Lying, thinking
Last night
How to find my soul a home
Where water is not thirsty
And bread loaf is not stone
I came up with one thing
And I don’t believe I’m wrong
That nobody,
But nobody
Can make it out here alone.

Alone, all alone
Nobody, but nobody
Can make it out here alone.

There are some millionaires
With money they can’t use
Their wives run round like banshees
Their children sing the blues
They’ve got expensive doctors
To cure their hearts of stone.
But nobody
No, nobody
Can make it out here alone.

Alone, all alone
Nobody, but nobody
Can make it out here alone.

Now if you listen closely
I'll tell you what I know
Storm clouds are gathering
The wind is gonna blow
The race of man is suffering
And I can hear the moan,
'Cause nobody,
But nobody
Can make it out here alone.

Alone, all alone
Nobody, but nobody
Can make it out here alone.

From Oh Pray My Wings Are Gonna Fit Me Well By Maya Angelou. Copyright © 1975 by Maya Angelou. Reprinted with permission of Random House, Inc. For online information about other Random House, Inc. books and authors, visit the website at www.randomhouse.com.

Hope is the thing with feathers
That perches in the soul,
And sings the tune without the words,
And never stops at all,

And sweetest in the gale is heard;
And sore must be the storm
That could abash the little bird
That kept so many warm.

I've heard it in the chillest land,
And on the strangest sea;
Yet, never, in extremity,
It asked a crumb of me.

This poem is in the public domain.

Wandering around the Albuquerque Airport Terminal, after learning
my flight had been delayed four hours, I heard an announcement:
"If anyone in the vicinity of Gate A-4 understands any Arabic, please
come to the gate immediately."

Well—one pauses these days. Gate A-4 was my own gate. I went there.

An older woman in full traditional Palestinian embroidered dress, just
like my grandma wore, was crumpled to the floor, wailing. "Help,"
said the flight agent. "Talk to her. What is her problem? We
told her the flight was going to be late and she did this."

I stooped to put my arm around the woman and spoke haltingly.
"Shu-dow-a, Shu-bid-uck Habibti? Stani schway, Min fadlick, Shu-bit-
se-wee?" The minute she heard any words she knew, however poorly
used, she stopped crying. She thought the flight had been cancelled
entirely. She needed to be in El Paso for major medical treatment the
next day. I said, "No, we're fine, you'll get there, just later, who is
picking you up? Let's call him."

We called her son, I spoke with him in English. I told him I would
stay with his mother till we got on the plane and ride next to
her. She talked to him. Then we called her other sons just
for the fun of it. Then we called my dad and he and she spoke for a while
in Arabic and found out of course they had ten shared friends. Then I
thought just for the heck of it why not call some Palestinian poets I know
and let them chat with her? This all took up two hours.

She was laughing a lot by then. Telling of her life, patting my knee,
answering questions. She had pulled a sack of homemade mamool
cookies—little powdered sugar crumbly mounds stuffed with dates and
nuts—from her bag—and was offering them to all the women at the gate.
To my amazement, not a single woman declined one. It was like a
sacrament. The traveler from Argentina, the mom from California, the
lovely woman from Laredo—we were all covered with the same powdered
sugar. And smiling. There is no better cookie.

And then the airline broke out free apple juice from huge coolers and two
little girls from our flight ran around serving it and they
were covered with powdered sugar, too. And I noticed my new best friend—
by now we were holding hands—had a potted plant poking out of her bag,
some medicinal thing, with green furry leaves. Such an old country tradi-
tion. Always carry a plant. Always stay rooted to somewhere.

And I looked around that gate of late and weary ones and I thought, This
is the world I want to live in. The shared world. Not a single person in that
gate—once the crying of confusion stopped—seemed apprehensive about
any other person. They took the cookies. I wanted to hug all those other women, too.

This can still happen anywhere. Not everything is lost.

Naomi Shihab Nye, "Gate A-4" from Honeybee. Copyright © 2008 by Naomi Shihab Nye. Reprinted with permission.

Everyone suddenly burst out singing;
And I was filled with such delight
As prisoned birds must find in freedom
Winging wildly across the white
Orchards and dark green fields; on; on; and out of sight.

