Hand trembling towards hand; the amazing lights Of heart and eye. They stood on supreme heights. Ah, the delirious weeks of honeymoon! Soon they returned, and, after strange adventures, Settled at Balham by the end of June. Their money was in Can. Pacs. B. Debentures, And in Antofagastas. Still he went Cityward daily; still she did abide At home. And both were really quite content With work and social pleasures. Then they died. They left three children (besides George, who drank): The eldest Jane, who married Mr. Bell, William, the head-clerk in the County Bank, And Henry, a stock-broker, doing well.
This poem is in the public domain. Published in Poem-a-Day on August 11, 2018, by the Academy of American Poets.
Shame on you for dating a museum:
Everything is dead there and nothing is alive.
Not everyone who lives to be old embraces
the publicity of it all. I mean, you get up and folks
want to know, How did you get here? What makes you
go? What is the secret? And there is no secret except
there are many things that build the years out.
They are not vegetables every day and working out
but a faith that all of these things add up
and lead us to some sum total happiness
we can cash in for forever love in the face
of never lasting. That people along the way
keep disappearing in a variety show of deathbed ways
is also the sheer terror that it may not hold for us too.
That we may outlast everything and be left
alone to keep going, never Icarus with wax melting,
never the one whose smoke & drink undid
the lungs that pull our wings in then out and the liver
that keeps chugging the heft of Elizabeth Cotten’s
“Freight Train” with her upside down left hand guitar still
playing in videos past her presence. I have become a person since
I reorganized my face in the mirror and the world is my inflation.
But this testament offers no sound or silence since
nothing is proven yet and you are still here,
the dead stars’ light landing on your rods and cones
in a vitrine of cameos building—blink.
Copyright © 2017 by Amy King. Originally published in Poem-a-Day on August 16, 2017, by the Academy of American Poets.
Here you go
light low and long
in the fields
at sunset and sunrise
a doubled existence
yours and the other one
folded into a paper boat
the points of which
root tangled in sand,
sea-iris, brittle flower,
one petal like a shell
and you print a shadow
like a thin twig.
scented and stinging,
sweet and salt—you are wind
in our nostrils.
Do the murex-fishers
drench you as they pass?
Do your roots drag up colour
from the sand?
Have they slipped gold under you—
rivets of gold?
Band of iris-flowers
above the waves,
you are painted blue,
painted like a fresh prow
stained among the salt weeds.
This poem is in the public domain.
I love the whir of the creature come
to visit the pink
flowers in the hanging basket as she does
most August mornings, hours away
from starvation to store
enough energy to survive overnight.
The Aztecs saw the refraction
of incident light on wings
as resurrection of fallen warriors.
In autumn, when daylight decreases
they double their body weight to survive
the flight across the Gulf of Mexico.
On next-to-nothing my mother
flew for 85 years; after her death
she hovered, a bird of bones and air.
Copyright © 2017 by Robin Becker. Originally published in Poem-a-Day on August 21, 2017, by the Academy of American Poets.
Still must the poet as of old,
In barren attic bleak and cold,
Starve, freeze, and fashion verses to
Such things as flowers and song and you;
Still as of old his being give
In Beauty’s name, while she may live,
Beauty that may not die as long
As there are flowers and you and song.
“To Kathleen” was published in A Few Figs from Thistles (Harper & Brothers, 1922). This poem is in the public domain.
I could complain. I’ve done it before.
I could explain. I could say, for instance, that
I’m sick of being slaughtered in my life’s mountain passes,
covering my own long retreat,
the rear guard of my own brutal defeat—
dysentery and frostbite and snipers,
the mules freezing to death,
blizzards whipping the famished fires until they expire,
the pathetic mosquito notes of my horn . . .
But, instead, for once, I’m keeping quiet, and maybe tomorrow
or maybe the day after or maybe the day after that
I’m just going to drive away down the coast
and not come back.
I haven’t told anyone, and I won’t.
I won’t dim with words the radiance of my gesture.
And besides, the ones who care have guessed already.
Looking at them looking at me, I know they know
when they turn their backs I’ll go.
The secrets I was planning to floor them with?
They’re already packed in my trunk, in straw,
in a reinforced casket.
The bitter but herbal and medicinal truths I concocted
to revive them with?
