I know I’m getting away with a crime
stretched out on the couch
and listening to rain
making a hole in the afternoon
through which I can drift slowly away

for sleep is sometimes
just as delicious
as white polenta and grilled angle fish.
So I give up my hands,
my tears and my face,
the smells of tar,
damp rope and mud,
the late slanted light of November
rippling below on the gondola wood

and then I count backwards from 27
trying to pretend I’m Wallace Stevens
he of the freakish intellect
and the taste of a ruthless
wandering gourmet
who rummages in the mystical kitchen
in search of oranges and café espresso
or a blown glass peacock
or a Byzantine horse
cast in some delicate metal.

He speaks of the world,
how it’s changed by art
and bread you can’t eat
powdered with light
where someone is toasting
their mother’s health
and someone is writing a letter to death
which makes things beautiful
in its way
and also makes everyone the same
as laughter does
or the late autumn rain.

Copyright © 2021 by Joseph Millar. Originally published in Poem-a-Day on April 17, 2021, by the Academy of American Poets.

In a meadow  
as wide as a wound 
I thought to stop  
and study the lesser stitchwort’s  
white flowers lacing up  
boot-level grasses 
when I was scolded in song 
by a black and white bird  
whose wings sipped air, 
swallow-like, until he landed  
on the highest tip 
of yellow dock,  
still singing his beautiful warning, 
the brown female  
with him in fear.  
The warning was real: 
the anniversary of my husband’s suicide.  
What was the matter with life? Sometimes 
when wind blows, 
the meadow moves like an ocean, 
and on that day, 
I was in its wake— 
I mean the day in the meadow. 
I mean the day he died.  
This is not another suicide poem. 
This is a poem about a bird 
I wanted to know and so 
I spent that evening looking 
up his feathers and flight,  
spent most of the night 
searching for mating habits  
and how to describe the yellow 
nape of his neck like a bit  
of gothic stained glass, 
or the warm brown 
females with a dark eyeline.  
How could I have known  
like so many species  
they too are endangered? 
God must be exhausted: 
those who chose life; 
those who chose death.  
That day I braided a few 
strips of timothy hay  
as I waited for the pair 
to move again, to lift  
from the field and what,  
live? The dead can take 
a brother, a sister; not really.  
The dead have no one.  
Here in this field  
I worried the mowers 
like giant gorging mouths 
would soon begin again 
and everything would be  
as it will.

Copyright © 2021 by Didi Jackson. Originally published in Poem-a-Day on April 19, 2021, by the Academy of American Poets.

On a dull December day it’s never noon 
more briefly, though what a relief 
to look around and realize our lies, in the long run,
won’t last long. 

                       I feel like the nail 
holding up someone else’s painting.
My thoughts are the loose thing 
in the dishwasher only I can hear.
When I say, Snow, what will become of this world?
it says, I was not taught future tense.

                        Through the window, 
after the heavy storm, I can follow mysterious 
paw prints to the spot along the fence 
where, in summer, the neighbors like to whisper.
They’ve taken their secrets inside.
It’s left a silence so complete, so free 
of ambition, it feels possible to know forgiveness, 
which hammered thinner than memory
carries a brighter light.

Copyright © 2021 by Dobby Gibson. Originally published in Poem-a-Day on April 21, 2021, by the Academy of American Poets.

A boy, prettier than me, who loved me because
my vocabulary and because my orange pills, once asked me
to translate my father’s English.

blank square

This poem wants me to translate it too.
Idiot poem, idiot hands for writing it

an accent isn’t sound.
Only those to whom it seems alien
would flatten an accent to sound.

blank square

My poem grew up here, sitting in this American chair
staring out at this lifeless American snow. 

Black grass dying up out of this snow,
through a rabbit’s

long tracks, like a ghost
sitting upright
saying oh.

blank square

But even that’s a lie.

Just black grass, blue snow.
I can’t write this

without trying to make it
beautiful. Submission, resistance, surrender.

blank square

On first
inspecting Adam, the devil entered his lips,

Watch: the devil enters Adam’s lips
crawls through his throat through his guts
to finally emerge out his anus.

He’s all hollow! the devil giggles.
He knows his job will be easy, a human just one long desperation
to be filled.

blank square

My father’s white undershirt peeking out
through his collar. My father’s hand slicing skin, gristle,
from a chicken carcass I hold still against the cutting board.

Sometimes he bites his bottom lip to suppress
what must be
rage. It must be rage

because it makes no sound. My vast
terror at what I can’t hear,

at my ignorance, is untranslatable.
My father speaks in perfect English.

Copyright © 2021 by Kaveh Akbar. Originally published in Poem-a-Day on April 23, 2021, by the Academy of American Poets.

The neon burns a hole in the night
and the Freon burns a hole in the sky

All night darkness
constructs its unquestioning citadel
of intrusive thoughts


if you listen closely
you can hear
the rising waters whispers

if you cover your ears
you’ll hear it too


trapped in the seashell of night


chase the echo
to its origin


a useless lullaby
a rythme replacing
the unticking
digital clocks
counting my sleeplessness
in silence


the shapelessness of waves
a watery sleep paralysis
gripping the city


the high water mark
is reaching for the sky
and getting there


new high rises rise
every day like shark teeth

a fire sale

get it while it’s hot
get that land
while it’s still land


the world is burning you know


all night you can hear them
building another goddamn stadium
while tearing down the house
around you as you sleep


enough empty seats
for the displaced

an uncheering home crowd
longing for home


enough hollow condos
for everyone
but it’s important
that they stay empty
they won’t say why


hurricanes come through
like tourists
and suddenly
there are less homeless people

their names lost
to the larger one
of christened chaos


night is a rosary of unanswered hours


count them
count them
count them


sometimes I’m grateful
for the light pollution

the smug stars
think they know everything

but their slow knowledge
is always late with its light



I consult the disdainful
horoscope to see what
they promise to promise


Miami is obviously
a leo
(look it up)


a drowning fire sign

pride pretending everything
is fine

I mean come on


a backwards place

you can’t blame everything
on the Bermuda Triangle
but you can try


swimming birds
and flying fish
burrowing owls

night sky
reflected in the water

becoming confused

a broth of clouds and corals


octopus conspire against us
limbed-brains learning
from our mistakes

our heirs
come too soon


they’ll do better
with this city
than we did


this city
with its history of hurricanes
and fraud


one day
the neon
will burn out

and then what


sun rises
like rent


sun rises
like a flag


sun rises
like the ocean


I can’t sleep
but the city I love
can’t wake up

Copyright © 2021 by Ariel Francisco. Originally published in Poem-a-Day on April 24, 2021, by the Academy of American Poets.

My baby brandishes a wooden knife
meant to halve a wooden shallot

as he hollers his newest word. Knife.
Look at my son, flashing

his dagger, jamming it into plush
animals. Knife, knife. Look at him,

oblivious to the weapons
littering his lineage or, God forbid,

possessed by them. Can the babies
planted in the dirt of our bodies

absorb the torments buried there?
My gentle, watchful child

wants all the knives. But some days,
everywhere, blue. The bear, blue.

The bells, blue, the car, the cup,
the light. I marvel at my son,

who marvels at the sky—blue, blue
no matter how gray the bully of clouds.

And this is all I want.
Look at my son laughing at the rain.

Look how he prods the window
with his knife, insisting

we cut up the storm, demanding 
the blue back into view.

Copyright © 2022 by Eugenia Leigh. Originally published in Poem-a-Day on March 17, 2022, by the Academy of American Poets.