Remember the sky that you were born under,
know each of the star’s stories.
Remember the moon, know who she is.
Remember the sun’s birth at dawn, that is the
strongest point of time. Remember sundown
and the giving away to night.
Remember your birth, how your mother struggled
to give you form and breath. You are evidence of
her life, and her mother’s, and hers.
Remember your father. He is your life, also.
Remember the earth whose skin you are:
red earth, black earth, yellow earth, white earth
brown earth, we are earth.
Remember the plants, trees, animal life who all have their
tribes, their families, their histories, too. Talk to them,
listen to them. They are alive poems.
Remember the wind. Remember her voice. She knows the
origin of this universe.
Remember you are all people and all people
are you.
Remember you are this universe and this
universe is you.
Remember all is in motion, is growing, is you.
Remember language comes from this.
Remember the dance language is, that life is.

“Remember.” Copyright © 1983 by Joy Harjo from She Had Some Horses by Joy Harjo. Used by permission of W. W. Norton & Company, Inc.

In my youth the heart of dawn was in my heart, and the songs of April were in my ears.

But my soul was sad unto death, and I knew not why. Even unto this day I know not why I was sad.

But now, though I am with eventide, my heart is still veiling dawn,

And though I am with autumn, my ears still echo the songs of spring.

But my sadness has turned into awe, and I stand in the presence of life and life’s daily miracles.

The difference between my youth which was my spring, and these forty years, and they are my autumn, is the very difference that exists between flower and fruit.

A flower is forever swayed with the wind and knows not why and wherefore.

But the fruit overladen with the honey of summer, knows that it is one of life’s home-comings, as a poet when his song is sung knows sweet content,

Though life has been bitter upon his lips.

In my youth I longed for the unknown, and for the unknown I am still longing.

But in the days of my youth longing embraced necessity that knows naught of patience.

Today I long not less, but my longing is friendly with patience, and even waiting.

And I know that all this desire that moves within me is one of those laws that turns universes around one another in quiet ecstasy, in swift passion which your eyes deem stillness, and your mind a mystery.

And in my youth I loved beauty and abhorred ugliness, for beauty was to me a world separated from all other worlds.

But now that the gracious years have lifted the veil of picking-and-choosing from over my eyes, I know that all I have deemed ugly in what I see and hear, is but a blinder upon my eyes, and wool in my ears;

And that our senses, like our neighbors, hate what they do not understand. 

And in my youth I loved the fragrance of flowers and their color. 

Now I know that their thorns are their innocent protection, and if it were not for that innocence they would disappear forevermore.

And in my youth, of all seasons I hated winter, for I said in my aloneness, “Winter is a thief who robs the earth of her sun-woven garment, and suffers her to stand naked in the wind.” 

But now I know that in winter there is re-birth and renewal, and that the wind tears the old raiment to cloak her with a new raiment woven by the spring. 

And in my youth I would gaze upon the sun of the day and the stars of the night, saying in my secret, “How small am I, and how small a circle my dream makes.”

But today when I stand before the sun or the stars I cry, “The sun is close to me, and the stars are upon me;” for all the distances of my youth have turned into the nearness of age; 

And the great aloneness which knows not what is far and what is near, nor what is small nor great, has turned into a vision that weighs not nor does it measure. 

In my youth I was but the slave of the high tide and the ebb tide of the sea, and the prisoner of half moons and full moons. 

Today I stand at this shore and I rise not nor do I go down. 

Even my roots once every twenty-eight days would seek the heart of the earth.

And on the twenty-ninth day they would rise toward the throne of the sky. 

And on that very day the rivers in my veins would stop for a moment, and then would run again to the sea. 

Yes, in my youth I was a thing, sad and yielding, and all the seasons played with me and laughed in their hearts.

And life took a fancy to me and kissed my young lips, and slapped my cheeks. 

Today I play with the seasons. And I steal a kiss from life’s lips ere she kisses my lips. 

And I even hold her hands playfully that she may not strike my cheek. 

In my youth I was sad indeed, and all things seemed dark and distant. 

Today, all is radiant and near, and for this I would live my youth and the pain of my youth, again and yet again.

This poem is in the public domain. Published in Poem-a-Day on April 2, 2023, by the Academy of American Poets.

