On the side of the road, white cardboard in the shape of a man,
     	     illegible script. A signpost with scrawl: Will pay cash for 
              diabetes strips.
 
A system under the system with its black box.                    	Disability hearing?
a billboard reads. Trouble with Social Security? Where does the riot begin?
 
Spark of dry grass, Russian thistle in flames, or butterflies bobbing
as if pulled by unseen strings            	  through the alleyway.
        	
My mother’s riot would have been peace. A bicycle wheel
              chained to a concrete planter. What metaphor
 
              can I use to describe the children sleeping in cages in 
                  detention
centers? Birds pushed fenceward by a breeze? A train of brake lights
 
extending? Mesquite pods mill under our feet
on a rainless sidewalk. What revolution            will my daughter feed?
 
A break-the-state twig-quick snap or a long divining       	    as if
for water? A cotton silence? A death?          	      Who will read this
 
in the next economy, the one that comes after the one that kills us?
What lessons will we take from the side of the road? A wooden crucifix,
 
a white bicycle, a pinwheel, a poem
waiting to be redacted:                         Which would you cross out?

Copyright © 2018 by Susan Briante. Originally published in Poem-a-Day on December 3, 2018, by the Academy of American Poets.

Out of albumen and blood, out of amniotic brine,
placental sea-swell, trough, salt-spume and foam,
 
you came to us infinitely far, little traveler, from the other world—
skull-keel and heel-hull socketed to pelvic cradle,
 
rib-rigging, bowsprit-spine, driftwood-bone,
the ship of you scudding wave after wave of what-might-never-have-been.
 
Memory, stay faithful to this moment, which will never return: 
may I never forget when we first saw you, there on the other side,
 
still fish-gilled, water-lunged,
your eelgrass-hair and seahorse-skeleton floating in the sonogram screen
 
like a ghost from tomorrow,
moth-breath quicksilver in snowy pixels, fists in sleep-twitch,
 
not yet alive but not not, 
you who were and were not,
 
a thunder of bloodbeats sutured in green jags on the ultrasound machine
like hooves galloping from eternity to time,
 
feet kicking bone-creel and womb-wall,
while we waited, never to waken in that world again, 
 
the world without the shadow of your death,
with no you or not-you, no is or was or might-have-been or never-were.
 
May I never forget when we first saw you in your afterlife
which was life,
 
soaked otter-pelt and swan-down crowning,
face cauled in blood and mucus-mud, eyes soldered shut,
 
wet birth-cord rooting you from one world to the next,
you who might not have lived, might never have been born, like all the others,
 
as we looked at every pock and crook of your skull,
every clotted hair, seal-slick on your blue-black scalp,
 
every lash, every nail, every pore, every breath,
with so much wonder that wonder is not the word—

Copyright © 2018 by Suji Kwock Kim. Originally published in Poem-a-Day on December 4, 2018, by the Academy of American Poets.

What’s left behind
Is sometimes worse
Than the taking
 
I’ve gotten over
The ick factor
 
If flying mamas
Need a dab of
Blood for eggs
 
Their lives
Short and unfair
Go for it
 
Bite me
You deserve it
 
Live as long as u can
Idc
 
The lineage of
Proboscis
Soaks the rays
 
Ok
That’s kinda cool
Actually
 
DNA joining all
Sorts of creatures
In mothership bods
 
Traveling through
An even larger
Cultural bod(ies)
 
Hey yeah I know
Diseases are passed
Yes yes I know
 
It’s a drag
When a lack of
Imagination
Invites tiny welts
 
But I’ll itch you
In a distracted way
And shove off
 
But like I said
Earlier 
 
It’s a passive act
Of sustaining some
Kind of life
 
When the bites
We leave behind
 
Take 1000+ years
To dismantle

Copyright © 2018 by Nikki Wallschlaeger. Originally published in Poem-a-Day on December 5, 2018, by the Academy of American Poets.

what I really mean. He paints my name
 
across the floral bed sheet and ties the bottom corners
to my ankles. Then he paints another
 
for himself. We walk into town and play the shadow game,
saying Oh! I’m sorry for stepping on your
 
shadow! and Please be careful! My shadow is caught in the wheels
of your shopping cart. It's all very polite.
 
