If when my wife is sleeping and the baby and Kathleen are sleeping and the sun is a flame-white disc in silken mists above shining trees,— if I in my north room dance naked, grotesquely before my mirror waving my shirt round my head and singing softly to myself: "I am lonely, lonely, I was born to be lonely, I am best so!" If I admire my arms, my face, my shoulders, flanks, buttocks against the yellow drawn shades,— Who shall say I am not the happy genius of my household?
Copyright © 1962 by William Carlos Williams. Used with permission of New Directions Publishing Corporation. All rights reserved. No part of this poem may be reproduced in any form without the written consent of the publisher.
This morning I love everyone,
even Jerome, the neighbor I hate,
and the sun. And the sun
has pre-warmed my bucket seat
for the drive up Arsenal Street
with the hot car effect,
a phenomenon climatologists
use to explain global warming
to senators and kids.
I love the limited edition
Swingline gold stapler
in the oil change lounge
which can, like a poem,
affix anything to anything
on paper. One sheet of paper,
for instance, for that cloud of gnats,
one for this lady’s pit mix
wagging his tail so violently
I fear he’ll hurt his hips.
One sheet for glittered lip balm,
for eye contact, Bitcoin extortion
and the imperfect tense.
Sheets for each unfulfilled wish
I left in a penny in a mall fountain.
Sun spills into the lounge
through the window decal
in geometric Tetris wedges.
I have a sheet for Tetris,
its random sequence of pieces
falling toward me in this well
like color coded aspects of the life
I neglected to live, for the pleasure
of making line after line
disappear. The gold stapler
has twenty-sheet capacity
so I straighten my stack
on the reception counter
and staple the day together
with an echoing chunk.
Copyright © 2020 by Ted Mathys. Originally published in Poem-a-Day on March 31, 2020 by the Academy of American Poets.
Only a few people and three alley cats remember when the house was gray, not yellow. A pair of empty swing sets at the schoolyard rock themselves to sleep for a late-afternoon nap. A blue dog used to trot on top of little ginkgo fans confettied on the sidewalk like he showed up too late to a parade. Farther down the avenue is a baby who seems to lose her pacifier each day around seven o’clock. Tulip bulbs that a girl once planted and sprinkled with pepper flakes have all been scratched up by brave squirrels who now strut the street with tiny blistered mouths. When they chew chickadee wing in their wet, hot mouths, the alley cats become accomplices. This is her legacy. Her footprints are everywhere:
every gate is her
red mouth on fire—birds want
to speak but cannot
From Oceanic (Copper Canyon Press, 2018). Copyright © 2018 by Aimee Nezhukumatathil. Used with the permission of The Permissions Company, Inc.m on behalf of Copper Canyon Press, www.coppercanyonpress.org. All rights reserved.
I have faith in the single glossy capsule of a butterfly egg.
I have faith in the way a wasp nest is never quiet
and never wants to be. I have faith that the pile of forty
painted turtles balanced on top of each other will not fall
as the whole messy mass makes a scrabble-run
for the creek and away from a fox’s muddy paws.
I have been thinking of you on these moonless nights—
nights so full of blue fur and needle-whiskers, I don’t dare
linger outside for long. I wonder if scientists could classify
us a binary star—something like Albireo, four-hundred
light years away. I love that this star is actually two—
one blue, one gold, circling each other, never touching—
a single star soldered and edged in two colors if you spy it
on a clear night in July. And if this evening, wherever you are,
brings you face to face with a raccoon or possum—
be careful of the teeth and all that wet bite.
During the darkest part of the night, teeth grow longer
in their mouths. And if the oleander spins you still
another way—take a turn and follow it. It will help you avoid
the spun-light sky, what singularity we might’ve become.
Copyright @ 2014 by Aimee Nezhukumatathil. Used with permission of the author. This poem appeared in Poem-a-Day on May 20, 2014.
An absence declares
its blunt self. I can’t believe the extent
of my luck, heard twice, like violets
in a bath of lukewarm water.
The city was my father’s though none
of its sweetness appears here living
before you. A strong instrument.
A blowing on the hands
and neck. A curtain almost open.
I inherited a stiff collar sewn
against loveliness where once
we must have walked freely into
the city square and gathered
there like an intention. Two lips bloomed
on my mother’s cheek. I felt
a heavenly peace. Here, the marker you
might have waited for: ancient
dough, rolled and fried. These days
the lyric’s sentiment floats
away from me. Like a river someone
forgets to bless. Memory, to memory,
to the dirt path opening
again in a dream. I have not been back
for so many years. I walk the distance
in my mind, the margins flowing by
like so much foreign water.
Copyright © 2018 Wendy Xu. This poem originally appeared in Tin House, Winter 2018. Used with permission of the authors.