with gratitude to Wanda Coleman & Terrance Hayes

We have the same ankles, hips, nipples, knees—
our bodies bore the forks/tenedors
we use to eat. What do we eat? Darkness
from cathedral floors,

the heart’s woe in abundance. Please let us
go through the world touching what we want,
knock things over. Slap & kick & punch
until we get something right. ¿Verdad?

Isn’t it true, my father always asks.
Your father is the ghost of mine & vice
versa. & when did our pasts
stop recognizing themselves? It was always like

us to first person: yo. To disrupt a hurricane’s
path with our own inwardness.
C’mon huracán, you watery migraine,
prove us wrong for once. This sadness

lasts/esta tristeza perdura. Say it both ways
so language doesn’t bite back, but stays.

                                          for Kristen

Copyright © 2019 by Iliana Rocha. Originally published in Poem-a-Day on September 19, 2019, by the Academy of American Poets.

    That in 1869 Miss Jex-Blake and four other women entered for a medical degree at the University of Edinburgh?
    That the president of the College of Physicians refused to give the women the prizes they had won?
    That the undergraduates insulted any professor who allowed women to compete for prizes?
    That the women were stoned in the streets, and finally excluded from the medical school?
    That in 1877 the British Medical Association declared women ineligible for membership?
    That in 1881 the International Medical Congress excluded women from all but its “social and ceremonial meetings”?
    That the Obstetrical Society refused to allow a woman’s name to appear on the title page of a pamphlet which she had written with her husband?
    That according to a recent dispatch from London, many hospitals, since the outbreak of hostilities, have asked women to become resident physicians, and public authorities are daily endeavoring to obtain women as assistant medical officers and as school doctors?

This poem is in the public domain. 

Where does the sea end and the sky begin?
We sink in blue for which there is no word.
Two sails, fog-coloured, loiter on the thin
Mirage of ocean.
There is no sound of wind, nor wave, nor bird,
Nor any motion.
Except the shifting mists that turn and lift,
Showing behind the two limp sails a third,
Then blotting it again.

A gust, a spattering of rain,
The lazy water breaks in nervous rings.
Somewhere a bleak bell buoy sings,
Muffled at first, then clear,
Its wet, grey monotone.

The dead are here.
We are not quite alone.

This poem is in the public domain. Published in Poem-a-Day on August 10, 2019, by the Academy of American Poets.

This morning—jeweled mannequins
In glass in a frame. Shadows. Bergdorf’s, Saks
5th Avenue. A dress of Coco Chanel an opera
A ballet A world away—
                                                      Past—
Lower East Side. I hear louder & louder
Faster, faster Delancey, Mott Street, rising
Above the hum the spinning the throbbing of
The bobbin-winder. Sweatshop din. Women
From Hong Kong, Mong Kok, choked in demonic
Heat. The fiber-dust-heat. 12 hours seated: 
In shirt-waist-dust. No break no ventilation
& Stooped over her Singer, Mother
                                                       —I never saw her
—There.  Her satin-scented hands
The faint scent of ginger & almond—
Fingers quickly—feeding
                                    —the machine—fingers
Cutting up garments, fragments How
Could it have been each piece, pennies
To the tick of the clock?
                                                      I am 9—
Before there are words to know
What it means to be 9Happy & did not know
What being happy meant.  Or innocence—

