two arms in air, 
in dance, after catastrophe. 

  the body                     the universe                       the body

the fabric held at two points:

i am lamb.                                   i am shepherd.

a star waits.
the stars are a map in the noon of it all.

a letter, a relic from a gone civilization.
a ن holds the tail of the snake.
a ن holds a star in its ark.
a ن is a prayer before Time.

hearsay: the whale swallowed the sun.
there, an eclipse, the sun’s wispy corona.


hearsay: the whale spit it out.
returned our sun to us, this time.

a small circle silences.
a set of small teeth doubles.
this, the machine,
my grandmother’s language,
gifted her by holy fish,
forbidden her by man.
in a dream, she and i, 
two pisces fish, whispering friends
in the noon of it all.

a ن today
on my brother’s door.
a ن between my legs.
a ن on my neighbor’s cheek.
you, you hold the broken in me.
you, you hold the setting sun.
you, you escape 
the mouth of death.
in the noon 
of the universe.

single seed. bijou in float.
there, there waits the ark. 


A note on this poem, an invitation:

Oh noon, the letter ن, intoning the -n- sound, pronounced noon. 
A Semitic letter, really, in Arabic, Aramaic, Hebrew, and through some 
starcrossed lineage, it has a cousin in Sanskrit, maybe even the same DNA. 
Some say the letter got its shape from an Egyptian hieroglyph of a snake. 
Some say the snake morphed into a whale, a fish, a dolphin. In the Qur’an, 
the Surah of The Pen begins by saying that the
ن and the pen are in the act of 
writing, as if the ن were capable of script, were it not script itself. Were it not 
a snake, a whale, a palimpsest. What writes us as we write it. In Arabic class, 
Professor Hani drew a
ن on the board and asked us what it looked like. 
He wanted us to say a cup. We saw an ark instead, a boat. And true, 
the ancients believed it might be a cup. And true, the scholars 
believe it to be a boat, holding a seed, the seed of the universe, 
awaiting rebirth after apocalypse. Birth, as in pregnant 
womb, though this isn’t in the scholarly texts. 
Some liken it to a setting sun. 
And Jonah, prophet who found God in the whale. 
The floating diacritical dot, Jonah escaping death. 
A noon as the beginning and end of existence. 
These days, in Iraq, in Syria, elsewhere 
being ravaged by death squads, 
a symbol is painted on people’s doors. 

for Nazarene. 
For anyone who does not submit to tyranny. 
There, there waits the ark.


Copyright © 2021 by Kamelya Omayma Youssef. Originally published in Poem-a-Day on June 15, 2021, by the Academy of American Poets.

::  lists  ::




::   lists  ::

bath salts
nail stuff
grapefruit juice
other keys
grapefruit juice
other other keys


::   lists   ::

things i won’t be answering:
voice mails
really any mail without a stamp
phone calls
call outs
call ins
ungrounded theories
anything that begins “can i touch...”


::  states  ::




::  states  ::

she invites
all the curses
(no curse for you!)


::  states  ::

how are we all so busy now


::  lists  ::

my name
the way my name
is said



Copyright © 2021 by Samiya Bashir. Originally published in Poem-a-Day on July 2, 2021, by the Academy of American Poets.

for my favorite auntie, Jeanette

Sometimes I think I’m never going to write a poem again
and then there’s a full moon.

I miss being in love but I miss
myself most when I’m gone.

In the salty wet air of my ancestry
my auntie peels a mango with her teeth

and I’m no longer
writing political poems; because there are

mangoes and my favorite memory is still alive.
I’m digging for meaning but haunted by purpose

and it’s an insufficient approach.
What’s the margin of loss on words not spent today?

I’m getting older. I’m buying smaller images to travel light.
I wake up, I light up, I tidy, and it’s all over now.

Copyright © 2021 by Camonghne Felix. Originally published in Poem-a-Day on July 7, 2021, by the Academy of American Poets.

What he thought belly down, face down on the beige speckled tile floor, new wax, drill holes where desks had been anchored. Of the shield-thick hovering air. He could be a ribbon of wax, a thin trail of caulk. Something left over above his breath and heart sounds he could hear waiting like a hymn and pipe organs’ stop just before release.

What he thought belly down, face down on the ice sliding between cars toward the gutter. Of the rifle smug and steady at his forehead and jittery sawed-off rushing his wife for her wedding rings. Of the streetlight shadow. The hydrant hunched in the snow-crusted grass. The salted walk. His little girl mid-step on the porch and the wrought iron storm door and front door ajar.

When I was 8 years old I thought my father was a monster.
When I was 8 years old I thought my father could fly.
When I was 8 years old I thought my father was a dark room
In a dark house with walls of eyes and teeth and banisters of thick rough skin.
The rooms around him were also monsters and they were tall
As telephone poles with flesh of kerosene and black fire.
Their arms were always open and they surrounded my father,
Keeping him warm for as long as he chose to stand on the earth
Watching me.

Copyright © 2021 by Duriel E. Harris. Originally published in Poem-a-Day on July 8, 2021, by the Academy of American Poets.

At first we don’t answer. 
Knocks that loud usually mean 5-0 is on the other end.

                                 Señora ábrenos la puerta porfavor.
                                 Estamos aquí para platicar con usted.
                                 No queremos llamar la policía.

