I forgave myself for having had a youth. —Thom Gunn At the Fashion Square mall, back of Waldenbooks, I saw my younger self haunting the magazine rack. Ripping out pages of Blueboy, tucking them in a Trapper Keeper. Turn back. His eyes met mine, animal and brittle, a form of gratitude that a man kept his stare. Any man. I half-smiled some admission, and though he couldn’t see it coming, I excused him his acid jeans; two Swatch watches, two guards. He, I, must have been nineteen: sex was “safer” then— scribbles on the mall men’s room stall; malaise of saxophone and PSAs. How did I even learn how to live in 1991? Landlocked, cock-blocked, Spanish moss festering. I forgive him.
Copyright © 2018 by Randall Mann. Originally published in Poem-a-Day on June 1, 2018, by the Academy of American Poets.
I lie here thinking of you:—
the stain of love
is upon the world!
Yellow, yellow, yellow
it eats into the leaves,
smears with saffron
the horned branches that lean
against a smooth purple sky!
There is no light
only a honey-thick stain
that drips from leaf to leaf
and limb to limb
spoiling the colors
of the whole world—
you far off there under
the wine-red selvage of the west!
From A Books of Poems: Al Que Quiere! (The Four Seas Company, 1917).
Now, dear, it isn’t the bold things, Great deeds of valour and might, That count the most in the summing up of life at the end of the day. But it is the doing of old things, Small acts that are just and right; And doing them over and over again, no matter what others say; In smiling at fate, when you want to cry, and in keeping at work when you want to play— Dear, those are the things that count. And, dear, it isn’t the new ways Where the wonder-seekers crowd That lead us into the land of content, or help us to find our own. But it is keeping to true ways, Though the music is not so loud, And there may be many a shadowed spot where we journey along alone; In flinging a prayer at the face of fear, and in changing into a song a groan— Dear, these are the things that count. My dear, it isn’t the loud part Of creeds that are pleasing to God, Not the chant of a prayer, or the hum of a hymn, or a jubilant shout or song. But it is the beautiful proud part Of walking with feet faith-shod; And in loving, loving, loving through all, no matter how things go wrong; In trusting ever, though dark the day, and in keeping your hope when the way seems long— Dear, these are the things that count.
This poem is in the public domain. Published in Poem-a-Day on June 3, 2018, by the Academy of American Poets.
he said describing the fantasy novel he was reading as they walked the drizzled streets she was listening & laughing & realized she’d been walking through one city or another next to this man for more than twenty years longer of course than their kids were old their smart alecky sons who hadn’t yet met the person with whom they might walk through rain discussing ridiculous books with great sincerity & pleasure Seriously he said I can’t stop reading it but when they went upstairs to the good bed in the good hotel he did stop reading & found a place where her shoulder met her neck & touched it until her mind finally went away for a while & they became bedraggled & he went out like a light but not even the good bed at the good hotel after good sex could put her to sleep not the meditation app or the long online essay about the White Supremacy of Conceptual Poetry she missed her dead mother & her middle-aged cousin who’d died the summer before she wondered if miles away her youngest was whimpering was her oldest awake texting was her middle son worrying she wanted the husband to tell her the plot again but didn’t want to wake him he lay over the covers on his back his breath audible & regular folded hands rising & falling peaceful & fearless as if she’d never once meant him harm as if she’d always loved this warm animal as if this were not the same summer she’d said If that’s really how you feel this isn’t going to last & he hadn’t said anything anger sadness doubt & disappointment was a wave that slapped them down & under so many people had died & life felt shorter than how long they’d been together they had through so many omissions & commissions hurt & been hurt it was that same summer but she was alive & awake he was asleep & alive they were weak but still there
Copyright © 2018 by Rachel Zucker. Originally published in Poem-a-Day on June 4, 2018, by the Academy of American Poets.
The diagnosis was god, twice a day until the spirit untangles itself. I took a trip into unscripted days past, teenagers submit to the window an open facing yawn. A walnut fell into the grave of my loved one and stayed there beating patient like a word. I was still unmoved by disbelief watching my father mumble the pledge and hot white stars he can’t remember. Nobody got hurt, some un- fulfilled potential exits the room. Enter, knowledge. Men came to dispel ambiguity and raced my intention to a hard boiling over. Each new decade we stayed was a misinterpretation of genre. We showed our teeth over the years to those who would listen. In the face of the absent subject I felt my desire go flaccid. The leaves fell dutifully one by one from their limbs. But I wrote to you against all odds. Money. Paperwork. Love’s heavy open door. Critique. Indignity. Vision and often enough time.
