once, while on a coke binge,
and away from my mother,
my father drove his car
across the sand
and into the pacific ocean.
before he had done that,
he had given away
all of his possessions,
a steak dinner.
he was able
to torture us
with his aristocratic ascetic drama
for years to come.
you can take a pisces
and all it will do
is challenge them
to cry more than the sky;
i say this with admiration.
how would it serve me
to make this up.
like my father,
i sometimes threaten
to succumb to wounds
and don the trappings
disguised as needs.
you may know them:
the sensible shoe;
the classical beauty;
the manicured hand
offered in neoliberal compromise.
i once told konrad
about how i successfully destroy
my attraction to strangers.
i imagine them standing above me,
as i lay prone
before them in their bed,
watching as they try
to get themselves
hard and or wet.
then i imagine
the hovering echo
of their mother,
the amount of humidity
in their bedroom,
if they put music on,
how their underwear
tucks in and around
around this time,
i’ve lost all
interest in them—
“that is so virgo of you,”
konrad said, admiringly.
“that is 1,000 percent virgo.”
virgo could be
my gender, or
it could be
virgo in narrative lust;
virgo in high fantasy;
virgo in unhappy ending.
i don’t know
what i like more:
the desire, or
the agonizing pleasure
i like girls, but
don’t seem to like me;
In That Way, at least.
i love women
i love men,
just as i love
all of g-d’s creatures;
but that doesn’t mean
that i want them,
or to be wanted by them.
hotly spayed virgin
in heat that i am,
i don’t think that
i have a gender,
but i can now
certainly have an orgasm.
on my way
to the slaughterhouse;
i wouldn’t say
that the struggle
masculine and feminine.
that i’m attached to,
i assure you.
i pluck the sinew,
and hold the cup
marked by my lipstick
up to the cloud’s mouth.
i acquire the fear
that i don’t hear
because i don't have
i would say
that the struggle
indecision and not caring.
like all good
poor people and aristocrats,
i know how to have a good time.
why i refuse to
is my own problem.
like all good
leftists of a certain region,
i have never read marx
or the bible.
i know the gossip
to kneel and resist.
i was content enough
to be a corpse eater
among the lotus eaters,
and then a lotus eater
among the petroleuses.
i’m a petroleuse
among the corpse eaters.
Copyright © 2020 by Tatiana Luboviski-Acosta. Originally published in Poem-a-Day on October 15, 2020, by the Academy of American Poets.
I beg for invisible fire.
Every night I pray to love,
please invent yourself.
I imagine a place after this place
and I laugh quietly to no one
as the hair on my chin
weeds through old makeup.
When I go to sleep
I am vinegar inside clouded glass.
The world comes to an end
when I wake up and wonder
who will be next to me.
Police sirens and coyote howls
blend together in morning’s net.
Once, I walked out past the cars
and stood on a natural rock formation
that seemed placed there to be stood on.
I felt something like kinship.
It was the first time.
Once, I believed god
was a blanket of energy
stretched out around
our most vulnerable
she’s the sound
of a promise
Copyright © 2020 by Joshua Jennifer Espinoza. Originally published in Poem-a-Day on October 14, 2020, by the Academy of American Poets.
after Gala Mukomolova’s “On the Brighton Beach Boardwalk”
Families roll on toward summer, its feral freedom, ocean waves
beckon every sibling like schools of skipjack leaping together to
catch the sun on their silver scales. Bundles of beach umbrellas
waiting to be raised high & planted for their temporary kingdoms.
Trucks bobbing with oranges, station wagons bouncing with
babies in the back. Lovers fight in the red gleam of a rover or
swerve in the sweat of a frolick behind the wheel. A highway
stretch of to & fro, bodies raucous & guzzling. So many dreams
leaking from gas tanks, the oil drip of wasted want. A congested
uproar of miles in waiting. So many exits missed. What-could-
have-beens, just beyond the turnpike. Dead ends. Concrete &
My aunt, a tree cutting herself down & me with, turns to me from
the front seat, says, some of us didn’t get the looks in the family, right?