Someone was saying
something about shadows covering the field, about
how things pass, how one sleeps towards morning
and the morning goes.

Someone was saying
how the wind dies down but comes back,
how shells are the coffins of wind
but the weather continues.

It was a long night
and someone said something about the moon shedding its
on the cold field, that there was nothing ahead
but more of the same.

Someone mentioned
a city she had been in before the war, a room with two
against a wall, someone dancing, someone watching.
We began to believe

the night would not end.
Someone was saying the music was over and no one had
Then someone said something about the planets, about the 
how small they were, how far away.

From The Late Hour by Mark Strand, published by Atheneum. Copyright © 1973 by Mark Strand. Used with permission.

My friend says I was not a good son
you understand
I say yes I understand

he says I did not go
to see my parents very often you know
and I say yes I know

even when I was living in the same city he says
maybe I would go there once
a month or maybe even less
I say oh yes

he says the last time I went to see my father
I say the last time I saw my father

he says the last time I saw my father
he was asking me about my life
how I was making out and he
went into the next room
to get something to give me

oh I say
feeling again the cold
of my father's hand the last time
he says and my father turned
in the doorway and saw me
look at my wristwatch and he
said you know I would like you to stay
and talk with me

oh yes I say

but if you are busy he said
I don't want you to feel that you
have to
just because I'm here

I say nothing

he says my father
said maybe
you have important work you are doing
or maybe you should be seeing
somebody I don't want to keep you

I look out the window
my friend is older than I am
he says and I told my father it was so
and I got up and left him then
you know

though there was nowhere I had to go
and nothing I had to do

From Opening the Hand, by W. S. Merwin, published by Atheneum. Copyright © 1983 by W. S. Merwin. Used with permission.

I stood on one foot for three minutes & didn’t tilt
the scales. Do you remember how quickly
we scrambled up an oak leaning out over the creek,
how easy to trust the water to break
our glorious leaps? The body remembers
every wish one lives for or doesn’t, or even horror.
Our dance was a rally in sunny leaves, then quick
as anything, Johnny Dickson was up opening
his arms wide in the tallest oak, waving
to the sky, & in the flick of an eye
he was a buffalo fish gigged, pleading
for help, voiceless. Bigger & stronger,
he knew every turn in the creek past his back door,
but now he was cooing like a brown dove
in a trap of twigs. A water-honed spear
of kindling jutted up, as if it were the point
of our folly & humbug on a Sunday afternoon, right?
Five of us carried him home through the thicket,
our feet cutting a new path, running in sleep
years later. We were young as condom-balloons
flowering crabapple trees in double bloom
& had a world of baleful hope & breath.
Does Johnny run fingers over the thick welt
on his belly, days we were still invincible?
Sometimes I spend half a day feeling for bones
in my body, humming a half-forgotten
ballad on a park bench a long ways from home.
The body remembers the berry bushes
heavy with sweetness shivering in a lonely woods,
but I doubt it knows words live longer
than clay & spit of flesh, as rock-bottom love.
Is it easier to remember pleasure
or does hurt ease truest hunger?
That summer, rocking back & forth, uprooting
what’s to come, the shadow of the tree
weighed as much as a man.

Copyright © 2019 by Yusef Komunyakaa. Originally published in Poem-a-Day on April 1, 2019, by the Academy of American Poets.

When she looked down from the kitchen window
into the back yard and the brown wicker
baby carriage in which she had tucked me
three months old to lie out in the fresh air
of my first January the carriage
was shaking she said and went on shaking
and she saw I was lying there laughing
she told me about it later it was
something that reassured her in a life
in which she had lost everyone she loved
before I was born and she had just begun
to believe that she might be able to
keep me as I lay there in the winter
laughing it was what she was thinking of
later when she told me that I had been
a happy child and she must have kept that
through the gray cloud of all her days and now
out of the horn of dreams of my own life
I wake again into the laughing child

W. S. Merwin, “The Laughing Child” from Garden Time. Copyright © 2016 by W. S. Merwin. Used by permission of Copper Canyon Press,

Sometimes you don’t die

when you’re supposed to

& now I have a choice

repair a world or build

a new one inside my body

a white door opens

into a place queerly brimming

gold light so velvet-gold

it is like the world

hasn’t happened

when I call out

all my friends are there

everyone we love

is still alive gathered

at the lakeside

like constellations

my honeyed kin

honeyed light

beneath the sky

a garden blue stalks

white buds the moon’s

marble glow the fire

distant & flickering

the body whole bright-

winged brimming

with the hours

of the day beautiful

nameless planet. Oh

friends, my friends—

bloom how you must, wild

until we are free.