Standing there, Midtown, outside
Harold’s Broadway & 14th—where she
Did take me. Couture wool scraps. Ribbons.
Bullion fringes. Faux suede
                                                         Fabric— fleshy—
Appliqués. Mother’s eyes in the window
Flashing: looking in. Always constructing—
The same French coat, draping it over Jackie O’s
Shoulder; would it look runway-stunning
On me? On her shoulder too why not
—On hers? Denim In 12 metallic versions
I clutched My mother’s arm clutched them all the
Beaded Trimmings—
Followed her inside where eyes
                                                          Wide: dilated—lives—
Yards & yards piled high: bolts of
Dupioni, silk-shantung. Charmeuse.
I caressed them with my fingers. 
After my mother, fumbled into their folds
Fibers creases—infinite
                                        Dresses: of vermilion,
Gold. The palpable—
Hem—of the city Gum San Gold
Mountain America I was a child &
                                                          Everything! was there—
Mother’s taffeta dresses: hand-sewn
& Sewn—for me. Had I known, consigned
To the stars. And then even not
That, nothing better than those dresses that dressed
—Her wounds. What did I know? Only that her signature
Begins in the looping style: tiny embroidered ladybugs or
Butterflies swooping down
                                              From another—realm
I think I saw heaven—where she
Was, & for awhile & in her dreams: There-then
                                                                —As in : moments: silences
Precisely—
Sewn. Threaded: each seam, each
Crease. The recesses. Over & over the way
—A breath—is held; is
                                   —A sharp pain—stitched
                                                            —Unstitched—

Copyright © 2020 by Emily Yong. Originally published in Poem-a-Day on March 23, 2020 by the Academy of American Poets.

The only Mexican that ever was Mexican, fought in the revolution
and drank nightly, and like all machos, crawled into work crudo,

letting his breath twirl, then clap and sing before sandpaper
juiced the metal. The only Mexican to never sit in a Catholic pew

was born on Halloween, and ate his lunch wrapped in foil against
the fence with the other Mexicans. They fixed old Fords where my

grandfather worked for years, him and the welder Juan wagered
each year on who would return first to the Yucatan. Neither did.

When my aunts leave, my dad paces the living room and then rests,
like a jaguar who once drank rain off the leaves of Cecropia trees,

but now caged, bends his paw on a speaker to watch crowds pass.
He asks me to watch grandpa, which means, for the day; in town

for two weeks, I have tried my best to avoid this. Many times he will swear,
and many times grandpa will ask to get in and out of bed, want a sweater,

he will ask the time, he will use the toilet, frequently ask for beer,
about dinner, when the Padres play, por que no novelas, about bed.

He will ask about his house, grandma, to sit outside, he will question
while answering, he will smirk, he will invent languages while tucked in bed.

He will bump the table, tap the couch, he will lose his slipper, wedging it in
the wheel of his chair, like a small child trapped in a well, everyone will care.

He will cry without tears—a broken carburetor of sobs. When I speak
Spanish, he shakes his head, and reminds me, he is the only Mexican.

From Hustle (Sarabande Books, 2014). Copyright © 2014 by David Tomas Martinez. Used with the permission of the poet.

Dream on, for dreams are sweet:
     Do not awaken!
Dream on, and at thy feet
     Pomegranates shall be shaken.

Who likeneth the youth
     of life to morning?
’Tis like the night in truth,
     Rose-coloured dreams adorning.

The wind is soft above,
     The shadows umber.
(There is a dream called Love.)
     Take thou the fullest slumber!

In Lethe’s soothing stream,
     Thy thirst thou slakest.
Sleep, sleep; ’tis sweet to dream.
     Oh, weep then thou awakest!

This poem is in the public domain. Published in Poem-a-Day on August 17, 2019, by the Academy of American Poets.

(“Our laws have not yet reached the point of holding that property which is the result of the husband’s earnings and the wife’s savings becomes their joint property….In this most important of all partnerships there is no partnership property.”—Recent decision of the New York Supreme Court.)

Lady, share the praise I obtain
            Now and again;
Though I’m shy, it doesn’t matter,
I will tell you how they flatter:
Every compliment I’ll share
            Fair and square.

Lady, I my toil will divide
            At your side;
I outside the home, you within;
You shall wash and cook and spin,
I’ll provide the flax and food,
            If you’re good.

Partners, lady, we shall be,
            You and me,
Partners in the highest sense
Looking for no recompense,
For, the savings that we make,
            I shall take. 

This poem is in the public domain. 

Crows assemble in the bare elm above our house.
Restless, staring: like souls
who want back in life.

            —And who wouldn’t want again
            the hot bath after hard work,
            with soft canyons of splitting foam;
            or the glass of spring water
            cold at the mouth?

