translated by Babette Deutsch and Avrahm Yarmolinsky
(To My Mother)
A great star will fall into my lap. . .
We would hold vigil tonight,
Praying in languages
That are carven like harps.
We would be reconciled tonight—
So fully God overwhelms us.
Our hearts are only children,
Eager for weary-sweet slumber.
And our lips would kiss each other,
Why are you fearful?
Does not your heart border upon mine—
Your blood always dyes my cheeks red.
We would be reconciled tonight,
If we clasp each other, we shall not perish.
A great star will fall into my lap.
Es wird ein großer Stern in meinen Schoß fallen. . .
Wir wollen wachen die Nacht,
In den Sprachen beten,
Die wie Harfen eingeschnitten sind.
Wir wollen uns versöhnen die Nacht—
So viel Gott strömt über.
Kinder sind unsere Herzen,
Die möchten ruhen müdesüß.
Und unsere Lippen wollen sich küssen,
Was zagst du?
Grenzt nicht mein Herz an deins—
Immer färbt dein Blut meine Wangen rot.
Wir wollen uns versöhnen die Nacht,
Wenn wir uns herzen, sterben wir nicht.
Es wird ein großer Stern in meinen Schoß fallen.
This poem is in the public domain. Published in Poem-a-Day on August 13, 2022, by the Academy of American Poets.
I was a boy in a bookstore, “a bathhouse,” I’ll joke
when I am older. But then, I wasn’t. I was in a gallery
of things to be cracked open; all their spines & mine.
I tell you, I was a hungry pickpocket, plucking
what language I could from books & men who stood hard
before me. This is what it means to be astonishing;
to thieve speech and sense from the undeserving.
I tell you, I was a boy and they were men, so all
the words I know for this I made into small razors,
some tucked between my teeth, under my tongue,
and when they said what a good mouth I had,
I smiled, the silver glint of sharp things in me
singing, “I’ll outlive you. I’ll outlive all of you.”
Copyright © 2022 by Jesús I. Valles. Originally published in Poem-a-Day on October 12, 2022, by the Academy of American Poets.
But this poem’s got no parents
snapped to life, ditched its
Bildung and flooded backwards
over the border to Canada it has no appetite,
health or grudges no sour feelings keep it up at night
no autobiography left to compose of glances,
tresses, snap decisions, remarkable
and unremarkable men water slouching
through a bathroom ceiling in a singular home
Candy a class act when a landscape
painter at pop punk court
I’ll outlast both, and dexedrine, and I'm not sorry
more like you discover melodrama
in the windows of the technically not that rich
Copyright © 2020 by Kay Gabriel. Originally published in Poem-a-Day on October 24, 2020, by the Academy of American Poets.
in a nightly dose.
refused by starlight,
enflamed with error.
Tell me again
what crime you are
so guilty of?
The hot tub,
the only queer.
January 1, 1951.
In the semantics of
you intend, in Náhuatl
a long while,
Copyright © 2019 by Miguel Murphy. Originally published in Poem-a-Day on August 15, 2019, by the Academy of American Poets.
My son wants to know
his name. What does he look like? What does
he like? My son swims
four days a week. When my son swims
underwater, he glides
between strokes. When he glides underwater, he is
an arrow aimed
at a wall. Four days a week, his coach says,
coming up for air.
My father had blue eyes, blonde hair,
though mine are brown.
My father could not speak
Spanish and wondered, How can you love
another man? We rarely touched.
When my son
is counting, I count
with him. I say, I am
your father, too. 1…2…
Copyright © 2019 by Blas Falconer. Originally published in Poem-a-Day on March 18, 2019, by the Academy of American Poets.
Yet I was, in peculiar truth, a very lucky boy.
In any case, the story begins
with darkness. A classroom.
A broom closet. A bowl of bruised
light held over a city. Or, the story
begins with a child playing
the role of an ashy plum—
how it rises to meet the man's teeth
or doesn't. How the skin is broken
or breaks because the body just wants
what it wants: to be a hallway
where men hang their photos
on the wall. Does that make sense?
To want to own the image of the man
but not the man? To bask in that memory
of what first nailed you to the dark?
From Sympathetic Little Monster (Ricochet Editions, 2016). Copyright © 2016 by Cameron Awkward-Rich. Used with permission of the author.