I moved my chair into sun
I sat in the sun
the way hunger is moved when called fasting.
Originally published in The Beauty (Knopf, 2015); all rights reserved. Copyright © by Jane Hirshfield. Used by permission of the author, all rights reserved.
Let them not say: we did not see it.
Let them not say: we did not hear it.
Let them not say: they did not taste it.
We ate, we trembled.
Let them not say: it was not spoken, not written.
we witnessed with voices and hands.
Let them not say: they did nothing.
We did not-enough.
Let them say, as they must say something:
A kerosene beauty.
Let them say we warmed ourselves by it,
read by its light, praised,
and it burned.
Copyright © 2017 by Jane Hirshfield. Originally published in Poem-a-Day on January 20, 2017, by the Academy of American Poets.
The sound of quiet. The sky
deeper from the top, like tea.
In the absence
of anything else, my own
breathing became obscene.
I heard the beating
of bats’ wings before
the air troubled above
my head, turned to look
and saw them gone.
On the surface of the black
lake, a swan and the moon
still. I knew this was
a perfect moment.
Which would only hurt me
to remember and never
live again. My God. How lucky to have lived
a life I would die for.
Copyright © 2023 by Leila Chatti. Originally published in Poem-a-Day on January 3, 2023, by the Academy of American Poets.
Sometimes I just sit like this at the window and watch
the darkness come. If I’m smart, I’ll put on Bach.
I’m thinking now of how far it always seems there is to go.
Maybe it is too easy that I speak so often
of late last light on a December day,
of that stubborn grass that somehow still remains green
behind the broken chain link fence on the corner.
But the need is so great for the way light looks
as it takes its leave of us. We say
what we can to each other of these things,
we who are such thieves, stealing first
one breath and then the next. Bach, keep going
just this slowly, show me the way to believe
that what matters in this world has already happened
and will go on happening forever.
The way light falls on the last
of the stricken leaves of the copper beech
at the end of the block is something to behold.
Copyright © 2022 by Jim Moore. Originally published in Poem-a-Day on December 30, 2022, by the Academy of American Poets.
for Major and Didi Jackson
There’s no suffering among dandelions,
in the way the corral gate swings open
or how the gears stay up late
to keep the wrists of the dead company.
And there’s no suffering in silt or the word marsh
or in the quadratic equation, which scurries
beneath the floorboards of my thought
like a mouse drunk on plum wine.
There’s no suffering in the steam backlit
and seared into the world at an early hour
with the horse as its guide. And there’s no suffering
in lag bolts or u-joints, nor in the sexed-up shadows
of grain elevators. There’s no suffering
in the verb itself—to suffer—which, in my kin’s tongue
means charged by the sight of an owl,
let loose from a barbed hook, returned
to the reservoir of the mind.
Today, I’m a chemical emulsion
that burns light onto paper, a three-cent stamp
honoring a woman whose name
is cloth spread throughout a meadow,
mortar setting up in a constant breeze.
The mountain air takes a handful of memories
from my chest, spreads them before me
like pewter figurines until I feel
like a tube of lipstick with an erotic name
or the long vowels in a wave’s trough,
all hum and echo. Friend, I’m both
a keyhole in a star and the key chained
to a young boy’s neck. I’m the thistle and its bloom,
father rack and pinion son, gravel and its dust.
And here, before you now, I’m on a measure
of consonants gnawing the green roots
from a blinded moon, where I say to hell with kings
and jeweled blood, for in this kingdom
suffering shall be, but never be invented.
Copyright © 2022 by Michael McGriff. Originally published in Poem-a-Day on November 2, 2022, by the Academy of American Poets.
Let the words we frame and chisel contain
the same language of those before and those
to come. If this moment is a place, let rain drift
to an elsewhere. Let our arrivals rise up
like the Estivant Pines. Let atoms
be atoms. Let song be song. If a moment
gone-by does not return, let the breath of a streamline
contain what you need. If sleep serves
a purpose. If memory divides the night,
let grace braid the strands. Let the lake be an eye
we stand upon and let mind be a way
to the body. If you fear death,
live within a pause. Let the mind envision
its exhaustion. Let procession slow down.
Let the mind become pollen. If sleep serves
a purpose, let acceptance be an orchid,
living only because of the climate around it.
If the world within this world holds us to truth,
let truth be a construct we use to know the past.
If water rises and falls, let it be because
of the moon and its pull. If the frame
becomes more useful than what it contains,
let eyelid divide light, let glass be more than glass.
Copyright © 2016 Adam Clay. “Directive for Ascension” originally appeared in Harpur Palate. Used with permission of the author.
I become the song I’ve been
singing alone in this field with you.
What deal did we make that leaps
so far behind both into the horizon
and from it? Some grim comfort
has come my way in the form
of an ox. The ox struggles to remain
in my consciousness, an unfounded
howl yearning to ring around
a ventriloquist’s echo. I’ve become
too busy for such nonsense, so I cast
it into the places where I retreat myself,
the ecstatic, gratitudinal rest and re-
storation of popular music. My goal
isn’t to unfold popular music once
more, rather it is to speak now to
how the animals say it better. Make
the nominal joy render justice. Make
a joke of nothing. Grade this remark
holding no reluctance today, only hope.
Copyright © 2021 by Soham Patel. Originally published in Poem-a-Day on November 9, 2021, by the Academy of American Poets.
In the days of yore I was a parakeet and my mouth
a river The lights low to see
into other worlds Vessels completing
circuits Ancient conjurings and obscure
geometries Screens so lovely
If I have a true self it is you Blood, slow
Dimensionally agnostic and lost in the loam A gun-
powder portrait or arc that ends with smashing
into glass Skeletons scanned An imaged sky
If you hold me in your head I will be happy
An edible ghost Encoded identity in a cloud
of processors The difference you experience entirely
different Perforated form Sad
appendage The heart, a stencil
From You're Gonna Miss Me When You're Bored (Barrelhouse Books, 2014) by Justin Marks. Copyright © 2014 by Justin Marks. Used with permission of the author.