            To be startled by beauty—drops of bright
            blood on the snow.
            To be radiant.

All morning the crows watch me in the garden
putting in the early onions.
Their bodies look oiled.
Back in, back in,
they shake the wooden rattles. 

Copyright © 2020 by Jenny George. Originally published in Poem-a-Day on March 19, 2020 by the Academy of American Poets.

You are blind like us. Your hurt no man designed,
And no man claimed the conquest of your land.
But gropers both through fields of thought confined
We stumble and we do not understand.
You only saw your future bigly planned,
And we, the tapering paths of our own mind,
And in each other’s dearest ways we stand,
And hiss and hate. And the blind fight the blind. 

When it is peace, then we may view again
With new-won eyes each other’s truer form
And wonder. Grown more loving-king and warm
We’ll grasp firm hands and laugh at the old pain,
When it is peace. But until peace, the storm
The darkness and the thunder and the rain.

From Marlborough and Other Poems (Cambridge University Press, 1919) by Charles Hamilton Sorley. Copyright © 1919 by Charles Hamilton Sorley. This poem is in the public domain.

 1. Because man’s place is the armory.
2. Because no really manly man wants to settle any question otherwise than by fighting about it.
3. Because if men should adopt peaceable methods women will no longer look up to them.
4. Because men will lose their charm if they step out of their natural sphere and interest themselves in other matters than feats of arms, uniforms and drums.
5. Because men are too emotional to vote. Their conduct at baseball games and political conventions shows this, while their innate tendency to appeal to force renders them particularly unfit for the task of government. 

This poem is in the public domain. 

1. Because pockets are not a natural right.
2. Because the great majority of women do not want pockets. If they did they would have them.
3. Because whenever women have had pockets they have not used them.
4. Because women are required to carry enough things as it is, without the additional burden of pockets.
5. Because it would make dissension between husband and wife as to whose pockets were to be filled.
6. Because it would destroy man’s chivalry toward woman, if he did not have to carry all her things in his pockets.
7. Because men are men, and women are women. We must not fly in the face of nature.
8. Because pockets have been used by men to carry tobacco, pipes, whiskey flasks, chewing gum and compromising letters. We see no reason to suppose that women would use them more wisely.

This poem is in the public domain. 

The strangers’ children laugh along the street:
They know not, or forget the sweeping of the Net
Swift to ensnare such little careless feet.

And we—we smile and watch them pass along,
And those who walk beside, soft-smiling, cruel-eyed—
We guard our own—not ours to right the wrong!

We do not care—we shall not heed or mark,
Till we shall hear one day, too late to strive or pray,
Our daughters’ voices crying from the dark!

This poem is in the public domain. 

Sitting at her table, she serves
the sopa de arroz to me
instinctively, and I watch her,
the absolute mamá, and eat words
I might have had to say more
out of embarrassment. To speak,
now-foreign words I used to speak,
too, dribble down her mouth as she serves
me albóndigas. No more
than a third are easy to me.
By the stove she does something with words
and looks at me only with her
back. I am full. I tell her
I taste the mint, and watch her speak
smiles at the stove. All my words
make her smile. Nani never serves
herself, she only watches me
with her skin, her hair. I ask for more.

I watch the mamá warming more
tortillas for me. I watch her
fingers in the flame for me.
Near her mouth, I see a wrinkle speak
of a man whose body serves
the ants like she serves me, then more words
from more wrinkles about children, words
about this and that, flowing more
easily from these other mouths. Each serves
as a tremendous string around her,
holding her together. They speak
Nani was this and that to me
and I wonder just how much of me
will die with her, what were the words
I could have been, was. Her insides speak
through a hundred wrinkles, now, more
than she can bear, steel around her,
shouting, then, What is this thing she serves?

She asks me if I want more.
I own no words to stop her.
Even before I speak, she serves.

From Whispering to Fool the Wind (Sheep Meadow Press, 1982). Copyright © 1982 by Alberto Ríos. Reprinted by permission of the author.

