Nothing today hasn’t happened before: 
I woke alone, bundled the old dog
into his early winter coat, watered him, 
fed him, left him to his cage for the day 
closing just now. My eye drifts 
to the buff belly of a hawk wheeling, 
as they do, in a late fall light that melts 
against the turning oak and smelts 
its leaves bronze. 
                             Before you left, 
I bent to my task, fixed in my mind
the slopes and planes of your face; 
fitted, in some essential geography,
your belly’s stretch and collapse 
against my own, your scent familiar 
as a thousand evenings. 
                                       Another time, 
I might have dismissed as hunger 
this cataloguing, this fitting, this fixing, 
but today I crest the hill, secure in the company 
of my longing. What binds us, stretches:
a tautness I’ve missed as a sapling, 
supple, misses the wind.

Copyright © 2023 by Donika Kelly. Originally published in Poem-a-Day on November 10, 2023, by the Academy of American Poets. 

Sometimes when you start to ramble
or rather when you feel you are starting to ramble
you will say Well, now I’m rambling
though I don’t think you ever are.
And if you ever are I don’t really care.
And not just because I and everyone really 
at times falls into our own unspooling
—which really I think is a beautiful softness
of being human, trying to show someone else
the color of all our threads, wanting another to know 
everything in us we are trying to show them—
but in the specific, 
in the specific of you
here in this car that you are driving
and in which I am sitting beside you
with regards to you 
and your specific mouth
parting to give way
to the specific sweetness that is
the water of your voice 
tumbling forth—like I said 
I don’t ever really mind
how much more 
you might keep speaking
as it simply means 
I get to hear you 
speak for longer. 
What was a stream 
now a river.

Copyright © 2023 by Anis Mojgani. Originally published in Poem-a-Day on May 18, 2023, by the Academy of American Poets. 

I was following the little dog through the skinny trees.

I was just collecting water glasses.

I was filling them at the well and carrying them back, one by one,

trying not to drop a single drop.

I was wearing the same shirt as the day before and the day before that

And the day before that.

Asking all my ghosts to join me on the dance floor.

Let’s Twist, let’s shimmy.

While the room waltzes, I will Watusi.

I was Jimmy Switchblade.

I was the Three Cherries Gang.

I was the tallest cigarette in the pack

I was black jacket black collared collar up. I was actually yellow shirt lost.

I was laying in the dirt and piling it on. I believed if I kept trying to bury myself

then maybe I could talk to some other world.


I just got dirty.

My belly was heavy.

For months, I barely moved.

After she left I barely moved.

I watched the sun go down, and while waiting for it to return I slept

–dreaming of the bicycle but I did not know what the bicycle was.

I thought, What a strange horse that fish is—do I kill it or ride it?

How do I do either of those?

Instead, I baptized myself with bath water, rode the airplanes like they were church.

Hoped the chains could not climb this high.

Staring out the windows, I made a list of my body parts that no longer worked,

folded it into an envelope,

hoping my mother or a former lover would one day come across it.

That list is a poem not a list.

So is this one.

I rode the airplanes

until they brought me 530 miles from the room I was born inside of.

My fists back then were not so much smaller than they are now, simply tighter.

I have been shrinking more and more with every month.

The South it is my beautiful bed.

One day bury me in it.

Till then I will touch it from time to time.

Carry me inside its wet wet heat–

I sweat when I walk.

When I walk I see my dreams come closer.

What I thought was a horse or a fish was really a girl on a bicycle.

She had small fingers but reached them towards me.

I neither killed nor rode her.

All I did was make a hand.

All I did was get wet.

All I did was shake my body like a library in an earthquake.

I spilled books like holy water.

My rooms were a mess.


The ceiling came in closer to read all that I was–a thousand years of spines,

a pale suit stitched from a riverbank. Bags of the heaviest dust. Splinters

on my tongue from licking the roofs of so many cathedrals–


I had worked so hard for my sorrow.

So I asked my boss for the night off.

Caught another plane.

Rode it to a dance in Chicago.


I combed my hair, slicked down with pomade. Put my shiniest belt buckle on.

I saw Suzie on the dance floor.

She put a quarter in the jukebox and grabbed me like a police man

asked What you do Ace?

I told her I work at a malt shop. And sometimes I bury things.

But I ain’t too good at that. I ain’t always too good at that I told her.

She looked at me like we had prayed on the same cliff.

She told me she didn’t believe in God anymore.

I told her I still did.

Her and I, we have prayed on the same cliff.

She held me like a handcuff.

I swallowed keys.

I danced with Suzie all night long.

I’m still waiting for the sun to come up.

I don’t care if it never does.

I am warm enough.

From The Feather Room (Write Bloody Publishing, 2011) by Anis Mojgani. Copyright © 2011 by Anis Mojgani. Used with the permission of the author.