Our shadows get dirty just like anyone’s, so we take
them to the Laundromat—the one with
 
the 1996 Olympics themed pinball machine—
and watch our shadows warm
 
against each other. We bring the shadow game home
and (this is my favorite part) when we
 
stretch our shadows across the bed, we get so tangled
my husband grips his own wrist,
 
certain it’s my wrist, and kisses it.

Copyright © 2018 by Paige Lewis. Originally published in Poem-a-Day on December 6, 2018, by the Academy of American Poets.

and in each for such as fall to board
reduced to liquid dispute over sight
the term means and the term means
territory the term me- island budget,
its sole discretion reports instrument
pursuant to paragraph or subsection

session the public powers by section
data in the sunshine code; the board
shall secure a metadata government,
document electric metadata insights
with respect to Puerto Rico its budget
with respect to the budget the meaning

given to debtor. Trustee made means
operative under this operative section:
a wild refuge of solid waste to budget.
No electricity, water, nothing to board
to pool the pool separate or cite sight
in violation of violation. Instrumental

in such noncompliance, the governor
deadlines instrum-, deadfreeze, mean
bankruptcy of public faith in oversight.
Privatization, redeem this Act, section
on behalf of debtor submits to board
no coven to plebiscite ‘cept budget

bond bond restructuring budget budget
certain lands exclude land instrument
in decline—body of waste overboard
nothing shall endanger species means
emergency of waterbody undersection.

an opportunity for privatization, sight
the insolvency, counterparty budgets
to reduce oil electric for island territory
island electric power authority means
transitioning to privatized government,
a cause to challenge unlawful board.

Copyright © 2018 by Joey De Jesus. Originally published in Poem-a-Day on December 7, 2018, by the Academy of American Poets.

Cinders 
in clotted 
smoke
stone of 
the war 
and its gleaming
battle plans 
reduced to 
perfection
the floors reappear 
in silent 
symphonic gestures,
a folded paper
calico window 
hung with tiger 
skins, knocking twice
at night 
Jerusalem red 
lamps
worn more 
as a garland 
than her smear turning 
trampled door
breaking the fall 
scribbles
under square jars, 
giants
in long fits
in hieroglyphics 
the painters 
weaned on
bent reed pens 
drilled holes, blood 
ink of gorgons 
(violet)
sample of 
the sirens
hooked
in delay over
and underwater
approaches
replete
faint
bluish grey 

Copyright © 2018 by Cedar sigo. Originally published in Poem-a-Day on December 10, 2018, by the Academy of American Poets.

California is a desert and I am a woman inside it.
The road ahead bends sideways and I lurch within myself.
I’m full of ugly feelings, awful thoughts, bad dreams
of doom, and so much love left unspoken.

Is mercury in retrograde? someone asks.
Someone answers, No, it’s something else
like that though. Something else like that.
That should be my name.

When you ask me am I really a woman, a human being,
a coherent identity, I’ll say No, I’m something else
like that though.

A true citizen of planet earth closes their eyes
and says what they are before the mirror.
A good person gives and asks for nothing in return.
I give and I ask for only one thing—

Hear me. Hear me. Hear me. Hear me. Hear me.
Hear me. Bear the weight of my voice and don’t forget—
things haunt. Things exist long after they are killed.

Copyright © 2018 by Joshua Jennifer Espinoza. Originally published in Poem-a-Day on December 11, 2018, by the Academy of American Poets.

Which is to say that like a good theoretical objectified body, my identity was created not by me but by the various desires and beliefs of those around me. 
– Daniel Borzutzky
 
My body is a small cave door                     
it’s a slick whale 	a jubilant
sea of tall grass that sways
& makes its way across countries          
& lovers             I love	        love-making
I don’t remember a time when             
I wasn’t interested in touch
I have these breasts
& some 	         would want to come     
on hands 		      & knees to worship them               
call me flower   	      or         	       desert
Maybe I was only supposed to be
stone or a baby eel                    
long & layered		          a nun?
I don’t remember ever saying  
              yes 		      just	 no
I am searching   for my own body    
not the one I was told is so                    
I want to be always  open                
	     like a canyon
Maybe I was only supposed to be           
tree or temple              
In some circles I am
just an open gate          
a sinful  bauble  

Once someone said you are 	       this      
& I  never questioned it

I am searching		           my own body   
for        	        God      

or someone like her—

Copyright © 2018 by Yesenia Montilla. Originally published in Poem-a-Day on December 12, 2018, by the Academy of American Poets.