I wear an easy garment,
   O’er it no toiling slave
Wept tears of hopeless anguish,
   In his passage to the grave.

And from its ample folds
   Shall rise no cry to God,
Upon its warp and woof shall be 
   No stain of tears and blood.

Oh, lightly shall it press my form,
   Unladened with a sigh,
I shall not ‘mid its rustling hear,
   Some sad despairing cry.

This fabric is too light to bear
   The weight of bondsmen’s tears,
I shall not in its texture trace
   The agony of years.

Too light to bear a smother’d sigh,
   From some lorn woman’s heart,
Whose only wreath of household love
   Is rudely torn apart.

Then lightly shall it press my form,
   Unburden’d by a sigh;
And from its seams and folds shall rise,
   No voice to pierce the sky, 

And witness at the throne of God,
   In language deep and strong,
That I have nerv’d Oppression’s hand,
   For deeds of guilt and wrong. 

Poems on miscellaneous subjectsMerrihew & Thompson, 1857. This poem is in the public domain. 

It is the summer of the day, the gold-bodied hour, the good bookless eternity. It is the epoch of blaze, labia, white oblivion. No melancholy yet, nor reverie, nor singing, barely any talk—it is the matterful backs of cattle, thigh-quiet of tree trunk, insect wing nickeled with sun. It is a horse standing flat foot casting no shadow, the wishbone of fire on the flicker’s neck. It is the blessed hopeless hour, red thunder inside the watermelon.

Copyright © 2015 by Teddy Macker. This poem originally appeared in This World (White Cloud Press, 2015). Used with permission of the author.

 

When you see millions of the mouthless dead
Across your dreams in pale battalions go,
Say not soft things as other men have said,
That you’ll remember. For you need not so.
Give them not praise. For, deaf, how should they know
It is not curses heaped on each gashed head?
Nor tears. Their blind eyes see not your tears flow.
Nor honour. It is easy to be dead.
Say only this, “They are dead.” Then add thereto,
“Yet many a better one has died before.”
Then, scanning all the o’ercrowded mass, should you
Perceive one face that you loved heretofore,
It is a spook, None wears the face you knew.
Great death has made all his for evermore.

From Marlborough and Other Poems (Cambridge University Press, 1919) by Charles Hamilton Sorley. Copyright © 1919 by Charles Hamilton Sorley. This poem is in the public domain.

Bees and a honeycomb in the dried head of a horse in a pasture corner—a skull in the tall grass and a buzz and a buzz of the yellow honey-hunters.       

And I ask no better a winding sheet
                             (over the earth and under the sun.) 

Let the bees go honey-hunting with yellow blur of wings in the dome of my head, in the rumbling, singing arch of my skull.     

Let there be wings and yellow dust and the drone of dreams of honey—who loses and remembers?—who keeps and forgets? 

In a blue sheen of moon over the bones and under the hanging honeycomb the bees come home and the bees sleep.

This poem is in the public domain. Published in Poem-a-Day on August 3, 2019, by the Academy of American Poets.

This veil
Of lavender and dawn
Floats off
Invisible, 
And this of purple noon
Unwinds in wisdom,
Twitters, undulates,
Dips, darts, 
And this of night
Circles around me singing
To the very edge and presence of the young moon—
And it brushes the tip
Like lips
Three times.

This poem is in the public domain, and originally appeared in Others for 1919; An Anthology of the New Verse (Nicholas L. Brown, 1920). 

A panther sprang at the feet
Of the young deer in the gray wood. 
It was the lady who had sworn
To love him,
That rose, wraithlike
From the flow of his blood.
He swooned with her devotions.

There was never one 
More jolly and boyish
Than he was, in the great beginning.
Once his slippers were fastened
With domesticity,
He settled down
Like a worn jaguar
Weary with staring through bars.
The caresses that were poured
Over his person
Staled on him. 
Love had grown rancid.
Have you emptied the garbage
John?

Prometheus fire
Never can worship
The smell of hams and hocks
Issuing from the smokehouse.
The odours of the street
Hold enticements
That bear entertaining. 
There is at least
The tincture of virility
Present.

