In the mercy of the more hollow sister 
A serene fog of moons sprinkled with plum
the vexed haint of Quasimoto is patient
her tongue leaps from her mouth like a tombstone
three times
Smooth as ash 
her favorite word is ‘apothecary’
the bliss in me like the interior of a melting fear
as she moves time with an even glance
the boorish anvil of rain as she leads me into a gully
farther into the hollow sister’s carny lungs
teaching me to hear in silence as hearts do

Copyright © 2019 by manuel arturo abreu. Originally published in Poem-a-Day on January 1, 2019, by the Academy of American Poets.

7. Letters arrived in intervals, as with everything else one might come, one might not regardless of whether there’d been a response. We prepared at all times. Bent over. We dreamed things would be different. Every time the door opened we each smiled in a way to make clear we’d never seen our own face. 

8. An appendix washed up, pages current-smoothed, leaning funny. We stood and watched the skin stretched and sewn. The so-called imaginary, so-called interior, so-called paradoxical private sphere. 

13. Dailiness was the anxiety through which we waited. Buttons undone, like clearance. Not what we wanted but what we didn’t know we had to have. Private acts to attempt in public. Productive relationships to sites of violence. Lace-fronts. A dollar to run to the store. 

19. However useful, the language was degrading, incompatible and lacked necessary verbs. The ability to compress, overflow and alter the landscape through a low swollen hum. To smell strongly in the morning, at the grocery or over the phone. 

24. There were moments we were incapable of decision. An opening through which to register an image pungent through its own material law. A body pulled inward, door unlocked. Irresponsible to. That this moment would return. Return us. That this, and only this, would be the day. 

Copyright © 2019 by Saretta Morgan. Originally published in Poem-a-Day on January 2, 2019, by the Academy of American Poets.

Six months ago, the measuring of whiskey
left in the jug, urine on the mattress, couch
cushions, the crotch of pants in wear. You watch
how breath lifts a chest, how a person breathes—
sick hobbies of when we must. You watch
how you become illiterate at counting.
Six or seven broken breathalyzers; a joke
formulates in your throat & you
choke back your windpipe as punchline.
How many sobs in parking lots before sun
lugged above horizon? The heart hammers
all too familiar songs behind your ribs
& these notes cut away at you. You read online
how television, internet, starving children
in numbers greater than three, polar bears,
rain forests, light from an off direction
all desensitize the human brain’s ability
to empathize. You wonder how
you chew the word panic in your jaws,
let meaning burrow into molars
seep in crevasses between root & bone.
How rot tends to the insides. You wonder
now with the inpatient tags, the cafeteria visits,
the doctors, the psychiatrists, the when do you
get to come homes, the hesitation of our bodies
sharing space again, the words I have not
drunk today & your brain in flinch, how you
excavate organs for what’s left, for salvage.

Copyright © 2019 by Felicia Zamora. Originally published in Poem-a-Day on January 3, 2019, by the Academy of American Poets.

when hiding from enemies

 

                                                  at least one dream away from
machines & from bodies that do not sleep that he drags
his thumb along his lover’s smudged chin, notices his face
   bathed earthen

the trees once giants, are giants again he tells the moon they come savage and without undoing

after a grenade falls a fresh cavity in the ground appears as a nest and he wishes his own children to forget him           they
will be the lucky ones       to live enemies must believe
   him gone

they are not from these caves dear santos dear virgen evoke what luz perpetual dear palmettos & salt water be all and his
   mouth too

his lover lies down wet ground speaking only what he knows dripping face the shrapnel moon       he whispers his want
to dissolve like this in ferns

Copyright © 2019 by Angela Peñaredondo. Originally published in Poem-a-Day on January 4, 2019, by the Academy of American Poets.

it was summer and time circled itself like a swarm of gnats  

	
                                     like the pink-topped taxis rounding the 
                                            glorieta  

	
	   if only for the sake of inertia, 
			             we were standing in a foreign desert


the days of the week slid by, uncapitalized


	    my grandfather forever trapped in the picture 
			             where he pretends to play the guitar


a serenade for tourists and lovers with new rules between them


		        our occupation: to look and not touch


at some point we could no longer tell if it was the clouds we were looking at 
		        or the building reflecting the clouds


				                 all epigraphs came pre-assigned


the beautiful thing about this story was that it happened


		         we didn’t see the floating gardens 
					                      and I don’t remember the art  

		
only the symmetry of a blue wall, a momentary breeze


			            there were parrots, I think, or peacocks?  

