Forget each slight, each head that turned
Toward something more intriguing—
Red flash of wing beyond the window,
The woman brightly chiming
About the suffering of the world. Forget
The way your best friend told the story
Of that heroic road trip, forgetting that you drove
From Tulsa to Poughkeepsie while he
Slumped dozing under headphones. Forget
The honors handed out, the lists of winners.
Forget the certificates, bright trophies you
Could have, should have, maybe won.
Remind yourself you never wanted them.
When the spotlight briefly shone on you,
You stepped back into darkness,
Let the empty stage receive the light,
The black floor suddenly less black—
Scuff-marks, dust, blue tape—the cone
Of light so perfect, slicing silently that perfect
Silent darkness, and you, hidden in that wider dark,
Your refusal a kind of gratitude at last.
Copyright © 2019 by Jon Davis. Originally published in Poem-a-Day on November 26, 2019, by the Academy of American Poets.
after the harmattan has emptied his last
gasp & wheeze, & we have shaken loose his dust
from our bodies & found shelter
from the Sahel’s certain heat,
when the water returns & the river is high,
this bit of sun bittered earth becomes a stage, a show
for every sweet thing we have held
back in the swelter,
our hands thank the sky, a simple wave is still a worthy praise,
our feet thank the dust & the shallows
one, for the friction that helps shed the old,
the other, for the waters that soothe new skin,
our thighs thank the soil, the unseen
nourishment for the long season without,
our hips thank the moon,
for the pull on the tides;
the orbit of gratitude, music over our heads
our mothers’ mother’s song, a chant pulled
down from the heavens, or a blessing drawn
up out of the soil’s new bounty.
From Blood/Sound (Central Square Press, 2019). Copyright © 2019 by Fred L. Joiner. Used with the permission of the author.
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
when I call out
all my friends are there
everyone we love
is still alive gathered
at the lakeside
my honeyed kin
beneath the sky
a garden blue stalks
white buds the moon’s
marble glow the fire
distant & flickering
the body whole bright-
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.
Hold your soul open for my welcoming. Let the quiet of your spirit bathe me With its clear and rippled coolness, That, loose-limbed and weary, I find rest, Outstretched upon your peace, as on a bed of ivory. Let the flickering flame of your soul play all about me, That into my limbs may come the keenness of fire, The life and joy of tongues of flame, And, going out from you, tightly strung and in tune, I may rouse the blear-eyed world, And pour into it the beauty which you have begotten.
This poem is in the public domain.