I build it, I build the house, I build the eaves, I build the roof where we looked for stars, I build the ever-clogged gutters for which no time could be found, I build the brick face and the curb appeal, I build the door slamming open as the child flew forth into what the window framed, the streets calling my name, I build the lintel where they bent their heads in whispers, I build the climb and precarious, I build the sky with its tiny points of light which might be my mother coming home at last, I build the last two-story she might ever own clean and free, I build the longing, I build the view to the wicked canal, I build the red front porch where the bottle fell and bled its wine, where the last chance of reconciliation also shattered and never forget it was my fault, my careless, which left the dark red stain, I build the sometime home now paved over and prime real-estate condominium, I build the memory like something I can inhabit, and the sawgrass he planted and the lemon trees she cherished, perhaps if I build it there will finally be room for the broken, the missing, therein to dwell.
Copyright © 2022 by Kenzie Allen. Originally published in Poem-a-Day on November 22, 2022, by the Academy of American Poets.
so much depends
a red wheel
glazed with rain
beside the white
Copyright © 1962 by William Carlos Williams. Used with permission of New Directions Publishing Corporation. All rights reserved. No part of this poem may be reproduced in any form without the written consent of the publisher.
People always tell me, “Don’t put the cart
before the horse,” which is curious
because I don’t have a horse.
Is this some new advancement in public shaming—
repeatedly drawing one’s attention
to that which one is currently not, and never
has been, in possession of?
If ever, I happen to obtain a Clydesdale,
then I’ll align, absolutely, it to its proper position
in relation to the cart, but I can’t
do that because all I have is the cart.
One solitary cart—a little grief wagon that goes
precisely nowhere—along with, apparently, one
invisible horse, which does not pull,
does not haul, does not in any fashion
budge, impel or tow my disaster buggy
up the hill or down the road.
I’m not asking for much. A more tender world
with less hatred strutting the streets.
Perhaps a downtick in state-sanctioned violence
against civilians. Wind through the trees.
Water under the bridge. Kindness.
LOL, says the world. These things take time, says
the Office of Disappointment. Change cannot
be rushed, says the roundtable of my smartest friends.
Then, together, they say, The cart!
They say, The horse!
They say, Haven’t we told you already?
So my invisible horse remains
standing where it previously stood:
between hotdog stands and hallelujahs,
between the Nasdaq and the moon’s adumbral visage,
between the status quo and The Great Filter,
and I can see that it’s not his fault—being
invisible and not existing—
how he’s the product of both my imagination
and society’s failure of imagination.
Watch how I press my hand against his translucent flank.
How I hold two sugar cubes to his hypothetical mouth.
How I say I want to believe in him,
speaking softly into his missing ear.
Copyright © 2019 by Matthew Olzmann. Originally published in Poem-a-Day on October 22, 2019, by the Academy of American Poets.
From my mother's sleep I fell into the State,
And I hunched in its belly till my wet fur froze.
Six miles from earth, loosed from its dream of life,
I woke to black flak and the nightmare fighters.
When I died they washed me out of the turret with a hose.
From The Complete Poems by Randall Jarrell, published by Farrar, Straus & Giroux, Inc. Copyright © 1969, 1996 by Mrs. Randall Jarrell. Used with permission.