Plow over bars of sea plowing,
the moon by moon work of the sea,
the plowing, sand and rock, must
be done.

Ride over, ride over bars of sea riding,
the sun and the blue riding of the sea—
sit in the saddles and say it, sea riders.

Slant up and go, silver breakers; mix
the high howls of your dancing; shoot
your laugh of rainbow foam tops.

Foam wings, fly; pick the comers, the fin pink,
the belly green, the blue rain sparks, the
white wave spit—fly, you foam wings.

The men of the sea are gone to work; the women
of the sea are off buying new hats, combs, clocks;
it is rust and gold on the roofs of the sea.

From Slabs of the Sunburnt West (New York, Harcourt, Brace and company, 1922) by Carl Sandburg. This poem is in the public domain.

after Adrianne Lenker

I was supposed to be writing you back

I was supposed to be describing my desires

The moment I plugged my ears, not the clouds on the ceiling

How the heat doesn’t burst

Where you sheered the gap with your thighs, a black skirt

A glossy rainbow beetle eating a lanternfly

A wasp displaced from the splintered wood door

How rain flattened the sky

Blank lightning scorching the undone bed

My chest flat with bones which don’t die

Bones, which persist like hair, inanimate, as stones persist

Mostly green indifferent appetites

When the animal god dies it’s spoiled with worms

When anger reaches its iron tongue inside it burns

I used to get off on a small, concentrated sensation

It took years to undo the glue of experience

It’s a big gap for mood

It’s a dark stripe in the darkness

It’s how I remember nothing in particular

Tracks of metal gridding the street

How a body could produce an iron nail if iron in blood assembled

I didn’t think I came but I must have

How angry it made me, the indignity of not touching

The gauzy light on a woman’s face, her idle desires

Compared to the way we fit two hands inside, hungry

How indifferent to particular folds of skin

There was a bottomlessness to the negations

Whatever it was burning gold inside a ring of nots

I, untied, dispensing promise

A commitment of green circling green only

Not what you might think, a hawk in the dead tree

A velvet rope cordoning

Nothing eventful happened so I forgot it

That’s how life moving through space works

Comparing the size of palms, smoothness of thighs

Caught in a loop I knew from history

Not capital, not significant, of a personal nature

A solemn quality of knowledge, what others might call god

Hair collected in an archive versus

Hair drawn in a long strand from one’s crevices

My horoscope says to do the smallest thing possible

The trees say indifferent rattle in the wind

This was life, normal, tidal, I considered it

The dead papering the street with their notices

Copyright © 2022 by Stephanie Cawley. Originally published in Poem-a-Day on August 9, 2022, by the Academy of American Poets.

our selves less self
than a knowledge

of time. time:
our shell, our salt,

our singing wings.
our wings like flakes

of mica, pining.
the land

tears its skin open
to free us,

& again, to lay us
down to rest.

systole. diastole. in all
directions: imminence;

the land emitting
a smell like love.

in the flash
between beats—

the still
of wholeness. summer,

we ate
& fucked & ate.

day a unit
to measure want.

want inseparable
from need.

deathless, we bury:
our bodies’ present;

our bodies’ future
wearing the shell

of another body.
the land names us

synapse, & we are
memory, waiting

to crack
its borders.

there is no border.

Copyright © 2022 by Marissa Davis​​. Originally published in Poem-a-Day on August 8, 2022, by the Academy of American Poets.