Copyright © 2018 by Wendy Xu. Originally published in Poem-a-Day on June 5, 2018, by the Academy of American Poets.
QUANTUM STATE OF THE CONFLICT DIAMOND
STILL THROWING FIRE FROM THE PAGES OF YOUR NOTEBOOKS 1
At the harbor, in the smallest hour of this (Death stuff for sure), this softly tendered now, the Youngest Day, this silvery clarion blast: I have no distance. Free flow if you can through your very own little reckoning: 10 yrs. ago today, as of this attosecond: this area is not me. For I am sick unto death of your single deranged sense, so much light leaking away @2 minutes_ to_ midnight, that I feel outside my body just before the factory steam whistle has blasted all 3 of us away. As of that blooming, 2 minutes from here, 10 years away, you’re my only witness. & I’m yours, seconds from this drowned quantum (I feel fragmented) in which we’ve been entangled for years, seconds, days ago, forever. All I did was sink into my own brain which sucks the orange pregnant moonlight out of our wept corners, body inanimate, damp, dead— continue to bleed us into these saturated rooms. For I feel foreclosed. I feel you collapsed on the quiver, on the dive, on the sink. I feel edited but I don’t have the access code. For you tug at my trigger-finger just so. For the second shift of bodies has been long underway . . .
It’s Sunday night, Feb. 12, 1994 It’s been zero degrees all weekend. I’ve been having a lot of strange fantasies about buying a .38 special at a pawn shop. I’ll cut out the middle of some secret old book where it can be hidden.
Copyright © 2018 by Sam Witt. Originally published in Poem-a-Day on June 6, 2018, by the Academy of American Poets.
One morning the spirit of my lover’s uncle returned
there was no fanfare no terror only a blue silhouette
translucent above our bed growing dim
I was the sole witness to this specter quiet
as the rising sun waking overhead I awakened
cold to see an Aegean blue figure hovering bedside
through his gaze and mustachioed grin
on the other side of his face a dazzling tremolo
of morning light streamed into this darkened space
and later that evening as we moved
through the neighborhood streets dead with aging trees
frozen sidewalks led us freely into the moonlight ahead
Copyright © 2018 by Ruben Quesada. Originally published in Poem-a-Day on June 7, 2018, by the Academy of American Poets.
Why does this written doe bound through these written woods?
My handwriting is all over these woods.
No, my handwriting is these woods,
each tree a half-print, half-cursive scrawl,
each loop a limb. My house is somewhere
here, & I have scribbled myself inside it.
What is home but a book we write, then
read again & again, each time dog-earing
different pages. In the morning I wake
in time to pencil the sun high. How
fragile it is, the world—I almost wrote
the word but caught myself. Either one
could be erased. In these written woods,
branches smudge around me whenever
I take a deep breath. Still, written fawns
lie in the written sunlight that dapples
their backs. What is home but a passage
I’m writing & underlining every time I read it.
Copyright © 2018 by Maggie Smith. Originally published in Poem-a-Day on June 8, 2018, by the Academy of American Poets.
Beyond the cheat of Time, here where you died, you live; You pace the garden walk, secure and sensitive; You linger on the stair: Love’s lonely pulses leap! The harpsichord is shaken, the dogs look up from sleep. Here, after all the years, you keep the heirdom still; The youth and joy in you achieve their olden will, Unbidden, undeterred, with waking sense adored; And still the house is happy that hath so dear a lord. To every inmate heart, confirmed in cheer you brought, Your name is as a spell midway of speech and thought, And to a wonted guest (not awestruck heretofore), The sunshine that was you floods all the open door.
This poem is in the public domain. Published in Poem-a-Day on June 9, 2018, by the Academy of American Poets.
I saw in Louisiana a live-oak growing, All alone stood it and the moss hung down from the branches, Without any companion it grew there uttering joyous leaves of dark green, And its look, rude, unbending, lusty, made me think of myself, But I wonder’d how it could utter joyous leaves standing alone there without its friend near, for I knew I could not, And I broke off a twig with a certain number of leaves upon it, and twined around it a little moss, And brought it away, and I have placed it in sight in my room, It is not needed to remind me as of my own dear friends, (For I believe lately I think of little else than of them,) Yet it remains to me a curious token, it makes me think of manly love; For all that, and though the live-oak glistens there in Louisiana solitary in a wide flat space, Uttering joyous leaves all its life without a friend a lover near, I know very well I could not.
