Sometimes starting with a title
Infuses the work
With an insurmountable dread
How is one to fulfill such a promise
To make good on the pact
That art in the end allows
For a kind of connectivity
Life otherwise lacks
Or lacks in those more
Since mixing the ingredients
To say a batch of cookies
Is in its own right a sort
Of connectivity if done together
If my hand touching flour touches
Your hand touching the same flour
Copyright © 2017 by Noah Eli Gordon. Originally published in Poem-a-Day on July 6, 2017, by the Academy of American Poets.
The socks came in a pack of five.
What is the most boring subject
possible? Translucent blue
with punctures pierced to shape
a star around the ankle.
I carried them along the aisles
as if I needed them. I fingered
lacquered dishes and the rubber heads
of mallets, crystal trinkets
stitched to underwear.
Wherever you go, this buffering.
A dull hour. All that time
I could have touched you and didn’t
or did absentminded, getting in
or out of bed or trying to reach
something behind you.
I didn’t need anything
I could buy. I bought the socks
and a slatted spoon I haven’t used.
Blue interrupted by the living points
of constellated skin. I’ve been
looking for a long time
at the stretch of table where you had
your hand. I am afraid
to touch it. Love, all I’ve ever
seen is things in airless dense
configuration and no transparency.
Copyright © 2017 by Margaret Ross. Originally published in Poem-a-Day on July 14, 2017, by the Academy of American Poets.
In the tallgrass
where all gold starts
my additional lover.
His hand the inflorescence
one finger partially gone—
I carefully researched
how to bait my trap.
Took the small blonde charmer
out of town.
Stealer of cholla,
eater of sun murdered plants.
I knew it would die coming back.
now up to my waist.
the opal knowledge—
What his ghost finger traced.
Copyright © 2017 by Louise Mathias. Originally published in Poem-a-Day on July 18, 2017, by the Academy of American Poets.
translated by Sarah Arvio
To find a kiss of yours
what would I give
A kiss that strayed from your lips
dead to love
My lips taste
the dirt of shadows
To gaze at your dark eyes
what would I give
Dawns of rainbow garnet
fanning open before God—
The stars blinded them
one morning in May
And to kiss your pure thighs
what would I give
Raw rose crystal
sediment of the sun
[Por encontrar un beso tuyo]
Por encontrar un beso tuyo,
¿qué daría yo?
¡Un beso errante de tu boca
muerta para el amor!
(Tierra de sombra
come mi boca.)
Por contemplar tus ojos negros,
¿qué daría yo?
¡Auroras de carbunclos irisados
abiertas frente a Dios!
(Las estrellas los cegaron
una mañana de mayo.)
Y por besar tus muslos castos,
¿qué daría yo?
(Cristal de rosa primitiva,
sedimento de sol.)
Translation copyright © 2017 by Sarah Arvio. Original text copyright © The Estate of Federico García Lorca. From Poet in Spain (Knopf, 2017). Originally published in Poem-a-Day on July 25, 2017, by the Academy of American Poets.
On another night
in a hotel
in a room
in a city
flanked by all
that is unfamiliar
I am able to move
my finger along
a glass screen
& in seconds
see your mother
smiling in a room
that is our own
that is now so
far away but
also not so far
away at all
& she can place
the small screen
near her belly
& when I speak
I can see you
her skin as if you
knew that this
& what a small
joy it is to be some-
where that is not
with you but to
still be with you
& see your feet
her rib cage like
you knew we’d
both be dancing
Copyright © 2017 by Clint Smith. Originally published in Poem-a-Day on August 11, 2017, by the Academy of American Poets.
Shame on you for dating a museum:
Everything is dead there and nothing is alive.
Not everyone who lives to be old embraces
the publicity of it all. I mean, you get up and folks
want to know, How did you get here? What makes you
go? What is the secret? And there is no secret except
there are many things that build the years out.
They are not vegetables every day and working out
but a faith that all of these things add up
and lead us to some sum total happiness
we can cash in for forever love in the face
of never lasting. That people along the way
keep disappearing in a variety show of deathbed ways
is also the sheer terror that it may not hold for us too.
That we may outlast everything and be left
alone to keep going, never Icarus with wax melting,
never the one whose smoke & drink undid
the lungs that pull our wings in then out and the liver
that keeps chugging the heft of Elizabeth Cotten’s
“Freight Train” with her upside down left hand guitar still
playing in videos past her presence. I have become a person since
I reorganized my face in the mirror and the world is my inflation.
But this testament offers no sound or silence since
nothing is proven yet and you are still here,
the dead stars’ light landing on your rods and cones
in a vitrine of cameos building—blink.
Copyright © 2017 by Amy King. Originally published in Poem-a-Day on August 16, 2017, by the Academy of American Poets.
