On the turnpike, the smell of a heaven
made out of old barn wood
Handles and rungs
cut from a fat farmer’s leather belt.
In the eastern counties,
coffins raced uphill, moving on hay bales
and billiard balls.
Charon paid for everyone at the I-44 tollbooth.
On the North Canadian,
comforts of a widower’s loneliness
floated on pontoons.
Time balanced on a fish egg.
In the city, violins violated jackhammers.
At the refuge, night is the church for the disliked.
I go to baptize the plants,
horns, and rain.
I have passed through
many different Oklahoma statehoods.
Copyright © 2020 by Sy Hoahwah. Originally published in Poem-a-Day on April 24, 2020 by the Academy of American Poets.
Unknown to you, I walk the cheerless shore.
The cutting blast, the hurl of biting brine,
May freeze, and still, and bind the waves at war,
Ere you will ever know, O! Heart of mine,
That I have sought, reflected in the blue
Of these sea depths, some shadow of your eyes;
Have hoped the laughing waves would sing of you,
But this is all my starving sight descries—
Far out at sea a sail
Bends to the freshening breeze,
Yields to the rising gale,
That sweeps the seas;
Yields, as a bird wind-tossed,
To saltish waves that fling
Their spray, whose rime and frost
Like crystals cling
To canvas, mast and spar,
Till, gleaming like a gem,
She sinks beyond the far
Lost to my longing sight,
And nothing left to me
Save an oncoming night,—
An empty sea.
This poem is in the public domain. Published in Poem-a-Day on May 30, 2020 by the Academy of American Poets.
I was called back into the dark during an early morning flyover onto a rusty mauve plain fields overrun with a low river of tar the smell of burning grass carried from the east flowing upward through neon bright signs of pharmaceuticals and snow a bronze liquid of promise a fleeting and always-ending sleep the remains of chipped concrete eating away the foundations of every building tables of salt rising over the whole country I was called onto a platform in the north a miles- wide outpost where I sat waiting to hear what new harm my sisters had conjured they reached me by phone through a star or their dreams a breaking request from our father that had traveled through a long and oily channel I could understand its beauty the rainbow-thick shimmer of pigment and poison a seeping fissure of love before the apocalypse the ruin or just the overhanging clouds yesterday a maker of brine and sauerkraut told me the world would end by corrosion and decay I’m not so sure I hear the eruption between refusal and insistence or maybe just a truck driving through
Copyright © 2020 by Samuel Ace. Originally published in Poem-a-Day on June 2, 2020 by the Academy of American Poets.
How is it you bring me back to the cliffs the bright heads of eagles the vessels of grief in the soil? I dig for you with a gentle bit of lighter fluid and three miniature rakes burning only a single speck of dirt to touch a twig as tiny as a neuron or even smaller one magic synapse inside the terminus limbs of your breath
The fighter jets fly over the house every hour no sound but inside our hands I hear a far chime and I am cold a north wind and the grit of night first the murmur then the corpse first the paddling then the banquet first the muzzle then the hanging the plea first the break then the tap the tap I hear your skin the reach of your arms the slick along your thighs more floorboard than step first the flannel then the gag first the bells then the exhale
I hear a dog who is always in my death the breath of a mother who holds a gun a pillow in the shape of a heart first the planes then the criminal ponds first the ghost boats then the trains first the gates then the bargain a child formed from my fingertip and the eye of my grandmother’s mother a child born at 90 the rise and rush of air a child who walks from the gas
Copyright © 2019 by Samuel Ace. Originally published in Poem-a-Day on January 10, 2019, by the Academy of American Poets.
It’s a long way the sea-winds blow
Over the sea-plains blue,—
But longer far has my heart to go
Before its dreams come true.
It’s work we must, and love we must,
And do the best we may,
And take the hope of dreams in trust
To keep us day by day.
It’s a long way the sea-winds blow—
But somewhere lies a shore—
Thus down the tide of Time shall flow
My dreams forevermore.
This poem is in the public domain. Published in Poem-a-Day on August 22, 2020, by the Academy of American Poets.
From the charm of radiant faces,
From the days we took to dream,
From the joy of open spaces,
From the mountain and the stream,
Bronzed of sunlight, nerves a-tingle,
Keen of limb and clear of head,
Speed we back again to mingle
In the battle for our bread.
Now again the stern commanding
Of the chosen task is heard,
And the tyrant, care, is standing
Arbiter of deed and word.
But the radiance is not ended,
And the joy, whate’er the cost,
Which those fleeting days attended
Never can be wholly lost.
For we bring to waiting duty,
To the labor and the strife,
Something of the sense of beauty,
And a fairer view of life.
This poem is in the public domain. Published in Poem-a-Day on August 23, 2020, by the Academy of American Poets.
As I lie in bed,
Flat on my back;
There passes across my ceiling
An endless panorama of things—
Quick steps of gay-voiced children,
Adolescence in its wondering silences,
Maid and man on moonlit summer’s eve,
Women in the holy glow of Motherhood,
Old men gazing silently thru the twilight
Into the beyond.
O God, give me words to make my dream-children live.
This poem is in the public domain. Published in Poem-a-Day on August 29, 2020, by the Academy of American Poets.