This poem is in the public domain. Published in Poem-a-Day on June 10, 2018, by the Academy of American Poets.
For Sylvia Marlowe Out of her left hand fled the stream, from her right the rain puckered the surface, drop by drop, the current splayed in a downward daze until it hit the waterfall, churned twigs and leaves, smashed foam over stone: from her fingers slid eddies, bubbles rose, the fugue heaved up against itself, against its own falling: digressed in curlicues under shadowed banks, around root tangles and beaver-gnawed sticks. She had the face of a pike, the thrusting lower jaw and silvered eye, pure drive. The form fulfilled itself through widowhood, her skin mottled with shingles, hands crooked, a pain I fled. Now that tempered tumult moves my time into her timing. Far beyond her dying, my tinnitus, I am still through the thrum of voices trying to hear.
Copyright © 2018 by Rosanna Warren. Originally published in Poem-a-Day on June 11, 2018, by the Academy of American Poets.
Poem in which I have wisdom. Poem in which I have a father. Poem in which I care. Poem in which I am from another country. Poem in which I Spanish. Poem in which flowers are important. Poem in which I make pretty gestures. Poem in which I am a Deceptacon. Poem in which I am a novelist. Poem in which I use trash. Poem in which I am a baby. Poem in which I swaddle. Poem in which I bathe. Poem in which I am a box. Poem in which its face is everything. Poem in which faces are everywhere. Poem in which I swear. Poem in which I take an oath. Poem in which I make a joke. Poem in which I can’t move.
Copyright © 2018 by Paola Capó-García. Originally published in Poem-a-Day on June 12, 2018, by the Academy of American Poets.
What makes a voice distinct? What special quality makes it indelible? Yours is plaintive, as any singer of torch songs must be, yet endowed with confidence, and fully in command. Deep and resonant, a bit husky if you like. A voice that rises— or skyrockets, rather—from a wellspring of pure emotion. Manically infatuated in “I Only Want to Be with You.” Desperate to keep your lover from leaving in “Stay Awhile.” Despondent in “I Just Don’t Know What to Do with Myself” and “You Don’t Have to Say You Love Me.” All cried out in “All Cried Out.” But then amazingly on the rebound in “Brand New Me.” I hear your voice, Dusty, and I am instantly whisked back in time, not quite a teenager all over again, full of longing and confusion, listening to your latest hit on my red plastic transistor radio on a mid-sixties Los Angeles suburban summer afternoon. Twice in my life, I found myself in the same room as you. Can one fathom anything more miraculous? The first time was in 1983, late November, in the basement of a church in Los Feliz, around the corner from where I lived. Sober only a few weeks, I watched you approach the podium, but didn’t realize who you were until you identified yourself as “Dusty S.” For the next twenty minutes, you told us the story of your drinking. How early in your career, backstage before a performance, one of the Four Tops handed you your first drink, vodka. How smoothly it went down and loosened you up, lit you from within, gave you enough courage to go out on stage, into that blinding spot, and sing like no one else. The alcohol eventually stopped working— it always does, that brand of magic is transient— and here you were, two decades later, sober and clean and still singing, so to speak, before a live audience. In my youth, your words had come over the radio and stirred feelings of heartbreak and infatuation. Now they inspired me to keep coming back. The second time, 1987, four years sober, at a more upscale meeting at Cedars-Sinai in West Hollywood, I sat directly behind you. It was hard to breathe being in such close proximity. I didn’t hear a word the speaker said. During his drunkalog, I slowly, surreptitiously, moved the toe of my white high-top until it touched the back of your folding chair. Then said a little prayer. I hoped (should I be embarrassed admitting this?) that some of your stardust might travel down the metal leg of your chair, like a lightning rod, and be passed on to me. It’s after midnight again, Dusty, half a century since, on a suburban lawn or alone in my room, I suffered through hits by Paul Revere & the Raiders and Herman’s Hermits, just to experience two or three minutes of your sultry voice. I’m on YouTube again, watching the black-and-white video of you singing “I Only Want to Be with You.” Your 1964 appearance on some teen variety show. I’ve viewed it innumerable times, but it’s always exciting to see you dance out of the darkness into the round spotlight, exuberant as the song’s intro, arms outspread, in a chiffon cocktail dress and high heels, your platinum hair, sprayed perfectly in place, as bright and shiny as the moon. Midway through the song—the instrumental bridge—you turn and sashay around the edge of the spotlight, the ruffled hem of your chiffon dress twisting with your hips and intricate footwork. Circle circling circle: your full backlit hair orbiting the pool of white light in the center of the stage. I watch this again and again, like Bashō’s moon walking around the pond all night long.
