Flowers a dull pink and out of stories.
The clown in the middle of town
dances but only when the streetlights
go blank. Children puff through
the window in a way that makes their faces
an inner god. I have all these chairs
I cannot use. Only the belonging
they beg for. Consider a dead oven
then consider freedom. A heavy kite
could touch Jupiter if Jupiter existed.
Any child could become a swan
song. It doesn’t take long to weather.
Copyright © 2021 by Philip Schaefer. Originally published in Poem-a-Day on August 18, 2021, by the Academy of American Poets.
what can I know of this life but what it cost me? pretending to
love these patterns of negotiation, pretending the Doubleworld
was acceptable—the Skin beneath the Skin made Hell of our Hell,
the Source from which the Source draws rectifies its embellishment,
reifies its abandon. Another way: in a room filled w/ overturned
bottles, the ceiling fan turns, knowing not the relief it provides,
but damns w/ its clicking; we lie awake at night wondering would
it be better to sweat out our sheets, turn the thing off. we remember
stillness as we enact it, hoping to quiet our body as to cool it.
I recall how slowly Granny eat, I see her in her dining room chair.
Copyright © 2021 by S*an D. Henry Smith. Originally published in Poem-a-Day on July 9, 2021, by the Academy of American Poets.
I say hunger and mean your hands bitten to boneseed,
bandaged with bedsheet and the night while two states over,
a mouth—ready soil—says your name. Next June’s lover
speaks the harvest: your rich, vowel-tender song
but for the neighbor. More hello than amen. Not yet
a whole book of psalms. Choose this. Not your bare room.
Your self-vacancies. Unlearn empire’s blackness:
night spun savage, space cast empty when really
a balm slicks the split between stars. Really
hipthick spirits moonwalk across the lake ice.
Maps to every heaven gauze the trees in velvet
between that greenbright spectacle of bud and juice
and dust—I’m saying there’s no such thing
as nothing. Try and try, you’ll never disappear.
I say hunger, mean hands you think empty
though everywhere, even the dark, heaves.
“The Lonely Sleep Through Winter” copyright © by Kemi Alabi. This poem originally appeared in TriQuarterly Review, May 2021. Used with permission of the author.
On April 22, 1993, 18-year-old 2nd Generation Jamaican youth Stephen Lawrence was attacked and stabbed to death in an unprovoked hate crime by a gang of white boys as he waited at a bus stop in London. His murderers were acquitted and allowed to walk free for 18 years, until two of his six killers were convicted of murder in 2011.
for Stephen Lawrence (September 13, 1974—April 22, 1993)
In the dream, Stephen
you’re thicker than when we were young
but thoughtful, as a first kiss.
We had one summer in Kingston
before England’s white boys
kicked, clubbed, knifed you.
Too brief again, this August light
its hours shifting. And hate, a hungry
animal that only takes.
The day your family stood above
your grave, swept by coconut palms
and a small bird orchestra
I smashed the shuttlecock
repeatedly against my backyard wall
my grief knocking back
against the day’s blunt silence.
What loves still lives, transforms
my days, each night
each decade passing—
I follow you, and return to the gate
you towered over
that careless summer
when you were just a boy
laughing against the sky
and I still believed in the light
and what it makes of us.
Copyright © 2021 by Ann-Margaret Lim. Originally published in Poem-a-Day on October 21, 2021, by the Academy of American Poets.