Upon the face of darkness beams my soul— 
    Nearby, behind the curtains of my sight; 
And ’round it weary waves of wonder roll— 
    Sad seas of color o’er dead seas of light: 
    Here is no Space, no Time—nor day nor night— 
Here is the boundless, undiminished Whole— 
                 Here is my soul.

Here is no love that hides beneath its shoal 
    The sandix that can redden a sea of years; 
Here is no lust that lies to Beauty’s mole 
    And draws from eyes of flint a flood of tears; 
    Here is no disenchantment and no fears— 
No blasted hopes, no jaunty joy, no dole— 
                 Here is my soul. 

Now lost in clay and water; now the Whole 
    Is lost within me: sea and earth and sky 
I dismiss from my presence, as I roll 
    My lids and lo, the lord of night am I. 
    Into the airless wilderness I fly; 
Here is no vain desire, no galling goal— 
                Here is my soul. 

In Eternity, shod with the hoary noul 
    Of deathless Death—in dim and shimmering shades 
Of soilless vales that bosom and cajole 
    The crystal flowers dropping from cloud-cascades; 
    Here in the grove of myriad colonnades 
Of jet and pearl and amber I now stroll— 
                Here is my soul.

From Myrtle and Myrrh (The Gorham Press, 1905) by Ameen Rihani. This poem is in the public domain.

	haunted by
	bright debris sibilant
beneath skin tug-of-warring
	with gravity, we
harvest shine
	from the caves of
mouths & crevices
	of eyes incandescent
as we remember
	the most massive
flares among us,
	detonate inside
each other to hold
	tiny supernovae
in our arms. Crushed
	bodies craving fusion
keep us brimming
	with enough energy
to pass on,
	keep us lit & lying
to ourselves about
	the eventual & sudden
ways we black hole—
	it already happened, it’s happening
anyway, to happen soon,
           scattering all that we think
matters so much now
	for another radiant giant to gather
then fling across galaxies
& scorched clean,
           new turmoil begging
from the inside out
           to burn.

From Starshine & Clay (Four Way Books, 2017). Copyright © 2017 by Kamilah Aisha Moon. Used with the permission of Four Way Books.

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.

It felt familiar, your mouth moving 
            up my side like a gale warning. My 
                        arm calico—mammatus clouds—
            blood brought to the surface. 
Now I understand my childhood
            home. Releasing shingle after shingle
                        into the brutal air. Our front door 
            torn and flat in the yard. Violent 
gusts whipping through the marshes—
            the back of your hand. 
                        Of what I have unlearned
            this was the hardest. 
One sandpiper singing 
still, desire does not 
                        have to leave you

Copyright © 2022 by Meghann Plunkett. Originally published in Poem-a-Day on March 4, 2022, by the Academy of American Poets.

                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 
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
                                                and going swimming in rivers
                              on picnics
                                       in the middle of the summer
and just generally
                            ‘living it up’

   but then right in the middle of it
                                                    comes the smiling


From A Coney Island of the Mind, copyright ©1955 by Lawrence Ferlinghetti. Reprinted by permission of New Directions Publishing Corp.