The person on the other side of the door
is speaking professional Spanish.

Professional Spanish is fake friendly.
Is a warning.

Is a downpour when you
Just spent your last twenty dollars on a wash and set.

Is the kind of Spanish that comes
to take things away from you.

The kind of Spanish that looks at your Spanish like it needs help.
Professional Spanish of course doesn’t offer help.

It just wants you to know that it knows you need some.
Professional Spanish is stuck up

like most people from the hood who get good jobs.
Professional Spanish is all like I did it you can do it too.

Professional Spanish thinks it gets treated better than us
because it knows how to follow the rules.

Because it says Abrigo instead of .
Because it knows which fork belongs to the salad

and which spoon goes in the coffee.

Because it gets to be the anchor on Telemundo and Univision
and we get to be the news that plays behind its head in the background.

Copyright © 2021 by Elisabet Velasquez. Originally published in Poem-a-Day on July 21, 2021, by the Academy of American Poets.

When you turned into a hundred rooms,
I returned each month as a door
that opened only one.

When you turned into a hundred rooms
the wind flung through
each of them wailing

and left a hundred songs
in hopes you would return for it
and me and

once, finding a doe locked up,
the trees blued up
the mountain pass, I understood

you had transformed into your multiple,
as the rain is different
each step from the moon. Sleeping

in a hundred rooms, a hundred dreams
of you appear—though by day
your voice has frozen into standing stones.

When you turned into a hundred rooms,
I met with a mirror in each eye
your growing absence.

When I moved, the shadows without you
followed me. In the hundred rooms,
I cannot pick one,

for each combines into the other
where I piece-by-piece the shadows
you have ceased

to remember. As the rain
is different each day of the year,
when I turned for you

and hoped you’d return to me,
was it I who left
and you who remained the same?

For when you changed,
I changed
the furniture in the rooms.

A hundred birds flew over a hundred fields.
A mountain flowed into a hundred rivers
then ended.

In a hundred rooms,
I turned and turned,
hoping to return to you.

O, the chrysanthemums grew
in the hundred rooms!

Far in the past and far in the future
were those numinous and echoing stars.

Copyright © 2021 by Yanyi. Originally published in Poem-a-Day on July 29, 2021, by the Academy of American Poets.

A moment of pleasure,
    An hour of pain,
A day of sunshine,
    A week of rain,
A fortnight of peace,
  A month of strife,
These taken together
  Make up life. 

One real friend
    To a dozen foes,
Two open gates,
  ’Gainst twenty that’s closed,
Prosperity’s chair,
    Then adversity’s knife;
These my friends
    Make up life.

At daybreak a blossom,
    At noontime a rose,
At twilight ’tis withered,
    At evening ’tis closed.
The din of confusion,
    The strain of the fife,
These with other things
    Make up life.

A smile, then a tear,
    Like a mystic pearl,
A pause, then a rush
    Into the mad whirl,
A kiss, then a stab
  From a traitor’s knife;
I think that you’ll agree with me, 
    That this life.

This poem is in the public domain. Published in Poem-a-Day on July 31, 2021, by the Academy of American Poets.

Can she be planted where the corner of the garden’s rocks are down?

I would like bleeding heart or fuchsia to redden the banks

In their brief seasons. Rain, rain, Irish rain.

Diamonds on the stamens when the sun goes blind.

And sweet pea, pale pink, pale blue, perfume.

Please, if you can, make sure there is an ash tree, young and tight and green.

And bring back the smell of turf for the burning. Of her. Of me.

Copyright © 2021 by Fanny Howe. Originally published in Poem-a-Day on September 3, 2021, by the Academy of American Poets.

I do not always understand what you say.
Once, when you said, across, you meant along.
What is, is by its nature, on display.

Words' meanings count, aside from what they weigh:
poetry, like music, is not just song.
I do not always understand what you say.

You would hate, when with me, to meet by day
What at night you met and did not think wrong.
What is, is by its nature, on display.

I sense a heaviness in your light play,
a wish to stand out, admired, from the throng.
I do not always understand what you say.

I am as shy as you. Try as we may,
only by practice will our talks prolong.
What is, is by its nature, on display.

We talk together in a common way.
Art, like death, is brief: life and friendship long.
I do not always understand what you say.
What is, is by its nature, on display.

From Collected Poems by James Schuyler. Copyright © 1993 by James Schuyler. Used by permission of Farrar, Straus and Giroux. All rights reserved.

The person you are trying

is not accepting. Is not

at this time. Please

again. The person

you are trying is not

in service. Please check

that you have. This

is your call. Your

person is not accepting.

Your person is this

number. You have

not correctly. Your person

is a recording. Again later

at this time. Not accepting.

Copyright © 2020 by Martha Collins. Originally published in Poem-a-Day on May 12, 2020 by the Academy of American Poets.

