10. Here on my knees I look for the single animal: you left
ravaged at the edge of a meadow
9. Is everything accounted for? The fingers dipped
beneath the torso—to keep this body bright
8. Every breath we are desperate to take
sounds as if a war lost against a country of promise
7. Discarded halos: the light you remember
in your head—you feed on what is crushed between the teeth
6. America declares these dreams I have every night be re-
dreamed & pressed into names
5. Upended petals of qém’es
abandoned like torn butterfly wings—we’é I pray
4. I pray that nobody
ever hears us
3. An eye gone
bloodshot: I tear through the crisp apple of your throat & find—
2. myself: this—a boy beside a boy. An eyelash
fallen at the base of a valley, our dark bones bursting in-
1. to bloom. I stare into your beloved face & enter: yes,
yes, this nation, under god, its black sky we lay our nightmares to
0. where I am your animal: my Lamb—now eat
Copyright © 2019 by Michael Wasson. Originally published in Poem-a-Day on November 1, 2019, by the Academy of American Poets.
Moons on the upper visual field. I replay many springs for their ripening heat. Five limb in me: Ornate, Greased, Codling, Luna, Death’s-head. Two supernatural, three balance need. I feed on fat apples, pears: Tunnel toward center, a heaven in the core. Instinct attempts to correct with a turn toward light. My dress a brief darkness. Flits there. Another set of wings to tear. Spiral me in the silk of my tongue. Farm what is economical in me: Blood for blood, heart for snare. Scent, sweet air: My cedar, hung juniper, lavender cross: What holds the body keeps the body blesses the body’s lack. Is that not a blessing? What blooms in me: Trouble. Trouble. Trouble. So I consume. So I feed what festers. When navigating artificial light, the angle changes noticeably. Angle strict, beloved: My head a mess of moon.
Copyright © 2019 by Carly Joy Miller. Originally published in Poem-a-Day on March 6, 2019, by the Academy of American Poets.
tonight for a moment as the owl sleeps
i’m going to dust this city’s dirt from my clothes
the dry hot deaths that bring the strongest to their knees.
i’m going to run headlong through a rainstorm
dodging lightening blasts and hurdling rivers
as wolves howl on a peak of purple darkness.
with my nose flaring, the sulfur of the fields will not deter me,
i’m going to come through to a background of laughing cars
my forehead pushing forward to the street
of your house, i’m going to come with the smile of a boy,
my hands offering callouses, offering struggle.
tonight as the owl sleeps, i’ll come with the silence of a cricket,
with the intensity of a flower and for an instant, a second,
before i tell you it’s starting and bring the guns,
feathers will flow from my mouth to tell you, mi amor, my soul,
a kiss before we pray. i gather the stars like berries
and bring them to light your face, let me again smell
the skin of your stomach,
let me wash your feet with my lips,
nibble the meat from behind your knees.
From A Jury of Trees (Bilingual Press/Editorial Bilingüe and Letras Latinas, 2017). Copyright © 2017 by Andrés Montoya. Used with the permission of Bilingual Press/Editorial Bilingüe.
I, being born a woman and distressed By all the needs and notions of my kind, Am urged by your propinquity to find Your person fair, and feel a certain zest To bear you body's weight upon my breast: So subtly is the fume of life designed, To clarify the pulse and cloud the mind, And leave me once again undone, possessed. Think not for this, however, the poor treason Of my stout blood against my staggering brain, I shall remember you with love, or season My scorn with pity,—let me make it plain: I find this frenzy insufficient reason For conversation when we meet again.
This poem is in the public domain.
In some other life, I can hear you
breathing: a pale sound like running
fingers through tangled hair. I dreamt
again of swimming in the quarry
& surfaced here when you called for me
in a voice only my sleeping self could
know. Now the dapple of the aspen
respires on the wall & the shades cut
its song a staff of light. Leave me—
that me—in bed with the woman
who said all the sounds for pleasure
were made with vowels I couldn’t
hear. Keep me instead with this small sun
that sips at the sky blue hem of our sheets
then dips & reappears: a drowsy penny
in the belt of Venus, your aureole nodding
slow & copper as it bobs against cotton
in cornflower or clay. What a waste
the groan of the mattress must be
when you backstroke into me & pull
the night up over our heads. Your eyes
are two moons I float beneath & my lungs
fill with a wet hum your hips return.
It’s Sunday—or so you say with both hands
on my chest—& hot breath is the only hymn
whose refrain we can recall. And then you
reach for me like I could’ve been another
man. You make me sing without a sound.
Copyright © 2019 by Meg Day. Originally published in Poem-a-Day on July 1, 2019, by the Academy of American Poets.
I don’t call it sleep anymore.
I’ll risk losing something new instead—
like you lost your rosen moon, shook it loose.
But sometimes when I get my horns in a thing—
a wonder, a grief or a line of her—it is a sticky and ruined
fruit to unfasten from,
despite my trembling.
Let me call my anxiety, desire, then.
Let me call it, a garden.
Maybe this is what Lorca meant
when he said, verde que te quiero verde—
because when the shade of night comes,
I am a field of it, of any worry ready to flower in my chest.
My mind in the dark is una bestia, unfocused,
hot. And if not yoked to exhaustion
beneath the hip and plow of my lover,
then I am another night wandering the desire field—
bewildered in its low green glow,
belling the meadow between midnight and morning.
Insomnia is like Spring that way—surprising
and many petaled,
the kick and leap of gold grasshoppers at my brow.
I am struck in the witched hours of want—
I want her green life. Her inside me
in a green hour I can’t stop.
Green vein in her throat green wing in my mouth
green thorn in my eye. I want her like a river goes, bending.
Green moving green, moving.
Fast as that, this is how it happens—
soy una sonámbula.
And even though you said today you felt better,
and it is so late in this poem, is it okay to be clear,
to say, I don’t feel good,
to ask you to tell me a story
about the sweet grass you planted—and tell it again
until I can smell its sweet smoke,
leave this thrashed field, and be smooth.
Copyright © 2017 by Natalie Diaz. Originally published in Poem-a-Day on June 5, 2017, by the Academy of American Poets.