These are times when judicial proceedings would do well to include a linguist, a forensic linguist...
            —El País, Catalan Edition, 27 March 2018

A foreigner, I walk Barcelona breathless, marveling
at files of school children laughing, chatting as teachers
shepherd them in Catalan, at street signs in the same
language, at elderly men and elderly women on benches
or peering down from balconies, once shamed or worse
for speaking this, their heart language, gossiping now
in short words ending in plosives, in fricative zh´s
and sh´s not found in Spanish,

all in my lifetime, and I think how
language is fragile, how a breath
could leave a sentence and not return,

because this morning I scrolled down the news,
past the headlines of politicians imprisoned,
of the ex-president detained, no violence needed,
behind him the bloody wipe of fingers
on the gold shield that is the Catalan flag,
scrolled past the photos of multitudes in the streets,
on the highways, the students, the grandmothers,
the professionals, of baton-swinging police,

down to the bottom, to the story of the last
professor of Phoenician language in Spain.
She’s 67, has taught at the University of Barcelona
for 43 years, since Franco died. Phoenicians
settled the coast of Catalonia, wrote early pages
of the Catalan story, and when she retires,
their words will dissipate back out to sea.

An empty desk the final straw,
but where does the death of a language begin?
            A law?              A jail?               A baton?

When I began Catalan, I didn’t know
learning a language is a political act.
How can I not be changed once I'm able to speak
of rauxa and seny, words of Catalan character,
no equivalent in the language of Cervantes,
of my Southern mother, my Midwestern father?
Maybe I had always been waiting
to hear these words, waiting since Casals´
cello sang Bach to me, waiting since, as a child,
Dali shocked me, The Persistence of Memory,
not knowing those golden cliffs were the coast
of Catalonia, not knowing the other language,
before art, before sonatas or oils, was Catalan.

Who is waiting today, waiting without knowing
they are waiting, to hear a word in Phoenician,
a word now lost forever, drifted back to sea?

Copyright © 2021 by Sandra Gustin. Originally published in Poem-a-Day on March 22, 2021, by the Academy of American Poets.

but it doesn't break, and neither breaks toward justice
nor away from it. It simply bends, as the bow does
before propelling the arrow where it may, agnostic
to everything but flight. I don't mean to make morality
a weapon in this way, but it already is one and has been
for some time. The shackles, after all, were explained
as saving us from ourselves, our naked savagery,
though it was their whip that licked us and left a kind
of tactile text on our bodies. The Bible will have a man
beating on someone as easily as it will have another
taking one, turning the other cheek, civilly disobedient
even when the bombs blow up in their church, not to say
saying no to violence isn't commendable, just to say
a strong case can be made for cracking a skull or two
like an everyday egg in hopes whatever golden light
resides inside shines through, throughs the crimson tide
for the rest of time so the tide will, mercifully, recede.

Copyright © 2021 by Cortney Lamar Charleston. Originally published in Poem-a-Day on May 3, 2021, by the Academy of American Poets.

That night the moon’s song was
Cupped by the edge of the plane’s hum.
The beginning soundtrack for our last meeting.
Throughout it all, your breathing slighted the mourning.
We lay, as the loose sand soon hooked
Into the concave of our backs. The ocean waves
Undulating, marking between us, my fast breath.
There is another line here, but I’m not sure
Where to locate it. I could have
Looked at the moon, asked for forgiveness,
But like you, I searched for meteors instead.
You taught me what they look like,
By verbal description, by whispers, and pointing but
Characteristically, I kept missing them.
Because I’m not so good with language,
Nor instructions, and saying goodbye
Where the ground, sea, and sky meet and depart.
Listen: I’m clumsy with my hands and feet.
I also don’t know how to clean a microwave.
And I’m not sure what to say to you anymore.
But that night, before I left, I learned on my own,
Without telling you: This is how you find meteors.
You have to take in the entire dark sky, (like viewing a landscape painting or
A movie screen), but let the frame blanket over our bodies until nothing is left.
Watch carefully, because meteors
Disappear in a glimpse, into the slender cock of your neck,
In my short eyelash flutter.
One by one, then another.
By the end, we are greedy.
We stop counting
As we clasp our hands,
Gulp in the disappearing us, then
Suffocated, strayed.

Copyright © 2021 by Margaret Rhee. Originally published in Poem-a-Day on July 19, 2021, by the Academy of American Poets.

