Until around sundown, the surviving
lilies in the yard stay wide open,
like the window of a car passing
on a hot day. No music from the flowers,
but they smell like somebody’s fragrant
soap unwrapped on a dish edged
with daisies. All those smells expressing
themselves haphazardly like a band
trying to tune up. Escape is what I’ve wanted
since I was little, cramped in summertime
Section 8: flowers everywhere,
my bird-legged brother a couple steps
back, my sister book-nosed somewhere
in the radius of us. Just a deciduous minute 
when the blossom of noises
was from my own AM radio & not my thin
stomach. No more backtalks, no more
slapbacks. Just a quick inhale before
I tiptoed out the front door. Unlatch, turn,
run away. Escape, as Indiana bats wheeled
up top, chirping sonorous somethings.
I ran under them & to the bus, past
those long-necked lilies, self-congratulatory
in their exploded colors. Their purples leaned
the way June does, their reds hot as the woman’s
attitude waiting at the bus stop while
the #17 scooted past without picking us up.

Copyright © 2024 by Adrian Matejka. Originally published in Poem-a-Day on April 19, 2024, by the Academy of American Poets. 

—after Ted Berrigan

Even on the 13th floor of a high building, Chicago’s 
wind winds its slick way through any unsecured 
window on its singsong to the lake. It’s fine-tuned, 

perfectly pitched in this sinister season 
of cackling jack-o’-lanterns & candy corns 
nobody eats unless they’re the last sweets left.

Bags of fun nonsense for all the little ninjas 
& ghosts. It’s true, I weep too much when 
the seasons partition: snack-sized tears dropping onto 

tear-sized leaves swirling in the autumn 
of my reproduction. Occasional receipts & parking 
tickets, too, yellowed during their own windy migrations. 

Like the rest of us gusty apparitions, every 
untethered thing ends up at the lake shore seasonally. 

Copyright © 2023 by Adrian Matejka. Originally published in Poem-a-Day on February 24, 2023, by the Academy of American Poets.

One for tree, two for woods,        
                                                            I-Goo wrote the characters           
                             Character  Character
                                               out for me. Dehiscent & reminiscent:
what wood made
                                               Ng Ng’s hope-chest

that she immigrated with
                                                                     —cargo from Guangzho

to Phoenix? In Spanish, Nana tells me

                                                           hope & waiting are one word.


In her own hand, she keeps
                                         a list of dichos—for your poems, she says.

Estan mas cerca los dientes
                      que los parentes, she recites her mother

& mother’s mother. It rhymes, she says.
                                   Dee-say—the verb with its sound turned
down looks like dice
                                              to throw & dice, to cut. Shift after shift,


she inspected the die of integrated circuits
                                       beneath an assembly line of microscopes—            

the connections over time
                                                        getting smaller & smaller.

                                                To enter words in order to see
                                                                             —Cecilia Vicuña

In the classroom, we learn iambic words
                                          that leaf on the board with diacritics—

about, aloft, aggrieved. What over years

          accrues within one’s words? What immanent
                                                                        sprung with what rhythm?

Agave—a lie in the lion, the maenad made mad

by Dionysus awoke to find her son
                                    dead by her hand. The figure is gaslit

even if anachronistic. Data & river banks—
           memory’s figure is often riparian.  I hear Llorona’s agony

echo in the succulent. What’s the circuit in cerca to short

          or rewire the far & close—to map
                                                   Ng Ng & I-Goo to Nana’s carpool?


I read a sprig of evergreen, a symbol
                                               of everlasting, is sometimes packed

with a new bride’s trousseau. It was thirteen years
before Yeh Yeh could bring
                                                Ng Ng & I-Goo over. Evergreen
& Empire were names of corner-stores
where they first worked—
                                             stores on corners of Nana’s barrio.

Chinito, Chinito! Toca la malaca
                                                             she might have sung in ’49

after hearing Don Tosti’s  
                                    recording—an l where the r would be

in the Spanish rattle filled with beans or seed or as
                                                                         the song suggests

change in the laundryman’s till.


I have read diviners
                       use stems of yarrow when consulting
                                                                                    the I-Ching.

What happens to the woods in a maiden name?

Two hyphens make a dash—
                                                the long signal in the binary code.
Attentive antennae: a monocot

—seed to single leaf—the agave store years
                                             for the stalk. My two grandmothers:
one’s name keeps a pasture,
                       the other a forest. If they spoke to one another,
it was with short, forced words
                                    like first strokes when sawing—
                                              trying to set the teeth into the grain.

Copyright © 2019 by Brandon Som. Originally published in Poem-a-Day on September 26, 2019, by the Academy of American Poets.