A prison is the only place that’s a prison.
Maybe your brain is a beehive—or, better:
an ants nest? A spin class?
The sand stuck in an hourglass? Your brain is like
stop it. So you practice driving with your knees,
you get all the way out to the complex of Little League fields,
you get chicken fingers with four kinds of mustard—
spicy, whole grain, Dijon, yellow—
you walk from field to field, you watch yourself
play every position, you circle each identical game,
each predictable outcome. On one field you catch.
On one field you pitch. You are center field. You are left.
Sometimes you have steady hands and French braids.
Sometimes you slide too hard into second on purpose.
It feels as good to get the bloody knee as it does to kick yourself in the shin.
You wait for the bottom of the ninth to lay your blanket out in the sun.
Admit it, Sasha, the sun helps. Today,
the red team hits the home run. Red floods every field.
A wasp lands on your thigh. You know this feeling.

Copyright © 2020 by Sasha Debevec-McKenney. Originally published in Poem-a-Day on June 26, 2020, by the Academy of American Poets.

Twenty-two stalwarts in stripes and shorts
    Kicking a ball along,
Set in a square of leather-lunged sports
    Twenty-two thousand strong,
Some of them shabby, some of them spruce,
    Savagely clamorous all,
Hurling endearments, advice or abuse,
    At the muscular boys on the ball. 

Stark and stiff ’neath a stranger’s sky
    A few hundred miles away,
War-worn, khaki-clad figures lie,
    Their faces rigid and grey—
Stagger and drop where the bullets swarm,
    Where the shrapnel is bursting loud,
Die, to keep England safe and warm—
    For a vigorous football crowd!

Football’s a sport, and a rare sport too,
    Don’t make it a source of shame.
To-day there are worthier things to do.
    Englishmen, play the game!
A truce to the League, a truce to the Cup,
    Get to work with a gun.
When our country’s at war, we must all back up—
    It’s the only thing to be done!

This poem is in the public domain.

 

What is water but rain but cloud but river but ocean 
but ice but tear.

What is tear but torn what is worn as skin as in as out
as out.

Exodus. I am trying to tell a tale that shifts like a gale
that hurricanes and casts a line

that buckles in wind that is reborn a kite a wing. 
I am far

from the passage far from the plane of descending
them,

suitcases passports degrees of mobility like heat 
like heat on their backs. 

This cluster of fine grapes Haitian purple beige
black brown.

Copyright © 2020 by Danielle Legros Georges. Originally published in Poem-a-Day on July 8, 2020 by the Academy of American Poets.

a call
two arms
akimbo Arms and
the gentlemen at arms
length armed to
the teeth arm candy armed
struggle with open arms
inspection give my
right arm strong-arm
bear arms babe
in arms take up
arms shot In the Arms
of an Angel up
in arms up arms
up arms up arm-in-
arm twisting
my arm A Farewell
to brothers
in arms These Arms
of one-
armed bandit with one
arm tied
behind my back the long arm of the law
costs an arm and a leg

From Year of the Dog (BOA Editions, 2020) by Deborah Paredez. Copyright © 2020 by Deborah Paredez. Used with permission of The Permissions Company, LLC on behalf of BOA Editions, Ltd., boaeditions.org.

My stepson spent
the afternoon in detention
for lying to a nun.

I told them my name means
pheasants in Italian, 
but no one believed me.

Half white, half Puerto Rican,
Italian last name, nappy hair,
said otherwise. 

At the perfect age of 10, 
my stepson and I
had a date one afternoon.

Determined to teach him to fly,
forget nuns, divorced parents,
over-protective mother,

or, just ride a bike.
A two-wheeler, banana seat,
shiny, chrome, bells, streamers.

He’d run alongside it
throw one leg far and wide
in time to find the peddle

on the other side.
I clutched the back of the seat
sent him off as far as I could.

Like my father did for me,
knowing spills and harm
would follow.

Years later,
a knot in  my heart, 
his dusty, tear-smeared face

lips quivering, telling me
of a quick ride to an Italian
neighborhood in Pelham Bay
where he was chased down

by taunts of 
You don’t belong here.
I tried to tell them my name
but no one listened.

I think of all I don’t know
about courage – how to build it,
pass it on, when to fight, to flee,

and when to leave your bike
behind, save your life,
find your way home.

Copyright © 2013 by Maria Lisella. This poem originally appeared in The New Verse News. Used with the permission of the author.