To fling my arms wide
In some place of the sun,
To whirl and to dance
Till the white day is done.
Then rest at cool evening
Beneath a tall tree
While night comes on gently,
    Dark like me—
That is my dream!

To fling my arms wide
In the face of the sun,
Dance! Whirl! Whirl!
Till the quick day is done.
Rest at pale evening . . .
A tall, slim tree . . .
Night coming tenderly
    Black like me.

From The Collected Poems of Langston Hughes, published by Alfred A. Knopf, Inc. Copyright © 1994 the Estate of Langston Hughes. Used with permission.

For a short time after
the rape, I found I could

move things. Energy birds
swarmed from my brain.

With a witch's sense
of abandoned physics,

I set dolls rolling.
Back and forth. Like a

breathing sound.

Using only my night-powered
eyes, I pushed the lamp

to the dresser's edge.
I buried the mirrors

in avalanches of freshly
laundered underpants.

I never slept.

I did all these things
lying down.

From One Red Eye by Kirsten Dierking. Copyright © 2001 by Kirsten Dierking. Used by permission of Holy Cow! Press. All rights reserved.

One said to me tonight or was it day 
or was it the passage between the two, 
"It's hard to remember, crossing time zones,

the structure of the hours you left behind. 
Are they sleeping or are they eating sweets, 
and are they wanting me to phone them now?"

"In the face of technological fact, 
even the most seasoned traveler feels 
the baffled sense that nowhere else exists."

"It's the moving resistance of the air 
as you hurtle too fast against the hours 
that stuns the cells and tissues of the brain."

"The dry cabin air, the cramped rows of seats, 
the steward passing pillows, pouring drinks, 
and the sudden ridges of turbulence. . ."

"Oh yes, the crossing is always a trial, 
despite precautions: drink water, don't smoke, 
and take measured doses of midday sun,

whether an ordinary business flight 
or a prayer at a pleasure altar. . .
for moments or hours the earth out of sight,

the white cumuli dreaming there below, 
warm fronts and cold fronts streaming through the sky, 
the mesmerizing rose-and-purple glow."

"So did you leave your home à contrecoeur? 
Did you leave a life? Did you leave a love? 
Are you out here looking for another?

Some want so much to cross, to go away, 
somewhere anywhere & begin again, 
others can't endure the separation. . ."

One night, the skyline as I left New York 
was a garden of neon flowerbursts--
the celebration of a history. 

Excerpted from Visits from the Seventh by Sarah Arvio. Copyright © 2002 by Sarah Arvio. Excerpted by permission of Knopf, a divison of Random House, Inc. All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.

Next to the fourteen excellent reasons
to make February the month of love,
which serve to advertise the best mattresses
for double beds, queen or king size
I read, just as in the heyday
of Colonialism:

"The soldiers ask the indigenous
people to transport them on horses;
if there aren't any, they force them
to carry them on their backs."

From Sin puertas visibles: An Anthology of Contemporary Poetry by Mexican Women, edited and translated by Jen Hofer, © 2003. Used by permission of the University of Pittsburgh Press. All rights reserved.

What story would you like to hear, Mr. Lamb?
Are you a real lamb?
Would you like to hear of Webbers?
Or Whales?

Here is the Story of Alice:

            The Queen wants to have a baby,
            That's why she's kissing her hand.
          The Mad Habit is pouring specklish tea.

        Finally, the Mad Habit and the Queen go to sleep,
              But she's not looking at him.
               He's just pouring the milk.

Goodnight, Mr. Lamb,
Have a nice dream.
Sleep like a lamb.

Don't rough scream
Scream smooth.

Text & drawings copyright © 2003 by Arthur Nevis. Poem is an excerpt from Wonderland, Don't Scare Me by Arthur Nevis, published by Ladan Reserve Press. Reprinted by permission. All rights reserved.

O, hush thee, my babie, thy sire was a knight,
Thy mother a lady, both lovely and bright;
The woods and the glens, from the towers which we see,
They are all belonging, dear babie, to thee.
O ho ro, i ri ri, cadul gu lo.

O, fear not the bugle, though loudly it blows,
It calls but the warders that guard thy repose;
Their bows would be bended, their blades would be red,
Ere the step of a foeman draws near to thy bed.
O ho ro, i ri ri, cadul gu lo.

O, hush thee, my babie, the time soon will come,
When thy sleep shall be broken by trumpet and drum;
Then hush thee, my darling, take rest while you may,
For strife comes with manhood, and waking with day.
O ho ro, i ri ri, cadul gu lo.

This poem is in the public domain.

Hold fast to dreams 
For if dreams die
Life is a broken-winged bird
That cannot fly.

Hold fast to dreams
For when dreams go
Life is a barren field
Frozen with snow.

From The Collected Poems of Langston Hughes published by Alfred A. Knopf/Vintage. Copyright © 1994 by the Estate of Langston Hughes. Reprinted by permission of Harold Ober Associates Incorporated. All rights reserved.

in the dream of foxes
there is a field
and a procession of women
clean as good children
no hollow in the world
surrounded by dogs
no fur clumped bloody
on the ground
only a lovely time
of honest women stepping
without fear or guilt or shame
safe through the generous fields.

from the terrible stories (BOA Editions, 1996). Copyright © 1996 by Lucille Clifton. Reprinted with the permission of The Permissions Company on behalf of BOA Editions.

Near the end of April
    On the verge of May—
And o my heart, the woods were dusk
    At the close of day.

Half a word was spoken
    Out of half a dream,
And God looked in my soul and saw
    A dawn rise and gleam.

Near the end of April
    Twenty Mays have met,
And half a word and half a dream
    Remember and forget.

