Translated from the Spanish by Yvette Siegert

I came to confuse her with myself,
and how! Through all her spiritual
meanderings, I continued
to play in the strawberry fields,
in the sunrise of her Grecian hands.

After this, she’d come to adjust
my black, unruly tie, and I’d
go back to observing the stone
in its absorption, and the fallow benches,
and the clock that reeled us in
at every stroke of its eternal clockwork.

Good nights they were,
that make me laugh now,
for the strange manner of my dying,
for my brand of ruminations.
Golden confections,
sugary gems
that finally crumble
beneath the stony mortar of this world.

But if your tears are tears of love,
the morning stars are lovely silks,
in lilacs
and oranges
and greens,
soaking full of the heart.
And if their silken threads get choked with bile,
then another silk, all great and apocalyptic,
will reach down from a certain love,
one never born, and one that never dies
—blue, unedited, the hand of God.





Llegué a confundirme con ella,
tanto. . . ! Por sus recodos
espirituales, yo me iba
jugando entre tiernos fresales,
entre sus griegas manos matinales.

Ella me acomodaba después los lazos negros
y bohemios de la corbata. Y yo
volvía a ver la piedra
absorta, desairados los bancos, y el reloj
que nos iba envolviendo en su carrete,
al dar su inacabable molinete.

Buenas noches aquellas,
que hoy la dan por reír
de mi extraño morir,
de mi modo de andar meditabundo.
Alfeñiques de oro,
joyas de azúcar
que al fin se quiebran en
el mortero de losa de este mundo.

Pero para las lágrimas de amor,
los luceros son lindos pañuelitos
que empapa el corazón.
Y si hay ya mucha hiel en esas sedas,
hay un cariño que no nace nunca,
que nunca muere,
vuela otro gran pañuelo apocalíptico,
la mano azul, inédita de Dios!

From Los heraldos negros (Editorial Losada, S. A., 1918) by César Vallejo. Translated from the Spanish by Yvette Siegert. This poem is in the public domain.

I cannot do without love
the way I make myself
do without food or sleep or sex 
I cannot do without love

sometimes I rummage through
my papers 
tendrils of dreams
thoughts from long ago
want to throw everything out
but can’t

did my laundry
read Doris Lessing 
on the stairs in the sun
the one about
a man and two women

last night in your arms
a whisper in my ear
see how your heart beats
hard like a hammer

what are you thinking about
you are so far away

pow fahn for breakfast
steaming in rice bowls
snow heavy on the trees
like icing on a cake

your lover calls every night
demanding to know 
if I am still here
and why the hell am I
still here
I cannot do without love

Copyright © 2023 by Kitty Tsui. Originally published in Poem-a-Day on September 29, 2023, by the Academy of American Poets. 

This is like a life. This is lifelike.
I climb inside a mistake
and remake myself in the shape
of a better mistake—
a nice pair of glasses
without any lenses,
shoes that don’t quite fit,
a chest that always hurts.
There is a checklist of things
you need to do to be a person.
I don’t want to be a person
but there isn’t a choice,
so I work my way down and
kiss the feet.
I work my way up and lick
the knee.
I give you my skull
to do with whatever you please.
You grow flowers from my head
and trim them too short.
I paint my nails nice and pretty
and who cares. Who gives a shit.
I’m trying not to give a shit
but it doesn’t fit well on me.
I wear my clothes. I wear my body.
I walk out in the grass and turn red
at the sight of everything.

Copyright © 2015 by Joshua Jennifer Espinoza. Used with the permission of the author.

Sundays I spend feeling sorry for myself I’ve got a

knack for it I’m morbid, make the worst of any season

exclamation point         yet levity’s a liquor of sorts,

lowers us through life toward the terminus soon

extinguished            darling, the comfort is slight,

tucked in bed we search each other for some alternative—

oh let’s marvel at the world, the stroke and colors of it

now, while breathing.


From Skeletons by Deborah Landau. Copyright © 2023 by Deborah Landau. Reprinted with the permission of The Permissions Company, LLC, on behalf of Copper Canyon Press.

O dainty bud, I hold thee in my hand—
A castaway, a dead, a lifeless thing.
A few days since I saw thee, wet with dew,
A bud of promise to thy parent cling,
Now thou art crushed yet lovely as before,
The adverse winds but waft thy fragrance more.

How small, how frail! I tread thee underfoot
And crush thy petals in the rocking ground:
Perchance some one in pity for thy state
Will pick thee up in reverence profound—
Lo, thou art pure with virtue more intense,
Thy perfume grows from earthly detriments.

Why do we grieve? Let each affliction bear
A greater beauty springing from the sod,
May sweetness well as incense from the urn,
Which, rising high, enshrouds the throne of God.
Envoy of Hope, this lesson I disclose—
“Be Ever Sweet,” thou humble, fragrant rose!

This poem is in the public domain. Published in Poem-a-Day on July 5, 2020 by the Academy of American Poets.