Copyright © 2018 by Cameron Awkward-Rich. Originally published in Poem-a-Day on August 30, 2018, by the Academy of American Poets.

Never mind the distances traveled, the companion
she made of herself. The threadbare twenties not
to be underestimated. A wild depression that ripped
from January into April. And still she sprouts an appetite.
Insisting on edges and cores, when there were none.
Relationships annealed through shared ambivalences.
Pages that steadied her. Books that prowled her
until the hard daybreak, and for months after.
Separating new vows from the old, like laundry whites.
Small losses jammed together so as to gather mass.
Stored generations of filtered quietude.
And some stubbornness. Tangles along the way
the comb-teeth of the mind had to bite through, but for what.
She had trained herself to look for answers at eye level,
but they were lower, they were changing all the time.

From Eye Level (Graywolf Press, 2018). Copyright © 2018 by Jenny Xie. Used with the permission of Graywolf Press.

translated by Aliki Barnstone

Marathon is an ancient city,
almost Elysian, I say,
as we climb the hill
that holds the dead,
saffron bulbs everywhere.
Here is the tomb, white as bone,
the sea cobalt blue,
the day naked.

Marathos means root, I say,
as we pick the green root
that bears Marathon’s name
for our food—fennel’s fragrant spell.
How quickly things are forgotten,
losing shape,
losing their names,
turning into something else.

There are words in your mouth
instead of screams:
Yes, you passed through the checkpoint.
No, you did not have a passport.
No, you were not an adult.
You were unfit to travel.
You stuttered as you spoke.
You stumbled as you walked.

You misheard instructions.
You consigned the secret to your brothers—
they kept you alive, after all!
You borrowed their boat.
The Coast Guard ordered you around
like a metronome.

Now the light is switched on,
punishing as snow.
For me it’s a wingspan.
For you it collapses into your spring
like a heavy construction.



Πατρικό έδαφος 


Ο Μαραθώνας είναι αρχαία πόλη,
σχεδόν Ηλύσια, λέω, 
καθώς σκαρφαλώνουμε τον λόφο 
που περιέχει τους νεκρούς,
παντού βολβοί σαφράνια.
Ο τάφος είναι εδώ, λευκός σαν κόκαλο,
η θάλασσα στο μπλε του κοβαλτίου,
η μέρα γυμνή.

Μάραθος σημαίνει ρίζα, λέω,
καθώς μαζεύουμε την πράσινη ρίζα
για να τη βάλουμε στο φαγητό– 
ξόρκι ευωδιαστό.
Πόσο γρήγορα τα πράγματα ξεχνιόνται,
χάνουνε σχήμα,
χάνουνε όνομα,
γίνονται κάτι άλλο.

Λέξεις στο στόμα
αντί για κραυγές:
Ναι, πέρασες το σημείο ελέγχου.
Όχι, δεν είχες διαβατήριο.
Όχι, δεν ήσουν ενήλικας.
Ήσουν ανήμπορος να ταξιδέψεις.
Τραύλιζες όταν μιλούσες.
Παραπατούσες όταν περπάταγες.

Κατάλαβες λάθος τις οδηγίες.
Εμπιστεύτηκες το μυστικό στα αδέρφια σου–
αυτά σε είχαν άλλωστε κρατήσει ζωντανό!
Δανείστηκες τη λέμβο τους.
Ο Ακτοφύλακας σε διέταξε 
σαν μετρονόμος.

Τώρα το φως είναι αναμμένο,
τιμωρητικό σαν το χιόνι.
Για μένα είναι άνοιγμα φτερών.
Για σένα καταρρέει στην άνοιξη σου
σαν μια βαριά κατασκευή.