This poem is in the public domain. Published in Poem-a-Day on April 18, 2021, by the Academy of American Poets.

The right to make my dreams come true,
    I ask, nay, I demand of life,
Nor shall fate’s deadly contraband
Impede my steps, nor countermand;

Too long my heart against the ground
Has beat the dusty years around,
And now at length I rise! I wake!
And stride into the morning break!

This poem is in the public domain. Published in Poem-a-Day on February 20, 2021, by the Academy of American Poets.

As I lie in bed,
Flat on my back;
There passes across my ceiling
An endless panorama of things—
Quick steps of gay-voiced children,
Adolescence in its wondering silences,
Maid and man on moonlit summer’s eve,
Women in the holy glow of Motherhood,
Old men gazing silently thru the twilight
Into the beyond.
O God, give me words to make my dream-children live.

This poem is in the public domain. Published in Poem-a-Day on August 29, 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.

The end of my wish
Walks near me smiling;
With subtle fingers I loosen
Little shining, sharp chips
From the crystal body
With its many enticing shadows.

A fine silk thread
Is desire,
These sweet but sharp edges
Its end.
Shall I add one more flaw
To my dream veil.

This poem is in the public domain, and originally appeared in Others for 1919; An Anthology of the New Verse (Nicholas L. Brown, 1920). 

It is a huge curtain,
stretched at a distance around me.
Aimless gypsies crawl up and over the curtain.
They are my days.
They neither sing nor laugh
but hop over the top of my sadness.
Here and there one wears a gay shirt.
He is faster than the rest.
Even in my sleep with closed eyes
I cannot pierce this drapery.
Some day I will wind a child's smile around my face
and thus disguised
Slip through the curtain and jump...
Where?
Ah, yes, where?

This poem is in the public domain, and originally appeared in Others for 1919; An Anthology of the New Verse (Nicholas L. Brown, 1920). 

Just a rainy day or two
In a windy tower,
That was all I had of you—
Saving half an hour.

Marred by greeting passing groups
In a cinder walk,
Near some naked blackberry hoops
Dim with purple chalk.

I remember three or four
Things you said in spite,
And an ugly coat you wore,
Plaided black and white.

Just a rainy day or two
And a bitter word.
Why do I remember you
As a singing bird?

This poem is in the public domain. Published in Poem-a-Day on January 25, 2020, by the Academy of American Poets.

Look at the homie, 
                                        even when in a gang 
              he came home to crack Nietzsche, Beyond

              Good and Evil, Will 
to Power. Believing everybody dies at twenty-four,
not seeing a future in pump-faking, even then.

              You ever try to read philosophy high?
Gone to the hole and hoped for the foul,
                                        wished only to finish. 

After rolling joints in two Zig-Zags, 
after an hour of starching pants,
he transferred trollies and buses.

                                             He’s going places.                   
Look at homie, trying to fix himself. Thinks,
out of repetition comes variation. 
         
                                        It takes a lot of effort
to look
                     like you’re not trying.
It should be an air ball
                                        to go to college

               at twenty-one, the father of two, just
                                     to play basketball. When

most folks say they want to change the world
                                       they mean their own.

From Post Traumatic Hood Disorder (Sarabande Books, 2018). Copyright © 2018 by David Tomas Martinez. Used with the permission of the poet.

I am better when I am dead
or when I am
dreaming.

Having finally entered
the carboned pistons
of your machinery.

You, as a boy,
racing through
the warm excess
of night’s soft decline.

When I rise
I kerosene 
my fingers

place my hands flat
on its weeping
branches.

The music is smashed
Wurlitzer, trashed and drug
up from a landfill
in Tazewell.

Earth mixed with quell
and the bright peal
of a mangled glockenspiel.

In the winter hills
of summer, a sick
foal in the barn,

and an old farmhouse
with all its clocks
pulled out.

Its cold room
filling miraculously
with the slow sediment
of forget.

Copyright © 2019 by Cynthia Cruz. Originally published in Poem-a-Day on July 29, 2019, by the Academy of American Poets.

He predicted froth, and geese
took to the sky like a hurricane.
I trust my captain. He told me
when I turn over on my stomach in sleep
to think of loneliness. I draw a circle
and put an X through it for here, meaning ship.
All I packed was an empty pillowcase and aspirin
and rain I collected. The geese turn their bodies
into clouds for me to pour the rain.
Nights I tuck my fingers into feathers
and repeat a song I was sung as a baby.

Copyright © 2018 Joanna I. Kaminsky. Reprinted with permission of the author. This poem originally appeared in The Southern Review, Autumn 2018.

 

translated from the Arabic by Khaled Mattawa

Alone, now you are free.

You pick a sky and name it
                 a sky to live in
                 a sky to refuse

But if you want know
                 if you are really free
and to remain free
you must steady yourself
                 on a foothold of earth

so that the earth may rise
so that you may give
                 wings
to the children of earth
                 below 

 

Copyright © 2019 by Khaled Mattawa. Reprinted with the permission of Khaled Mattawa. 

consider O 
woman this 
my body.
for it has 

lain 
with empty arms 
upon the giddy hills 
to dream of you, 

approve these 
firm unsated 
eyes 
which have beheld 

night's speechless carnival 
the painting 
of the dark 
with meteors 

streaming from playful 
immortal hands 
the bursting 
of the wafted stars 

(in time to come you shall 
remember of this night amazing 
ecstasies       slowly, 
in the glutted 

heart fleet 
flowerterrible 
memories 
shall 

rise,slowly 
return upon the 
                                red elected lips 


scaleless visions)

This poem is in the public domain.