Copyright © 2018 by David Trinidad. Originally published in Poem-a-Day on June 13, 2018, by the Academy of American Poets.
Say despite all the churches with their unlocked doors and outstretched strangers’ palmskin, I hungered still —squandered when, fell through like a crumb, I sat waiting for discovery or disintegration—something marvelous teething at the surface—a crumb, devotional, religious ecstatic closer to being worthy Desire me ruthless and naked but still in my Sunday dress you opened the window—we humid and slept open into dreaming, yes, conduit. Conduit or nothing. Conduit or bust. Nothing or busted. Hug the breakwater’s edge more the grit, my fingers—whorl, the inches of all concrete make miles of this low, walled city. Pretend expansive with me like ocean. River. Lake. Bodies.
Copyright © 2018 by Jerika Marchan. Originally published in Poem-a-Day on June 14, 2018, by the Academy of American Poets.
If there’s one true thing, it’s that Google will make money off us no matter what. If we want to know what percentage of America is white (as it seems we do) what percentage of the population is gay (as it seems we do) what percentage of the earth is water: the engine is ready for our desire. The urgent snow is everywhere is a line by Edna St. Vincent Millay, and many have asked, apparently, where am I right now. Also when will I die. Do you love me may be up there, generating high cost-per-click, but not as high as how to make pancakes, what time is it in California. So many things I wanted to ask you, now that you’re gone, and your texts bounce back to me undeliverable. Praise to the goddess of the internet search, who returns with her basket of grain, 67,000 helpful suggestions to everything we request: how to solve a Rubik’s Cube, what to do when you’re bored, how old is the earth, how to clear cache, what animal am I, why do we dream, where are you now, come back.
Copyright © 2018 by Rachel Richardson. Originally published in Poem-a-Day on June 15, 2018, by the Academy of American Poets.
There is tropical warmth and languorous life
Where the roses lie
In a tempting drift
Of pink and red and golden light
Untouched as yet by the pruning knife.
And the still, warm life of the roses fair
That whisper "Come,"
Of sweet caresses, close and pure
Has a thorny whiff in the perfumed air.
There are thorns and love in the roses’ bed,
And Satan too
Must linger there;
So Satan’s wiles and the conscience stings,
Must now abide—the roses are dead.
This poem is in the public domain. Published in Poem-a-Day on June 16, 2018, by the Academy of American Poets.
Sundays too my father got up early
and put his clothes on in the blueblack cold,
then with cracked hands that ached
from labor in the weekday weather made
banked fires blaze. No one ever thanked him.
I’d wake and hear the cold splintering, breaking.
When the rooms were warm, he’d call,
and slowly I would rise and dress,
fearing the chronic angers of that house,
Speaking indifferently to him,
who had driven out the cold
and polished my good shoes as well.
What did I know, what did I know
of love’s austere and lonely offices?
Copyright © 1966 by Robert Hayden, from Collected Poems of Robert Hayden, edited by Frederick Glaysher. Used by permission of Liveright Publishing Corporation.
the black bird stripped off their feathers they issued the jubilee of plenary indulgence in eucharistic communion expressing effects of anxieties intercessed and intersexed the black bird stripped off their feathers and threw themselves into a thicket of thorns protected by presence of viper and crown a sacramental medal of uncertain origin the poison was offered the glass was broken they issued the jubilee of plenary indulgence the black bird stripped off their feathers
Copyright © 2018 by Chip Livingston. Originally published in Poem-a-Day on June 18, 2018, by the Academy of American Poets.
