claimed you

            but none will speak your name. Whereas grief: all
prophecy, no lies. When this is a fantasy, we both

            live to discover our true names. The desire ends
in you or lives on in me, just a worm I can manage.

            In my fantasy, what’s funny is how nothing is yet.
I wrote myself here so you can be, too. I’m standing

            right there so my shame can see your love’s shadow.
You float like the stars, ice from a sky, a crossroad

            rising over the sea of failure. My heart avoids itself
like a moon once married to the sea. The crossroad

            asks what I bring to the tale. It’s a good question. I wish
I did not know but I know how to tell the truth

            like a demon bleeding in the basement. And under
the basement, two children fight to make mercy

            last. You push harder, but rain floods the vehicle
that rises from the corner to take one of us home.

            In the story, the world is familiar, then bright–
distant bells screaming for salvation—but you

are gone. I am sick, and holding the violent

            breath of my need. I am somehow—though
not at last—alive and well.

Copyright © 2024 by Lo Kwa Mei-en. Originally published in Poem-a-Day on April 1, 2024, by the Academy of American Poets.

late spring wind sounds an ocean 
through new leaves. later the same 
wind sounds a tide. later still the dry 

sound of applause: leaves chapped 
falling, an ending. this is a process.
the ocean leaping out of ocean 

should be enough. the wind 
pushing the water out of itself;
the water catching the light

should be enough. I think this 
on the deck of one boat
then another. I think this 

in the Salish, thought it in Stellwagen
in the Pacific. the water leaping 
looks animal, looks open mouthed,

looks toothed and rolling;
the ocean an animal full 
of other animals.

what I am looking for doesn’t matter.
that I am looking doesn’t matter.
I exert no meaning.

a juvenile bald eagle eats 
a harbor seal’s placenta.
its head still brown. 

this is a process. the land 
jutting out, seals hauled out,
the white-headed eagles lurking 

ready to take their turn at what’s left.
the lone sea otter on its back,
toes flopped forward and curled;

Friday Harbor: the phone booth
the ghost snare of a gray whale’s call; 
an orca’s tooth in an orca’s skull

mounted inside the glass box. 
remains. this is a process. 
three river otters, two adults, a pup, 

roll like logs parallel to the shore. 
two doe, three fawns. a young buck 
stares, its antlers new, limned gold 

in sunset. then the wind again: 
a wave through leaves green 
with deep summer, the walnut’s 

green husk. we are alive in a green 
crashing world. soon winter. 
the boat forgotten. the oceans,

their leaping animal light, off screen.
past. future. this is a process. the eagles 
at the river’s edge cluster 

in the bare tree. they steal fish 
from ducks. they eat the hunter’s 
discards: offal and lead. the juveniles 

practice fighting, their feet tangle 
midair before loosing. this 
is a process. where they came from. 

for how long will they stay. 
that I am looking doesn’t matter. 
I will impose no meaning.

From You Are Here: Poetry in the Natural World (Milkweed Editions, 2024), edited by Ada Limón. Copyright © 2024 Milkweed Editions and the Library of Congress. Used with the permission of the author. Published in Poem-a-Day on April 6, 2024, by the Academy of American Poets.

O Málik! I pray thee go for the wine full early, 
And if it be dear to buy, then buy it dearly! 
Bethink thee how once a grizzled old tavern-keeper, 
Whose whiskers were black with blowing the tarry wineskin,
I called, as he lay where slumber had stolen o’er him — 
His head sunk low, the left hand’s palm his pillow; 
And he at my cry arose with a start of terror,
And hastened to light the wick, and it flared, and straightway 
His terror was flown: he had gotten a look of gladness 
And gaily haha’d—a clatter of idle laughter. 
When now by the flame my features were lit, he gave me 
The greeting of love, asked many a courteous question;
And into his hand I counted a thousand dirhems
To lodge me a month, with freedom for either party.
I found in his pleasure-domes two noble virgins
Of family high and proud, and became their bridegroom.
’Tis thus I have ever lived and am living ever,
Away my religion goes and my wealth in armfuls.
As oft as we meet, I like what the law forbiddeth,
And never can bear to like what the law hath hallowed.

This poem is in the public domain. Published in Poem-a-Day on April 7, 2024, by the Academy of American Poets.