You know how it is. My silence hits the lane markers, all we hear is
bumpbumpbump. All I hear is my tías telling each other, you are
beautiful, mija, but wear a hat so you don’t get too dark. All I hear is a
world saying brownbrownbrown a little too much & I am furiously
stuffing my mouth with plantain chips crunching centuries
between my teeth, my lungs a bouquet catching a windfall of
particles unseen. So much ugly
I tug on my seatbelt to breathe a little easier, flicking all the dead
ends off me. A cement barrier, the road of my throat. No one says
anything, the words filling the car like murky green lake water after
a tumble off the road. I imagine the doors stuck in the pressure of
the plunge, my drowned body floating to the surface not pretty
enough to salvage & burn. I spread to the shoals, a seasoned meal
in undertow, delicious, at least, to the fish. I am the fish, feral &
But I am flopped against the window, a pane dusty with estival
judgment. I roll it down, gills gasping for air, my face a drum of
highway breath, the 65 mph hot wind on my cheek reminding me
I am a body on an irreplaceable planet. Don’t take everything so
seriously, I hear. Roll the window up, dear, it really is too loud.
Copyright © 2020 by heidi andrea restrepo rhodes. Originally published in Poem-a-Day on October 12, 2020, by the Academy of American Poets.
The great thing
is not having
a mind. Feelings:
oh, I have those; they
govern me. I have
a lord in heaven
called the sun, and open
for him, showing him
the fire of my own heart, fire
like his presence.
What could such glory be
if not a heart? Oh my brothers and sisters,
were you like me once, long ago,
before you were human? Did you
to open once, who would never
open again? Because in truth
I am speaking now
the way you do. I speak
because I am shattered.
From The Wild Iris, published by Ecco Press, 1992. Copyright © 1992 by Louise Glück. All rights reserved. Used with permission. This poem appeared in Poem-a-Day on October 10, 2020.
in my own body ← here i am a siege
overthrowing a home where no one lives
but me. i’m too big for my too big head
too barely anything for want, my love
built me from a nail in the wall galloped
to meet the socks on the floor → now a hole
in the wall i would peek thru & run some
cable thru so we all could watch cable.
now, there’s a good amount of good reasons
why no one lives here, no one lives with me.
my cat even tries to leave. he jumps out
the window, off the roof, & waits for me
to catch him with the neighbors. & i too
trynna be beautiful & loved this way.
i ← suppose: perching for life to begin
is this flatline moving me, failed, forward,
feathered closer to grace each time; going
mother after mother i wake up as
a dove picking lilies from her black i
suppose i love so i know i ain’t know
brevity without withholding a breath ←
loved those flying ants, infiltrating thru all fronts’
doors til i (w)as a room entered watching
for bites tender thicker than all-time’s
to consume ← consistency dragged → this long
makes me wanna bite bird feet ← too baby
cat i love you too,... ache in my bones you
remind me of what is it(?) to be picked ←
Copyright © 2020 by Trace Howard DePass. Originally published in Poem-a-Day on October 19, 2020, by the Academy of American Poets.
But this poem’s got no parents
snapped to life, ditched its
Bildung and flooded backwards
over the border to Canada it has no appetite,
health or grudges no sour feelings keep it up at night
no autobiography left to compose of glances,
tresses, snap decisions, remarkable
and unremarkable men water slouching
through a bathroom ceiling in a singular home
Candy a class act when a landscape
painter at pop punk court
I’ll outlast both, and dexedrine, and I'm not sorry
more like you discover melodrama
in the windows of the technically not that rich
Copyright © 2020 by Kay Gabriel. Originally published in Poem-a-Day on October 24, 2020, by the Academy of American Poets.
Is it that in some brighter sphere
We part from friends we meet with here?
Or do we see the Future pass
Over the Present’s dusky glass?
Or what is that that makes us seem
To patch up fragments of a dream,
Part of which comes true, and part
Beats and trembles in the heart?
This poem is in the public domain. Published in Poem-a-Day on June 13, 2020 by the Academy of American Poets.
At first, I spoke to my neighbor daily, in part because of the weather
(he could still sit out on bench)
in part because of vice
(I was chain-smoking and he’d shout for one when I passed)
but this stopped, in part because of trust
(he did not believe I was smoking less and resented the imagined lie)
in part because of routes
(at first I added 15 minutes to my commute to walk north, past his apartment, towards 6th avenue, and up through the park, as this removes 25-50% of my anxiety, but now that I have lived here half a year, I find myself incapable of waking up early enough to permit this easy remedy, so I walk the other, faster direction)
and in part because of novelty
(having covered introductions, we now tend to say only “hello” when I do pass).
I have a sense of what he looks like, due to this regularity,
but I could not describe his building.
