exists to keep audiences
their mundane homelives, yet here
I am pacing my bedroom
and having serious
thoughts about trapeze
hands—and can you even
apply to be in a traveling act,
or do you need to be
discovered? I don’t want to be
famous, just remembered.
In high school I was
voted most likely to
ignore the demands
of men and gravity,
but it’s a difficult feat
when the two work together.
Like here, or
like in the flying trapeze:
man secures his hold,
gravity improves the swing.
Copyright © 2021 by Paige Lewis. Originally published in Poem-a-Day on May 19, 2021, by the Academy of American Poets.
what I really mean. He paints my name
across the floral bed sheet and ties the bottom corners
to my ankles. Then he paints another
for himself. We walk into town and play the shadow game,
saying Oh! I’m sorry for stepping on your
shadow! and Please be careful! My shadow is caught in the wheels
of your shopping cart. It's all very polite.
Our shadows get dirty just like anyone’s, so we take
them to the Laundromat—the one with
the 1996 Olympics themed pinball machine—
and watch our shadows warm
against each other. We bring the shadow game home
and (this is my favorite part) when we
stretch our shadows across the bed, we get so tangled
my husband grips his own wrist,
certain it’s my wrist, and kisses it.
Copyright © 2018 by Paige Lewis. Originally published in Poem-a-Day on December 6, 2018, by the Academy of American Poets.
My two hunting dogs have names, but I rarely use them. As
I go, they go: I lead; they follow, the blue-eyed one first, then
the one whose coloring—her coat, not her eyes—I sometimes
call never-again-o-never-this-way-henceforth. Hope, ambition:
these are not their names, though the way they run might suggest
otherwise. Like steam off night-soaked wooden fencing when
the sun first hits it, they rise each morning at my command. Late
in the Iliad, Priam the king of Troy predicts his own murder—
correctly, except it won’t be by spear, as he imagines, but by
sword thrust. He can see his corpse, sees the dogs he’s fed and
trained so patiently pulling the corpse apart. After that, he says,
When they’re full, they’ll lie in the doorway, they’ll lap my blood.
I say: Why shouldn’t they? Everywhere, the same people who
mistake obedience for loyalty think somehow loyalty weighs more
than hunger, when it doesn’t. At night, when it’s time for bed,
we sleep together, the three of us: muscled animal, muscled animal,
muscled animal. The dogs settle to either side of me as if each
were the slightly folded wing of a beast from fable, part power, part
recognition. We breathe in a loose kind of unison. Our breathing
ripples the way oblivion does—routinely, across history’s face.
Copyright © 2019 by Carl Phillips. Originally published in Poem-a-Day on July 31, 2019, by the Academy of American Poets.