I have known hours built like cities,
House on grey house, with streets between
That lead to straggling roads and trail off,
Forgotten in a field of green;

Hours made like mountains lifting
White crests out of the fog and rain,
And woven of forbidden music—
Hours eternal in their pain.

Life is a tapestry of hours
Forever mellowing in tone,
Where all things blend, even the longing
For hours I have never known.

This poem is in the public domain.

The air is close by the sea and the glow from the pink moon
drapes low over a tamarind tree.

We hold hands, walk across a road rushing with traffic 
to an abandoned building site on the bay, look out across the dark marina.

Sea cows sleep by the side of a splintered dock, a cluster of them 
under the shallow water,

their wide backs covered in algae like mounds of bleached coral.

Every few minutes one floats up for air, 
then drifts back down to the bottom, 

without fully waking.  
They will do this for hours, and for a while we try to match 

our breath to theirs, and with each other’s.

In the morning, sitting in the garden beneath thatch palms, 
we drink black coffee from white ceramic cups.

Lizards killed by feral cats are scattered on the footpath.
I sweep them into a pile with the ones from the night before.   

Waves of heat rise from the asphalt, 
and we sense a transparent gray fuzz lightly covering everything 

as if there were no such thing as empty space, 
that even a jar void of substance holds emptiness as if it were full.

We did not say much to each other but
we grinned,
            because this love was so good you sucked the
rib bones

and I licked my fingers like a cat.
Now I’m
            omniscient. I’m going to skip past
the hard

parts that go on for a very long time. Here’s the
future:
            I laugh, because the pleasure was earned
yet vouchsafed,

and I made room for what was dead past and what
yet didn’t
            exist. I was not always kind, but I
was clear.

Copyright © 2019 by Sandra Lim. Originally published in Poem-a-Day on November 12, 2019, by the Academy of American Poets.

if the cotton crop fails
if the wheat crop fails

if Oklahomans wander forever
among the back lots of Hollywood

if the potato crops fail
if the corn crops fail

if the sun corrodes a copper
mirror our faces afloat

above a crib in Guadalajara where the ceiling fan
rends our voices

and the secret lives of aloe roots 
confess to a window in feathers of ice

then the bluebells yawning up in ruts
of mining roads will measure the border wall

in the serene apotheosis of their sepals

and one drop of my blood

will freeze in the eye
of an old fox, and one drop

from your eye thaw
to feed the iris bulbs

three beads from our lungs
inhaled by a prisoner

in the electric chair a queen
in a fairy tale a farmer

planting mines east of her field if
the gears of the clouds say yes

if ants flow up and down the funnels
of evolution

then time will prism into its possibles
and you’ll end up in a bar

in Alabama a cherry in your mouth
watching a hotel key

float toward you
or you’ll wake in a labyrinth

called Monday                called Your Life
called The Things You Prayed For

and your intricate decisions
will lead you out and deeper in

your mirrors dissolving in ghost water

and your indecisions will go on
subtracting numbers from the garden

and building houses in the air

Copyright © 2019 by Chad Sweeney. Originally published in Poem-a-Day on November 18, 2019, by the Academy of American Poets.

What if the submarine
is praying for a way
it can poison the air,
in which some of them have
leaped for a few seconds,
felt its suffocating
rejected buoyancy.
Something floats above their
known world leading a wake
of uncountable death.
What if they organized
into a rebellion?

Now scientists have found
a group of octopuses
who seem to have a sense
of community, who
live in dwellings made of
gathered pebbles and shells,
who cooperate, who
defend an apparent
border. Perhaps they’ll have
a plan for the planet
in a millennium
or two. After we’re gone.

Copyright © 2019 by Marilyn Nelson. Originally published in Poem-a-Day on November 20, 2019, by the Academy of American Poets.

