In every kind of dream I am a black wolf
careening through a web. I am the spider
who eats the wolf and inhabits the wolf's body.
In another dream I marry the wolf and then
am very lonely. I seek my name and they name me
Lucky Dragon. I would love to tell you that all
of this has a certain ending but the most frightening
stories are the ones with no ending at all.
The path goes on and on. The road keeps forking,
splitting like an endless atom, splitting
like a lip, and the globe is on fire. As many
times as the book is read, the pages continue
to grow, multiply. They said, In the beginning,
and that was the moral of the original and most
important story. The story of man. One story.
I laid my head down and my head was heavy.
Hair sprouted through the skin, hair black
and bending toward night grass. I was becoming
the wolf again, my own teeth breaking
into my mouth for the first time, a kind of beauty
to be swallowed in interior bite and fever.
My mind a miraculous ember until I am the beast.
I run from the story that is faster than me,
the words shatter and pant to outchase me.
The story catches my heels when I turn
to love its hungry face, when I am willing
to be eaten to understand my fate.

Copyright © 2012 by Tina Chang. Used with permission of the author.

Because when I saw a horse
cross a river
and named it Ghost Rubble
it said No my name is 1935
because it also spoke in tongues
as it crossed the black tongue
of the water
because it still arcs through me
with its zodiac
of shrapnel-bright stars
because the river’s teeth
still gnash
against its flank
and its eyes
still have the luster
of black china
glowing black-bright
in the glass hutch of memory
because a horse’s skull
is a ditch of wildflowers
because a horse’s skull
is a box of numbers
a slop bucket
resting upside down
under barn eaves
wind in an empty stockyard
orange clay that breaks
shovel handles with a shrug
because a horse is the underwriter
of all motion
because a horse is the first
and last item
on every list
of every season
and because that night the air
smelled green as copper
and lath dust
and that night as it scrambled
up the bank and stamped past me
it said Unlike you
I am the source of all echoes.

Copyright © 2015 by Michael McGriff. Used with permission of the author.

The fox with broken legs has a gift others do not. He removes his paws and they go walking through the woods at night alone. The paws stop to touch pondwater, to brush a blade of saltgrass. They tap the backs of passing beetles in the dark. At dawn, they return to the fox, whispering of rabbits curled in damp caverns, of green oak leaves and sand. The fox listens carefully; he gleans secrets of the world this way. He learns of the earth without lifting his nose from his long, broken limbs. Always, when the paws return they say we missed you, always he listens. How young, how simple they seem beside his face which is mottled and pocked. He gentles the paws like children. He hopes when he dies they live on without him. When his bones rattle and shake in wind, he hopes the paws walk through autumn leaves, pad softly through newfallen snow. He dreams they will drift across a black lake dappled with rain; that, above it, they’ll rise; they’ll glow like four pale moons.

Copyright © 2022 by Dara Yen Elerath. Originally published in Poem-a-Day on November 16, 2022, by the Academy of American Poets.

She’s unsatisfied
the wild night shift
brings out coyotes
I know a blue song
when I recognize it
prize of conviction
a bovine torment
I hear heartbreak
a history of family
social bonds tied
up by the farmers
there’s lots to eat
that’s not enough
in an open valley
of slippery woods
no words just tone
easy to distinguish
she’s been places
in her small world
big butter for their
american dreams
the herd is silent
they feel troubles
don’t know what to
do about theirs
or her own

Copyright © 2022 by Nikki Wallschlaeger. Originally published in Poem-a-Day on December 28, 2022, by the Academy of American Poets.