for Chinga La Migra

If a woman illegally crossing
The U.S.-Mexico border can sing
The Border Patrol agent’s favorite
Selena song, will he still detain her?
What if he does & later writes about
Her in the patrol vehicle’s back seat
Singing his favorite Selena song?
Will the Selena fans who read his book
Like it? What if that scene in Reservoir
Dogs where Mr. Blonde tortures a cop had
Been choreographed to "Bidi Bidi
Bom Bom," instead of "Stuck in the Middle
With You?" Would the Border Patrol agent
Be more or less likely to like that scene?

Copyright © 2018 by Wendy Trevino. Originally published in Poem-a-Day on December 13, 2018, by the Academy of American Poets.

Still turnstiles framed by a window           the red alders of Willapa Bay


                    [              Then, a red squirrel,
                                   my notation of it
                                   as if it were an upheaval
                                   in daily drifting—            ]

the limbs dangled their catkins      as I upswung to them from within

                    [              A history
                                    of a wet afterbirth
                                   and held in the arms of my mother        ovate
                                   my notation of it         formative for me—        ]

               The signal from branches        in bright green coats, loud                                                                      
                            in the vivified hollow of the swale      in a site
   of gladness (as this gaze would have had it) morning becoming
excessively noon 
                 the gladness
as I waded through it    bathing in forest     shinrin-yoku                                                                                   
                                                                                           in Arashiyama
with her      in twenty-first century style
and in other such claims of the bourgeois traveler



                           [   Why will I not name her    why will I not speak 
                               to her?    I want to spare her   no
                               I want to feel I spared her this historicity
                               and if I explain the gladness   I will harvest it
                               the new sustainability—                                ]


























also      the throngs of phones in front of tourist faces

                         [    Sudden emergency warble in the alder—     ]


                         [    Then, a robin panned 
                              into the plane of glass
                              (my relentless notation of it)
                              flailed off and submerged into the alder
                                                                                      saplings—     ]


                         [     Then I shocked to a finchsong—      ]


                 And I was back to Blake (safe ground) from a near-linnet’s 
                 song ripped from itself into this alien, human, distanced, 
                 tribal ritual, convey it or to channel it        vatic


         The composer near me said there were three forms of listening: 
the sensuous plane, the expressive plane, and the sheerly musical plane, but 
but we preferred it scaled into the diatonic


with no chromatic alterations



so that much was missed



          Blake said I’ll drink of the clear stream—he would not sing—
        and this was the grief: the fish of the sighers’ stream were fish
caught within a thimble-sized drinking glass
                                                                                                     dumb fancies

















     






Or was it the decomposing fish of Agassiz, finally described?


                         [    Then a green humming bird floated before me                                         
                              my notation of it—                                    ]


                         [    What is this false history?  what I
                             is this false history?—                ]


My alder leaves are serrated     and here comes meta phor

                                                             my use of the window as a frame
                                                                      
                                                               my subjectivity
                 spored into the air between our limbs
                   lodging into evergreen porousness
                  swelling through the rains into a soft 
                         blanketing moss-future






We want time to have happened before we did
but not after we did
the forest was here for us to arrive within
                                                                   [we paid our admission
                                                                   we paid to feed the deer  ]







































         The red alders on the edge of the continent will hear 
          the shallow breath outside the mouth of the creation

         without us, a bombast torn into the plane of silence 

           as the shelf slips at last into the eustatic Pacific

         we distance ourselves from our bodies
         these storehouses of bloodless meat erected on feet

         and whatever is made of alder is alder








                                               Yes now unlatch 
                                               the lock
                                                from this gland 
                                               morning’s sap
                                                into an instant 
                                               amber
                                                thought leaked 
                                                onto the lichen 
                                                 bole
                                               hatched through 
                                                  the window

Copyright © 2018 by Richard Greenfield. Originally published in Poem-a-Day on December 14, 2018, by the Academy of American Poets.

