I want to grow old with you.
So old we pad through the supermarket
using the shopping cart as a cane that steadies us.
I’ll wait at register two in my green sweater
with threadbare elbows, smiling
because you’ve forgotten the bag of day-old pastries.
The cashier will tell me a joke about barbers as I wait.
He repeats the first line three times
but the only word I understand is barber.
Over the years we’ve caught inklings
of our shrinking frames and hunched spines.
You’re a little confused
looking for me at the wrong register with a bag
of almost-stale croissants clenched in your hand.
The first time I held your hand it felt enormous in my own.
Sasquatch, I teased you, a million years ago.
Over here, I yell, but not in a mad way.
You have a bright yellow pin on your coat that says, Shalom!
Senior Discount, you say.
But the cashier already knows us.
We’re everyone’s favorite customers.
Copyright © 2016 by Ali Liebegott. Originally published in Poem-a-Day on August 30, 2016, by the Academy of American Poets.
More than a hundred dollars of them.
It was pure folly. I had to find more glass things to stuff them
Now a white and purple cloud is breathing in each corner
of the room I love. Now a mass of flowers spills down my
each fresh-faced, extending its delicately veined leaves
into the crush. Didn’t I watch
children shuffle strictly in line, cradle
candles that dribbled hot white on their fingers,
chanting Latin—just to fashion Sevilla’s Easter? Wasn’t I sad?
Didn’t I use to
go mucking through streambeds with the skunk cabbage raising
bursting violet spears? —Look, the afternoon dies
as night begins in the heart of the lilies and smokes up
their fluted throats until it fills the room
and my lights have to be not switched on.
And in close darkness the aroma grows so sweet,
so strong, that it could slice me open. It does.
I know I’m not the only one whose life is a conditional clause
hanging from something to do with spring and one tall room
and the tremble of my phone.
I’m not the only one that love makes feel like a dozen
flapping bedsheets being ripped to prayer flags by the wind.
When I stand in full sun I feel I have been falling headfirst for
God, I am so transparent.
Copyright © 2016 Noah Warren. Used with permission of the author.
Exactly four different men have tried
to teach me how to play. I could never
tell the difference between a rook
or bishop, but I knew the horse meant
knight. And that made sense to me,
because a horse is night: soot-hoof
and nostril, dark as a sabled evening
with no stars, bats, or moon blooms.
It’s a night in Ohio where a man sleeps
alone one week and the next, the woman
he will eventually marry leans her body
into his for the first time, leans a kind
of faith, too—filled with white crickets
and bouquets of wild carrot. And
the months and the honeyed years
after that will make all the light
and dark squares feel like tiles
for a kitchen they can one day build
together. Every turn, every sacrificial
move—all the decoys, the castling,
the deflections—these will be both
riotous and unruly, the exact opposite
of what she thought she ever wanted
in the endgame of her days.
Copyright © 2015 by Aimee Nezhukumatathil. Originally published in Poem-a-Day on November 20, 2015, by the Academy of American Poets.
One river gives
Its journey to the next.
We give because someone gave to us.
We give because nobody gave to us.
We give because giving has changed us.
We give because giving could have changed us.
We have been better for it,
We have been wounded by it—
Giving has many faces: It is loud and quiet,
Big, though small, diamond in wood-nails.
Its story is old, the plot worn and the pages too,
But we read this book, anyway, over and again:
Giving is, first and every time, hand to hand,
Mine to yours, yours to mine.
You gave me blue and I gave you yellow.
Together we are simple green. You gave me
What you did not have, and I gave you
What I had to give—together, we made
Something greater from the difference.
Copyright © 2014 by Alberto Ríos. Used with permission of the author.
It’s love you left, we’ll say
when you never come back
for bells for the dead, for the grave
stone heads: the only ones
that don’t keep count. Don’t
we know it’s love that keeps you
away, that marks every mile
devotion? You would’ve went
to the end with each one,
made Orpheus turn back.
