All Nashville is a-chill! And everywhere,
As wind-swept sands upon the deserts blow,
There is, each moment, sifted through the air,
A powered blast of January snow.
O thoughtless Dandelion! to be misled
By a few warm days to leave thy natural bed,
Was folly growth and blooming over soon.
And yet, thou blasted, yellow-coated gem!
Full many hearts have but a common boon
With thee, now freezing on thy slender stem.
When once the heart-blooms by love’s fervid breath
Is left, and chilling snow is sifted in,
It still may beat, but there is blast and death
To all that blooming life that might have been.

This poem is in the public domain. Published in Poem-a-Day on January 3, 2021, by the Academy of American Poets.

I keep thinking there’s a piano nearby.
I keep thinking it’s my favorite song. It’s my favorite song!

Below the marquee, I arrange the marquee:
Happy New Year, buddy. Happy ’nother one, sweetheart.

Out of ways to call you dead, I decide to call you busy,
call you at midnight from West Oakland.

These days I raise a glass to make sure it’s empty.
Even when I was a drunk, I thought champagne was pointless.

In my two-story civility, I stick my head out
each window & scream. S’cuse me, s’cuse me,

I’m trying to remember a story about gold,
about a giant falling from the sky.

Someone once asked who I prayed to.
I said a boy with a missing front tooth.

In this order, I ask, first, for water,
which might mean mercy,

which might mean swing by in an hour
& I’ll tell you the rest.

If you were here we’d dance, I think.
If you were here, you’d know what to do

what to do with all this time

Copyright © 2021 by Hieu Minh Nguyen. Originally published in Poem-a-Day on January 4, 2021, by the Academy of American Poets.

My family never stopped migrating. We fight
so hard. With each other and ourselves. Don’t
talk about that. Not now. There is never
a good time and I learn that songs are the only
moments that last forever. But my mother
always brings me the instant coffee my
dede drank before he died. She wraps it
so carefully in a plastic bag from the market
that we go to when Caddebostan feels unreachable.
We don’t talk about that. Or the grief.
Or my short hair. I want to know what
dede would have said. I want to know that he
can feel the warm wind too if he tried.
We fight so hard. We open the tops of
each other’s heads and watch the birds
fly out. We still don’t talk about my dede.

Copyright © 2021 by beyza ozer. Originally published in Poem-a-Day on January 6, 2021, by the Academy of American Poets.

basma & rudy were first         each holding
            a mirror in her arms    where i could see
my face as their faces             & we pierced

our noses & wore gamar boba
            in our ears & everyone at the party
thought them hoop earrings   & in the new york years

i crowd smoky bars alongside ladin
            & shadin & majid & linda & nedal   
atheel & amir & elkhair     & mo & mohammed & mo

& we are forever removing our shoes in each other’s
            apartments     ashing cigarettes
into the incense burner           making tea

with the good dried mint our mothers taught us
            to keep in the freezer              next to the chili
powder from home     making songs & dinner

& jokes in our parents’ accents     & i am funniest
            when i have two languages to cocktail            
when i can say remember & everyone was there             

the rented room at the middle school on sundays
            where our parents volunteered to teach us arabic 
to watch us bleat         alef baa taa thaa        & text

our american boyfriends that we were bored               
            & at restaurants everyone asks if we are related
& we say yes  we do not date because we are probably

cousins            we throw rent parties & project the video
            where albabil sing gitar alshoug & i am not
the only one crying     not the only one made & remade

by longing       the mutation that arabic makes of my english     
            metallic noises the english makes in my arabic 
we ululate at each other’s weddings   we ululate at the club          

& sarah & hana make the mulah vegan          & in english safia
            spells her name like mine but pronounces it
like purified    sews a patch of garmasees

to the back of my denim jacket          we wash our underwear
            in the sink & make group texts on whatsapp        
we go home & take pictures of the pyramids              

we go home & take pictures of the nile          we move
            to other cities & feel doubly diasporic            
& your cousin’s coworker’s little sister emails me

a list of bigalas in oakland      brings me crates
            of canned fava beans from her own parents’
basement         & i say sudanese-american & mean also

british sudanese          & canadian & australian & raised
            in the gulf        azza & yousra & amani & yassmin 
& it’s true that my people are everywhere    

the uncles driving taxis at the end of our nights               
            the pharmacist who fills my prescription
who is named for the mole denoting beauty  

adorning her left cheek           guardian spirits of my every
            hookah bar        of my every untagged photograph     
of crop tops & short shorts    & pierced cartilage & tattoos

of henna & headscarves & undercuts & shaved heads
            my tapestries               embroidered with hundreds
of little mirrors            glinting like sequins in the changing light

Copyright © 2021 by Safia Elhillo. Originally published in Poem-a-Day on January 7, 2021, by the Academy of American Poets.