Only today did I notice the abyss
in abysmal and only because my mind
was generating rhymes for dismal,
and it made of the two a pair,
to which much later it joined
baptismal, as—I think—a joke.
I decided to do nothing with
the rhymes, treating them as one does
the unfortunately frequent appearance
of the “crafts” adults require children
to fashion from pipe cleaners
and plastic beads. One is not permitted
to simply throw them away,
but can designate a drawer
that serves as a kind of trash can
never emptied. I suppose one day
it will be full, and then I will know
it is time to set my child free.
The difficulty is my mind leaks
and so it will never fill, despite
the clumps of language I drop in,
and this means my mind can never
be abandoned in the woods
with a kiss and a wave
and a little red kerchief
tied under its chin.

Copyright © 2019 by Heather Christle. Originally published in Poem-a-Day on December 20, 2019, by the Academy of American Poets.

You ask me how I became a madman. It happened thus: One day, long before many gods were born, I woke from a deep sleep and found all my masks were stolen,—the seven masks I have fashioned and worn in seven lives,—I ran maskless through the crowded streets shouting, “Thieves, thieves, the cursed thieves.”

Men and women laughed at me and some ran to their houses in fear of me.

And when I reached the market place, a youth standing on a house-top cried, “He is a madman.” I looked up to behold him; the sun kissed my own naked face for the first time. For the first time the sun kissed my own naked face and my soul was inflamed with love for the sun, and I wanted my masks no more. And as if in a trance I cried, “Blessed, blessed are the thieves who stole my masks.”

Thus I became a madman.

And I have found both freedom and safety in my madness; the freedom of loneliness and the safety from being understood, for those who understand us enslave something in us.

But let me not be too proud of my safety. Even a Thief in a jail is safe from another thief.

This poem is in the public domain. Published in Poem-a-Day on December 21, 2019, by the Academy of American Poets.

                 Missing one hundred.

for many leagues, i slept under
surface. couldn’t learn enough
to stay, couldn’t hurt along
midriff, scrum and scrub. see myself
rushing into tomorrow’s wet
world. thin trees almost ferns with quiet mouth
desire. took to cold high plain, only wind and a murdered boy.

started running at the first sign
of breath but there’s only
three yesterday heads speak in these fields.
so much to circle. always asking
to let me repair small chord between us.
you started lagging each step, dragging
the water, stirring up dirt. he still
refuses all nourishment, says everything bad.

an odd man rushes past, asking if
near swamp, still looking for signs
we’ve seen two girls on horseback.
not tired, he says, refusing to go to sleep.
we’ve seen very little all day, close to the whistling ground.
in this family, we don’t count sheep because we eat them.
we shake our heads no
under black light, we’re all deep stream, counting down cows.

as the man points to the tracks, they couldn’t have gone far.
         Still fresh, still fresh. 

Copyright © 2020 by Ching-In Chen. Originally published in Poem-a-Day on January 6, 2020, by the Academy of American Poets.

Did tear along.
Did carry the sour heave
of memory. Did fold my body
upon the pillow’s curve,
did teach myself to pray.
Did pray. Did sleep. Did choir
an echo to swell through time.
Did pocket watch, did compass.
Did whisper a girl from the silence
of ghost. Did travel on the folded map
to the roaring inside. Did see myself
smaller, at least, stranger,
where the hinge of losing had not yet
become loss. Did vein, did hollow
in light, did hold my own chapped hand.
Did hair, did makeup, did press
the pigment on my broken lip.
Did stutter. Did slur. Did shush
my open mouth, the empty glove.
Did grace, did dare, did learn the way
forgiveness is the heaviest thing to bare.
Did grieve. Did grief. Did check the weather,
choose the sweater, did patch the jeans
worn out along the seam. Did purchase,
did pressure, did put the safety on the scissors.
Did shuttle myself away, did haunt, did swallow
a tongue of sweat formed on the belly
of a day-old glass. Did ice, did block,
did measure the doing. Did carry.
Did return. Did slumber, did speak.
Did wash blood from the bitten nail,
the thumb that bruised. Did wash
the dirt-stained face, the dirt-stained
sheets. Did take the pills. Did not
take the pills. Cut the knots
from my own matted hair.

