Someone will        love you     many will      love

you         many will brother you   some of these

loves will        bother you   some   will      leave you

one might        haunt   you      hunt you in your

sleep        make you       weep the tearless kind of

weep the         kind of weep   that drowns your

organs     slowly    there are little oars  in your body      

little boats   grab onto them and row and        row

someone will tell you      no       but you won’t   know

he is    right until you have   already        wrung your  

own heart dry    your hands dripping knives    until

you have    already   reached your hands into       his       

body and put them through his        heart     love is

the only thing that       is not    an       argument

Copyright © 2017 by Victoria Chang. Originally published in Poem-a-Day on May 29, 2017, by the Academy of American Poets.

Then a woman said, Speak to us of Joy and Sorrow.
And he answered:
Your joy is your sorrow unmasked.
And the selfsame well from which your laughter rises was oftentimes filled with your tears.
And how else can it be?
The deeper that sorrow carves into your being, the more joy you can contain.
Is not the cup that holds your wine the very cup that was burned in the potter’s oven?
And is not the lute that soothes your spirit, the very wood that was hollowed with knives?
When you are joyous, look deep into your heart and you shall find it is only that which has given you sorrow that is giving you joy.
When you are sorrowful look again in your heart, and you shall see that in truth you are weeping for that which has been your delight.

Some of you say, “Joy is greater than sorrow,” and others say, “Nay, sorrow is the greater.”
But I say unto you, they are inseparable.
Together they come, and when one sits alone with you at your board, remember that the other is asleep upon your bed.

Verily you are suspended like scales between your sorrow and your joy.
Only when you are empty are you at standstill and balanced.
When the treasure-keeper lifts you to weigh his gold and his silver, needs must your joy or your sorrow rise or fall.

This poem is in the public domain. Published in Poem-a-Day on February 10, 2019, by the Academy of American Poets.

Spawn of fantasies
Sitting the appraisable
Pig Cupid            his rosy snout
Rooting erotic garbage
“Once upon a time”
Pulls a weed        white star-topped
Among wild oats sown in mucous membrane
I would             an eye in a Bengal light
Eternity in a sky-rocket
Constellations in an ocean
Whose rivers run no fresher
Than a trickle of saliva


There are suspect places


I must live in my lantern
Trimming subliminal flicker
Virginal             to the bellows
Of experience
                               Colored glass.

This poem is in the public domain. Published in Poem-a-Day on February 16, 2019, by the Academy of American Poets.

after a bottle of chianti
              Don’t mistake me, I’ve pondered this before.
              But tonight I’m serious.
              One bottle and the end is certain.
              Tomorrow: Lawyer. Boxes. Road map. More wine.

while walking the dog
              Paris won’t even notice.
              I’ll feed the pup, pack a quick bag,
              take out the trash, and slip away into the night.
              Home to Sparta. Or Santa Monica.
              An island off the southernmost tip of Peru.
              Disappear. Like fog from a mirror.

while paying the bills
              Guess I’ll have to give up that whole new career plan.
              Academic dreams. House-and-yard dreams.
              Stay on like this a few more years. Or forever.
              Face the bottomless nights in solitude.
              Wither. Drink. Write poems about dead ends.
              Drink more. Work. Pay rent.
              End.

when Paris comes home drunk
              Call Clytemnestra. Make a plan.
              Move a few things into Clym’s spare room,
              storage for the rest. Set up arbitration.
              File what needs to be filed.
              Head to Athens. Or back to Crown Heights.
              Maybe find a roommate in Fort Greene.
              All I know is out out out.
              Sure, I can blame the past or the scotch
              or my own smartmouth or my worst rage,
              but blame is a word. I need a weapon.

when Menelaus writes a letter
              As if.

from the ocean floor
              Bathtub. Ocean. Whichever. All this water.
              Yes, Paris pulled me from the ruby tub.
              Menelaus fed me to the river a year before that.
              Metaphorical, and not at all.
              O, a girl and her water. Such romance.
              Gaudy. And gauche.
              How do I leave what cared enough to keep me?
              What of those goddamn ships?
              That ridiculous horse? All those men?
              Now, wretched little me. All this dizzy sadness.
              How many kings to tame one woman? Silence her?
              How many to put her under?