This neighborhood was mine first. I walked each block twice:
drunk, then sober. I lived every day with legs and headphones.
It had snowed the night I ran down Lorimer and swore I’d stop
at nothing. My love, he had died. What was I supposed to do?
I regret nothing. Sometimes I feel washed up as paper. You’re
three years away. But then I dance down Graham and
the trees are the color of champagne and I remember—
There are things I like about heartbreak, too, how it needs
a good soundtrack. The way I catch a man’s gaze on the L
and don’t look away first. Losing something is just revising it.
After this love there will be more love. My body rising from a nest
of sheets to pick up a stranger’s MetroCard. I regret nothing.
Not the bar across the street from my apartment; I was still late.
Not the shared bathroom in Barcelona, not the red-eyes, not
the songs about black coats and Omaha. I lie about everything
but not this. You were every streetlamp that winter. You held
the crown of my head and for once I won’t show you what
I’ve made. I regret nothing. Your mother and your Maine.
Your wet hair in my lap after that first shower. The clinic
and how I cried for a week afterwards. How we never chose
the language we spoke. You wrote me a single poem and in it
you were the dog and I the fire. Remember the courthouse?
The anniversary song. Those goddamn Kmart towels. I loved them,
when did we throw them away? Tomorrow I’ll write down
everything we’ve done to each other and fill the bathtub
with water. I’ll burn each piece of paper down to silt.
And if it doesn’t work, I’ll do it again. And again and again and—

Copyright © 2021 by Hala Alyan. Originally published in Poem-a-Day on January 8, 2021, by the Academy of American Poets.

now i like to imagine la migra running
into the sock factory where my mom
& her friends worked. it was all women

who worked there. women who braided
each other’s hair during breaks.
women who wore rosaries, & never 

had a hair out of place. women who were ready
for cameras or for God, who ended all their sentences
with si dios quiere. as in: the day before 

the immigration raid when the rumor
of a raid was passed around like bread
& the women made plans, si dios quiere.

so when the immigration officers arrived
they found boxes of socks & all the women absent.
safe at home. those officers thought

no one was working. they were wrong.
the women would say it was god working.
& it was god, but the god 

my mom taught us to fear
was vengeful. he might have wet his thumb
& wiped la migra out of this world like a smudge

on a mirror. this god was the god that woke me up
at 7am every day for school to let me know
there was food in the fridge for me & my brothers.

i never asked my mom where the food came from,
but she told me anyway: gracias a dios.
gracias a dios del chisme, who heard all la migra’s plans

& whispered them into the right ears
to keep our families safe.

Copyright © 2021 by José Olivarez. Originally published in Poem-a-Day on January 12, 2021, by the Academy of American Poets.

The table settles. Before you
is a series of well-seasoned scraps
framed in silverware and open
palms. The entire kitchen
exhales and every torso
leans back in unison, a table blossoming
bodies in satisfaction.
Someone pops open a button,
and then another. Several burps
that interrupt, scoff at the hand
cupped around the mouth,
bellow with pleasure
as they fling out of the body
in triumph. Every bra is undone
unceremoniously, straps wilting
out of shirt sleeves or across furniture.
The land of satiation. The land of, if it itches,
scratch it. Land of pleasure. Everything
sagging with joy. Someone passes gas
loudly. It is full and foul, but no one
is embarrassed by the scent
of a body that has gotten exactly
what it needed.

                                              The stench of enough.

My god, to be so satisfied you reek of it.
Smell badly of, I do not want more,
I have had my fill. To stink of gratitude,
to be immobilized by its weight. The eyelids
flutter, nearly drunk with it. Here, the body
so saturated and somehow fears
nothing. What a condition
for the body, so unlike
the state I am in. So enough
that all it must do
is sleep.

Copyright © 2021 by Jacqui Germain. Originally published in Poem-a-Day on January 13, 2021, by the Academy of American Poets.

“It isn’t right to despise one’s country
I don’t deserve to be loved and left.”
—Faysal Cumar Mushteeg

Say you are reading Barthes, or rereading Barthes, 
two acts which are hardly independent of each other.  
Say it’s A Lover’s Discourse: Fragments, and you are all aflush,  
your finger tracing the outline of flight, Either woe or well-being, he writes,  
Sometimes I have a craving to be engulfed.  
And even though this could mean anything, you think you know what it means 
to shiver with well-practiced yearning.   
Not for provincial beginnings, nor Moroccan boys,  
but for lip-shaped crescent moons left on teacups. 
An oil splash of a man with scarred hands.  
In this poem, he doesn’t have a name.  
Your own dumb luck pools around your ankles. We skirt around it, a kindness.  
It disgusts you, the depth of this need,  
like the slick walls of a well.   
Your bones ache most when held. 
Eventually, you’ll have to stop impersonating a skimmed stone.  
There are other ways of parting. 
You annotate Barthes annotating Keats, half in love with easeful death. 
Over-identify until you are light-headed, until you remember a hot, loud classroom.  
Breathless bluetooth blues, a free school meal in your belly, 
the easy cruelty of teachers at under-performing schools,  
so unlike their counterparts in the movies,  
those loose-tied English teachers who promise you 
a world so much bigger than this. So much easier than this. 
Chipped neon nail polish competing against your prized set of highlighters,  
you mistake a poem for a blueprint. First the odes, then the Jane Campion film.  
That night, you dreamt of lavender fields, bruised eyelids,  
the shape of Rome’s dying sunlight on a poet’s grave.  

                    Here lies one whose name was writ in water 

No name. No date. This was all Keats wanted. Convinced they knew better,  
his friends contextualised their grief, added the rest.  
This Grave contains all that was mortal, of a YOUNG ENGLISH POET,  
who on his Death Bed, in the Bitterness of his heart,  
at the Malicious Power of his enemies,  
desired these words to be Engraven on his Tomb Stone.  

