More than the fuchsia funnels breaking out
of the crabapple tree, more than the neighbor’s
almost obscene display of cherry limbs shoving
their cotton candy-colored blossoms to the slate
sky of Spring rains, it’s the greening of the trees
that really gets to me. When all the shock of white
and taffy, the world’s baubles and trinkets, leave
the pavement strewn with the confetti of aftermath,
the leaves come. Patient, plodding, a green skin
growing over whatever winter did to us, a return
to the strange idea of continuous living despite
the mess of us, the hurt, the empty. Fine then,
I’ll take it, the tree seems to say, a new slick leaf
unfurling like a fist to an open palm, I’ll take it all.
Copyright © 2017 by Ada Limón. Originally published in Poem-a-Day on May 15, 2017, by the Academy of American Poets.
When I woke for school the next day the sky was uniform & less than infinite
with the confusion of autumn & my father
as he became distant with disease the way a boy falls beneath the ice,
before the men that cannot save him—
the cold like a forever on his lips.
Soon, he was never up before us & we’d jump on the bed,
wake up, wake up,
& my sister’s hair was still in curls then, & my favorite photograph still hung:
my father’s back to us, leading a bicycle uphill.
At the top, the roads vanish & turn—
the leaves leant yellow in a frozen sprint of light, & there, the forward motion.
The nights I laid in the crutch of my parents’ doorway & dreamt awake,
listened like a field of snow,
I heard no answer. Then sleepless slept in my own arms beneath the window
to the teacher’s blank & lull—
Mrs. Belmont’s lesson on Eden that year. Autumn: dusk:
my bicycle beside me in the withered & yet-to-be leaves,
& my eyes closed fast beneath the mystery of migration, the flock’s rippled wake:
Copyright © 2018 by Andrés Cerpa. Originally published in Poem-a-Day on September 7, 2018, by the Academy of American Poets.
In the invitation, I tell them for the seventeenth time
(the fourth in writing), that I am gay.
In the invitation, I include a picture of my boyfriend
& write, You’ve met him two times. But this time,
you will ask him things other than can you pass the
whatever. You will ask him
about him. You will enjoy dinner. You will be
enjoyable. Please RSVP.
They RSVP. They come.
They sit at the table & ask my boyfriend
the first of the conversation starters I slip them
upon arrival: How is work going?
I’m like the kid in Home Alone, orchestrating
every movement of a proper family, as if a pair
of scary yet deeply incompetent burglars
is watching from the outside.
My boyfriend responds in his chipper way.
I pass my father a bowl of fish ball soup—So comforting,
isn’t it? My mother smiles her best
Sitting with Her Son’s Boyfriend
Who Is a Boy Smile. I smile my Hurray for Doing
a Little Better Smile.
Everyone eats soup.
Then, my mother turns
to me, whispers in Mandarin, Is he coming with you
for Thanksgiving? My good friend is & she wouldn’t like
this. I’m like the kid in Home Alone, pulling
on the string that makes my cardboard mother
more motherly, except she is
not cardboard, she is
already, exceedingly my mother. Waiting
for my answer.
While my father opens up
a Boston Globe, when the invitation
clearly stated: No security
blankets. I’m like the kid
in Home Alone, except the home
is my apartment, & I’m much older, & not alone,
& not the one who needs
to learn, has to—Remind me
what’s in that recipe again, my boyfriend says
to my mother, as though they have always, easily
talked. As though no one has told him
many times, what a nonlinear slapstick meets
slasher flick meets psychological
pit he is now co-starring in.
Remind me, he says
to our family.
Copyright © 2018 by Chen Chen. Originally published in Poem-a-Day on April 19, 2018, by the Academy of American Poets.
The diagnosis was god, twice a day until the spirit untangles itself. I took a trip into unscripted days past, teenagers submit to the window an open facing yawn. A walnut fell into the grave of my loved one and stayed there beating patient like a word. I was still unmoved by disbelief watching my father mumble the pledge and hot white stars he can’t remember. Nobody got hurt, some un- fulfilled potential exits the room. Enter, knowledge. Men came to dispel ambiguity and raced my intention to a hard boiling over. Each new decade we stayed was a misinterpretation of genre. We showed our teeth over the years to those who would listen. In the face of the absent subject I felt my desire go flaccid. The leaves fell dutifully one by one from their limbs. But I wrote to you against all odds. Money. Paperwork. Love’s heavy open door. Critique. Indignity. Vision and often enough time.
Copyright © 2018 by Wendy Xu. Originally published in Poem-a-Day on June 5, 2018, by the Academy of American Poets.
Like light but
in reverse we billow.
We turn a corner
and make the hills
my parts until no
No more skin-sunk
No more blameless death.
My hair loses its atoms.
My body glows
in the dark.
Planets are smashed
stripped of their power
to name things.
Our love fills the air.
Our love eats
the deadly sounds men
make when they see
how much magic
we have away
Copyright © 2017 by Joshua Jennifer Espinoza. Reprinted from Split This Rock’s The Quarry: A Social Justice Poetry Database.