19

This is the bird hour, peony blossoms falling bigger than wren hearts
On the cutting border's railroad ties,
Sparrows and other feathery things
Homing from one hedge to the next,
                                                    late May, gnat-floating evening.

Is love stronger than unlove?
                                         Only the unloved know.
And the mockingbird, whose heart is cloned and colorless.

And who's this tiny chirper,
                         lost in the loose leaves of the weeping cherry tree?
His song is not more than three feet off the ground, and singular,
And going nowhere.
Listen. It sounds a lot like you, hermano.
                                                           It sounds like me.

Reprinted from Littlefoot © 2007 by Charles Wright, by permission of Farrar, Straus and Giroux. Learn more about FSG poets at fsgpoetry.com.

A dream, still clinging like light to the dark, rounding
The gap left by things which have already happened
Leaving nothing in their place, may have nothing to do
But that. Dreams are like ghosts achieving ghosts’ perennial goal
Of revoking the sensation of repose. It’s terrible
To think we write these things for them, to tell them
Of our life—that is, our whole life. Along comes a dream
Of a machine. Why? What is being sold there? How is the product
emitted?
It must have been sparked by a noise, the way the very word “spark”
emits a brief picture. Is it original? Inevitable?
We seem to sleep so as to draw the picture
Of events that have already happened so we can picture
Them. A dream for example of a procession to an execution site.
How many strangers could circle the space while speaking of nostalgia
And of wolves in the hills? We find them
Thinking of nothing instead—there’s no one to impersonate, nothing
To foresee. It’s logical that prophesies would be emitted
Through the gaps left by previous things, or by the dead
Refusing conversation and contemplating beauty instead.
But isn’t that the problem with beauty—that it’s apt in retrospect
To seem preordained? The dawn birds are trilling
A new day—it has the psychical quality of “pastness”  and they are trailing
It. The day breaks in an imperfectly continuous course
Of life. Sleep is immediate and memory nothing.

From The Book of a Thousand Eyes by Lyn Hejinian, published by Omnidawn. Copyright © 2012 by Lyn Hejinian. Used by permission. All rights reserved.

Coming at an end, the lovers
Are exhausted like two swimmers. Where
Did it end? There is no telling. No love is
Like an ocean with the dizzy procession of the waves’ boundaries
From which two can emerge exhausted, nor long goodbye
Like death.
Coming at an end. Rather, I would say, like a length
Of coiled rope
Which does not disguise in the final twists of its lengths
Its endings.
But, you will say, we loved
And some parts of us loved
And the rest of us will remain
Two persons. Yes,
Poetry ends like a rope.

From A Book of Music by Jack Spicer. Appears in My Vocabulary Did This to Me: The Collected Poetry of Jack Spicer (Wesleyan University Press, 2008). Used by permission.

A lane of Yellow led the eye
Unto a Purple Wood
Whose soft inhabitants to be
Surpasses solitude
If Bird the silence contradict
Or flower presume to show
In that low summer of the West
Impossible to know -

This poem is in the public domain.

        "Your gang's done gone away."                 
—The 119th Calypso, Cat's Cradle, Kurt Vonnegut, Jr.

Something seems to have gnawed that walnut leaf.

You face your wrinkles, daily, in the mirror.
But the wrinkles are so slimming, they rather flatter.

Revel in the squat luck of that unhappy tree,
who can't take a mate from among the oaks or gums.

Ah, but if I could I would, the mirror version says,
because he speaks to you. He is your truer self
all dopey in the glass. He wouldn't stand alone
for hours, without at least a feel for the gall of oaks,
the gum tree bud caps, the sweet gum's prickly balls.

Oh, he's a caution, that reflection man.
He's made himself a study in the trees.
You is a strewn shattered leaf I'd step on, he says.
Do whatever it is you'd like to do. Be quick.

Copyright © 2010 by D. A. Powell. Used by permission of the author.

East of me, west of me, full summer.
How deeper than elsewhere the dusk is in your own yard.
Birds fly back and forth across the lawn
                                        looking for home
As night drifts up like a little boat.

Day after day, I become of less use to myself.
Like this mockingbird,
                      I flit from one thing to the next.
What do I have to look forward to at fifty-four?
Tomorrow is dark.
                 Day-after-tomorrow is darker still.

The sky dogs are whimpering.
Fireflies are dragging the hush of evening
                                         up from the damp grass.
Into the world's tumult, into the chaos of every day,
Go quietly, quietly.

From Chickamauga, published by Farrar, Straus & Giroux. Copyright © 1995 by Charles Wright. All rights reserved. Used with permission.

Writing poems about writing poems
is like rolling bales of hay in Texas.
Nothing but the horizon to stop you.