Arriving with throats like nipped roses, like a tiny
bloom fastened to each neck, nothing else
cuts the air quite like this thrum to make the small
dog at my feet whine and yelp. So we wait—no
excitement pinned to the sky so needled and our days open
full of rain for weeks. Nothing yet from the ground speaks
green except weeds. But soon you see a familiar shadow
hovering where the glass feeders you brought
inside used to hang because the ice might shatter the pollen
junk and leaf bits collected after this windiest, wildest of winters.
Kin across the ocean surely felt this little jump of blood, this
little heartbeat, perhaps brushed across my grandmother’s
mostly grey braid snaked down her brown
neck and back across the Indian and the widest part of the Pacific
ocean, across the Mississippi, and back underneath my
patio. I’ve lost track of the times I’ve been silent in my lungs,
quiet as a salamander. Those times I wanted to decipher the mutter
rolled off a stranger’s full and beautiful lips. I only knew they
spoke in Malayalam—my father’s language—and how
terrific it’d sound if I could make my own slow mouth
ululate like that in utter sorrow or joy. I’m certain I’d be
voracious with each light and peppered syllable
winged back to me in the form of this sort of faith, a gift like
xenia offered to me. And now I must give it back to this tiny bird, its
yield far greener and greater than I could ever repay—a light like
zirconia—hoping for something so simple and sweet to sip.

Copyright © 2018 by Aimee Nezhukumatathil. Originally published in Poem-a-Day on December 17, 2018, by the Academy of American Poets.

you cannot read what you do not collect
the rain came in algidity after
suffocating heat still the ravaging of
marow is worth it tendons swollen &
seasoned with need madness is always
a hunger                                            that i
am even able to eat is its own feat
i have learned to swallow charitably
cede my mouth to the gristle cede my tongue
                         to cartilage
a former fixation on writhing now what is
left?      what is present when the flesh
rots away?
when the spirit returns to the magnitude it
belongs?                                                                            when my
mother
                                                                                         taught me
                                                                                         how to
                                                                                     properly eat
                                                                                         chicken, she
                                                                                         told me truly
                                                                                     nothing had to
                                                                                         be left behind.
                                                                                         there is
                                                                                     meat through
                                                                                         the bone. this
                                                                                         makes
                                                                                     sense like
                                                                                         Matter.
                                                                                         nothing is
                                                                                         ever lost.
                                                                                     nothing is ever
                                                                                         gone if
                                                                                         devoured
                                                                                     completely.

Copyright © 2018 by jayy dodd. Originally published in Poem-a-Day on December 18, 2018, by the Academy of American Poets.

And those other females who managed to slip the collar
for a moment or two of life were branded “bad.”
            –Clarrisa Pinkola Estés, from Women Who Run with the Wolves: Myths and Stories of the Wild Woman Archetype

The secret nests in my marrow.

At the striptease I appear pirouette
and prey.

Later,

I might show you
what it means to be consumed.

The pashadom and papacy come
to gush and forever satellite spatter,

no matter,

in the end you will find them
covered in a fine mist,

tasting of me.

What they do not know— beyond the veil

I lay with the wolf
& the wolf
is me.

Find me in a forest of tupelo,
cypress & black gum,
at midrib,
lobe, and blade.

Even a leaf can have teeth.

Human acts can be cannibalistic.

I am here
picking all of the wildflowers.

Copyright © 2018 by MK Chavez. Originally published in Poem-a-Day on December 19, 2018, by the Academy of American Poets.

	    for my son

I have ignored you for a year.
I have not dwelt on the soft fur
of your arms or the way you rubbed
my cheek with your own starry cheek.

I splintered your hands away 
from my heart when you exited 
me. Of the men who have claimed
my body, only you reflect

my exact goodness, tragic 
as a cotton field ripe with bloom, 
but I have not dwelt on this either. 
Not in one year or three—

the way you break open your own 
throat, singing, sculpting one world, 
another, or kiss a girl in my kitchen, 
calling her, Love, My Love. No: 

I have ignored you for a year or six, 
maybe. Not touching your feet 
or your shoulders to dab them dry.  
Not humming in your ear 

as I did once. Not holding your head
against my chest in the sad night. I have not 
dwelt on other women who speak sweetly 
to you, laugh with you, or hold your head

against their chests in the sad night.
I have ignored you for a year or ten,
finally severing the root, purging,
drying out the heart:          go.

Copyright © 2018 by Laurie Ann Guerrero. Originally published in Poem-a-Day on December 20, 2018, by the Academy of American Poets.

