10. Here on my knees I look for the single animal: you left
                                                   ravaged at the edge of a meadow

9. Is everything accounted for? The fingers dipped
                                     beneath the torso—to keep this body bright

8. Every breath we are desperate to take
                             sounds as if a war lost against a country of promise

7. Discarded halos: the light you remember
                   in your head—you feed on what is crushed between the teeth

6. America declares these dreams I have every night be re-
                                                      dreamed & pressed into names

5. Upended petals of qém’es
                                 abandoned like torn butterfly wings—we’é I pray

4. I pray that nobody
                  ever hears us

3. An eye gone
           bloodshot: I tear through the crisp apple of your throat & find—

2. myself: this—a boy beside a boy. An eyelash
                            fallen at the base of a valley, our dark bones bursting in-

1. to bloom. I stare into your beloved face & enter: yes,
                 yes, this nation, under god, its black sky we lay our nightmares to

0. where I am your animal: my Lamb—now eat
            me alive.

Copyright © 2019 by Michael Wasson. Originally published in Poem-a-Day on November 1, 2019, by the Academy of American Poets.

The first deer had large teeth and no horns and
were not afraid.

The first deer did not have enough fear
for the men who needed them
to survive.

A woman decided to let the men eat
a grandmother decided her deer shall have horns
and be afraid
someone’s mother decided the men shall eat
and shall be feared.


A man thought wolves should be used
to cull the herd.

And we who had been catching water
dripping through stone
in the homes we dug
out of the earth
we licked our long teeth clean
            and set to work.



Copyright © 2019 by Abigail Chabitnoy. Originally published in Poem-a-Day on November 4, 2019, by the Academy of American Poets. 

She is a wood warbler
            into madness.          She
from milky shell   earthen brown blotches
not Rorschach   not robin   but warbler.

Open-mouthed                   swallow of hard-
chipped notes, calls            smothered
            her smoke-gray chamber of throat.

Dis/appearing between branches          
muted yellow-green
            tail feathers and body dainty   clawed toes
white lines half-circle            her eyes
sense but can’t see
at the center of night     movements        
misreads the body
                                                responds on its own.

Copyright © 2019 by Heather Cahoon. Originally published in Poem-a-Day on November 5, 2019, by the Academy of American Poets.

                                                   After Kabir Carter, Bard College, 26 June 2018


Feeling knives the microphone to cauterize flesh        it amplifies 


Crackles the abrasive metal fabric


Blowtorches feedback hold and heel


Throttles and pauses the cord-pull


Lulls to lunge in transmission      back seat pocket


Alones the sound crowd


Accumulates the solitary intention of hooded jacket front punch


Zippers the match stick ignite


Handcuffs the thick slide probe with plastic tie


Zones between foot and huddle


Shrills the retreat from acted upon          or was it repeat


Tools the self animation 


Insomuch as the metal scrim


On denim is able to inhale


Skin-howl    blister   swipe


Caresses and so abrogates as to grip therefore


Larynxes stride and light step


Dry touch enveloping to self anoint


Tag      identify       anatomy     pulse


Whether pleasure or pain              it  collapses


Second human shell the cosmos


Automaton guest or X


Feeling that ligaments today in predation


It houses       it afflicts         it encircles

Copyright © 2019 by Roberto Tejada. Originally published in Poem-a-Day on November 6, 2019, by the Academy of American Poets.

Haven’t taken it to the head for a minute on another
three day bender. Slept past sunrise. And then another. 

The bed has softened over the years, the stoop steps chipped.
Shanties clog memory: was it your most recent love, or another? 

Bangladesh is continually interrogated by floods, you tell me. 
Your reflection a mist; the mist a shadow; the shadow some other. 

Cracked clay riverbeds sound like a cross between square and
sawtooth waves. Always, we want the frequency to be another.

Late last night the house made a drawing of itself: bones, skin, 
and a hat. It preferred famine over feast. Liar. It consumed another. 

Dear Sound Wave, while sobriety arpeggiates, is reshaped by blurring
filters don’t think too much of any of us. This dissonance becomes another. 

Copyright © 2019 by Bojan Louis. Originally published in Poem-a-Day on November 7, 2019, by the Academy of American Poets.

The air is close by the sea and the glow from the pink moon
drapes low over a tamarind tree.

We hold hands, walk across a road rushing with traffic 
to an abandoned building site on the bay, look out across the dark marina.

Sea cows sleep by the side of a splintered dock, a cluster of them 
under the shallow water,

their wide backs covered in algae like mounds of bleached coral.

Every few minutes one floats up for air, 
then drifts back down to the bottom, 

without fully waking.  
They will do this for hours, and for a while we try to match 

our breath to theirs, and with each other’s.