				
				               there were birds

Copyright © 2019 by Nico Amador. Originally published in Poem-a-Day on January 7, 2019, by the Academy of American Poets.

Christmas Eve, 2016

Before everyone died – in my family – first definition I learned was – my mother’s maiden name, ULANDAY – which literally means – of the rain – and biology books remind us – the pouring has a pattern –  has purpose – namesake means release – for my mother meant, flee – meant leave – know exactly what parts of you – slip away – drained sediment of a body – is how a single mama feels – on the graveyard shift – only god is awake –  is where my – family banked itself – a life rooted in rosaries – like nuns in barricade – scream – People Power – one out of five – leave to a new country – the women in my family hone – in my heart – like checkpoints – which is what they know – which is like a halt  – not to be confused for – stop – which is what happened to my ma’s breath– when she went home – for the last time – I didn’t get to – hold her hand as she died – I said I tried – just translates to – I couldn’t make it – in time – I tell myself – ocean salt and tear salt – are one and the same – I press my eyes shut – cup ghost howl – cheeks splint wood worn – which is to say – learn to make myself a harbor – anyway – once I saw a pamphlet that said – what to do when your parent is dead –  I couldn’t finish reading – but I doubt it informs the audience – what will happen – which is to say – you will pour your face & hands – & smother your mother’s scream on everything – you touch – turn eyelids into oars – go, paddle to find her.

Copyright © 2019 by Kay Ulanday Barrett. Originally published in Poem-a-Day on January 8, 2019, by the Academy of American Poets.

                                        In my favorite fantasy    
                                                   I am given             

                                        permission    I am prone    
                                        face toward the light 
                                                      beach queen    bathed in body

A thought that comes from a coming-from     the sweet place

                           where a sunset isn’t indescribable
 				                                      something simply looked at

                                                      The sun sets    I sit
                                                      sinless in sand 
                                                      I sip only once

Copyright © 2019 by Chase Berggrun. Originally published in Poem-a-Day on January 9, 2019, by the Academy of American Poets.

How is it you bring me back to the cliffs   the bright heads of eagles   the vessels of grief in the soil?   I dig for you with a gentle bit of lighter fluid and three miniature rakes   burning only a single speck of dirt to touch a twig as tiny as a neuron   or even smaller   one magic synapse inside the terminus limbs of your breath

The fighter jets fly over the house every hour   no sound but inside our hands   I hear a far chime and I am cold    a north wind and the grit of night   first the murmur then the corpse   first the paddling then the banquet   first the muzzle then the hanging   the plea   first the break then the tap the tap   I hear your skin   the reach of your arms   the slick along your thighs   more floorboard than step   first the flannel then the gag   first the bells   then the exhale

I hear a dog who is always in my death   the breath of a mother who holds a gun   a pillow in the shape of a heart   first the planes then the criminal ponds   first the ghost boats then the trains   first the gates then the bargain   a child formed from my fingertip and the eye of my grandmother’s mother   a child born at 90   the rise and rush of air   a child who walks from the gas

Copyright © 2019 by Samuel Ace. Originally published in Poem-a-Day on January 10, 2019, by the Academy of American Poets.

By Hannah Ensor and Laura Wetherington

In meditation my thought-labeling
has gotten more specific: raging. capital. scheming.
What is the nothingness before the storm? I have tried
to be tzim tzum. I have tried to forget the word MARTYR.
So many parts of my life are like that, like when the thought comes
and I keep it inside. I’m a deep kettle whistle. I see what you mean
about the sun being sharp. My explanation for why
is under-scientific. Laughing forms kinship. Laughing is a way
to say I hear you. Or here we are. Sitting in a room creates a room
that we carry with us. It can be big, if you like.
It can hold your friends. Some feelings are for now
and some feelings are for later. I believe we can queer each other
through listening. I keep forgetting today. Did you get my letter?
My throat closed and I put brackets around it. I can’t help but notice 
how many of my feelings are about thinking.

