Now let no charitable hope
Confuse my mind with images
Of eagle and of antelope:
I am by nature none of these.

I was, being human, born alone;
I am, being woman, hard beset;
I live by squeezing from a stone
The little nourishment I get.

In masks outrageous and austere
The years go by in single file;
But none has merited my fear,
And none has quite escaped my smile.

This poem is in the public domain. Published in Poem-a-Day on October 8, 2023, by the Academy of American Poets.

I now replace desire 

with meaning. 

Instead of saying, I want you, I say, 

there is meaning between us.

Meaning can swim, has taken lessons from the river 

of itself. Desire is air. One puncture 

above a black lake and she lies flat.

I now replace intensity with meaning.

One is a black hole of boundless appetite, a false womb,

another is a sentence.

My therapist says children need a “father” for language 

and a “mother” for everything else.

She doesn’t get that it’s all language. There is no else

Else is a fiction of life, and a fact of death.

That night, we don’t touch. 

We ruin nothing. 

We get bagels in the morning before you leave on a train, 

and I smoke a skinny cigarette and think 

I look glam, like an Italian diva.

You make a joke at my expense, which is not a joke, really, 

but a way to say I know you

I don’t feed on you. Instead, I watch you 

like a faraway tree. 

Desire loves the what if, the if only, the maybe in another lifetime

She loves a parallel universe. Or seven. 

Meaning knows its minerals,

knows which volcanic magma belongs 

to which volcanic fleet.

Knows the earth has parents. That a person is raised. 

It’s the real flirtation, to say, you are not a meal. 

To say, I want you 

to last. 

Copyright © 2023 by Megan Fernandes. Originally published in Poem-a-Day on October 13, 2023, by the Academy of American Poets. 

Where the vision was is when / There are wood panels all over the house shared by many people / and I am a collective member of a white simulation in black face / There is a man with a low fade who is my friend without his dreads / Never a mirage / Never my eye casting out to itself in memory / There is a fight between the races / Water in the tiger’s mouth / A window / Twin slate moons huddle on the horizon / an oceanic circus of gray-light / a lion in a bubble / Now, all is on the surface / In the back, two blonde women sit on the floor while praying to the dead / We think this is the reason why we’re all here / Him, the white man sitting next to my friend without dreads / Unleashes his mouth / A backwards tongue gaped in riddle / In a kind of future-speak / Saying what sounds like: Is us behind us is each a door, is each a phantom, is each a pool, is each is a broken river looking back / Everyone is now frozen like statues and won’t say anything when I shake them / I lift the shades of all eyes / and every time / I see the same child

Copyright © 2023 by Jonah Mixon-Webster. Originally published in Poem-a-Day on October 19, 2023, by the Academy of American Poets. 

translated by Ilana Luna and Cheyla Samuelson

Water on water: the tone and the timbre. Impossible to describe the deep empty longing in the voice of birds. This childhood happened elsewhere. The light, as thin as a thread through the eye of the astral needle. Lyme Regis is a town on the coast. The howling of the wind. The taste of salt on the lips, on the neck, right on the tip of the nose. There’s a green that can only be perceived in dreams. There’s no echo without a wall, in effect. Then the girl turned to look at me: you still don’t remember this moment? she asked. Or said. In time I grew expert in wrapping myself up in a black cloak. Someone would sing on the other side of the world; someone else would raise their hand or their voice or their gaze. As far as I know Meryl Streep was never a redhead. Turning corners: the body that departs. Tolling bells: the body that will never return. But how white the foam on the crest of the waves looks! I’ll forget it, I had to admit. The accent marks the longest separation. Skimming: two words that fly over bodies of water, the ocean. What? she asked again. Stupefied is a spectacular adjective. Nobody abandoned you, I had to yell each word for her to hear me. The echo: the wall: the effect. Understanding is just as likely as misunderstanding. A body huddled between clouds. A corner. The voices travel over extremely long distances. The childhood that’s watching me. This sky.



sábado, abril 17, 2010 12:49 am


Agua contra agua: el tono y el timbre. Imposible describir la honda vacía añoranza en la voz de los pájaros. Esta infancia ocurrió en otro lugar. La luz, tan delgada como un hilo a través del ojo de la aguja estelar. Lyme Regis es un pueblo en una costa. El ulular del viento. El sabor a sal sobre los labios, en el cuello, justo en la punta de la nariz. Existe un verde que sólo es posible percibir en sueños. No hay eco sin pared, en efecto. Entonces la niña se volvió a verme: ¿todavía no recuerdas este momento?, preguntó. O dijo. Con el tiempo me hice experta en arroparme con una capa negra. Alguien cantaría en el otro extremo del mundo; alguien más elevaría la mano o la voz o la mirada. Que yo sepa Meryl Streep nunca fue pelirroja. Doblar las esquinas: el cuerpo que se va. Doblar las campanas: el cuerpo que no regresará. ¡Pero qué blanca luce la espuma en la cresta de las olas! Lo olvidaré, tuve que admitirlo. El acento sella la separación más larga. Al ras: dos palabras que sobrevuelan las aguas, el océano. ¿Qué?, volvió a preguntar. Atolondrado es un adjetivo espectacular. Nadie te abandonó, tuve que gritar cada palabra para que me oyera. El eco: la pared: el efecto. Entender es tan posible como malentender. Un cuerpo agazapado entre nube y nube. Una esquina. Las voces viajan distancias muy largas. La infancia que me ve. Este cielo.

