Where are the good ones:
the beautiful, strong, and
virtuous figures of yore?
Probably where the moon is,
hung aloft in effulgent skies:
eating nails for breakfast,
dying in childbirth, then
resurrecting to give it all
away, cyclically, once more. 
I don’t want to be the moon,
I said to Dick on the casting
couch: I want to be a flower
no one can touch without dying
of hope of touching it again.
Something rare and exotic:
throaty stamen, purple pistil.
Something that just stands
on the stage and screams.
Alas, that role is taken,
said Dick, by Suzanne.
Figures, I said. How
about the wild river,
he suggested, kindly.
Or a creek, brook,
rivulet, rill, stream?
But where do I empty,
I asked, before agreeing:
in an ocean, sea, or lake,
or do I just flow into the
ground, a dried-up shrew?
That’s between you and your
character to decide, he said.
The river, you mean, I said.
Yes, he said. For god’s sake,
you’re a woman. Just be you.  

Copyright © 2023 by Virginia Konchan. Originally published in Poem-a-Day on March 27, 2023, by the Academy of American Poets.

I would like to watch you sleeping,
which may not happen.
I would like to watch you,
sleeping. I would like to sleep
with you, to enter
your sleep as its smooth dark wave
slides over my head

and walk with you through that lucent
wavering forest of bluegreen leaves
with its watery sun & three moons
towards the cave where you must descend,
towards your worst fear

I would like to give you the silver
branch, the small white flower, the one
word that will protect you
from the grief at the center
of your dream, from the grief
at the center. I would like to follow
you up the long stairway
again & become
the boat that would row you back
carefully, a flame
in two cupped hands
to where your body lies
beside me, and you enter
it as easily as breathing in

I would like to be the air
that inhabits you for a moment
only. I would like to be that unnoticed
& that necessary.

From Selected Poems II: 1976-1986 by Margaret Atwood. Copyright © 1987 by Margaret Atwood. Reprinted by permission of Houghton Mifflin. All rights reserved.

In my youth the heart of dawn was in my heart, and the songs of April were in my ears.

But my soul was sad unto death, and I knew not why. Even unto this day I know not why I was sad.

But now, though I am with eventide, my heart is still veiling dawn,

And though I am with autumn, my ears still echo the songs of spring.

But my sadness has turned into awe, and I stand in the presence of life and life’s daily miracles.

The difference between my youth which was my spring, and these forty years, and they are my autumn, is the very difference that exists between flower and fruit.

A flower is forever swayed with the wind and knows not why and wherefore.

But the fruit overladen with the honey of summer, knows that it is one of life’s home-comings, as a poet when his song is sung knows sweet content,

Though life has been bitter upon his lips.

In my youth I longed for the unknown, and for the unknown I am still longing.

But in the days of my youth longing embraced necessity that knows naught of patience.

Today I long not less, but my longing is friendly with patience, and even waiting.

And I know that all this desire that moves within me is one of those laws that turns universes around one another in quiet ecstasy, in swift passion which your eyes deem stillness, and your mind a mystery.

And in my youth I loved beauty and abhorred ugliness, for beauty was to me a world separated from all other worlds.

But now that the gracious years have lifted the veil of picking-and-choosing from over my eyes, I know that all I have deemed ugly in what I see and hear, is but a blinder upon my eyes, and wool in my ears;

And that our senses, like our neighbors, hate what they do not understand. 

And in my youth I loved the fragrance of flowers and their color. 

Now I know that their thorns are their innocent protection, and if it were not for that innocence they would disappear forevermore.

And in my youth, of all seasons I hated winter, for I said in my aloneness, “Winter is a thief who robs the earth of her sun-woven garment, and suffers her to stand naked in the wind.” 

But now I know that in winter there is re-birth and renewal, and that the wind tears the old raiment to cloak her with a new raiment woven by the spring. 

And in my youth I would gaze upon the sun of the day and the stars of the night, saying in my secret, “How small am I, and how small a circle my dream makes.”