Copyright © 2022 by Liana Sakelliou and Aliki Barnstone. Originally published in Poem-a-Day on September 15, 2022, by the Academy of American Poets.

I don’t know how to do this
no reference,
no root of grandparents
cup of older sister or brother
eye of parent, I don’t 
have strong blood to call on, instead, 
have snapshots, strained twining
the dark that still doesn’t know how to grow

I can remember having a yard once
for a year or so when I was little
my dad set up a kiddie pool, baseball and bat,
needle and string for the plumeria 
that grew near the stone steps,
tried his best to give me childhood,
books and drawing paper,
a gift every day

I have photos to help 
with this though
otherwise I couldn’t tell 
you on my own
what it felt like,
with the following years 
spelled out in moons

                         Tamatea Āio


Kai-Ariki                                             a Ngana


looks too much like every night you 
shouldn’t go out,
ripping away of hands
                                    are you sure they did that?
silence so loud, it is still 
too hard to sit in it

Had my youth
hui’ed out of me
grew up quickly 
once we left Kāneohe,
shoved like pou into Waikīkī 
and so far
from my ancestors
it’s no surprise 
I have little in the way 
of good memory,
while everyone sits at the table and says
with warmth resting deep between teeth,
I can’t speak the same language
know love as 
and the rest of this life,
as running to try and catch 
the whole sun

I don’t know that one 
you speak of
at least I can’t remember it
wish I could

Copyright © 2022 by Ngaio Simmons. Originally published in Poem-a-Day on May 10, 2022, by the Academy of American Poets.

If our angels hover above us,
they will see a darkening cornfield, the spectral traces
of lightning bugs, and two brothers
lying among the stalks.  
We come because sometimes it is hard to live.

The cornstalks, limp under the tropical sun,
revive in the cool of twilight.
The angels will know we have been here for hours.
They will land and rest their feathers around us
and whisper soothing names of winged things: finch, monarch,
whippoorwill, ptarmigan, Daedalus, Icarus, Gabriel ...

The angels will bend down and touch their faces
onto ours and borrow our eyes: Earlier,
a horse slipped, breaking its leg.  
A boy stood beside his younger brother. 
Their father came into the stable, carrying a gun.
Quails flitted out of a bamboo tree; the boy 

traced the trail that had led him here,
the field tilled by the dead horse,
where his brother laid down,
dust on his cheeks.

From Imago by Joseph O. Legaspi (CavanKerry Press, 2007). Copyright © 2007 by Joseph O. Legaspi. Used with the permission of the poet.

Three days into his wake my father has not risen.

He remains encased in pine, hollowed-
out, his body unsealed, organs 
harvested, then zippered 
shut like a purse. 

How strange to see one’s face inside 
a coffin. The son at my most peaceful. 
The father at his most peaceful.  
Not even the loud chorus 
of wailing family members 
can rid us of our sleep.  

My mother sits front center.  
Regal in black, her eyes sharpened 
as Cleopatra’s. Her children, grown 
and groaning, quietly moan beside a white 
copse of trumpeting flowers.  

The church is forested 
with immigrants, spent after their long journey 
to another country 
to die. 

Before the casket 
is to be closed, we all rise 
to bid our final farewells.

My mother lowers herself, 
kisses the trinity of the forehead 
and cheeks, then motions her obedient 
children to follow. One by one my 
siblings hover, perch, and peck. 

I stand over my father 
as I had done on occasions 
of safe approach: in his sleep, or splayed 
like a crushed toad on the floor, drunk.

I study him, planetary, 
distant presence both bodily 
and otherworldly, a deceptive 
kind of knowledge.
His beauty has waned 
but not faded, face surface 
of a moon, not ours, I turn pale,
shivering, I place my hand 
on his, amphibious.  

While my mother places her hand warm on the cradle
of my back, where I bend to fit into my body.

Her burning eyes speak, Do it for me, they
urge, Kiss your father goodbye.  

I refuse.

Copyright © 2018 by Joseph O. Legaspi. Originally published in Poem-a-Day on August 17, 2018, by the Academy of American Poets.

What he thought belly down, face down on the beige speckled tile floor, new wax, drill holes where desks had been anchored. Of the shield-thick hovering air. He could be a ribbon of wax, a thin trail of caulk. Something left over above his breath and heart sounds he could hear waiting like a hymn and pipe organs’ stop just before release.