Would’ve fell / would’ve leapt /
would’ve left. The living is easy
/ the leaving is easy / living
with ghosts, it was easy
to give up your home
to your father, struck
with the same grief
of living, demanding
what are you gonna do
with my mama’s house?
Shorn grass & damp dirt:
they’ll put me in the middle.
I kick the ground like tires,
feeling dumb without flowers /
tokens / grief / anything
in my hands. You’ll bring me
back home, won’t you? Stamp
it down, as if the flat earth
could answer sometimes this,
too, is love. You left.
Copyright © 2016 Gary Jackson. Used with permission of the author.
Excuse me, lover. I’m busy foretelling
and protesting your end. Whether I hunt,
gather, barter, or sell, what I worry over
is the order: live oaks, shorelines,
wide-eyed and flammable
creature I adore. By day, I admit
no shadow as backup: crow, please keep
your clever forensics. What would I do
with a cardboard guitar, a map of the planets,
and a box of building blocks,
alone? Another bereavement
I haven’t unlearned: to bury one hope
inside another, and I, having made a home
of limbo (I keep a black hole more spotless
than cozy), once traveled through time
at will, invisible. Now, not so free. My beloved
grows heavier, hardier, heavenward.
Certain grief pre-scorches me.
Copyright © 2015 by Stephanie Ford. Originally published in Poem-a-Day on December 14, 2015, by the Academy of American Poets.
if i could sing
i’d say everything you know
from here on the street can you turn around
just for once i am here
right behind you
what is that flag what is it made of
maybe it’s too late i have
too many questions where did it all come from
what colors is it all made of everything
everything here in the subways
there are so many things and voices
we are going somewhere but i just don’t know
but i just don’t know
do you know where that is i want to sing
so you can hear me and maybe you can tell me
where to go so you can hear me and just maybe
you can tell me where to go
all those hands and legs and faces going places
if i could sing
you would hear me and i would tell you
it’s gonna be alright
it’s gonna be alright
it’s gonna be alright it would be something like that
can you turn around so i can look into your eyes
just for once your eyes
maybe like hers can you see her
and his can you see them i want you to see them
all of us we could be together
if i could sing we would go there
we would run there together
we would live there for a while in that tilted
tiny house by the ocean rising up inside of us
i am on the curb next to a curled up cat
smoking i know its bad for you but
you know how it is just for once can you turn around
a straight line falling behind you it’s me i want to sing
invincible bleeding out with love
just for you
Copyright © by Juan Felipe Herrera. Used with permission of the author.
Ours is a partial language part pantomime,
part grimy guesswork: adulterated speculation
as to meaning & motivation.
Translated, heart suggests a familiar, universal
device but internal chemistries vary—
though components be the same & not uncommon.
The world owes us nothing. It promises less.
Call it: freedom. Free will. Or Wednesday.
Copyright © 2016 Rangi McNeil. Used with permission of the author.
Whether or not the water was freezing. The body
would break its sheathe. Without layer on layer
of feather and air to insulate the loving belly.
A cloudy film surrounding the point of entry. If blue
were not blue how could love be love. But if the body
were made of rings. A loose halo would emerge
in the telluric light. If anyone were entrusted to verify
this rare occurrence. As the petal starts to
dwindle and curl unto itself. And only then. Love,
blue. Hallucinogenic blue, love.
Copyright © by C. D. Wright. Used with the permission of the author.
Driving the highway from Atlanta to Phoenix
means swapping one type of heat for another.
A bead of sweat rolls over my chest,
around my belly and evaporates
so quickly I forget I’m sweating.
Body chemistry changes like the color
of my skin: from yellow to sienna.
My sister says, it’s a dry heat.
At dusk, lightning storms over the mesas.
Violets and grays lie down together.
Mountains are the color of father’s hands,
layers of dark—then light.
People move west to die, retire in a life
of dust, trade the pollen of the south
for a thin coat of grit, the Arizona desert—
We stop on the outskirts of town
and think about being reborn.
When he places his mouth near my mouth
because he’s so obviously thirsty,
when he moves to the well
where my tongue spouts out
because we’re mostly made of water
two-thirds of me is certain:
este infierno vale la pena.