But today when I stand before the sun or the stars I cry, “The sun is close to me, and the stars are upon me;” for all the distances of my youth have turned into the nearness of age; 

And the great aloneness which knows not what is far and what is near, nor what is small nor great, has turned into a vision that weighs not nor does it measure. 

In my youth I was but the slave of the high tide and the ebb tide of the sea, and the prisoner of half moons and full moons. 

Today I stand at this shore and I rise not nor do I go down. 

Even my roots once every twenty-eight days would seek the heart of the earth.

And on the twenty-ninth day they would rise toward the throne of the sky. 

And on that very day the rivers in my veins would stop for a moment, and then would run again to the sea. 

Yes, in my youth I was a thing, sad and yielding, and all the seasons played with me and laughed in their hearts.

And life took a fancy to me and kissed my young lips, and slapped my cheeks. 

Today I play with the seasons. And I steal a kiss from life’s lips ere she kisses my lips. 

And I even hold her hands playfully that she may not strike my cheek. 

In my youth I was sad indeed, and all things seemed dark and distant. 

Today, all is radiant and near, and for this I would live my youth and the pain of my youth, again and yet again.

This poem is in the public domain. Published in Poem-a-Day on April 2, 2023, by the Academy of American Poets.

Someone forgot to whisper your death to the bees
And so all the bees have left
And the fruit trees have died.

In the house there are twelve ghosts 
And all of them you—
Caught like birds in the stations of girlhood.

One ghost kneels before an empty fireplace;
She sings her sister’s name
Into the cool mouth of the chimney,

Listens as the voice shivers
Its return.

A barefoot ghost pitches stones 
Down the red dirt road.

The melancholy sister at the kitchen window
Waits for a letter, watches for the postman.

Twelve ghosts. Each sister ties
A different color ribbon in her hair.

One sweeps all the rooms of the house.

Two stand before the mirror. But it’s bad luck
For two to look into a mirror at the same time;
The youngest will die.

And what of the one in the basement?

No, we don’t visit her.

Twelve white plates laid on the table for supper.

All twelve drink water from one well.

Each daughter moves in the mood of her own month.
They carry the tides, the seasons, the year of you.
Each daughter, each dancer,
Delivers the message of you.

One dreams she’s a racehorse rider—
She straddles the propane tank in the yard 
And rides recklessly into the night.

One ghost plays a nocturne on the piano,

While another skips into the room,
Strikes the discordant keys, and vanishes.

The last ghost leans with her ear against a dead wasp nest. 
She closes her eyes and listens

To you, still singing 
Beyond the kingdom of the living

Copyright © 2023 by Ansel Elkins. Originally published in Poem-a-Day on April 25, 2023, by the Academy of American Poets.

It is really something when a kid who has a hard time becomes a kid who’s having a good time in no small part thanks to you throwing that kid in the air again and again on a mile long walk home from the Indian joint as her mom looks sideways at you like you don’t need to keep doing this because you’re pouring with sweat and breathing a little bit now you’re getting a good workout but because the kid laughs like a horse up there laughs like a kangaroo beating her wings against the light because she laughs like a happy little kid and when coming down and grabbing your forearm to brace herself for the time when you will drop her which you don’t and slides her hand into yours as she says for the fortieth time the fiftieth time inexhaustible her delight again again again and again and you say give me til the redbud tree or give me til the persimmon tree because she knows the trees and so quiet you almost can’t hear through her giggles she says ok til the next tree when she explodes howling yanking your arm from the socket again again all the wolves and mourning doves flying from her tiny throat and you throw her so high she lives up there in the tree for a minute she notices the ants organizing on the bark and a bumblebee carousing the little unripe persimmon in its beret she laughs and laughs as she hovers up there like a bumblebee like a hummingbird up there giggling in the light like a giddy little girl up there the world knows how to love.

Copyright © 2023 by Ross Gay. Originally published in Poem-a-Day on April 26, 2023, by the Academy of American Poets.

No use telling 
         the dead what 
you’ve learned since 

they’ve learnt it too— 

how to go on 
         without you, the mercy 
of morning, or moving, 

         the light that persists 
even if. 

