Salt Lake City
here in our state of yes and smug
crystalline over mountains and horizon melt
such pretty clouds such drifting light
who is it enough for what kind of person
lives in this sweetness this clear
beauty and does not utter a single oh or no
or even I my hand clapped over my mouth my tongue caught by
what’s left in the right hand the dominant and clenched
what’s right in the left hand easily tossed
catching instead malaise a coma of indifference
swirling in our stunning vestibule
mourning the self just getting by
in a theocracy of pretense and defense
here in my state of smog and so what
Copyright © 2015 by Natasha Sajé. Originally published in Poem-a-Day on October 13, 2015, by the Academy of American Poets.
You who threw the rock at the back of my head
as hard as you could at four because you thought
this was how to make a stone skip on the ocean,
I have watched you in the dark of a yard
where we can only see each other by a lamp left on
some rooms away. We can see only
one another’s chin. Soon, you will stay up
through the night after I fall
into a laughing sleep. Two moths dust
the same screen for remembered light.
We have all been removed from the lyrics, brother,
our names will be stricken from the papers.
When I think of you and me and recall some
adolescent sunrise, standing on rooftops,
blue still the island but the bowl of it about
to fill with light, it is perhaps strange and horrible
to know one day one of us will die
and the other will be alive, volume turned up,
his mouth now weighing twice as much.
We cannot be excused from this
device of road and harrow, from this weight
we heft and heave. So, you will be the sister.
And I will be the sister. And you—
you are about to give me my words.
Copyright © 2015 by Jay Deshpande. Originally published in Poem-a-Day on October 12, 2015, by the Academy of American Poets.
In a time of faint beasts, no room
is left in the boats. With thin hands,
we huddle sheep and dip a hundred
reeds in mud. The nets wheel away
so often now, sinking through days
poured furious over threshing feet.
As though dared in a foreign tongue
to knot our sleeves, we swim through
broken oars, shout off slender days.
Snakes may cling to trees, and men
tear at bread, but the sky stays hinged.
Only heaven is full of furniture.
We harness ourselves over and over,
wherever hope is a yellow shore.
Copyright © 2015 by Robin Beth Schaer. Originally published in Poem-a-Day on October 19, 2015, by the Academy of American Poets.
Haunt lonely and find when you lose your shadow
secretive house centipede on the old window
You pronounce Erinys as “Air-n-ease”
Alecto: the angry Magaera: the grudging
Tisiphone: the avenger (voice of revenge)
“Women guardians of the natural order”
Think of the morning dream with ghosts
Why draw the widow’s card and wear the gorgeous
Queen of Swords crown Your job is
to rescue the not-dead woman before she enters
the incinerating garbage shoot wrangle silver
raccoon power Forever a fought doll
She said, “What do you know about Vietnam?”
Violet energy ingots Tenuous knowing moment
Copyright © 2015 by Hoa Nguyen. Originally published in Poem-a-Day on October 20, 2015, by the Academy of American Poets.
I say to the named granite stone, to the brown grass,
to the dead chrysanthemums, Mother, I still have a
body, what else could receive my mind’s transmissions,
its dots and dashes of pain? I expect and get no answer,
no loamy scent of her coral geraniums. She who is now
immaterial, for better or worse, no longer needs to speak
for me to hear, as in a continuous loop, classic messages
of wisdom, love and fury. MAKE! DO! a note on our fridge
commanded. Here I am making, unmaking, doing, undoing.
Copyright © 2015 by Gail Mazur. Originally published in Poem-a-Day on October 29, 2015, by the Academy of American Poets.
There is a holiness to exhaustion
is what I keep telling myself,
filling out the form so my TA gets paid
then making copies of it on the hot
and heaving machine, writing
Strong start! on a pretty bad poem.
And then the children: the baby’s
mouth opening, going for the breast,
the girl’s hair to wash tonight
and then comb so painstakingly
in the tub while conditioner drips
in slick globs onto her shoulders,
while her discipline chart flaps in the air
conditioner at school, taped
to a filing cabinet, longing for stickers.
My heart is so giant this evening,
like one of those moons so full
and beautiful and terrifying
if you see it when you’re getting out
of the car you have to go inside the house
and make someone else come out
and see it for themselves. I want every-
thing, I admit. I want yes of course
and I want it all the time. I want
a clean heart. I want the children
to sleep and the drought
to end. I want the rain to come
down—It’s supposed to monsoon
is what Naomi said, driving away
this morning, and she was right,
as usual. It’s monsooning. Still,
I want more. Even as the streets
are washed clean and then begin
to flood. Even though the man
came again today to check the rat traps
and said he bet we’d catch the rat
within 24 hours. We still haven’t caught
the rat, so I’m working at the table
with my legs folded up beneath me.
I want to know what is holy—
I do. But first I want the rat to die.