Copyright © 2020 by Jessica Rae Bergamino. Originally published in Poem-a-Day on January 9, 2020, by the Academy of American Poets.

Farewell, sweetheart, and again farewell;
To day we part, and who can tell
     If we shall e'er again
Meet, and with clasped hands
Renew our vows of love, and forget
     The sad, dull pain.

Dear heart, 'tis bitter thus to lose thee
And think mayhap, you will forget me;
     And yet, I thrill
As I remember long and happy days
Fraught with sweet love and pleasant memories
     That linger still

You go to loved ones who will smile
And clasp you in their arms, and all the while
     I stay and moan
For you, my love, my heart and strive
To gather up life's dull, gray thread
     And walk alone.

Aye, with you love the red and gold
Goes from my life, and leaves it cold
     And dull and bare,
Why should I strive to live and learn
And smile and jest, and daily try
     You from my heart to tare?

Nay, sweetheart, rather would I lie
Me down, and sleep for aye; or fly
      To regions far
Where cruel Fate is not and lovers live
Nor feel the grim, cold hand of Destiny
      Their way to bar.

I murmur not, dear love, I only say
Again farewell. God bless the day
      On which we met,
And bless you too, my love, and be with you
In sorrow or in happiness, nor let you
      E'er me forget.
 

This poem is in the public domain. Published in Poem-a-Day on January 11, 2020, by the Academy of American Poets.

When my daughter whines I tell her to say what you want in a nice voice.

My nice voice is reserved for meetings with a view, my palm outstretched saying here. Are our problems. Legacies rolling out like multicolored marbles. Don’t focus so much on the ‘doom and gloom’ they keep saying. We don’t want to depress. Everyone. This is only our survival. We rely heavily on foreign aid I am instructed to say. I am instructed to point out the need for funds to build islands, move families from weto after weto, my mouth a shovel to spade the concrete with but I am just pointing out neediness. So needy. These small. Underdeveloped countries. I feel myself shrinking in the back of the taxi when a diplomat compliments me. How brave for admitting it so openly. The allure of global negotiations dulls. Like the back of a worn spoon.

I lose myself easily in a kemem. Kemem defined as feast. As celebration. A baby’s breath endures their first year so we pack hundreds of close bodies under tents, lined up for plates I pass to my cousin, assembly line style. Our gloved hands pluck out barbeque chicken, fried fish, scoop potato salad, dew-like droplets of bōb and mā. Someone yells for another container of jajimi. The speaker warbles a keyboarded song. A child inevitably cries. Mine dances in the middle of the party. A pair elbow each other to rip hanging beach balls from their strings. The MC shouts Boke ajiri ne nejim jen maan. The children are obstructing our view. Someone wheels a grandma onto the dance floor. The dances begin here

is a nice
celebration
of survival.

Copyright © 2020 by Kathy Jetnil-Kijiner. Originally published in Poem-a-Day on January 14, 2020, by the Academy of American Poets.

You are not fifteen, or twelve, or seventeen—
You are a hundred wild centuries

And fifteen, bringing with you
In every breath and in every step

Everyone who has come before you,
All the yous that you have been,

The mothers of your mother,
The fathers of your father.

If someone in your family tree was trouble,
A hundred were not:

The bad do not win—not finally,
No matter how loud they are.

We simply would not be here
If that were so.

You are made, fundamentally, from the good.
With this knowledge, you never march alone.

You are the breaking news of the century.
You are the good who has come forward

Through it all, even if so many days
Feel otherwise.  But think:

When you as a child learned to speak,
It’s not that you didn’t know words—

It’s that, from the centuries, you knew so many,
And it’s hard to choose the words that will be your own.