You think of how casually our bodies are overruled by kin, by blood,  
by heartaches disguised as homelands.  
How you can count the years you have lived for yourself on one hand.  
History is the hammer. You are the nail. 
In another dream, your mother is barefoot and young,  
wearing a scarf the colour of a wound. By Fontana del Moro, a Moor adrift  
on a conch shell leans over her shoulder,  
as she unpeels her wet dress from her legs.  
Unmoored, she laughs at this new country calling itself an old one.  
These fictions she tosses like loose coins.  
We don’t dare dip our hands further than they can reach.  
Her gold bracelets slide down the silk flags of her wrists.  
Nightly, you strive to write a loose translation of this. 
Arterial blood is theatrical, like the desire for a time before your time.  
The world will not stop when you do, or even before.  
Yes, being the one who survived, the one who made it to this side,  
is a full-time job.  
But no-one asked you to take it.  
Diaspora is witnessing a murder without getting blood on your shirt.  
Your body is the evidence of its absence.  
Of course, there are other definitions.  
Namely, a freshly scraped scalp, dome of your rock,  
the inevitability of fajr and late-night texts,  
each lie about how good the exchange rate was.  
That time he cried telling you the story of why his family had left Sweden,  
the image of a younger brother held underwater by wild-eyed classmates.  
Definitions, like flags, lay claim to what has always existed.  
For now, these will do. You can’t speak for the future.  
It barely speaks for you.  
Pick a mask and ask me to wear it. You only know love like this,  
an interpretation you can’t outrun.  
A footnote to haunt the page.  

Copyright © 2021 by Momtaza Mehri. Originally published in Poem-a-Day on January 22, 2021, by the Academy of American Poets.

this one spins,
they all glitter
like a crush’s toothy smile.

beauty supply of Black power peace sign afro picks
& a crayola big box of durags to choose from.

beauty supply shelves with sleeves 
of weaves glimmering in the harsh light.

every manner of oil & grease
& spritz & spray for the coaxing 
of curl under comb

who can think of a rat tail without a tear
for the nostalgia or the tenderheaded memory?

a rubber band of any conceivable size.
a barette of two balls clacking hard with every neck roll.
all the ribbons & bows.

the eyebrow lady wielding two ends 
of a thread like the sculptor’s most precious tool.

all the tools for the trade of looking
& you, little boy, get such a precious few.

Copyright © 2021 by Nate Marshall. Originally published in Poem-a-Day on January 29, 2021, by the Academy of American Poets.

I have never heard America described as quiet.
Even street lights seem to pulse to some interminable heartbeat
beneath buildings endeavoring for the clouds.
Our purposeful words often laced in ample volume.
In such social engagements
all varieties of people run together—
words flowing, ideas pooling—
eager to share and just as soon to hear.
But have ideas—opportunities—collaborations
extending beyond the bounds of our borders
with reverberations felt through every city, capital, and country
ever began with silence and seclusion?

My stepfather created opportunity
from the destitute nothing he was dealt,
consoled only by the American dream
that came as whispers under snow-dappled stars.
And from these muffled mumblings
he bettered his situation.

He is one of America’s thousands,
evidence of excellence obtained by
those in pursuit of changing their fortune.
And as snow-ridden summits yield to streams
and torrid deserts to the placid waltz of grassy plains,
each of us—
guided by the compass of our will—
is free to climb, swim, or walk
to wherever we may choose.

All countries of ample years have a shadow beneath their flag
cast by historical inequities amended too late.
But how it still catches the propitious wind!
Always endeavoring to fly higher and baste the somber shade beneath.
As it flutters, we stand reverently
for those who can no longer
and for those who cannot yet.
The horizon an interminable stretch of past and future
we gaze upon it, in remembrance of what was,
yet trekking forward toward what can be.

We are a coalescence of voices,
each with unparalleled inflection,
yet our conglomeration of somber and elated tones
still manages to reach harmony.

The diversity of our country
—of opinions and cultures and beliefs—
as extraordinary as the vast, varying landscapes.
Some tall, imposing, confident as the Rockies;
the great height of their achievements
not formidable but inspiring.
Still others humble and hushed as the plains;
yet their voice embodied in the breeze touches all.
From mountains to marshes to mesas,
we are united in the embrace of the same two seas.
Invaluable are contrasting beliefs
bridged by curiosity and a common desire for betterment.
A miscellany not of problems but possible solutions are we.
Speak up, I implore you,
for in your voice we might find the answer.

The American dream—
one smile, one sunrise,
one decision to pursue an insatiable passion
for words, for equality, for science
—away from the American reality.

When hardships splatter like ebony ink across the skyline,
extinguishing the hues still smoldering from the former day,
pinpricks of hope still remain.
And in these celestial bodies we find solace,
arranging the stars against the somber background into
symbols and pictures of progress.
And beneath them we endure in pursuit of dawn.

Copyright © Mina King. Published in Poem-a-Day on January 30, 2021, by the Academy of American Poets.

                 And sometimes, yes, I’d beg for it—
           he’d make me beg: Shy moon, 
                      why shy tonight? 