This poem is in the public domain, and originally appeared in Others for 1919; An Anthology of the New Verse (Nicholas L. Brown, 1920). 

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.

       1


Anything cancels
everything out.

If each point
is a singularity,

thrusting all else
aside for good,

“good” takes the form
of a throng
of empty chairs.

Or  it’s ants
swarming a bone.


       2 

I’m afraid
I don’t love
my mother
who’s dead

though I once –
what does “once” mean? –
did love her .

So who’ll meet me over yonder?
I don’t recognize the place names.

Or I do, but they come
from televised wars.

First published in Shiny, issue 13. Copyright © Rae Armantrout. Appears in Next Life (Wesleyan, 2007). Reprinted with permission of the author.

Evening at Occoquan. Rain pelts the workhouse roof.
The prison matrons are sewing together for the Red Cross
The women prisoners are going to bed in two long rows.
Some of the suffrage pickets lie reading in the dim light.
Through the dark, above the rain, rings out a cry.
We listen at the windows. (Oh, those cries from punishment cells!)
A voice calls one of us by name.
“Miss Burns! Miss Burns! Will you see that I have a drink of water?”
Lucy Burns arises; slips on the course blue prison gown.
Over it her swinging hair, red-gold, throws a regal mantle.
She begs the night-watch to give the girl water.
One of the matrons leaves her war-bandages; we see her hasten to the cell.
The light in it goes out.
The voice despairing cries:
“She has taken away the cup and she will not bring me water.”
Rain pours on the roof. The suffragists lie awake.
The matrons work busily for the Red Cross. 

This poem is in the public domain.

                Laramie, Wyoming

 

lemons,” Harlan says he cares for cars instead, the plains
rising like bread from our glowing windows, Harlan’s
neck blushing to heat and the women he’s wrestled,
his barren limbs circling above them in a wash
of sweat and sock. We knead our common bodies
one to another, palm to bulk, and in middle
America, I sit next to a man I will never know,
taxiing, Harlan driving us this giving night. We are
three strangers in the strangeness of the talk of love,
and I am a little drunk, returning to my mother,
who stacked warm lemons on my neck. Like her, I know
how to cut from the wholeness of fruit, how to squeeze
an open body for its juice, my hand a vise,
Harlan’s women softening to my fingers: the waxed
pocks of their skins, how women keep their wetness
under their bitter whites. In Georgia, we learned to drink
the watered sour, heat lightning cracking above
us, and even new housewives know how to release
from three spoonfuls a pitcher’s worth, how to cut
the tart with sugar. The rind, the resistant ellipses,
are not the talk we make for men, only Sugah, have
some more, and there’s a tart too, why, what else
could I have done with so many lemons? and we press
our sweating cups to their lips, slipping
flavor and fragrance—the shells, the containers
we broke for want of ade, cast. From the phonograph
of his front seat, Harlan’s voice spins me, the man
beside me a coiling leg, and juiced, we say lemons! together
in the working yeast of this cab, and what unapologetic
fruit they are, leaving the smell of themselves even
after I have scrubbed my hands free from them, my wrists
having pushed men to drink, oh, Sugar, and I want more
than anything now to call out for my mother,
who could roll into a room with the oval of her uncut
self, who could press her palm hot against my chest
as I breathed. We exhale our imbibed sprits out
to glass, wrapping ourselves in smoke.
Harlan chews a Nicorette each time he tries to break open
a woman and she serves him only lemons. Night
is moving us through another coming winter
and we laugh quietly now to the pressure, each coming
to the cool center of our single selves, and each pressing
the other away from our own opposing bodies, where
we are drifting to our separate and yellowed hallways,
to perfume, the persistence of our missing women.

 

From For Want of Water (Beacon Press, 2017). Copyright © 2017 by Sasha Pimentel. Used with the permission of the poet and Beacon Press.

