How sad, how glad,
The Christmas morn!
Some say, “To-day
Dear Christ was born,
And hope and mirth
Flood all the earth;
Who would be sad
This Christmas morn.”
How glad, how sad,
The Christmas morn!
“To-day,” some say
Dear Christ was born,
But oh! He died;
Who could be glad
This Christmas morn!
Or glad, or sad,
This Christmas morn,
To some will come
A joy new-born.
The fleeting breath
To some bring death,—
How glad, how sad
This Christmas morn.
This poem was published in In the Land of Fancy and Other Poems (F. T. Neely, 1902). This poem is in the public domain.
It should be difficult,
always difficult, rising
from bed each morning,
against gravity, against
dreams, which weigh
like the forgotten names
of remembered faces.
But some days it’s
easy, nothing, to rise,
to feed, to work, to
commit the small graces
that add up to love,
to family, to memory,
finally to life, or
what one would choose
to remember of it, not
those other leaden
mornings when sleep
is so far preferable
to pulling over one’s
head the wet shirt
of one’s identity again,
the self one had been
honing or fleeing
all these years,
one’s fine, blessed
self, one’s only,
which another day fills.
From The Trembling Answers. Copyright © 2017 by Craig Morgan Teicher. Used with the permission of BOA Editions.
Never mind the distances traveled, the companion
she made of herself. The threadbare twenties not
to be underestimated. A wild depression that ripped
from January into April. And still she sprouts an appetite.
Insisting on edges and cores, when there were none.
Relationships annealed through shared ambivalences.
Pages that steadied her. Books that prowled her
until the hard daybreak, and for months after.
Separating new vows from the old, like laundry whites.
Small losses jammed together so as to gather mass.
Stored generations of filtered quietude.
And some stubbornness. Tangles along the way
the comb-teeth of the mind had to bite through, but for what.
She had trained herself to look for answers at eye level,
but they were lower, they were changing all the time.
From Eye Level (Graywolf Press, 2018). Copyright © 2018 by Jenny Xie. Used with the permission of Graywolf Press.
When I was a child I would run
through the backyard while my father
yanked dandelions, daisies, thistles, crabgrass,
mowed, rearranged the stones around the porch—
the task of men, though I didn’t know.
Blushed with cartoons and chocolate milk
one Saturday, I found a bee working
a dandelion for its treasure the way
only God’s creatures can, giving
and giving until all that is left
is the act itself—and there’s faith, too,
my mother used to say in her magnolia lilt.
It comes as it comes—there’s a road to follow.
When I swat the bee, I plea in triumph.
My father, knee-drenched in manhood,
grins and his gold tooth glistens a likely tale.
And when the bee stings my ear,
I run to him screaming as my mother
runs outside hearing her only child’s voice
peel back the wallpaper. She charms my ear
with kisses. This afternoon, I notice a bee
trapped inside the window as my mother
on the phone tries to still her voice
to say her mother has died. I wonder if he can
taste the sadness, the man on TV tells the other.
The bee is so calm. The room enlists
a fresh haunting, and the doorframe bothers.
To believe her when she says—
as the bouquet of yellow roses on the dresser
bows its head and the angles of my clay bloom
with fire—it’ll be okay, is my duty as son.
My mother sits in the hospital in San Antonio,
motherless—my mother is now a mother
without the longest love she’s ever known.
My mother who used to wake up
before the slap of sunrise with my father
to build new rooftops. My mother who wrote
“I pray you have a great day”
on stupid notes tucked in my lunchbox.
My mother who told the white woman
in Ross to apologize for bumping into me
as I knocked over a rack of pantyhose.
My mother who cried in Sea-Tac airport
as I walked through customs, yes-ing
the woman who asks, Is it his first time
moving from home? My mother who looks
at me with glinted simper when the pastor spouts
“disobedient children.” My mother who was told
at a young age she’d never give birth,
barren as she were. My mother, my mother.
What rises inside me, I imagine inside her, although
I’ve never had a mother leave this earth.
I’ve never been without love.
Copyright © 2020 by Luther Hughes. Originally published in Poem-a-Day on July 23, 2020, by the Academy of American Poets.
It’s a long way the sea-winds blow
Over the sea-plains blue,—
But longer far has my heart to go
Before its dreams come true.
It’s work we must, and love we must,
And do the best we may,
And take the hope of dreams in trust
To keep us day by day.
It’s a long way the sea-winds blow—
But somewhere lies a shore—
Thus down the tide of Time shall flow
My dreams forevermore.
This poem is in the public domain. Published in Poem-a-Day on August 22, 2020, by the Academy of American Poets.