I’m not a poet anymore—
I’ve interviewed too many politicians.
All they care for is ghosts.
Breaking news, I’m breaking
up with my stupid shame.
I have dates on my calendar
just for fucking. I do this
between my 9-5. Hello, hello.
I’m quieter than I seem.
I’m a man in a suit.
Please pass the damn hookah. 
Please tell the magistrates
I’m tired of reporting.
My desire to fix this window is corrupt.
Your desire to call your looking
through this window
an act of social justice is corrupt.
At a protest, a white woman calls me fake news.
Okay, fine, I tell her back. I don’t smile
anymore. I do the job so well
I outcry the eagles. I outrun
the sad. I trouble
my brain into a blender
then hand you a cup.
My mother holds a butterfly
to the sky.
White winged glimmering mess.
Someone, please, snap a photo.
My shoes are drenched in blood.

Copyright © 2021 by Noor Hindi. Originally published in Poem-a-Day on October 22, 2021, by the Academy of American Poets.

The light retreats and is generous again.
No you to speak of, anywhere—neither in vicinity nor distance, 

so I look at the blue water, the snowy egret, the lace of its feathers 
shaking in the wind, the lake—no, I am lying. 

There are no egrets here, no water. Most of the time, 
my mind gnaws on such ridiculous fictions. 

My phone notes littered with lines like Beauty will not save you
Or: mouthwash, yogurt, cilantro

A hummingbird zips past me, its luminescent plumage 
disturbing my vision like a tiny dorsal fin. 

But what I want does not appear. Instead, I find the redwoods and pines, 
figs that have fallen and burst open on the pavement, 

announcing that sickly sweet smell,
the sweetness of grief, my prayer for what is gone. 

You are so dramatic, I say to the reflection on my phone, 
then order the collected novels of Jean Rhys. 

She, too, was humiliated by her body, that it wanted
such stupid, simple things: food and cherry wine, to touch someone. 

On my daily walk, I steal Meyer lemons from my neighbors’ yard, 
a small pomegranate. Instead of eating them, 

I observe their casual rot on the kitchen counter, 
this theatre of good things turning into something else.

Copyright © 2021 by Aria Aber. Originally published in Poem-a-Day on October 19, 2021, by the Academy of American Poets.

My friend and I snickered the first time
we heard the meditation teacher, a grown man,
call himself honey, with a hand placed
over his heart to illustrate how we too 
might become more gentle with ourselves
and our runaway minds. It’s been years
since we sat with legs twisted on cushions,
holding back our laughter, but today
I found myself crouched on the floor again,
not meditating exactly, just agreeing
to be still, saying honey to myself each time
I thought about my husband splayed
on the couch with aching joints and fever
from a tick bite—what if he never gets better?—
or considered the threat of more wildfires,
the possible collapse of the Gulf Stream,
then remembered that in a few more minutes, 
I’d have to climb down to the cellar and empty
the bucket I placed beneath a leaky pipe
that can’t be fixed until next week. How long
do any of us really have before the body
begins to break down and empty its mysteries
into the air? Oh honey, I said—for once
without a trace of irony or blush of shame—
the touch of my own hand on my chest
like that of a stranger, oddly comforting
in spite of the facts.

Copyright © 2021 by James Crews. Originally published in Poem-a-Day on November 17, 2021, by the Academy of American Poets.

       I used to eat
               her keen sight
                     and its laser
                surgical rotations
                   in clockwise
                   around a
            prenatal core
                       its cyanide
                          this unsung
                       artist carving 
                        her curving
                       relief as if
              by a craving
            of curvature
                 itself for
                       or else
                            of some
                                   so sheer                                              
                                 as to molt
                                    its skin
                                of matter
                           turn after
                             turn on
                   the unseen                              
               potter’s lathe
               of unmaking:
                 by a suddenly
                       unknowable Eve
                           who might soon
                                          no longer
                                            deign to
                                    the name

Copyright © 2022 by Jerome Ellison Murphy. Originally published in Poem-a-Day on January 7, 2022, by the Academy of American Poets.