What he thought belly down, face down on the ice sliding between cars toward the gutter. Of the rifle smug and steady at his forehead and jittery sawed-off rushing his wife for her wedding rings. Of the streetlight shadow. The hydrant hunched in the snow-crusted grass. The salted walk. His little girl mid-step on the porch and the wrought iron storm door and front door ajar.

When I was 8 years old I thought my father was a monster.
When I was 8 years old I thought my father could fly.
When I was 8 years old I thought my father was a dark room
In a dark house with walls of eyes and teeth and banisters of thick rough skin.
The rooms around him were also monsters and they were tall
As telephone poles with flesh of kerosene and black fire.
Their arms were always open and they surrounded my father,
Keeping him warm for as long as he chose to stand on the earth
Watching me.

Copyright © 2021 by Duriel E. Harris. Originally published in Poem-a-Day on July 8, 2021, by the Academy of American Poets.

Where else do mice scurry along the bones of a couch,
among coiled springs and dog food stash, where
a body is wrapped up in quilts because October
is a cold house, no hot water but a dog’s water dish
frozen in the dark living room where a body is wrapped
         up in quilts,
no food except a couple cans of commod beef stew,
a grocery store across the street, lingering
in the parking lot, two payphones and no one to call
because October is an empty house, a month
abandoned of light bills and mother
a quilt of frayed threads and father pulling at the threads
of another weeklong binge.
Where else can a body have a husk and still feel
                                                 like the rib cage of a mouse
brittle and starved
but stashing
buttons or dog food or threads from a quilt,
                                                 a skeleton
among skeletons
             of things we don’t miss.

Copyright © 2014 b: william bearheart. This poem originally appeared in Tupelo Quarterly. Reprinted with the permission of Carrie Bearheart.

The gloom is

the off-white of white. Because white can’t know

what white knows. Where’s the life in that?
Where’s the right in that? Where’s the white in that?

At the bone of bone white breathes the fear of being,
the frustration of seeming unequal to white.

White portraits on white walls signal ownership of all,
even as white walls white in.

And this is understandable, yes,

understandable because the culture claims white

is owed everything—a wealth of inheritance
a system insures. In each generation

the equation holds—and better than
before and indifferent to now and enough

and always and inevitably white.

This is what it means to wear a color and believe

its touch an embrace. Even without luck

or chance of birth the scaffolding has rungs
and legacy and the myth of meritocracy fixed in white.

That’s how white holds itself together

as the days hold so many white would not—

White is living within brick-and-mortar, walling off
all others’ loss, exhaustion, aggrieved
exposure, dispossessed despair—

in daylight white hardens its features.

Eyes, which hold all light, harden.
Jaws, closing down on justice,
harden into a fury that will not call

white to account even as for some
its pledge is cut out from under.

If people could just come clean about their lives,
even as poverty exists inside white walls,
and just being white is what’s working.

Who implies white could disown its own
even as white won’t strike its own structure.

Even as white won’t oust its own system.

All redress fuels nothing the second another
can be thrown out.

In daylight white’s right to righteous rage
doubles down on the supremacy
of white in our way.

From Just Us: An American Conversation (Graywolf Press, 2020) by Claudia Rankine. Used with the permission of the poet. 

Sorrow, O sorrow, moves like a loose flock
of blackbirds sweeping over the metal roofs, over the birches, 
                    and the miles. 
    One wave after another, then another, then the sudden 

where the feathered swirl, illumined by dusk, parts to reveal 
the weeping 
                     heart of all things.

Copyright © 2024 by Vievee Francis. Originally published in Poem-a-Day on January 12, 2024, by the Academy of American Poets. 

I would drop to my knees for the littlest things 
mind filled with a light returning
from aluminum-foil crosses hanging on a porch 

I was made to believe so hard 
that I was going to die 
My family said I wore bells on my ankles
                                        I learned an ancient dance 

Then the light like the deer 
leaped off     into time 

& once   because my cousins called my body a soft thing
because so desperately they said they wanted to kill 
the woman I hid inside me 
dared as they often did with their hands 
to let my eyes wonder 
where the thickest shine sat 

we heard the last child had their mind stolen 
the circles of their iris turned to coal
when they looked directly at the Lord’s house 

I’m trying to find where I feel most at home
I believe it’s inside me

Copyright © 2024 by Tyree Daye. Originally published in Poem-a-Day on January 10, 2024, by the Academy of American Poets. 