Morning, and light seams
through Juárez, its homes like pearls, El Paso

rippling in the dark. Today I understand 
the fact of my separate body, how it tides

to its own center, my skin crumbling from thirst 
and touch. The sun hangs

like a bulb in corridor: one city opening 
to another. When did my heart

become a boat, this desert the moving
chart of my palm? And when did pain invert

the sky to glaucous sea, each home on each hill 
rocking? I would give my lips

to a soldier if only he would take them 
as sextant, our mouths an arc, my tongue

the telescoping sight between. Below 
such light, the measure of boys

swimming cobbles, their stomachs 
dripping wild stamen. See

how they are clutching to their guns
like lovers, as if the metal could bear them.

Morning, and still in umbra, my dog
and I walk, her tongue a swinging rudder.

From For Want of Water (Beacon Press, 2017). Copyright © 2017 by Sasha Pimentel. Used with permission from Beacon Press.

Without your showers, I breed no flowers,
    Each field a barren waste appears;
If you don't weep, my blossoms sleep,
    They take such pleasures in your tears.

As your decay made room for May,
    So I must part with all that’s mine:
My balmy breeze, my blooming trees
    To torrid suns their sweets resign!

O’er April dead, my shades I spread:
    To her I owe my dress so gay—
Of daughters three, it falls on me
    To close our triumphs on one day:

Thus, to repose, all Nature goes;
    Month after month must find its doom:
Time on the wing, May ends the Spring,
    And Summer dances on her tomb!

First published in the Freeman's Journal where it was signed Philadelphia, April 16, 1787.

Soft winds and a moving tide
    May bear you on, I pray,
With the love of God to guide
    Through the year to your B. A. 

On the shores of heavenly grace, 
   Or the crest of the ocean’s swell, 
May the smile of the Father’s face
    Be the sign that all is well. 

In storms, whenever they rise,
    Cling close to the pilot of prayer,
Keep faith under blackest of skies
    That the love of God is there. 

This poem is in the public domain. 

It should be difficult,
always difficult, rising
from bed each morning,
against gravity, against

dreams, which weigh
like the forgotten names
of remembered faces.
But some days it’s

easy, nothing, to rise,
to feed, to work, to
commit the small graces
that add up to love,

to family, to memory,
finally to life, or
what one would choose
to remember of it, not

those other leaden
mornings when sleep
is so far preferable
to pulling over one’s

head the wet shirt
of one’s identity again,
the self one had been
honing or fleeing

all these years,
one’s fine, blessed
self, one’s only,
which another day fills.

From The Trembling Answers. Copyright © 2017 by Craig Morgan Teicher. Used with the permission of BOA Editions.

Christ was your lord and captain all your life,
He fails the world but you he did not fail,
He led you through all forms of grief and strife
Intact, a man full-armed, he let prevail
Nor outward malice nor the worse-fanged snake
That coils in one’s own brain against your calm,
That great rich jewel well guarded for his sake
With coronal age and death like quieting balm.
I Father having followed other guides
And oftener to my hurt no leader at all,
Through years nailed up like dripping panther hides
For trophies on a savage temple wall
Hardly anticipate that reverend stage
Of life, the snow-wreathed honor of extreme age.

This poem is in the public domain.

The truth is, I’ve never cared for the National
Anthem. If you think about it, it’s not a good
song. Too high for most of us with “the rockets’
red glare” and then there are the bombs.
(Always, always there is war and bombs.)
Once, I sang it at homecoming and threw
even the tenacious high school band off key.
But the song didn’t mean anything, just a call
to the field, something to get through before
the pummeling of youth. And what of the stanzas
we never sing, the third that mentions “no refuge
could save the hireling and the slave”? Perhaps
the truth is that every song of this country
has an unsung third stanza, something brutal
snaking underneath us as we absent-mindedly sing
the high notes with a beer sloshing in the stands
hoping our team wins. Don’t get me wrong, I do
like the flag, how it undulates in the wind
like water, elemental, and best when it’s humbled,
brought to its knees, clung to by someone who
has lost everything, when it’s not a weapon,
when it flickers, when it folds up so perfectly
you can keep it until it’s needed, until you can
love it again, until the song in your mouth feels
like sustenance, a song where the notes are sung
by even the ageless woods, the shortgrass plains,
the Red River Gorge, the fistful of land left
unpoisoned, that song that’s our birthright,
that’s sung in silence when it’s too hard to go on,
that sounds like someone’s rough fingers weaving
into another’s, that sounds like a match being lit
in an endless cave, the song that says my bones
are your bones, and your bones are my bones,
and isn’t that enough?