Copyright © 2019 by Jeanann Verlee. Originally published in Poem-a-Day on February 26, 2019, by the Academy of American Poets.

is what my sons call the flowers—
purple, white, electric blue—
 
pom-pomming bushes all along
the beach town streets.
 
I can’t correct them into
hydrangeas, or I won’t.
 
Bees ricochet in and out
of the clustered petals,
 
and my sons panic and dash
and I tell them about good
 
insects, pollination, but the truth is
I want their fear-box full of bees.
 
This morning the radio
said tender age shelters.
 
This morning the glaciers
are retreating. How long now
 
until the space-print backpack
becomes district-policy clear?
 
We’re almost to the beach,
and High dangerous! my sons
 
yell again, their joy in having
spotted something beautiful,
 
and called it what it is.

Copyright © 2019 by Catherine Pierce. Originally published in Poem-a-Day on March 1, 2019, by the Academy of American Poets.

And on the first day
god made
something up.
Then everything came along:

seconds, sex and
beasts and breaths and rabies;
hunger, healing,
lust and lust’s rejections;
swarming things that swarm
inside the dirt;
girth and grind
and grit and shit and all shit’s functions;
rings inside the treetrunk
and branches broken by the snow;
pigs’ hearts and stars,
mystery, suspense and stingrays;
insects, blood
and interests and death;
eventually, us,
with all our viruses, laments and curiosities;
all our songs and made-up stories;
and our songs about the stories we’ve forgotten;
and all that we’ve forgotten we’ve forgotten;

and to hold it all together god made time
and those rhyming seasons
that display decay.

Copyright © 2019 by Pádraig Ó Tuama. Published in Poem-a-Day on March 2, 2019, by the Academy of American Poets.

Upon the mountain’s distant head,
   With trackless snows for ever white,
Where all is still, and cold, and dead,
   Late shines the day’s departing light.

But far below those icy rocks,
   The vales, in summer bloom arrayed,
Woods full of birds, and fields of flocks,
   Are dim with mist and dark with shade.

’Tis thus, from warm and kindly hearts,
   And eyes where generous meanings burn,
Earliest the light of life departs,
   But lingers with the cold and stern.

This poem is in the public domain. Published in Poem-a-Day on March 3, 2019, by the Academy of American Poets.

The hurt returns as it always intended—it is tender
as the inside of my thighs, it is as blue, too. O windless,

            wingless sky, show me your empire of loneliness,
let me spring from the jaws of what tried to kill me.

Let me look at your face and see a heaven worth having, all
                         your sorry angels falling off a piano bench, laughing.

Do you burn because you remember darkness? Outside
the joy is clamoring. It is almost like the worst day of your life

                                      is ordinary for everyone else.

Copyright © 2019 by Ruth Awad. Originally published in Poem-a-Day on March 5, 2019, by the Academy of American Poets.

Moons on the upper visual
field. I replay many springs

                                      for their ripening
                                      heat. Five limb in

                                                                           me: Ornate, Greased,
                                                                           Codling, Luna, 
                                                                                Death’s-head.

                                                  Two supernatural, three
                                                  balance need. I feed on fat

                                                                                      apples, pears: 
                                                                                           Tunnel
                                                                                      toward center, a 
                                                                                           heaven

                                                            in the core. Instinct
                                                            attempts to correct

                                       with a turn
                                       toward light.

                        My dress
                        a brief

                                     darkness. Flits
                                     there. Another set

                                                                         of wings to tear.
                                                                         Spiral me in the silk

                                                                                     of my tongue. 
                                                                                          Farm
                                                                                     what is 
                                                                                          economical

                                                             in me: Blood for blood,
                                                             heart for snare.

                                                                          Scent, sweet
                                                                          air: My cedar,

                                                hung juniper, lavender
                                                cross: What holds the body

                         keeps the body blesses the body’s
                         lack.

                                                Is that not a blessing?
                                                What blooms in me:

                                   Trouble. Trouble.
                                   Trouble.

            So I consume. So I feed
            what festers.

When navigating artificial
light, the angle changes

                         noticeably. Angle strict, beloved:
                         My head a mess of moon.