But consider the railroad's edge of metal trash;
bird perches, miles of telephone wires.
What is so innocent as grazing cattle?
If you think about it, it turns into words.

Trash is so cheerful; flying up
like grasshoppers in front of the reaper.
The dust devil whirls it aloft; bronze candy wrappers,
squares of clear plastic—windows on a house of air.

Below the weedy edge in last year's mat,
red and silver beer cans.
In bits blown equally everywhere,
the gaiety of flying paper
and the black high flung patterns of flocking birds.

From This Art: Poems on Poetry edited by Michael Wiegers. Copyright © 2003 by Ruth Stone. Reprinted by permission of Copper Canyon Press. All right reserved.

We cannot know his legendary head
with eyes like ripening fruit. And yet his torso
is still suffused with brilliance from inside,
like a lamp, in which his gaze, now turned to low,

gleams in all its power. Otherwise
the curved breast could not dazzle you so, nor could
a smile run through the placid hips and thighs
to that dark center where procreation flared.

Otherwise this stone would seem defaced
beneath the translucent cascade of the shoulders
and would not glisten like a wild beast's fur:

would not, from all the borders of itself,
burst like a star: for here there is no place
that does not see you. You must change your life.

From Ahead of All Parting: Selected Poetry and Prose of Rainer Maria Rilke, translated by Stephen Mitchell and published by Modern Library. © 1995 by Stephen Mitchell. Used with permission. All rights reserved.

Although it is a cold evening,
down by one of the fishhouses
an old man sits netting,
his net, in the gloaming almost invisible,
a dark purple-brown,
and his shuttle worn and polished.
The air smells so strong of codfish
it makes one's nose run and one's eyes water.
The five fishhouses have steeply peaked roofs
and narrow, cleated gangplanks slant up
to storerooms in the gables
for the wheelbarrows to be pushed up and down on.
All is silver: the heavy surface of the sea,
swelling slowly as if considering spilling over,
is opaque, but the silver of the benches, 
the lobster pots, and masts, scattered
among the wild jagged rocks,
is of an apparent translucence
like the small old buildings with an emerald moss
growing on their shoreward walls.
The big fish tubs are completely lined 
with layers of beautiful herring scales
and the wheelbarrows are similarly plastered 
with creamy iridescent coats of mail,
with small iridescent flies crawling on them.
Up on the little slope behind the houses,
set in the sparse bright sprinkle of grass,
is an ancient wooden capstan,
cracked, with two long bleached handles
and some melancholy stains, like dried blood,
where the ironwork has rusted.
The old man accepts a Lucky Strike.
He was a friend of my grandfather.
We talk of the decline in the population
and of codfish and herring
while he waits for a herring boat to come in.
There are sequins on his vest and on his thumb.
He has scraped the scales, the principal beauty,
from unnumbered fish with that black old knife,
the blade of which is almost worn away.

Down at the water's edge, at the place
where they haul up the boats, up the long ramp
descending into the water, thin silver
tree trunks are laid horizontally
across the gray stones, down and down 
at intervals of four or five feet.

Cold dark deep and absolutely clear,
element bearable to no mortal,
to fish and to seals . . . One seal particularly
I have seen here evening after evening.
He was curious about me.  He was interested in music;
like me a believer in total immersion,
so I used to sing him Baptist hymns.
I also sang "A Mighty Fortress Is Our God."
He stood up in the water and regarded me 
steadily, moving his head a little.
Then he would disappear, then suddenly emerge
almost in the same spot, with a sort of shrug
as if it were against his better judgment.
Cold dark deep and absolutely clear,
the clear gray icy water . . . Back, behind us,
the dignified tall firs begin.
Bluish, associating with their shadows,
a million Christmas trees stand
waiting for Christmas.  The water seems suspended
above the rounded gray and blue-gray stones.
I have seen it over and over, the same sea, the same,
slightly, indifferently swinging above the stones,
icily free above the stones,
above the stones and then the world.
If you should dip your hand in,
your wrist would ache immediately,
your bones would begin to ache and your hand would burn
as if the water were a transmutation of fire
that feeds on stones and burns with a dark gray flame.
If you tasted it, it would first taste bitter,
then briny, then surely burn your tongue.
It is like what we imagine knowledge to be: 
dark, salt, clear, moving, utterly free,
drawn from the cold hard mouth
of the world, derived from the rocky breasts
forever, flowing and drawn, and since
our knowledge is historical, flowing, and flown.

From The Complete Poems 1927-1979 by Elizabeth Bishop, published by Farrar, Straus & Giroux, Inc. Copyright © 1979, 1983 by Alice Helen Methfessel. Used with permission of Farrar, Straus & Giroux, LLC. All rights reserved.