I heard the geese before I saw them again this morning—
this time, flying north. Above them, thunderheads like doomed 
zeppelins, like whales when sounding, though they brought 
no rain. That’s how I used to write, insisting on ordinary things 
being somehow more than that, that they had to mean something, 
the way disruption can punctuate with meaning an established 

pattern, or as when finding out one’s silence has been mistaken 
for arrogance or, worse, indifference, when all you meant 
was to be kind—retreat, not exile; less the monsters, than 
how we lived beside them, our lives not leaves not trash on an 
updraft that at random carries them then refuses them, can a wind 
refuse. And yet… 

                        Shy moon --

As if doing what we’d always done were enough to be grateful for, 
as if to keep doing it were itself to be grateful. You just forgot, 
that’s all. It’s harder not to forget. How the yard gave way 
like a ragged imperative to a forest of scrub-pines and oak, mostly, 

how a stand of ferns there almost looked, from above, like a boat 
of shadows, coming at last unmoored, and the forest a sea—that 
endless-seeming, that steeped in night-dark, beg for it, why shy

Copyright © 2021 by Carl Phillips. Originally published in Poem-a-Day on February 1, 2021, by the Academy of American Poets.

—after a photograph by Alvin Baltrop

He looks through the wound of my life like it’s light. So I let him. The last cube of ice. Outside the tray. Where I found him. My lover. Melts atop this brick, as if it’s our last whiskey together. His brown, more fragrant, more dangerous than whiskey. You couldn’t miss him. Nothing lasts. Of promise. Such is the promise of light. Not even day breaks between us. Black joy, cresting over and over the summer sun. Kept a spiral of his hair, in a box, like a favour. His favourite pair of trainers. The taste of his lips where we first kissed. Where we first blissed. I couldn’t— though I tried. To keep him. Wouldn’t keep. Still. Nor true. Keep up. How could he keep me, when he refused to keep time? Didn’t keep me in compliments. Was I supposed to keep sweet? Look. We discovered day like it was fire. Flesh, like empire. Touch like bloodlight. Yes. Count me down like a missile. As of tomorrow and the day after. As of this darkening gelatin and silver. As of the moon and the monsoon rain. As of these piers. As of America and all its splendour. As of the alleyway and the archive. As of this F-stop. And this fuck. And the next. As of this click and shutter. As of the daffodil and every queer thing that obliterates winter.

Copyright © 2021 by Omotara James. Originally published in Poem-a-Day on February 4, 2021, by the Academy of American Poets.

My therapist has approved my drinking of three whiskeys per night,
her eyes forbearing, knowing well the ruthlessness of night.

The sun having fled as a father might flee, my cousin fathered
a narrow terror while he robbed, with a pistol, a fellow citizen one night.

The encouraging lies of a mother are greatly underpaid job-keepers;
slovenly kings have dealt much wrong money to generals and knights.

My childhood was a lengthy scene of make believe and disaccord—
my favorite things being rain and watching my mother’s cigarettes ignite.

What of fire, among its timelessness and musculature, is not
more divine when burning past the open gates of night?

Copyright © 2021 by Marcus Jackson. Originally published in Poem-a-Day on February 8, 2021, by the Academy of American Poets.

There is no name for what rises in you 
as you enter the dim world of the taxi
and wheel through the night, escorted 
by smooth jazz and a battalion of street-
lights. At the airport, you heave the bags 
you have stuffed to the limits of carriage 
and check them in. You have no trouble 
knowing what to do with your empty 
hands. At security, the usual stripping.
You surrender your body to the scan, 
the searching sweep, as if what is dangerous 
is not what cannot be so easily detected.
You comply. At the gate, grateful to be 
early, you sit with your books, plug in 
devices that tether you to this place 
you’re meant to be leaving, that crowd 
out thoughts of arrival and its bittersweet
complications. Yuh going home or just visiting,
someone will ask, and you never know
how you will answer. You know the bones
of your mother’s brown arms will wind 
around you, her breath against your neck
will baptize you again in names you have 
no one to call you in the other place 
you belong to. You know the waiting
untended in you will surge toward her,
and you know something else will sink, 
sulk itself into a familiar, necessary sleep.
You know yourself now only as the ocean 
knows this island—always pulling away, 
always, always, returning.

Copyright © 2021 by Lauren K. Alleyne. Originally published in Poem-a-Day on February 12, 2021, by the Academy of American Poets.

I was rehearsing the ecstasies of starvation
for what I had to do. And have not charity,
I found my pity, desperately researching
the origins of history, from reed-built communes
by sacred lakes, turning with the first sprocketed
water-driven wheels.