✶ 

Beauty is as beauty 
         does, my mother says, 
who is beautiful & speaks 

loud so she can be understood 
         unlike poets who can’t 
talk to save their lives 

so they write. 

✶ 

It’s like a language, 
         loss— 
can be  

         learned only 
by living—there— 

✶ 

What anchors us 
         to this thirst 
& earth, its threats 

& thinnesses— 
         its ways of waning 
& making the most of—

of worse & much 
         worse—if not 
this light lifting 

up over the ridge

Copyright © 2023 by Kevin Young. Originally published in Poem-a-Day on April 28, 2023, by the Academy of American Poets.

Whenever I feel loss or lack, I imagine 
The wind roaming outside of my childhood’s lair
—as I am a child again, with my red knapsack 
bouncing lightly on my back— 
Beckoning me to run to it, into its slurry white expanse . . .
And in my heart, I am already on my way 
To some thrilling future 
Which is not yet weak and diluted with a lonely pain.
There, I am someone who wishes to be 
An exception and I am. A third and ringing note 
Edges the banal alternatives of 
Yes, and No. A lyric possibility rises 
Everywhere and at once, a thousand roses—allusive, corrosive.
Think how much you must change. Even more than you dare.

Copyright © 2023 by Sandra Lim. Originally published in Poem-a-Day on May 1, 2023, by the Academy of American Poets.

we have given up on knocking. 
Incoming! we say, with our eyes lowered for modesty,
or, Hello! or sometimes, Sorry, sorry! 
You have to pass through everyone’s bedroom
to get to the kitchen. We only have two bathrooms. 
As a courtesy, nobody will poop while you are showering,
but they might have to do their makeup or shave 
if they are in a rush, if we have somewhere to be,
so you can recognize every person by their whistle 
through a wet shower curtain, you haven’t seen your own face
on an unfogged mirror in weeks. It doesn’t matter,
self-consciousness has no currency here. 
If you were nosy, I suppose the little bathroom trashcans 
would spill their secrets to you, but why bother, 
privacy is a language we don’t speak.
Someone is always awake before you, 
the smell of coffee easing you into a today
they have already entered, 
a bridge you will never need to cross first,
and no matter how latenight your owl,
there is always someone still awake 
to eat popcorn with, to whisper your daily report to,
to compare notes on what good news you each caught in your nets.
In bed, you say, Goodnight! in one direction 
and someone says it back, then turns and passes it, 
so you fall asleep to the echo of goodnights down the long hallway
’til it donuts its way back around to your pillow. 
Someone is doing a load of laundry,
if anyone wants to add some extra socks?
Someone is clearing the dishes, 
someone has started singing Gershwin in the backyard 
and you can’t help but harmonize,
and for a moment what you always hoped was true
finally is: loneliness has forgotten your address,
french toast browning on the stovetop,
the sound of everyone you love
clear as the sun giggling through the window,
not even a doorknob between you.

Copyright © 2023 by Sarah Kay. Originally published in Poem-a-Day on May 2, 2023, by the Academy of American Poets.

At the funeral, his other former girlfriend gives the eulogy. I sit in the pew.

Sitting in front of me, and behind me, and also to both sides, are more other former girlfriends.

Something heartfelt shared by Ex on the Mic sets off a chorus of sniffles among the Exes in Rows. They tuck their hair behind their little ears.

There are so many different people to hate, so I keep things simple and hate everyone.

I know why he picked me, a novelty.

I wore Mary Janes and high-neck dresses and labeled the shelves “Tuna and Nuts” and “Breakfast Items, Soup.” My hair was always squeaky clean.

Now I am someone entirely new.

A black dog, a broken heart.

I revel in being more like him now.

At home, I put on my sunglasses and turn off the lights.

Sitting on the toilet where light can’t peek through, I pretend the plunger’s a white cane. My chin held too high and to the side, I run through gruesome imitations of anger, contempt, disgust, sadness, surprise.

The world will be unsettled.

I will unsettle them.

