The rising sun had crowned the hills,
            And added beauty to the plain;
O grand and wondrous spectacle!
            That only nature could explain.

I stood within a leafy grove,
            And gazed around in blissful awe;
The sky appeared one mass of blue,
            That seemed to spread from sea to shore.

Far as the human eye could see,
            Were stretched the fields of waving corn.
Soft on my ear the warbling birds
            Were heralding the birth of morn.

While here and there a cottage quaint
            Seemed to repose in quiet ease
Amid the trees, whose leaflets waved
            And fluttered in the passing breeze.

O morning hour! so dear thy joy,
            And how I longed for thee to last;
But e’en thy fading into day
            Brought me an echo of the past.

 ‘Twas this,—how fair my life began;
            How pleasant was its hour of dawn;
But, merging into sorrow’s day,
            Then beauty faded with the morn.

This poem is in the public domain. Published in Poem-a-Day on November 23, 2019, by the Academy of American Poets. 

This veil
Of lavender and dawn
Floats off
And this of purple noon
Unwinds in wisdom,
Twitters, undulates,
Dips, darts, 
And this of night
Circles around me singing
To the very edge and presence of the young moon—
And it brushes the tip
Like lips
Three times.

This poem is in the public domain, and originally appeared in Others for 1919; An Anthology of the New Verse (Nicholas L. Brown, 1920). 

This is what life is really like.
This is what life is really like.
This is what life is really like every day.

—Gray Parrot, Vienna, 1943.

In the circus animals’ diary: “And all this was destroyed in ninety minutes.”
Makeshift forests flaming to high heavens, metal bent bars.
Siberian tigers, black panthers, jaguars, pumas,
bears, hyenas and wolves, and all the lion pit saved from burning
by the keepers’ own hands. By bullets. Only so much can be said.
Herbage will be scarce. Nature will gather like sleeping poppies
over the craters and lost species.
The African wart-hog will be cooked over an open fire in the garden.
One thinks of one’s restlessness, Faustian—
in the minutes-before-dawn dark
with the devil cry of black crows, the miry skull
of the half-eaten rabbit, then gold grimy hills
and light-making jewels and hand mirrors among the trees.
Why are you here? It dawns. All this will never be again.
The circus can’t be locked. 

Copyright © 2017 by Carol Frost. Originally published in Poem-a-Day on August 24, 2017, by the Academy of American Poets.

A man can’t die where there is no earth
because there will be no place
to bury him. His body is the sky
and understands the language of birds.
His body says the earth is made of everything
that has fallen from Heaven
while no one was looking. He promises
to defy gravity and then return home.
A man can’t reach for the sky and not feel
he is falling. It goes on forever and the birds
talk about the awesomeness of flight
while the oxen labor in the fields,
while the cows eat grass and dream
of slaughter. A man can’t talk about flight
because one day, there will be no sky,
just the body covered in earth.
And now the sky is empty of birds.
And now the earth is covered in flowers.

Copyright © 2017 by W. Todd Kaneko. Originally published in Poem-a-Day on December 14, 2017, by the Academy of American Poets.

I’ve memorized its heart pounding into my thumb.
Breath buoys out. My fingers know how to kill,
closing on the bird’s slippery head.

I don’t remember. Was it that beak bit my chin?
Was it a claw cut my wrist? I blow feathers
away from its chest, smelling pennies and rain.

Skin like granite, a real white-blue, flecked
by knots of new growth. I found my need,
cold in cupped palms, just the way I was taught.

I return to account for whose neck falls around
backwards. Eyes that go cataract bring clouds.

That fat pearl with wings looks like water disappearing in me.

From Eye of Water by Amber Flora Thomas © 2005. Reprinted by permission of the University of Pittsburgh Press.

The Hello Kitty piñata’s head
swings from the pepper tree—
a sweet decapitation. Glitter
across the rental table & pink
paper flowers wilt in the succulents.
This is the stale beer & cigarettes
of seven-year-olds. “My fluffy puppy
is so soft” still means “my fluffy
puppy is so soft.” I’m seducing
my wife the way good men
of my generation do, by rinsing
blue & red sticky plates & taking out
heavy cake trash. I’m celebrating
their lack of cool. No fights
over girls or boys to save face,
just face paint, just little
leopards everywhere.

Copyright © 2018 Noah Blaustein. Used with permission of the author. This poem originally appeared in The Southern Review, Summer 2018.

                                       after Hieronymus Bosch

There’s no there there, no here here—
a timetable shows the missing trains, the fruit bowl longs for oranges.
We went ahead to lurch behind, booked
a passage so circuitous it carves
new dimensions in the tabletops. They’ve posted
soldiers in the laundromats and everything you want

Irradiates to dust. I wanted
to become a different human, left myself here
among the daisies, tied the horse to a newell post
and let him nibble all the oranges.
Sweet tongue to the fruit, sweet agronome—carve
statues out of butter to venerate the cows—your books

with all their fractured mirrors, diminish me, bookend
this life with the twin ghosts of hollowness and want.
Among all the things we might have carved
into trees or out of marble, not a single effigy captures the here
of our simplicity, the rolling hips of fields, the slutty orange
of trees that turn on you each fall. Whereas a fence is made of posts

the country’s made of crosses and we post
death threats on the clothesline flapping with the sheets. I thought a good book
could solve it all, the proper smile. Yet tyranny wears orange
trappings, a mine fire, a deposition. I want
something to put my body in, I want to feel the here-
and-now draw its tongue along my neck, carve

a cuneiform instruction manual in my shoulder blades, make me a carved
idol for this new century of cosmic meltdown. Write this on a Post-it
note and affix it to the future: “Here
lies the history of America, one big comic book
of medical interventions.” There’s a way to want
that’s simple as our minds. There’s an orange

sun fatter than the sky, an orange
demon on a blitzkrieg mission to barbeque oblivion. Carve
me a corner I might hole up in, give way to what you want
and want for nothing. All we have are postage
stamps from foreign places, an attic full of musty yarn. Strike a matchbook
to it all, flee the scene and we were never there.

I want so many things for us, post my hopes on a telephone pole like lost puppies
but the book is here, our names carved from its narrative—all lost, all devastation.
Peel and pith the orange holds its essence in its skin. Peel and pith its bitterness, too.

Copyright © 2020 by Marci Nelligan. Originally published in Poem-a-Day on January 17, 2020, by the Academy of American Poets.