            —Derek Walcott

In these silences, the bubbles of hurt are indistinguishable from the terror
that lurks in the body—the phrase, “ecstasies of starvation” will have a music
that lures us to peace, but how do I stay with a tender heart of peace and calm
when I slow in my walk in the face of an old saying that has hidden its conundrum
of theology from me—perhaps not hidden, perhaps what I mean is before
I found my pity, my charity, my love, I could slip over the conundrums,
lead us not into temptation—that imperative that has no sensible answer,
for is this the way of a father, and what kind of father must be asked not to tempt me?
And what of the mercy of temptation, and what of the lessons of temptation, 
and what of the diabolical cruelty of testing—you see why I slip over this 
with the muteness of the faith that must grow in increments of meaning?  
In these silences, the bubbles of anxiety, the hurt I cannot distinguish from terror 
is my daily state, and you teach me to pray in this way, and in this way, you teach me 
the path of being led into terror.  I will say this and let it linger, and what I mean 
is that this is the way of poetry for me, for much of what I offer, I am sure of nothing,
the knowing or the outworking, but the trust of its history of resolution—so that I will say, 
this is the origin of history, and by this, I mean this small conundrum: “Lead us not, 
lead me not, lead them not, lead them not,” And what is this were it not the way 
we know the heavy hand of God—that to pray, “Lead them not into temptation”,
is a kind of mercy, and to say, “Lead us not”, is the penitence of a sinning nation 
desperate for the lifting of the curses of contagion and plague. The subtext is the finger 
pointed at the culprit.  So that what kind of father do I tell this to?  Might I have said,
“Neville, please, lead me not into temptation”, what would it mean to tell my old man 
not to lead me into temptation? Must that not be the same as a reprimand to my father, 
a judgment on his propensity to fail me? 
                                                                Do you want answers?  You have come to the wrong
place.  I am selfish with answers. I am hoarding all answers.  Go, instead, to the prophets 
and the preachers, the soothsayers and priests, go to the pundits and the dream readers,
to the pontiffs and kings, to the presidents and mayors, to the brokers in answers. But me, 
I hoard the secrets of my calming beauty, and I walk this road, not as a maker of questions—
this would be a crude wickedness—but with the fabric of our uncertainty, a net stretched 
across the afternoon sky, this is beauty and in this I will trade until all music ends, and the air 
grows crisp as airless grace. They say that if you find honey in the stomach of the baobab tree, 
you must leave the better part for the spirit of the tree, and then share the remnant sweetness
with your neighbors. And what they say, among the reeds, what they say, in the arms of the trees, 
what they say in the shelter of the sky, that is enough for the days of terror and sorrow. Amen.

Copyright © 2021 by Kwame Dawes. Originally published in Poem-a-Day on February 18, 2021, by the Academy of American Poets

This poem takes its title from the headline of an article published by Remezcla 
on Sept. 21st, 2018.

Haloed by the glow of the multiverse swirling
above La Silla Observatory, your pyrex eye 
spotted an orb three times the mass of Jupiter.

                                   All these lenses leering at the heavens, 
                                   and yet it was you who identified
                                   HD110014C. You were reluctant to call

           it discovery, perhaps because you know 
           all too well what poisons gush forth
           from that word. Or maybe you suspect 

                                                         you are not the first because you 
                                                         know there is no such thing
                                                         as firsts. Still, you did what no 

gringo ever could: you made another world
visible to nosotrxs. Perchance it was HD110014C 
that actually recognized you long before your

                       spectroscopic lens detected her.
                       It might even be that she had already 
                       decided to entrust you with making

                                              her presence known to our kind.
                                              After all, you proved yourself more
                                              than worthy of such responsibility

when you said your
finding was “not
exceptional,” annihilating

                                   the misguided western patriarchal notion
                                   of greatness too many others have used 
                                   to boost themselves since 1492. 

                                                        You even confessed your introduction 
                                                         to HD110014C
                                                         was entirely an accident,

           a courageous admission that eclipses
           the bumbling arrogance of every Columbus,
           every Cortez, every Pizarro. From 300 million 

                               light years away you glimpsed 
                               another possibility, then befriended
                               two more exoplanets before 

your 28th year around
our lilliputian sun. You, 
sprung from a country

                                   crystillized in its mourning 
                                   of the disappeared, 
                                   met a glorious

                                                                     dawn and flash 
                                                                     fused to emerge 
                                                                     as one

                                              woman search party.
                                              Maestra Maritza, I know
                                              this goes against all

scientific wisdom, but I can’t help but theorize
that these three interstellar marvels you’ve pulled 
into our orbit have become a new home for those 

                       that collapsed into the event horizon 
                       of imperial cruelty. I like to suppose 
                       that our gente were never erased 

but rather beamed to a star system
that does not regard them as merely tool 
or trinket, a galaxy where their dreams 

                                                          are as important as those 
                                                          who dwell in some imaginary 
                                                          North. Could it be, Maritza,

that what you scoped out there among 
the shimmering Allness was in fact 
a reunion pachanga thrown on the gold 

                        dust rings of a wandering star where discovery 
                        is not a sword of Damocles but instead a feathered
                        reentry path for those who have been missing us.

Copyright © 2021 by Vincent Toro. Originally published in Poem-a-Day on February 19, 2021, by the Academy of American Poets.

The Children’s March, 1963

The water pressure from a fire hose
can stop a moving bullet, can ransack
a door wedged shut, and extinguish
any embers, including those we cannot
see. Bull saw us all as threat—the lot
of us, the endless stream that poured
out of our church and onto the street.
We sang and we held hands. We held
onto our purpose—to be true to our God,
true to our native land, to Birmingham,
like the thirsty sponges we were. We
sang a song we’d practiced and knew
by heart. We were not letting anyone turn
us around, turn us around, turn us around. 
I was six and needed something more
than what I thought I knew, a freedom
song, a choice of where to play,
of who could teach me lessons, the very
content of my dreams of what I wanted
to be when I grew up, if I grew up,
when I grew up and took my very next
breath. But let’s get back to that bullet,
stopped by an unequal force, confronted
by mere droplets corralled into sinister
duty. I heard those dogs before I saw them
—growls, snarls—trained to see nothing
of my size, my gentleness. I knew the water
in the air just before it launched me airborne,
ramming me into disbelief, then tree trunk,
then a crowded mass of children’s hips and legs.
I was six and my song ordained that I be seen
as change, or silenced, arrested and contained.
I had lost my shoes and my blue hair ribbons.
I was wearing a muddy crinoline and learned
the coolness of both iron bars and the beady
eyes of hatred, a jailor’s sputum gelling
on the side of my face that I refused to touch.