Tomorrow or the day after or the day after that,
on the volcano beaches fringed with black sand
and heaped with tangled beds of kelp,
by the obsidian tide pools that cradle the ribbed limpet
and the rockbound star,
I’ll scatter those truths to the sea breezes,
and float the secrets on the waters that the moon
reels in and plays out,
reels in and plays out,
with a little votive candle burning on their casket,
and then I’ll just be there, in the sunset’s coppery sheen,
in the dawn pearled by discrete, oblong, intimate clouds
that move without desire or motive.
Look at the clouds. Look how close they are.
Copyright © 2016 by Vijay Seshadri. Originally published in Poem-a-Day on June 14, 2016, by the Academy of American Poets.
It’s a little bit
true that the
hole in my jacket
the breast pocket
yeah all relaxed
has a hole &
one’s in the lining
but this one
now it’s a writing
silly black out there
in the air &
I was on
my feet are cold
and you wouldn’t
be in the
long it doesn’t happen
there’s no climate
in a plane
and I was in one
but not on
each thing I do
is a little
bit wrong. I’m willing
but they never
out the hole
forget but I
Copyright © 2017 by Eileen Myles. Originally published in Poem-a-Day on September 12, 2017, by the Academy of American Poets.
Sorry for mercury strewn in veins of fish,
for traces of carbon monoxide loose in the air,
for radiation that circles and enters the aura.
Sorry for deliberate puffs and sips
late in the night, for an empty stomach
burning with coffee grounds,
for words of magma, thoughts rough as tufa
scratching the indivisible cells, fragile nerves,
divisions of labor and function,
for scraping skin until it bled, garnet
scars in constellation form, for chemicals
bathing in a pool of genetics, under viral stars.
I’m looking to cleanse regret. I want to give
you a balm for lesions, give you evening
primrose, milk thistle, turmeric, borage,
feet moving toward a language
of trees, hands deciphering sediment, steady
rhythm back in the pulse, the breathing you knew
before you were born. Believe me that we began
together and I will mend each sheath of myelin,
reverse the dark that grows behind my eyes.
Copyright © 2018 Lory Bedikian. Used with permission of the author. This poem originally appeared in Tin House, Fall 2018.
butterfly on a tissue box
not a real one
one more sign
poured a choice to feel or
stack bricks between
I was sad when my
talented friend started designing
he told me to grow up
but the rocks in the desert I touch
signal an endless new place something
without money saying “never tire of
demanding love for the world”
Copyright © 2015 by CAConrad. Originally published in Poem-a-Day on December 8, 2015, by the Academy of American Poets.
(for Ntozake Shange) I used to be a roller coaster girl 7 times in a row No vertigo in these skinny legs My lipstick bubblegum pink As my panther 10 speed. never kissed Nappy pigtails, no-brand gym shoes White lined yellow short-shorts Scratched up legs pedaling past borders of humus and baba ganoush Masjids and liquor stores City chicken, pepperoni bread and superman ice cream Cones. Yellow black blending with bits of Arabic Islam and Catholicism. My daddy was Jesus My mother was quiet Jayne Kennedy was worshipped by my brother Mark I don’t remember having my own bed before 12. Me and my sister Lisa shared. Sometimes all three Moore girls slept in the Queen. You grow up so close never close enough. I used to be a roller coaster girl Wild child full of flowers and ideas Useless crushes on polish boys in a school full of white girls. Future black swan singing Zeppelin, U2 and Rick Springfield Hoping to be Jessie’s Girl I could outrun my brothers and Everybody else to that reoccurring line I used to be a roller coaster girl Till you told me I was moving too fast Said my rush made your head spin My laughter hurt your ears A scream of happiness A whisper of freedom Pouring out my armpits Sweating up my neck You were always the scared one I kept my eyes open for the entire trip Right before the drop I would brace myself And let that force push my head back into That hard iron seat My arms nearly fell off a few times Still, I kept running back to the line When I was done Same way I kept running back to you I used to be a roller coaster girl I wasn’t scared of mountains or falling Hell, I looked forward to flying and dropping Off this earth and coming back to life every once in a while I found some peace in being out of control allowing my blood to race through my veins for 180 seconds I earned my sometime nicotine pull I buy my own damn drinks & the ocean Still calls my name when it feels my toes Near its shore. I still love roller coasters & you grew up to be Afraid of all girls who cld ride Fearlessly like me.