From The Carrying (Milkweed Editions, 2018) by Ada Limón. Copyright © 2018 by Ada Limón. Used with the permission of Milkweed Editions. milkweed.org.

[A Picture from the Life]

Deep in a vale, a stranger now to arms,
Too poor to shine in courts, too proud to beg,
He, who once warred on Saratoga’s plains,
Sits musing o’er his scars, and wooden leg.
 
Remembering still the toil of former days,
To other hands he sees his earnings paid;—
They share the due reward—he feeds on praise.
Lost in the abyss of want, misfortune’s shade.
 
Far, far from domes where splendid tapers glare,
‘Tis his from dear bought peace no wealth to win,
Removed alike from courtly cringing ‘squires,
The great-man’s Levee, and the proud man’s grin.
 
Sold are those arms which once on Britons blaz’d,
When, flushed with conquest, to the charge they came;
That power repell’d, and Freedom’s fabrick rais’d,
She leaves her soldier—famine and a name!

This poem is in the public domain.

Go forth, my son,
Winged by my heart’s desire!
Great reaches, yet unknown,
Await
For your possession.
I may not, if I would,
Retrace the way with you,
My pilgrimage is through,
But life is calling you!
Fare high and far, my son,
A new day has begun,
Thy star-ways must be won!

This poem is in the public domain. Published in Poem-a-Day on June 6, 2020, by the Academy of American Poets.

They signed The Declaration of Sentiments
with nib of rib, the right to suffrage their daring

Called ugly then witch, pretty then weak
to be at once woman and voter, their daring

Hunger, headaches, heartaches, hatred, death
all this, and more, it cost them, their daring

As men are born, with God’s grace, so are women
they urged and argued with brains and daring

With firm convictions and hopes of fallen yokes
steadfast they marched nursing dreams of future daring

Sojourner, Dolores, their daughters left behind
now work against voter suppression with daring

There is more work on the horizon, more
yeast to knead into the bread of their daring

Persist Claudia! in mind and body be
not ugly, not pretty, but ablaze with daring.

Copyright © 2020 Claudia Castro Luna. This poem was co-commissioned by the Academy of American Poets and the New York Philharmonic as part of the Project 19 initiative, and appeared in the Spring-Summer 2020 issue of American Poets

with gratitude to Wanda Coleman & Terrance Hayes

We have the same ankles, hips, nipples, knees—
our bodies bore the forks/tenedors
we use to eat. What do we eat? Darkness
from cathedral floors,

the heart’s woe in abundance. Please let us
go through the world touching what we want,
knock things over. Slap & kick & punch
until we get something right. ¿Verdad?

Isn’t it true, my father always asks.
Your father is the ghost of mine & vice
versa. & when did our pasts
stop recognizing themselves? It was always like

us to first person: yo. To disrupt a hurricane’s
path with our own inwardness.
C’mon huracán, you watery migraine,
prove us wrong for once. This sadness

lasts/esta tristeza perdura. Say it both ways
so language doesn’t bite back, but stays.

                                          for Kristen

Copyright © 2019 by Iliana Rocha. Originally published in Poem-a-Day on September 19, 2019, by the Academy of American Poets.

I must
          not succeed.

                      Success is the mind-killer.

Success
           is the little-death
           that brings total

obliteration. I will face

                                 my success. I will

permit it to pass

                       over me and through

me. And when it has
                       gone
                                                past, I will

turn the inner

                      to see

its path. Where

the success has        gone there will be

nothing.
                      Only I will remain. 

Copyright © 2015 by David Tomas Martinez. Originally published in Poem-a-Day on October 21, 2015, by the Academy of American Poets.