My friend and I snickered the first time
we heard the meditation teacher, a grown man,
call himself honey, with a hand placed
over his heart to illustrate how we too 
might become more gentle with ourselves
and our runaway minds. It’s been years
since we sat with legs twisted on cushions,
holding back our laughter, but today
I found myself crouched on the floor again,
not meditating exactly, just agreeing
to be still, saying honey to myself each time
I thought about my husband splayed
on the couch with aching joints and fever
from a tick bite—what if he never gets better?—
or considered the threat of more wildfires,
the possible collapse of the Gulf Stream,
then remembered that in a few more minutes, 
I’d have to climb down to the cellar and empty
the bucket I placed beneath a leaky pipe
that can’t be fixed until next week. How long
do any of us really have before the body
begins to break down and empty its mysteries
into the air? Oh honey, I said—for once
without a trace of irony or blush of shame—
the touch of my own hand on my chest
like that of a stranger, oddly comforting
in spite of the facts.

Copyright © 2021 by James Crews. Originally published in Poem-a-Day on November 17, 2021, by the Academy of American Poets.

Quiet. Given to prying more than pecking, an odd member
of the family, lives only in the high pine forests of western

mountains like the Cascades, where I spent an afternoon
almost a decade ago in Roslyn, Washington looking for what

I could find of Black people who’d migrated from the South
almost a century and a quarter prior. The white-headed

woodpecker doesn’t migrate and so is found in its
home range year-round when it can be found. Roslyn,

founded as a coal mining town, drew miners from all over
Europe—as far away as Croatia—across the ocean, with

opportunities. With their hammering and drilling to extract
a living, woodpeckers could be considered arboreal miners.

A habitat, a home range, is where one can feed and house
oneself—meet the requirements of life—and propagate.

In 1888, those miners from many lands all in Roslyn came
together to go on strike against the mine management.

And so, from Southern states, a few hundred Black miners
were recruited with the promise of opportunities in Roslyn,

many with their families in tow, to break the strike. They
faced resentment and armed resistance, left in the dark

until their arrival, unwitting scabs—that healing that happens
after lacerations or abrasions. Things settled down as they do

sometimes, and eventually Blacks and whites entered a union
as equals. Black save for a white face and crown and a sliver

of white on its wings that flares to a crescent when they
spread for flight, the white-headed woodpecker is a study

in contrasts. Males have a patch of red feathers
on the back of their crowns, and I can’t help but see blood.

Copyright © 2021 by Sean Hill. Originally published in Poem-a-Day on November 19, 2021, by the Academy of American Poets.

translated by Erfan Mojib and Gary Gach


The foot
that brought me to You
in a bread line
plays with a pebble


Missing someone
is a mother
who leaves the front door ajar


I want to open a door
onto a sea & a night
I want to open a door
onto you
who are the sea & the night


As the seasons change
the plums
are replaced by persimmons


He told Adam
“Your fall is temporary
You’ll come back to me”
but Adam built a house
and called it home


I’d wanted to be the wind
in my beloved’s hair
but am only a breeze
amidst gnarly shrubs


Between me and you
I am a wall
Take me down



«علیرضا روشن از «کتاب نیست



که مرا پیش یار میتوانست برد
در صف نان
با تکه ریگی بازیبازی میکند


که در را
پیش میگذارد


کاش دری بگشایم
به دریایی و شبی
کاش دری بگشایم
به روی تو
که دریایی و شبی


فصل عوض میشود
جای آلو را
خرمالو میگیرد
جای دلتنگی را

آدم را گفت
هبوط ِ تو موقت است
به من باز میگردی
آدم اما
خانه ساخت


باد میخواستم باشم
در مویِ یار
بادم اینک
البهالی ِ خار


بین ما
من دیوارم
خرابم کن

Copyright © 2021 by Alireza Roshan, Erfan Mojib, and Gary Gach. Originally published in Poem-a-Day on December 3, 2021, by the Academy of American Poets.

Leaves have no choice
but to articulate the wind:

aspens like zills, aglint and atilt;
the willow, a lone zither.

Riffling the cottonwoods at dusk,
winds find me cushioned against

the concrete in the open-air garage,
facing the trees, the drive, the road,

the mountains up the canyon’s
other side, until an onrush bellows

a mindless heartless ecstasy
through the empty sack of me.

Copyright © 2021 by Carol Moldaw. Originally published in Poem-a-Day on December 9, 2021, by the Academy of American Poets.

all I crave is light & yet
sky is busy imitating milk
frozen in an upturned bowl

to be a person is a sounding
            host of breath
rehoused & rib scribbled inside

you there above
                   the page
casting your gaze over us
wanting us to be your mouth

& what would you say
                     with my body
bowed to bear the weight
of a line so taut it sings

Copyright © 2021 by Philip Metres. Originally published in Poem-a-Day on December 15, 2021, by the Academy of American Poets.

translated by Jenny Minniti-Shippey

If I die,
Leave the balcony open.

The boy is eating oranges.
(From my balcony I hear him.)

The reaper scythes the wheat.
(From my balcony I feel it.)

If I die,
Leave the balcony open!





Si muero,
dejad el balcón abierto.

El niño come naranjas.
(Desde mi balcón lo veo).

El segador siega el trigo.
(Desde mi balcón lo siento).

¡Si muero,
dejad el balcón abierto!