Copyright © 2021 by Jacqueline Jones LaMon. Originally published in Poem-a-Day on February 22, 2021, by the Academy of American Poets.

Angela makes sure the right people die at the funeral.

A grandchild of the Tulsa Massacre, her skin

is artifice, a call to dream so nothing occurs.

When her yt colleague detonates a suicide bomber

she blocks the blast with a casket. It is common knowledge

that womanism does feminism’s housekeeping.

Much as one might travel, one guilt-trips.

In this case, to Re-Reconstruction Era fantasy.

Did I mention that everyone is a cop, and still

someone is trying to tell a story about justice.

Quiet as it’s kept, take something from the blackbox

and a little black ekes out further into the ethos,

but these stories don’t need to matter; they’re made from it.

I find no proxy here in iconography, genomes ache.

“Okonkwo hangs himself in the end” says Angela,

spoiling the final pages of Things Fall Apart.

“Angela won’t die at the end,” I say, to spoil another thing.

Copyright © 2021 by Xan Phillips. Originally published in Poem-a-Day on February 25, 2021, by the Academy of American Poets.

Because dirt, my uncle called,
wore my human face,
into the window
of the abandoned home
where the boy and I
beetled miscible, like a trick,
through the teeming dark.

Because I bared my spine,
its soft gnarls,
for his fingers’ drizzle
to stir
and pry away the alarm
a woman comes
to know is her body.

Because in dining rooms,
aunties gathered to unscramble ayahs
and surveille immaculate windows
for unscarved girls,
their ringed forefingers
always heady with blame.

Because I hastened, a flash,
a mistake of speed.
And no matter how many times
I summoned foot to foot
for the untimely symmetry
of prayer, night after night,
swarming like locusts,
gregarious as Armageddon,
came the apparitions: my uncle,
siphoned forth in the antiseptic light,
watching the boy and I,
like a sore expelled from the center.

Because how easily I believed him,
smothered for months
that dark room beneath
the arsenic trail of my own
isolate fault and heaps
of pistachio ice cream
I dolloped all over
my sedentary, my criminal thighs.

Copyright © 2021 by Hera Naguib. Originally published in Poem-a-Day on March 2, 2021, by the Academy of American Poets.

after Juan Felipe Herrera’s “187 Reasons Why Mexicanos Can’t Cross the Border”
con amor para los 23 del 3 de agosto del 2019/with love for the 23 of August 3, 2019.

Because we will still travel for a Walmart weekend in gringolandia.
Because we will still buy Bic pens in bulk so they last our children until they’re 21.
Because we will still recognize that 7-Eleven gas lasts longer than Pemex.
Because we will still smile when a dog sniffs our bags, troca or traseros.
Because we will still sweat into our shoes, jeans, eyes to climb the bridge and say “American.”  
Because we will still pack Sabritas, Bonafont, and bedpan in our cars to wait in line for hours to show our green card.
Because we will still cross to Juárez to get tacos, tortas and steaks for the best taste and price.
Because we will still lick our fingers before grabbing the wheel to drive back to El Paso.
Because we will still have a love/hate relationship with I-10, the kilometers turning into miles.
Because we will still whisper paciencia when Chuco people signal right but don’t, in fact, exit on Hawkins to get to Walmart.
Because we will still fundraise for our daughter’s fútbol team under this sun.
Because we will still think maldita sea when we see the Equate brand of Gain is out.
Because we will still scoff at the price of avocados and think esto no puede ser aguacate Hass.
Because we will still think we’re beating the Orange Man by knowing where to buy what.
[Because we are beating him. We’re la frontera, the border, no one looks or does it like us!]
Because we will still say thank you and gracias or thankyou-gracias to the cashier.
Because we will still be as warm as August, the warmest-turned-coldest month.
Because we will still give our backs to bullets so our children and spouses don’t die.
Because we will still feel 23 lives in our necks’ cuero enchinado but stay free; no prison or suicide watch.
Because we will still leave our screen, wood and metal doors open. To anyone.
Because we will still walk while brown in a Walmart (or Target, Sam’s, or Ross) and walk tall.
Because why not? Because heart. Because God. Because Mighty Mexican Super Ratón. Because human.

            Adolfo Cerros Hernandez &
            Sara Esther Regalado Moriel
            Alexander Gerhard Hoffman
            Andre Anchondo &
            Jordan Anchondo
            Angie Englisbee
            Arturo Benavides
            David Johnson
            Elsa Mendoza de la Mora
            Gloria Irma Marquez
            Ivan Filiberto Manzano
            Javier Amir Rodriguez
            Jorge Calvillo Garcia
            Juan de Dios Velazquez Chaires
            Leo Campos &
            Maribel Hernandez
            Luis Alfonzo Juarez
            Margie Reckard
            Maria Eugenia Legarreta Rothe
            Maria Flores &
            Raul Flores
            Teresa Sanchez
            Guillermo Garcia

Copyright © 2021 by Alessandra Narváez Varela. Originally published in Poem-a-Day on March 12, 2021, by the Academy of American Poets.

