The sun isn’t even a pearl today—
its light diffused, strained gray
by winter haze—this the grayest
day so far, so when I enter the Wells
Fargo parking lot the last thing I expect
is to see the sun in the car next to mine.
I watch a woman make out with the sun,
and I’m jealous of the sun. Beautiful
beyond her desire—wanting the sun
so—she almost glows as she tugs
sweetness from his whiskers with
her teeth, and his drool runs down
her chin. I think the sun is a man,
but it’s hard to tell in this light. No,
it’s a mango, and I’m jealous of her.
Copyright © 2015 by Sean Hill. Originally published in Poem-a-Day on July 17, 2015, by the Academy of American Poets.
As a girl I made my calves into little drinking elephants,
I would stare at the wonder of their pumping muscles,
the sup of their leg-trunks. I resuscitated a bunny once
from my cat’s electric teeth. I was on neighborhood watch
to save animals, as many as I could. My damage was easy.
My plainspoken voice is a watercolor. I’m afraid of it
as I’m afraid of what the world will do to color. I don’t
think I’ve done much. A table leans against itself
to be a table. I hold nothing but this air. I give it off.
I want a literature that is not made from literature, says Bhanu.
Last night my legs ached a low-tone. I imagined the body
giving itself up for another system. Dandelions tickling
out of my knee. The meniscus a household of worms.
It is okay to bear. My apartment hums in a Rilke sense.
A pain blooms. I am told that it’s okay to forego details
of what happened. I am told it doesn’t matter now.
I want to write sentences for days. I want days to not
be a sentence. We put men in boxes and sail them away.
Justice gave me an amber necklace. I tried to swallow
as many as I could.
Copyright © 2015 by Natalie Eilbert. Originally published in Poem-a-Day on July 30, 2015, by the Academy of American Poets
I touch my palms to the floor
and granite rhinos surge up my arms
and lock in my shoulders.
Water flecks on my back
and my head is shaved
by bladed cream.
But then my time in my body is up
and it’s time for my mind:
It seeks wisdom
and the rhinos fall into a well,
their faces falling apart—
I want to know what their last words are
but their lips are fading into the purple.
I put my hands into the ground again
but rhinos come only for the body
and never for the mind.
I used to want infinite time with my thoughts.
Now I’d prefer to give all my time
to a body that’s dying
Copyright © 2015 by Max Ritvo. Originally published in Poem-a-Day on July 9, 2015, by the Academy of American Poets.
Out here the surf rewrites our silences.
This smell of ocean may never leave me;
our humble life or the sea a dark page
I am trying to turn: Today my mother’s words
sound final. And perhaps this is her first true thing.
Her hands have not been her hands
since she was twelve,
motherless and shucking whatever the sea
could offer, each day orphaned in the tide
of her own necessity—where the men-o-war
ballooned, wearing her face, her anchor of a heart
reaching, mooring for any blasted thing:
sea-roach and black-haired kelp, jeweled perch
or a drop of pearl made with her smallest self,
her night-prayers a hushed word of thanks.
But out here the salt-depths refuse tragedy.
This hand-me-down life burns sufficiently tragic—
here what was cannibal masters the colonial
curse, carved our own language of the macabre,
sucking on the thumb of our own disparity. Holding
her spliff in the wind, she probes and squalls,
trying to remember the face of her own mother,
our island or some strange word she once found
amongst the filth of sailors whose beds she made,
whose shoes she shined, whose guns
she cleaned, while the white bullet of America
ricocheted in her brain. Still that face she can’t recall
made her chew her fingernails, scratch the day down
to its blood, the rusty sunset of this wonder,
this smashed archipelago. Our wild sea-grape kingdom
overrun, gold and belonging in all its glory
to no one. How being twelve-fingered she took her father’s
fishing line to the deviation, and starved
of blood what grew savage and unwanted. Pulled
until they shriveled away, two hungry mouths
askance and blooming, reminding her
that she was still woman always multiplying
as life’s little nubs and dreams came bucking up
in her disjointed. How on the god-teeth
she cut this life, offered her hands and vessel
to be made wide, made purposeful,
her body opalescent with all our clamoring,
our bloodline of what once lived
and will live and live again.
In the sea’s one voice she hears her answer.
Beneath her gravid belly
my gliding hull
a conger eel.
Copyright © 2015 by Safiya Sinclair. Originally published in Poem-a-Day on June 17, 2015, by the Academy of American Poets.
Man shaped out of mud And made to speak and love— Let's stick in him a little whisperer, A bucket with two holes. Let's give him the Great Deceiver, A blood-stone. A church with a vaulted ceiling Where the White and Blue Niles meet. A dog who cries after dark. Everyone has a heart, Even the people who don't. It floats up like a beached whale in the autopsy. The heart has no sense of humor. It offers itself piteously like a pair of handcuffs, And is so clumsy that we turn away. The past Is a quarryful of marble statues With heads and genitals erased, But the heart is a muscle made of sharkbone and mutters, Resting place softened with hay Where all the cows come home, finally.
Copyright © 2012 by Monica Ferrell. Used with permission of the author.