Copyright © 2023 by Leigh Lucas. Originally published in Poem-a-Day on May 3, 2023, by the Academy of American Poets.

some days        you seem
so disappointed, love   but you knew 

what it was.
i am your dread wife. 

you will not throw me out 
of eden            i walk myself to the door. 

o! 
there is no snake          i plant the tree. 

i pluck the apple       i bite.
the pomegranate          the passion fruit

whatever the fuck. 
i am feast unto myself.  

in this wilderness         the feral things name me. 

& i was raised to one day wash 
my husband’s feet at night.

of course i molted        made myself a woman 
who unmakes home. 

refused to be whittled to a fine point              
but you like me piercing.

beloved                        i will not 
only writhe when coming. 

my vow: break through this shell         fully impossible.
your vow: lap every slick of the yolk. 

Copyright © 2023 by Elizabeth Acevedo. Originally published in Poem-a-Day on May 5, 2023, by the Academy of American Poets.

Liz, I think her name was, the woman 
my mother brought me to. We played

cards in her perfumed office: lavender,
tulips, bowl of wax fruit. I was ten

and wanted to die. I don’t know why
I’m here again. I lived. Obviously, 

I lived. When I was older, but still 
a child, not innocent, but foolish,

I looked up from my solitary 
suffering. I learned the history

of men. I pointed to a spot
on the map they rendered. I said 

then, then, built my common life
in a room at the end. 

If it’s true, what they say, that poetry 
is written with the knowledge of

and against death, that it is 
a beacon, a bulwark, then Love, 

I confess, I have been no poet. 
Outside, a hawk circles overhead. 

Four cops circle a woman
dressed all in red. I circle

the apartment as you sleep, happily
in the next room. Just this once

I want so desperately 
to be proven wrong. 

Copyright © 2023 by Carmen Awkward-Rich. Originally published in Poem-a-Day on May 9, 2023, by the Academy of American Poets. 

Another word I love is evening
for the balance it implies, balance
being something I struggle with.
I suppose I would like to be more
a planet, turning in & out of light
It comes down again to polarities,
equilibrium. Evening. The moths
take the place of the butterflies,
owls the place of hawks, coyotes
for dogs, stillness for business,
& the great sorrow of brightness
makes way for its own sorrow.
Everything dances with its strict
negation, & I like that. I have no
choice but to like that. Systems
are evening out all around us—
even now, as we kneel before
a new & ruthless circumstance.
Where would I like to be in five
years, someone asks—& what
can I tell them? Surrendering
with grace to the evening, with
as much grace as I can muster
to the circumstance of darkness,
which is only something else
that does not stay.

Copyright © 2023 by Jeremy Radin. Originally published in Poem-a-Day on May 16, 2023, by the Academy of American Poets. 

Imagine you’re an astronaut stuck in outer space. And it’s just you. Only you. What would you write about? What

do you see outside your spaceship windshield? What do you miss? Who is your brother now, all those miles down? Where’s west? What would you have brought, had you known you would be out here, maybe forever, all by yourself?

What about regret? What if 

there are whole days where you don’t think of your hands? How closely related 

is loneliness to remembrance?—when you let yourself think about it?

Do the stars feel heavier now? 

Is there, truly, anything you would do over?—knowing everything you know now? If regret was a type of animal, any animal, what song would it sing in you?

Outside are all these tiny windows you can’t look through. 

Do you miss having a sky to throw wishes against? What did it look like last?—describe the blue. 

What phrases do you miss people saying? By “people” I mean: 

write about something small—but with great detail—about everyone you love. 

What blurs then builds a forest inside you? Is that too specific? Pretend 

it’s summer again and that you’re the fire for it—would it even be worth writing about? 

Would you, by now, meaning in outer space, and very much alone, want to replay the moments of your life you wished had gone differently?—Or have you gotten over it all already? What stage are we in? Is being stuck in space like dying and not getting to ghost-visit your own funeral? Which is the first moment you’d go back to in order to change it? By it I mean where the regret sprang from. Would you feel bad about the rippling? Is worry just a wider room? There is always a box in which regret will fit. After you tape it shut, describe the sound. Describe the blue.

Copyright © 2023 by Michael Torres. Originally published in Poem-a-Day on May 26, 2023, by the Academy of American Poets. 