Copyright © 2019 by jessica Care moore. Originally published in Poem-a-Day on April 4, 2019, by the Academy of American Poets.
because my mother named me after a child borne still
to a godmother I’ve never met I took another way to be
known—something easier to remember inevitable
to forget something that rolls over the surface of thrush
because I grew tired of saying
no it’s pronounced… now I’m tired of not
conjuring that ghost I honor say it with me: Airea
rhymes with sarah
sarah from the latin meaning a “woman of high rank”
which also means whenever I ask anyone to hold me
in their mouth I sound like what I almost am
hear me out: I’m not a dee or a river
charging through working-class towns where union folk
cogwedge for plots & barely any house at all
where bosses mangle ethnic phonemes & nobody says one
word because checks in the mail so let’s end this
classist pretend where names don’t matter
& language is too heavy a lift my “e” is silent
like most people should be the consonant is sonorant
is a Black woman or one might say the spine
I translate to ‘wind’ in a country known for its iron
imply “lioness of God” in Jesus’ tongue
mean “apex predator” free of known enemy
fierce enough to harm or fast enough to run
all I’m saying is this:
the tongue has no wings to flee what syllables it fears
the mouth is no womb has no right to swallow up
what it did not make
Copyright © 2019 Airea D. Matthews. Originally published in Poem-a-Day on May 17, 2019, by the Academy of American Poets.
I asked my wife
to check the hive,
if the hive
no wife, no hive.)
Yes, she said,
from where she’d
a new wind. Then
she said again,
only this time
a bit more softly.
Copyright © 2019 by G. C. Waldrep. Originally published in Poem-a-Day on May 27, 2019, by the Academy of American Poets.
I cannot consider scent without you, I cannot
think that color so gay, so Japanese, so vernal
without you; not assassination or any death in any spring. I think of you
and I am man-and-woman, flawed as a Lincoln,
welcoming as a window-box, and so tenderly alliterative as to draw one near—
at times, perhaps, to withdraw from all—yes,
without you I am without pulse in that dooryard, that blooming unfurling
so tell me finally, is last as in the last time or to make something last
—to hold, to hold you, to memorize fast—
Copyright © 2019 by Kimiko Hahn. Originally published in Poem-a-Day on December 12, 2019, by the Academy of American Poets.
white field. And the dog
dashing past me
into the blank,
toward the nothing.
not running anymore but
this idea of him, still
in his gold
what I loved him for
first, so that now
on the blankets piled
in one corner
of the animal hospital
where they’ve brought him out
a final hour, two,
before the needle
with its cold
he trembles with what
he once was: breath
and muscle puncturing
the snow, sudden
stetting over the tips
of the meadow’s buried
was it, a rabbit?
Field mouse? Dashing
past me on my skis,
for the first time
faster, as if
he had been hiding this,
his good uses. What
a shock to watch
what you know unfold
deeper into, or out of
itself. It is like
loving an animal:
hopeless, an extravagance
we were meant for:
by what we’re willing
to feel. The tips
of the grasses high
in the white. And the flat
light, drops of water
on the gold
coat, the red, the needle
moving in, then out,
and now the sound of an animal
rushing past me in the snow.
From Imaginary Vessels (Copper Canyon Press, 2016). Copyright © 2016 by Paisley Rekdal. Used with the permission of the poet.
I had a beautiful dream I was dancing with a tree.
Some things on this earth are unspeakable:
Genealogy of the broken—
A shy wind threading leaves after a massacre,
Or the smell of coffee and no one there—
Some humans say trees are not sentient beings,
But they do not understand poetry—
Nor can they hear the singing of trees when they are fed by
Wind, or water music—
Or hear their cries of anguish when they are broken and bereft—
Now I am a woman longing to be a tree, planted in a moist, dark earth
Between sunrise and sunset—
I cannot walk through all realms—
I carry a yearning I cannot bear alone in the dark—
What shall I do with all this heartache?
The deepest-rooted dream of a tree is to walk
Even just a little ways, from the place next to the doorway—
To the edge of the river of life, and drink—
I have heard trees talking, long after the sun has gone down:
Imagine what would it be like to dance close together
In this land of water and knowledge. . .
To drink deep what is undrinkable.
From Conflict Resolution for Holy Beings by Joy Harjo. Copyright © 2015 by Joy Harjo. Used with permission of the publisher, W. W. Norton & Company, Inc. All rights reserved.