Everyone's voice was suddenly lifted,
And beauty came like the setting sun.
My heart was shaken with tears and horror
Drifted away ... O but every one
Was a bird; and the song was wordless; the singing will never be done.

This poem is in the public domain.

More than the fuchsia funnels breaking out
of the crabapple tree, more than the neighbor’s
almost obscene display of cherry limbs shoving
their cotton candy-colored blossoms to the slate
sky of Spring rains, it’s the greening of the trees
that really gets to me. When all the shock of white
and taffy, the world’s baubles and trinkets, leave
the pavement strewn with the confetti of aftermath,
the leaves come. Patient, plodding, a green skin
growing over whatever winter did to us, a return
to the strange idea of continuous living despite
the mess of us, the hurt, the empty. Fine then,
I’ll take it, the tree seems to say, a new slick leaf
unfurling like a fist to an open palm, I’ll take it all.

Copyright © 2017 by Ada Limón. Originally published in Poem-a-Day on May 15, 2017, by the Academy of American Poets.

I wandered lonely as a Cloud
   That floats on high o’er Vales and Hills,
When all at once I saw a crowd,
   A host of golden Daffodils;
Beside the Lake, beneath the trees,
Fluttering and dancing in the breeze.

Continuous as the stars that shine
   And twinkle on the Milky Way,
They stretched in never-ending line
   Along the margin of a bay:
Ten thousand saw I at a glance,
Tossing their heads in sprightly dance.

The waves beside them danced, but they
   Out-did the sparkling waves in glee:—
A Poet could not but be gay
   In such a jocund company:
I gazed—and gazed—but little thought
What wealth the shew to me had brought:

For oft when on my couch I lie
   In vacant or in pensive mood,
They flash upon that inward eye
   Which is the bliss of solitude,
And then my heart with pleasure fills,
And dances with the Daffodils.

This poem appeared in Poem-a-Day on October 1, 2017. This poem is in the public domain.

This is a love poem. It has no business.
It happens in that anyway world 
Where the bodies are by now decided
To get all the way up, accompanied
By changes in temperature and light
Welcome and unwelcome both,
Lie down, get up, go prone again,
 
Get nowhere in time. I won’t
Reduce to a single preposition 
A relation to the one person about it 
Like grass. Who has a pronoun, a name,
Three or four even, which globe, 
Without containing, her experience,
Of which I chase awareness till  
 
Her letters are with one exception
All over this deepening sheet, name-
Blind blue of a cloudless day. 
Unconcerned with property disputes,
The poem gradually permits itself
To figure grass, the blue of the sky
Because we see those first kinds
 
Of immense quiet as sleepers
While walking the dog in the hills
And store them for future use
As simile and metaphor, each 
ancient and suspiciously free 
Of present disaster. But today royally is 
Blue and cloudless, this blue, this 
 
Unironic absence of clouds over green
That makes you temporarily more
Intelligent, makes time harder to track
Until it seems it’s always been
Only this pleasure somewhere 
Between hours in the form of a bell
Melting mid-ring. The poem’s now
 
Broken one of its rules in order
To keep ringing. Because I want to
Be smarter than true it continues
To disobey the trace of my injuries,
Remembering home is not a place
One at all leaves or gets to
But supremely anonymous
 
Relations with rhythm, a fragrance
Where skin meets time on which
No pronouns fall, here in the presence of.
Not lasting but repeatable and
Each of the instances claimed
For the series, belonging with the ones
That came before it, the others
 
Still to come but not in doubt,
Yesterday moving on top of tomorrow.
If blue were an all-day affair work 
Didn’t tear us apart in, but held
As shape and song, the anonymous one 
Playing on repeat, referencing nothing but
The very red distraction I attend to
 
Where bed turns each afternoon away
Along the suede sound of good decay
There’s still plenty of time to invent,
None of it spent in advance, then,
In intuition of every day to come, 
The flowers lasting for more than a week,
Blue growing down to grass, 
It would be like this.
 

Copyright © 2017 by Geoffrey G. O'Brien. Originally published in Poem-a-Day on October 4, 2017, by the Academy of American Poets.

We trace the dust lines left behind from the appliances, fumble for the brick foundations between the steel beams, peer at serrated stairlines where the wall paints stopped. Reincarnated. Tenement apartments become dance spaces without barres or mirrors, in the dank basement of a bank on Market Street, in anonymous green-carpeted rooms on Mott Street.

