I imagine today just like yesterday—
I will spend the morning writing and then,
when the tide recedes, I’ll trip along drift lines
searching. Yesterday I found an entire sand dollar
and four amber sea agates. The day before—
a red plastic heart stuck in driftwood. But

Anne,     what I really want to find

is a buoy. A fine glass fishing buoy, like the one
you brought to our third-grade show-and-tell
in 1982. A perfect glass bauble, wrapped in brown
hemp. Mint green, cerulean, sparkling, and you,
Anne, gleaming, cradling the globe, in small,
flawless hands. You illumed, Anne, in front of the class,
teaching us what your Grandma taught you
about glassblowing and fishing nets and the tide
that carried that buoy all the way from Japan
to the Oregon Coast, so far from our landlocked
Colorado town, so far from anywhere
our imaginations had yet taken us. Even those of us
in the back row could see. Anne,
tall and gangly, shy and anxious, you traveled
to the sea and brought back a flawless
glass buoy. Even those who teased you hardest
felt the weight of envy. “Be careful,”

you begged us, hinting finally toward fragility, rarity.

Yet these years later I am still searching the wrack
lines, my hands begging back that unbroken
weight, as if by finding my own buoy I might know something
about…     Anne,

please forgive me, I held on too loose—
what do ten-year-old hands know of mortality or the way
lives can be shattered on coasts? What
does this forty-nine-year-old heart understand
about the mechanics of staying afloat, of netting a life
and not letting go?

Copyright © 2021 by CMarie Fuhrman. Originally published in Poem-a-Day on November 16, 2021, by the Academy of American Poets.

Outside the grocery store
laden with the sweat
of tanned field workers
we stand          little girls in winter coats
our hands hold signs leaflets
our dark long hair waist length
one straight, one curly
we say to the people
who walk up to the glass door

don’t buy the lettuce here
they aren’t good to their workers

I don’t recall anyone
said anything back
or who stood with us
I remember my sister
next to me,      us
in our Sunday velvet best
she     beret and red plaid jacket
me     white rabbit skin muff
little brown girls with picket signs
rosy cheeks, big black eyes
legions of ghosts
above              behind
angels wing over us
ancestor feathers beat
in the invisible breeze
each time someone enters
or exits the building
with a bag
full of groceries
oranges and eggs
celery and grapes.

Copyright © 2021 by Angela C. Trudell Vasquez. Originally published in Poem-a-Day on November 18, 2021, by the Academy of American Poets.

Quiet. Given to prying more than pecking, an odd member
of the family, lives only in the high pine forests of western

mountains like the Cascades, where I spent an afternoon
almost a decade ago in Roslyn, Washington looking for what

I could find of Black people who’d migrated from the South
almost a century and a quarter prior. The white-headed

woodpecker doesn’t migrate and so is found in its
home range year-round when it can be found. Roslyn,

founded as a coal mining town, drew miners from all over
Europe—as far away as Croatia—across the ocean, with

opportunities. With their hammering and drilling to extract
a living, woodpeckers could be considered arboreal miners.

A habitat, a home range, is where one can feed and house
oneself—meet the requirements of life—and propagate.

In 1888, those miners from many lands all in Roslyn came
together to go on strike against the mine management.

And so, from Southern states, a few hundred Black miners
were recruited with the promise of opportunities in Roslyn,

many with their families in tow, to break the strike. They
faced resentment and armed resistance, left in the dark

until their arrival, unwitting scabs—that healing that happens
after lacerations or abrasions. Things settled down as they do

sometimes, and eventually Blacks and whites entered a union
as equals. Black save for a white face and crown and a sliver

of white on its wings that flares to a crescent when they
spread for flight, the white-headed woodpecker is a study

in contrasts. Males have a patch of red feathers
on the back of their crowns, and I can’t help but see blood.

Copyright © 2021 by Sean Hill. Originally published in Poem-a-Day on November 19, 2021, by the Academy of American Poets.

It is dusk on the Lost Lagoon,
And we two dreaming the dusk away,
Beneath the drift of a twilight grey—
Beneath the drowse of an ending day
And the curve of a golden moon.

It is dark on the Lost Lagoon,
And gone are the depths of haunting blue,
The grouping gulls, and the old canoe,
The singing firs, and the dusk and—you,
And gone is the golden moon.