Note the diameter of your invisible ink tattoo as if it hides
a crossword hint like “Clueless dope for dopamine”
But not because your inner twin sold all your Rap albums
for a white powder that made you feel touched by God, yet
left a trail like Comet. Note how a certain name trails off with
the number e to perhaps signify their constant interest in
a continuously growing silence. Does an infinite series
of silences imply addition or addiction? In one language
you understand, pegadu means touching and begins with
the letter P. Like Pi is filled with touches of fruitful irrationality,
and may hide a circle’s Private Key. Note how rumors of you
crossing the street to sneak rides on fire trucks are irrational, but
not because you’re vain or became a pyromaniac. The circumference
of urinal cakes may be solved with Pi or dissolved with pee.
Is it irrational that you looped like an extension cord while trying
to solve for the value of P, but got beat like a bowl of egg yolks
for wetting the bed? During the beating was their mouth agápē or
agape? Has it not been proven that trauma only feels transcendental
due to the ratio of the diameter which severs us to the circumference
which makes us a whole? Being born under the Sign of the Asp might
be key, but note that a Volta can turn in currents of a Ghanaian river
or in currents alternating like a weathervane until any cryptic tattoo
could simply signify who held you down and touched you, but also
told you to hold it forever because their love was like the Holy Ghost.

Copyright © 2022 by Joel Dias-Porter. Originally published in Poem-a-Day on February 3, 2022, by the Academy of American Poets.

For Mario Gonzalez Arenales (1994-2021)

He’s not doing anything wrong. He’s just scaring my wife.
—call to the Alameda Police Department, April 19, 2021

They watched him from the window of the house, a man at the fence
in a crooked wool cap, chipping at their tree with a comb, liquor bottles
in a shopping basket by his feet. They heard him speak to the wife’s
mother in the yard, tongue thick in his mouth, heavy with lamentation.
He could be the Aztec god of pestilence, no mask, breathing the plague
on them through walls and doors. The Mexican nanny might be able  
to read the hieroglyphics tumbling from his mouth, but she was wheeling 
a stroller through the streets of Alameda, the trees bowing deeply.

On the news, the body-cam clip wobbles like the video at a barbecue.
The cops are cheerful as they encircle him in the park across the street.
He says his name is Mario. One cop scolds this refugee from Oakland about
drinking in our parks, wants ID so they can be on our merry way. Mario says:
Merry-go-round? He steps up on a tree stump as if to ride it. The cops climb off
the spinning horses of Mario’s imagination, tugging at his arms as he peeks
at them under the cap. Now they are cowboys at the rodeo, but Mario is not
a steer, crashing to the applause of hands that would carve him into steaks.

The cops shove him to the ground, facedown. Mario squirms and bucks;
he is the prize at the county fair, a beast who tries to calm his captors,
so he spits all the words he knows to make them stop: oh God, please,
thank you, and sorry, I’m sorry, I’m so sorry. I forgive you, says one cop,
as the other cop digs his knee into Mario’s back, where it stays even after
they cuff him, even after the first cop says: Think we can roll him on his side?
He asks Mario for his birthday, as if there will be a barbecue in the backyard
at the cop’s house, and Mario, facedown in the wood chips and the dirt,
with the other cop’s knee pressing into his back, wheezes the word: 1994.

There were cries, then silence. There were no last words. In medieval days,
the prisoner at the block would forgive the headsman and drop a coin into
his hand for a clean strike of the blade. In Salem’s Puritan days, a man accused
of witchcraft, after two days of stones stacked on him, sneered: More weight.

There were no last words from Mario when they rolled him over at last.
The last words were in the headlines that same day, jury deliberations
two thousand miles away in Minneapolis, the case of a cop kneeling
on the neck of a Black man, facedown and handcuffed, for nine minutes.

In Alameda, the cops began CPR and their incantation over the asphyxiated body: 
Wake up, Mario, wake up, as if he would be late for school on class picture day, 
as if he would miss his shift at the pizzeria where the paychecks dwindled away, 
as if he had an autistic brother waiting at home for Mario to help him step from 
the shower, button his shirt, comb his hair. His autistic brother still waits for Mario.

The man who called the cops, his wife’s hand gripping his shoulder,
says We greatly regret what happened and never intended, says Terrible
things are being said about us, says Our autistic child is able to read
and is terribly sensitive.
The sign in front of the dark house says: For Sale.

The merry-go-round in Mario’s imagination grinds on, creaking
day after day: the caller who presses the button to make the horses go,
the cops charging like cavalry after the renegade, the dead man galloping
ahead, escape impossible, his horse impaled on a pole, kicking the air.