Copyright © 2019 by Hannah Ensor and Laura Wetherington. Originally published in Poem-a-Day on January 11, 2019, by the Academy of American Poets.

A bird, a bee, a sycamore tree,

I’ve never been as strong
as anyone thinks—there were times
when, of course, I cried—at movies
mostly, at television shows, those fictive

lion’s ribs and honey,

releases, built to house feeling
so it is shameless. I am
shameless as in I've run out of it.
I always pictured Delilah as a man—

combs alchemized to a gold

men tempt me—
and I understood Samson as a fiction—
unconvinced of masculinity—
so I felt him, I felt him as Delilah did.

lung, unbreathing, sweet.

Copyright © 2018 by Trevor Ketner. Originally published in Poem-a-Day on January 14, 2019, by the Academy of American Poets.

          After the exhibition “La Gravedad de Los Asuntos 
                 (Matters of Gravity)”
 
The Mexicans and the Russians were always in on it 
This is collaboration in zero gravity democracy 
—blurry violet lights and no clear answer 
This is a nuclear glow in the dark so we can start over 
We board planes to Mars and six engines fire
 
You spin away. It’s candy guts out here—all our voting machines are breaking 
You tumble and can’t stop, but 
Grab a harness—an adult pigtail
 
Six plane engines click on and your homie has to 
Push you so you can swing at the exploding star 
A way of thinking, una estructura doblada
 
Alguien cortó oropel azul en cuadritos 
And stuffed it into the piñata. A yellow paleta 
Big as a chicken, floats to the right hand corner and balances 
Tipping into the comrade’s hands
 
What’s a layer of confetti and candy compared to DDT 
The kind you sprayed over all our naked bodies 

We’re diamonds: hard, shiny, and we 
Get processed to go through 
We don’t infest, pendejo. We invest 
There goes your friend again, diving toward 
The paleta, which has to be pineapple flavor
 
We were always in on it together 
Me and my honey watch a video on loop 
We gently hold each other like the beach balls we are 
The light dims and that constellation swings 

Only one Russian cosmonaut will smile at a time 
They watch a compa swim away 

Reach out 
Don’t make someone else do your work for you 
Some of us were grounded 
The whole time 

Copyright © 2018 by Vickie Vértiz. Originally published in Poem-a-Day on January 15, 2019, by the Academy of American Poets.

I’m few deja-vus from repeating my whole life
I need to study the shapes of things before death
Before declaring myself a better failure:
  waiting mostly for files to get uploaded or downloaded.
My movements are by the book.
I will remember history, all of it, before uttering the next sentence
And in its silence, I will navigate my headache
“something is not what it is”
And we are lost several worlds over 
Exploring the art of other civilizations
After we subjugate them 
And leave the trees behind
To carry on the sensitive task
Of clearing the air
Stop and think of the pointlessness of desire
We keep going, wasting days between orgasms
And thousands of poems
To keep the pleasantness of clothes
We are all implicated
In the father’s death,
The mother’s death etc.

Copyright © 2018 by Maged Zaher. Originally published in Poem-a-Day on January 16, 2019, by the Academy of American Poets.

Sometimes it pays to go to Bojangles. To drive
out of the parking lot, see the red awning: Fish & 
Duck Skills. A man walks out and it is broad
daylight. Back when I was a new adult in Chattanooga
I’d dare myself to go to the Adult Book Shop on
Market Street in the daytime or to the gasoline 
station that my parents frequented, the one close
to our old house, where pornography was stored
in plastic. Back then I only dreamt in violence. &
living was an act of deliberate volatility. Likely,
I could trace it all back to Vaughn who laughed
in my face when I told him I’d been molested
that this was the reason having sex with boys 
was an act of self-hatred, how Vaughn shared
not his story of sexual assault, but my story,
with any Tyner Junior High teen willing 
to listen. So much was going on back then:
the little race riots between us & Ooltewah,
the White gay guy who thought he was Prince
and was terrified of being found out 
that he wasn’t Prince & that he was gay,
the boys who would store their guns in our
lockers, my girl friends and I pretending 
we were gay, kissing each other in the hallway,
on the lips, in front of the teachers, because
designer clothes were expensive and scandal
was free. I didn’t bother telling anyone 
that I was queer and that just about every
single day I didn’t wish I was White, I just
wished that White people weren’t. But
I fished for the Whitest voice and duck tailed 
my hair knowing that one day no one would remember
that I put a gun in my locker, that I kissed
Deidre on her lips, that I sang “the freaks
go out at night” at the top of my lungs & thrust
my hips to “Candy” on my way to the pep rally. No,
what people would remember was that I was
Black. The end. 