O lure of the Lost Lagoon—
I dream to-night that my paddle blurs
The purple shade where the seaweed stirs—
I hear the call of the singing firs
In the hush of the golden moon.

This poem is in the public domain. Published in Poem-a-Day on November 20, 2021, by the Academy of American Poets.

                                I

Out of the barrenness of earth,
And the meager rain—
Mile upon mile of exultant
Fields of grain.

Out of the dimness of morning—
Sudden and stark,
A hot sun dispelling
The hushed dark.

Out of the bleakness of living,
Out of the unforgivable wrongs,
Out of the thin, dun soil of my soul—
These songs.

 

                                II

Only the rhythm of the rain
Can ease my sorrow, end my pain.

He was a wilful lad,
Laughter the burden he had;

Songs unsung haunted his mouth,
Velvet as soft airs from the languid south;

He was sprung from the dawn,
Flame-crested. He is gone!

Only the lashing, silver whips
Of the rain can still my lips…

This poem is in the public domain. Published in Poem-a-Day on November 21, 2021, by the Academy of American Poets.

Let us walk in the white snow
    In a soundless space;
With footsteps quiet and slow,
    At a tranquil pace,
    Under veils of white lace.

I shall go shod in silk,
    And you in wool,
White as white cow’s milk,
    More beautiful
    Than the breast of a gull.

We shall walk through the still town
    In a windless peace;
We shall step upon white down,
    Upon silver fleece,
    Upon softer than these.

We shall walk in velvet shoes:
    Wherever we go
Silence will fall like dews
    On white silence below.
    We shall walk in the snow.

This poem is in the public domain. Published in Poem-a-Day on December 26, 2021, by the Academy of American Poets

Let me draw a sonnet at this godless hour,
in one sitting, at the sudden taste of you.

#SelfEvidentTruth: reality forms from the verge
of chance—particles not seen but tongued.

Another you wafts in as soon as the other
you leaves, my random turnstile of thirst.

But suddenly, alone. Just a memory of taste:
Poached eggs, pancakes, tenderness, knowing

that I have eaten not only what I made but what all
of you served in return, quenched only if swallowed.

Taste has always been a second-rate sense,
unlike our sight, unlike Euler’s Equation that

sees light in chaos. All works of nature evolve
from one moment of coincidence. An absence,

a rebellion, the fifteenth line of a sonnet.

Copyright © 2022 by Bino A. Realuyo. Originally published in Poem-a-Day on January 25, 2022, by the Academy of American Poets.

for Reuben

When he looks at the edges,
The covers of books and records,
He remembers when and where
He got them, how it felt.
Everything’s a testament
To life lived on the fringe
Of some sense of sanity.

All the vehicles for imbibing
These treasures are obsolete.
Even his eyes and ears, as their
Function fades under each year’s
Mud and tussle to stay alive

The damned fine few who know
Try not to lose the memories,
Talk as if each was there
For the other, laughter supplants tears.
If he can, a story gets written
About each song, how a chord
A lyric, the last line of a book

Make more sense, the same as the
Warnings his mother threw
at fledgling feet like seeds in soil.
He wishes he could buy them all again,
Heed the messages, grow as if
Each signpost was a vitamin
Make what became a recollection
A catalyst for pathfinding and strength.

Copyright © 2022 by Brandon D. Johnson. Originally published in Poem-a-Day on February 17, 2022, by the Academy of American Poets.

This is no child that dances. This is flame.
Here fire at last has found its natural frame.

What else is that which burns and flies
From those enkindled eyes...
What is that inner blaze
Which plays
About that lighted face?...
This thing is fire set free—
Fire possesses her, or rather she
Controls its mastery.
With every gesture, every rhythmic stride,
Beat after beat,
It follows, purring at her side,
Or licks the shadows of her flashing feet.
Around her everywhere
It coils its thread of yellow hair.
Through every vein its bright blood creeps,
And its red hands
Caress her as she stands
Or lift her boldly when she leaps.
Then, as the surge
Of radiance grows stronger
These two are two no longer
And they merge
Into a disembodied ecstasy;
Free
To express some half-forgotten hunger,
Some half-forbidden urge.

What mystery
Has been at work until it blent
One child and that fierce element?
Give it no name.
It is enough that flesh has danced with flame.

This poem is in the public domain. Published in Poem-a-Day on May 21, 2022, by the Academy of American Poets.