Don't be chagrined that your novel,
Which yesterday seemed done at last,
Is revealed in the light of morning
To be only your latest draft.
It could mean that your vision cleared
While you were sleeping, your sense of fitness
Grows in the night like corn or bamboo.

Don't assume you're tampering with the truth
By wanting to make your hero more likable.
He can still be someone who's liable
To fritter his life away in random pastimes.
Only now, for his sake,  you want to present him
As fighting a little harder against his temperament
So the reader, instead of looking down from on high,
Stands close enough to the action to sympathize.

As for your heroine, you can still depict her
As someone who hides, beneath her apparent warmth,
A seam of coldness.  But now you're ready to probe
What the coldness conceals: the wound, say,
That makes trust a challenge.
Where, she wonders, will her courage come from
If she's unable to find it when she looks within?

If you consider any hope of change
To be, in the end, illusion, be true to your vision.
Just don't ignore the change in yourself,
Your willingness, say, to be more patient
Exploring alternatives. Each new effort
Could prove another chapter in a single story
Slowly unfolding in which you learn
By trial and error, what the plot requires.

In the meantime, let me assure you your heroine
In this new, more generous version,
Seems to be learning something
She'll need to learn before the climax
If real change is to be at least an option.
Let me say that your hero's remorse near the end
For his lack of enterprise and direction
Is more convincing than it's ever been.

At last, instead of giving a speech already written,
He seems to be groping for words. Not sure
What he'll say until he says it, and then
Not sure if he ought to be satisfied
Or open to one more try.

Copyright © 2012 by Carl Dennis. Used with permission of the author.

I knew the end would be gone before I got there.
After all, all rainbows lie for a living.
And as you have insisted, repeatedly,
The difference between death and the Eternal 
Present is about as far as one 
Eyelash from the next, not wished upon.
Rainbows are not forms or stories, are they?
They are not doors ajar so much as far—
Flung situations without true beginnings
Or any ends—why bother—unless, as you 
Suggest—repeatedly—there's nothing wrong
With this life, and we should all stop whining.
So I shift my focus now on how to end
A letter. In XOXOXO,
For example, Miss, which are the hugs
And which the kisses? Does anybody know?
I could argue either way: the O's
Are circles of embrace, the X is someone
Else's star burning inside your mouth;
Unless the O is a mouth that cannot speak,
Because, you know, it's busy.
X is the crucifixion all embraces
Are, here at the nowhere of the rainbow's end,
Where even light has failed its situation,
Slant the only life it ever had,
Where even the most gallant sunset can't
Hold back for more than a nonce the rain-laden
Eastern sky of night. It's clear. It's clear.
X's are both hugs and kisses, O's
Where stars that died gave out, gave up, gave in—
Where no one meant the promises they made.
Oh, and one more thing. I send my love
However long and far it takes—through light,
Through time, thorough all the faithlessness of men,

James Augustin Galvin,

              X,

His mark.

From X by James Galvin. Copyright © 2003 by James Galvin. Reprinted by permission of Copper Canyon Press. All right reserved.

First having read the book of myths,
and loaded the camera,
and checked the edge of the knife-blade,
I put on
the body-armor of black rubber
the absurd flippers
the grave and awkward mask.
I am having to do this
not like Cousteau with his
assiduous team
aboard the sun-flooded schooner
but here alone.

There is a ladder.
The ladder is always there
hanging innocently
close to the side of the schooner.
We know what it is for,
we who have used it.
Otherwise
it is a piece of maritime floss
some sundry equipment.

I go down.
Rung after rung and still
the oxygen immerses me
the blue light
the clear atoms
of our human air.
I go down.
My flippers cripple me,
I crawl like an insect down the ladder
and there is no one
to tell me when the ocean
will begin.

First the air is blue and then
it is bluer and then green and then
black I am blacking out and yet
my mask is powerful
it pumps my blood with power
the sea is another story
the sea is not a question of power
I have to learn alone
to turn my body without force
in the deep element.

And now: it is easy to forget
what I came for
among so many who have always
lived here
swaying their crenellated fans
between the reefs
and besides
you breathe differently down here.

I came to explore the wreck.
The words are purposes.
The words are maps.
I came to see the damage that was done
and the treasures that prevail.
I stroke the beam of my lamp
slowly along the flank
of something more permanent
than fish or weed

the thing I came for:
the wreck and not the story of the wreck
the thing itself and not the myth
the drowned face always staring
toward the sun
the evidence of damage
worn by salt and sway into this threadbare beauty
the ribs of the disaster
curving their assertion
among the tentative haunters.