This hell is worth the risk.
Copyright © 2015 by Sjohnna McCray. Originally published in Poem-a-Day on October 5, 2015, by the Academy of American Poets.
a curve billed thrasher
is cleaning its beak on the ground—
we are closer now than ever—sitting
in shadow—I never want to scare
anyone—not really—I have a friend
who loves people who come out
suddenly—in the dark—
is the same distance as pain from here—
that’s my skin on your sweater—both hands
stripped now—I know I am someone
to you I am entirely—practicing
Spanish on the computer—gesturing to
the neighbor instead of speaking—
the body is never an accident—someone
I know I am not—letters are inseparable
from loss—moving what can be still
moved—one is sweeping the mouth—
what ever isn’t skin—take it off—
Copyright © 2016 by TC Tolbert. Originally published in Poem-a-Day on May 6, 2016, by the Academy of American Poets.
There are names for what binds us:
strong forces, weak forces.
Look around, you can see them:
the skin that forms in a half-empty cup,
nails rusting into the places they join,
joints dovetailed on their own weight.
The way things stay so solidly
wherever they've been set down—
and gravity, scientists say, is weak.
And see how the flesh grows back
across a wound, with a great vehemence,
than the simple, untested surface before.
There's a name for it on horses,
when it comes back darker and raised: proud flesh,
as all flesh
is proud of its wounds, wears them
as honors given out after battle,
small triumphs pinned to the chest-
And when two people have loved each other
see how it is like a
scar between their bodies,
stronger, darker, and proud;
how the black cord makes of them a single fabric
that nothing can tear or mend.
Originally published in Of Gravity & Angels (Wesleyan University Press, 1988); all rights reserved. Copyright © by Jane Hirshfield. Reprinted with the permission of the author, all rights reserved.
I lie here thinking of you:—
the stain of love
is upon the world!
Yellow, yellow, yellow
it eats into the leaves,
smears with saffron
the horned branches that lean
against a smooth purple sky!
There is no light
only a honey-thick stain
that drips from leaf to leaf
and limb to limb
spoiling the colors
of the whole world—
you far off there under
the wine-red selvage of the west!
From A Books of Poems: Al Que Quiere! (The Four Seas Company, 1917).
The man with the black feather tattoo pares this space
Between fantasy and the memory of a man’s carved
Torso, designed for stroking and celebration.
Today the sun’s brightness is like that lover’s kiss,
Wonderful in the present and greater in memory.
A memory that brings me back to that black feather’s
Flutter. Stars dazzle in some other part of this world
Where the sun has set and the moon illuminates
Swans diving into voluminous waters.
Copyright © 2015 by Patricia Spears Jones. Originally published in Poem-a-Day on October 27, 2015, by the Academy of American Poets.
(for E. and G.)
Hello beautiful talented
dark semi-optimists of June,
from far off I send my hopes
Brooklyn is sunny, and the ghost
of Whitman who loved everyone
is there to see you say what
can never be said, something like
partly I promise my whole life
to try to figure out what it means
to stand facing you under a tree,
and partly no matter how angry
I get I will always remember
we met before we were born,
it was in a village, someone
had just cast a spell, it was
in the park, snow everywhere,
we were slipping and laughing,
at last we knew the green secret,
we were sea turtles swimming
a long time together without
needing to breathe, we were
two hungry owls silently
hunting night, our terrible claws,
I don’t want to sound like I know,
I’m just one who worries all night
about people in a lab watching
a storm in a glass terrarium
perform lethal ubiquity,
tiny black clouds make the final
ideogram above miniature lands
exactly resembling ours, what is
happening happens again,
they cannot stop it, they take off
their white coats, go outside,
look up and wonder, only we
who promise everything despite
everything can tell them
the solution, only we know.
Copyright © 2016 by Matthew Zapruder. Originally published in Poem-a-Day on August 26, 2016, by the Academy of American Poets.
Click the icon above to listen to this audio poem.
We were all in love
but didn’t know it.