Hello Leander, tucked into cloth, tiny lion
who yawns through the virus and tear gas.
You are a new scent of heat.
Before any scar grazes your legs
I would show you the rows of bicycles
in burned colors, and whistles and cardinals
who pin the cold snow. You hold a small
share of what it means to be here.
When the air shatters around you,
gold and marine, please know you belong.
You are half sky, half butterfly net, alive
to friends and strangers, fast to net
and trust. There is nothing
that is not worth much. Arrayed
in overalls and tackle-box, you should grow
to see the deep green rains, the roads
brushing the clouds. To compass
all you have done from a porch in late life
and listen to the bees who, woolen
and undeterred, have returned. I hope
you stay warm inside the white dusk of
morning. No one stays unscathed
but you have days of summer to grow
into your thoughts and learn the great
caring tasks. You have yards of treelight
to race through under the birds’ low song-
swept radiances. The trills you hear
are glass grace. They are singing.

Copyright © 2024 by Joanna Klink. Originally published in Poem-a-Day on April 8, 2024, by the Academy of American Poets. 

First they called me “it,” and then, ignorant of how my people
use this word, they mashed up the meager nouns
they had for gender and called me “the goy,” and said
to not be one or the other was to be nothing.
It ate the grass it was shoved in, knelt at salt licks.
It took the barbs and kicks and crushed them into
fur and leather. Oiled and burnished, it made those
halves into one galloping body. Horse and rider.
The centaur endured the school-day, cruel gray rag, filth-
stiffened. The boys and girls who fit so easily in their costumes
looked like stick figures, crude and two dimensional.

Dante already knew, it read later. In The Inferno, in the seventh
circle of hell, centaurs guard the river Phlegethon, one of Hades’
five rivers. Phlegethon: river of fire, river of boiling blood,
which boils forever the souls of those who commit violence
against their neighbors. Centaurs guard the edges, shooting
arrows at any of these sinners who try to move to the shallows.

When sometimes I wish I’d had a boyhood, I remember those
days instead, my four muscled legs. I was seven feet tall then,
riding myself, carrying myself. A centaur is never lonely.

Copyright © 2024 by Miller Oberman. Originally published in Poem-a-Day on April 9, 2024, by the Academy of American Poets. 

for Yannis Ritsos

On Makronissos did he dream of guitars
& the birds that fell asleep in his pockets
at home who became insomniacs
on the prison island the Americans invented

Makronissos / designed to extirpate
his communist cyclamen & his communist love
for the teenagers shot from the roof of the parliament
when the British switched sides & trained the police
who’d killed for the Germans the day before

love for the farmers who laughed
at Churchill’s idea of a king

love for the village network of whispers
for how villagers treated all manner of conquerors
for the light & the waves he knew from his first day
chewing the chains postwar empire was reforming

If you keep resisting demokratia
said the Americans
We can make it so island for you

I’ve dislocated my soul, could you pop it back in
It hurts so much I can’t help but sing
Is that what he said to the 11,999
Greeks he was islanded with
& to the cyclamen & the light & the waves
the stones he had to carry & break
the brambles & the sand

the moon that never changed allegiances
or signed a declaration of repentance

& did he say that to poetry

Makronissos / The island to manufacture silence
Makronisiotika / The poems he made there

Maybe you’ve seen other versions of this
the Battalionists vs. the communists
among them the poets
who could be found

tipping their heads back to see the gulls
drinking their voices as if it were language

putting banned words in bottles to bury
& remembering where
for the days someone might listen again

Copyright © 2024 by Suzanne Gardinier. Originally published in Poem-a-Day on April 10, 2024, by the Academy of American Poets. 

I've known rivers:
I've known rivers ancient as the world and older than the
     flow of human blood in human veins.

My soul has grown deep like the rivers.

I bathed in the Euphrates when dawns were young.
I built my hut near the Congo and it lulled me to sleep.
I looked upon the Nile and raised the pyramids above it.
I heard the singing of the Mississippi when Abe Lincoln
     went down to New Orleans, and I've seen its muddy
     bosom turn all golden in the sunset.

I've known rivers:
Ancient, dusky rivers.

My soul has grown deep like the rivers.

From The Collected Poems of Langston Hughes, published by Alfred A. Knopf, Inc. Copyright © 1994 the Estate of Langston Hughes. Used with permission.

To fling my arms wide
In some place of the sun,
To whirl and to dance
Till the white day is done.
Then rest at cool evening
Beneath a tall tree
While night comes on gently,
    Dark like me—
That is my dream!

To fling my arms wide
In the face of the sun,
Dance! Whirl! Whirl!
Till the quick day is done.
Rest at pale evening . . .
A tall, slim tree . . .
Night coming tenderly
    Black like me.