Copyright © 2019 by Carly Joy Miller. Originally published in Poem-a-Day on March 6, 2019, by the Academy of American Poets.

The Junior Minister waved a hand
                       toward the courtyard where, he said,

                                    Goering’s private lion used to live.

                       With him we climbed Parliament’s steps,

walls pockmarked still with bullet holes.
                       In the conference room the Social Democrats

                                    passed trays of petit fours and coffee.

                       We were perhaps insufficient, he said.

His voice, uninflected: they shipped
                       my father to Stalingrad. Forty days

                                    and dead. In the room,

                       the transcriptionist, the translator,

and security stationed against
                       the wall. Some time passed.

                                    In East Germany, he said, at least

                       it was always terrible. Bad luck, he said,

to be on that side of the wall. Even
                       the apples were poison. We were

                                    to understand this was a little joke.

                       He brought the teacup to his mouth,

but did not drink. His fingernails
                       were tapered and very clean.

                                    When you are the victim, he said,

it doesn’t matter who is killing you.

Copyright © 2019 by Ann Townsend. Originally published in Poem-a-Day on March 8, 2019, by the Academy of American Poets.

     My neighbor to the left had a stroke a couple years ago. It didn’t look 
     like he was going to make it, and then he made it. I’m watching him 
     now from my window as he makes his slow way across his yard 
     with some tree branches that fell in last night’s storm. Three steps.  
     Wait. Three steps. It’s a hard slog. Watching, I want to pitch in.  
     And we do, at such times, wanting to help. But on the other hand, 
     it’s good to be as physical as possible in recovery. Maybe this is part 
     of his rehab. Maybe this is doctor’s orders: DO YARDWORK.  
     And here comes his wife across the yard anyway, to give a hand 
     with a large branch. She’s able to quickly overtake him, and she folds 
     into the process smoothly, no words between them that I can make out.  
     It’s another part of what makes us human, weighing the theory of mind, 
     watching each other struggle or perform, anticipating each other’s 
     thoughts, as the abject hovers uncannily in the background, threatening 
     to break through the fragile borders of the self. “What’s it like to be 
     a bat?” we ask. The bats don’t respond. How usually, our lives 
     unfold at the periphery of catastrophes happening to others. I’m 
     reading, while my neighbor struggles, that the squirrel population 
     in New England is in the midst of an unprecedented boom. A recent 
     abundance of acorns is the reason for this surge in squirrel populations, 
     most particularly in New Hampshire. They’re everywhere, being 
     squirrely, squirreling acorns away. We call it “Squirrelnado” because 
     it’s all around us, circling, and dangerous, and kind of funny. Language 
     springs from the land, and through our imagination we become 
     human. They’re back in the house now. We name the things we see, 
     or they name themselves into our experience, whichever, and then 
     we use those names for things we don’t understand, what we can’t 
     express. Wind becomes spirit becomes ghost. Mountain becomes 
     god. The land springs up before us. It shakes us and pushes us over.  

Copyright © 2019 by John Gallaher. Originally published in Poem-a-Day on March 14, 2019, by the Academy of American Poets.

i.           

I’ve pulled from my throat birdsong like tin-
sheeted lullaby [its vicious cold        its hoax of wings]
the rest of us forest folk       dark angels chafing rabbits-
foot for luck     thrum-necked     wear the face of
nothing       we’ve changed       the Zodiac & I
have refused a little planet little sum for struggle & sailed
ourselves summerlong & arbitrary as a moon grave
across a vastness        [we’ve left the child-
ren]      Named the place penni-
less motherhood      Named the place country
of mothers      Named the place anywhere but death by self-

ii.           

infliction is a god of many faces      many nothings     
I’m afraid I’ll never be whole     I’m afraid
the rope from the hardware store [screws for nails]
will teach itself to knot      I’ve looked up noose I’ve
learned to twine but these babies now
halfway pruned through the clean bathwater of childhood
I promised a god I would take to the ledge
& show the pinstripes the pinkening strobe-
lights maybe angels chiseled at creation
into the rock [around my neck] the rock in the river
I would never let them see        I would never let them

iii.

break & spend a whole life backing away from that slip—
Let us fly & believe [in the wreck] their perfect hope-
sealed bodies the only parachutes we need

Copyright © 2019 by Jenn Givhan. Originally published in Poem-a-Day on March 15, 2019, by the Academy of American Poets.