It turns out however that I was deeply Mistaken about the end of the world The body in flames will not be the body In flames but just a house fire ignored The black sails of that solitary burning Boat rubbing along the legs of lovers Flung into a Roman sky by a carousel The lovers too sick in their love To notice a man drenched in fire on a porch Or a child aflame mistaken for a dog Mistaken for a child running to tell of a bomb That did not knock before it entered In Gaza with its glad tidings of abundant joy In Kazimierz a god is weeping In a window one golden hand raised Above his head as if he’s slipped On the slick rag of the future our human Kindnesses unremarkable as the flies Rubbing their legs together while standing On a slice of cantaloupe Children You were never meant to be human You must be the grass You must grow wildly over the graves
Copyright © 2018 by Roger Reeves. Originally published in Poem-a-Day on June 19, 2018, by the Academy of American Poets.
with David Rothenberg, Nicola Hein, George Lewis, Dafna Naphtali, Andrew Drury, Tanya Kalmanovich, Hans Tammen, Sarah Weaver, David Grubbs, and Ally-Jane Grossan
Logistics sounds like a work song. The bottom anticipates and tills and then it’s time to turn over. This limbned, uncoordinated independence is anagnostic. Flesh touches. I am because we are is some bullshit. I ain’t because we sh
are air lore, more notes on Auto da Fé’s blacking of the presence of an absence. The abyss between frames, that dehiscence, indicates this refusal either to fuse or choose between tearing and binding, a careful preservation of wounding. The whole fade in a shuffle it projects and prepares, a soufflé of angles, a palimpsest of snares and rides, some continually hidden h, a heft of air, a thievish shift carnival, a tufted shear, a shhhh of whirr and bookfan. We wear a fan of books, page over other kissing inside lip to disappear into another outside in coming into view. We all come from nothing to hard tone row and that cool move, chafing against the new phasis of the history of displacement, sound like it got a three on it to me. Blackness is the revelation of that which makes a people uncertain, unclear and awry in its action and knowledge. I think I been thinking ‘bout that for ‘bout thirty years, Krupa become Krupskaya having lost their aura, but when I get a chance I ask Scott La Rock why I start to think and then I sink into the paper like I was ink, like I was a Chinese painter in the hold of the beholding. The zero degree is what he says; she says nothing in reply, a festival, irreparable. The age of quantum mechanical reproduction is giving tune away to rise. Collaborate elaboration, William. Infinite consanguinity, Dumbo. Fleeta Drum came with us, brought something with him, brought a swing with her to fold the document. Can improvisation be documented? Has it ever been? Lemme ask Scott when I see him—see if improvisation can be revised. Scott, can improvisation be revised? That’s an arctic jazz question, regarding whales and, further inland, elephants, and saxophone kids, non-expert users, autodidactic squirrels in task decomposition. Is there an analogy between improvisation and optimization, affirmation and ingardenation on improvisational gardening? What’s the Greek word for “reading”? Which is the point of all this rub and cyclone, when the eye falls into plenitude in a series of caressive abuse and kisses, oikopolitics and storms, good and bad time weather in a tore up propagation of clicks, which is when I realized you’d prepared the back of our throat for a speech about the tragic ship, the interminable line to it and the endless line from it, woodskin, wind’s skin, wound and drumbone, bowed, time to stay, string, till poise come back for poise, for our unsupported method and post-sculptural stuttering and non-purposive black massive hymn and sold, celebratory subcanadian scotchplain, plummets of bird patterning, the scotchirish hazarding of north ideas, habitually prenational birds, field recordings of syncrudescent birds flew down to tailing in the good and bad time weather, bird in the collective head of mama’nem at the blues university, Clyde’n’mama’nem and her and ask and think a digital conference of the birds, viola, ‘cause music is the fruit of love and earth and nobody gon’ buy it anyway, for there is nothing lost, that may be found in these findings, by these foundlings, driving ‘round vising and revisiting in the inescapable history of not being you. Our name is unnameable in this regard and miles ahead, feeling what you can’t see all incompletely. The half-fullness of your glasses makes you wanna make the word go away but you do have a capacity for massage that gives me hope. In the delicate evening software, I can understand Russell Westbrook. It’s ulmeric, oliveirian, in its unfirewalled all over the placelessness. We gig everywhere and it just makes me wanna giggle, or holler at you from way over here, party over there, if you can wait, we being behind the beat a