To everything, there is a season of parrots. Instead of feathers, we searched the sky for meteors on our last night. Salamanders use the stars to find their way home. Who knew they could see that far, fix the tiny beads of their eyes on distant arrangements of lights so as to return to wet and wild nests? Our heads tilt up and up and we are careful to never look at each other. You were born on a day of peaches splitting from so much rain and the slick smell of fresh tar and asphalt pushed over a cracked parking lot. You were strong enough—even as a baby—to clutch a fistful of thistle and the sun himself was proud to light up your teeth when they first swelled and pushed up from your gums. And this is how I will always remember you when we are covered up again: by the pale mica flecks on your shoulders. Some thrown there from your own smile. Some from my own teeth. There are not enough jam jars to can this summer sky at night. I want to spread those little meteors on a hunk of still-warm bread this winter. Any trace left on the knife will make a kitchen sink like that evening air
the cool night before
star showers: so sticky so
warm so full of light
Copyright © 2017 by Aimee Nezhukumatathil. Originally published in Poem-a-Day on August 7, 2017, by the Academy of American Poets.
Phones were ringing
in the pockets of the living
and the dead
the living stepped carefully among.
The whole still room
was lit with sound—like a switchboard—
and those who could answer
said hello. Then
it was just the dead, the living
trapped inside their bloody clothes
ringing and ringing them—
and this was
the best image we had
of what made us a nation.
Copyright © 2017 by Wayne Miller. Originally published in Poem-a-Day on August 9, 2017, by the Academy of American Poets.
Here you go
light low and long
in the fields
at sunset and sunrise
a doubled existence
yours and the other one
folded into a paper boat
the points of which
That the deepest wound is the least unique
surprises nobody but the living.
Secretly, and with what feels like good reason,
we’re the pain the people we love
put the people they no longer love in.
Copyright © 2017 by Graham Foust. Originally published in Poem-a-Day on September 5, 2017, by the Academy of American Poets.
Copyright © 2017 by Kelli Russell Agodon. Originally published in Poem-a-Day on September 29, 2017, by the Academy of American Poets.
Copyright © 2017 by Jennifer Grotz. Originally published in Poem-a-Day on October 12, 2017, by the Academy of American Poets.
Copyright © 2017 by Matthew Yeager. Originally published in Poem-a-Day on October 18, 2017, by the Academy of American Poets.
Copyright © 2017 by Lynn Melnick. Originally published in Poem-a-Day on October 26, 2017, by the Academy of American Poets.
We trace the dust lines left behind from the appliances, fumble for the brick foundations between the steel beams, peer at serrated stairlines where the wall paints stopped. Reincarnated. Tenement apartments become dance spaces without barres or mirrors, in the dank basement of a bank on Market Street, in anonymous green-carpeted rooms on Mott Street.
Copyright © 2017 by Celina Su. Originally published in Poem-a-Day on October 5, 2017, by the Academy of American Poets.
Copyright © 2017 by Howard Altmann. Originally published in Poem-a-Day on October 23, 2017, by the Academy of American Poets.
Copyright © 2017 by Alex Manley. Originally published in Poem-a-Day on October 27, 2017, by the Academy of American Poets.
This poem is in the public domain.
I am taken with the hot animal
of my skin, grateful to swing my limbs
and have them move as I intend, though
my knee, though my shoulder, though something
is torn or tearing. Today, a dozen squid, dead
on the harbor beach: one mostly buried,
one with skin empty as a shell and hollow
feeling, and, though the tentacles look soft,
I do not touch them. I imagine they
were startled to find themselves in the sun.
I imagine the tide simply went out
without them. I imagine they cannot
feel the black flies charting the raised hills
of their eyes. I write my name in the sand:
Donika Kelly. I watch eighteen seagulls
skim the sandbar and lift low in the sky.
I pick up a pebble that looks like a green egg.
To the ditch lily I say I am in love.
To the Jeep parked haphazardly on the narrow
street I am in love. To the roses, white
petals rimmed brown, to the yellow lined
pavement, to the house trimmed in gold I am
in love. I shout with the rough calculus
of walking. Just let me find my way back,
let me move like a tide come in.
Copyright © 2017 by Donika Kelly. Originally published in Poem-a-Day on November 20, 2017, by the Academy of American Poets.
i know we exist because of what we make. my dad works at a steel mill. he worked at a steel mill my whole life. at the party, the liberal white woman tells me she voted for hillary & wishes bernie won the nomination. i stare in the mirror if i get too lonely. thirsty to see myself i once walked into the lake until i almost drowned. the white woman at the party who might be liberal but might have voted for trump smiles when she tells me how lucky i am. how many automotive components do you think my dad has made. you might drive a car that goes and stops because of something my dad makes. when i watch the news i hear my name, but never see my face. every other commercial is for taco bell. all my people fold into a $2 crunchwrap supreme. the white woman means lucky to be here and not mexico. my dad sings por tu maldito amor & i’m sure he sings to america. y yo caí en tu trampa ilusionado. the white woman at the party who may or may not have voted for trump tells me she doesn't meet too many mexicans in this part of new york city. my mouth makes an oh, but i don't make a sound. a waiter pushes his brown self through the kitchen door carrying hors d’oeuvres. a song escapes through the swinging door. selena sings pero ay como me duele & the good white woman waits for me to thank her.
Copyright © 2017 by José Olivarez. Originally published in Poem-a-Day on December 1, 2017, by the Academy of American Poets.