The Mexican nanny called Crucita blames herself for rolling the stroller back
too late. She visits the altar for Mario across the street from the tree missing
a sliver of bark from his comb. The roses wreathing his face shrivel to plastic,
balloons gone flat, votive candles cold. There is an autopsy after the autopsy.
The coroner keeps the city’s secrets, a priest hiding in the confessional.

In her sleep, Crucita sees Mario, sometimes a body splayed across the street,
breath squeezed from his lungs like the last note from the pipes of a calliope,
sometimes breaking free, the painted horse lunging away, as he rides
along the coast to the deserts of Baja California, down mountain trails
off the maps of Yanqui generals and their armies, deep into the songs about
bandidos too clever to be caught, revolutionaries the bullets cannot kill.

Copyright © 2022 by Martín Espada. Originally published in Poem-a-Day on February 9, 2022, by the Academy of American Poets.

I kept my life in a small room
with pale blue walls
and brought it back
little presents from the world

This is for you I would say
This is for you

Sometimes the gifts
died in my hands
and often I could not pay
the price of their redemption

I could never be sure
they were appreciated or how much
they wanted to be in the place
where I had brought them

The room filled with less and less
space to breathe so instead of gifts
I began to bring stories
that did not end but slipped away
around corners and over horizons

I brought premonitions
and resistance to closure and left
at the end of each day
looking for more

Copyright © 2022 by Kirk Wilson. Originally published in Poem-a-Day on April 6, 2022, by the Academy of American Poets.

after the 2021 Texas Winter Storm

I’ll admit that I’ve never thought about frostbite.

Trauma of the blood, a thing to be avoided when heat goes out for an entire state.

I don’t know where to place this grief, this sweltering state freezing, politicians breezing over to a country that doesn’t have tissue choked out by its winter yet.

The sky can only do what it does.

The American government can only do what systems driven by green paper, violence & ache can do.

The trees bloom over dead bodies, missing.

The sound of hands rubbing, engines purring, hopes that gas lights or chafing or the rapture won’t come first may quiver in my blood forever.

I am Black but maybe I am doomed.

Memory flashes like a computer screen; I see the zoom link expand. Colleagues process whatever failure number of a thousand this was this year and I can only remember white.

Six inches deep, sunken into my boots all over.

The timeline of friends stranded, impending doom of electricity shutting off, water pressure slipping into nothing every hour, pipes bursting on top of all that white.

I haven’t recovered from seeing things that too-closely resemble holes in a graveyard.  

I haven’t forgotten the project is due in 2 weeks.

My therapist says take it easy as if capitalism is listening. As if the body will ever forget what it is given.

I am Black which is history, personified.

I used to listen to Pilot Jones fondly. With all this frostbite on my fingers, I’m not sure if I can type.

I cannot finish another sentence on unity.

What is unified about ERCOT letting us freeze? Knowing how to fix the problem & not doing it; how does that form a Kumbaya circle?

If I made art about every pain I’ve felt unjustly, I would be swimming in accolades for great American books.

I would take back every word I’ve written if it ended this.

America is the worst group project.

I’m writing a great American poem about suffering.

How much is going without food that isn’t canned for a week worth?

The absence of snow feels like betrayal. My memory mixes with American delusion. 

I can’t believe half the things that I’ve been through.

Ice cold, baby, I told you; Im ice cold.

Who said it first, Frank Ocean or Christopher Columbus?

I’ve never been taught how to adequately mourn the nights spent bitching about a brisk wind; the night we almost got stranded trying to get to J before the cold swallowed them whole.

I want to give everything I’ve been handed a good cry. Red skin & chapped lips deserve it.  

Good grief, what has Texas done to me.

An article features a person walking past tents near I-35. 

I can’t cry about the body but I feel it.

A highway splits a nation from its promise to be one.

Everything feels blurry and the palm trees have died.

Everything transported here withers away eventually.

6 months later and I haven’t been able to shovel out my sadness.

A news report said that it’s safe to go back to work. & I listen, because what else can you do in 6 inches of white.

The snow melted and I still feel frostbitten.

There are no heroes in a freeze-frame changing nothing.

I pose begrudgingly. Say cheese & then write this.

I’m not a survivor; just still breathing.

I remember grief, loves grand finale.

What else do we have if not the memory of life before this?

I cannot tell you how many lives I’ve lost to mourning, but I can tell you that the sky does what it does.

Let’s go for a walk & touch the trees that survived like us.