We were all in love
our little hearts,
smoking and drinking
and wrecking things.
Bless our shameless shame.
We were loud, invincible.
We were tough as rails.
We stole street signs
and knocked over bins.
Ripped the boards
off boarded-up stuff.
Slept in towers
filled with pigeon shit
and fluff. We kicked
beer bottles down
Tires and chains.
Chains and wheels
and skin. The world
was always ending
and we the inventors
Copyright © 2016 Melissa Stein. Used with permission of the author.
So much on the verge
In a hot
is tinder: paper, sage
feverish with bees,
hair, my hand
that glows with a thought.
or sleepless dawn,
nothing is sure
but what’s already burned—
water that’s ash, steel
that has flowed and cooled,
though in the core
of a star, they too
would fuse and rage,
and even volcanic
glass and char,
and the cold seas,
what we once were
might burn again—
or in the heart.
Copyright © 2016 by James Richardson. Originally published in Poem-a-Day on May 10, 2016, by the Academy of American Poets.
To have been told “I love you” by you could well be, for me,
the highlight of my life, the best feeling, the best peak
on my feeling graph, in the way that the Chrysler building
might not be the tallest building in the NY sky but is
the best, the most exquisitely spired, or the way that
Hank Aaron’s career home-run total is not the highest
but the best, the one that signifies the purest greatness.
So improbable! To have met you at all and then
to have been told in your soft young voice so soon
after meeting you: "I love you." And I felt the mystery
of being that you, of being a you and being
loved, and what I was, instantly, was someone
who could be told "I love you" by someone like you.
I was, in that moment, new; you were 19; I was 22;
you were impulsive; I was there in front of you, with a future
that hadn't yet been burned for fuel; I had energy;
you had beauty; and your eyes were a pale blue,
and they backed what you said with all they hadn't seen,
and they were the least ambitious eyes I'd known,
the least calculating, and when you spoke and when
they shone, perhaps you saw the feeling you caused.
Perhaps you saw too that the feeling would stay.
Copyright © 2016 by Matthew Yeager. Originally published in Poem-a-Day on March 31, 2016, by the Academy of American Poets.
The little red jewel in the bottom of your wineglass
is so lovely I cannot rinse it out,
so I go into the cool and grassy air to smoke.
Which is your warmly lit house
past which no soldiers march to take the country back?
When you reached across the table to touch my hand
is not attainable. I cannot recapture it.
And no gunners lean on their artillery at the city’s edge,
looking our direction,
having shot the sky full of bright holes.
The light bleeds from them
and it always will.
Long ago, they captured our city
and now they are our neighbors,
going about their business like they were
one of us.
Soon, like you, they will be asleep,
having washed the dishes and turned out the kitchen lights.
When I inhale, smoke occupies me.
When I exhale—
By morning the wine in the bottom of your glass
will have clotted.
I’m sorry I called it a jewel.
It is not the soldiers who have shot me full of holes.
It is not light that pours out.
Love did this.
I was filled with wine.
Now I am drained of it.
Copyright © 2016 by Kevin Prufer. Originally published in Poem-a-Day on April 29, 2016, by the Academy of American Poets.
Did you see the sky through me
tonight, carbon blues and clouds like ropes
of wool behind a fringe of branches,
great combs of black stilling in their sap,
stiffening with winter. I like to imagine
love can pull your essence like red thread
through the cold needle of my life now
without you. I was just driving home
from the grocery store and looking up
over the roofs, I remembered once when
I was overthrowing my thoughts
for doubts you said, I know how to love you
because I hitchhiked, and it was never the same sky twice.
Now, I hear you say, this music is like wind
moving through itself to wind, intricate
as the chimes of light splintering into
everything while glowing more whole.
It is nothing like those dusty chords
on your radio, each an ego
of forced air, heavy with the smells
of onions, mushrooms, sage and rain.
Drink it in, you say, those corded clouds
and throaty vocals. You will miss all this
when you become the changing.
Copyright © 2015 by Rachel Jamison Webster. Originally published in Poem-a-Day on November 6, 2015, by the Academy of American Poets.
