to Ken Kesey & Ken Babbs
Clumsy at first, fitting together
the years we have been apart,
and the ways.
But as the night
passed and the day came, the first
fine morning of April,
it came clear:
the world that has tried us
and showed us its joy
was our bond
when we said nothing.
And we allowed it to be
with us, the new green
Our lives, half gone,
stay full of laughter.
have the world for words.
Though we have been
apart, we have been together.
Trying to sleep, I cannot
take my mind away.
The bright day
shines in my head
like a coin
on the bed of a stream.
From Collected Poems: 1957-1982 by Wendell Berry. Copyright © 1985 by Wendell Berry. Used by permission of Counterpoint Press. All rights reserved.
How desire is a thing I might die for. Longing a well,
a long dark throat. Enter any body
of water and you give yourself up
to be swallowed. Even the stones
know that. I have writhed
against you as if against the black
bottom of a deep pool. I have emerged
from your grip breathless
and slicked. How easily
I could forget you
as separate, so essential
you feel to me now. You
beneath me like my own
blue shadow. You silent as the moon
drifts like a petal
across your skin, my mouth
to your lip—you a spring
I return to, unquenchable, and drink.
Copyright © 2021 by Leila Chatti. Originally published in Poem-a-Day on January 14, 2021, by the Academy of American Poets.
Johnny, the kitchen sink has been clogged for days, some utensil probably fell down there.
And the Drano won’t work but smells dangerous, and the crusty dishes have piled up
waiting for the plumber I still haven’t called. This is the everyday we spoke of.
It’s winter again: the sky’s a deep, headstrong blue, and the sunlight pours through
the open living-room windows because the heat’s on too high in here and I can’t turn it off.
For weeks now, driving, or dropping a bag of groceries in the street, the bag breaking,
I’ve been thinking: This is what the living do. And yesterday, hurrying along those
wobbly bricks in the Cambridge sidewalk, spilling my coffee down my wrist and sleeve,
I thought it again, and again later, when buying a hairbrush: This is it.
Parking. Slamming the car door shut in the cold. What you called that yearning.
What you finally gave up. We want the spring to come and the winter to pass. We want
whoever to call or not call, a letter, a kiss—we want more and more and then more of it.
But there are moments, walking, when I catch a glimpse of myself in the window glass,
say, the window of the corner video store, and I'm gripped by a cherishing so deep
for my own blowing hair, chapped face, and unbuttoned coat that I’m speechless:
I am living. I remember you.
From What the Living Do, copyright © 1998 by Marie Howe. Used by permission of W. W. Norton. All rights reserved.
The great thing
is not having
a mind. Feelings:
oh, I have those; they
govern me. I have
a lord in heaven
called the sun, and open
for him, showing him
the fire of my own heart, fire
like his presence.
What could such glory be
if not a heart? Oh my brothers and sisters,
were you like me once, long ago,
before you were human? Did you
to open once, who would never
open again? Because in truth
I am speaking now
the way you do. I speak
because I am shattered.
From The Wild Iris, published by Ecco Press, 1992. Copyright © 1992 by Louise Glück. All rights reserved. Used with permission. This poem appeared in Poem-a-Day on October 10, 2020.
The arch of my foot aches.
Soon, we’re walking through nettles, a yellow paddock,
fresh ginger packed between the gum
In excess, sugars become fat, a kind
of sealant. Organs bleating
On the forest floor.
A first step.
Blue radiance, paper that receives ink, coffee with cream. By day 8,
I can’t remember life
With my family.
Copyright © 2023 by Bhanu Kapil. Originally published in Poem-a-Day on June 15, 2023, by the Academy of American Poets.
My candle burns at both ends;
It will not last the night;
But ah, my foes, and oh, my friends—
It gives a lovely light!
Published in 1920.
The Arabs used to say,
When a stranger appears at your door,
feed him for three days
before asking who he is,
where he’s come from,
where he’s headed.
That way, he’ll have strength
enough to answer.
Or, by then you’ll be
such good friends
you don’t care.
Let’s go back to that.
Rice? Pine nuts?
Here, take the red brocade pillow.
My child will serve water
to your horse.
No, I was not busy when you came!
I was not preparing to be busy.
That’s the armor everyone put on
to pretend they had a purpose
in the world.
I refuse to be claimed.
Your plate is waiting.
We will snip fresh mint
into your tea.
Copyright © by Naomi Shihab Nye. Used with the permission of the author.