Copyright © 2017 by Celina Su. Originally published in Poem-a-Day on October 5, 2017, by the Academy of American Poets.

Emptiness is a blessing:
it can’t be owned if it doesn’t exist.
 
*
My father said to bloom but never fruit—
 
a small trickle 
eating its way through stone.
 
*
I am one kind of alive:
I see everything the water sees.
 
I told you a turn was going to come 
& turn the tower did.
 
What are the master’s tools 
but a way to dismantle him.
 
*
Who will replace the blood of my mother in me—
a cold spring rising.
 
She told me a woman made of water 
can never crack.
 
Of her defeat, she said
this is nothing.
 

Copyright © 2017 by Lisa Ciccarello. Originally published in Poem-a-Day on October 11, 2017, by the Academy of American Poets.

We were searching for 
ourselves, after logic 
for no good reason, 
jumping fires to take 
the heat for walking, 
wishing the blue night 
not to fall into the blue 
sky and darken what 
remained. We were 
holding on to music, 
playing the solemn 
string the healing horn, 
rolling back the meadow 
to give innocence one 
more tumble, waiting 
for the breeze to send
the screen door slamming 
open. We were rushing 
with the sea of people 
tiding over curb and 
sidewalk, twilight running 
out of light, a city pacing 
its expansion into the sky, 
block by block, new 
views burying the old,
thinking not thinking 
about the dead. We were 
who we never thought 
we’d be, at the corner 
of expectation and desire, 
the world kind and un-
kind, the rabbits scared 
the palace in ruins,
language failing the earth
in transition, the infinite 
sky divided the clouds 
dispersing premonitions. 
Come evening come 
shade, float us to your 
constellation, let the void 
draw us still; the radiologist 
turn off her light and go.
 

Copyright © 2017 by Howard Altmann. Originally published in Poem-a-Day on October 23, 2017, by the Academy of American Poets.

When the pantheon crumbles, does gravity still work? 
What happens to the arcing satellites? What do you do 
when the high priests have hung up their mitres, when
the shepherd crooks have all gone straight, when the 
curtain is torn, the covenant broke, the tithes spilled all 
across the tiles? Which parishes do you frequent, whose 
statutes do you study, whose name is on your lips when 
you self-flagellate? To whom do you whisper your death
bed confession, alone in the dark, lying atop a certain hill, 
bleeding on a certain throne of thorns? What do you do 
when the sky opens? There are books about this, but 
none written from experience. Like how a baby’s first word
isn’t really its first word, just the first one that’s understood.
The process of rapprochement happens slowly, then all 
at once. Just like the apocalypse, which is unevenly 
distributed, but speeding up. Here we go. Into the breach.
 

Copyright © 2017 by Alex Manley. Originally published in Poem-a-Day on October 27, 2017, by the Academy of American Poets.

That night the air stank, the stars obscured behind wild horses
of clouds. I walked on cobblestones on the edge of something

I could not name: new land of unalterable decisions
like a retinue of assassins coming right for me, who kept coming

in a bad dream that dissolved like a black-and-white movie, the dark
mouth enveloping the entire screen. The End. Then the aftermath

like a heroin addict waking up in the overgrowth of a river path,
no longer young. There are nights that pummel your life, chart

an alternate course unasked for and colorless—the way it was
the first time you encountered the one ready to eat out your  heart—

an innocent remark—a joke about ocelots or the weeds of purple carrots.
That night I was caught in a before and after, an unsayable horror film

of half-lives as we hipswayed and grunted along the Seine.
When someone passed us, their teeth shone like those of a vampire

happy with the waste of the world. Ready to drink it in. My body
was four months pregnant, crossing over to a nightmared path

of no return. But isn’t this the truth of every moment?
To revise our lives into the I belong—to this tribe of the unreliable

narrators, luminous in our stories and in our squalor.

Copyright © 2017 by Susan Rich. Originally published in Poem-a-Day on October 31, 2017, by the Academy of American Poets.

