I thought it was the neighbor’s cat back
to clean the clock of the fledgling robins low
in their nest stuck in the dense hedge by the house
but what came was much stranger, a liquidity
moving all muscle and bristle. A groundhog
slippery and waddle thieving my tomatoes still
green in the morning’s shade. I watched her
munch and stand on her haunches taking such
pleasure in the watery bites. Why am I not allowed
delight? A stranger writes to request my thoughts
on suffering. Barbed wire pulled out of the mouth,
as if demanding that I kneel to the trap of coiled
spikes used in warfare and fencing. Instead,
I watch the groundhog closer and a sound escapes
me, a small spasm of joy I did not imagine
when I woke. She is a funny creature and earnest,
and she is doing what she can to survive.
Copyright © 2020 by Ada Limón. Originally published in Poem-a-Day on September 16, 2020, by the Academy of American Poets.
after Idra Novey
On a dirt road
On a drive to el campo
You found a batey
I cut the cane
We sucked on a stalk
You gave me your arms
I swam in the river
We locked the door
Then the lights went out
And the radio played
You fingered the pesos
I walked to the beach
We fried the fish
You ate the mango
I jumped in the water
We bought the flowers
Then the migrants came
And you bartered for more
Then the sirens blared
And they were carried away
But we didn’t stop them
Then the ocean swept
And the palm trees sagged
They were foreigners
We were foreigners
And we lived there
Copyright © 2020 by Jasminne Mendez. Originally published in Poem-a-Day on September 15, 2020, by the Academy of American Poets.
The Bud Light crystallizing in the freezer
Hides high above a child’s reach
The Uncles table sits in the backyard of my mother’s house parties
The beer and barbecue footnote their good time
I go to greet them like daughter, like niece, like good girl,
They say. Like grown woman now, they say.
At what age did uncles stop seeing me as a little girl
Since when did they dress up my growth with their pick-up lines?
Each word sharpening a knife of bedside manner
Each nervous laugh covering up the names of women who don’t stay
Oh you’re a teacher now? They repeat with bedroom eyes
Teach me, they say. To my classroom, they say, I want to come.
The pork belly on the table I used to draw on as a kid
Curls in the cold air, sausage cackling char on the grill
Flatlining my red lips I paint for myself
My voice a fire extinguisher
Against all the family men who pretend family means
Things I can get away with
A myth of fragility trapping too many girls
Forced to call mercy
Each beer sip a squeal silenced
Each man still a swine on the spit
Copyright © 2018 by Janice Lobo Sapigao. This poem originally appeared in Drunk in a Midnight Choir, Spring 2018. Used with the permission of the author.
Nay, do not blush! I only heard
You had a mind to marry;
I thought I’d speak a friendly word,
So just one moment tarry.
Wed not a man whose merit lies
In things of outward show,
In raven hair or flashing eyes,
That please your fancy so.
But marry one who’s good and kind,
And free from all pretence;
Who, if without a gifted mine,
At least has common sense.
This poem is in the public domain.
You who pass coldly by when the police rush upon us,
When they wrench away our banners,
(Beautiful banners whose colors cry a demand for liberty)
You who criticize or condemn
(Declaring you “believe in suffrage,
Worked for it in your state, and your mother
knew Susan B. Anthony”)
Can you think in terms of a nation?
Could you die, (or face ridicule) for your belief?
For the freedom of women, for your freedom,
we are fighting;
For your safety we face danger, bear torture;
For your honor endure untellable insult.
To win democracy for you we defend the banners of democracy
Till our banners and our bodies
Are flung together on the pavement,
Waiting at the gates of government,
We have made of our weariness a symbol
Of women’s long wait for justice.
We have borne the hunger and hardship of prison,
To open people’s eyes
To men’s determination to imprison the power of women.
You women who pass coldly by,
Do you imagine your freedom is coming
As a summer wind blows over fields?
Slowly it has advanced by a sixty-years’ war,
(Those who have fought in it have not forgotten)
And that war is not won.
Strongly entrenched, the foe sits plotting.
Close to his lines our banners fly,
Signalling where to direct the fire,
Greater forces are needed, reserves and recruits.
Are you for winning or for waiting,
Women who watch the banners go down?
Women who say, “Suffrage is coming,”
While suffrage goes by you into Prussia?
Case to be content with applauding speeches, and praising politicians.
Patience is shameful.
Awake, rise, and act.
This poem is in the public domain.