In the morning, sitting in the garden beneath thatch palms, 
we drink black coffee from white ceramic cups.

Lizards killed by feral cats are scattered on the footpath.
I sweep them into a pile with the ones from the night before.   

Waves of heat rise from the asphalt, 
and we sense a transparent gray fuzz lightly covering everything 

as if there were no such thing as empty space, 
that even a jar void of substance holds emptiness as if it were full.

                                  After a stone and sand exhibit in Portland 

A man is leading the animals.

A man is leading the ones that float on water.

A man is leading the winged ones.

A man is leading the ones that swim.


Maybe he’s St. Francis,

the long-robed man who calls the animals to him now.

Maybe he’s Noah,

the one who gathered the animals.

and sailed away with them, they say.

Who was there to witness their leaving?

To sing a song for their journey?


Where are they going?

their faces turned northward,

taking their songs,

taking their maps,

taking their languages.

Are they leaving with joy in their hearts?

Or is sadness eating at their star hearts?

In the wake of their leaving a small wind

stirs the empty hands of the tree branches above us.


What I will remember—

footsteps left like dinosaur tracks

pressed between Sky Woman and Mother Earth.

When they leave,

I will weep.

I will weep.




Japanese Daa'ak'e yázhídi LTohe

Copyright © 2019 by Laura Tohe. Originally published in Poem-a-Day on November 11, 2019, by the Academy of American Poets.

We did not say much to each other but
we grinned,
            because this love was so good you sucked the
rib bones

and I licked my fingers like a cat.
Now I’m
            omniscient. I’m going to skip past
the hard

parts that go on for a very long time. Here’s the
            I laugh, because the pleasure was earned
yet vouchsafed,

and I made room for what was dead past and what
yet didn’t
            exist. I was not always kind, but I
was clear.

Copyright © 2019 by Sandra Lim. Originally published in Poem-a-Day on November 12, 2019, by the Academy of American Poets.

In the hard shadow of the moon
when the recesses of light have gone 
and the faint red of the hawk’s shoulder has disappeared from the sky
in the growing pulse of the praying mantis
when the city has come into its own new light
it is here where I often remember:

the weaving of ocean vines
the trails of history, cemented by touch
the small ridged blossom of the cowry shell
the indigo dye made radiant by the seller’s basket.

The way the long grass 
emerges at the shore.
Something of that meeting.

These are memories both distant and near
traces of them lived and felt 
laughing in the company of the ones who came
holding the silence of the moment, as we stare 
with wonder, at the bubbling ruptures of a painter’s canvas,
pull, with care, the clinging skin of a stubborn fruit.

I recall these moments 
not from the grand gesture
of a thing once known, 
but from a small place
the place where my child’s hand
is hidden warmly inside my own.

Copyright © 2019 by Matthew Shenoda. Originally published in Poem-a-Day on November 13, 2019, by the Academy of American Poets.

Strict and bound 
as an analog watch, 
Aristotelian narrative 
calls for a probable
necessary sequence. 

It is suicide season.
The calendar taunts 
with year three’s death dance. 

Dialysate swills 
in my abdomen. 
Long arrows of surgery 
nudge under my ribs
            trace my hipbones 
                        garland my navel. 

Along my lower back 
divots of biopsy
freckle into sickles 
when I bend over. 

Driving over the city bridge 
quirk or quark humming
            I might be spared.

My grandmother loved
singing O What a Beautiful City 
as she sorted her pills.

The anesthetic mask
shatters linear discipline:

            Trotting the deep path by mosslight, 
            son is a dark-haired universe 
            in the crook of my right arm. 
            Five pound blood-hum
            prayer and verse ripping 
            my skull pure off.
            Time has me scalped
            kissing the whorls of my brain 
            with frank red lips. 

Rolling up from surgery
I look down to my wrist
where someone has clasped 
my watch on loosely.

Copyright © 2019 by Laura Da'. Originally published in Poem-a-Day on November 14, 2019, by the Academy of American Poets.