Whenever I spend the day crying, 
my friends tell me I look high. Good grief,  

they finally understand me.  
Even when the arena is empty, I thank god  

for the shots I miss. If you ever catch me  
only thanking god for the shots I make,  

remind me I’m not thanking god. Remind me  
all my prayers were answered  

the moment I started praying  
for what I already have.  

Jenny says when people ask if she’s out of the woods,  
she tells them she’ll never be out of the woods,  

says there is something lovely about the woods.  
I know how to build a survival shelter  

from fallen tree branches, packed mud,  
and pulled moss. I could survive forever  

on death alone. Wasn’t it death that taught me  
to stop measuring my lifespan by length,

but by width? Do you know how many beautiful things  
can be seen in a single second? How you can blow up

a second like a balloon and fit infinity inside of it? 
I’m infinite, I know, but I still have a measly wrinkle

collection compared to my end goal. I would love  
to be a before picture, I think, as I look in the mirror

and mistake my head for the moon. My dark  
thoughts are almost always 238,856 miles away 

from me believing them. I love this life, 
I whisper into my doctor’s stethoscope

so she can hear my heart. My heart, an heirloom
I didn’t inherit until I thought I could die.

Why did I go so long believing I owed the world
my disappointment? Why did I want to take

the world by storm when I could have taken it
by sunshine, by rosewater, by the cactus flowers

on the side of the road where I broke down?
I’m not about to waste more time

spinning stories about how much time
I’m owed, but there is a man

who is usually here, who isn’t today.  
I don’t know if he’s still alive. I just know

his wife was made of so much hope  
she looked like a firework above his chair.

Will the afterlife be harder if I remember
the people I love, or forget them?

Either way, please let me remember.

Copyright © 2023 by Andrea Gibson. Originally published in Poem-a-Day on May 30, 2023, by the Academy of American Poets. 

1
Your singular, my love. Rehearses its absence.

You see light, hear noise, feel the warmth of the sun. Do you connect it into “day”?

You move through shards and splinters. Toward.

You are no longer possible.

2
Because, my love. The night such a vast space. And you a bird in oblique flight.

I try to hold on. To moments still ours. Even as they slip away.

Each word of yours, each gesture, gently. Once upon no more.

Do not fall again. Not even like an apple in autumn.

3
Because we say: we. We are each hour and each minute. Not altogether alone.

I have looked deep in the eyes of men and women. And feared that lastly. We make no contact.

And yet. The space between.

Can fill with love.

4
I no longer know what to think. About death. Which stands ready.

About you. A hunger hallucinating outward. From the ruins of memory.

Because yes, you. Still make my heart beat.

Irregularly. Like yours.

Copyright © 2023 by Rosmarie Waldrop. Originally published in Poem-a-Day on June 30, 2023, by the Academy of American Poets. 

Every wood I’ve stepped into
has a watchful crone, a witch whose skin
resembles the bark of an ancient oak.

She spins her wool by moonlight,
she threads her fingers through the moss,
and knows exactly which mushrooms to pick.

I don’t need my hearing to feel the changes
in the wind when she slips out of the gaps
between the rocks and the trees, her voice

I feel in the roots I step on, in the stones
I try to avoid with my bare feet that always
manage to bruise me, test the calluses I’ve grown

with each stride I’ve taken through these trees.
I’ve sung to her beneath the arms of the beeches
reaching towards the birches, though she never

listens to me. I imagine she laughs at the tune
I cannot keep, before moving on, gathering weeds
by the stars, mixing potions to use on people

like me, who would walk into her arms gladly,
wishing she were an old aunt I could visit to learn
everything about this world she keeps to herself.

Copyright © 2023 by Kris Ringman. Originally published in Poem-a-Day on July 5, 2023, by the Academy of American Poets. 

I planted a coast live oak seedling
in the front yard today,
not with my own vestigial hands, 
but through the sentinel, pallbearing palms
of an able-bodied surrogate.

I can see it now, six inches tall and
stolid against the gentle breeze—
a pittance of cupped, spiny-toothed
leaves dangling from a stem curved in
proud contrast to my corrected scoliosis.

