To be apart, I’m told.
To be asunder.
To be a privative, negative, reversing force.
To be reached only by oaths and curses.
To have black sheep sacrificed in my name
because I’m a god, yes,
as we are all gods on occasion.
To be bodied as I am bodied.
To be rich of earth,
which is to be chronically chthonic.
To be where the gems are—
underground.
To be Dīs. To be Dīs. To be Dīs.
To reject any pickaxe disguised as love.

Copyright © 2020 by Sandra Beasley. Originally published in Poem-a-Day on January 10, 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.

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.

I know it must be winter (though I sleep)—
I know it must be winter, for I dream
I dip my bare feet in the running stream,
And flowers are many, and the grass grows deep.

I know I must be old (how age deceives!)
I know I must be old, for, all unseen,
My heart grows young, as autumn fields grow green
When late rains patter on the falling sheaves.

I know I must be tired (and tired souls err)—
I know I must be tired, for all my soul
To deeds of daring beats a glad, faint roll,
As storms the riven pine to music stir.

I know I must be dying (Death draws near)—
I know I must be dying, for I crave
Life—life, strong life, and think not of the grave,
And turf-bound silence, in the frosty year.

This poem is in the public domain. Published in Poem-a-Day on January 4, 2020, by the Academy of American Poets.

The silence is broken: into the nature 
  My soul sails out, 
Carrying the song of life on his brow,
   To meet the flowers and birds.

When my heart returns in the solitude, 
   She is very sad,
Looking back on the dead passions
  Lying on Love’s ruin. 

I am like a leaf
   Hanging over hope and despair, 
Which trembles and joins 
  The world’s imagination and ghost. 

This poem is in the public domain. Published in Poem-a-Day on December 28, 2019, by the Academy of American Poets.

Beyond the cities I have seen,
Beyond the wrack and din,
There is a wide and fair demesne
Where I have never been.

Away from desert wastes of greed,
Over the peaks of pride,
Across the seas of mortal need
Its citizens abide.

And through the distance though I see
How stern must be the fare,
My feet are ever fain to be
Upon the journey there.

In that far land the only school
The dwellers all attend
Is built upon the Golden Rule,
And man to man is friend.

No war is there nor war’s distress,
But truth and love increase—
It is a realm of pleasantness,
And all her paths are peace.

This poem is in the public domain. Published in Poem-a-Day on January 12, 2020, by the Academy of American Poets.

                                       after Hieronymus Bosch

There’s no there there, no here here—
a timetable shows the missing trains, the fruit bowl longs for oranges.
We went ahead to lurch behind, booked
a passage so circuitous it carves
new dimensions in the tabletops. They’ve posted
soldiers in the laundromats and everything you want

Irradiates to dust. I wanted
to become a different human, left myself here
among the daisies, tied the horse to a newell post
and let him nibble all the oranges.
Sweet tongue to the fruit, sweet agronome—carve
statues out of butter to venerate the cows—your books

with all their fractured mirrors, diminish me, bookend
this life with the twin ghosts of hollowness and want.
Among all the things we might have carved
into trees or out of marble, not a single effigy captures the here
of our simplicity, the rolling hips of fields, the slutty orange
of trees that turn on you each fall. Whereas a fence is made of posts

the country’s made of crosses and we post
death threats on the clothesline flapping with the sheets. I thought a good book
could solve it all, the proper smile. Yet tyranny wears orange
trappings, a mine fire, a deposition. I want
something to put my body in, I want to feel the here-
and-now draw its tongue along my neck, carve

a cuneiform instruction manual in my shoulder blades, make me a carved
idol for this new century of cosmic meltdown. Write this on a Post-it
note and affix it to the future: “Here
lies the history of America, one big comic book
of medical interventions.” There’s a way to want
that’s simple as our minds. There’s an orange

sun fatter than the sky, an orange
demon on a blitzkrieg mission to barbeque oblivion. Carve
me a corner I might hole up in, give way to what you want
and want for nothing. All we have are postage
stamps from foreign places, an attic full of musty yarn. Strike a matchbook
to it all, flee the scene and we were never there.

I want so many things for us, post my hopes on a telephone pole like lost puppies
but the book is here, our names carved from its narrative—all lost, all devastation.
Peel and pith the orange holds its essence in its skin. Peel and pith its bitterness, too.

Copyright © 2020 by Marci Nelligan. Originally published in Poem-a-Day on January 17, 2020, by the Academy of American Poets.

