Another word I love is evening
for the balance it implies, balance
being something I struggle with.
I suppose I would like to be more
a planet, turning in & out of light
It comes down again to polarities,
equilibrium. Evening. The moths
take the place of the butterflies,
owls the place of hawks, coyotes
for dogs, stillness for business,
& the great sorrow of brightness
makes way for its own sorrow.
Everything dances with its strict
negation, & I like that. I have no
choice but to like that. Systems
are evening out all around us—
even now, as we kneel before
a new & ruthless circumstance.
Where would I like to be in five
years, someone asks—& what
can I tell them? Surrendering
with grace to the evening, with
as much grace as I can muster
to the circumstance of darkness,
which is only something else
that does not stay.

Copyright © 2023 by Jeremy Radin. Originally published in Poem-a-Day on May 16, 2023, by the Academy of American Poets. 

           with some help from Ahmad

I wanna write lyrical, but all I got is magical.
My book needs a poem talkin bout I remember when
Something more autobiographical

Mi familia wanted to assimilate, nothing radical,
Each month was a struggle to pay our rent
With food stamps, so dust collects on the magical.

Each month it got a little less civil
Isolation is a learned defense
When all you wanna do is write lyrical.

None of us escaped being a criminal
Of the state, institutionalized when
They found out all we had was magical.

White room is white room, it’s all statistical—
Our calendars were divided by Sundays spent
In visiting hours. Cold metal chairs deny the lyrical.

I keep my genes in the sharp light of the celestial.
My history writes itself in sheets across my veins.
My parents believed in prayer, I believed in magical

Well, at least I believed in curses, biblical
Or not, I believed in sharp fists, 
Beat myself into lyrical.

But we were each born into this, anger so cosmical
Or so I thought, I wore ten chokers and a chain
Couldn’t see any significance, anger is magical.
Fists to scissors to drugs to pills to fists again

Did you know a poem can be both mythical and archeological?
I ignore the cataphysical, and I anoint my own clavicle.

Copyright © 2021 by Suzi F. Garcia. Originally published in Poem-a-Day on September 28, 2021, by the Academy of American Poets.

           with some help from Ahmad

I wanna write lyrical, but all I got is magical.
My book needs a poem talkin bout I remember when
Something more autobiographical

Mi familia wanted to assimilate, nothing radical,
Each month was a struggle to pay our rent
With food stamps, so dust collects on the magical.

Each month it got a little less civil
Isolation is a learned defense
When all you wanna do is write lyrical.

None of us escaped being a criminal
Of the state, institutionalized when
They found out all we had was magical.

White room is white room, it’s all statistical—
Our calendars were divided by Sundays spent
In visiting hours. Cold metal chairs deny the lyrical.

I keep my genes in the sharp light of the celestial.
My history writes itself in sheets across my veins.
My parents believed in prayer, I believed in magical

Well, at least I believed in curses, biblical
Or not, I believed in sharp fists, 
Beat myself into lyrical.

But we were each born into this, anger so cosmical
Or so I thought, I wore ten chokers and a chain
Couldn’t see any significance, anger is magical.
Fists to scissors to drugs to pills to fists again

Did you know a poem can be both mythical and archeological?
I ignore the cataphysical, and I anoint my own clavicle.

Copyright © 2021 by Suzi F. Garcia. Originally published in Poem-a-Day on September 28, 2021, by the Academy of American Poets.

The cry of the cicada
Gives us no sign
That presently it will die.

 

 

                                              —Translation by William George Aston

This poem is in the public domain.

Finding her hide we trailed 
                                    fingers down then against  
             grains of fur thrusting shoulders into its waxy skin. 

                                                                This is how she found us 
                           the past draped about us like a cloak 
hands separating peach halves from a core. 

                                   Her form in the sound 
a pandan leaf peeking through milk. The only seals in Vietnam: 
                                                                   American men with green faces.

Copyright © 2023 by Diana Khoi Nguyen. Originally published in Poem-a-Day on May 17, 2023, by the Academy of American Poets. 

translated from the German by James Weldon Johnson

Three students once tarried over the Rhine,
And into Frau Wirthin’s turned to dine.