From those centuries we human beings bring with us
The simple solutions and songs,

The river bridges and star charts and song harmonies
All in service to a simple idea:

That we can make a house called tomorrow.
What we bring, finally, into the new day, every day,

Is ourselves.  And that’s all we need
To start.  That’s everything we require to keep going. 

Look back only for as long as you must,
Then go forward into the history you will make.

Be good, then better.  Write books.  Cure disease.
Make us proud.  Make yourself proud.

And those who came before you?  When you hear thunder,
Hear it as their applause.

Copyright © 2018 by Alberto Ríos. Used with the permission of the author.

What kind of thoughts now, do you carry
   In your travels day by day
Are they bright and lofty visions, 
   Or neglected, gone astray?

Matters not how great in fancy, 
    Or what deeds of skill you’ve wrought; 
Man, though high may be his station, 
    Is no better than his thoughts. 

Catch your thoughts and hold them tightly, 
   Let each one an honor be; 
Purge them, scourge them, burnish brightly, 
   Then in love set each one free. 

This poem is in the public domain. Published in Poem-a-Day on January 18, 2020, by the Academy of American Poets.

so whenever I hear a voice calling,
            I turn my head.

Unmake the bed
            open the window

When I returned from Paris
            burning behind me
        
I selected a single letter
            to tattoo upon my chest.

In the wind, my name sounds like a vowel.
            Everyone keeps asking what the baby will call me.

I find myself worrying about my nipples,
            how their textures will change.

It does not take long to recite the list of names
            of those who stay in touch.

I’m losing language in my sleep.
            I open my mouth, and words are plucked

from my tongue. Before I was broken,
            I planned to inherit the garden.

A guitar, dice, the scent of pipe smoke.
            We folded our legs beneath our dresses

and perched on the grass delicately.
            Back in the days when we knew our own names.

Copyright © 2020 by Valerie Wetlaufer. Originally published in Poem-a-Day on January 24, 2020, by the Academy of American Poets.

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.

I cannot sing, because when a child, 
   My mother often hushed me. 
The others she allowed to sing, 
   No matter what their melody. 

And since I’ve grown to manhood
   All music I applaud, 
But have no voice for singing, 
   So I write my songs to God. 

I have ears and know the measures, 
   And I’ll write a song for you, 
But the world must do the singing 
   Of my sonnets old and new. 

Now tell me, world of music, 
   Why I cannot sing one song? 
Is it because my mother hushed me
   And laughed when I was wrong?

Although I can write music, 
   And tell when harmony’s right, 
I will never sing better than when 
   My song was hushed one night. 

Fond mothers, always be careful; 
   Let the songs be poorly sung. 
To hush the child is cruel; 
   Let it sing while it is young. 

This poem is in the public domain. Published in Poem-a-Day on January 26, 2020, by the Academy of American Poets.

My goal out-distances the utmost star, 
Yet is encompassed in my inmost Soul; 
I am my goal—my quest, to know myself. 
To chart and compass this unfathomed sea, 
Myself must plumb the boundless universe. 
My Soul contains all thought, all mystery, 
All wisdom of the Great Infinite Mind: 
This is to discover, I must voyage far, 
At last to find it in my pulsing heart. 

This poem is in the public domain. Published in Poem-a-Day on February 8, 2020, by the Academy of American Poets.

Ask me why I love you, dear, 
    And I will ask the rose 
Why it loves the dews of Spring 
     At the Winter’s close; 
Why the blossoms’ nectared sweets 
     Loved by questing bee,—
I will gladly answer you, 
     If they answer me. 

Ask me why I love you, dear, 
    And I will ask the flower
Why it loves the Summer sun, 
    Or the Summer shower; 
I will ask the lover’s heart
     Why it loves the moon, 
Or the star-besprinkled skies
     In a night in June. 

Ask me why I love you, dear, 
    I will ask the vine 
Why its tendrils trustingly 
    Round the oak entwine; 
Why you love the mignonette
    Better than the rue,—
If you will but answer me, 
    I will answer you. 