Copyright © 2018 by Metta Sáma. Originally published in Poem-a-Day on January 17, 2019, by the Academy of American Poets.

            After Ocean Vuong’s “Prayer for the Newly Damned”

Dearest Mother, what becomes of the girl
no longer a girl?

The stretch marks from my once breasts
have migrated 

to their new tectonic 
flats. But you can always find 

hints of what used to be. 
Trust me, it is more beautiful 

this way, to look closely 
at my body and name it things like: 

	   Pangea & history & so, so warm. 

Look at me now 
and you’ll see how blood 

faithfully takes 
the shape of its body, 

never asking 
too many questions. 

Dearest Mother, how many rivers
did I run across your belly? 

Do you love
that they will never dry up? 

Dearest Mother, I’ll make all 
this water worth it. 

Copyright © 2018 by Kayleb Rae Candrilli. Originally published in Poem-a-Day on January 18, 2019, by the Academy of American Poets.

so many this mornings so many movement so many breezes 
so many cypress so many doorways demolished so many brush 
so many vines crawl up the front of that house and so many 
spaces so many wide open between one structure and another 
so many ditches so many cars parked in the grass in front of a home 
supposedly abandoned where people live so many branches 
piles at the curb so many beat-downs so many row houses 
gone and so many porches so many cut-throughs so many feeling
still in the wood so many highways invade so many train horns 
blow softly so many autumn morning so many springtime dusk 
so many pink afternoon as the sun peeks through the blinds so many 
pick-up trucks so many suvs so many milk factories and so many 
18 wheelers so many tiny plastic bottles of milk and so many oaks 
and so many farms and so many concrete and so many cracked 
and so many peeling paint so many thickness so many depression 
so many joy so many angry pinpricks so many back-ups so many 
give me a hug so many late night drunken driving so many early 
morning so many mourning doves so many cooing so many police 
sirens so many listening so many humans walk the middle of the road 
so many cars wait to pass so many anger and so many smile so many 
apprehension so many thistles so many concrete slabs so many gape
so many lost and so many nights so many grandmas so many grandkids 
so many people just trying to remember what used to be there 
so many new people who just got here so many things to misremember
so many escape memory so many brains so many bodies so many 
bodies gone and so many cemeteries marked and unmarked so 
many ditches so many huevo con papa and cake so many deep 
deep breaths so many sighs so many pauses so many moments of 
silence so many marches so many meetings god so many meetings 
so many attempts so many failures so many new townhomes so many 
dispossessed so many carwashes so many cowboy hats so many persons 
forced out so many barbecues so many coolers so many bags of ice so 
many country ballads so many accordions so many quiet so many loud 
so many noisy so many silent so many germans so many telephone road 
so many lasagna so many pupusa so many gordita so many jaywalkers 
and so many dance moves at the bus stop so many jiggling and so many 
cars pass by so many stares and so many awkwardness so many 
good mornings so many fuck you’s so many fights and so many love-
making so many graffitied so many murals so many old doors so many 
lintels so many country people come to the city so many bulldozers 
and so many work crews so many dusty lifts into air so many hardhats 
and so many pallets so many pine and so many sheet of metal 
so many buses so many stray dogs so many mean-mugging 
and so many evictions so many eminent domain so many minimizing 
and so many excuses so many money so many reasons so many justify 
so many sadness so many let it go and so many so-called misunder-
standings so many moldy and wet so many floodlines so many hurricanes 
so many attitudes so many perspectives so many sung and un-sung so 
many panaderías demolished so many pushing and so many pulling 
so many mechanics so many broken down cars so many lay in the sun so 
many wait so many trees blow in the early morning wind so many
speed up and so many people go home so many people go to work so 
many undone so many bulldozers so many hoses spray water on wreckage 
so many shovelfuls of metal and lumber so many precious objects discard so 
many lost in the tumble so many feelings so many yellow and red so many 
silver and gold so many blue and green so many green things so many grass 
so many suns beat down so many heatstrokes so many city moves on 
so many layers so many accumulations so many things a street a street remember 

Copyright © 2018 by John Pluecker. Originally published in Poem-a-Day on January 21, 2019, by the Academy of American Poets.

