Always in relation
Is what any one is
& change happens
Only in relations
Limited by what
Time & makes it
The work you do
For what’s legal
That isn’t above
The work you do
For the sake
Of a jobs program
Copyright © 2023 by Wendy Trevino. Originally published in Poem-a-Day on June 16, 2023, by the Academy of American Poets.
A bed should be a tender slab, devoid of insects.
A tired woman should be able to lie across diagonally,
headache to hag feet.
A bed should exist in crystalline silence.
It should have a sleepy blue view.
A nearby window not close to voyeurs.
A bed should have a special pillow to shush the head,
to coddle and safety the amygdala.
If established on the ground, a bed should have
a bioluminescent quilt to redirect the gaze: the prey
is over there.
If established in a tree, the quilt may allow for free feet
or a tossback with luxuriant abandon.
Among other things, do not build your bed on dictionaries
or books of any kind.
A bed is best made from a wood frame, or metal, or dark matter.
A bed should be free of lye, lime, and liars.
One should be able to enter the bed and think
I could fly far away in this. I could die; I could just die.
Copyright © 2023 by Jill Khoury. Originally published in Poem-a-Day on July 14, 2023, by the Academy of American Poets.
Confinement is part of confinement.
As it is part of worms
to go through the surface
(like death and roots),
at the very moment of impairment.
They say that a few inches underground
it is possible to hear all
the rumors of the world.
That they are just heartbeats, almost imperceptible
that become from one moment to the next
like a desperate pounding.
They say humidity
is part of the charm,
and that it sometimes suffocates,
like the measured sadness
that comes from the impossibility
of seeing one’s own face
in the mirror.
Copyright © 2023 by Carlos Soto-Román. Originally published in Poem-a-Day on August 17, 2023, by the Academy of American Poets.
It takes a heap o’ livin’ in a house t’ make it home,
A heap o’ sun an’ shadder, an’ ye sometimes have t’ roam
Afore ye really ’preciate the things ye lef’ behind,
An’ hunger fer ’em somehow, with ’em allus on yer mind.
It don’t make any differunce how rich ye get t’ be,
How much yer chairs an’ tables cost, how great yer luxury;
It ain’t home t’ ye, though it be the palace of a king,
Until somehow yer soul is sort o’ wrapped round everything.
Home ain’t a place that gold can buy or get up in a minute;
Afore it’s home there’s got t’ be a heap o’ livin’ in it;
Within the walls there’s got t’ be some babies born, and then
Right there ye’ve got t’ bring ‘em up t’ women good, an’ men;
And gradjerly, as time goes on, ye find ye wouldn’t part
With anything they ever used—they’ve grown into yer heart:
The old high chairs, the playthings, too, the little shoes they wore
Ye hoard; an’ if ye could ye’d keep the thumbmarks on the door.
Ye’ve got t’ weep t’ make it home, ye’ve got t’ sit an’ sigh
An’ watch beside a loved one’s bed, an’ know that Death is nigh;
An’ in the stillness o’ the night t’ see Death’s angel come,
An’ close the eyes o’ her that smiled, an’ leave her sweet voice dumb.
Fer these are scenes that grip the heart, an’ when yer tears are dried,
Ye find the home is dearer than it was, an’ sanctified;
An’ tuggin’ at ye always are the pleasant memories
O’ her that was an’ is no more—ye can’t escape from these.
Ye’ve got t’ sing an’ dance fer years, ye’ve got t’ romp an’ play,
An’ learn t’ love the things ye have by usin’ ’em each day;
Even the roses ’round the porch must blossom year by year
Afore they ’come a part o’ ye, suggestin’ someone dear
Who used t’ love ’em long ago, an’ trained ’em jes’ t’ run
The way they do, so’s they would get the early mornin’ sun;
Ye’ve got t’ love each brick an’ stone from cellar up t’ dome:
It takes a heap o’ livin’ in a house t’ make it home.
This poem is in the public domain. Published in Poem-a-Day on September 2, 2023, by the Academy of American Poets.
Saturday mornings were science fiction—
That is, on that day anything was possible.
We didn’t have to go to the movies for that,
Though when we did, we were introduced to ourselves
More than anything. Ourselves in rockets,
Ourselves taking chances, ourselves speaking to the universe.
Outside of the movies, we were still in them—
Our bikes were our rockets, our submarines, our jets.
But mostly, and first, our bikes were our horses
In this childhood West, a loyal, red Western Flyer
Taking me everywhere, up and down, fast and slow.
Only later did I understand it was my own legs
That did it all. My own legs and my arms to steer,
My own small, mighty lungs to shout—
A shout that would later become a song.