This is the place.
And I am here, the mermaid whose dark hair
streams black, the merman in his armored body.
We circle silently
about the wreck
we dive into the hold.
I am she: I am he

whose drowned face sleeps with open eyes
whose breasts still bear the stress
whose silver, copper, vermeil cargo lies
obscurely inside barrels
half-wedged and left to rot
we are the half-destroyed instruments
that once held to a course
the water-eaten log
the fouled compass

We are, I am, you are
by cowardice or courage
the one who find our way
back to this scene
carrying a knife, a camera
a book of myths
in which
our names do not appear.

From Diving into the Wreck: Poems 1971-1972 by Adrienne Rich. Copyright © 1973 by W. W. Norton & Company, Inc. Reprinted by permission of the author and W. W. Norton & Company, Inc. Copyright 1973 by Adrienne Rich.

My song will rest while I rest. I struggle along. I'll get back to the corn and
   the open fields. Don't fret, love, I'll come out all right.

Back of Chicago the open fields. Were you ever there—trains coming toward
   you out of the West—streaks of light on the long gray plains? Many a
   song—aching to sing.

I've got a gray and ragged brother in my breast—that's a fact. Back of
   Chicago the open fields—long trains go west too—in the silence. Don't
   fret, love. I'll come out all right.

This poem is in the public domain.

I cannot wait for fall parties.
The invitations have begun to roll in.

I used to think I loved summer parties
until they got this year so sweaty and sad,

the whole world away at the shore,
sunk in sweet and salt.

Goodbye, summer: 
you were supposed to save us

from spring but everyone just slumped
into you, sad sacks 

pulling the shade down on an afternoon 
of a few too many rounds. 

Well, I won’t have another.
I’ll have fall. The fall of parties

for no reason, of shivering rooftops,
scuffed boots, scarves with cigarette holes.

I’ll warm your house.
I’ll snort your mulling spices.

I’ll stay too late, I’ll go on a beer run,
I’ll do anything 

to stay in your dimly lit rooms 
scrubbed clean of all their pity.

Copyright © 2013 by Becca Klaver. Used with permission of the author. This poem appeared in Poem-A-Day on November 13, 2013. Browse the Poem-A-Day archive.

A green and copper-backed frog
keeps me from seeing
brick-colored eucalyptus flowers
dancing on an apple-green sky;
large rose-hued cotton fists
with gold knuckles
chase a blushing sun
into a purple, lead sea:
I am hungry and he is cautious.

This poem is in the public domain.

A cornerstone. Marble pilings. Curbstones and brick.
I saw rooftops. The sun after a rain shower.
Liz, there are children in clumsy jackets. Cobblestones
         and the sun now in a curbside pool.
I will call in an hour where you are sleeping. I’ve been walking
         for 7 hrs on yr name day.
Dead, I am calling you now.
There are colonnades. Yellow wrappers in the square.
Just what you’d suspect: a market with flowers and matrons,
         handbags.
Beauty walks this world. It ages everything.
I am far and I am an animal and I am just another I-am poem,
         a we-see poem, a they-love poem.
The green. All the different windows.
There is so much stone here. And grass. So beautiful each
         translucent electric blade.
And the noise. Cheers folding into traffic. These things.
         Things that have been already said many times:
leaf, zipper, sparrow, lintel, scarf, window shade.

From Some Values of Landscape and Weather © 2003 by Peter Gizzi. Published by Wesleyan University Press and used with permission.


for Basquiat, Wylie Dufresne, Bob Viscusi, Trish Hicks


We all do the same ol’ same ol’ same. 
(Some don’t.) Basquiat
Dubbed it SAMO©. The buildings made
Of bricks the poems about poetry.
Viscusi said the hyphenated can’t stop yapping
About Nonna, gravy, the Old Country.
At St. John’s Rec Center, all the fathers
Are missing poems and all the poems are missing
Fathers. When the sun dies, so do the birds 
And the trees fall fast as a butcher’s knife.
So I don’t eat food anymore, I eat light.
The saying goes: you can tell a good chef
By how he cooks an egg. What is the saying
For poets? When Wylie Dufresne 
Cooks eggs, they come out cubed.       
When Jean-Michel paints eggs, Joe’s red eyes
Are in the skillet. SAMO© left his darkness
At the speed of light… 
But who is The Truth, The Light?  
We don’t discuss these things in our family, 
And my mother 
Thinks I’m perfect. We’ve mastered burying 
The dark stuff deep inside. Mom breathes smoke 
To keep it at bay, I eat light, a stack of pancakes: 
A stack of light—coffee, juice, Gatorade: 
A mug, a glass, a bottle of light—spaghetti 
With meatballs: strings of light with ornaments of light.