Ask me why I love you, dear, 
    Let the lark reply, 
Why his heart is full of song
   When the twilight’s nigh; 
Why the lover heaves a sigh
    When her heart is true; 
If you will but answer me,
    I will answer you. 

This poem is in the public domain. Published in Poem-a-Day on February 15, 2020, by the Academy of American Poets.

...because in the dying world it was set burning.”
                                                            —Galway Kinnell

We are not making love but
all night long we hug each other. 
Your face under my chin is two brown
thoughts with no right name, but opens to
eyes when my beard is brushing you.
The last line of the album playing
is Joan Armatrading’s existential stuff, 
we had fun while it lasted.
You inch your head up toward mine
where your eyes brighten, intense, 
as though I were observer and you
a doppled source. In the blue light
in the air we suddenly leave our selves
and watch two salt-starved bodies
lick the sweat from each others’ lips.
When the one mosquito in the night
comes toward our breathing, the pitch
of its buzz turns higher
till it’s fat like this blue room
and burning on both of us;
now it dies like a siren passing
down a street, the color of blood.
I pull the blanket over our heads
about to despair because I think
everything intense is dying, but you, 
you, even asleep, hold onto all
you think I am, more than I think, 
so intensely you can feel me
hugging back where I have gone. 

From Across the Mutual Landscape (Graywolf Press, 1984). Copyright © 1984 by Christopher GIlbert. Published in Poem-a-Day on February 14, 2020, by the Academy of American Poets with permission of The Permissions Company inc. on behalf of Graywolf Press.

I’ve lost something and I can’t describe
what it is

line

and what if that’s my job
to say how empty an absence is

line

like rolling 2 gears together
and maybe teeth are missing in one
or both

line

or maybe trying to grind
two stones that are
polished and smoothed

line

I’ve always liked 
a little grit

line

but sand in my shoes
or in my hair

line

is like shattering
a glass in carpet
and using a broom to
get it out

line

I can’t describe
what it’s like to
sit on opposite ends
of a park bench and
not know how
to get any closer

line

I miss so many things
and I’ve looked through my piggy
bank and only found pennies

line

a pile of things that are
almost completely worthless

line

a shoebox full of sporks
a well with a bucket and a rope
that’s too short

line

sometimes in my room
it’s so dark that if I wake
up I won’t know if it’s morning or night

line

imagine being someplace you know
so well but are lost and don’t have any idea
how to get out

line

the rule is, put your right hand out
lay it on the wall, and follow

line

sometimes the rules don’t apply to all of us
I don’t want to sleep here again tonight

Copyright © 2020 by Kenyatta Rogers . Originally published in Poem-a-Day on February 26, 2020 by the Academy of American Poets.

A.k.a.

          the other gold.

                    Now that’s the stuff,

                               shredded or melted

                                         or powdered

                                                 or canned.

                                                             Behold

                                         the pinnacle of man

                     in a cheeto puff!

Now that’s the stuff

                      you’ve been primed for:

                                             fatty & salty & crunchy

          and poof—gone. There’s the proof.

Though your grandmother

                        never even had one. You can’t

                                    have just one. You

                                              inhale them puff—

                                                                     after puff—

                                                                after puff—

                               You’re a chain smoker. Tongue

                      coated & coaxed

but not saturated or satiated.

                       It’s like pure flavor,

                                   but sadder. Each pink ping

                                                       in your pinball-mouth

                                                                expertly played

                             by the makers who have studied you,

                               the human animal, and culled

                    from the rind

         your Eve in the shape

                                 of a cheese curl.

                                              Girl,

                                come curl in the dim light of the TV.

                           Veg out on the verge of no urge

                  of anything.

         Long ago we beached ourselves,

                                 climbed up the trees then

                                          down the trees,

                                                knuckled across the dirt

                               & grasses & thorns & Berber carpet.

                                           Now is the age of sitting,

                                   so sit.