When they weren’t horses, when my legs were tired,
When the shouts calmed down into just talking,
We bike-riders would sit, and find in that talking
The gold we had been looking for, though we didn’t know it.
The gold was made of plans for Saturdays still to come—
We each had different ideas, but we all had them,
Speaking them confidently as if we were lions,
Deep-voiced and sure even in that quietude.
What would happen next was far away,
But even as we rested, something in us knew
We would catch the future no matter how fast it ran.
Copyright © 2023 by Alberto Ríos. Originally published in Poem-a-Day on September 27, 2023, by the Academy of American Poets.
I once beheld the end of time!
Its stream had ceased to be.
The drifting years, all soiled with crime,
Lay in a filthy sea.
The prospect o’er the reeking waste
Was plain from where I stood.
From shore to shore the wreckage faced
The surface of the flood.
There all that men were wont to prize
When time was flowing on,
Seemed here to sink and there to rise
In formless ruin blown.
In slimy undulations roiled
The glory of the brave;
The scholar’s fame, the rich man’s gold,
Alike were on the wave.
There government, a monstrous form
(The sea groaned ’neath the load),
A helpless mass blown by the storm,
On grimy billows rode.
The bodies of great syndicates
And corporations, trusts,
Proud combinations, and e’en states,
All beasts of savage lusts,
With all the monsters ever bred
In civilization’s womb,
Lay scattered, floating, dead,
Throughout that liquid tomb.
It was the reign of general death,
Wide as the sweep of eye,
Save two vile ghosts that still drew breath
Because they could not die.
Ambition climbed above the waves
From wreck to wreck he strove.
And as they sank to watery waves,
He on to glory rode.
And there was Greed—immortal Greed—
Just from the shores of time.
Of all hell’s hosts he took the lead,
A monarch of the slime.
He neither sank below nor rose
Above the brewing flood;
But swam full length, down to his nose,
And steered where’er he would.
Whatever wreckage met his snout
He swallowed promptly down—
Or floating empire, or redoubt,
Or drifting heathen town.
And yet, it seemed in all that streaming waste
There nothing so much gratified his taste
As foetid oil in subterranean tanks,
And cliffs of coal untouched in nature’s banks,
Or bits of land where cities might be built,
As foraging plats for vileness and guilt;
Or fields of asphalt, soft as fluent salve
Or anything the Indian asked to have.
I once beheld the end of time!
Its stream had run away;
The years all drifted down in slime,
In filth dishonored lay.
This poem is in the public domain. Published in Poem-a-Day on November 19, 2023, by the Academy of American Poets.
And what, in fact, is dignity? In those
Who have it pure, it is the soul’s repose,
The base of character—no mere reserve
That springs from pride, or want of mental nerve.
The dignity that wealth, or station, breeds,
Or in the breast on base emotion feeds,
Is easy weighed, and easy to be sized—A bastard virtue, much to be despised.
True dignity is like a summer tree.
Beneath whose shade both beast, and bird, and bee,
When by the heated skies oppressed, may come,
And feel, in its magnificence, at home;
Or rather like a mountain which forgets
Itself in its own greatness, and so lets
Vast armies fuss and fight upon its sides,
While high in clouds its peaceful summit hides,
And from the voiceless crest of glistening snow,
Pours trickling fatness on the fields below;
Repellant force, that daunts obtrusive wrong,
And woos the timid steps of right along;
And hence a garb which magistrates prepare,
When called to judge, and really seem to wear.
In framing character on whate’er plan,
‘Tis always needed to complete the man,
The job quite done, and Dignity without,
Is like an apple pie, the fruit left out.
This poem is in the public domain. Published in Poem-a-Day on November 3, 2019, by the Academy of American Poets.
These, fast asleep in such a little room,
The tawdry grave-wreaths crackling over them,
Might have been men who would have moved the world,
Might have been women, mothers of a race
More great than we can know. The could not live:
We have to build great armaments to fight
Forests of things half man, half animal,
Far in the islands that our trading needs:
We have to build high palaces to keep
White childless women merry and content:
We have no money left to save for these,
These, only little children, only poor,
Life in the heats; we have no place to spare
That they could play in….Yet we need not grieve,
Not more than they, asleep. We need not grieve
Even for those of them who have not died,
For they, made warped and blind by circumstance
Shall live their round from stupid day to day,
Too dull to know a need; and they shall bear
Dull, blinded folk to rule this world of ours
We shall have died from. Do not mourn for these:
Mourn for that sorry world that still shall be,
Made by our careless hands that make today
These little children so to live or die.
This poem is in the public domain.