Copyright © 2021 by Federico García Lorca and Jenny Minniti-Shippey. Originally published in Poem-a-Day on December 31, 2021, by the Academy of American Poets.

is even more fun than going to San Sebastian, Irún, Hendaye, Biarritz, Bayonne
or being sick to my stomach on the Travesera de Gracia in Barcelona
partly because in your orange shirt you look like a better happier St. Sebastian
partly because of my love for you, partly because of your love for yoghurt
partly because of the fluorescent orange tulips around the birches
partly because of the secrecy our smiles take on before people and statuary
it is hard to believe when I’m with you that there can be anything as still
as solemn as unpleasantly definitive as statuary when right in front of it
in the warm New York 4 o’clock light we are drifting back and forth
between each other like a tree breathing through its spectacles

and the portrait show seems to have no faces in it at all, just paint
you suddenly wonder why in the world anyone ever did them
                                                                                                              I look
at you and I would rather look at you than all the portraits in the world
except possibly for the Polish Rider occasionally and anyway it’s in the Frick
which thank heavens you haven’t gone to yet so we can go together for the first time
and the fact that you move so beautifully more or less takes care of Futurism
just as at home I never think of the Nude Descending a Staircase or
at a rehearsal a single drawing of Leonardo or Michelangelo that used to wow me
and what good does all the research of the Impressionists do them
when they never got the right person to stand near the tree when the sun sank
or for that matter Marino Marini when he didn’t pick the rider as carefully
as the horse
                               it seems they were all cheated of some marvelous experience
which is not going to go wasted on me which is why I’m telling you about it

From The Collected Poems of Frank O’Hara by Frank O’Hara, copyright © 1971 by Maureen Granville-Smith, Administratrix of the Estate of Frank O’Hara, copyright renewed 1999 by Maureen O’Hara Granville-Smith and Donald Allen. Used by permission of Alfred A. Knopf, an imprint of the Knopf Doubleday Publishing Group, a division of Penguin Random House LLC. All rights reserved.

as if it were a scene made-up by the mind, 
that is not mine, but is a made place,

that is mine, it is so near to the heart, 
an eternal pasture folded in all thought 
so that there is a hall therein

that is a made place, created by light 
wherefrom the shadows that are forms fall.

Wherefrom fall all architectures I am 
I say are likenesses of the First Beloved 
whose flowers are flames lit to the Lady.

She it is Queen Under The Hill
whose hosts are a disturbance of words within words 
that is a field folded.

It is only a dream of the grass blowing 
east against the source of the sun 
in an hour before the sun's going down

whose secret we see in a children's game 
of ring a round of roses told.

Often I am permitted to return to a meadow 
as if it were a given property of the mind 
that certain bounds hold against chaos,

that is a place of first permission,
everlasting omen of what is.

by Robert Duncan, from The Opening of the Field. Copyright © 1960 by Robert Duncan. Reprinted by permission of New Directions Publishing Corp.

a variant of Pablo Neruda’s Sonnet XVII

I don’t love you as if you were penicillin, 
insulin, or chemotherapy drugs that treat cancer,
I love you as one loves the sickest patient:
terminally, between the diagnosis and the death. 

I love you as one loves new vaccines frozen 
within the lab, poised to stimulate our antibodies,
and thanks to your love, the immunity that protects 
me from disease will respond strongly in my cells.

I love you without knowing how or when this pandemic 
will end. I love you carefully, with double masking. 
I love you like this because we can’t quarantine 

forever in the shelter of social distancing, 
so close that your viral load is mine,
so close that your curve rises with my cough.

Copyright © 2022 by Craig Santos Perez. Originally published in Poem-a-Day on May 4, 2022, by the Academy of American Poets.

The city breaks in houses to the sea, uneasy with waves,
And the lonely sun clashes like brass cymbals.

In the streets truck-horses, muscles sliding under the steaming hides,
Pound the sparks flying about their hooves;
And fires, those gorgeous beasts, squirm in the furnaces,
Under the looms weaving us.

At evening by cellars cold with air of rivers at night,
We, whose lives are only a few words,
Watch the young moon leaning over the baby at her breast
And the stars small to our littleness.

The slender trees stand alone in the fields
Between the roofs of the far town
And the wood far away like a low hill.

In the vast open
The birds are faintly overheard.

This poem is in the public domain. Published in Poem-a-Day on May 8, 2022, by the Academy of American Poets.

gone 700 years today
            leaving us here, in the
                      middle kingdom

which was Paradise once
                      but which we soiled

          and are about to
turn into hell, or
                      at least an Inferno

for homo sap sap, the
          disappearing species
                        — if it comes to that —

there’s life
          left, there will be
life left

        and right
it will move
                     on, even without us

it will rejoice in us
     gone — I can hear the
           birds celebrating

                       the trees too
                                 the air cooling
                                           the sea cooling

                       it will be the real paradise
           the one sans-sapiens,
that arrogant inter-


Copyright © 2022 by Pierre Joris. Originally published in Poem-a-Day on June 27 2022, by the Academy of American Poets.


Like a gaunt, scraggly pine
Which lifts its head above the mournful sandhills;
And patiently, through dull years of bitter silence,
Untended and uncared for, starts to grow.

Ungainly, labouring, huge,
The wind of the north has twisted and gnarled its branches;
Yet in the heat of midsummer days, when thunderclouds ring the horizon,
A nation of men shall rest beneath its shade.

And it shall protect them all,
Hold everyone safe there, watching aloof in silence;
Until at last one mad stray bolt from the zenith
Shall strike it in an instant down to earth.