We still celebrate
my Grandmother’s birthday
by frying a slab of fish,
smothering flounder
in Texas Pete,
chicken in Sweet Baby Ray’s,
someone puts on Marvin,
someone says I love you.

How can we lift enough
smoke to reach you?
Our cookout has the blues,
I can’t tell you why
I walk old country roads
looking for your spirit.

I hear you speaking
near the river,
where the water
slows against rocks.

My mother says
the best thing to do
is get addicted to God.

But I write from inside my body,
what’s the price of being
obsessed with the dead?
No ghost abandoned,
you mostly
speak of wind.

Someone put on Marvin,
someone say I love you.

In my purple bedroom,
I’ve heard a woman
long dead speak of gardens,
tomatoes, squash,
white tobacco flowers, lilies
are pretty, but they are weeds.

By the elementary school
we used to pick sweet potatoes,
played games like
that’s my car,
that’s my house.

The lands murmurs
in our hands,
where to grow
the biggest melons,

the place where June Bug
finally died,
what’s so sweet
must be sacred.

We mended the horses
rubbed an old mane
until it was time,

you prepare
an old man for death
by reminding him
of his legs, of his work,

I can still see your silhouette
in the window like a kiss
to a father long gone.

In the kitchen where
I haven’t stepped-in today,
I can hear you
among the spoons
and butter knives
in the drawer.

What do you think
when you see my loneliness?
Living ghost? I must learn
the language of rain
to speak to plants
and the Genesis of how seed
turns to flower.



From River Hymns (Copper Canyon Press, 2017) by Tyree Daye. Copyright © 2017 by Tyree Daye. Used with the permission of the author. 

I tell my uncle’s ghost

don’t waste your time haunting white folks who owe you money,

I try to give him my body, but he won’t take it,
                                                and pulls his wagon on.

I began in fields near pines where we laughed and fried fish.
                               If someone were to sing,

it would grow through each ghost

                               and be heard as geese crossing overhead.

The dead know
                     the work they have done,

and if they are not careful their hands

will stay in the shape of that work.

My hands haven’t touched cotton or tobacco,

I haven’t pulled small green worms

or carried them inside with me hidden in the body’s doublings.

I only was a child in harvested fields,

when my people let the cotton sleep there were no vacations,

the fields of Rolesville belong to my kinfolk, dead and alive

and I don’t know if my great-grandparents ever saw the ocean

                                                   or fell asleep on the beach.

Copyright © 2020 Tyree Daye. From Cardinal (Copper Canyon Press, 2020). Used with permission of the author and Copper Canyon Press (


I wear my grandmother’s bones like a housedress through the city. 
Some nights the block tells me all its problems. 
I’ll meet you at the top of the biggest rock in Rolesville 
or on train headed to a reading in Queens, just tell me where. I promise 
to gather your bones only for good. 
I was not swallowed by the darkness between two buildings. 
I don’t want to die in the south like so many of mine. I want to be carried back. 


I dreamed we were digging in a field in Rolesville 
looking for an earth we knew the name of. 
You stepped into the hole, looked behind you and gestured me in. 
I saw every lover who held you while your children slept 
in rooms of small heaters, you wrap the blankets so tight, 
afraid of any cold that might get in. 


I said my goodbyes, my dead will not come. I will not see a cardinal in the city 
so I drew one on my chest. A coop inside a coop inside of me. 
Leaving is necessary some say. There is a whole ocean between you and a home 
you can’t fix your tongue to speak. Others do not want me 
no further than a length of a small yard, they ask where are you going Tyree? 
Your mama here, you’ve got stars in your eyes. A ship in your movement.

Copyright © 2018 by Tyree Daye. Originally published in Poem-a-Day on February 23, 2018, by the Academy of American Poets.

What if, after years
of trial,
a love should come
and lay a hand upon you
and say,
this late,
your life is not a crime

From The Last Song of the World (BOA Editions, 2024) by Joseph Fasano. Copyright © 2024 by Joseph Fasano. Used with the permission of the author and publisher. 