Copyright © 2013 by Michael Cirelli. Used with permission of the author. This poem appeared in Poem-A-Day on October 24, 2013. Browse the Poem-A-Day archive.

That Mississippi chicken shack.
That initial-scarred tabletop,
that tiny little dance floor to the left of the band.
That kiosk at the mall selling caramels and kitsch.
That tollbooth with its white-plastic-gloved worker
handing you your change.
That phone booth with the receiver ripped out.
That dressing room in the fetish boutique,
those curtains and mirrors.
That funhouse, that horror, that soundtrack of screams.
That putti-filled heaven raining gilt from the ceiling.
That haven for truckers, that bottomless cup.
That biome. That wilderness preserve.
That landing strip with no runway lights
where you are aiming your plane,
imagining a voice in the tower,
imagining a tower.

From Lucifer at the Starlite, published by W. W. Norton & Company. Copyright © 2010 by Kim Addonizio. Used with permission of the publisher.

 When I worked in the steel mill
the ceiling crane dropped a bolt
at my feet          the way the cat
leaves his catch on the doorstep
for me        to step over it
a bolt thick as a sparrow:
the gift of it:              it didn’t
easy as eggshell crack my skull.

Walking underneath the el’s
same bridge superstructure
when i first arrived
in Chicago    this is what
I thought of          a falling bolt,
having to give up my cats
and not be mad if the whole 
thing falls off track aimed at me.

Buildings straight up from the street
tall slough off their “Falling Ice,”
stand-up sidewalk signs like it’s nothing.
Buildings the sparrow’s slam into,
fall from—    watched from the window desks—
mistaking light for the sky, land up here.
The cats probably have been
put to sleep by age by now. No blame.

Excerpted from To See the Earth Before the End of the World, © 2010 by Wesleyan University Press. Used with permission of the publisher.

Orange is the single-hearted color. I remember
How I found them in a vein beside the railroad,
A bumble-bee fumbling for a foothold
While the poppies' petals flagged beneath his boot.

I brought three poppies home and two buds still sheathed.
I amputated them above the root. They lived on artlessly
Beside the window for a while, blazing orange, bearing me
No malice. Each four-fanned surface opened

To the light. They were bright as any orange grove.
I watched them day and night stretch open and tuck shut
With no roots to grip, like laboratory frogs' legs twitching
Or like red beheaded hens still hopping on sheer nerves.

On the third afternoon one bud tore off its green glove
And burst out brazen as Baby New Year.
Two other poppies dropped their petals, leaving four
Scribbly yellow streamers on a purple-brimmed and green

Conical cadaver like a New Year's hat.
I'd meant to celebrate with them, but they seemed
So suddenly tired, these aging ladies in crocheted
Shawl leaves. They'd once been golden as the streets

Of heaven, now they were as hollow.
They couldn't pull together for a last good-bye.
I had outlived them and had only their letters to read,
Fallen around the vase, saying they were sorry.

From Elegies for the Hot Season by Sandra McPherson. Copyright © 1970 by Sandra McPherson. First published by The Ecco Press in 1982. Reprinted by permission.

Over a dock railing, I watch the minnows, thousands, swirl
themselves, each a minuscule muscle, but also, without the
way to create current, making of their unison (turning, re-
                                                infolding,
entering and exiting their own unison in unison) making of themselves a
visual current, one that cannot freight or sway by
minutest fractions the water’s downdrafts and upswirls, the
dockside cycles of finally-arriving boat-wakes, there where
they hit deeper resistance, water that seems to burst into
itself (it has those layers) a real current though mostly
invisible sending into the visible (minnows) arrowing
                         motion that forces change—
this is freedom. This is the force of faith. Nobody gets
what they want. Never again are you the same. The longing
is to be pure. What you get is to be changed. More and more by
each glistening minute, through which infinity threads itself,
also oblivion, of course, the aftershocks of something
at sea. Here, hands full of sand, letting it sift through
in the wind, I look in and say take this, this is
what I have saved, take this, hurry. And if I listen
now? Listen, I was not saying anything. It was only
something I did. I could not choose words. I am free to go.
I cannot of course come back. Not to this. Never.
It is a ghost posed on my lips. Here: never.

From Never by Jorie Graham, published by HarperCollins. Copyright © 2002 by Jorie Graham. Reprinted by permission of HarperCollins. All rights reserved.

Thingitation righteousness for pre-avail to drive away the mighty kraken

Put me in a room full of strangers and leave me alone

...cauldron in twine, disarray as fair game, keen ablution borne skeezed...

Forced into assertions by a lack of attention

...the warp we held out in readiness, taking wind off the table, the awe thus retrofitted
within the futility of cleanliness, that mere cost...