Let’s write a future more joyful & less inevitable in segments of leaves.

Anything we dream will be better than this.

Copyright © 2022 by KB Brookins. Originally published in Poem-a-Day on April 23, 2022, by the Academy of American Poets.

Ocean, every so often, a kitchen tile or child’s toy 
rises from you, years after the hurricane’s passed. 

This time, the disaster was somewhere else. 
The disaster was always somewhere else, until it wasn’t. 

Punctuation of the morning after: comma between red sky
and sailors’ warning; white space where a storm cloud lowers. 

Where the bay breaks away, the sentence ends: a waning
crescent of peninsula, barely visible 

but for the broken buildings, the ambulance lights. 
Ocean, even now, even shaken, you hold the memory 

of words, of worlds that failed slowly, then all at once. A
flotilla of gulls falls onto you, mourners draped in slate.

Copyright © 2022 by Liza Katz Duncan. Originally published in Poem-a-Day on April 30, 2022, by the Academy of American Poets.

That’s when two stuff 
Touch, yeah? 

Just like when the tides come in 
And touch the shores 
Bringing what it will. 

Fish from the deep 
Limu from the shores 
ʻOpihi from the rocks 
Coconuts on the drift 
Logs from the continent 
People from around the world 
Plastics and ʻopala of all sorts. 

The shore has no choice 
It has to accept 
Whatever the tides bring. 

Here we are 
In this swirling muliwai 
Of ideas and manaʻo 
Philosophies and spiritualities. 

Like the tides 
Ebbing and flowing 
The shore has no choice. 

But we do! 

Copyright © 2022 by Imaikalani Kalahele. Originally published in Poem-a-Day on May 11, 2022, by the Academy of American Poets.

—AP News headline

The teacher remembers pulling the door
closed. She thought the door
would lock because that door
is always supposed to lock. The door
failed to lock. They say when god closes a door
the shooter will fire through the door’s

windows. At first they said she left the door
open and the shooter got through the door.
She remembers she had opened the door
to carry in supplies, propping the door
open with a rock. But she closed the door
when she heard the shooter just outside the doors.

I ran back into the building. I still had the rock in the door.
So—I opened the door—
kicked the rock—and then locked the door.
Later, they verified she had closed the door
and the door
did not lock. Later, there will be a closed-door

inquiry at the state Capitol. It’s through the closed door
that all the men with guns will enter. The classroom doors
have windows above the knobs. The glass on one door
shatters from gunfire and a man walks through the door-
frame and fires more than 100 rounds. A thin blue door
connects one classroom to another. He shot the door,

a girl in the classroom tells the 911 dispatcher. Through the door
bullets graze two officers and they retreat farther from the door.
No other men with guns will go near the classroom door
for another forty minutes. They said they needed the door’s
key from the janitor. It remains unclear if they tried the door
to see if it was locked. The girl calls again and watches the door

and covers herself in her dead friend’s blood and this is how the door
between heaven and hell cracks open. The door-
way is a thin blue line. The men with guns unlock the door
and shoot the shooter who shoots back from the closet door-
frame. The governor orders all the schools to check their doors
each week and all the doors everywhere come unhinged and every door

is a door is a door is a door is a door
is a door is a door is a door is a door
is a door is a door is a door is a door.

Copyright © 2022 by Deborah Paredez. Originally published in Poem-a-Day on July 25, 2022, by the Academy of American Poets.

For the sentiment. — Then you don’t love the poem you love the sentiment.
For the message. — Then you don’t love the poem you love the message.
For the music. — Then you don’t love the poem you love the music.
For the spirit. — Then you don’t love the poem you love the spirit.
For the intelligence. — Then you don’t love the poem you love the intelligence. 
For the courage. — Then you don’t love the poem you love the courage.
For the inspiration. — Then you don’t love the poem you love the inspiration. 
For the emotion. — Then you don’t love the poem you love the emotion. 
For the vocabulary. — Then you don’t love the poem you love the vocabulary. 
For the poet. — Then you don’t love the poem you love the poet.
For the meaning. — Then you don’t love the poem you love the meaning.
For what it stands for. — Then you don’t love the poem you love what it stands for.
For the words. — Then you don’t love the poem you love the words.
For the syntax. — Then you don’t love the poem you love the syntax.
For the politics. — Then you don’t love the poem you love the politics.
For the beauty. — Then you don’t love the poem you love the beauty.
For the outrage. — Then you don’t love the poem you love the outrage.
For the tenderness. — Then you don’t love the poem you love the tenderness.
For the hope. — Then you don’t love the poem you love the hope. 
For itself. — Then you love the poem.