I have gone out, a possessed witch,
haunting the black air, braver at night;
dreaming evil, I have done my hitch
over the plain houses, light by light:
lonely thing, twelve-fingered, out of mind.
A woman like that is not a woman, quite.
I have been her kind.

I have found the warm caves in the woods,
filled them with skillets, carvings, shelves,
closets, silks, innumerable goods;
fixed the suppers for the worms and the elves:
whining, rearranging the disaligned.
A woman like that is misunderstood.
I have been her kind.

I have ridden in your cart, driver,
waved my nude arms at villages going by,
learning the last bright routes, survivor
where your flames still bite my thigh
and my ribs crack where your wheels wind.
A woman like that is not ashamed to die.
I have been her kind.

From The Complete Poems by Anne Sexton, published by Houghton Mifflin Company. Copyright © 1981 by Linda Gray Sexton. Used with permission.

I became his 
horse meaning 
for a minute 
there I looked
promising like 
a winner might
just maybe 
he could drive 
me someplace 
special someplace 
he wanted to 
go or I was 
already there 
or if not quite
closer than 
he was just then 
and so valuable 
or vault-able 
either way hurry 
up and neigh.

Copyright © 2023 by Lisa Olstein. Originally published in Poem-a-Day on March 29, 2023, by the Academy of American Poets.

Clean up after yourself. Pick up

that book chile, you still got

a good back. Seek therapy.

Don’t kill the creative in you.

Don’t kill Black people. Get a job —

one that doesn’t make you

the dictator. Take back 400 years

of overcontested leadership. Give

thanks to the futures you’ve stolen.

Give back what your people call

inheritance. Wash your hands; cut

the grass; don’t kill Asian women.

Don’t have what you call bad days.

Don’t think that — due to fear planted

in the roots of your kin — you can’t get rid

of yourself today. Get a job —

one that doesn’t require blood from me.

I’m low on iron & desire to tell you

once again. Quit playing. There’s a puddle

of blood you’ve shoved into a corner.

There’s a mop and my people

wringed into a bucket of waste. I’ll wait.

Copyright © KB Brookins. This poem originally appeared in Drunk Monkeys, May 16, 2022. Used with permission of the author.

Loves How I love you How you How we hang on words How eaten with need How we need to eat How weevils sift the wheat How cold it is How thick with hoarfrost ice slick sleet freeze How wintery the mix How full of angst How gut sick How blue lipped How we drink How we drink a health How we care How easy over as eggs How it all slides How absurd How yet tender we all How wrapped in a thick coat How battered How slender the flesh How we wrap ourselves How many selves we all How I miss you many How I see you How your eyes warm mine How tiny am I inside How enormous my need How you open an old-fashioned satchel How deep it yawns How bleak this need How like winter How it yet catches the light How brilliant the sundogs parhelion moon dogs paraselene phenomenon optic How fetching your spectacles How my thumbs might fit alongside the slope of your nose How my own glasses slide down my thin bridge How ridiculous the theory of the bridge How inane the bibble babble How we grew to be friends How we grew thumbs How opposable we all How we grew sparks How we blew up a fire How angry How incensed How we resist How we bead up drops How water will not run How we distract How loud the dog snores How loudly How noisy the snow grows How many degrees below How we fret How again How we all came here How did we come How did we How loves How did we come to this

Copyright © 2020 Heid E. Erdrich. This poem originally appeared in Lit Hub. Used with permission of the poet.

If I heard the words you once used
in our wild place rough with scrub roses
in sand—if your words came back
gray and kind as mild winter
believe me I’d still understand
offer my own red language
my tongue to your tongue
so we recall what we once said
that made us live
                        made us choose to live

Copyright © 2020 Heid E. Erdrich. This poem originally appeared in The Kenyon Review. Used with permission of the poet.