Copyright © 2023 by Cristina Rivera Garza, Ilana Luna, and Cheyla Samuelson. Originally published in Poem-a-Day on October 30, 2023, by the Academy of American Poets. 

‘A cold coming we had of it,
Just the worst time of the year
For a journey, and such a long journey:
The ways deep and the weather sharp,
The very dead of winter.’
And the camels galled, sore-footed, refractory,
Lying down in the melting snow.
There were times we regretted
The summer palaces on slopes, the terraces,
And the silken girls bringing sherbet.
Then the camel men cursing and grumbling
And running away, and wanting their liquor and women,
And the night-fires going out, and the lack of shelters,
And the cities hostile and the towns unfriendly
And the villages dirty and charging high prices:
A hard time we had of it.
At the end we preferred to travel all night,
Sleeping in snatches,
With the voices singing in our ears, saying
That this was all folly.

Then at dawn we came down to a temperate valley,
Wet, below the snow line, smelling of vegetation;
With a running stream and a water-mill beating the darkness,
And three trees on the low sky,
And an old white horse galloped away in the meadow.
Then we came to a tavern with vine-leaves over the lintel,
Six hands at an open door dicing for pieces of silver,
And feet kicking the empty wine-skins,
But there was no information, and so we continued
And arrived at evening, not a moment too soon
Finding the place; it was (you may say) satisfactory.

All this was a long time ago, I remember,
And I would do it again, but set down
This set down
This: were we led all that way for
Birth or Death? There was a Birth, certainly,
We had evidence and no doubt. I had seen birth and death,
But had thought they were different; this Birth was
Hard and bitter agony for us, like Death, our death.
We returned to our places, these Kingdoms,
But no longer at ease here, in the old dispensation,
With an alien people clutching their gods.
I should be glad of another death.

This poem is in the public domain. Published in Poem-a-Day on December 24, 2023, by the Academy of American Poets.

Nothing today hasn’t happened before: 
I woke alone, bundled the old dog
into his early winter coat, watered him, 
fed him, left him to his cage for the day 
closing just now. My eye drifts 
to the buff belly of a hawk wheeling, 
as they do, in a late fall light that melts 
against the turning oak and smelts 
its leaves bronze. 
                             Before you left, 
I bent to my task, fixed in my mind
the slopes and planes of your face; 
fitted, in some essential geography,
your belly’s stretch and collapse 
against my own, your scent familiar 
as a thousand evenings. 
                                       Another time, 
I might have dismissed as hunger 
this cataloguing, this fitting, this fixing, 
but today I crest the hill, secure in the company 
of my longing. What binds us, stretches:
a tautness I’ve missed as a sapling, 
supple, misses the wind.

Copyright © 2023 by Donika Kelly. Originally published in Poem-a-Day on November 10, 2023, by the Academy of American Poets. 

My uncles are the tallest men I know.
Every doorway a chance to bow 
Their heads, they love the Lord.  
Skin so dark their last name is Lenoir.          
Imagine growing up Black 
In Louisiana with a name that French 
But only able to pass for night.  
By the time each one hits thirteen,                
He’s picked enough cotton for me 
To think of blisters when I wear 
A new shirt. At fourteen, he thinks 
Of six feet with nostalgia.  
When I was small, I’d walk 
Those fields with them in that sun.  
I’d tilt and tilt my head to find 
Their faces but end up blinded—
Too much light around 
The darkness up there. I saw 
Women see them. I’d see women 
Quake. I didn’t understand that 
My uncles were not gods. None
Of them seemed to fit in a chair. 
I mean I don’t think they ever 
Relaxed. Some men are so Black 
You can’t see them. Or you can’t 
Bear to look out of fear of not 
Measuring up. I’m only half an inch 
Over six feet. I am what this century 
Calls a man. When you think your job 
Is to look out for your baby sister,                
You show her kids how to look out 
For themselves. My baby sister has 
No kids. My uncles tell great stories.  
The Black man is always the hero. 
When one dies, we speak of him
In present tense—one gets murdered 
In Vietnam one gets shot
On Madison Avenue one elected 
City councilman a principal a deacon
A yellow school bus driver 
With bone cancer a man 
With more wives than children 
A deacon a man with more children 
Than he can remember a mason 
A deacon. I should mention 
The mean things they did.  
No grave is deep enough.  
The Black man is always the hero.  
He will walk you to the edge of a field, 
Squat close so you can hear him, 
And point, saying everything 
Your grandfather planted, everything 
His children reaped, all this is yours.
You have to grow 
Into it, your legs stretching out along 
The floor and farther beyond as you 
Fall asleep in the best chair you got.

Copyright © 2023 by Jericho Brown. Originally published in Poem-a-Day on December 18, 2023, by the Academy of American Poets.