More than the fuchsia funnels breaking out
of the crabapple tree, more than the neighbor’s
almost obscene display of cherry limbs shoving
their cotton candy-colored blossoms to the slate
sky of Spring rains, it’s the greening of the trees
that really gets to me. When all the shock of white
and taffy, the world’s baubles and trinkets, leave
the pavement strewn with the confetti of aftermath,
the leaves come. Patient, plodding, a green skin
growing over whatever winter did to us, a return
to the strange idea of continuous living despite
the mess of us, the hurt, the empty. Fine then,
I’ll take it, the tree seems to say, a new slick leaf
unfurling like a fist to an open palm, I’ll take it all.
Copyright © 2017 by Ada Limón. Originally published in Poem-a-Day on May 15, 2017, by the Academy of American Poets.
Je suis belle, ô mortels! comme un rêve de pierre
These poisoned sensations have to be
Accepted if they’re to be
Up calories on my phone
Not that I’m counting
Don’t even like numbers
It’s something vestigial
It comes in bad minutes
To teach my body something's in control
Something little & unholy, wrong idea
Of information, chiseling a transparent minute
Into myself with the afterimage of a form
If I did this kind of thing
On the bigger machine it’d be
Things than this are bombing
The world. A terrible
Fate is coming to power tomorrow. I’m reading
The early poems of Sherman Alexie. Desolation
Of secular life. I remember the luxury of speculating
All mystical traditions grew up
In the souls of a disciplined few
Turned in on themselves while under
Occupation by tyrants. That was then. This
Morning I could see one comfort: to become rock
Hard. Could imagine one comfort:
To have become rock. I had no
Imagination. I had his. I had theirs. “Formalism
& grammar are ways to be thin...” masochism
Merely thought of, the idea of a calorie
Most boring way to feel womanly doing itself to me
This morning I was panicking, burning, I was desperate
Scanning the body of my bedfellow
Its beautiful cheeks & chin
& long smooth abdomen
My silence growing fat like an old fruit
Still making me sick
It makes me sick I longed
For the wrong thing
I longed for death. I dreamed of stone
sent by hand
19 January 2017
Copyright © 2017 by Ariana Reines. Originally published in Poem-a-Day on May 5, 2017, by the Academy of American Poets.
When Beauty and Beauty meet
All naked, fair to fair,
The earth is crying-sweet,
And scattering-bright the air,
Eddying, dizzying, closing round,
With soft and drunken laughter;
Veiling all that may befall
Where Beauty and Beauty met,
Earth’s still a-tremble there,
And winds are scented yet,
And memory-soft the air,
Bosoming, folding glints of light,
And shreds of shadowy laughter;
Not the tears that fill the years
This poem is in the public domain.
In the desert
I saw a creature, naked, bestial,
Who, squatting upon the ground,
Held his heart in his hands,
And ate of it.
I said, “Is it good, friend?”
“It is bitter—bitter,” he answered;
“But I like it
“Because it is bitter,
“And because it is my heart.”
This poem is in the public domain.
New York Public Library, Edna St. Vincent Millay archives
Because Norma saved even the grocery lists,
it was no surprise to find a lock of hair
coiled and glued loosely into the scrapbook,
crimped and rusty, more weird
and alive than any calling card or photograph,
letter, erotic or otherwise, sweeter
than the candy kisses fixed upon the page.
I shouldn’t have touched it, but in those days
I was always hungry. Despite the rare books
librarian lurking, I set my thumb against it.
Weightless, dusty, it warmed at my touch.
By 1949, all the grocery lists affirmed
the same fixations: Liverwurst, Olives, Cookies, Scotch.
Liverwurst, Olives, Cookies, Scotch, penciled
on squares of insipid paper. By 1950,
unsteady on her feet; by year’s end, dead at the foot
of the stairs. As I placed the book of relics
back into its archival box, a single
copper wire fell from the page,
bright tendril on the table. I lifted it,
casket of DNA, protein, lipids, and still Titian red.
Really, was I wrong to swallow it?
Copyright © 2017 by Ann Townsend. Originally published in Poem-a-Day on June 27, 2017, by the Academy of American Poets.
Copyright © 2017 by Heather Christle. Originally published in Poem-a-Day on September 18, 2017, by the Academy of American Poets.