           And I must say,

                       crouched on the couch like that,

                             you resemble no animal.

                                    Smug in your Snuggie and snug

                                                     in your sloth, you look

                                           nothing like a sloth.

           And you are not an anteater,

                                   an anteater eats ants

                                                   without fear

                                       of diabetes. Though breathing,

                 one could say, resembles a chronic disease. 

                                                                                            What’s real

                             cheese and what is cheese product?

                              It’s difficult to say

               but being alive today

                                      is real-

                                                real-

                                                       really

                                like a book you can’t put down, a stone

                       that plummets from a great height. Life’s

                      a “page-turner” alright.

               But don’t worry

                                      if you miss the finale

                                                of your favorite show, you can

                                                   catch in on queue. Make room

                                      for me and I’ll binge on this,

                                                            the final season with you.

Copyright © 2020 by Benjamin Garcia. Originally published in Poem-a-Day on March 27, 2020 by the Academy of American Poets.

The translucent claws of newborn mice

this pearl cast of color,

the barely perceptible

like a ghosted threshold of being:

here     not here.

The single breath we hold

on the thinnest verge of sight:

not there   there.

A curve nearly naked 

an arc of almost, 

a wisp of becoming

a wand—

tiny enough to change me.

Copyright © 2020 by Kimberly Blaeser. Originally published in Poem-a-Day on April 8, 2020 by the Academy of American Poets.

               after Matthew Olzmann 

Oh button, don’t go thinking we loved pianos
more than elephants, air conditioning more than air.

We loved honey, just loved it, and went into stores
to smell the sweet perfume of unworn leather shoes.

Did you know, on the coast of Africa, the Sea Rose
and Carpenter Bee used to depend on each other?

The petals only opened for the Middle C their wings
beat, so in the end, we protested with tuning forks.

You must think we hated the stars, the empty ladles,
because they conjured thirst. We didn’t. We thanked

them and called them lucky, we even bought the rights
to name them for our sweethearts. Believe it or not,

most people kept plants like pets and hired kids
like you to water them, whenever they went away.

And ice! Can you imagine? We put it in our coffee
and dumped it out at traffic lights, when it plugged up

our drinking straws. I had a dog once, a real dog,
who ate venison and golden yams from a plastic dish.

He was stubborn, but I taught him to dance and play
dead with a bucket full of chicken livers. And we danced

too, you know, at weddings and wakes, in basements
and churches, even when the war was on. Our cars

we mostly named for animals, and sometimes we drove
just to drive, to clear our heads of everything but wind.

Copyright © 2020 J.P. Grasser. Originally published in American Poets vol. 58. Distributed by the Academy of American Poets. 

Lark of my house,
keep laughing.
Miguel Hernández

this little lark says hi
to the rain—she calls
river as she slaps
the air with both wings—
she doesn’t know pine
from ash or cedar
from linden—she greets
drizzle & downpour
alike—she doesn’t
know iceberg from melt—
can’t say sea level
rise—glacial retreat—
doesn’t know wildfire—
greenhouse gas—carbon
tax or emission—
does not legislate
a fear she can’t yet
feel—only knows cats
& birds & small dogs
& the sway of some
tall trees make her squeal
with delight—it shakes
her tiny body—
this thrill of the live
electric sudden—
the taste of wild blue-
berries on her tongue—
the ache of thorn-prick
from blackberry bush—
oh dear girl—look here—
there’s so much to save—
moments—lady bugs—
laughter—trillium—
blue jays—arias—
horizon’s pink hue—
we gather lifetimes
on one small petal—
the river’s our friend—
the world: an atom—
daughter: another
name for: hope—rain—change
begins when you hail
the sky sun & wind
the verdure inside
your heart’s four chambers
even garter snakes
and unnamed insects
in the underbrush
as you would a love
that rivers: hi—hi

Copyright © 2020 by Dante Di Stefano. Originally published in Poem-a-Day on May 9, 2020, by the Academy of American Poets.

