Yes, dear departed, cherished days, Could Memory’s hand restore Your morning light, your evening rays From Time’s gray urn once more,— Then might this restless heart be still, This straining eye might close, And Hope her fainting pinions fold, While the fair phantoms rose. But, like a child in ocean’s arms, We strive against the stream, Each moment farther from the shore Where life’s young fountains gleam;— Each moment fainter wave the fields, And wider rolls the sea; The mist grows dark,—the sun goes down,— Day breaks,—and where are we?
This poem is in the public domain. Published in Poem-a-Day on December 9, 2018, by the Academy of American Poets.
Past Storrow Drive, over the Mystic
River Bridge, my father lived in Chelsea—
home to Katz’s two-step bagel, to perpetually
broken sidewalks. A minor chord
in an immigrant tale—feral curls,
thirdhand coat—my dad looks
into the me he cannot imagine.
His eyes and hips glitter as he stands
against the glass of the family’s corner shop.
After school, working wordlessly beside his father—
leased, not owned—he would repeat—
a livelihood soon-to-fail from unpaid credit
for kosher spam and a carton of eggs. My father gazes
towards me like a cinema darling in a Jewish saga
of fire escapes, flashy dance numbers, suicides.
He becomes a mechanical engineer
who will not be called when his mother dies,
who will never dial his sister’s number again.
My father will build his life from a mountain of questions
without an answer key, a footnote
with an alphabet all his own: part Russian,
part Yiddish, part loss. In the city
that abuts Boston—infamous for bankruptcy,
for the erasures of old countries—his heart tried.
Tonight, I search the photograph
to detect again his history—the plagues
of bewilderment—the tracks that follow
me through the unseen branches
of our family tree; faded patterns of light
and dark, ascending.
Copyright © 2018 Susan Rich. “The Photograph Suggests a Hidden Life” originally appeared in The Plume Anthology of Poetry 6. Used with permission of the author.
Through predictive analytics I understood the inevitability of the caged-up babies They keep coffins at the border for when the refugees get too far from home How many thousands of bodies can we fit in a tent or a swimming pool We can live without the unknown in front of us if we keep enough babies in cages The cardboard box sleeps one kid comfortably Two is snug efficient recommended in times of austerity Relational values change in relation to market sentiments This is the danger of having too much access to illegal bodies Let’s pretend the illegal bodies are bankers Let’s stick all the bankers in cages Let’s shove shit in their mouths Let’s pretend they are eating cryptocurrency Let’s create a crisis let’s induce inflation Let’s undervalue the cost of their bodies I dream of an economy where one arrested immigrant is replaced with one dead banker I am not responsible for my dreams rather I am responsible for what I do with my dreams When the sleep medication wears off I am alone with the machines that watch me The global economy brightens my room with the surveillance of my rotten assets
Copyright © 2018 by Daniel Borzutzky. Originally published in Poem-a-Day on November 14, 2018, by the Academy of American Poets.
I’m trying to forgive my friend
who arrives like a bleeder
in an ambulance.
I should minimize
my exposure, as to a bad
virus or too much sun.
I’m always the shadow,
the “local talent,” sweeping
the floor, feting her
even when my new baby
had just come home.
I was gulping
cranberry ginger ales
in dazed thirst to restore
myself as she uncorked
another dark-green bottle,
put her thumb
in the deep punt
of the heavy bell-shaped
bottom, and poured herself
Copyright © 2018 Leslie Williams. This poem originally appeared in Kenyon Review, November/December 2018. Used with permission of the author.
I dreamt we were already there.
Some things were right
and some were not.
And somehow Tuesday
was Monday again.
I slept then woke
and then fell asleep again
and when I slept again
I dreamt we were already there.
Things were right some
and were some not.
My father died yesterday, she said.
Yesterday, some things were and.
Today some are not.
Copyright © 2018 Lynley Edmeades. This poem originally appeared in The Cincinnati Review, Summer 2018. Used with permission of the author.
you who once ached
with your own growing larger
absorbed by your own
When I danced,
When you broke,
And so it was lying down,
climbing the tiring stairs.
Your jaws. My bread.
what is left of you,
will be flensed of this marriage.
Angular wristbone's arthritis,
cracked harp of ribcage,
blunt of heel,
opened bowl of the skull,
twin platters of pelvis—
each of you will leave me behind,
at last serene.
What did I know of your days,
I who held you all my life
inside my hands
and thought they were empty?
You who held me all my life
inside your hands
as a new mother holds
her own unblanketed child,
not thinking at all.
Copyright © 2013 by Jane Hirshfield. Used with permission of the author. This poem appeared in Poem-a-Day on October 14, 2013.