A young man learns to shoot
& dies in the mud
an ocean away from home,
a rifle in his fingers
& the sky dripping
from his heart. Next to him
a friend watches
his final breath slip
ragged into the ditch,
a thing the friend will carry
back to America—
wound, souvenir,
backstory. He’ll teach 
literature to young people
for 40 years. He’ll coach
his daughters’ softball teams. 
Root for Red Wings
& Lions & Tigers. Dance
well. Love generously. 
He’ll be quick with a joke
& firm with handshakes.
He’ll rarely talk
about the war. If asked
he’ll tell you instead
his favorite story:
Odysseus escaping
from the Cyclops
with a bad pun & good wine
& a sharp stick.
It’s about buying time
& making do, he’ll say. 
It’s about doing what it takes 
to get home, & you see 
he has been talking 
about the war all along.
We all want the same thing
from this world:
Call me nobody. Let me live.

Copyright © 2019 by Amorak Huey. Originally published in Poem-a-Day on March 20, 2019, by the Academy of American Poets.

We walk through clouds
wrapped in ancient symbols

We descend the hill
wearing water 

Maybe we are dead 
and don’t know it

Maybe we are violet flowers
and those we long for 

love only 
our unmade hearts

On attend, on attend

Wait for Duras and Eminescu 
to tell us in French then Romanian

light has wounds
slow down—
memory is misgivings 

Wait until the nails
get rusty 
in the houses of our past.

Copyright © 2019 by Nathalie Handal. Originally published in Poem-a-Day on April 3, 2019, by the Academy of American Poets.

Isn't it funny
when suddenly after all these decades
you notice a new part of your body.
 

Maybe the hamstrings—
entirely unused when lifting weights,
back used instead
which then pains for years.
 

Maybe the slight shoulder raise
that tightens those muscles
maybe for good.
 

I notice my body
slide through time.
It is odd and peculiar,
genius of no one,
a perfect clock
making clocks
look simple.
 

Newness comes naturally.
Resisting it causes the past
to present memories on yellow
platters.
 

My age is a number.
Bones getting ready to play poker.
I will remain a small book
hidden away deep
in the library.
 

I love my body and this world!
Such a declaration
five years ago
would've driven me insane.
 

But now an appreciation arrives
with a fine taste of sulfur
and anywhere I look is born
a rose.

Copyright © 2019 by Zubair Ahmed. Originally published in Poem-a-Day on May 20, 2019, by the Academy of American Poets.

Breathe
. As in what if
the shadow is gold
en? Breathe. As in
hale assuming
exhale. Imagine
that.      As in first
person singular. Homonym
:eye. As in subject. As
in centeroftheworld as in
mundane. The opposite of spectacle
spectacular. This is just us
breathing. Imagine
normalized respite
gold in shadows
. You have the
right to breathe and remain
. Imagine
that
.

Copyright © 2019 by Rosamond S. King. Originally published in Poem-a-Day on June 5, 2019, by the Academy of American Poets.

What if I tell you they didn’t evacuate
the high school after he brought in the
clock? What if he and clock waited in the
principal’s office
until the police came? You look at me
as though I pulled the fire alarm,
yelled into a crowded theatre. You
think I can erase the weapon out
of the hands of that young man in
Kevlar pointing his assault rifle at me?
Would your pain lessen? Would you
sleep tomorrow? What if I expunge the
hoodie? Outlaw convenience
stores? Institute curfew for all adult males
after 8 p.m.? Did you know that kid
loved horses, ate Skittles, went to
aviation camp? What if
I rub out midnight of the blue, blue
world? Take the jaywalk from the boy
trying to catch a city
bus? Which blue should it be? First or
second? The last thing you hear on the radio
before mashing
another button? What if there were no loosies
to smoke, steal, hawk? What if Sandy used her signal?
I say her name, I canonize the thought all
black lives matter. What if I raise my
voice? What if I don’t stop speaking?
What if I stop talking back?
Then will you miss me?