–From the immigration questionnaire given to Chinese entering or re-entering the U.S. during the Chinese Exclusion Act

Have you ridden in a streetcar?
Can you describe the taste of bread?
Where are the joss houses located in the city?
Do Jackson Street and Dupont run
in a circle or a line, what is the fruit
your mother ate before she bore you,
how many letters a year
do you receive from your father?
Of which material is your ancestral hall
now built? How many water buffalo
does your uncle own?
Do you love him? Do you hate her?
What kind of bird sang
at your parents’ wedding? What are the birth dates
for each of your cousins: did your brother die
from starvation, work, or murder?
Do you know the price of tea here?
Have you ever touched a stranger’s face
as he slept? Did it snow the year
you first wintered in our desert?
How much weight is
a bucket and a hammer? Which store
is opposite your grandmother’s?
Did you sleep with that man
for money? Did you sleep with that man
for love? Name the color and number
of all your mother’s dresses. Now
your village’s rivers.
What diseases of the heart
do you carry? What country do you see
when you think of your children?
Does your sister ever write?
In which direction does her front door face?
How many steps did you take
when you finally left her?
How far did you walk
before you looked back?

Copyright © 2020 by Paisley Rekdal. Originally published in Poem-a-Day on May 11, 2020 by the Academy of American Poets.

Translated by Idra Novey and Ahmad Nadalizadeh
                                        For the city of Bam destroyed in the 2003 earthquake

The window is black
the table, black
the sky, black
the snow, black
You’re mistaken!
I don’t need medicine
or a psychotherapist.
Just lift these stones,
sweep aside the earth
and look into my eyes!

My eyes
that are round like the Earth

an image of the world
the world of shut doors
of countless walls

anytime I stand before the mirror
the image of an upside-down tortoise
makes me long for a passer-by
to arrive and invert the world

Some night
our hands will tremble from all this solitude
and our depiction on the canvas
will be scribbled out

the ruins of Bam scribbled out
the shelters we built
collapsing on our heads

I am terrified by the next images in this poem
the image of God lifting all the doors onto his shoulders
getting away
retreating far and then farther

I write: one day
the missing keys will be recovered.
What should we do about the missing locks.
 




The Ruins of Bam (Original Persian)
The Ruins of Bam (Original Persian)

Copyright © 2020 by Garous Abdolmalekian, Idra Novey, and Ahmad Nadalizadeh. Originally published in Poem-a-Day on May 21, 2020 by the Academy of American Poets.

I am hovering over this rug
with a hair dryer on high in my hand
I have finally, inevitably, spilled
red wine on this impractically white
housewarming hand-me-down from my cousin, who
clearly, and incorrectly, thought this was a good idea

With the help of a little panic,
sparkling water and a washcloth,
I am stunned by how quickly the wine washes out,
how I was sure this mistake would find me
every day with its gaping mouth, reminding me
of my own propensity for failure
and yet, here I am
with this clean slate

The rug is made of fur,
which means it died
to be here

It reminds me of my own survival
and everyone who has taught me
to shake loose the shadow of death

I think of inheritance, how this rug
was passed on to me through blood,
how this animal gave its blood
so that I may receive the gift of its death
and be grateful for it

I think of our inability
to control stories of origin
how history does not wash away
with water and a good scrub 

I think of evolution,
what it means to make it through
this world with your skin intact,
how flesh is fragile
but makes a needle and thread
of itself when necessary

I think of all that I have inherited,
all the bodies buried for me to be here
and stay here, how I was born with grief
and gratitude in my bones

And I think of legacy,
how I come from a long line of sorcerers
who make good work of building
joy from absolutely nothing

And what can I do with that
but pour another glass,
thank the stars
for this sorceress blood
and keep pressing forward

Copyright © 2020 by L. Ash Williams. Originally published in Poem-a-Day on July 30, 2020, by the Academy of American Poets.