Copyright © 2022 by Charles Bernstein. Originally published in Poem-a-Day on July 27, 2022, by the Academy of American Poets.

And every time, I say this is the last time, now

that we know what travel can grift from the body.

She is naked as I am now, but drunk. In bed.

The place dark, the bamboo blinds like split brooms.

A few weeks before, he’d slipped in using his key,

skittered the dog waiting at the top of the stairs,

watered the mums he’d left on the counter,

put away the wine. He doesn’t mention

coming to the room and she can’t remember.

But this night, every courtesy is whittled

to her littlest part, its radical pink, for once,

indistinguishable from everything: darkness;

his shirt; singed mothwings splayed

on the lampshade like pencil shavings;

wet receipts stuck to the bottom of the vase.

Persephone emerged each spring with the inventory

of her kingdom still clinging to her ankles,

and there were whispers that she grew to love

what we never wanted: swollen Easter fruit, 

its uninvited flesh blue as the vein

bisecting the corridor of my inner thigh.

Each time I go back, I want to sit

with the body. I want to say, “One day you’ll fold

into nights devoid of liquor and lose the taste.

Your joints will ache; your body will try to leave

in ways only your ancestors understand.”

I never think to tell him, “Stop”; tell her “Wake up.”

She’s still afraid of other women, endings, and the dead.

And so I leave, but with the door ajar

as if to say, “Beloved, what has happened

to me shouldn’t happen to you. But until

it does, there is nothing I can tell you.”

Copyright © 2022 by Destiny O. Birdsong. Originally published in Poem-a-Day on August 5, 2022, by the Academy of American Poets.

after Dorothea Grossman

During the pandemic, after he was laid off, it was his idea
to forage for edible weeds around Queens when our food grew scarce.

From the stoop, I would watch him crouched on one knee,
his bare hands between telephone poles,

pulling up green stars from the control joints
under our mailbox full of clover mites & commercial flyers.

I almost forgot how sprawl could be so quiet.

When he returned inside, he rinsed off the stalks,
placed a rolled lot on his tongue and then on mine.

He mentioned how “sticky” foods could be a delicacy
in other cultures, as I turned my back and coughed them out.

And later in the evening, he read to me about how
indigenous women prevented pregnancy by drinking

cleaver tea, as he handed me a tall cup of it swirling with honey.

Copyright © 2022 by Michelle Whittaker. Originally published in Poem-a-Day on August 31, 2022, by the Academy of American Poets.

On a visit to my Amá’s, she drives us to the DMV.
She must renew her license every few months.
The asylum case has not yet been approved.
Not enough evidence that home is unsafe.
The line is long. The DMV is inside a mall.
In America, everything is for sale. Migrants
pay for safety. We pay people to believe
that what we tell them is true, especially
when we have spared them the hardest
facts to hold. Immigration, DMV, school,
and medical forms ask for our stories.
We pay for our stories too. We pay in smiles,
pretend laughs, head nods, empty stomachs,
panic attacks reserved for elevators,
migraines that will last four days but go
unnamed :: unuttered. After thirty-eight, or
forty minutes, we advance seven or so people
and the Carter’s window is visible from where
Amá and I stand. Overalls. My heart raises.
Eyes begin to shake. Mall lighting hurts
my eyes. I see five Carter’s logos and know
there is only one. I slam my back against the
glass windows. People look (and pretend they
don’t). I try to find my inhaler. It’s not in my
pockets. I close my eyes. I think about a boy.
Kissing a boy. I think about him more. I open
my eyes and look for my mother. Avoid looking
at the Carter’s again. The DMV does not
renew the license. Something about an error
or a glitch :: a document and migration :: (maybe)
a mother and a child. At five, I wore a pair of
overalls. Crossed a border in them too.

Copyright © 2022 by Alan Pelaez Lopez. Originally published in Poem-a-Day on October 25, 2022, by the Academy of American Poets.

translated from the Anishinaabemowin

Here in my native inland sea
From pain and sickness would I flee
And from its shores and island bright
Gather a store of sweet delight.
Lone island of the saltless sea!
How wide, how sweet, how fresh and free
How all transporting—is the view
Of rocks and skies and waters blue
Uniting, as a song’s sweet strains
To tell, here nature only reigns.
Ah, nature! here forever sway
Far from the haunts of men away
For here, there are no sordid fears,
No crimes, no misery, no tears
No pride of wealth; the heart to fill,
No laws to treat my people ill.