From The Collected Poems of Langston Hughes, published by Alfred A. Knopf, Inc. Copyright © 1994 the Estate of Langston Hughes. Used with permission.

First I saw the white bear, then I saw the black;
Then I saw the camel with a hump upon his back;
Then I saw the grey wolf, with mutton in his maw;
Then I saw the wombat waddle in the straw;
Then I saw the elephant a-waving of his trunk;
Then I saw the monkeys—mercy, how unpleasantly they smelt!

This poem is in the public domain.

Upon that night, when fairies light
On Cassilis Downans dance,
Or owre the lays, in splendid blaze,
On sprightly coursers prance;
Or for Colean the route is ta'en,
Beneath the moon's pale beams;
There, up the cove, to stray and rove,
Among the rocks and streams
To sport that night.

Among the bonny winding banks,
Where Doon rins, wimplin' clear,
Where Bruce ance ruled the martial ranks,
And shook his Carrick spear,
Some merry, friendly, country-folks,
Together did convene,
To burn their nits, and pou their stocks,
And haud their Halloween
Fu' blithe that night.

The lasses feat, and cleanly neat,
Mair braw than when they're fine;
Their faces blithe, fu' sweetly kythe,
Hearts leal, and warm, and kin';
The lads sae trig, wi' wooer-babs,
Weel knotted on their garten,
Some unco blate, and some wi' gabs,
Gar lasses' hearts gang startin'
Whiles fast at night.

Then, first and foremost, through the kail,
Their stocks maun a' be sought ance;
They steek their een, and graip and wale,
For muckle anes and straught anes.
Poor hav'rel Will fell aff the drift,
And wander'd through the bow-kail,
And pou't, for want o' better shift,
A runt was like a sow-tail,
Sae bow't that night.

Then, staught or crooked, yird or nane,
They roar and cry a' throu'ther;
The very wee things, todlin', rin,
Wi' stocks out owre their shouther;
And gif the custoc's sweet or sour.
Wi' joctelegs they taste them;
Syne cozily, aboon the door,
Wi cannie care, they've placed them
To lie that night.

The lasses staw frae 'mang them a'
To pou their stalks of corn:
But Rab slips out, and jinks about,
Behint the muckle thorn:
He grippet Nelly hard and fast;
Loud skirl'd a' the lasses;
But her tap-pickle maist was lost,
When kitlin' in the fause-house
Wi' him that night.

The auld guidwife's well-hoordit nits,
Are round and round divided,
And monie lads' and lasses' fates
Are there that night decided:
Some kindle coothie, side by side,
And burn thegither trimly;
Some start awa, wi' saucy pride,
And jump out-owre the chimlie
Fu' high that night.

Jean slips in twa wi' tentie ee;
Wha 'twas she wadna tell;
But this is Jock, and this is me,
She says in to hersel:
He bleezed owre her, and she owre him,
As they wad never mair part;
Till, fuff! he started up the lum,
And Jean had e'en a sair heart
To see't that night.

Poor Willie, wi' his bow-kail runt,
Was brunt wi' primsie Mallie;
And Mallie, nae doubt, took the drunt,
To be compared to Willie;
Mall's nit lap out wi' pridefu' fling,
And her ain fit it brunt it;
While Willie lap, and swore by jing,
'Twas just the way he wanted
To be that night.

Nell had the fause-house in her min',
She pits hersel and Rob in;
In loving bleeze they sweetly join,
Till white in ase they're sobbin';
Nell's heart was dancin' at the view,
She whisper'd Rob to leuk for't:
Rob, stowlins, prie'd her bonny mou',
Fu' cozie in the neuk for't,
Unseen that night.

But Merran sat behint their backs,
Her thoughts on Andrew Bell;
She lea'es them gashin' at their cracks,
And slips out by hersel:
She through the yard the nearest taks,
And to the kiln goes then,
And darklins graipit for the bauks,
And in the blue-clue throws then,
Right fear't that night.

And aye she win't, and aye she swat,
I wat she made nae jaukin',
Till something held within the pat,
Guid Lord! but she was quakin'!
But whether 'was the deil himsel,
Or whether 'twas a bauk-en',
Or whether it was Andrew Bell,
She didna wait on talkin'
To spier that night.