I’m always running ahead of my life,
The way when we walk you are always
Three, fifteen, forty steps behind
Taking a picture, or inspecting
A bottlebrush tree, a cornice, the sea
As it breaks white on the striated rock,
As though I can’t dare look, and
I’m always running away from myself
The way when we walk you are always
Asking me to slow down, and what will happen
When one of us dies, and, if it’s me first,
There’s no one’s back in our photos anymore.
Copyright © 2015 by Robert Polito. Originally published in Poem-a-Day on December 11, 2015, by the Academy of American Poets.
Parked in the fields
So many years ago,
A lake beside us
When the moon rose.
Leaving that ancient car
Together. I remember
Standing in the white grass
Beside it. We groped
Our way together
Downhill in the bright
Beginning to wonder
Whether it could be lake
We saw, our heads
Ringing under the stars we walked
To where it would have wet our feet
Had it been water
From New Collected Poems by George Oppen, copyright © 1975 by George Oppen. Reprinted by permission of New Directions Publishing Corp.
Some say thronging cavalry, some say foot soldiers, others call a fleet the most beautiful of sights the dark earth offers, but I say it's what- ever you love best. And it's easy to make this understood by everyone, for she who surpassed all human kind in beauty, Helen, abandoning her husband—that best of men—went sailing off to the shores of Troy and never spent a thought on her child or loving parents: when the goddess seduced her wits and left her to wander, she forgot them all, she could not remember anything but longing, and lightly straying aside, lost her way. But that reminds me now: Anactória, she's not here, and I'd rather see her lovely step, her sparkling glance and her face than gaze on all the troops in Lydia in their chariots and glittering armor.
From The Poetry of Sappho (Oxford University Press 2007), translated by Jim Powell. Copyright © 2007 by Jim Powell. Reprinted by permission of the author.
Because you like to sleep with curtains drawn,
at dawn I rose and pulled the velvet tight.
You stirred, then set your hand back on my hip,
the bed a ship in sleep’s doubled plunging
wave on wave, until as though a lighthouse
beam had crossed the room: the vase between
the windows suddenly ablaze, a spirit,
seized, inside its amethyst blue gaze.
What’s that? you said. A slip of light, untamed,
had turned the vase into a crystal ball,
whose blue eye looked back at us, amazed, two
sleepers startled in each other’s arms,
while day lapped at night’s extinguished edge,
adrift between the past and future tense,
a blue moon for an instant caught in its chipped
sapphire—love enduring, give or take.
Copyright © 2016 by Cynthia Zarin. Originally published in Poem-a-Day on January 13, 2016, by the Academy of American Poets.
For Nicole and John
She drew a name full of winning flesh,
Victory, I mean, so that any Yes she has to say
We might say is a Yes achieved happily all her own—
And he drew a name large as any god,
Large as a wall in the center of the night, and as calm,
God in the most gracious, the tenderest way.
To be, like them, in a tenderness now,
Chill as April; to feel ourselves, like themselves,
In a communion of that sprung blood; and to trust
That in the dark, in even the wild, forbidding dark
Which by fact must come, is no threat,
No sudden evidence to break and unheat—
Then we’re complete. Flesh falls away. Gods do.
I will make a man out of you, says one
To the other. I will make a woman. Isn’t that
What to say I choose you means, means I let go
The name I held only for myself to step sharply into yours,
Into that bareness each for the other makes,
Outside the old conceptions, the old laws,
No she, no he—but together you become a single self
That spans the sense of the imagination,
Wiser than the oldest language, which is love,
More patient than the deepest song.
Copyright © 2015 by Rickey Laurentiis. Originally published in Poem-a-Day on August 31, 2015, by the Academy of American Poets.
Click the icon above to listen to this audio poem.
A librarian in Calcutta and an entomologist in Prague
sign their moon-faced illicit emails,
No one can explain it.
The strange charm between border collie and sheep,
leaf and wind, the two distant electrons.
There is, too, the matter of a horse race.