Copyright © 2019 by Devi S. Laskar. Originally published in Poem-a-Day on June 11, 2019, by the Academy of American Poets.

like some 14 year old girl waiting for her crush to glance back i 

keep waiting for capitalism to end

but it won’t end

my adult life lover states

on what will end:

Libraries 
Birds 
Retirement 
Recess
Sprinting during recess 
Hispid Hares
Starfish shaped like stars 
Inconvenience
Wrinkles 
Sunken cheeks 
Living corals 
Protests
Anti-Nuclear Proliferation 
Non-Aggression Pacts 
Dragonflies
Mangosteen 
DMZs
Trade Embargos 
Leopards, all kinds 
Sawfins
Rewilding
Infiltration Plot/Dreams 
Oak, Trees.
Partulina Variabilis 
Partulina Splendida
(-------) Violence Prevention Programs
News. News:

Might a few jellyfish survive—

counting till revelations becomes part of—

Copyright © 2019 by Eunsong Kim. Originally published in Poem-a-Day on June 28, 2019, by the Academy of American Poets.

That streetlight looks like the slicked backbone
            of a dead tree in the rain, its green lamp blazing
like the first neon fig glowing in the first garden
            on a continent that split away from Africa
from which floated away Brazil. Why are we not
            more amazed by the constellations, all those flung
stars held together by the thinnest filaments
            of our evolved, image making brains. For instance,
here we are in the middle of another Autumn,
            plummeting through a universe that made us
from its shattering and dust, stooping
            now to pluck an orange leaf from the sidewalk,
a small veined hand we hold in an open palm
            as we walk through the park on a weekend we
invented so we would have time to spare. Time,
            another idea we devised so the days would have
an epilogue, precise, unwavering, a pendulum
            strung above our heads.  When was the sun
enough? The moon with its diminishing face?
            The sea with its nets of fish? The meadow’s
yellow baskets of grain? If I was in charge
            I’d say leave them there on their backs
in the grass, wondering, eating berries
            and rolling toward each other’s naked bodies
for warmth, for something we’ve yet to name,
            when the leaves were turning colors in their dying
and we didn’t know why, or that they would return,
            bud and green. One of a billion
small miracles. This planet will again be stone.

Copyright © 2019 by Dorianne Laux. Originally published in Poem-a-Day on July 10, 2019, by the Academy of American Poets.

The river is high. I'd love to smoke pot 
with the river. I'd love it if rain 
sat at my table and told me what it's like 
to lick Edith Piaf's grave. I go along thinking 
I'm separate from trash day 
and the weird hairdo my cat wakes up with 
but I am of the avalanche 
as much as I am its tambourine. 
The river is crashing against my sleep 
like it took applause apart and put it back together 
as a riot of wet mouths 
adoring my ears, is over my head
when it explains string theory 
and affection to me, 
when it tells me to be the code breaker, 
not the code. What does that mean? 
Why does lyric poetry exist?
When will water open its mouth 
and tell us how to be clouds, how to rise
and morph and die and flourish and be reborn
all at the same time, all without caring
if we have food in our teeth or teeth in our eyes
or hair in our soup or a piano in our pockets,
just play the damned tune. The river is bipolar 
but has flushed its meds, I'm dead 
but someone has to finish all the cheese 
in the fridge, we're a failed species
if suction cups are important, if intelligence
isn't graded on a curve, 
but if desperation counts, if thunderstorms 
are the noise in our heads given a hall pass 
and rivers swell because orchestras 
aren't always there when we need them, well then, 
I still don't know a thing.

Copyright © 2019 by Bob Hicok. Originally published in Poem-a-Day on July 11, 2019, by the Academy of American Poets.

     1.   I ate eggs from a chafing dish while the baker reminded us: the only thing that will hurt you out here are your own bad decisions

     2.   I felt fettered then un-

     3.   I listened to the rain

     4.   I listened to the rain hitting the Carrier compressor, the gravel walk

     5.   I listened to the rain flattening the clover, I listened to the rain letting up and then it was ozone and drip

     6.   On the bench under the overhang in the rain I let myself pretend I was younger and childless, like the first time I arrived here

     7.   The first time I arrived here, I never thought I am small and luminous

     8.   The body, burdened and miraculous

     9.   The body as thin-nest boundary

     10.   I climbed into your body like a cave

     11.   I was frightened to walk in the dark

     12.   Late at night even my own movements became unknowable, magnified and rustling

     13.   The night cut by the moon, punctured by the whistle of the cargo train

     14.   There was only a hole, there was only forward and more forward

     15.   The inevitability of a scarred life, your pulse, stitches, this palace of breath

     16.   go on, go on / again, again / return, return

Copyright © 2019 by Erika Meitner. Originally published in Poem-a-Day on July 18, 2019, by the Academy of American Poets.