There was a darkness in this man; an immense and hollow darkness,
Of which we may not speak, nor share with him, nor enter;
A darkness through which strong roots stretched downwards into the earth
Towards old things:

Towards the herdman-kings who walked the earth and spoke with God,
Towards the wanderers who sought for they knew not what, and found their goal at last;
Towards the men who waited, only waited patiently when all seemed lost,
Many bitter winters of defeat;

Down to the granite of patience
These roots swept, knotted fibrous roots, prying, piercing, seeking,
And drew from the living rock and the living waters about it
The red sap to carry upwards to the sun.

Not proud, but humble,
Only to serve and pass on, to endure to the end through service;
For the ax is laid at the roots of the trees, and all that bring not forth good fruit
Shall be cut down on the day to come and cast into the fire.


There is a silence abroad in the land to-day,
And in the hearts of men, a deep and anxious silence;
And, because we are still at last, those bronze lips slowly open,
Those hollow and weary eyes take on a gleam of light.

Slowly a patient, firm-syllabled voice cuts through the endless silence
Like labouring oxen that drag a plow through the chaos of rude clay-fields:
“I went forward as the light goes forward in early spring,
But there were also many things which I left behind.

“Tombs that were quiet;
One, of a mother, whose brief light went out in the darkness,
One, of a loved one, the snow on whose grave is long falling,
One, only of a child, but it was mine.

“Have you forgot your graves? Go, question them in anguish,
Listen long to their unstirred lips. From your hostages to silence,
Learn there is no life without death, no dawn without sun-setting,
No victory but to him who has given all.”


The clamour of cannon dies down, the furnace-mouth of the battle is silent.
The midwinter sun dips and descends, the earth takes on afresh its bright colours.
But he whom we mocked and obeyed not, he whom we scorned and mistrusted,
He has descended, like a god, to his rest.

Over the uproar of cities,
Over the million intricate threads of life wavering and crossing,
In the midst of problems we know not, tangling, perplexing, ensnaring,
Rises one white tomb alone.

Beam over it, stars,
Wrap it round, stripes—stripes red for the pain that he bore for you—
Enfold it forever, O flag, rent, soiled, but repaired through your anguish;
Long as you keep him there safe, the nations shall bow to your law.

Strew over him flowers:
Blue forget-me-nots from the north, and the bright pink arbutus
From the east, and from the west rich orange blossom,
And from the heart of the land take the passion-flower;

Rayed, violet, dim,
With the nails that pierced, the cross that he bore and the circlet,
And beside it there lay also one lonely snow-white magnolia,
Bitter for remembrance of the healing which has passed.

This poem is in the public domain. Published in Poem-a-Day on July 3, 2022, by the Academy of American Poets.

I long to hear the history of ordinary people who populate and recreate all over the NYC subway lines, strung together like beans on a charmbracelet drumming on their worldly advice and late-night distractions,
I smoked an ashtray’s worth of cigarettes, cold and tired and snuffing out the little fire on yellow brick walls baring my bones to the whims of demolition,
I jumped over to Manhattan from Staten Island wishing to be Superman but also making music, yes music, from stretched out lizard skins suspended in animation,
I wiped the hair off my scalp dancing around a hollow pumpkin, swore to the forehead of my German moms that I would be unmarried at 50 or otherwise relocate to a harsher life in Uzbekistan,
I hid behind cardamom, cumin, and Halal-style chicken with my eyes darted thinking about Egypt, and the ABCs of Atlantic Barclays Center, Brooklyn, and a biweekly regular named Catherine,
I drank in a tent in the Q train station at Beverly, never showered but always made time to guide clueless New Yorkers to alternative train service like an MTA angel,
I in a rush to get to a Malaysian restaurant in Chinatown dozed off daydreaming about mushrooms, catfish, silkworms and missed my destination by just one stop; went back the other way and still couldn’t stop dreaming,
I asked for baby formula, bow-legged and inarticulate, full of luck and lice on my silver hair, dashed from one street to the other, filling the night with whispers and threats of self-immolation,
I broke a mirror three years before, and now, feeling the effect of medications, yearned to go back to a more violent time in quiet white rooms praying to another religion mistaken for glued together plastic flowers,
I drank my Vietnamese sweat, turned around when spoken to in God’s language, offered fresh fish, pears, and dried plums on a makeshift altar afraid to blink under oath

Copyright © 2022 by Lam Lai. Originally published in Poem-a-Day on July 11, 2022, by the Academy of American Poets.

Mountains, a moment’s earth-waves rising and hollowing; the earth too’s an ephemerid; the stars—
Short-lived as grass the stars quicken in the nebula and dry in their summer, they spiral
Blind up space, scattered black seeds of a future; nothing lives long, the whole sky’s
Recurrences tick the seconds of the hours of the ages of the gulf before birth, and the gulf
After death is like dated: to labor eighty years in a notch of eternity is nothing too tiresome,
Enormous repose after, enormous repose before, the flash of activity.
Surely you never have dreamed the incredible depths were prologue and epilogue merely
To the surface play in the sun, the instant of life, what is called life? I fancy
That silence is the thing, this noise a found word for it; interjection, a jump of the breath at that silence;
Stars burn, grass grows, men breathe: as a man finding treasure says ‘Ah!’ but the treasure’s the essence;
Before the man spoke it was there, and after he has spoken he gathers it, inexhaustible treasure.