if they preferred tea with honey
            (take a step back)
if they watched police procedurals

if their ankle throbbed
or their hands swelled
and they didn’t complain
or they did
            (take another step back)

if they missed being in love
with its anticipations
a hand caressing the small of their back
            (take a third step)
or maybe they’d forgotten
held it like a souvenir postcard
from long ago 
colors faded

if they had children and
their children had children and
their children’s children had children

or maybe they hadn’t forgotten 
            (bend knees)
but found instead a love deeper than love
            fathomless and devout
if they were simply going through the motions
which now gave them a warm and glowing contentment
that came to them like breath

if they recalled the headlines
from those other times
            (bend knees)
the hours volunteering at a soup kitchen
writing pen pals in uniform

if they remembered fear
or if they’d grown immune
so saturated with it
it had transformed into a fourth prayer

if they understood what happened when it happened
if their hearing caught the stranger’s cry
if they pondered for an instant
if they were dreaming or confused
            (fall down)

the wind blows, the rain falls

the sick are healed
the bound released

gather exiles from the four corners of the earth
unto the land
body upon body 


En respuesta a le asesinato de once judíes, incluyendio a une de noventa y siete años que se decía era une sobreviviente de le Holocausto, pero no


si elle prefería le té con miel
            (de une paso atrás)
si veía les programas policiaques

si le dolía le tobillo
o si sus manos se les hinchaban
y elle no se quejaba
o si sí
            (de otre paso atrás)

si extrañaba estar enamorade
con sus anticipaciones
une mano acariciando le parte baje de su espalda
            (de une tercer paso)
o tal vez se le había olvidado
y sostuvo le memoria como une postal
de hace mucho tiempo
les colores desvanecides

si tuvo hijes y
si sus hijes tuvieron hijes y
les hijes de sus hijes tuvieron hijes

o quizá ya no se acordaba
            (doble les rodillas)
y en vez encontró une amor más profunde que le amor
insondable y devote

si simplemente pasaba por les movimientos
que ahora le daban une cálide y brillante satisfacción
que le vino como aliento

si recordaba les titulares
de aquelles otres tiempos
            (doble les rodillas)
les horas de voluntarie en une comedor de beneficencia
escribiéndole cartas a les amigues militares

si recordaba le miedo
o si se volvió inmune
tan saturade que
le había transformade en une cuarte oración

si comprendió le que sucedió cuando sucedió
si su oído atrapó le grito de le extrañe
si se preguntó por une instante
si estaba soñando o confundide

sopla le viento, cae le lluvia

les enfermes se curan
les atades son liberades

reúna exiliades de todes les rincones 
para tomar le tierra

cuerpo sobre cuerpo

Copyright © 2021 by Achy Obejas. Originally published in Poem-a-Day on March 15, 2021, by the Academy of American Poets.

The westerly wind blows across a patch of desert outside my apartment window facing north: the Deutschland Radio, the ever-spinning ring of Mercedes Benz, and the metal fences set up for the construction of new housing. Only the fences remind me of home—the endless barbed wire across the waist of a nation. A cooler temperature expected this morning before the heat wave arrives in a day. On 28.6.1950, in Seoul, three days after the war had begun, my father washed his face and looked up at the stars on a clear night, then decided to head out to the city center. The photos of the war had yet to appear in the nation’s newspapers. No one was on the road. The East Gate was still standing, but the police station was empty. The tracks shone under the stars but there were no trams to be seen. I merely merrily washed my face and looked out to the ring of Benz lit at dawn, and finally caught a strand of remote signal from my father. V6. V frequently stands for violence and virtue. An understatement, perhaps. I didn’t know what to make of 6, except that 6 persists as June, and that it comes after number five, which has been discreetly established as 5=O in a glossary of translingual puns. As my father did seventy years ago to his unborn daughter, I channeled onto the most remote canyons of the desert—Are you OK, ROK? I’m childless, so I have no choice but to channel onto the desert of memory.

In my future city of two Koreas, I began reliving the acute feelings of separation from home. I would shake them off by midmorning, by pacing in my spacious apartment, then they’d return again the following day. The incessant chirping of the sparrows perched on tall birch trees outside my balcony only heightened my grief. This inexplicable ailment, which began in Hong Kong when we left South Korea during the dictatorship, had magnified over the years, then it had somewhat subsided as I settled, often numbing myself with work involving translation after translation. The unexpected return of my childhood grief prompted me to search for the remote waves of my father, my other universe. The ring of Benz was a radar of some sort. Like a compass, it operated magnetically and, not surprisingly, it also had tremendous capacity for sonic sensitivity. It didn’t take me long to detect the exact location. I spotted my father on a bridge, once again. This time he was standing on Glienicker Brücke, between Berlin and Potsdam. The fate of Korea’s waist was decided at the 1945 Potsdam Convention, by Churchill, Stalin, and Truman. From where I stand, facing north, the geopolitics of division have long been eroded by incessant wind, vanished or buried beneath the sand. Korea’s waist remains fatefully inconsequential. My father waved to me across a vast distance, from his present dimension: We are still not OK!

Copyright © 2021 by Don Mee Choi. Originally published in Poem-a-Day on March 18, 2021, by the Academy of American Poets.

Chopping cilantro and flat leaf parsley
on a bamboo board at the sink, mincing

garlic and onions. Late mellowing light,
the air bordering on cool but tinged

bitter-green with the smell of growing
amargoso in the yard. I can keep

the kitchen door open because the side gate
is locked, and the week-long siege at the street

corner is over. We did not know the man
they say trespassed, early Monday morning,

into someone's yard with a firearm;
did not know what altercation if any

led to someone calling the police. So he ran
and barricaded himself in his own house.