little bit but right at the beguining, gynomonastically basic and maternal earth tones all out from the tone world, deep in the bass loom, twilight weaving morning in La Jolla/moonlight in Vermont someplace, some folks parking, some just getting dressed, everybody waiting with everybody for right now in right there, party over here. Well moled, old Grubbs! We all here in the ruins but we got something in our hands—an experimental bandcamp for news and flowers. And I appreciate y’all letting me sit in, being so far from virtuosity. I wanna be communicable from way back. I wanna be in your base community, grace abounding to the chief of sinners. Remember that song by the Spinners called “Sadie”? The one on Spinners Live! where he reverted—that contrapulsive, not just knee-deep conversioning he got caught up in? Soul Wynne was sewing that night. It was like he had a drum in his chest, just to let you know that nothing lasts forever. The improvisation of forgetting is redactive flow everyday with all these voices in our head. These are always revising herself. One said they told us to be Germanic so, with great surprise, we took a picture of your tech with yourself, our constraint, and it was undecidable between us but plantational, since we the police of different voices, to be your instrument in this sovereign fade. Go back and look at it again when we fade a little bit, when invention won’t let us come up on it from behind. I don’t know my own stuff well enough to mix it right now, but we been remixing it all along past the everyday fade. Mama’nem are the different voices in your head. Are you gon’ play me now? I wan be played with you. I wanna be down with you. My code voice is Stanley Clarke, rajautomatic mixive for the people’s quartet, no way to control it, can’t caul it, won’t be covered, some uncoverable cuvée, girl, some prekripkean cupcake, causally unnameable as that Krupa keep coming back, tense but casually anafrican. Scott says the Greek word for reading is writing. It could be, I don’t know. I’m undecidable between us but you can ring my bell. The night is young and full of possibilities, the only trace of which, when I go back, is how I sound for you from one diffusion to another, as if the room were our hijab, as if we were a roomful of people writing about Cecil Taylor, as if writing about Cecil were reading James Cone, as if I were Sharon Cone’s escort to Cecil’s going home, as if we were the temporary contemporary—air above mountains, buildings in our hands.
Copyright © 2018 by Fred Moten. Originally published in Poem-a-Day on June 20, 2018, by the Academy of American Poets.
&the shine in the small
to the boy
w you &
let me love
Copyright © 2018 by Eileen Myles. Originally published in Poem-a-Day on June 21, 2018, by the Academy of American Poets.
where the sea circles around the island in a star pattern – where in the center of grieving we are disoriented, skinless – where I wade into the field . . . the scent of sun on wheat – where the horses bow in & out, kick up a hoof, satisfied, perhaps, in their available bodies – where I’ve located a tiny refuge : the horizontal view from the house on stilts – where we hide the part of us that shudders, without a script – where in grief, even our own stories feel vacant – where you hear yourself telling the story & at the same time you think that’s not it, that’s really not it – where the ice plants glow in a translucent bandage across the cliff face – where impermanence is the direct expression of emptiness & emptiness is the best description of reality – where you wake from sleep to see someone leaving, but only the drape of their scarf across their back – if grief is a shining fruit
Copyright © 2018 by Gabriel Jesiolowski. Originally published in Poem-a-Day on June 22, 2018, by the Academy of American Poets.
All that I dream
By day or night
Lives in that stream
Of lovely light.
Here is the earth,
And there is the spire;
This is my hearth,
And that is my fire.
From the sun's dome
I am shouted proof
That this is my home,
And that is my roof.
Here is my food,
And here is my drink,
And I am wooed
From the moon's brink.
And the days go over,
And the nights end;
Here is my lover,
Here is my friend.
All that I
Could ever ask
Wears that sky
Like a thin gold mask.
This poem is in the public domain. Published in Poem-a-Day on June 23, 2018, by the Academy of American Poets.
For Amy Lowell
We walked through garden closes
Languidly, with dragging Sunday feet,
And passed down a long pleached alley,
And could remember, as one remembers in a fairy tale,
Ladies in brocade, and lovers, and musk.
We surprised tall dahlias
That shrugged and turned scarlet faces to the breeze.
Further still we sauntered under old trees that bended with such a dignity
But hardly acknowledged our passing
Until at last—(and it was like a gift,
A treasure lifted from a dream of the past)
We came to a pond banded in lindens.
The bank curved under its crown of forget-me-nots;
They shone like blue jewels from the further shore.