Wee Jennie to her grannie says,
"Will ye go wi' me, grannie?
I'll eat the apple at the glass
I gat frae Uncle Johnnie:"
She fuff't her pipe wi' sic a lunt,
In wrath she was sae vap'rin',
She notice't na, an aizle brunt
Her braw new worset apron
Out through that night.

"Ye little skelpie-limmer's face!
I daur you try sic sportin',
As seek the foul thief ony place,
For him to spae your fortune.
Nae doubt but ye may get a sight!
Great cause ye hae to fear it;
For mony a ane has gotten a fright,
And lived and died deleeret
On sic a night.

"Ae hairst afore the Sherramoor, —
I mind't as weel's yestreen,
I was a gilpey then, I'm sure
I wasna past fifteen;
The simmer had been cauld and wat,
And stuff was unco green;
And aye a rantin' kirn we gat,
And just on Halloween
It fell that night.

"Our stibble-rig was Rab M'Graen,
A clever sturdy fallow:
His son gat Eppie Sim wi' wean,
That lived in Achmacalla:
He gat hemp-seed, I mind it weel,
And he made unco light o't;
But mony a day was by himsel,
He was sae sairly frighted
That very night."

Then up gat fechtin' Jamie Fleck,
And he swore by his conscience,
That he could saw hemp-seed a peck;
For it was a' but nonsense.
The auld guidman raught down the pock,
And out a hanfu' gied him;
Syne bade him slip frae 'mang the folk,
Some time when nae ane see'd him,
And try't that night.

He marches through amang the stacks,
Though he was something sturtin;
The graip he for a harrow taks.
And haurls it at his curpin;
And every now and then he says,
"Hemp-seed, I saw thee,
And her that is to be my lass,
Come after me, and draw thee
As fast this night."

He whistled up Lord Lennox' march
To keep his courage cheery;
Although his hair began to arch,
He was say fley'd and eerie:
Till presently he hears a squeak,
And then a grane and gruntle;
He by his shouther gae a keek,
And tumbled wi' a wintle
Out-owre that night.

He roar'd a horrid murder-shout,
In dreadfu' desperation!
And young and auld came runnin' out
To hear the sad narration;
He swore 'twas hilchin Jean M'Craw,
Or crouchie Merran Humphie,
Till, stop! she trotted through them
And wha was it but grumphie
Asteer that night!

Meg fain wad to the barn hae gaen,
To win three wechts o' naething;
But for to meet the deil her lane,
She pat but little faith in:
She gies the herd a pickle nits,
And two red-cheekit apples,
To watch, while for the barn she sets,
In hopes to see Tam Kipples
That very nicht.

She turns the key wi cannie thraw,
And owre the threshold ventures;
But first on Sawnie gies a ca'
Syne bauldly in she enters:
A ratton rattled up the wa',
And she cried, Lord, preserve her!
And ran through midden-hole and a',
And pray'd wi' zeal and fervour,
Fu' fast that night;

They hoy't out Will wi' sair advice;
They hecht him some fine braw ane;
It chanced the stack he faddom'd thrice
Was timmer-propt for thrawin';
He taks a swirlie, auld moss-oak,
For some black grousome carlin;
And loot a winze, and drew a stroke,
Till skin in blypes cam haurlin'
Aff's nieves that night.

A wanton widow Leezie was,
As canty as a kittlin;
But, och! that night amang the shaws,
She got a fearfu' settlin'!
She through the whins, and by the cairn,
And owre the hill gaed scrievin,
Whare three lairds' lands met at a burn
To dip her left sark-sleeve in,
Was bent that night.

Whyles owre a linn the burnie plays,
As through the glen it wimpl't;
Whyles round a rocky scaur it strays;
Whyles in a wiel it dimpl't;
Whyles glitter'd to the nightly rays,
Wi' bickering, dancing dazzle;
Whyles cookit underneath the braes,
Below the spreading hazel,
Unseen that night.

Among the brackens, on the brae,
Between her and the moon,
The deil, or else an outler quey,
Gat up and gae a croon:
Poor Leezie's heart maist lap the hool!
Near lav'rock-height she jumpit;
but mist a fit, and in the pool
Out-owre the lugs she plumpit,
Wi' a plunge that night.

In order, on the clean hearth-stane,
The luggies three are ranged,
And every time great care is ta'en',
To see them duly changed:
Auld Uncle John, wha wedlock joys
Sin' Mar's year did desire,
Because he gat the toom dish thrice,
He heaved them on the fire
In wrath that night.