They ask what I believe in—
Sour milk: the curdle & butter of it
Baby’s breath ragged with phlegm
The green sheen clinging to her skin like algae
The bone & teeth of us mossy and alive with DNA

But what’s your religion, they’re after—
What gods do you pray to?
The frilly curtains of her laughter
remodeling alla my pain
Oh, how she adorns this house of mine

So god’s a woman? (hands on they hips)
How water ain’t a woman
the way she make your thirst
her temperamental breasts
& everywhere everything everyone everywhichway—water

Well, who your altars honor?
The ghosts that inhabit us
& all the evidence of them:
double vision—floaters flecking
our periphery when we look away

from the light—all the mouths
at the bottom of our stomach—
Ever wonder why we eat two plates
& still hungry?        Or how our anger
multiplies in seconds like a kitchen

of negro roaches?         Yes, even the roaches
have melanin      black/brown with the spirits
of wayward witches        I burn candles
& pour brown liquor out for my bitches
& they glorious golden auras

To what churches do you tithe?
Our Lady of Ladled Magnificence
God of Ghetto Grace Incorporated
Our Mother Who Art in Harlem
House of Regurgitated Resurrections

Have you ever been possessed?
We ain’t never not been owned
not with all that restless bone
sediment at the bottom of the Atlantic
wonder why we frantic with personalities

How we sing with three throats
bending notes weeping willow
What are trees if not spirits
weeping & dancing simultaneous?
How we dipped our nooses in gold

& hung crosses from them
& wore them like shiny portable altars
How is there not a church in our chests?
How our breasts leak gospel truth
How our teeth ache with the blood of Jesus

Who, then, is your muse?
(pointing) ain’t she a muse        amusing     
a  maze           amazing      amazon
of our dreams         prisms that fracture
into auras & auras that fragment dimensions

Isn’t mourning a religion, then?
Like how all these feelings grow
muscles & flex & jerk inside of me
Like how they can’t kill us even when
they hands scream bloody murder

Like how we show up wearing white
just to spite them—spit at the pulpit
of bullshit & Babylon        How we eat
bibles for breakfast      Leviticus & grits   
Our souls sizzling in the skillet like gizzards

What is the geography of your grief?
Everywhere they are        & ain’t
painting the block milk white & sickly
a tricky bluish tint    (think: veins under skin)    
a sticky blues     a blush       blood—bluing the block       black

Copyright © 2019 by t'ai freedom ford. Originally published in Poem-a-Day on January 22, 2019, by the Academy of American Poets.

Having fallen while no one was looking
Having borne what fell through
Having fallen early
/
Having barely fallen through myself
My luck, so close to catching,
Having caught the worst of it
/
Having fallen from the sky, and then
Through it. Having landed to realize
I had been part
/
Having parted the late sky, partly
Sky where I am delicate, I took
A tumble through the night bloom
/
I took the night with me as I tumbled,
Delicate with the infinite,
Which swells from the tallest branch
/
Having grown swollen
As low-hanging fruit, I tell Nadra,
I couldn’t help it—
/
The fresh heave of new breast
Thick switch of hip: a group
Of unnamed gifts is called a steal
/
She says, fruit you can reach is still
Precious. Her name means rare: her lean
Thins towards the unusual.
/
In Lagos, we name our girls
Darling, Sincere, Precious, because
A name is a stake in the grave
/
Having grieved and taken and taken
On the way to Eros, Thanatos
Having arrived late to my own bloom:
 
 
Halve me like a walnut
Pry the part of me that is hollow
From the part that yields fruit.

Copyright © 2019 by Omotara James. Originally published in Poem-a-Day on January 23, 2019, by the Academy of American Poets.