I didn’t want to break     my own heart     

oh no you didn’t      exist as a point on a plane     

in a modern philosophy of time     my new thing  

nope not today     in a world where transcendent 

incompetence is easy to spot     if that’s what you want to see     

and efficiency is still the enemy     of poetry and of love

oh no you didn’t write     poems on forgetting     fearsome leave-taking     

or crypto-amnesia     that act of forgetting     to cite fierce attachment     

nope     today is a day to be free     to transcend pedestrian realities  

O ethical imperative     dire as plagiarism nope     

O emotional appropriation     not today     

one form of redress     is if you write me a letter   

I will write you back      give and take means 

no hearts broken     if we concede to exist     

as a sudden broken thing     not fearful enemies of love      

we grow fierce as yes     transcendence yes     

on a plane in the sky     or in my mind     

no you didn’t forget     nor did I     nope not today

Copyright © 2019 by Tina Cane. Originally published in Poem-a-Day on November 15, 2019, by the Academy of American Poets.

if the cotton crop fails
if the wheat crop fails

if Oklahomans wander forever
among the back lots of Hollywood

if the potato crops fail
if the corn crops fail

if the sun corrodes a copper
mirror our faces afloat

above a crib in Guadalajara where the ceiling fan
rends our voices

and the secret lives of aloe roots 
confess to a window in feathers of ice

then the bluebells yawning up in ruts
of mining roads will measure the border wall

in the serene apotheosis of their sepals

and one drop of my blood

will freeze in the eye
of an old fox, and one drop

from your eye thaw
to feed the iris bulbs

three beads from our lungs
inhaled by a prisoner

in the electric chair a queen
in a fairy tale a farmer

planting mines east of her field if
the gears of the clouds say yes

if ants flow up and down the funnels
of evolution

then time will prism into its possibles
and you’ll end up in a bar

in Alabama a cherry in your mouth
watching a hotel key

float toward you
or you’ll wake in a labyrinth

called Monday                called Your Life
called The Things You Prayed For

and your intricate decisions
will lead you out and deeper in

your mirrors dissolving in ghost water

and your indecisions will go on
subtracting numbers from the garden

and building houses in the air

Copyright © 2019 by Chad Sweeney. Originally published in Poem-a-Day on November 18, 2019, by the Academy of American Poets.

The train axle still rests on the railway tracks
its solid metal wheels lodged in the dirt,
the dandelions and yellow weeds the color
of a yellow sweatshirt, push through the gravel
with the persistence of something not planted,
unplanned. I am trailed by the detritus,
the reminders in mute things,
by the needle oak and the green benches at Weaver,
and the railway car, now a bar, and the parking lot
where once I stopped you, and here I sit in silence.
Love gone, empties the world of brightness, 
the trees are paper cut-outs propped on stands,
the green fields of Pessoa are dead and brown,
the flowery hue of a buttercup shirt, the squirrels,
in quiet industry, remind me of your hands.
I want to lie down in a field in North Carolina 
and let the June bugs carry me, 
let the stiff grass grow through me 
let the weeds and dandelions feed from this sadness
and grow tall again, uncut, like the ones that still live
by this steel axle, the one left anchored
in the red earth and creosote of Carrboro Station.

Copyright © 2019 by Stephanos Papadopoulos. Originally published in Poem-a-Day on November 19, 2019, by the Academy of American Poets. 

What if the submarine
is praying for a way
it can poison the air,
in which some of them have
leaped for a few seconds,
felt its suffocating
rejected buoyancy.
Something floats above their
known world leading a wake
of uncountable death.
What if they organized
into a rebellion?

Now scientists have found
a group of octopuses
who seem to have a sense
of community, who
live in dwellings made of
gathered pebbles and shells,
who cooperate, who
defend an apparent
border. Perhaps they’ll have
a plan for the planet
in a millennium
or two. After we’re gone.

Copyright © 2019 by Marilyn Nelson. Originally published in Poem-a-Day on November 20, 2019, by the Academy of American Poets.


Copyright © 2019 by Orlando White. Originally published in Poem-a-Day on November 21, 2019, by the Academy of American Poets.

Desire is never one way. Black
          snakes crawl through your throat. The divine longs

for human proximity to divinity. The divine longs
            for touch. You have not wanted

a body. And you have
            wanted. A careless
tongue can make chatter
but unrequited love
          can make an avalanche.
Your teeth chatter and you know

            somewhere a funeral parade is moving, one ant
after another marching. Your snake shed its skins as the curve of a               pilgrimage
          awaiting dawn. Heaven is too much a metaphor

to be of use to a lover weeping for
a false love. Every shaman needs a healer
and every God a devotee they can admire.

When God comes back from the pilgrimage, you are more
          plump. Everyone can see your wisdoms
sprouting. This time — dangerous. Even women

          will cast stones. Watch the people’s hands: they carry
shards of their half-spoken dreams. But you have

                          invented an embrace. In the first worship,
you make the one devoted to devotion devoted to you.

You bring the mountain
into your lips. Without

prayer, your mouth blooms.