Wi' merry sangs, and friendly cracks,
I wat they didna weary;
And unco tales, and funny jokes,
Their sports were cheap and cheery;
Till butter'd so'ns, wi' fragrant lunt,
Set a' their gabs a-steerin';
Syne, wi' a social glass o' strunt,
They parted aff careerin'
Fu' blythe that night.

This poem is in the public domain.

All houses wherein men have lived and died
Are haunted houses. Through the open doors
The harmless phantoms on their errands glide,
With feet that make no sound upon the floors.

We meet them at the door-way, on the stair,
Along the passages they come and go,
Impalpable impressions on the air,
A sense of something moving to and fro.

There are more guests at table than the hosts
Invited; the illuminated hall
Is thronged with quiet, inoffensive ghosts,
As silent as the pictures on the wall.

The stranger at my fireside cannot see
The forms I see, nor hear the sounds I hear;
He but perceives what is; while unto me
All that has been is visible and clear.

We have no title-deeds to house or lands;
Owners and occupants of earlier dates
From graves forgotten stretch their dusty hands,
And hold in mortmain still their old estates.

The spirit-world around this world of sense
Floats like an atmosphere, and everywhere
Wafts through these earthly mists and vapours dense
A vital breath of more ethereal air.

Our little lives are kept in equipoise
By opposite attractions and desires;
The struggle of the instinct that enjoys,
And the more noble instinct that aspires.

These perturbations, this perpetual jar
Of earthly wants and aspirations high,
Come from the influence of an unseen star
An undiscovered planet in our sky.

And as the moon from some dark gate of cloud
Throws o’er the sea a floating bridge of light,
Across whose trembling planks our fancies crowd
Into the realm of mystery and night,—

So from the world of spirits there descends
A bridge of light, connecting it with this,
O'er whose unsteady floor, that sways and bends,
Wander our thoughts above the dark abyss.

This poem is in the public domain.

                The world is a beautiful place 
                                                           to be born into 
if you don’t mind happiness 
                                             not always being 
                                                                        so very much fun 
       if you don’t mind a touch of hell
                                                       now and then
                just when everything is fine
                                                             because even in heaven
                                they don’t sing 
                                                        all the time

             The world is a beautiful place
                                                           to be born into
       if you don’t mind some people dying
                                                                  all the time
                        or maybe only starving
                                                           some of the time
                 which isn’t half so bad
                                                      if it isn’t you

      Oh the world is a beautiful place
                                                          to be born into
               if you don’t much mind
                                                   a few dead minds
                    in the higher places
                                                    or a bomb or two
                            now and then
                                                  in your upturned faces
         or such other improprieties
                                                    as our Name Brand society
                                  is prey to
                                              with its men of distinction
             and its men of extinction
                                                   and its priests
                         and other patrolmen
                                                         and its various segregations
         and congressional investigations
                                                             and other constipations
                        that our fool flesh
                                                     is heir to

Yes the world is the best place of all
                                                           for a lot of such things as
         making the fun scene
                                                and making the love scene
and making the sad scene
                                         and singing low songs of having 
and walking around 
                                looking at everything
                                                                  and smelling flowers
and goosing statues
                              and even thinking 
                                                         and kissing people and
     making babies and wearing pants
                                                         and waving hats and
                                                and going swimming in rivers
                              on picnics
                                       in the middle of the summer
and just generally
                            ‘living it up’

   but then right in the middle of it
                                                    comes the smiling


From A Coney Island of the Mind, copyright ©1955 by Lawrence Ferlinghetti. Reprinted by permission of New Directions Publishing Corp.


Old baseball glove,
toy of the blind kid.
Who sniffed its oiled leather,
who could not use it.
Sometimes he’d cry into it.

Do you understand that dark joy?



In the monastery at Velamo
I took a sauna with a monk
Who was one hundred years old
In the steam his skin smelled
like strawberries.
“What do you like to eat?” I asked.
“Strawberries,” he said.



He spends his life
Believing there’s another
Standing on his own shoulders
Looking out to sea.



I love the horse at Lascaux
So unsecured and fast
Legs vanishing
Even as we look
No one to tame her
Only the river’s light



Write poems in the mornings
Pour out yesterday’s tea
Think of Helen Keller
Who dove into life as
A cormorant hits the sea
The speed of that dive
Me? I entered this world
Already lost, having come
From Mithraic light
Whose sun falls across these pages

Copyright © 2024 by Stephen Kuusisto. Originally published in Poem-a-Day on April 12, 2024, by the Academy of American Poets.