And so traverses, gun in hand, the creek.
We on the other side waiting dreamily
as for a wave. The head of the tree 
is heavy. The pears are not ripe.
I do not dare look up, seeing as 
the day has splurged against my face 
and you are on the other side 
where the grid breaks into tiny oracular 
tiles, wafer thin, distorted, pale.
The huge sound is mechanical, not
expressionistic: things 
into other things, exploding. 
The serial furthers.
Were you wearing a sombrero or
just a hood to keep hot chords
from your skin? Serial, as in many 
tunes, many kills, weeping
additions and accumulating, dry
remainders; the cost of endurance. 

Copyright © 2017 by Ann Lauterbach. Originally published in Poem-a-Day on October 3, 2017, by the Academy of American Poets.

To foretell an ordinary mission, with fewer words.
With fewer, more ordinary, words.
Words of one syllable, for example.

For example: step and sleeve.
These are two favorites, among many.
Many can be found if I look closely.

But even if I look closely, surely a word is not
necessarily here, in the foreground.
I see an edge of a paper, I see orange.

I see words and I see things. An old story,
nothing to foretell the ordinary mission.
I see “her winter” and I see

And even the Romans fear her by now.
Are these words in
translation or barriers to translation?

I see John and an open book, open to a day
in August. I am feeling defeated
among these sights, as if I will never find

either sleeve or step. These ordinary
pleasurable words, attached to
ordinary pleasurable things, as if

to find them is to say I am
announcing criteria. Step, sleeve,
you are invited to come up and be within

ordinary necessities. Staircase. Coat.

Copyright © 2013 by Ann Lauterbach. Used with permission of the author. This poem appeared in Poem-A-Day on September 23, 2013. Browse the Poem-A-Day archive.