I am thirsty for that death
and will drink deeply of that victory,
the thwack of the trap’s hard plastic jaw,
I will rush to see the evidence no matter
how gruesome, leaning my body over
the washing machine to see the thing
crushed there, much smaller
than I’d imagined it’d be,
the strawberry large in its mouth.
Copyright © 2015 by Carrie Fountain. Originally published in Poem-a-Day on October 30, 2015, by the Academy of American Poets.
I’m a witch who lost all her powers, then
in place of my powers, I got the coiled beauty
of seashells and sleeping infants. The coiled
beauty of eardrums, and the sound wave
of bells. The bells! This is the country of clouds.
The molten body, the Floridian pinks,
and centuries of sand dollars examining
the arcing waves. New territory
of interiority and I’m in the middle of this.
White like a negative belt.
I am an airless thing. When I get high, I get low.
But I’m real and airless and love you.
Copyright © 2016 by Sandra Simonds. Originally published in Poem-a-Day on January 6, 2016 by the Academy of American Poets.
Jupiter means anger. Sun Ra does not. Sun Ra dances the Cake Walk on Saturn’s pulpy eyes. If you believe that, I’ll tell you another one. The first is 13 and the next is 20. They were not good boys but they were boys. They were boys who died for this thing or that. The next was 16 and the last was 18. One had a cell phone. One had a gun. On earth, a goose opens its chest to a sound. The goose takes the bullet this way. A sacrifice denied to the wind since there is no such thing as sacrifice anymore having succumbed to fever and the millennium. The bullet is all consequence. Sun Ra refuses red—long and high, low and deep. His arms are long enough to embrace them.
Copyright © 2016 Ruth Ellen Kocher. Used with permission of the author.
The rung wide
receiver forgets why
he set his keys on the football field.
Whose are they? he asks—a ringing
in his ear—while clenching
the green. As if on the edge
of a pool, he tilts his head to drain
water out of his canal.
It was like that, all the time,
after. How many fingers?
he was asked, and not to tell
a lie—it would mean his career.
It would mean recognizing you
without your jacket when you
walked out of the room. It would mean
you could say, Stay here
with me, and in his eyes
could watch him come back.
I spiral the parking lot, singing,
It’s alright, I’m alright,
while I count the pole lights back
to my car. I practice red, table, lamp
with a neuropsychologist and now
I can tell you about how my brain
blew in the acceleration. I was in
a locked position—the details
unbearably clear in the replay and, still,
no one else heard me swallow
the impact. Bend at your hips
from your two-point stance and, there,
the muffler is a finger wagging
one one one inches from the ground.
The tire-less car rests on its crutch
of blocks, the windows a crunch
of glass. Are you feeling the rush now
as you look to me, your brain still
in your head—is it still in your head?
Can you point for me where
it happens in the connection, where
on the line the old equipment
resets itself and loops?
Is what you say the truth?
Copyright © 2016 Janine Joseph. Used with permission of the author.
At the top of the hill, before the light gives way to the pine
that fractures across the sky,
and the farmhouse, opens its door to shadow, there is a
It is not the dead bird, lying out flat and face down in the
middle of the street, its brown
belly on the pavement, cooled by the wind.
It is not in my chest, which opens up into sections as I
breathe in the air that almost
shocks me into falling face down as I climb the hill.
It is not the breath. It is not the sky, which I haven’t looked
at, staring up at the
mountains, which spreads down through the range up the
It is not my knee, which seems at any moment will collapse
into if nothing else,
the breaking beneath my legs, the final moment I push up,
towards the end of the light.
There are shadows which cover the sign: SUN, painted in
blue at the peak of the hill.
So, where, today, will I direct my anger?
Where will I turn, running past the women, who hover up
the road, no cars,
crawling into their beers in the middle of the day?
Fat and White. I refuse to grow any fatter, or to not tan.
I burn off another self, sprinting up the high hill of my own
burning Kcals toward the peak of my own release. In this
face, “What a view?”—
someone asking another. Was I supposed to seek
something else into which to slip?
Copyright © 2016 Ronaldo V. Wilson. Used with permission of the author.
I don’t know the Latin names of flowers.
I know that there are cities wherein stars
Will labor to appear in bursts of as
Or under, will command the color green
To work with from or of or in in staves
And paragraphs, will demarcate the limits
Of the sky. I recognize the colors
Of acacia from paintings and poems.
I know a high wind carries rhyme across
The ocean. That smoke, it coaxes signals
From the fire. What words you speak I too
Have spoken of: of of, the turning back,
The opening beyond and up above us,
The movement forward and the reasoning
Behind. I know that the horizon falls out
Of perspective, that toward music the sea
Will harken back and find in language
No beauty save impermanence, a minor awe.
Copyright © 2016 by Sara Nicholson. Originally published in Poem-a-Day on May 9, 2016, by the Academy of American Poets.