Gizaagi’in apii zaagi’idizoyan
I love you when you love yourself

gaye gaawiin zaagi’idizosiiyan
and when you do not

apii zaagijiba’iweyang
when we escape together

gaye zaagijinizhikawangwaa
and when we chase together

wiindigoog wiindamoonangwaa
the demons who tell us

gaawiin zaagiginzinog ozaagiing
nothing sprouts at the inlet

aanawi gikendamang jiigi-zaaga’igan
when we know at the edge of the lake

gii-zaagida’aawangweyang ingoding
where ashes were poured

zaagaakominagaanzh zaagaagoneg
the bearberry stands in the snow

zaagidikwanaaging ezhi-nisidotamang
branches reaching and tracing

zaagijiwebinamang gaye ishkonamang
what we have tossed and what we have saved

as we examine

gizaagi’in, gizaagi miidash ozaagi’aan.

Copyright © 2020 by Margaret Noodin. Originally published in Poem-a-Day on November 2, 2020, by the Academy of American Poets.

               for Audre Lorde

This city is made of stone, of blood, and fish.
There are Chugatch Mountains to the east
and whale and seal to the west.
It hasn't always been this way, because glaciers
who are ice ghosts create oceans, carve earth
and shape this city here, by the sound.
They swim backwards in time.

Once a storm of boiling earth cracked open
the streets, threw open the town.
It's quiet now, but underneath the concrete
is the cooking earth,
                                 and above that, air
which is another ocean, where spirits we can't see
are dancing                joking                   getting full
on roasted caribou, and the praying
goes on, extends out.

Nora and I go walking down 4th Avenue
and know it is all happening.
On a park bench we see someone's Athabascan
grandmother, folded up, smelling like 200 years
of blood and piss, her eyes closed against some
unimagined darkness, where she is buried in an ache
in which nothing makes

We keep on breathing, walking, but softer now,
the clouds whirling in the air above us.
What can we say that would make us understand
better than we do already?
Except to speak of her home and claim her
as our own history, and know that our dreams
don't end here, two blocks away from the ocean
where our hearts still batter away at the muddy shore.

And I think of the 6th Avenue jail, of mostly Native
and Black men, where Henry told about being shot at
eight times outside a liquor store in L.A., but when
the car sped away he was surprised he was alive,
no bullet holes, man, and eight cartridges strewn
on the sidewalk
                        all around him.

Everyone laughed at the impossibility of it,
but also the truth. Because who would believe
the fantastic and terrible story of all of our survival
those who were never meant
                                                to survive?

Copyright © 2008 by Joy Harjo. From She Had Some Horses (W. W. Norton, 2008). Reprinted from Split This Rock’s The Quarry: A Social Justice Poetry Database.

In gratitude for all of it- theft, small pox, relocation and denial. Wa-do

We need to be stubborn for this work
Stubborn and loving.
The most difficult of lessons for me
Generous gifts
Are often given
By those who didn’t intend to give anything at all.

I call the slave master
Who lost track of my ancestor
A blanket for you
In gratitude.

I call the soldier
With a tired arm
Who didn’t cut deeply enough
Into my great great grandfather’s chest to kill clean.
I return your axehead
Cleaned and sharpened
May you wield it against others with equal skill.

Will the boarding school officer come up?
The one who didn’t take my Gram
Because of her crippled leg.
No use as a servant-such a shame with that face…

Finally the shopkeeper’s wife.
Who traded spoiled cans of fruit
For baskets that took a year each to make.
Thank you, Faith, for not poisoning
Quite all
Of my

Blankets for each of you,
And let no one say
That I am not
Grateful for your care.

From Smuggling Cherokee (Greenfield Review Press, 2006). Copyright © 2006 by Kim Shuck. Used with the permission of the author.

I’ll say it—the most remarkable way a man 
has touched me is when he didn’t intend to, found
the heat of me on accident. I’m saying his hand
punctured the gap between our backs, rooted around

for the blanket we shared and swept my rib-ridged side.
In movies, that touch is the domino
that starts the chain, but his bed did not abide
by rules of fantasy. He touched me and, oh,

I held my breath. Waited for the regret
he never felt. My God, he touched me then slid
closer beneath the duvet, our spines close-set
arches that joined in the dark, kissing. I did

not know it then, but his fingers flexed with want
into the night. His heart at my back. Desire out front.

Copyright © 2023 by Taylor Byas. Originally published in Poem-a-Day on February 13, 2023, by the Academy of American Poets.