They came in force, then; rifles drawn,
sealed off one end of the block. Those of us

who could still come and go out the other end
brought back reports every day, over four

days: how many squad cars, where the waiting
ambulance was parked, the bomb unit; who saw

the robot deployed with a phone, the negotiators,
the TV crew. We did not witness how, before dawn

on the fourth day, finally they took him into custody
from the Latin custodia meaning guardianship,

keeping, care. Now this man who neighbors say
used to pelt their doors with donuts, or attach

stuffed animals on leashes for walks,
is in a hospital or facility. Is it wrong  

to wonder if it lasted as long as it did
instead of arriving at swifter resolution—

doors broken in; tasers, clubs; bullets sprayed
into his body—because of the color of his skin?

Or is it possible to believe that finally
something of change might be moving slowly

through the dismal atmosphere, tempering
and holding in check, allowing the thought

to stay the trigger, the heart to register
its trembling before letting the weapon fly?

In summer, because dark descends more slowly,
it's hard to scan the sky for the hunter

and his belt studded with the three telltale
bright stars; harder to remember how

once, he boasted he would hunt down and kill
all of earth's wild animals, to make it safe.

But there he is, adrift in the inky darkness,
club and shield eternally raised, his own K-9 units

at his heels; and here we are, still trying to sort
villain from victim, wound from welcome opening.

Copyright © 2021 by Luisa A. Igloria. Originally published in Poem-a-Day on March 19, 2021, by the Academy of American Poets.

Nimbawaadaan akiing
I dream a world

atemagag biinaagami
of clean water

ancient trees

gaye gwekaanimad
and changing winds.

Nimbawaadaan akiing
I dream a world

of ones who remember

nandagikenindamang gaye
who seek the truth and

maamwidebwe’endamang waabang
believe in tomorrow together.

Nimbawaadaan akiing
I dream a world

izhi-biimiskobideg giizhigong
where our path in the sky

waabandamang naasaab
can be seen as clearly as

gaa-izhi-niibawid wiijibemaadizid
the place where our neighbor once stood.

Copyright © 2021 by Margaret Noodin. Originally published in Poem-a-Day on March 20, 2021, by the Academy of American Poets.

This poem appeared in American Poets Magazine vol. 61.


We’ve lived the life of an unbridled boy 
Mastering the higgledy-piggledy metro, 

Tapping the fast-moving window,
Loving the a cappella names 

Of the heralded stations:
Saint-Paul, Bastille, Gare de Lyon—


The life of a downtrodden clochard,  
Sly, indigent alley crone, 

Still wrestling to recover 
A long-deterred tune:  

Chevalier, dauphin, Parisian charmer,
Don’t you know I’m blue without your wink?


The life of a pendant, park-facing willow, 
Oh sweet, avuncular life—


Incarnation of a curling swan—


The life of an insouciant schoolgirl 
Boulevard-prancing then skipping

In the candle-pale voile of her lark-
Light Corpus Christi dress—


Life of a heartfelt nun whispering novenas
And bidding God’s blessèd day adieu—


The taciturn, time-and-again life 
Of a ringlet-haired racehorse

On a raucous kids’ carousel:
Its red-gold, undignified Sundays—  


Fat life of a tantalized basilica tomcat
Chasing a fly-by-night sparrow in the pews—


The jubilant life of a sweetheart, answering 
Yes, oh yes, I will,

Mon amour, trésor,
You can toss your hat now into the air—

Copyright © 2021 by Cyrus Cassells. Originally published in Poem-a-Day on March 29, 2021, by the Academy of American Poets.

We dress my daughter in amarillo, not butter
or sunlight or mirasol, maybe an Easter yellow,
maybe a Dia de los muertos yellow, a baby chick
yellow, it doesn’t matter. She flickers
around the house all bare-foot.  She takes you
by the hand and makes you play
La Suavecita on repeat, her hair in brown
bouncy pig-tails. All day. She watches 
your mouth, the way you say tambores,
the way you say cumbia. She won’t stop smiling. 

When she laughs I hear my mother. I am 
back in her house, all bare-foot, dancing 
to the same song. 

My mother dresses in a teal bata, not Miami
or peacock or Tiffany Blue, maybe an Easter teal,
maybe a Dia de los muertos teal, a robin egg 
teal, it doesn’t matter. She flitters
around the house. She takes me
by the hand and teaches me how to spring
my arms, how to move my hips,
how to follow the beat already in my legs.
She tells me,
ay mijo, one day, las muchachas
will want to spend the night with you
on the dance floor. Find those feather feet. 

Carry a smile and laugh, mijo laugh. 
I ask to play the song again and run
to rewind the cassette tape. All day.
My mother is all baila, baila,
all brown curls of bobbing hair
abriendo sus brazos the moment
I learn how to spin her in
our shot-gun house.  She won’t stop smiling.

My mother loves the color yellow.
There is a sing, a flow around inside.
My daughter ooooos the color teal.

When they lay eyes on each other, they watch
each others’ mouths, see just who smiles first.
I’m just here, waiting to see who wants to dance
si no la invito, me invita ella.

Copyright © 2021 by Lupe Mendez. Originally published in Poem-a-Day on March 31, 2021, by the Academy of American Poets.