Copyright © 2019 by Purvi Shah. Originally published in Poem-a-Day on November 22, 2019, by the Academy of American Poets.

rooftopping myself into       the arms of the hottest June
Seattle can give       I remind myself that I’m a seed
of desert        drought my first     language        other landscaped 
languages may thrill           but will remain
foreign                     wearing my body bold      I try to stop  
myself from giving it
the side-eye when there is no one to witness my slip of a dress and
where my arms stretch     into marks               lines mapping where
I’m coming from                        and going       I study
my scarred   topography    roughed bumped skin and fat each line 
a curve           manifesting me      visible                      I’m reminded 
of my adolescent ache for dissipation                no whiteness—  
I slathered my grainy arms with     doctor prescribed chemicals
stayed out    of the sun                and waited     for my skin to peel
an unspooling of 
thread into    momentary ocean
but between burning and
unraveling of 
gathered compliments  for my new delicate dermis
this here is always uneasy           terrain
a whipped up regret                   the family nose too thick for desirability
that teenage mirror             would not reveal the good side of bone 
or       fat     or the brown of this expanse I call                      body
each day since       is worked reflection a tending         to my own geography— 
a sharp bloom of prickly spine. 

Copyright © 2019 by Casandra López. Originally published in Poem-a-Day on November 25, 2019, by the Academy of American Poets.

Forget each slight, each head that turned
Toward something more intriguing—
Red flash of wing beyond the window,

The woman brightly chiming
About the suffering of the world. Forget
The way your best friend told the story

Of that heroic road trip, forgetting that you drove
From Tulsa to Poughkeepsie while he
Slumped dozing under headphones. Forget

The honors handed out, the lists of winners.
Forget the certificates, bright trophies you
Could have, should have, maybe won.

Remind yourself you never wanted them.
When the spotlight briefly shone on you,
You stepped back into darkness,

Let the empty stage receive the light,
The black floor suddenly less black—
Scuff-marks, dust, blue tape—the cone

Of light so perfect, slicing silently that perfect
Silent darkness, and you, hidden in that wider dark,
Your refusal a kind of gratitude at last.

Copyright © 2019 by Jon Davis. Originally published in Poem-a-Day on November 26, 2019, by the Academy of American Poets.

I see my dead father's face in your face.
My furled eyebrow, these puffed cheeks
weep into a pillow of inherited hands.
Tío, I still don't know what to do
with this buffalo body. I crush tea cups
every time I raise them to my pursed lips.
How do I tenderize the meat on my bones?
This morning, I dry heaved a vat of foam
into a toilet in Tampa and found no art in it.
Who tells us we deserve to die?
Tío, you, the one with a brown beret,
who saw the hydrogen bomb blow
from an aircraft carrier at Bikini Island,
the one with Hep C and a quiet wife,
I don't know if you're still alive,
but I pray this world has softened
you with its firm kneading hands,
that you are still able to ride you bike
up Homsy to the liquor store on Cedar
and can still reach the oranges in the yard.
Tío, mi tío, when you wet the bed,
is it still my tia's job to change the sheets?
From the kitchen, I see the twelve foot spear
over the maguey. I see its fresh blooms
and know it is about to die. I wonder
if it is better to disappear into Aztlán
or Mazatlán or Mazapan the way you did
or stay in Prather or Marysville and slowly fade
into a sofa chair and reruns of Bonanza.
Is there honor in being shot and skinned? like Ruben?
Hacked up in a hospital for lymphoma research? 
Poked and drained with the swollen face of a failed liver?
How many more fists will be raised until we can no longer,
or better yet, don't have to? I'm tired of thinking these things.
Come back, Tio, or whatever. My mom saved you a plate.
The street dump came by and I got rid of Grandpa's clothes.
I found your mesh t-shirt here and I've been wearing it.

Copyright © 2019 by Joseph Rios. Originally published in Poem-a-Day on November 27, 2019, by the Academy of American Poets.

The people believed in a future
        with her face—
                   her seeds
                           stars’ dull hatchets
                   behind the black bark of the moon
        and the whole forest grew
                             when they uttered
the ancestors’ old notion
          that those who have been buried
                   with a little honey
          after marshaling a mournful sound
                              thrown in circular waves to the west
can appropriate similar words
          for Creek, like        
                    the flower which expresses the fruit.

Copyright © 2019 by Jennifer Foerster. Originally published in Poem-a-Day on November 28, 2019, by the Academy of American Poets.

It is easy to erase it—a touch of the delete key on this keyboard. Barely moving my finger. Versus how much intention it took to use the eraser on a pencil, to flip the pencil around my thumb and scrub out the lead etched on the paper.

Stone and rain laugh at me. The amount of time it takes to get marks out of stone (gouges, rough edges, grooves) by rubbing them with water.

Copyright © 2019 by Todd Fredson. Originally published in Poem-a-Day on November 29, 2019, by the Academy of American Poets.