Each person shouts for his own horse louder,
confident in the rising din
past whip, past mud,
the horse will hear his own name in his own quickened ear.
Desire is different:
desire is the moment before the race is run.
Has an electron never refused
the invitation to change direction,
sent in no knowable envelope, with no knowable ring?
A story told often: after the lecture, the widow
insisting the universe rests on the back of a turtle.
And what, the physicist
asks, does the turtle rest on?
Very clever, young man, she replies, very clever,
but it’s turtles all the way down.
And so a woman in Beijing buys for her love,
who practices turtle geometry in Boston, a metal trinket
from a night-market street stall.
On the back of a turtle, at rest on its shell,
Inside that green-painted shell, another, still smaller.
This continues for many turtles,
until finally, too small to see
or to lift up by its curious, preacherly head
a single un-green electron
waits the width of a world for some weightless message
sent into the din of existence for it alone.
Murmur of all that is claspable, clabberable, clamberable,
against all that is not:
You are there. I am here. I remember
Originally published in The Beauty (Knopf, 2015); all rights reserved. Copyright © by Jane Hirshfield. Used by permission of the author, all rights reserved.
Looking up at the stars, I know quite well
That, for all they care, I can go to hell,
But on earth indifference is the least
We have to dread from man or beast.
How should we like it were stars to burn
With a passion for us we could not return?
If equal affection cannot be,
Let the more loving one be me.
Admirer as I think I am
Of stars that do not give a damn,
I cannot, now I see them, say
I missed one terribly all day.
Were all stars to disappear or die,
I should learn to look at an empty sky
And feel its total dark sublime,
Though this might take me a little time.
From Homage to Clio by W. H. Auden, published by Random House. Copyright © 1960 W. H. Auden, renewed by the Estate of W. H. Auden. Used by permission of Curtis Brown, Ltd.
Barnegat Light, New Jersey—April 4, 2015
Because looking at myself w/ out you beside me is unnatural
& though the light is all wrong—your camera slung & up
the light feels right to me, warm & soft, your chest pressed
towards my back, both our heads angling towards the dock,
boat slips on the bay—all the scallops secure in the sea still,
their bone-less bodies soft. & our own getting softer each day.
Sometimes the mirror makes our features fun-house style
& we’re way more old age than the teen age we most times
or the slight of shutter promises supple & smooth, where edge
& ravine & straight up wrinkle have arrived & settled in
like vulnerable house guests we don’t have the heart to kick
How comfortable they’ve become all over our fine faces
& my neck—how they’ve become familiar w/ our privacy. How
we’ve begun to cradle them. Stitch & loom. In the photograph
there we are—chins tilted towards one another, mouths closed
& turned up. A type of satisfaction dead in this middle we’re
Copyright © 2015 by Ellen Hagan. Originally published in Poem-a-Day on September 18, 2015, by the Academy of American Poets.
Pale gold of the walls, gold of the centers of daisies, yellow roses pressing from a clear bowl. All day we lay on the bed, my hand stroking the deep gold of your thighs and your back. We slept and woke entering the golden room together, lay down in it breathing quickly, then slowly again, caressing and dozing, your hand sleepily touching my hair now. We made in those days tiny identical rooms inside our bodies which the men who uncover our graves will find in a thousand years, shining and whole.
From Old and New Poems by Donald Hall, published by Ticknor & Fields. Copyright © 1990 by Donald Hall. Reprinted by permission of Houghton Mifflin Company. All rights reserved.
Sudden blow bundle of grain a surprise a heap of sheaves
with the Dutch
A thick mass of your hair on the brush in the pillow in my
When an electric current passes through all or part of the body
How I wish to collide violently with myself
To throw troops into confusion by charging at them
The shock of cold water the shock of wedding cake shoved in
Stuttering heartbeat felt by a hand on the chest wall
A knife in a light socket
Pile or stack of unthreshed corn
And what is myself without you
Push your hair into my mouth
Will you collide violently with me
Will you be a decision inflicted upon my body
A bundle unthreshed and untethered
The shock of
Jar impact collapse
Flash of my white nightgown in our dark yard
Copyright © 2016 by Nicole Cooley. Used with permission of the author.