But there never was a black male hysteria
Breaking & entering wearing glee & sadness
And the light grazing my teeth with my lighter
To the night with the flame like a blade cutting
Me slack along the corridors with doors of offices
Orifices vomiting tears & fire with my two tongues
Loose & shooing under a high-top of language
In a layer of mischief so traumatized trauma
Delighted me beneath the tremendous
Stupendous horrendous undiscovered stars
Burning where I didn’t know how to live
My friends were all the wounded people
The black girls who held their own hands
Even the white boys who grew into assassins 

Copyright © 2017 by Terrance Hayes. Originally published in Poem-a-Day on November 15, 2017, by the Academy of American Poets.

A diamond of a morning
     Waked me an hour too soon;
Dawn had taken in the stars
     And left the faint white moon.
 
O white moon, you are lonely,
     It is the same with me,
But we have the world to roam over,
     Only the lonely are free.
 

This poem is in the public domain.

It’s all a farce,—these tales they tell
     About the breezes sighing,
And moans astir o’er field and dell,
     Because the year is dying.
 
Such principles are most absurd,—
     I care not who first taught ’em;
There’s nothing known to beast or bird
     To make a solemn autumn.
 
In solemn times, when grief holds sway
     With countenance distressing,
You’ll note the more of black and gray
     Will then be used in dressing.
 
Now purple tints are all around;
     The sky is blue and mellow;
And e’en the grasses turn the ground
     From modest green to yellow.
 
The seed burrs all with laughter crack
     On featherweed and jimson;
And leaves that should be dressed in black
     Are all decked out in crimson.
 
A butterfly goes winging by;
     A singing bird comes after;
And Nature, all from earth to sky,
     Is bubbling o’er with laughter.
 
The ripples wimple on the rills,
     Like sparkling little lasses;
The sunlight runs along the hills,
     And laughs among the grasses.
 
The earth is just so full of fun
     It really can’t contain it;
And streams of mirth so freely run
     The heavens seem to rain it.
 
Don’t talk to me of solemn days
     In autumn’s time of splendor,
Because the sun shows fewer rays,
     And these grow slant and slender.
 
Why, it’s the climax of the year,—
     The highest time of living!—
Till naturally its bursting cheer
     Just melts into thanksgiving.
 

This poem is in the public domain.

I am taken with the hot animal
of my skin, grateful to swing my limbs

and have them move as I intend, though
my knee, though my shoulder, though something
is torn or tearing. Today, a dozen squid, dead

on the harbor beach: one mostly buried,
one with skin empty as a shell and hollow

feeling, and, though the tentacles look soft,
I do not touch them. I imagine they
were startled to find themselves in the sun.

I imagine the tide simply went out
without them. I imagine they cannot

feel the black flies charting the raised hills
of their eyes. I write my name in the sand:
Donika Kelly. I watch eighteen seagulls

skim the sandbar and lift low in the sky.
I pick up a pebble that looks like a green egg.

To the ditch lily I say I am in love.
To the Jeep parked haphazardly on the narrow
street I am in love. To the roses, white

petals rimmed brown, to the yellow lined
pavement, to the house trimmed in gold I am

in love. I shout with the rough calculus
of walking. Just let me find my way back,
let me move like a tide come in.

Copyright © 2017 by Donika Kelly. Originally published in Poem-a-Day on November 20, 2017, by the Academy of American Poets.

Remember the sky that you were born under,
know each of the star’s stories.
Remember the moon, know who she is.
Remember the sun’s birth at dawn, that is the
strongest point of time. Remember sundown
and the giving away to night.
Remember your birth, how your mother struggled
to give you form and breath. You are evidence of
her life, and her mother’s, and hers.
Remember your father. He is your life, also.
Remember the earth whose skin you are:
red earth, black earth, yellow earth, white earth
brown earth, we are earth.
Remember the plants, trees, animal life who all have their
tribes, their families, their histories, too. Talk to them,
listen to them. They are alive poems.
Remember the wind. Remember her voice. She knows the
origin of this universe.
Remember you are all people and all people
are you.
Remember you are this universe and this
universe is you.
Remember all is in motion, is growing, is you.
Remember language comes from this.
Remember the dance language is, that life is.
Remember.

“Remember.” Copyright © 1983 by Joy Harjo from She Had Some Horses by Joy Harjo. Used by permission of W. W. Norton & Company, Inc.