[arabic the in as left to right from read be To]

impossible are اسم/س
like bodies are so +
one having ugh what
supposed i am fuck the
day it with do to
wake i day after
try + it into up
way the all it fill to
know i like energy my up
many so for here i
wake i names but things
it into up
half on it put +
wanting lineage half / cocked
sharp—peak each—letterform the
expansive—wideness overall its fierce +
all-caps—go/od so looks it
it way the love i powerful fucking
name + bars search internet glitches
in glitches it f(x) like fields
obvious it’s + way race a
does hacking + stealth not—
no but way gender a in glitch
ledger the that tracks one
*generous of son connotes name my of part
god name        my of part casual the +
  drag perpetual in
unfortunate how          thinking without genders
are vowels where construct this
see people— soft so just
see to want they what
timbre—contact eye them give
soft two or one just even
casing back come they + vowels
you over all gender rigid
light blue awful in


                                       

ابيكرام*

Copyright © 2019 by Andrea Abi-Karam. Originally published in Poem-a-Day on January 24, 2019, by the Academy of American Poets.

Every day you sink into her
To make room for me.
When I die, I sink into you,
When Xing dies, she sinks
Into me, her child dies &
Sinks into Xing & the Earth,
Who is always ravenous,
Swallows us.
I don’t know where you’re buried.
I don’t know your sons’ names,
Only their numbers & fates:
#2 was murdered, #3 went to jail, #4 hung himself, #5, who did the cooking & cleaning, is alive.
#1, my father, died of pancreatic cancer. Of bacon & lunch meat & Napoleons.
Your husband died young, of Double Happiness, unfiltered. 
You died of Time,
Of motherhood,
Of being the boss,
Of working in a sock factory,
Of an everyday ailment
For which there is no cure.
I am alone, like a number.
#1 writes me a letter:
My dearest Jenny,
Do you know Rigoberta Menchú, this name?
There were also silences about Chinese girls, Oriental women.
In field of literature, you must be strong enough to bear all these.
An ivory tower writer can never be successful.
You are almost living like a hermit.
Are you coming home soon?
He doesn’t mention you.
Perfect defect.
Hidden flaw in the cloth,
Yellow bead in the family regalia.
Bidden to be understory,
Silences, pored & poured over.
You are almost living.
You say hello to me quietly.
What is success? Meat? Pastries? 
Cigarettes? The cessation of
Communion with self?
I want to be eaten
By an ivory tower,
Devoured by the power
Of my own solitude.
We’re alone together.
I read the letter every day before death.
Where are you buried, Nainai?
I’m coming home soon.

Copyright © 2019 by Jennifer Tseng. Originally published in Poem-a-Day on January 25, 2019, by the Academy of American Poets.

No matter the rush of undertow
everything else is still
here. I scrawl your name 
at the bottom of the river
I sing it and it sings me 
back. What I’d give for a name 
so keen     it whittles
the valleys of my neck. I’m forever drenched 
in this night, and you 
no longer exist. The river catches 
the sky’s black, ink 
meant to preserve a memory. I stay
because it’s easy. Here. I relive 
what you did to me, find myself again 
in the water—swollen and sullen 
as a bruise. I trace 
and retrace, graffiti 
every river’s bank, drown 
into ecstasy

instead of moving on with my life. 
I wear what you did to me 
like gills, a new way to breathe. 
I jump into the river
for days. I forget I have lungs at all.

Copyright © 2019 by Noor Ibn Najam. Originally published in Poem-a-Day on January 28, 2019, by the Academy of American Poets.

Having ebbed in the disbelief of it instead of its weight.

Stone-tiled the floor the blood a trickling fire confessional.  

Here the ocean metaphor refused.

He tore me shut & seeping no vastness. 

To marvel or hide in.

Being told i don’t exist i laugh with wounded teeth into.       

The folds of his larynx a choir of bees rattle me.

Into myth less the mechanics of.      

Throat than the usage the context neither divorced from combustion.

Of birth more or less i forgave him before. 

He entered because he swelled for me i could never trust. 

Myself in his hands but i did want. 

Him. 

Knocking leaning into the sliver of light he.

Missed the wastebasket he couldn’t bear. 

The sight of me i never slept.     

With the lights off i don’t know that. 

History.  

But i named it so it can’t be.      

Holy.

Or rather question.

Of distance my skin.
 