But I am not trying to achieve a general unity of impression, which anyway sounds like a
metaphysics of port authority

Clear-cut you are my enemy, alternate pen failing eternity

...bazaar residence, chatty folly, all perks, all codes...

If’n diffident glee

For the appearance of a glove, designed in wood to imitate a mama whooping crane from
the neck up, would prevent the little chick from being humanized by coming through a
hatch in the wall to commence feeding time

Where its nothing personal happens

Selling points envying the rim

The patter of claws as I upload Brahms in the dark

He demonstrated the location of his injury by touching the trainer’s parallel area

...video courtesies, seeing the quiddity a five-headed eagle brings to light, in a touch...

A late run at respectability about to come up short

Mellow radiation lulls with rosemary

T’aint

The window so far behind the what

...drums in the bleep, four savory flavors in mind, forgeries bloody coming after me...

It was indeed a terrible idea to lend a valuable book to a painter

Soon I must go to sleep and simulate someone at rest

Trilobite death wish to replace beer funnels downstairs with

She pours herself into recognition as if every moment is a new one

Should I hide the ointment from the truth

The industry of analyzing that which may

String straps suck

Should I gnaw on everything with my five pesky teeth

To sit back down still high amidst the aggro-squirrel set under amber street light, kid
asleep, paper catching drizzle, phone lurking in pocket

Standards, such as yours, don’t exist

...risers tracking reliquaries, gradations of skill at filling a thirty-second spot...

At some point it became spontaneous to have a plan

A daydream that everyone speaks only in acronyms

Copyright © 2013 by Anselm Berrigan. Used with permission of the author. This poem appeared in Poem-A-Day on April 4, 2013. Browse the Poem-A-Day archive.

Sometimes I wish I didn't think in words
and that instead for each thought I thought I drew upon an image,
and that I was able to organize each image in a linear way that would be like sort of like reading
and that instead of trying to describe the edges around something
I could just think the color around the edges of the image to be darker,
that the detail on the image could become more or less detailed depending 
on how much clarity I believe I needed to disclose at the time
For instance, instead of saying love, I could just think watermelon
I could just think of a watermelon cut in half, lying open on a picnic table
The inside would be just as moist as it was pink
I could picture cutting up pieces and giving them out to my friends.
It wouldn't have to be sunny
It wouldn't have to be anything else then just that
It would really simplify my walk home at night, 
where every thought I think is some contrived line I repeat over and over to myself
Words are always just replaced with new ones
The pictures would never need to know otherwise

Copyright © 2014 by Jackie Clark. Used with permission of the author. This poem appeared in Poem-a-Day on March 4, 2014.

Silent is the house: all are laid asleep:
One alone looks out o’er the snow-wreaths deep,
Watching every cloud, dreading every breeze
That whirls the wildering drift, and bends the groaning trees.

Cheerful is the hearth, soft the matted floor;
Not one shivering gust creeps through pane or door;
The little lamp burns straight, its rays shoot strong and far:
I trim it well, to be the wanderer’s guiding-star.

Frown, my haughty sire! chide, my angry dame!
Set your slaves to spy; threaten me with shame:
But neither sire nor dame nor prying serf shall know,
What angel nightly tracks that waste of frozen snow.

What I love shall come like visitant of air,
Safe in secret power from lurking human snare;
What loves me, no word of mine shall e’er betray,
Though for faith unstained my life must forfeit pay.

Burn, then, little lamp; glimmer straight and clear—
Hush! a rustling wing stirs, methinks, the air:
He for whom I wait, thus ever comes to me;
Strange Power! I trust thy might; trust thou my constancy.

This poem is in the public domain.

This is regret: or a ferret. Snuffling,
stunted, a snout full of snow.

As the end of day shuffles down
the repentant scurry and swarm—

an unstable contrition is born.
Bend down. Look into the lair.

Where newborn pieties spark and strike
I will make my peace as a low bulb

burnt into a dent of snow. A cloth to keep me
from seeping. Light crumpled over a hole.

Why does the maker keep me awake?
He must want my oddments, their glow.

From The Mending Warm by Joan Houlihan © 2006. Reprinted by permission from New Issues Poetry & Prose.

A lone cloudburst hijacked the Doppler radar screen, a bandit
hung from the gallows, in rehearsal for the broke-necked man,
damn him, tucked under millet in the potter's plot. Welcome
to disaster's alkaline kiss, its little clearing edged with twigs,
and posted against trespass. Though finite, its fence is endless.

Lugs of prune plums already half-dehydrated. Lugged toward
shelf life and sorry reconstitution in somebody's eggshell kitchen.
If you hear the crop-dust engine whining overhead, mind
the orange windsock's direction, lest you huff its vapor trail.
Scurry if you prefer between the lime-sulphured rows, and cull
from the clods and sticks, the harvest shaker's settling.