Long after my ventilator is sent to palliate
another among the unfortunate dying
and my lungs are but dust
on a slagged pair of Harrington rods,
the little oak might be a three-foot whip,
battered but not broken by the ephemeral desert breath
that creeps over mountains named by the Spanish for
some saint that never kept their end of the deal.

If drought holds off for a year or three
and my oak escapes the quirks of fate,
one day it might spread and thrive
until its carpet of jagged leaves bloody
the bare feet of a child or passing Pomeranian
and I live again through their pain.

Copyright © 2023 by Brian Koukol. Originally published in Poem-a-Day on July 7, 2023, by the Academy of American Poets. 

To me thy lips are mute, but when I gaze
Upon thee in thy perfect loveliness,—
No trait that should not be—no lineament
To jar with the exquisite harmony
Of Beauty’s music, breathing to the eyes,
I pity those who think they pity me;
Who drink the tide that gushes from thy lips
Unconscious of its sweets, as if they were
E’en as I am—and turn their marble eyes
Upon thy loveliness, without the thrill
That maddens me with joy’s delirium.

This poem is in the public domain. Published in Poem-a-Day on July 8, 2023, by the Academy of American Poets.

Her father said don’t stay out late,
his hand too long on her shoulder.  
I would have driven a mower into the side
of his blue Camaro but my feet couldn’t 
reach the pedals. I could have punched

high enough to graze the perfect arc
of his jaw, but I wasn’t strong yet. 
My mother promised me height,
a broad chest, and hands big enough 
to sing all the songs of war.

His smile swung its hook above us,
so we leapt gates, she and I.
Pretend you’re a scorpion
and I’ll be the peregrine, talons out.
You can’t hide!

Our paths tore grass,
crazed gnats in the fallow. 
Deer flies followed us back home 
and needled into dreams in which 
we shed skin like wool and writhed 

under pins and wires—because bugs have bugs
that bite ‘em. I dreamt of feeding pieces
of myself into the mouth of a beast 
until the beast outweighed my fear.  
When we woke starred with bites, her father 

flung her against the wall as if to slap dust
off a rug. His handprint on her faded slow 
as water off a handkerchief. The things 
we were taught had something to do 
with mosquitos hurtling themselves at us

like there was a law for it, with her mother
dozing in the window, and with what touch does
to make a girl a castaway bird, grieving 
from the boughs, an out-in-the-open orphan 
gentling toward a dying time.  

I couldn’t muster the courage to ask 
how she could still vault a rain barrel in sheer glee. 
Only allowed to finger the last knot of her hair, 
I kept chasing till my legs were a twist 
of nerves and brittle gears.

I am neither strong nor tall 
and my hands can’t grasp 
beyond the quiet in us, wary as deer 
in the clearing where she’d command me 
to undress. Lay down. Don’t move. 

I wanted to believe wasps could fumble 
painlessly against us like snow 
tumbled from the leaves’ miscellaneous hands. 
She wanted to be dangerous, the one 
giving orders, and so on ad infinitum . . .

Copyright © 2023 by Frank Gallimore. Originally published in Poem-a-Day on July 18, 2023, by the Academy of American Poets. 

For DJ

My son starts every conversation  
with the statement “I love you, Dad.”  

“I love you, Dad. What’s for dinner tonight?”  
“I love you, Dad. Is it supposed to rain?”  

“I love you, Dad. Can we go for a walk?”  
“I love you, Dad, but you really have to chill.”  

He’s like the guy who wears a bow tie  
to the bar and to the beach.  

He’s a dandy of affection, at once  
rolling up his pennies and spending them  

on ice cream. He’ll wear this phrase  
to heaven (he’s already been to hell—  

what he calls fostercareless). If  
Orpheus had a lyre, then he has a bearing  

edge. He will not drum without it:  
“I love you, Dad.” 

He moves forward by glancing back, 
and no one is ever lost. 

The sky sells cotton candy;  
the trees, shade. 

Love—it’s a kind of leash, invisible,  
expanding, and I’m his big, happy dog.

