When my twin brother tells me stories about hanging out
With his cholo gangster friends from high school, part of me

Doesn’t want to hear it. It’s not that I’m afraid: I’m afraid to admit
That I’m afraid and I play along. He doesn’t tell me to show off,

That’s for sure. He’s not necessarily trying to scare me.
I think he’s just remembering his time with his friends;

The few that he had. They all came from broken homes.
Their parents were drug addicts. Lived in low-rent apartments,

Like us. None of his friends ever brought their drama 
To our home. Didn’t say bad words in front of my parents.

They were boys hiding behind baggy shirts and pants,
Because the world didn’t think much of them to ever

Give them a chance. I guess the reason I don’t like to hear 
His stories, even though it’s good for him to remember and release,

Is because I’m afraid to know he was ever so vulnerable;
Almost locked-up. Almost thrown away. Almost buried, forever.

Copyright © 2021 by Jose Hernandez Diaz. Originally published in Poem-a-Day on May 14, 2021, by the Academy of American Poets.

Ask me why I love you, dear, 
    And I will ask the rose 
Why it loves the dews of Spring 
     At the Winter’s close; 
Why the blossoms’ nectared sweets 
     Loved by questing bee,—
I will gladly answer you, 
     If they answer me. 

Ask me why I love you, dear, 
    And I will ask the flower
Why it loves the Summer sun, 
    Or the Summer shower; 
I will ask the lover’s heart
     Why it loves the moon, 
Or the star-besprinkled skies
     In a night in June. 

Ask me why I love you, dear, 
    I will ask the vine 
Why its tendrils trustingly 
    Round the oak entwine; 
Why you love the mignonette
    Better than the rue,—
If you will but answer me, 
    I will answer you. 

Ask me why I love you, dear, 
    Let the lark reply, 
Why his heart is full of song
   When the twilight’s nigh; 
Why the lover heaves a sigh
    When her heart is true; 
If you will but answer me,
    I will answer you. 

This poem is in the public domain. Published in Poem-a-Day on February 15, 2020, by the Academy of American Poets.