At first we don’t answer.
Knocks that loud usually mean 5-0 is on the other end.
Señora ábrenos la puerta porfavor.
Estamos aquí para platicar con usted.
No queremos llamar la policía.
The person on the other side of the door
is speaking professional Spanish.
Professional Spanish is fake friendly.
Is a warning.
Is a downpour when you
Just spent your last twenty dollars on a wash and set.
Is the kind of Spanish that comes
to take things away from you.
The kind of Spanish that looks at your Spanish like it needs help.
Professional Spanish of course doesn’t offer help.
It just wants you to know that it knows you need some.
Professional Spanish is stuck up
like most people from the hood who get good jobs.
Professional Spanish is all like I did it you can do it too.
Professional Spanish thinks it gets treated better than us
because it knows how to follow the rules.
Because it says Abrigo instead of Có.
Because it knows which fork belongs to the salad
and which spoon goes in the coffee.
Because it gets to be the anchor on Telemundo and Univision
and we get to be the news that plays behind its head in the background.
Copyright © 2021 by Elisabet Velasquez. Originally published in Poem-a-Day on July 21, 2021, by the Academy of American Poets.
In these lonely regions I have been powerful
in the same way as a cheerful tool
or like untrammeled grass which lets loose its seed
or like a dog rolling around in the dew.
Matilde, time will pass wearing out and burning
another skin, other fingernails, other eyes, and then
the algae that lashed our wild rocks,
the waves that unceasingly construct their own whiteness,
all will be firm without us,
all will be ready for the new days,
which will not know our destiny.
What do we leave here but the lost cry
of the seabird, in the sand of winter, in the gusts of wind
that cut our faces and kept us
erect in the light of purity,
as in the heart of an illustrious star?
What do we leave, living like a nest
of surly birds, alive, among the thickets
or static, perched on the frigid cliffs?
So then, if living was nothing more than anticipating
the earth, this soil and its harshness,
deliver me, my love, from not doing my duty, and help me
return to my place beneath the hungry earth.
We asked the ocean for its rose,
its open star, its bitter contact,
and to the overburdened, to the fellow human being, to the wounded
we gave the freedom gathered in the wind.
It's late now. Perhaps
it was only a long day the color of honey and blue,
perhaps only a night, like the eyelid
of a grave look that encompassed
the measure of the sea that surrounded us,
and in this territory we found only a kiss,
only ungraspable love that will remain here
wandering among the sea foam and roots.
From The House in the Sand by Pablo Neruda. Copyright © 1966, 2004 by Fundacion Pablo Neruda. Translation copyright © 1990, 2004 by Dennis Maloney and Clark Zlotchew. Reprinted by permission of White Pine Press. All rights reserved.
since feeling is first
who pays any attention
to the syntax of things
will never wholly kiss you;
wholly to be a fool
while Spring is in the world
my blood approves,
and kisses are a better fate
lady i swear by all flowers. Don’t cry
—the best gesture of my brain is less than
your eyelids’ flutter which says
we are for each other: then
laugh, leaning back in my arms
for life’s not a paragraph
And death i think is no parenthesis
This poem is in the public domain. Published in Poem-a-Day on April 16, 2022, by the Academy of American Poets.
Someone’s mouth is still open. He hadn’t finished yawning
of shrapnel. Even
the sparrow on the lemon tree nearby wondered how they
Copyright © 2022 by Mosab Abu Toha. Originally published in Poem-a-Day on April 15, 2022, by the Academy of American Poets.
They say Scheherazade saved all women with storytelling
I can’t even save myself before sunrise
I feel like I’m down
there with him
what hurts most
He shows me around his house
where a woman set herself on fire
and the walls remained unharmed
Here the ghosts slowly drag me
here the ashes mix with dust
with the smile of a wolf-grandma
he pretends not to hear her silence
“I thought you like it that way,”
he tells Scheherazade, gives her children,
spreads across time, his specters in the world.
Copyright © 2023 by Mona Kareem. Originally published in Poem-a-Day on September 13, 2023, by the Academy of American Poets.
for Octavio There's a book called "A Dictionary of Angels." No one has opened it in fifty years, I know, because when I did, The covers creaked, the pages Crumbled. There I discovered The angels were once as plentiful As species of flies. The sky at dusk Used to be thick with them. You had to wave both arms Just to keep them away. Now the sun is shining Through the tall windows. The library is a quiet place. Angels and gods huddled In dark unopened books. The great secret lies On some shelf Miss Jones Passes every day on her rounds. She's very tall, so she keeps Her head tipped as if listening. The books are whispering. I hear nothing, but she does.
From Sixty Poem by Charles Simic. Copyright © 2008 by Charles Simic. Reprinted by permission of Harcourt Trade Publishers. All rights reserved.