Someone I was hoping to kiss informed me
that it’s easy to remember
images (all you have to do, they said, is take
a lesson from a children’s book, one in which a girl could
remember anything she wanted by saying “click,”
and imagining she held a camera). Later, distracted
on my walk home by the kiss’s memory, which came
easily because my eyes had been closed for it, I took a wrong
turn and struggled to find my building
on an unfamiliar street. That’s why I’m studying:
There is my own blue bicycle; the round planter to the left
of the steps I use to enter, which the downstairs neighbor keeps
tidy—cutting back the plants that don’t stay green
in the winter, for example, but keeping the heartier cabbages
watered—though I have never seen her do this work;
somewhere between two and five pride flags,
some of which are there year round while others
appear only in June; a fire hydrant; the windows
of the apartment that face mine, through which I see my least
favorite bookshelves: they look mildly expensive
and comprise a set of intersecting diamonds, making the books
hard to remove and reshelf since they are all piled at slants;
some scaffolding that seems to attract unhappy couples mid-fight;
one set of table and chairs; a house that frequently puts books
or toys or clothes out on the sidewalk for free. I know that
there are two or more remarkable sculptures, but only
because I remember remarking: one might be of a silver
bust of a woman, maybe an angel or a pop star, while others
are definitely at the base of the railings to the steps across the street, but I don’t
remember now if they are dogs or birds. There is a statue of an owl
on a window ledge I can see from one chair, and it often scares me.
Now some buildings have Christmas lights, but I couldn’t say
which, and that could easily lead me to turn down any other residential
block. There is a lilac bush immediately next door, and in May, it helped me
identify my building from very far away. But when we came
to pick up our keys, I began to cry—it resembles
another that grew in front of my childhood and I am
sentimental. I sat down and demanded my roommate tell me
why he hadn’t pointed out the lilacs earlier, and he threw up
his hands: he had tried, but I had talked over him.
When the kisser who recommended I take snapshots
of my surroundings came to my apartment, there is a chance
that they noticed many more things: they probably know
whether it is broken up at any point by vinyl siding, or what words
appear on the inflatable Santa down the hill. When we passed
through the park, I did attempt to capture the snow lifting
from the ground in spirals, the two bodies—one seated, one running—blocking
some light, the corner-eye view of their metallic jacket. But I wanted
to remember what we looked like to the seated person, so replaced the above
description with an imagined photo of two people connected
by elbows, which I now see instead.
My panic, when it comes in public, starts
with lost vision; at home, with the heart. The classroom used to turn
to white: I could make out, maybe, the light from the streetlamps
visible from the class’ windows, but the shapes of the students’ faces
and the windows themselves would be gone. I got very good
at remembering where I had left my chair, sitting down, and pretending
to glance thoughtfully at my notebook. If I said “yes, mmhmm,
anyone else?” my students would feel prompted to speak
without raising hands, and sometimes I’d take illegible
notes on their comments in order to prolong the period
before I would need my eyesight back. If no voices emerged, but
I could register the electronic sounds enough to know my hearing
was still with me, I would spontaneously become a person
who lectures, or I would ask them to break into groups of 3-4
to collectively answer some question. Years before, when sound
and sight left together, I would sit on the floor
of the subway hoping to faint from a more auspicious
starting position. Looking at things indirectly—on a telephone,
say—does not typically produce such a reaction.
Copyright © 2020 by Diana Hamilton. Originally published in Poem-a-Day on October 28, 2020, by the Academy of American Poets.
I have just realized that the stakes are myself
I have no other
ransom money, nothing to break or barter but my life
my spirit measured out, in bits, spread over
the roulette table, I recoup what I can
nothing else to shove under the nose of the maitre de jeu
nothing to thrust out the window, no white flag
this flesh all I have to offer, to make the play with
this immediate head, what it comes up with, my move
as we slither over this go board, stepping always
(we hope) between the lines
From Revolutionary Letters (City Lights Publishers, 1971). Copyright © 1971 Diane di Prima. Used with permission of Sheppard Powell. Published in Poem-a-Day on November 1, 2020.
I wish we could hear them just once,
instead of over and over.
One day, tired, I sat down on the couch
just to listen to the ringing in my ears.
My eyes are so deep-set in my head
it makes it hard to see
past the memory of lost glamour,
being born too late, living in the shadow
of a beautiful downtown turned into
a ghost town, a hollowed hulk,
and how that itself now turns into
a memory of treasures,
how when something taken for granted
is suddenly over, the pause when you take stock
and realize you’ll never have as much,
that change is always a lessening,
the wall effect, you can’t see what’s next
even though it’s supposedly obvious.
I don’t know what to say about that,
I mean, I’m just barely here.