“Say, hostess, have you good beer and wine?
And where is that pretty daughter of thine?”

“My beer and wine is fresh and clear.
My daughter lies on her funeral bier.”

They softly tipped into the room;
She lay there in the silent gloom.

The first the white cloth gently raised,
And tearfully upon her gazed.

“If thou wert alive, O, lovely maid,
My heart at thy feet would to-day be laid!”

The second covered her face again,
And turned away with grief and pain.

“Ah, thou upon thy snow-white bier!
And I have loved thee so many a year.”

The third drew back again the veil,
And kissed the lips so cold and pale.

“I’ve loved thee always, I love thee to-day,
And will love thee, yes, forever and aye!”

 


 

Der Wirthin Töchterlein

 

Es zogen drei Bursche wohl über den Rhein,
Bei einer Frau Wirthin, da kehrten sie ein.

„Frau Wirthin! hat Sie gut Bier und Wein?
Wo hat Sie Ihr schönes Töchterlein?“

„Mein Bier und Wein ist frisch und klar,
Mein Töchterlein liegt auf der Todtenbahr.“

Und als sie traten zur Kammer hinein,
Da lag sie in einem schwarzen Schrein.

Der erste, der schlug den Schleier zurück
Und schaute sie an mit traurigem Blick:

„Ach! lebtest du noch, du schöne Maid!
Ich würde dich lieben von dieser Zeit.“

Der zweite deckte den Schleier zu,
Und kehrte sich ab, und weinte dazu:

„Ach! daß du liegst auf der Todtenbahr!
Ich hab’ dich geliebet so manches Jahr.“

Der dritte hub ihn wieder sogleich
Und küßte sie an den Mund so bleich:

„Dich liebt’ ich immer, dich lieb’ ich noch heut,
Und werde dich lieben in Ewigkeit.“

From Caroling Dusk (Harper & Brothers, 1927), edited by Countee Cullen. This poem is in the public domain.

translated from the German by James Weldon Johnson

Three students once tarried over the Rhine,
And into Frau Wirthin’s turned to dine.

“Say, hostess, have you good beer and wine?
And where is that pretty daughter of thine?”

“My beer and wine is fresh and clear.
My daughter lies on her funeral bier.”

They softly tipped into the room;
She lay there in the silent gloom.

The first the white cloth gently raised,
And tearfully upon her gazed.

“If thou wert alive, O, lovely maid,
My heart at thy feet would to-day be laid!”

The second covered her face again,
And turned away with grief and pain.

“Ah, thou upon thy snow-white bier!
And I have loved thee so many a year.”

The third drew back again the veil,
And kissed the lips so cold and pale.

“I’ve loved thee always, I love thee to-day,
And will love thee, yes, forever and aye!”

 


 

Der Wirthin Töchterlein

 

Es zogen drei Bursche wohl über den Rhein,
Bei einer Frau Wirthin, da kehrten sie ein.

„Frau Wirthin! hat Sie gut Bier und Wein?
Wo hat Sie Ihr schönes Töchterlein?“

„Mein Bier und Wein ist frisch und klar,
Mein Töchterlein liegt auf der Todtenbahr.“

Und als sie traten zur Kammer hinein,
Da lag sie in einem schwarzen Schrein.

Der erste, der schlug den Schleier zurück
Und schaute sie an mit traurigem Blick:

„Ach! lebtest du noch, du schöne Maid!
Ich würde dich lieben von dieser Zeit.“

Der zweite deckte den Schleier zu,
Und kehrte sich ab, und weinte dazu:

„Ach! daß du liegst auf der Todtenbahr!
Ich hab’ dich geliebet so manches Jahr.“

Der dritte hub ihn wieder sogleich
Und küßte sie an den Mund so bleich:

„Dich liebt’ ich immer, dich lieb’ ich noch heut,
Und werde dich lieben in Ewigkeit.“

From Caroling Dusk (Harper & Brothers, 1927), edited by Countee Cullen. This poem is in the public domain.