Remember the sky that you were born under,
know each of the star’s stories.
Remember the moon, know who she is.
Remember the sun’s birth at dawn, that is the
strongest point of time. Remember sundown
and the giving away to night.
Remember your birth, how your mother struggled
to give you form and breath. You are evidence of
her life, and her mother’s, and hers.
Remember your father. He is your life, also.
Remember the earth whose skin you are:
red earth, black earth, yellow earth, white earth
brown earth, we are earth.
Remember the plants, trees, animal life who all have their
tribes, their families, their histories, too. Talk to them,
listen to them. They are alive poems.
Remember the wind. Remember her voice. She knows the
origin of this universe.
Remember you are all people and all people
are you.
Remember you are this universe and this
universe is you.
Remember all is in motion, is growing, is you.
Remember language comes from this.
Remember the dance language is, that life is.
Remember.

“Remember.” Copyright © 1983 by Joy Harjo from She Had Some Horses by Joy Harjo. Used by permission of W. W. Norton & Company, Inc.

If our angels hover above us,
they will see a darkening cornfield, the spectral traces
of lightning bugs, and two brothers
lying among the stalks.  
We come because sometimes it is hard to live.

The cornstalks, limp under the tropical sun,
revive in the cool of twilight.
The angels will know we have been here for hours.
They will land and rest their feathers around us
and whisper soothing names of winged things: finch, monarch,
whippoorwill, ptarmigan, Daedalus, Icarus, Gabriel...

The angels will bend down and touch their faces
onto ours and borrow our eyes: Earlier,
a horse slipped, breaking its leg.  
A boy stood beside his younger brother. 
Their father came into the stable, carrying a gun.
Quails flitted out of a bamboo tree; the boy 

traced the trail that had led him here,
the field tilled by the dead horse,
where his brother laid down,
dust on his cheeks.

From Imago by Joseph O. Legaspi (CavanKerry Press, 2007). Copyright © 2007 by Joseph O. Legaspi. Used with the permission of the poet.

Three days into his wake my father has not risen.

He remains encased in pine, hollowed-
out, his body unsealed, organs 
harvested, then zippered 
shut like a purse. 

How strange to see one’s face inside 
a coffin. The son at my most peaceful. 
The father at his most peaceful.  
Not even the loud chorus 
of wailing family members 
can rid us of our sleep.  

My mother sits front center.  
Regal in black, her eyes sharpened 
as Cleopatra’s. Her children, grown 
and groaning, quietly moan beside a white 
copse of trumpeting flowers.  

The church is forested 
with immigrants, spent after their long journey 
to another country 
to die. 

Before the casket 
is to be closed, we all rise 
to bid our final farewells.

My mother lowers herself, 
kisses the trinity of the forehead 
and cheeks, then motions her obedient 
children to follow. One by one my 
siblings hover, perch, and peck. 

I stand over my father 
as I had done on occasions 
of safe approach: in his sleep, or splayed 
like a crushed toad on the floor, drunk.

I study him, planetary, 
distant presence both bodily 
and otherworldly, a deceptive 
kind of knowledge.
His beauty has waned 
but not faded, face surface 
of a moon, not ours, I turn pale,
shivering, I place my hand 
on his, amphibious.  

While my mother places her hand warm on the cradle
of my back, where I bend to fit into my body.

Her burning eyes speak, Do it for me, they
urge, Kiss your father goodbye.  

I refuse.

Copyright © 2018 by Joseph O. Legaspi. Originally published in Poem-a-Day on August 17, 2018, by the Academy of American Poets.

              for Dad

I’m writing you
         10 years later
    & 2,000 miles
                 Away from 
    Our silence
My mouth a cave
That had collapsed 
      I’m writing
  While you 
You wear the
                Hospital gown & 
          count failures
  Such as the body’s 
Inability to rise
             I see your fingers 
Fumbling in the
       Pillbox     as if
             Earthquakes are in
    Your hands
                I think it’s time
    For us to  abandon
Our cruelties
             For us to speak
So     s    o    f    t 
We’re barely
                Human.

Copyright © 2018 by Christopher Soto. Originally published in Poem-a-Day on February 2, 2018, by the Academy of American Poets.

A man can’t die where there is no earth
 
because there will be no place
to bury him. His body is the sky
and understands the language of birds.
 
His body says the earth is made of everything
that has fallen from Heaven
 
while no one was looking. He promises
to defy gravity and then return home.
 
A man can’t reach for the sky and not feel
he is falling. It goes on forever and the birds
talk about the awesomeness of flight
 
while the oxen labor in the fields,
while the cows eat grass and dream
 
of slaughter. A man can’t talk about flight
because one day, there will be no sky,
just the body covered in earth.
 
And now the sky is empty of birds.
And now the earth is covered in flowers.

Copyright © 2017 by W. Todd Kaneko. Originally published in Poem-a-Day on December 14, 2017, by the Academy of American Poets.

translated by Francisco Aragón

my father
and I greet
each other

guarded
as if
sealing

a truce
on a
battlefield

we sit down
to eat like
two strangers

yet I know
beneath it all
he too

rejects
that affliction
that folly

that nightmare
called
macho


Mi padre

mi padre
y yo nos
saludamos

cautelosos
como si
selláramos

una tregua
en un campo
de batalla

nos sentamos
a comer como
dos extraños

yo sé que
en el fondo
él también

rechaza
ese mal
esa locura

esa pesadilla
llamada
macho

From From the Other Side of Night/del otro lado de la noche: New and Selected Poems by Francisco X. Alarcón. © 2002 The Arizona Board of Regents. Reprinted by permission of the University of Arizona Press.

Boys begin to gather around the man like seagulls.
He ignores them entirely, but they follow him
from one end of the beach to the other.
Their footprints burn holes in the sand.
It’s quite a sight, a strange parade:
a man with a pair of wings strapped to his arms
followed by a flock of rowdy boys.
Some squawk and flap their bony limbs.
Others try to leap now and then, stumbling
as the sand tugs at their feet. One boy pretends to fly
in a circle around the man, cawing in his face.

We don’t know his name or why he walks
along our beach, talking to the wind.
To say nothing of those wings. A woman yells
to her son, Ask him if he’ll make me a pair.
Maybe I’ll finally leave your father.
He answers our cackles with a sudden stop,
turns, and runs toward the water.
The children jump into the waves after him.
Over the sound of their thrashes and giggles,
we hear a boy say, We don’t want wings.
We want to be fish now.

From Prelude to Bruise (Coffee House Press, 2014). Copyright © 2014 by Saeed Jones. Used with permission of The Permissions Company on behalf of Coffee House Press.