Copyright © 2020 by James Cihlar. Originally published in Poem-a-Day on November 3, 2020, by the Academy of American Poets.
Behold, the morning-glory’s sky-blue cup
Is mine wherewith to drink the nectar up
That morning spills of silver dew,
And song upon the winds that woo
And sigh their vows
Among the boughs!
Behold, I’m rich in diamonds rare,
And pearls, and breathe a golden air;
My room is filled with shattered beams
Of light; my life is one of dreams,
In my hut on
The hills of dawn.
This poem is in the public domain. Published in Poem-a-Day on November 8, 2020, by the Academy of American Poets.
Let the sunshine, let the sunshine in. I have learned to repeat these words to myself whenever I feel stuck.
Fear rustles mantras out of my body. I have risked a motherland. Why not also seduce the foreigner who implores nativity if loneliness can be broken and shared?
When Hair: The American Tribal Love-Rock Musical debuts on Broadway in April of 1968, it becomes the first production to include a nude scene with its entire cast.
Around the same time, Star Trek has popularized the phrase, Where no man has gone before.
Our bodies contain elements of outer space. So that when we’re naked we are gazing at the universe.
The night of my second panic attack, after getting released from the hospital and determined to change my mental health’s course, I dream of a nebula in the shape of an octopus, holding an astronaut in each tentacle. From my perspective, the cosmonauts feed on all my arms.
No more falsehoods or derisions. Golden living dreams of visions. Mystic crystal revelation and the mind's true liberation.
In the Age of Aquarius, give or take, plurality overtakes singularity. History becomes bored by its self-referentialism. Triangles burrow into single lines. Equal signs collapse on the spikes of other equal signs.
In the Age of Aquarius, give or take, we give birth to information and information delivers us. I make a fist and my fist speaks in four languages. Letters enter me and suddenly I experience flavors few before me have.
In the Age of Aquarius, give or take, gender is a tree is a building is a cloud. It is anything that hasn’t been said. The truest instinct one listens to more and more.
Copyright © 2020 by Roy G. Guzmán. Originally published in Poem-a-Day on November 6, 2020, by the Academy of American Poets.
translated from Vietnamese by the author
The dead don't let us go, I say to my friend Sirius, putting my father's letters in a drawer. It is the plight of Mezentius that I endure, attached to a dead man, hand in hand, mouth in mouth, in a sad embrace. The letters stopped arriving from the country of my childhood. The man who wrote them died a solitary death and was buried at the edge of a stream. But he is there, his skin touches my skin, my breath gives life to his lips. He is there, I say to Sirius, when I speak to you, when I eat, when I sleep, when I take a walk. It seems to me that I am dead, whereas my father, the dead man who refuses to leave me in peace, overflows with life. He possesses me, sucks my blood, gnaws my bones, feeds on my thoughts. 1
“Die fresh. Die withered.
Die sore. Die throbbing.
Die hard. Die standing up.
Die lying down. Die
nightwise. Die more. Die
horrified. Die gradual. Die
corroding. Die squashed.
Die choking. Die fainting.
Die everything. Die all.
Die falling. Die swooning.
Die tense. Die loose. Die
now. Die spinning. Die
quashed. Die quelled. Die
rotting. Die crushed. Die
everyone. Die clean. Die
raw. Die bruised. Die
sitting. Die morningwise.
Die afternoonwise. Die
departing. Die undoing.”2
In the last letter, the dying man taught me a lesson of 36 deadly tricks. He called them the 36 documentations of secret agencies, 36 spells of horror, 36 faces of vanity, 36 tactics of being deadly, 36 stratagems of dying. All night long, I chant his weird song over and over like a crazy heart. Dripping drops of time, the tune flies far from the propaganda of a human life. When Sirius asks why I keep murmuring the lines, I say, It helps me learn my fathertongue, glide into my childhood siesta, melt into my red hot girdle of earth. The letters of the dead burn me, urge me to speak to them, speak them, have them speak me, even in my sleep. Every dream is a chamber where the language drills, like vital winds, hum me anew, blowing me closer to the waters where my father lies. Every night he still sleeptalks his fatal rhythm through my broken tongue.