The impertinent squalls of one squeezebox vies against another
in ambling pick-ups. The rattle of dice and spoons. The one café
allows a patron to pour from his own bottle. Special: tripe today.
Goat's head soup. Tortoise-shaped egg bread, sugared pink.
The darkness doesn't descend, and then it descends so quickly
it seems to seize you in burly arms. I've been waiting all night
to have this dance. Stay, it says. Haven't touched your drink.

From Useless Landscape by D.A. Powell. Copyright © 2012 by D.A. Powell. Reprinted with permission of Graywolf Press. All rights reserved.

The words are a beautiful music.
The words bounce like in water.

Water music,
loud in the clearing

off the boats,
birds, leaves.

They look for a place
to sit and eat—

no meaning,
no point.

From The Collected Poems of Robert Creeley, 1945-1975. Copyright © 1983 by The Regents of the University of California. All rights reserved. Used with permission. Originally published in Words (Scribner, 1967).

Lincoln, leaving Springfield, 1861,
         boards a train with a salute: but it is weak.
To correct it, he slides his hand away
         from his face as if waving, as if brushing
the snows of childhood from his eyes.

The train is coming east. In the window
         Lincoln watches his face. You’ll grow old
the moment you arrive, he says to this face.
         But you will never reach great age. The train
speeds like the cortical pressure wave

in the left lateral sinus, say, a bullet
         in the skull. Then he will have his salute.
Then they will love him. Then eternity will slow, fall
         like snow. Then the treaty with huge silence
which he, his face exhausted, must sign.
 

Copyright © 2013 by David Keplinger. Used with permission of the author. This poem appeared in Poem-A-Day on May 16, 2013. Browse the Poem-A-Day archive.

Dear columbine, dear engine.
Mere water will force a flower
open. Then with a touch
the beautiful intact collapses
into color filament and powder.
It’s all my fault. All hands on deck
to help collect what’s spilled.
That could be me beneath
a bridge. Torn up beside the road,
a bloat of skin and fur.
Afloat in bathtub, clean,
blue-lipped, forgiven. Face-down
in the snow. Why do you
imagine these terrible things?

asks my mother, or her
ghost. Because the paper’s
crisp and white. Because
no slate’s unwritten.
Because the ant that scaled
this flower head
has nowhere else to go.

Copyright © 2014 by Melissa Stein. Used with permission of the author.

The last light has gone out of the world, except
This moonlight lying on the grass like frost
Beyond the brink of the tall elm’s shadow.
It is as if everything else had slept
Many an age, unforgotten and lost
The men that were, the things done, long ago,
All I have thought; and but the moon and I
Live yet and here stand idle over the grave
Where all is buried. Both have liberty
To dream what we could do if we were free
To do some thing we had desired long,
The moon and I. There’s none less free than who
Does nothing and has nothing else to do,
Being free only for what is not to his mind,
And nothing is to his mind. If every hour
Like this one passing that I have spent among
The wiser others when I have forgot
To wonder whether I was free or not,
Were piled before me, and not lost behind,
And I could take and carry them away
I should be rich; or if I had the power
To wipe out every one and not again
Regret, I should be rich to be so poor.
And yet I still am half in love with pain,
With what is imperfect, with both tears and mirth,
With things that have an end, with life and earth,
And this moon that leaves me dark within the door.

This poem is in the public domain.

Haunt lonely and find when you lose your shadow
secretive house centipede on the old window

You pronounce Erinys as “Air-n-ease”
Alecto: the angry    Magaera: the grudging

Tisiphone: the avenger (voice of revenge)
“Women guardians of the natural order”

Think of the morning dream with ghosts     
Why draw the widow’s card and wear the gorgeous

Queen of Swords crown                Your job is
to rescue the not-dead woman before she enters

the incinerating garbage shoot      wrangle silver
raccoon power          Forever a fought doll

She said, “What do you know about Vietnam?”
Violet energy ingots      Tenuous knowing moment

Copyright © 2015 by Hoa Nguyen. Originally published in Poem-a-Day on October 20, 2015, by the Academy of American Poets.

          1.

When you have forgotten (to bring into 
   Play that fragrant morsel of rhetoric, 
Crisp as autumnal air), when you 
   Have forgotten, say, sun-lit corners, brick 
   Full of skyline, rowhomes, smokestacks, 
Billboards, littered rooftops & wondered 
What bread wrappers reflect of our hunger, 

          2. 