There is music, deep and solemn 
   Floating through the vaulted arch 
When, in many an angry column, 
   Clouds take up their stormy march: 
O’er the ocean billows, heaping 
    Mountains on the sloping sands, 
There are ever wildly sweeping 
    Shapeless and invisible hands. 

Echoes full of truth and feeling 
   From the olden bards sublime, 
Are, like spirits, brightly stealing
   Through the broken walls of time. 
The universe, that glorious palace, 

    Thrills and trembles as they float, 
Like the little blossom’s chalice
     With the humming of the mote. 

On the air, as birds in meadows—
   Sweet embodiments of song—
Leave their bright fantastic shadows 
    Trailing goldenly along. 
Till, aside our armor laying, 
    We like prisoners depart, 
In the soul is music playing 
    To the beating of the heart.

This poem is in the public domain. Published in Poem-a-Day on January 19, 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 had the passion 
but not the stamina
nor the discipline, 
no one knew how
to discipline me so 
they just let me be,

Let me play along,
let me think I was
somebody, I could
be somebody, even
without the no-how.

Never cared one bit 
when my bow didn’t
match the rest of the 
orchestra, I could get 
their notes right but 
always a little beyond,

sawing my bow across
the strings, cuttin it up
even if I wasn’t valuable
even if I lacked respect
for rules of European
thought and composure.

A crescendo of trying
to be somebody,
a decrescendo of trying 
to belong, I played along
o yes, I play along. 

 

Copyright © 2020 by Nikki Wallschlaeger. Originally published in Poem-a-Day on January 28, 2020, by the Academy of American Poets.

The Dawn’s awake! 
   A flash of smoldering flame and fire
Ignites the East. Then, higher, higher, 
   O’er all the sky so gray, forlorn, 
The torch of gold is borne. 

The Dawn’s awake! 
  The dawn of a thousand dreams and thrills. 
And music singing in the hills 
   A pæen of eternal spring 
Voices the new awakening. 

The Dawn’s awake! 
     Whispers of pent-up harmonies, 
With the mingled fragrance of the trees; 
     Faint snaches of half-forgotten song—
Fathers! Torn and numb,—
   The boon of light we craved, awaited long, 
Has come, has come! 

This poem is in the public domain. Published in Poem-a-Day on February 2, 2020, by the Academy of American Poets.

                     1.
We are marching, truly marching 
   Can’t you hear the sound of feet? 
We are fearing no impediment 
   We have never known defeat. 

                     2. 
Like Job of old we have had patience, 
  Like Joshua, dangerous roads we’ve trod 
Like Solomon we have built out temples. 
   Like Abraham we’ve had faith in God. 

                     3. 
Up the streets of wealth and commerce, 
   We are marching one by one
We are marching, making history, 
  For ourselves and those to come. 

                     4. 
We have planted schools and churches,
   We have answered duty’s call. 
We have marched from slavery’s cabin 
   To the legislative hall. 

                     5. 
Brethren can’t you catch the spirit? 
  You who are out just get in line
Because we are marching, yes we are marching 
   To the music of the time. 

                     6.
We are marching, steady marching 
   Bridging chasms, crossing streams 
Marching up the hill of progress 
  Realizing our fondest dreams. 

                       7. 
We are marching, truly marching 
   Can’t you hear the sound of feet? 
We are fearing no impediment
   We shall never know defeat. 

This poem is in the public domain. Published in Poem-a-Day on February 1, 2020, by the Academy of American Poets.

Your voice is the color of a robin’s breast,
     And there’s a sweet sob in it like rain—still rain in the night.
Among the leaves of the trumpet-tree, close to his nest,
     The pea-dove sings, and each note thrills me with strange delight
Like the words, wet with music, that well from your trembling throat.
          I’m afraid of your eyes, they’re so bold,
          Searching me through, reading my thoughts, shining like gold.
But sometimes they are gentle and soft like the dew on the lips of the eucharis
Before the sun comes warm with his lover’s kiss,
    You are sea-foam, pure with the star’s loveliness,
Not mortal, a flower, a fairy, too fair for the beauty-shorn earth,
All wonderful things, all beautiful things, gave of their wealth to your birth:
      O I love you so much, not recking of passion, that I feel it is wrong,
            But men will love you, flower, fairy, non-mortal spirit burdened with flesh,
Forever, life-long.

This poem is in the public domain. Published in Poem-a-Day on February 16, 2020, by the Academy of American Poets.