The dead bird, color of a bruise,
and smaller than an eye
is king among omens.
Who can blame the ants for feasting?
Let him cast the first crumb.
We once tended the oracles.
Now we rely on a photograph
a hand we never saw
A man draws a chalk outline
first in his mind
then around the body
of another man.
He does this without thinking.
What can I do about the white room I left
behind? What can I do about the great stones
I walk among now? What can I do
Even a small cut can sing all day.
There are entire nights
I would take back.
Nostalgia is a thin moon,
into a sky like cold,
you were a drowned man, crown
of phosphorescent, seaweed in your hair,
water in your shoes. I woke up desperate
In another dream, I was a field
and you combed through me
searching for something
you only thought you had lost.
What have we left at the altar of sorrow?
What blessed thing will we leave tomorrow?
Copyright © 2016 by Cecilia Llompart. Originally published in Poem-a-Day on September 26, 2016, by the Academy of American Poets.
My ancestors are made with water—
blue on the sides, and green down the spine;
when we travel, we lose brothers at sea
and do not stop to grieve.
Our mothers burn with a fire
that does not let them be;
they whisper our names
nomenclatures of invisibility
honey-dewed faces, eyes sewn shut,
how to tell them
the sorrow that splits us in half
the longing for a land not our own
the constant moving and shifting of things,
which words describe
the clenching in our stomachs
the fear lodged deeply into our bones
churning us from within,
and the loss that follows us everywhere:
behind mountains, past oceans, into
the heads of trees, how to swallow
a tongue that speaks with too many accents—
when white faces sprout
we are told to set ourselves ablaze
and this smell of smoke we know—
water or fire, or both,
because we have drowned many at a time
and left our bodies burning, or swollen, or bleeding
and purple—this kind of language we know,
naming new things into our invisibility
and this, we too, call home.
Copyright © 2017 by Mahtem Shiferraw. Originally published in Poem-a-Day on March 16, 2017, by the Academy of American Poets.
I keep going back to that word
the French like it trahison the French are partly me
in micro-particular disposition I sing
I'm most fascinated by metaphysical
betrayal and its off-color quarter-tones I mean
I mean it that a bit of matter could humiliate
another like in a beginning when of angels…
No I believe they play me like a winning king but
in a future I know already while scourged
I remember when X and Y made Ted miserable
Until he died? before he died? but that's before the
time of these poems of my emplacement in the zeros
Do you know that all history's happening at the same time
and see the future if you scry, gross matter It is 2007
someone dear having died I am on an air-
plane to San Diego and suddenly see blue and orange geo-
metrical formations around the periphery of my vision
both eyes is this part of the poem I'm the singer of
tales of bliss and structure of the universe yet unperceived
Is it built like what I'm talking is it in
fact structured when I write Voices Ross, the dear dead
speaks to me in the kitchen to say he's happy the dead are
happy I later believe some are sad sometimes, cyc-
lically until they work it out my poems help them
that my poems help everyone that I am re-
structuring whatever this is that is everything so
that nothing's lost but placed new-pieced into a collage
of the transpired remade into a transcendental richesse
opening of graves gold light burst out: Grave of Light
gravid of light Grave Alice and laughing Allegra
ocean of chaos breaks collage of tones you know
and who I was am and will be come back to me
in an enormous betrayal by who once left heaven
all those wanting to be matter my own body
born no one can understand born no one can com-
prehend how many possibilities we once were be-
fore anyone deceived a rock by breaking it
Ross tell me what You got it he says and what
you've kept to yourself is cool but the Fibonacci Series
being no longer how shall we say these irrelevancies
They slide into the collage I say Yeah he says
That on the other hand anything will do any glue
Because I was upset at your death mine eyes did break
not into tears but figments colored particles castle bat-
tlements they call them swim before me collapse
I rise again for I am everything participatory in
the earth world's illusions this is an homage to Ross
all that exists communicates cry a little, cry
betrayal that there is dying though death the other breathes
Copyright © 2017 by Alice Notley. Originally published in Poem-a-Day on June 6, 2017, by the Academy of American Poets.
I’ve just written six
or seven short poems
in about half an hour,
in a cabin
on a pond
Maybe I should
just sit here
for a while, let
some time pass
so my wife will think
I’ve been working hard.
Some time just went past
but so quietly
you might have missed it.
Then it morphed
into the sky.
Look, another one!
It came out
of my wristwatch
and slipped away.
Copyright © 2017 by Ron Padgett. Originally published in Poem-a-Day on June 9, 2017, by the Academy of American Poets.