This poem is in the public domain. Published in Poem-a-Day on July 10, 2022, by the Academy of American Poets.

On the seashore of endless worlds children meet. The infinite sky is motionless overhead and the restless water is boisterous. On the seashore of endless worlds the children meet with shouts and dances.

They build their houses with sand, and they play with empty shells. With withered leaves they weave their boats and smilingly float them on the vast deep. Children have their play on the seashore of worlds.

They know not how to swim, they know not how to cast nets. Pearl-fishers dive for pearls, merchants sail in their ships, while children gather pebbles and scatter them again. They seek not for hidden treasures, they know not how to cast nets.

The sea surges up with laughter, and pale gleams the smile of the sea-beach. Death-dealing waves sing meaningless ballads to the children, even like a mother while rocking her baby’s cradle. The sea plays with children, and pale gleams the smile of the sea-beach.

On the seashore of endless worlds children meet. Tempest roams in the pathless sky, ships are wrecked in the trackless water, death is abroad and children play. On the seashore of endless worlds is the great meeting of children.

This poem is in the public domain. Published in Poem-a-Day on July 17, 2022, by the Academy of American Poets.

my heart keeps breaking does not stop breaking
Agha Shahid Ali

            What are the chances, Shahid, you will 
yardstick your way out of the wintering ground’s 
pinafore of snow with the identical song 
memory now recites for me, 
like the time our car stuttered to a stop
in the middle of the street, or when those orchids 
bordering the far side of the walk had to be 
wing bones once, the prehistoric gull’s flight before 
consciousness was pegged by man,
before rain shuddered like a crowd’s deafening voice, 
that same pitch loneliness factors from silence, 
or when one’s hands and knees are on the earth 
and sorrow becomes a hundred silver fish heads 
thrown in a market in China. How 
burnt grass in California carried a warning wind 
that still hurts someone’s lungs in upper Canada. . . 
            What, what are the chances a piece of my flesh 
glow-wormed its way into your heart as a single word 
would in the future of someone’s open mouth, or that 
the ones we loved were once the ones we hated, how 
my undoing passion for Moon Jellyfish means the next 
life will be empty freedom and all sex, or opposite:
a taproot set in the garden where 
the impress darkness smells like saffron and blood 
as it retrieves the desert’s mirage water
over and over again, all the while we’re here, 
knowing this loss phrases some god’s gain or damn,
that obsidian wasn’t merely volcanic glass 
but the last jewel set deep in your brain?

Copyright © 2022 by Elena Karina Byrne. Originally published in Poem-a-Day on September 5, 2022, by the Academy of American Poets.

I got the Covid blues
Hazmat outfit to read the news
I gots that damn viral blues
Mystifying perspiring invisible shit
Blowing through the wind like

Yesterday’s news blues
I can’t think breathe or snooze
I gots the rumble rumble chest-rattly 
Bubble gut blues 
I’ve been sanitized ostracized hydrogen peroxide

Cleaner than hospital sheet blues
My tears are sterilized 
My fears capsized spilling
Out over my broke bedtime blues
So much so I’m afraid 

To read the news
I got the Covid-19 stockpile
Body bag blues
Them refrigerated truck blues
Them Roto-Rooter blues

Them hack and wheeze double-
Sneeze Vicks VapoRub Robitussin
Preparation H body ache earthquake 
Ha-cha-cha-cha-cha-cha blues
I’ve got them we wear the mask blues

Them hand sanitizer hydroxychloroquine booze blues
Them broke heel hole in the sole blues
Squeaky wheel lungs like shredded wheat blues
I got them lockdown shutdown god awful blues
Them loveless touchless cold sheet blues

I got it real bad, them blues
My head is heavy as a brick
I can’t sleep I’m scared to get sick
I’m so paranoid I can’t stop my eye twitch 
Wake up in a hyperventilating sweat blues

I gots them Hail Mary, full of grace
Garlic string around my neck 
Get thee behind me, Satan blues 
Them TB smallpox blanket diphtheria Typhoid Mary
Love in the time of cholera blues blues

Them Brueghel Triumph of Death
Black lungs matter Black Orpheus
Peach Schnapps Doctor Schnabel von Rom
Beak-nosed bleary-eyed cloak and swagger
Death, with occasional smiling blues

I gots them backwater fever swamp 
Florida Water espíritu santos Tuskegee 
What had happened was anti-vax
Death be not proud snot-nosed 
Sitting shiva novena reincarnation

Take it all back blues

Copyright © 2022 by Tony Medina. Originally published in Poem-a-Day September 8, 2022, by the Academy of American Poets.

translated by H. D.

Birds from Parnassus,
you dart
from the loftiest peaks;
you hover, dip,
you sway and perch
undaunted on the gold-set cornice;
you eagle,
god’s majestic legate,
who tear, who strike
song-birds in mid-flight,
my arrow whistles toward you,
be off;

ah drift,

ah drift
so soft, so light,
your scarlet foot so deftly placed
to waft you neatly
to the pavement,
swan, swan
and do you really think
your song
that tunes the harp of Helios,
will save you
from the arrow-flight?
turn back,
to the lake of Delos;

lest all the song notes

pause and break
across a blood-stained throat
gone songless,
turn back,
ere it be too late,
to wave-swept Delos.