Copyright © 2023 by Ralph James Savarese. Originally published in Poem-a-Day on July 26, 2023, by the Academy of American Poets. 

What can I tell her over breakfast when she says
her son suffers from madness, and because there
is no mental health, he has ended up in jail,
and she is relieved, because at least he might
be safe there or he might get to see the doctor.
We are eating egg-white omelets; we are counting
carbs. We are buttoning ourselves in our clean dresses
and high-heeled shoes in order to bring home the bacon,
doing what we need to do and “It is what it is.”
Her granddaughter and daughter are living with her
in the one bedroom. Nights, the daughter lounges by
the pool, looking at her phone, while she teaches the child
to plant seeds in a flower bed she feels bad she does not own.
She tells she cried in the car coming here; she did not know
me then. She thought we would be talking to each other
the whole time about what we are selling, what
the other might buy, but somehow we left that behind
over the toast with the tiny pots of strawberry jam.
Who can explain all this luxury, all this despair?
Or how we all hold our secret shames so close
and gloss our lips with “Cinnamon Fire” as if that were
some legitimate form of protection. Cinnamon Fire!
She just turned fifty. I tell her wait ten years—you
won’t know more, but you will get closer to forgiving,
because it is all happening on a wheel that spins
so fast. Why not stop to look at the pink flowers
you’ve planted with your granddaughter? Why not feel
your bare toes in the good wet earth? We play with the crusts
on our plates. The waitress takes the coffee away. We
are strangers again, each carrying our lonely fear
our children won’t find their way, wishing for them
some inner logic—sacred trust of earth and self, that exists
for each of us so far within, so far under the skin, we
can’t even begin to say what it is made of; it merely is,
poised between love and grief: the blue space we call wonder,
which is merely the dew on the grass, the shadow the sun
makes as it rolls over the vast skin of the Earth.

Copyright © 2023 by Sheila Black. Originally published in Poem-a-Day on July 28, 2023, by the Academy of American Poets. 

a little red dot is
a laser pointer
a moving target
a danger button
a recorder button
a pottu
a pimple
a popstar
a rash
a makaan orredi?
a smile of a query unconcerned with whether
it was mealtime
a panic room
a piercing
pain
pinpointing
a period
of uncertainty asking
why can’t I question what I love?
why can’t I love what I question?
a third eye for an eye
on the prize
an accessory to murder
of crows on an angsana
a birdcall
flitting across
sky
catcalling worms
a discreet witness
to bargain basement love stories
screaming
onwards and up yours
a cockroach friend scurrying over unwashed masses
murmuring
this boy does not know anything
such a waste
thinks he is headlight
when he is just deer
a song that goes
this is
home?
is this
home?
is this
a home?
this is
a home?
what home
is this?

Copyright © 2023 by Shivram Gopinath. Originally published in Poem-a-Day on August 15, 2023, by the Academy of American Poets. 

In me is a little painted square
Bordered by old shops, with gaudy awnings.
And before the shops sit smoking, open-bloused old men,
Drinking sunlight.
The old men are my thoughts:
And I come to them each evening, in a creaking cart,
And quietly unload supplies.
We fill slim pipes and chat,
And inhale scents from pale flowers in the center of the square . . .
Strong men, tinkling women, and dripping, squealing children
Stroll past us, or into the shops.
They greet the shopkeepers, and touch their hats or foreheads to me . . .
Some evening I shall not return to my people.

This poem is in the public domain. Published in Poem-a-Day on August 26, 2023, by the Academy of American Poets.

I dreamed you.

I waited 45 years for you

to find me.

I have nothing to give you

But these places

I have been.

I own no home.

I carry my life with me 

In boxes

on my back.

Sometimes when you look 

at me

I want to show you

Everything.

How the stars turn in the 

night sky over Santa Fe.

How snow falls like filigree

through a blue moon.

How a slice 

of sweet Hawaiian 

Mountain apple

between your lips

calls forth the 

forest 

it was plucked from.

I want to take you places

You have never been.

With anyone.

I want to tell you everything.

How once when I was 26

I drove around and around

searching for other Lesbians.

