I love you but I don’t know you
               —Mennonite Woman

When I was seven, I walked home
with Dereck DeLarge, my arm
slung over his skinny shoulders,
after-school sun buffing our lunch boxes.
So easy, that gesture, so light— 
the kind of love that lands like a leaf.
It was 1963.  
We were two black boys
whose snaggle-toothed grins 
held a thousand giggles.
Remember? Remember
wanting to play
every minute, as if that 
was why we were born?
Those hands that bring us
shouting into this life
must open like a fanfare 
of big band horns.
Though this world is nothing
like where we’d been, 
we come anyway, astonished
as if to Mardi Gras in full swing.
There must be a time
when a child’s heart builds 
a chocolate sunflower
while katydids burnish the day
with their busy wings.
This itching fury that 
holds me now—this knowing
the early welcome
that once lived inside me
was somehow sent away:
how I talk myself back
into all the regular disguises
but still walk these streets
believing in the weather
of the unruined heart.
My friends, with crow’s feet
edging their eyes,
keep looking for a kinder
city, though they don’t
want to seem naïve.
When was the last time
you wrapped your arm
around someone’s shoulder
and walked him home?

Copyright © 2024 by Tim Seibles. Originally published in Poem-a-Day on March 19, 2024, by the Academy of American Poets. 

The lamp is like a capsized ship

——or like a lantern gone drunk

And she’s to sleep by it

——or stare wide-eyed at its light askew

And she’s to read to it

——to put it to sleep

And she’s to dream in it

——warmly aglow as a leopard

whose body is shadow and light

——Whose body isn’t?

She’s missing again

——Where did she go?


——Is she spiraling?

Less energy than that…

——Will the bedsheets accommodate her?

She’s alone in them, alone where she can

easily breathe

——despite the horrors the stretchers the gasping …?

How can anyone

——breathe easily …. She must

be still as a Bradford Pear in uneasy shadow…

——That tree that self-destructs that tree that neuters the real pear trees

What a blow it was so beautiful and erect at first—

——and she so lonely

Lonely as a cup

——Here is a card:

She needs the Lion today, the one who leaves

gold footprints in the marsh

Copyright © 2024 by Alessandra Lynch. Originally published in Poem-a-Day on April 5, 2024, by the Academy of American Poets.

Hello Leander, tucked into cloth, tiny lion
who yawns through the virus and tear gas.
You are a new scent of heat.
Before any scar grazes your legs
I would show you the rows of bicycles
in burned colors, and whistles and cardinals
who pin the cold snow. You hold a small
share of what it means to be here.
When the air shatters around you,
gold and marine, please know you belong.
You are half sky, half butterfly net, alive
to friends and strangers, fast to net
and trust. There is nothing
that is not worth much. Arrayed
in overalls and tackle-box, you should grow
to see the deep green rains, the roads
brushing the clouds. To compass
all you have done from a porch in late life
and listen to the bees who, woolen
and undeterred, have returned. I hope
you stay warm inside the white dusk of
morning. No one stays unscathed
but you have days of summer to grow
into your thoughts and learn the great
caring tasks. You have yards of treelight
to race through under the birds’ low song-
swept radiances. The trills you hear
are glass grace. They are singing.

Copyright © 2024 by Joanna Klink. Originally published in Poem-a-Day on April 8, 2024, by the Academy of American Poets.