And they were free! I could have had them all
To gather and to carry in my arms!
But I took only a few,
Seven blue gems,
To set in the gold of my memory.
This poem is in the public domain. Published in Poem-a-Day on June 24, 2018, by the Academy of American Poets.
Say your body’s
life-size trip clock
starts in schlep
on the down slope.
Then the long hand
slaloms you steep
as your face tocks
the take of nine-to-five.
It’s just your timing
and mindset that’s semi-
rattled, and everyone
comes to the skit a little
pusillanimous to begin.
What is a kind of
the ancestors’ DNA
in full wig effect,
frizzy edges crimped,
oblivious to wind.
Are you really inside
that mirror slice?
Pacing over past
junkets still, a hybrid
a being strange to be,
like that griffen
who slips so casual
onto someone else’s
map of laughing tropic
locales. Friend, look hard.
Mix. Step out. The center
bit by bit gets beiged.
You are one hundred
In the hemi is the how.
Copyright © 2018 by Pimone Triplett. Originally published in Poem-a-Day on June 25, 2018, by the Academy of American Poets.
Silence isn’t stillness, agitation has me in its grip remember reading Greeks were like us restless underneath and again underneath water wearing away crevices the itch of canyons skin I didn’t outgrow as the doctor promised burns hot and stinging allergic to what I bring to it allergic to what I’m thinking how much older the underpass is filled to overflowing blue-tented absence corners with the leftover plastic and cardboard happens so fast it isn’t even my heart that’s broken, time stealing & leaking the blue cold what it would have been to be Greek no cortisone a body historians also thought women leaky restless for what out of one’s own skin a future they never knew who’d have thought a daily underpass so many leftovers pizza fries near the parking what skin did we come wrapped in
Copyright © 2018 by Martha Ronk. Originally published in Poem-a-Day on June 26, 2018, by the Academy of American Poets.
Do you want to come in? Take a deep breath. The repo man is gone. All I had to do was show him My favorite gun And tell him about My conviction That a shame-faced galaxy Mutters a homily of return. The repo man will return With back-up So I promoted the orphan To vagabond. Why do you think they call it The chain of command? Writing out of fear— That razzle-dazzle Of shackles and manacles Makes angels cry, And, admit it, That’s what you wanted. My first angel came In a haze of Alice blue That emanated From a dulcimer she cradled But did not play. She did a little angel jig And turned away. I guess all angels are sad-eyed, Like you. Do you want to come in? Take a deep breath. Everything is about to happen.
When they finished burying me, what was left of me
sent up a demand like a hand blooming in the fresh dirt:
When I’m back, I want a body like a slash of lightning.
If they heard me, I couldn’t hear their answers.
But silence has never stopped me from praying.
Alive, how many nights did I spend knelt between
the knees of gods and men begging for rain, rent,
and reasons to remain? A body like the sky seeking
justice. A body like light reaching right down into the field
where you thought you could hide from me.
They’ve taken their bald rose stems and black umbrellas
home now. They’ve cooked for one another, sung hymns
as if they didn’t prefer jazz. I’m just a memory now.
But history has never stopped me from praying.
Copyright © 2018 by Saeed Jones. Originally published in Poem-a-Day on June 28, 2018, by the Academy of American Poets.
Dear Empire, I am confused each time I wake inside you.
You invent addictions.
Are you a high-end graveyard or a child?
I see your children dragging their brains along.
Why not a god who loves water and dancing
instead of mirrors that recite your pretty features only?
You wear a different face to each atrocity.
You are un-unified and tangled.
Are you just gluttony?
Are you civilization’s slow grenade?
I am confused each time I’m swallowed by your doors.
Copyright © 2018 by Jesús Castillo. Originally published in Poem-a-Day on June 29, 2018, by the Academy of American Poets.
We lay in shade diaphanous And spoke the light that burns in us As in the glooming’s net I caught her, She shimmered like reflected water! Romantic and emphatic moods Are not for her whom life eludes... Its vulgar tinsel round her fold? She'd rather shudder with the cold, Attend just this elusive hour, A shadow in a shadow bower, A moving imagery so fine, It must have been her soul near mine And so we blended and possessed Each in each the phantom guest, Inseparate, we scarcely met; Yet other love-nights we forget!
This poem is in the public domain. Published in Poem-a-Day on June 30, 2018, by the Academy of American Poets.