Alas, and still another,

you’d place your mean nest
in the cornice?
sing, sing
my arrow-string,
tell to the thief
that plaits its house
for fledglings
in the god’s own house,
that still the Alpheus
whispers sweet
to lure
the birdlets to the place,
that still the Isthmus
shines with forests;
on the white statues
must be found
no straw nor litter
of bird-down,
Phœbos must have his portal fair;

and yet, O birds,

though this my labour
is set,
though this my task is clear,
though I must slay you,
I, god’s servant,
I who take here
my bread and life
and sweep the temple,
still I swear
that I would save you,
birds or spirits,
winged songs
that tell to men god’s will;

still, still

the Alpheus whispers clear
to lure the bird-folk
to its waters,
ah still
the Isthmus
blossoms fair;
lest all the song notes
pause and break
across a blood-stained throat
gone songless,
turn back,
ere it be too late,
to wave-swept Delos.

This poem is in the public domain. Published in Poem-a-Day on September 18, 2022, by the Academy of American Poets.


Thou hast made me known to friends whom I knew not. Thou hast given me seats in homes not my own. Thou hast brought the distant near and made a brother of the stranger. I am uneasy at heart when I have to leave my accustomed shelter; I forgot that there abides the old in the new, and that there also thou abidest.

Through birth and death, in this world or in others, wherever thou leadest me it is thou, the same, the one companion of my endless life who ever linkest my heart with bonds of joy to the unfamiliar. When one knows thee, then alien there is none, then no door is shut. Oh, grant me my prayer that I may never lose the bliss of the touch of the One in the play of the many.


No more noisy, loud words from me, such is my master’s will. Henceforth I deal in whispers. The speech of my heart will be carried on in murmurings of a song.

Men hasten to the King’s market. All the buyers and sellers are there. But I have my untimely leave in the middle of the day, in the thick of work.

Let then the flowers come out in my garden, though it is not their time, and let the midday bees strike up their lazy hum.

Full many an hour have I spent in the strife of the good and the evil, but now it is the pleasure of my playmate of the empty days to draw my heart on to him, and I know not why is this sudden call to what useless inconsequence!


On the day when the lotus bloomed, alas, my mind was straying, and I knew it not. My basket was empty and the flower remained unheeded.

Only now and again a sadness fell upon me, and I started up from my dream and felt a sweet trace of a strange smell in the south wind.

That vague fragrance made my heart ache with longing, and it seemed to me that it was the eager breath of the summer seeking for its completion.

I knew not then that it was so near, that it was mine, and this perfect sweetness had blossomed in the depth of my own heart.


By all means they try to hold me secure who love me in this world. But it is otherwise with thy love, which is greater than theirs, and thou keepest me free. Lest I forget them they never venture to leave me alone. But day passes by after day and thou are not seen.

If I call not thee in my prayers, if I keep not thee in my heart—thy love for me still waits for my love.


I was not aware of the moment when I first crossed the threshold of this life. What was the power that made me open out into this vast mystery like a bud in the forest at midnight? When in the morning I looked upon the light I felt in a moment that I was no stranger in this world, that the inscrutable without name and form had taken me in its arms in the form of my own mother. Even so, in death the same unknown will appear as ever known to me. And because I love this life, I know I shall love death as well. The child cries out when from the right breast the mother takes it away to find in the very next moment its consolation in the left one.


Thou art the sky and thou art the nest as well. Oh, thou beautiful, there in the nest it is thy love that encloses the soul with colours and sounds and odours. There comes the morning with the golden basket in her right hand bearing the wreath of beauty, silently to crown the earth. And there comes the evening over the lonely meadows deserted by herds, through trackless paths, carrying cool draughts of peace in her golden pitcher from the western ocean of rest.

But there, where spreads the infinite sky for the soul to take her flight in, reigns the stainless white radiance. There is no day nor night, nor form nor colour, and never never a word.

This poem is in the public domain.

On New Year’s Eve, my father overfills the baskets with oranges,
mangoes, grapes, grapefruits, other citrus too, but mostly oranges.

The morning of the first, he opens every window to let the new year in.
In Chinatown, red bags sag with mustard greens and mandarin oranges.

A farmer in a fallow season kneels to know the dirt. More silt than soil,
he wipes his brow and mumbles to his dog: time to give up this crop of oranges.

The woman knows she let herself say too much to someone undeserving.
She lays her penance on her sister’s doorstep: a case of expensive oranges.

At the Whitney, I take a photo of a poem in a book behind the glass.
Above it, a painting: smears of blue, Frank O’Hara, his messy oranges.

The handsome server speaks with his hands: Tonight is grilled octopus
with braised fennel and olives, topped with peppercress, cara caras, and blood oranges.

No one at the table looks up, ashamed by the prices on the chic menus.
The busser fills my water and I inhale him: his faraway scent of oranges.

Seventh grade, Southern California: we monitored the daily smog alerts.
Red: stay inside. White: play outside. I forget what warning orange is.

Clutch was serious about art and said our final projects could be
whatever . . . performative . . . like, just show up with a wheelbarrow full of oranges.

Jan, in all of those first six years, why is all you can remember this:
the mist rising in the sunny air as you watched her peeling oranges.

Copyright © 2022 by Jan-Henry Gray. Originally published in Poem-a-Day on October 28, 2022, by the Academy of American Poets.