The nights were long and cold and bittersweet,
And he made a song for the hell of it.
She stood by the window, a heavenly light
Who created havoc for the hell of it.
He used to fondle every skirt in sight,
Then he fell in love—that’s the hell of it.
Now there’s a courtyard with an abject knight
Yodeling his head off for the hell of it.
O poor me, my Lady, my hopeless plight!
She married a prince for the hell of it.
Honorable, unsatisfied, illicit—
Why bring it up? Just for the hell of it.
The fever spread from poet to poet
Who burned in the high-minded hell of it.
But the Untouchable had him by the throat,
And he stopped singing for the hell of it.
Love is a tower, a trance, a medieval pit.
When I lost you, I knew the hell of it.
Come, Lord, and lift the fallen bird
Abandoned on the ground;
The soul bereft and longing so
To have the lost be found…
Before the movers came,
we found the sparrows’ nest
concealed inside the chive
plant on the patio.
And the bald chicks there
calling, unfledged, undone.
Love, the mean days collecting
scored us, and hourly
such years: we feel too much
assembling what our world
got wrong; black artery
of wires, branched hazard, rat
stinking in the beams. Wrong as
your mattress on the floor,
walls where the only stud
sinks into a metal grief.
Take this distance as you go,
Love, which is my faith, tedious,
steady, like scraping gum
from a shoe. Strong as a cobweb,
I give you this durable string.
Because I remember you:
who saves the sparrows;
the chicks calling and calling
and you who won’t forget them;
have seen the ghost who rents
your eyes dissolve when
your face turns to the light.
Today, I watched the other birds
who lived this winter
peppering our tulip tree. The buds’
tough seams begin to crack.
Ordinary. No sign to read, I know.
But while we breathe, we hope.
epigraph from “Come Lord And Lift,” by T. Merrill
Copyright © 2016 by Erin Belieu. Originally published in Poem-a-Day on March 30, 2016, by the Academy of American Poets.
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When I touch your skin and goosebumps lift,
it’s your mind that surfaces there.
When your iris tightens mechanically
around your pupil, that aperture
becomes for me the blacked-out
cockpit of your mind.
It’s your mind
that touches your tongue to mine,
your mind that, when you’re driving,
lowers your hand to my thigh
like a pilot light inside your sleep,
your mind that beats your heart—
slower, then faster—infusion pump
in the chest, flooding your mind.
But your heart is not your mind.
The curve of your hip; the soft
skin of your wrist is not your mind.
The tumor growing in your brain
is just your brain, I say.
of your face; the sound of your voice,
which I love so much, is not your mind.
Your mind spills through—fire
I can’t stop watching from the far
side of this darkening valley.
Copyright © 2016 by Wayne Miller. Originally published in Poem-a-Day on May 16, 2016, by the Academy of American Poets.
The periodic pleasure
of small happenings
is upon us—
behind the stalls
at the farmer’s market
snow glinting in heaps,
a cardinal its chest
puffed out, bloodshod
above the piles of awnings,
you picking up a sweet potato
turning to me ‘This too?’—
query of tenderness
under the blown red wing.
Remember the brazen world?
Let’s find a room
with a window onto elms
strung with sunlight,
a cafe with polished cups,
darling coffee they call it,
may our bed be stoked
with fresh cut rosemary
and glinting thyme,
all herbs in due season
tucked under wild sheets:
fit for the conjugation of joy.
Copyright © 2015 by Meena Alexander. Originally published in Poem-a-Day on September 15, 2015, by the Academy of American Poets.
I heard it on the radio,
A woman’s voice saying,
I like for you to be
The space far away
Where poetry figures out
Why you are still
But not absent,
Why you can hear
What’s coming next.
But her voice could not touch
What had flown away.
Nor could she kiss
My mouth, though I repeat
What was understood
Each night and each day.
Copyright © 2016 David Biespiel. Used with permission of the author.
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