And cold waters my skin and woundless.

Skin i wade in the contradiction. 

After i wanted only to be. 

Held. 

No.

Distance his hand & the small of my.

Back his hand & the lip.   

Of a waterfall here i reject the landscape.

Its vastness i don’t think.

We’re looking for the same thing you. 

And i you’d think olympus.     

Would dethrone itself of goldenrod leaves i told you it was. 

Blood did i claim it.

Mine i am built of avoidable. 

Violences with one drop apocalypse. 

The burning wilderness you can see yourself.

Out now histories like this cannot. 

Be known let alone escaped even the one.

Where i set fire to my colonizer i can afford neither. 

Reclamation nor reconciliation.

No.

Unfragmented i cannot give you an ending. 
   
That isn’t body lunar. 

And concave staining instead. 

The bathroom floor. 

Copyright © 2019 by George Abraham. Originally published in Poem-a-Day on January , 2019, by the Academy of American Poets.

He says I live far-far away as we build a robot
out of blocks. The heart's a dollar music box
 
he chose on his last birthday wringing every
handle for the song about a star. This year
 
a star ornament dashed all colors by an artist
the summer he was born. We hung it by
 
his window like the star he sings about at night.
 
It's not a star that fell inward long ago as its light
fled out. Every troubled night that first year
 
of his life I held him on my chest and called
his name into his sleep until he calmed
 
enough to watch the moon arc past the blinds
above us. Do you have two hearts
 
because you're a boy and a girl? You're a girl
but you're my dad and not and then he says
 
his mother’s partner’s name. Nothing changes
until it must I told myself when I lay down
 
on the surgeon’s table. Drowsy now he sings
again about the star which is a song about
 
a traveler grateful for the light to chart a course. 

Copyright © 2019 by Jordan Rice. Originally published in Poem-a-Day on January 30, 2019, by the Academy of American Poets.

1. 
I hoard dirt in my ears; months later, I pull out a summer dress. The dress is not a dress to be worn but to be hung, like a flag on a wobbly pole that is noticed only when crowded in the mouths of those near it. The dress is not a dress to be worn but to be hung, like an NDN condemned to death by the judiciary of historical ignorance, an enactment of white fellowship and care. We all bear the dress, not as an article of clothing, but as an ontological imprint. To bear is not to wear, of course. To bear and to birth, however, are from the same neighborhood of experience. It is there, in the neighborhood of experience, that my childhood home is nowhere to be found. And so, my childhood home could be anything, even a dress made out of dirt.

2. 
Boy becomes a 3-D printing of a man. It brings me comfort to think of my gender as a farmer’s field already rototilled, already cleaned up. I become less of who I am by the second. Look at the branches growing from my teeth! Then there’s the mare, tipsy on me, grazing to no end. If I were to speak, I’d sound like a cracked windshield, typo-ridden. These 206 lonely bones have each gained a type of consciousness; they pretend not to harbor hard feelings about me, my ungodly molecularity. What can I say about my shadow? It loves the unlit street more than it does me. Sometimes a body is that which happens to you. Everyday, dime-sized holes proliferate on my flesh, as if I were trying to free myself from myself. I will go on like this forever: with the earth ringing in my chest.

3.

I am a body of knowledge, not one of chemical compounds. Which is to say that I live as ideas do. This is the fate of NDNs. It is on the rez that one can hear sentences speak as though in a chorus. To tear the page is to tear our world apart. What shame to be a sentence on its knees! The day I obtained my driver’s license, I followed a cumulus cloud through a maze of dirt roads until it evaporated. Forty minutes. That was all it took. I bore witness. It did not ask this of me, but I wanted to keep watch of the dying everywhere, so I could figure out how to care for a bleeding sentence.

4.

What to an NDN is the intrinsic goodness of mankind? Maybe justice is a lover who regurgitates the English language so it comes back sweeter. Canada, why are your elevators filled with mud water? What is it about a palm that makes a country feel like a garden? I dug and dug. I pulled out a bouquet of skyscrapers. I kissed each window softly. Is this not what an NDN does in a poem?

Copyright © 2019 by Billy-Ray Belcourt. Originally published in Poem-a-Day on January 31, 2019, by the Academy of American Poets.