Lines suggested by the tenor of a friendly interview between the author and the editor of the Chieftain in reference to the capture and incarceration of Crazy Snake, the Muskogee patriot.

“Truth crushed to earth will rise again,”
   ’Tis sometimes said. False! When it dies,
Like a tall tree felled on the plain,
   It never, never more, can rise.

Dead beauty’s buried out of sight;
   ’Tis gone beyond the eternal wave;
Another springs up into light,
   But not the one that’s in the grave.

I saw a ship once leave the shore;
   Its name was “Truth;” and on its board
It bore a thousand souls or more:
   Beneath its keel the ocean roared.

That ship went down with all its crew.
   True: other ships as proud as she,
Well built, and strong, and wholly new,
   Still ride upon that self-same sea.

But “Truth,” and all on her embarked
   Are lost in an eternal sleep,
(The fatal place itself unmarked)
   Far down in the abysmal deep.

Let fleeing Aguinaldo speak;
   And Oc̅eola from his cell;
And Sitting Bull, and Crazy Snake;
   Their story of experience tell.

There is no truth in all the earth
   But there’s a Calvary and a Cross;
We scarce have time to hail its birth,
   Ere we are called to mark its loss.

The truth that lives and laugh’s a sneak,
   That crouching licks the hand of power,
While that that’s worth the name is weak,
   And under foot dies every hour.

This poem is in the public domain. Published in Poem-a-Day on November 6, 2022, by the Academy of American Poets.

It’s autumn, and we’re getting rid
of books, getting ready to retire,
to move some place smaller, more
manageable. We’re living in reverse,
age-proofing the new house, nothing
on the floors to trip over, no hindrances
to the slowed mechanisms of our bodies,
a small table for two. Our world is
shrinking, our closets mostly empty,
gone the tight skirts and dancing shoes,
the bells and whistles. Now, when
someone comes to visit and admires
our complete works of Shakespeare,
the hawk feather in the open dictionary,
the iron angel on a shelf, we say
take them. This is the most important
time of all, the age of divestment,
knowing what we leave behind is
like the fragrance of blossoming trees
that grows stronger after
you’ve passed them, breathing
them in for a moment before
breathing them out. An ordinary
Tuesday when one of you says
I dare you, and the other one
just laughs.

Copyright © 2023 by Dorianne Laux. Originally published in Poem-a-Day on April 4, 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. 

When I give up the helm I know that 
the time has come for thee to take it. 
What there is to do will be instantly 
done. Vain is this struggle.
   Then take away your hands and
silently put up with your defeat, my 
heart, and think it your good fortune
to sit perfectly still where you are
   These my lamps are blown out at
every little puff of wind, and trying to 
light them I forget all else again and 
   But I shall be wise this time and wait
in the dark, spreading my mat on the 
floor; and whenever it is thy pleasure,
my lord, come silently and take thy seat here.

From Gitanjali (Macmillan and Co., Limited, 1913) by Rabindranath Tagore. This poem is in the public domain.

Let me enter the afterlife lithe not plodding. 
Rise out of this heavy peasantry. Lithe 
and cool as a battery-powered flame, 
not fire. My feet
are short and wide. The soles, stained 
with mulberries. I have never been lithe,
streamlined, pedicured, compressed, minimal, ergonomic,

fuselage cutting the air. 
In my herringbone skirt and shirttail out, I am a slob.
What is a slob but a knob of thickness, a mushroom
stem, a beer stein Mozart stole from the Hofbräuhaus while writing
My stylist, gravity. Memory a tree so loaded with fruit and birds the tips 

of the branches rake the ground. 
By lithe I do not mean in body, do I?
Do I mean in soul? 
To be one of those green-eyed ones others refer to as
aquamarine. Empty 
of ancestors. Face clean 
of lipstick smears and other gestures of artifice.

Feet a rare triple-A, so narrow there aren’t shoes 
that won’t chafe. Skin easy to tear, 
like Kleenex we turned into carnations for parade floats.
Those drinks from the soda fountain we called Green Rivers.
Green and sweet, without flavor, but delicious.
I am too tired to hold up this heavy self.
Of selfhood I worked so hard to earn. Of work I worked so hard

to avoid. Of the working class. My class. Its itches and psychological riches.
Its notions and values and humble achievements.
Of this town which inhabitants speak of with endearments
as if it were a child. As if it’s not like every other brat.
Town with its river, drunk on itself. Its shitty Xmas ornaments 
and fall-down-fucked-up Santa on a raft tethered to the river bank. 
Its tiny museum

built around the star of the show, a lamb born with two heads.
Every town has a two-headed something. It doesn’t mean
You know what? I want to be rich and lithe.
Rich, with a lyric gift and a song 
like a white-throated sparrow. I am vulture-heavy. 
My stories are caskets filled with black feathers,

the lids pounded shut with railroad spikes.
The gravedigger is noodling Melba, the widow-woman,
and a hognose is consuming a toy train on cemetery lane.
Let me resurrect beyond the bracken
fronds and the three-legged stool and catgut guitar 
and this two-ton song from the mouth 
of a wax museum troubadour.

Copyright © 2023 by Diane Seuss. Originally published in Poem-a-Day on April 14, 2023, by the Academy of American Poets.