The way I’m strapped into myself
I can’t escape. Wake up and be a better person! Clip your toenails,
and by sun-rise make sure
                        you’re sitting at the table reading Arendt.

With a little focus
I could become
everything I ever wished
to be: level-headed and
buoyed,
            a real (wo)man of conviction. But no, at night,
I’m like an old towel on the line, tossing and
turning in the wind of the dear leader’s
words. What does
                                      it matter, if I grind
                         my teeth for the old ladies of
                         Puerto Rico? Or take a knee
                         in the front yard every time I hear
                         the national anthem
                         in my head? The neighbor just thinks
                         I’m weeding and waves.

Copyright © 2018 by Magdalena Zurawski. Originally published in Poem-a-Day on December 21, 2018, by the Academy of American Poets.

Maybe silence adds to the pain
and maybe pain adds to the sea
and maybe the sea is only a reflection
of a ruin today
where the mind is unable to make out
how things used to be for us:
complete, with deities, a kind of 
order. Oh never mind the ATMs 
scattered throughout the medieval town
or the street art sprayed
into the air that says
Destroy what destroys you
But I destroy myself;
I destroy myself.

Copyright © 2018 by Sandra Simonds. Originally published in Poem-a-Day on December 24, 2018, by the Academy of American Poets.

there is always 
one more death
to paint us
 
an ochre
without axle
aiming us like 
 
a sunflower  
down a path
a harp once followed
 
to still the scythe
before losing 
love against itself

Copyright © 2018 by J. Michael Martinez. Originally published in Poem-a-Day on December 26, 2018, by the Academy of American Poets.

Yoked to what? To whom?
Calibration. Checkmate.

Thunderous blowhard,
tiny tea kettle. Boom.

Bastion at the market,
flashlight mimicry.

Look at my phrase
making, batting eyes.

Whose hand do you hold?
Whose hand do you want?

Enough of this, ruiner.
What’s the gift of talk,

talk, talk. Where’re your
minions, battle stations.

Take out your troubled
photocopies and burn

the Pilgrim’s kiss. There’s only
one story. It always ends.

Copyright © 2018 by Ada Limón. Originally published in Poem-a-Day on December 28, 2018, by the Academy of American Poets.

for M

1.

who conceived that ravine
         or
         the contour
         of those slopes

Torbay
                —washing
over 
          him as he swims—

is trying to say
                            don’t let 
                                             the barber
                                    shave 
                        below 
his collar


2.

I love
breathing
him in

my fingers
raking
his chest

a cub
wanders
the forest
                        after Andrés Montoya & Francisco X. Alarcón

Copyright © 2018 by Francisco Aragón. Originally published in Poem-a-Day on December 29, 2018, by the Academy of American Poets.

sparrows=

before we became we flyfollowed / our homelands puzzle
clouds we / traced chamomile in     
bags / door to door / steeped in mud of our / remaining trickle
of river/ though small we     
sipped / they simply toured / sand & soil & steep concrete &
zinco they sold / our air to bases     
down / (t)here & over there to east before that / & ever as ever
they souled / men up there in     
miniature suits / crushed flesh bones & / or capillaries / down
there (in kitchens & streets &     
silos) & we / became as we heard whispers of that / bile (t)here
& acid (t)here / discovered     
(a)gain our faces low / in their potential of what we applied / to
our tender featherskin by     
walking out / doors & a bridge wavering / under the weight of
bodies & we (be)came /     
hydrogenated as ever / we cried & laughed & shouted & we
continued / & then we became     
once again / & saw as (wo)men held close to children / perhaps
just then could it be that / a     
spectacle stunt / seamless / into the cries of other birds & it was
machine framed & it became /     
& we scattered / & then it was (un)done it was / & we
continued to as we flyfollowed / to     
where they didn’t fool any / one back to center before they
caught up / with us as if anything     
was (un)done & / they tried to flyfollow the sky / as if it knew
by heart eye / lashes mustaches     
& fuzz & small prickly / nose hairs / if we = sparrows perhaps
here they / were deluded thinking     
anything was just / or that / or merely for them / which is ours
as we cracked seeds between /     
our beaks & we slept & we leapt & kept kneading / a little
dough though     

Copyright © 2018 by Siwar Masannat. Originally published in Poem-a-Day on December 31, 2018, by the Academy of American Poets.