I’m in my room writing
speaking in myself
& I hear you
move down the hallway
to water your plants

I write truth on the page
I strike the word over & over
yet I worry you’ll pour too much water on the plants
& the water will overflow onto the books
ruining them

If I can’t speak out of myself
how can I tell you I don’t care about the plants?
how can I tell you I don’t care if the books get wet?

We’ve been together seven years
& only now do I begin
clearing my throat to speak to you.

“A Poem for My Wife” from DAVID'S COPY: THE SELECTED POEMS OF DAVID MELTZER by David Meltzer, Introduction by Jerome Rothenberg, Edited with a Foreword by Michael Rothenberg, copyright © 2005 by David Meltzer. Used by permission of Penguin Books, an imprint of Penguin Publishing Group, a division of Penguin Random House LLC. All rights reserved.

Whose woods these are I think I know.
His house is in the village though;
He will not see me stopping here
To watch his woods fill up with snow.

My little horse must think it queer
To stop without a farmhouse near
Between the woods and frozen lake
The darkest evening of the year.

He gives his harness bells a shake
To ask if there is some mistake.
The only other sound's the sweep
Of easy wind and downy flake.

The woods are lovely, dark and deep.
But I have promises to keep,
And miles to go before I sleep,
And miles to go before I sleep.

This poem is in the public domain.

the unholy trinity of suburban late-night salvation
barring seemingly endless options of worship

bean burrito breadsticks and mashed potatoes
or a soft taco pan pizza and a buttered biscuit

an unimaginable combination of food flavors
for people not ready to go home to their parents

and yet none of the options feel quite right
so maybe I should call it Self-Portrait as idling

in a drive-thru with your friends crammed
across the sunken bench seats avoiding

the glow of the check engine light with black tape
pressed with a precision unseen anywhere else

in their lives as a fractured voice says don’t worry
take your time and order whenever you’re ready

from behind a menu backlit like the window
inside of a confessional booth as the hands

of the driver open up like a collection basket
for the wadded-up bills and loose change

that slowly stack up as the years go by
and I’m not sure what I’m supposed to be

in this analogy but I know about masking
warning signs and hearing out of tune

voices scream WE’RE THE KIDS WHO FEEL
LIKE DEAD ENDS so instead I’ll call it Self-

Portrait as From Under the Cork Tree
or maybe even Self-Portrait as whatever

album people listen to when they love
their friends and still want to feel connected

to the grass walls of a teenage wasteland
that they can’t help but run away from

Copyright © 2024 by Aaron Tyler Hand. Originally published in Poem-a-Day on April 22, 2024, by the Academy of American Poets. 

Until around sundown, the surviving
lilies in the yard stay wide open,
like the window of a car passing
on a hot day. No music from the flowers,
but they smell like somebody’s fragrant
soap unwrapped on a dish edged
with daisies. All those smells expressing
themselves haphazardly like a band
trying to tune up. Escape is what I’ve wanted
since I was little, cramped in summertime
Section 8: flowers everywhere,
my bird-legged brother a couple steps
back, my sister book-nosed somewhere
in the radius of us. Just a deciduous minute 
when the blossom of noises
was from my own AM radio & not my thin
stomach. No more backtalks, no more
slapbacks. Just a quick inhale before
I tiptoed out the front door. Unlatch, turn,
run away. Escape, as Indiana bats wheeled
up top, chirping sonorous somethings.
I ran under them & to the bus, past
those long-necked lilies, self-congratulatory
in their exploded colors. Their purples leaned
the way June does, their reds hot as the woman’s
attitude waiting at the bus stop while
the #17 scooted past without picking us up.

Copyright © 2024 by Adrian Matejka. Originally published in Poem-a-Day on April 19, 2024, by the Academy of American Poets. 

They say I have attachment disorder
from years in the orphanage—I say
I’m attached to dirt: to the grit 
of stones, pulverized metal from 
the slag heap, I learned touch
from air, I fashioned love from
strangers. Your families
make no sense to me.
My mother’s the 4 barrel of a 409,
my heart’s dragstripped
from the shredded tires
of predators. Go ahead,
think of me—
throw the red flag down.
I’m one you never figured, 
dead engine start on a quarter-mile strip,
my lo-jack is the split/
the pull away—
you back there,
me running the distance. 

Copyright © 2024 by Jan Beatty. Originally published in Poem-a-Day on March 20, 2024, by the Academy of American Poets. 

you haven’t had a salient thought since seeing the film, which still plays inside you on a loop. a valley splits open revealing mirroring paths. a lake like glass. there’s no need to name it. you are terrified that the men will hurt you and you are terrified they won’t be bothered. Jack is bathing in the river with his back to you because you love watching him turn to face you. the smile he holds out to you is the same one you attempt to bridle. when you are you, some things will align. denim hangs off your body with a certain correctness. those who don’t know you may see you as more adjacent to violence. the slurs that apply to you aggregate and split. the scene where the man wearing plaid strikes the man in a denim shirt, drawing blood before they embrace bore no distinction in your mind at sixteen when you got snowed into your car with your crush, who you asked to hit you as hard as he could. he refused your request, so you never asked for a kiss. sequence is crucial. no one will touch you like a man if you aren’t one. despite whatever work you’ve done on yourself since, the mountain air tastes like an ocean of river stones, gossamer, some frivolous instinct shifting into weather. it’s too much to ask to become what you have seen.

Copyright © 2024 by Xan Forest Phillips. Originally published in Poem-a-Day on July 9, 2024, by the Academy of American Poets.