1 Linda Lê, Thư Chết, trans. Bùi Thu Thuỷ (Hà Nội: NXB Văn Học, Nhã Nam, 2013), 7.
2 Trần Dần, Những Ngã Tư và Những Cột Đèn (Hà Nội: NXB Hội Nhà Văn, Nhã Nam, 2017), 259.
Chant Chữ Chết
Người chết không buông tha chúng ta, tôi vừa nói với anh bạn Sirius vừa xếp những lá thư của cha tôi vào ngăn kéo. Đó là nhục hình Mézence mà tôi phải chịu, tức là bị buộc vào một người chết, tay áp tay, miệng kề miệng, trong một nụ hôn buồn. Những lá thư đã ngừng đến từ đất nước của tuổi thơ tôi. Người viết thư đã chết, một cái chết cô đơn, và được chôn bên bờ nước. Nhưng người vẫn đây, da người chạm da tôi, hơi thở tôi thổi sống làn môi ấy. Tôi bảo Sirius, Người ở đây này, khi tôi đang nói chuyện với anh, khi tôi ăn, khi tôi ngủ, khi tôi dạo chơi. Dường như tôi mới chính là người chết, còn cha tôi, người chết không để tôi yên ấy, lại đang ngập tràn sự sống. Người ám tôi, hút máu tôi, gặm xương tôi, ngốn suy nghĩ tôi. 1
“Chết tươi. Chết
héo. Chết đau.
Chết điếng. Chết
cứng. Chêt đứng.
Chết nằm. Chết
đêm. Chết thêm.
Chết khiếp. Chết
dần. Chết mòn.
Chết toi. Chết
ngóp. Chết ngất.
Chết tất. Chết cả.
Chết lử. Chết lả.
Chết đứ. Chết đừ.
Chết ngay. Chết
quay. Chết ngỏm.
Chết ngoẻo. Chết
thối. Chết nát.
Chết hết. Chết
sạch. Chết tái.
Chết tím. Chết
ngồi. Chết sáng.
Chết chiều. Chết
bỏ. Chết dở.”2
Trong thư cuối, người dạy tôi tổng cộng 36 kế chết người. Người dặn đây là 36 tài liệu công tác nguỵ quân nguỵ quyền, 36 phép rùng rợn, 36 vẻ phù hoa, 36 món chết người, 36 món chết. Suốt đêm, tôi niệm bài ca quỷ ám của người, tụng đi tụng lại như một trái tim điên. Chảy ròng những giọt đồng hồ, giai điệu người bay xa kiếp giáo lý. Khi Sirius hỏi sao tôi cứ lẩm nhẩm lời người, tôi đáp, Để tôi học tiếng cha tôi, dạt vào giấc trưa tuổi thơ tôi, tan vào đất đỏ nhiệt đới tôi. Chữ người chết nung tôi, thúc tôi nói với họ, nói họ, rồi họ nói tôi, cả khi tôi ngủ. Mỗi giấc mơ là một căn phòng nơi những bài luyện chữ, như gió thổi, ngân tôi, tái thiết tôi, mang tôi cận kề con nước nơi cha tôi nằm. Hằng đêm người vẫn nói mớ một thứ phách nhịp chết người thấm xuyên lưỡi vỡ tôi.
1 Linda Lê, Thư Chết, Bùi Thu Thuỷ dịch (Hà Nội: NXB Văn Học, Nhã Nam, 2013), 7.
2 Trần Dần, Những Ngã Tư và Những Cột Đèn (Hà Nội: NXB Hội Nhà Văn, Nhã Nam, 2017), 259.
© 2020 Quyên Nguyễn-Hoàng. Published in Poem-a-Day in partnership with Words Without Borders (wordswithoutborders.org) on September 12, 2020, by the Academy of American Poets.
what it sounds like is a bird breaking small bones against glass. the least of them, a sparrow, of course. you’re about to serve dinner and this is the scene. blame the bird, the impertinent windows, try not to think of the inconvenience of blood splattering violet in the dusk. how can you eat after this? do not think of whom to blame when the least of us hurdles into the next moment. a pane opening into another. the least of us spoiling your meal.
the smell of it will be smoke and rank. you will mutter about this for days, the injustice of splatter on your window. foolish bird. civilization. house with the view. fucking bird feeder. it will take you a week, while the flesh starts to rot under thinning feathers, while the blood has congealed and stuck, for you to realize that no one is coming to take the body. it is your dead bird. it is your glass. you have options you think. hire out. move out. leave it for the bigger blacker birds.
you will taste rotting just above the top of your tongue. so much, that you check yourself to make sure that it is not you. the bird deserves something. you go to the closet, pick out a shoe box. discount? designer? you start to think of how it has come to this: pondering your mortality through a bird. a dead bird. never-mind. you don’t find it a problem not running into windows.
