The world is a beautiful place to be born into if you don’t mind happiness not always being so very much fun if you don’t mind a touch of hell now and then just when everything is fine because even in heaven they don’t sing all the time The world is a beautiful place to be born into if you don’t mind some people dying all the time or maybe only starving some of the time which isn’t half so bad if it isn’t you Oh the world is a beautiful place to be born into if you don’t much mind a few dead minds in the higher places or a bomb or two now and then in your upturned faces or such other improprieties as our Name Brand society is prey to with its men of distinction and its men of extinction and its priests and other patrolmen and its various segregations and congressional investigations and other constipations that our fool flesh is heir to Yes the world is the best place of all for a lot of such things as making the fun scene and making the love scene and making the sad scene and singing low songs of having inspirations and walking around looking at everything and smelling flowers and goosing statues and even thinking and kissing people and making babies and wearing pants and waving hats and dancing and going swimming in rivers on picnics in the middle of the summer and just generally ‘living it up’ Yes but then right in the middle of it comes the smiling mortician
From A Coney Island of the Mind, copyright ©1955 by Lawrence Ferlinghetti. Reprinted by permission of New Directions Publishing Corp.
Let the sunshine, let the sunshine in. I have learned to repeat these words to myself whenever I feel stuck.
Fear rustles mantras out of my body. I have risked a motherland. Why not also seduce the foreigner who implores nativity if loneliness can be broken and shared?
When Hair: The American Tribal Love-Rock Musical debuts on Broadway in April of 1968, it becomes the first production to include a nude scene with its entire cast.
Around the same time, Star Trek has popularized the phrase, Where no man has gone before.
Our bodies contain elements of outer space. So that when we’re naked we are gazing at the universe.
The night of my second panic attack, after getting released from the hospital and determined to change my mental health’s course, I dream of a nebula in the shape of an octopus, holding an astronaut in each tentacle. From my perspective, the cosmonauts feed on all my arms.
No more falsehoods or derisions. Golden living dreams of visions. Mystic crystal revelation and the mind's true liberation.
In the Age of Aquarius, give or take, plurality overtakes singularity. History becomes bored by its self-referentialism. Triangles burrow into single lines. Equal signs collapse on the spikes of other equal signs.
In the Age of Aquarius, give or take, we give birth to information and information delivers us. I make a fist and my fist speaks in four languages. Letters enter me and suddenly I experience flavors few before me have.
In the Age of Aquarius, give or take, gender is a tree is a building is a cloud. It is anything that hasn’t been said. The truest instinct one listens to more and more.
Copyright © 2020 by Roy G. Guzmán. Originally published in Poem-a-Day on November 6, 2020, by the Academy of American Poets.
i have diver’s lungs from holding my
breath for so long. i promise you
i am not trying to break a record
sometimes i just forget to
exhale. my shoulders held tightly
near my neck, i am a ball of tense
living, a tumbleweed with steel-toed
boots. i can’t remember the last time
i felt light as dandelion. i can’t remember
the last time i took the sweetness in
& my diaphragm expanded into song.
they tell me breathing is everything,
meaning if i breathe right i can live to be
ancient. i’ll grow a soft furry tail or be
telekinetic something powerful enough
to heal the world. i swear i thought
the last time i’d think of death with breath
was that balmy day in july when the cops
became a raging fire & sucked the breath
out of Garner; but yesterday i walked
38 blocks to my father’s house with a mask
over my nose & mouth, the sweat dripping
off my chin only to get caught in fabric & pool up
like rain. & i inhaled small spurts of me, little
particles of my dna. i took into body my own self
& thought i’d die from so much exposure
to my own bereavement—they’re saying
this virus takes your breath away, not
like a mother’s love or like a good kiss
from your lover’s soft mouth but like the police
it can kill you fast or slow; dealer’s choice.
a pallbearer carrying your body without a casket.
they say it’s so contagious it could be quite
breathtaking. so persistent it might as well
be breathing down your neck—
Copyright © 2020 by Yesenia Montilla. Originally published in Poem-a-Day on July 21, 2020 by the Academy of American Poets.
Like crawling black monsters
the big clouds tap at my window,
their shooting liquid fingers slide
over the staring panes
and merge on the red wall.
Some of the fingers pull at the hinges
and whisper insistently: “Let us come in,
the cruel wind whips and drives us
till we are sore and in despair.”
But I cannot harbor the big crawling black clouds,
I cannot save them from the angry wind.
In a tiny crevice of my aching heart
there is a big storm brewing
and loud clamour and constant prayer
for the reflection of snow-capped mountains
on a distant lake.
Tires and dazed I sit on a bear skin
and timidly listen to the concert of storms.
This poem is in the public domain, and originally appeared in Others for 1919; An Anthology of the New Verse (Nicholas L. Brown, 1920).
The way that the sea fails
to drown itself everyday. And entendre alludes all those not listening.
The way unfertilized chicken eggs fail to have imagination,
dozened out in their cardboard trays,
by which I mean they will never break
from the inside. The way my imagination (née anxiety) has
bad brakes and a need
to stop sometimes. The way I didn’t believe
it when he told me we were going to crash into the car idling
at a red light
ahead of us. To know our future like that seemed unlikely.
But to have time to tell me?
—Nearly impossible. I may have broken
several ribs that day
but I will never know for sure. I’m okay,
I guessed aloud to the paramedic. It doesn’t matter
if you’re broken if you’re broke,
I moaned in bed that night, after several glasses
of cheap red. I thought it would make a good blues
refrain. I made myself
laugh and so I made myself hurt—
MEMOIRS BY EMILIA PHILLIPS, goes the joke.
A friend of mine competes in beard and mustache tournaments,
even though she can’t grow one herself—
Once, she donned a Santa Claus made entirely out of hot-glued tampons.
It was as white as the spots in memories I doubt.
The first woman
I kissed who had never kissed a woman before
couldn’t get over how soft my face is,
even the scar. Once,
a famous poet said what’s this and touched my face
his thumb like a cat’s tongue on the old wound.
He must have thought he was giving
me a blessing.
Copyright © 2020 by Emilia Phillips. Originally published in Poem-a-Day on March 11, 2020 by the Academy of American Poets.
What kind of thoughts now, do you carry
In your travels day by day
Are they bright and lofty visions,
Or neglected, gone astray?
Matters not how great in fancy,
Or what deeds of skill you’ve wrought;
Man, though high may be his station,
Is no better than his thoughts.
Catch your thoughts and hold them tightly,
Let each one an honor be;
Purge them, scourge them, burnish brightly,
Then in love set each one free.
This poem is in the public domain. Published in Poem-a-Day on January 18, 2020, by the Academy of American Poets.
I met a traveller from an antique land
Who said: “Two vast and trunkless legs of stone
Stand in the desert . . . Near them, on the sand,
Half sunk, a shattered visage lies, whose frown,
And wrinkled lip, and sneer of cold command,
Tell that its sculptor well those passions read
Which yet survive, stamped on these lifeless things,
The hand that mocked them, and the heart that fed:
And on the pedestal these words appear:
‘My name is Ozymandias, king of kings:
Look on my works, ye Mighty, and despair!’
Nothing beside remains. Round the decay
Of that colossal wreck, boundless and bare
The lone and level sands stretch far away.”
This poem is in the public domain.