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
Contemplative ways
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

wind became
my additional lover.

His hand the inflorescence
one finger partially gone—

Lovegrass/
Panicgrass/
Witchgrass./

**

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.

**


Ajo lilies
now up to my waist.

What blackened
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
once across
once vertical
& 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
moving beneath
her skin as if you
knew that this
distance was
only temporary
& what a small
yet profound
joy it is to be some-
where that is not
with you but to
still be with you
& see your feet
dance beneath
her rib cage like
you knew we’d
both be dancing
together soon.

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
Everything twice
a doubled existence
two nows
two thens
two names
yours and the other one
also yours
folded into a paper boat
the points of which
constellate stars

Copyright © 2017 by Carl Adamshick. Originally published in Poem-a-Day on August 18, 2017, by the Academy of American Poets.

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.

If we never have enough love, we have more than most.
We have lost dogs in our neighborhood and wild coyotes, 
and sometimes we can’t tell them apart. Sometimes
we don’t want to. Once I brought home a coyote and told
my lover we had a new pet. Until it ate our chickens.
Until it ate our chickens, our ducks, and our cat. Sometimes
we make mistakes and call them coincidences. We hold open
the door then wonder how the stranger ended up in our home.
There is a woman on our block who thinks she is feeding bunnies, 
but they are large rats without tails. Remember the farmer’s wife?
Remember the carving knife? We are all trying to change 
what we fear into something beautiful. But even rats need to eat.
Even rats and coyotes and the bones on the trail could be the bones
on our plates. I ordered Cornish hen. I ordered duck. Sometimes 
love hurts. Sometimes the lost dog doesn’t want to be found.
 

Copyright © 2017 by Kelli Russell Agodon. Originally published in Poem-a-Day on September 29, 2017, by the Academy of American Poets.

What had been treacherous the first time 
had become second nature, releasing 
the emergency brake, then rolling backwards 
in little bursts, braking the whole way down
the long steep drive. Back then 
we lived on the top of a hill.
 
I was leaving—the thing we both knew 
and didn’t speak of all summer. While you 
were at work, I built a brown skyline of boxes, 
sealed them with a roll of tape 
that made an incessant ripping sound.
We were cheerful at dinner and unusually kind.
At night we slept under a single sheet,
our bodies a furnace if curled together.
 
It was July. I could feel my pupils contract
when I went outside. Back then I thought only about 
how you wouldn’t come with me. 
Now I consider what it took for you to help me go. 
On that last day. When I stood
in a wrinkled dress with aching arms.
When there was only your mouth at my ear 
whispering to get in the truck, then wait 
until I was calm enough to turn the key. 
 
Only then did we know. How it felt 
to have loved to the end, and then past the very end.
 
What did you do, left up there in the empty house?
I don’t know why. I 
don’t know how we keep living 
in a world that never explains why. 
 

Copyright © 2017 by Jennifer Grotz. Originally published in Poem-a-Day on October 12, 2017, by the Academy of American Poets.

When I see you after so long not 
seeing you it is like picking up in
side a fist the flopped red petals of 
a drooped red rose, and when you
speak in the voice that could only be
yours it is like staring into my fist 
top's opening and seeing the rose 
as the rose once was. This is not just 
to say that the swirl and sweetness 
soon flops back open to what now is, 
though it does, but that when I see 
you after so long not seeing you 
I make sense of my feeling in terms
of the rose, and carry it past goodbye.  
 

Copyright © 2017 by Matthew Yeager. Originally published in Poem-a-Day on October 18, 2017, by the Academy of American Poets.

A shattered bottle tore through my hand last month and split 
a vein until every finger was purple and I couldn’t
 
make even a tentative fist. I used the other hand to indicate
 
I’m okay. 
 
How unwise I am, how polite in a crisis.
In triage, an overheard photo of someone’s lover 
 
almost 3000 miles west made me seize with longing 
when I spied a palm tree in the background.
 
I understand what it says about me 
that my body lustfully wishes to place itself where it was never safe.
 
I have put enormous energy into trying to convince you I’m fine and
 
I’m just about there, no? 
 
Besides, decades on, poorly healed bones help me to predict rain!
though it’s true I like to verify weather
 
with another source because I tend not to believe myself.
I’ve been told repeatedly that I don’t understand plot but
 
it would be a clever twist, wouldn’t it, if in the end 
I realize it’s me who does me in.
 

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.

We were searching for 
ourselves, after logic 
for no good reason, 
jumping fires to take 
the heat for walking, 
wishing the blue night 
not to fall into the blue 
sky and darken what 
remained. We were 
holding on to music, 
playing the solemn 
string the healing horn, 
rolling back the meadow 
to give innocence one 
more tumble, waiting 
for the breeze to send
the screen door slamming 
open. We were rushing 
with the sea of people 
tiding over curb and 
sidewalk, twilight running 
out of light, a city pacing 
its expansion into the sky, 
block by block, new 
views burying the old,
thinking not thinking 
about the dead. We were 
who we never thought 
we’d be, at the corner 
of expectation and desire, 
the world kind and un-
kind, the rabbits scared 
the palace in ruins,
language failing the earth
in transition, the infinite 
sky divided the clouds 
dispersing premonitions. 
Come evening come 
shade, float us to your 
constellation, let the void 
draw us still; the radiologist 
turn off her light and go.
 

Copyright © 2017 by Howard Altmann. Originally published in Poem-a-Day on October 23, 2017, by the Academy of American Poets.

When the pantheon crumbles, does gravity still work? 
What happens to the arcing satellites? What do you do 
when the high priests have hung up their mitres, when
the shepherd crooks have all gone straight, when the 
curtain is torn, the covenant broke, the tithes spilled all 
across the tiles? Which parishes do you frequent, whose 
statutes do you study, whose name is on your lips when 
you self-flagellate? To whom do you whisper your death
bed confession, alone in the dark, lying atop a certain hill, 
bleeding on a certain throne of thorns? What do you do 
when the sky opens? There are books about this, but 
none written from experience. Like how a baby’s first word
isn’t really its first word, just the first one that’s understood.
The process of rapprochement happens slowly, then all 
at once. Just like the apocalypse, which is unevenly 
distributed, but speeding up. Here we go. Into the breach.
 

Copyright © 2017 by Alex Manley. Originally published in Poem-a-Day on October 27, 2017, by the Academy of American Poets.

There is no denying
That it matters little,
When through a narrow door
We enter a room together,
Which goes after, which before.
 
Perhaps you are not dying:
Perhaps—there is no knowing—
I shall slip by and turn and laugh with you
Because it mattered so little,
The order of our going.
 

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.