it is an eyesore and we start to gather as large billows in your yard. you marvel at us, beautiful, collecting and loosening our dark bodies from white sky to your grass. and then it comes. more bones and blood. one by one crashing into the closed pane. mindless birds. brown and gray feathers. filthy pests. another. fucking feeder. we look like billions lifting into flight and then—shatter.
you might find a delicate humility in the art of cleaning glass. while you work, you sustain tiny slivers of opened flesh. tips of your fingers sing. shards, carnage, it has become too much. you are careful to pick up all that you can see. you call a repairman. you are careful to pick up all that you can see. you throw everything into big shiny trash bags. you are careful to pick up all that you can see. you consider french doors. you are careful to pick up all that you can see and find more with each barefoot trip through your bloodbath house.
Copyright © 2020 by Bettina Judd. Originally published in Poem-a-Day on September 7, 2020, by the Academy of American Poets.
Come, “Will,” let’s be good friends again,
Our wrongs let’s be forgetting,
For words bring only useless pain,
So wherefore then be fretting.
Let’s lay aside imagined wrongs,
And ne’er give way to grieving,
Life should be filled with joyous songs,
No time left for deceiving.
I’ll try and not give way to wrath,
Nor be so often crying;
There must some thorns be in our path,
Let’s move them now by trying.
How, like a foolish pair were we,
To fume about a letter;
Time is so precious, you and me;
Must spend ours doing better.
This poem is in the public domain. Published in Poem-a-Day on September 6, 2020, by the Academy of American Poets.
The night air is filled
with the scent of apples,
and the moon is nearly full.
In the next room, Jim
is reading; a small cat sleeps
in the crook of his arm.
The night singers are loud,
every evening until they run
out of nights and die in
the cold, or burrow down into
the mud to dream away the winter.
My office is awash in books
and photographs, and the sepia/pink
sunset stains all its light touches.
I’ve never been a good traveler,
but there are days, like this one,
when I’d pay anything to be in
another country, or standing on
the cold, grey moon, staring back
at the disaster we call our world.
We crave change, but
turn away from it.
We drown in contradictions.
Tonight, I’ll sleep
blanketed in moonlight.
In my dreams, I’ll have
nothing to say about anything
important. I’ll simply live my life,
and let the night singers live theirs,
until all of us are gone.
I won’t say a word, and let
silence speak in my stead.
Copyright © 2020 by William Reichard. Originally published in Poem-a-Day on November 19, 2020, by the Academy of American Poets.
I was the starlight
I was the moonlight
I was the sunset,
Before the dawning
Of my life;
I was the river
To purple dreaming,
I was the glowing
Of youthful Springtime,
I was the singing
Of golden songbirds,—
I was love.
I was the sunlight,
I was the twilight,
I was the humming
Of winged creatures
Ere my birth;
I was the blushing
Of lily maiden,
I was the vision
Of youthful striving,
I was the summer,
I was the autumn,
I was the All-time—
I was love.
This poem is in the public domain. Published in Poem-a-Day on December 13, 2020, by the Academy of American Poets.
After the pain of one thing you found
another less sharp it tickled
the hurt you kept company
to feel again so you
could go on without
one more time
On the way to the island what happened
receded like the shoreline you knew
it grew smaller but you didn’t
find or try or think or see
a way to keep the scale
as it had been before.
Things happened. That’s no:
It’s not sealed.
The green light Rohmer wrote of in that film
what did it mean? Can you remember
anything more than the hopeful
expression fading from each
character… is a dream
the grass blown against
the source… is it
that or that
Sisyphean levity we said our
joy cresting as we turned outside out
ourselves our happiest moments
in rooms four-or five-sided
by air and earth and trees
we hold that sometimes
Let’s make a prairie one beautiful thing
we will have to remember again
our agreement to make a way
out of what we are given
the uprooting terror
of our undoing. First
cut what has been
Today everything you love weeps and leans
its metaphoric arms to the ground
pendula pendula the trees
take their shape from their parents
even the peashrub sprawls
outward and downward.
Today’s a day
No one has come to tell us what we want
to hear is hardly the wondrous thing
existence is though we wonder
whether each opening takes
will take us further on
from from to into
from from to to
from from yes
Chores enough for days and days enough for
whatever we might want time to do
days sweep and cower under breath
sleeping under the daylight
bower rocking in wind
we are the baby
the baby cries
what it wants
Copyright © 2020 by G. E. Patterson. Originally published in Poem-a-Day on December 16, 2020, by the Academy of American Poets.