I want to show you every scar.

I want to tell you about 

Anita and Parker.

How death came for them

In the name of cancer 

claiming parts of me

you can never have.

I want to whisper

Everything.

As you stall into my 

shoulder

Incense rising,  

dusky room.

Copyright © 2023 by Willyce Kim. Originally published in Poem-a-Day on September 1, 2023, by the Academy of American Poets. 

I am ashamed to keep thinking of death
as a chute that connects to the garbage. I know
I should picture it more like the pneumatic tubes

at banks of the past: you put in your name
and your paper and up you go. I know a bank

should be the operative metaphor
for every facet of existence, every time. I’m sorry

I haven’t more regularly made reference
to a bank. When I fail to liken something to a bank,
that’s how I can tell I’m tired. That’s not me,

I assure everybody. That’s the long week talking. Time
for bed. Time for the window, the hectoring sky,

the streetlight bright as the bright saved people
see before they die, but I don’t die.

Copyright © 2023 by Natalie Shapero. Originally published in Poem-a-Day on September 4, 2023, by the Academy of American Poets. 

I would return to you in a jacket of gold leaves 
drawn tight

against the city wind 
whipping around corners through button holes over

cobbled streets park lanes 
cordoned-off barbarian herds

of steel and glass and concrete ground zero for crowds 
of absence. We’d lift off beyond the brick

toward choked stars, moons outshined by neon 
and by anxious day, moons perched on dark spires

golden lions
we’d wrap our naïve wings around

to embrace the artifice of it all 
and the reality: the heat here is unbearable

and I miss the need to be warm, that need to look 
forward to nights alone with you with no morning on our minds

no time 
no need to claw through

restaurants packed with bridge and tunnel drunk 
on the filth and the beauty.

For here
there is no comparison

no autumn as autumn no snow to justify 
a hot drink or a fat meal the fish is delicious

and the beer even better but not the same. 
Some say the grass

is greener as if it’s law 
and more

that I try to recreate 
metropolis each time a baobab drops a beetle

to flee every time winter floods the sand 
to mute the night—

boats eclipsing the mainland sprawl 
trading with another language transformed before my ears:

tell me how you lived
your dream and I will tell you who you are 

every night, every single night and with a wingspan 
I resurrect in a cold sweat

and off in the distance 
there are drums

drums beating the island
like drums and outside the window an unexpected laugh

drums in concert
with the percussive horn

of the ferry to you.
There’s nothing romantic about this

nothing absolute I am reminded of
everything that went wrong everything that went right

and when I wake
if I wake, may the flash not wax

our feathers
may it not melt our wings

Copyright © 2024 by Adam Wiedewitsch. Originally published in Poem-a-Day on January 1, 2024, by the Academy of American Poets.

            As the Pome:
I could ask my petaled voice to cup its first and last notes against the hive’s collapse.

            As the Pome:
I could ask my scent to bud in the noses of passersby, could get a heart or two leaping for the season
            inside me.

            As the Pome:
I could ask the strange hands of the wind to play my pale pink beautiful all afternoon.

            As the Pome:
I could ask the kingdom of my blooming to ripen around a small number of promises called
            tomorrow.

            As the Pome:
I could ask my hanging on to look like your questions between prayer and faith.

            As the Pome:
I could ask you kindly not to salivate at the miracle I have yet to finish.

            As the Pome:
I could ask each hard thing beneath me to make the fall of my shine seem insufferable.

            As the Pome:
I could ask the knowledge my body is to taste like you testing your fate.

            As the Pome:
I could ask my plummet through your thinking to rename what you believe has held this world
            together.

            As the Pome:
I could ask safely to be of your eye now, having survived every green reason to wait.

            As the Pome:
I could ask the arrow that takes me off a steadied brow to fill this place with wonder.

            As the Pome:
I could ask my browning flesh to set the wild air humming for rot.

            As the Pome:
I could ask my before and after images to barely speak the same desire.

Copyright © 2024 by Geffrey Davis. Originally published in Poem-a-Day on March 25, 2024, by the Academy of American Poets.