Wine comes in at the mouth
And love comes in at the eye;
That’s all we shall know for truth
Before we grow old and die.
I lift the glass to my mouth,
I look at you, and I sigh.

This poem is in the public domain.

There is no country to claim you when you die inside the word 

There is no language to claim you when die inside the cage  

The exiled cage breathes death at us 

The cage of exile heaves private air at us


Don’t speak now 

Just look 

Breathe into the mouth of the wound 

Dream into the foreclosure of your death 

Look into the vulture of your wound 

Look into the spider of your wound 

Look closely into the algorithm that determines the depth of your wound 

Whisper into the cage of exile 

You have nothing to lose but this breath 


Into the breath in your breath 

Look     into the absent body in your breath 

Look     into the absent I in your body 

Look     into the absent you in your body 

No dust on your body no wound on your body no breath on your body no word on your body no fat on your body no arm on your body no tongue no shadow no rupture no breath no thought no cage no exile no word no code no silence 


At the broken shadow in your broken shadow 


At the flooded street in your flooded street 

Look      into the economy of your absence and whisper into the code you cannot speak 

Look      into the silence of the code

Do not speak directly of the breath 

Do not speak directly of the suicide

Do not speak directly of the kids who tossed themselves into the river

Do not speak directly of the state that paid the kids to toss themselves into the river 

Breathe the privatized wind     breathe through the foreclosure of your mouth  

Breathe the broken shadow into the broken shadow 

Don’t take the money into the cage or they will kill you before it is time to kill you 

Pray gently into the privatization of your absence 

Die gently into the privatization of your absence

Pray gently into the accumulation of your absence

Die gently into the cage where the babies cry in your absence

Pray gently into the puffed-up corpses who grow and grow in your absence

The only breath in this cage is death 

Copyright © 2020 by Daniel Borzutzky. Originally published in Poem-a-Day on October 23, 2020, by the Academy of American Poets.

My soul looked down from a vague height with Death,
As unremembering how I rose or why,
And saw a sad land, weak with sweats of dearth,
Gray, cratered like the moon with hollow woe,
And fitted with great pocks and scabs of plaques.

Across its beard, that horror of harsh wire,
There moved thin caterpillars, slowly uncoiled.
It seemed they pushed themselves to be as plugs
Of ditches, where they writhed and shriveled, killed.

By them had slimy paths been trailed and scraped
Round myriad warts that might be little hills.

From gloom’s last dregs these long-strung creatures crept,
And vanished out of dawn down hidden holes.

(And smell came up from those foul openings
As out of mouths, or deep wounds deepening.)

On dithering feet upgathered, more and more,
Brown strings towards strings of gray, with bristling spines,
All migrants from green fields, intent on mire.

Those that were gray, of more abundant spawns,
Ramped on the rest and ate them and were eaten. 

I saw their bitten backs curve, loop, and straighten,
I watched those agonies curl, lift, and flatten.

Whereat, in terror what that sight might mean,
I reeled and shivered earthward like a feather.

And Death fell with me, like a deepening moan.
And He, picking a manner of worm, which half had hid
Its bruises in the earth, but crawled no further,
Showed me its feet, the feet of many men,
And the fresh-severed head of it, my head. 

This poem is in the public domain.