My old lover was Catholic and lied to me about the smallest things. Now he's dying and I'm trying to forgive everyone standing in line ahead of me at the grocery store. I keep painting objects intuitively. I keep saying I've never been in love. It's not quite true but I keep describing the same things differently, as sailboats through the locks of reversed rivers or as streaks of red across the sky, visible only in one eye. The sensation of decision-making won't stay put. I forget who I am and wake up exhausted. I had a teacher once who died, it was as if she removed herself into the forest. I scatter leaves to read them like pages as if she's speaking. She was in love. I don't know if I'm worried I will or won't ever give up my fictional autonomy. I'm choosing between two trees with two hollows. One begins breaking as I step inside, as I try to sleep. The other is already inhabited by a rooster. I pluck a feather and run to the pawn shop. How much is this worth? Can I buy it back for my Sunday best, for the suit I never wear? Maybe if I go to the church I don't believe in I'll meet a man I can. I'll wear my Jewish star and pray for his belief to convince me that I too want someone to hold my stare.

Copyright © 2019 by S. Brook Corfman. Originally published in Poem-a-Day on August 16, 2019, by the Academy of American Poets.

Then came Oscar, the time of the guns, 
And there was no land for a man, no land for a country,
      Unless guns sprang up
      And spoke their language.
The how of running the world was all in guns.

The law of a God keeping sea and land apart,
The law of a child sucking milk,
The law of stars held together,
      They slept and worked in the heads of men
      Making twenty-mile guns, sixty-mile guns,
      Speaking their language
      Of no land for a man, no land for a country
      Unless… guns… unless… guns.

There was a child wanted the moon shot off the sky,
      asking a long gun to get the moon,
      to conquer the insults of the moon,
      to conquer something, anything,
      to put it over and run up the flag,
To show them the running of the world was all in guns.

There was a child wanted the moon shot off the day.
They dreamed… in the time of the guns… of guns.

This poem is in the public domain. Published in Poem-a-Day on October 5, 2019, by the Academy of American Poets.

                                         for Jim McKean

Before we struggled to hold light 
along this line of the Jacob Fork,

we tied on the nearly invisible
tippet to nymph pools, glimpse

broken halos. Rainbows held low
in their lanes. Sometimes they rose

to brighten the surface, our breath
tightening on the take. The rest

of the morning, we worked a section 
below the bridge, wanting only 

to return shadows into the river.

Copyright © 2019 by Jon Pineda. Originally published in Poem-a-Day on October 11, 2019, by the Academy of American Poets.

Probably you’ll solve gravity, flesh 
out our microbiomics, split our God 
particles into their constituent bits 
of christs and antichrists probably, 
probably you’ll find life as we know it 
knitted into nooks of the chattering 
cosmos, quaint and bountiful as kismet 
and gunfights in the movies probably, 
probably, probably you have no patience
for the movies there in your eventual 
arrondissement where you have more
credible holography, more inspiring
actual events, your ghazals composed 
of crow racket, retrorockets, glaciers 
breaking, your discotheques wailing
probably, probably, probably, probably 
too late a sentient taxi airlifts you 
home over a refurbished riverbank, 
above the rebuilt cathedral, your head 
dozing easy in the crook of your arm,
emptied of any memory of these weeks 
we haven’t slept you’ve been erupting 
into that hereafter like a hydrant on fire, 
like your mother is an air raid, and I am 
an air raid, and you’re a born siren 
chasing us out of your airspace probably
we’ve caught 46 daybreaks in 39 days, 
little emissary arrived to instruct us,
we wake now you shriek us awake,
we sleep now you leave us to sleep.

Copyright © 2019 by Jaswinder Bolina. Originally published in Poem-a-Day on October 10, 2019, by the Academy of American Poets.