This poem is in the public domain. Published in Poem-a-Day on November 12, 2022, by the Academy of American Poets.

—Her fish scales, her chains, the woman’s headless                                  
wings and blown

tunic of Parian marble. —The wet-see-thru
camisole. By sea she’s

arrived, lighting on the ship’s prow. One leg
thrust forward, the draped sails

of robes. (Somewhere near, between defeat and prayer, a drive-by
shooting. —The candy thrown around the body, the ambulance. They stole

the dead girl’s dog, while far away outside Jakarta
in sweatshops some work for 20 cents an hour, and there’s

one with his mouth taped shut in sunlight.) From a sanctuary
she was unearthed and taken to the Louvre

where on the grand Daru staircase she stands, stolen, moving           
in several directions at once.

Copyright © 2022 by Mark Irwin. Originally published in Poem-a-Day on December 8, 2022, by the Academy of American Poets.

grand·fa·ther.  (noun) 1. the father of one’s father or mother: As in, my father’s father, my grandfather, sharecropped on a farm in Midway, AL. Angry all the time, he fled to Ohio for cleaner work, but the same dirt beat him down through his day. 2. the person who founded or originated something: In 1832, Thomas D. Rice, grandfather of Jim Crow, popularizes the phrase with a song of same name, dancing and singing in blackface, to play a trickster figure, without the wisdom of Anansi, but “nah, uh-uh, nah nah nah nah nah nah nah nah nah,” was all black people heard when he sang his song.


grand·fa·ther.  (verb) [with object] 1. North American informal exempt (someone or something) from a new law or regulation: Landowners, who stole land from indigenous people before the Federal Land Policy and Management Act struck this behavior down in 1976, have been grandfathered in to keep these hallowed grounds. Grandfathered in, their children’s children also can keep the land. Those from whom land was stolen, those who were raided, raped, and run out of town—Greenwood, OK; Eatonville, FL; Wilmington, NC; Vicksburg, MS; etc. —leaving their homes behind, have been grandfathered in to continue looking for a place to feel safe to call home. 2. to permit to continue under a grandfather clause: As in, to pass down privilege, which is grandfathered in the blood of law, passed down, grandfathered in speech to mean passed down to continue but not to offend just to understand, with your grandfather and with mine, passed from one kin to another, no fault of mine, just passed past your grandfather to mine to me, just law, just an idiom of life, you understand; we all started the same and no grandfathering of my grandfather bears down on you, maybe just on your grandfather, son.

Copyright © 2022 by A. Van Jordan. Originally published in Poem-a-Day on December 7, 2022, by the Academy of American Poets.

sometimes you can’t stay on your own mainland. 
some story of exile, unique each time: a home 
you feel apart from rather than of 

the re-negotiation among space and rulership. 
an aimless god, his insistence on
a fantasy of order 

the number you call to confirm the time, that tells you 
where to go by putting you there—horizon beyond 
the heart you know best—so it hurts, so you learn. 

the aimless god in you, his lucite throne, 
the space you’ve made, what you could 
imagine from whence you came 

Copyright © 2023 by Renia White. Originally published in Poem-a-Day on January 6, 2023, by the Academy of American Poets.

Ars Poetica

Copyright © 2023 by Nabila Lovelace. Originally published in Poem-a-Day on January 16, 2023, by the Academy of American Poets.

[a do-over]
for Mr. Douglas

been screamin all night          god      why daddy gone
dress all distress(d)    hair dyin          fo(r) a com(b)
tussy done los(t) its hold on her         her stank
                                    bruh try to lif(t) her off flo(or)  but cant

ma’dear say    leave her on de flo{or) we late
            dress steam(d)-press(d)         miss-my-man bake(d) on her face
                        & den her yell  joe we leavin   den stan(d) still
                                    her forgot dat quic(k)              her man’s deff real-real

now ma’dear join sis’belle screamin on flo(or)
dey cabaret to prove who luv(d) joe mo(re)

Copyright © 2023 by avery r. young. Originally published in Poem-a-Day on February 20, 2023, by the Academy of American Poets.