When you have forgotten wide-brimmed hats, 
   Sunday back-seat leather rides & church, 
The doorlock like a silver cane, the broad backs 
   Swaying or the great moan deep churning, 
   & the shimmer flick of flat sticks, the lurch 
Forward, skip, hands up Ailey-esque drop, 
When you have forgotten the meaningful bop, 

          3. 

Hustlers and their care-what-may, blasé 
   Ballet and flight, when you have forgotten 
Scruffy yards, miniature escapes, the way   
   Laundry lines strung up sag like shortened 
   Smiles, when you have forgotten the Fish Man
Barking his catch in inches up the street 
"I've got porgies. I've got trout. Feeesh 

          4. 

Man," or his scoop and chain scale, 
   His belief in shad and amberjack; when 
You have forgotten Ajax and tin pails, 
   Blue crystals frothing on marble front 
   Steps Saturday mornings, or the garden 
Of old men playing checkers, the curbs 
White-washed like two lines out to the burbs, 

          5. 

Or the hopscotch squares painted new 
   In the street, the pitter-patter of feet 
Landing on rhymes. "How do you 
   Like the weather, girls? All in together girls,
   January, February, March, April... " 
The jump ropes' portentous looming, 
Their great, aching love blooming. 

          6. 

When you have forgotten packs of grape 
   Flavored Now & Laters, the squares 
Of sugar flattening on the tongue, the elation 
   You felt reaching into the corner-store jar, 
   Grasping a handful of Blow Pops, candy bars 
With names you didn't recognize but came 
To learn. All the turf battles. All the war games. 

          7. 

When you have forgotten popsicle stick 
   Races along the curb and hydrant fights,
Then, retrieve this letter from your stack 
   I've sent by clairvoyant post & read by light.
   For it brought me as much longing and delight. 
This week's Father's Day; I've a long ride to Philly.
I'll give this to Gramps, then head to Black Lily. 

From Hoops, published by W. W. Norton & Company. Copyright © 2006 by Major Jackson. Used with permission.

Disembark the Turners seem to say,
those starburst barges glowing in the dusk,
but I can’t read old Rembrandt,
his guarded eyes are jewels, like black men.
Even the loaned, marble busts
of kings and soldiers fail to arrest you.
It’s nearly closing time. The elderly linger,
rapt. Who has looked at either of you lately
with such tenderness?
                                      Entering the narrow hall,
I ignore my favorite portraits, their ruffles
and bodices, carnations and powder puffs,
afraid to share my joy with you,
yet your bearing in this space—the procession
of your shoulders, the crowns of your heads—
makes them sing anew.
                                      You are both good men. 
Walk into the Fragonard Room. You both seem bored still.
It’s fine. Perhaps we can progress like these panels,
slowly and without words, here—the city
where I first knew men in the dark—
in this gold and feminine room.

Copyright © 2015 by Derrick Austin. Originally published in Poem-a-Day on December 23, 2015, by the Academy of American Poets.

Again I reply to the triple winds
running chromatic fifths of derision
outside my window:
                                  Play louder.
You will not succeed. I am
bound more to my sentences
the more you batter at me
to follow you.
                                  And the wind,
as before, fingers perfectly
its derisive music.

This poem is in the public domain.

Vast and gray, the sky
is a simulacrum
to all but him whose days
are vast and gray, and—
In the tall, dried grasses
a goat stirs
with nozzle searching the ground.
—my head is in the air
but who am I…?
And amazed my heart leaps
at the thought of love
vast and gray
yearning silently over me.

This poem is in the public domain. Published in Poem-a-Day on September 5, 2015, by the Academy of American Poets.

Reedy striations don’t occlude the beneath—
earthy mash of leaves, flat pepper flakes, layered,

tips protruding, tender-desolate above a mirror
surface, gently pressing on horse-mane, nest material,

tickle-brush, fringe. Buff block-shapes further down,
ghost-bits of green-green, a lone leaf burned white.

My thrown stone skitters on ice. The next, larger,
plunks through and for a moment I am a violator

but then I see it opened a bubble cell, a city,
a lesion, a map—the way in cold and luminous.

Copyright © 2016 by Ellen Doré Watson. Originally published in Poem-a-Day on January 11, 2016, by the Academy of American Poets.

How to get around it isn’t clear.
A thicket hedged across the road,

a high curve mass
of tumbleweeds.

Wind draws their tendrils tight.
How to get around them.

To the left, uphill,
to the right, the place

we used to be, where
tumbleweeds won’t tumble.

Earth and sky and thorny combs
that card them to each other.

You’re loose from your root,
hair caught in a knot at your nape.

Touch a tumbleweed, it springs back.
Tossed upon its thickest wisp,

a length of sisal twine
worked stiff,

a fishnet glove
the air can wear.

How it blows
between you.

The wind that names
the tumbleweed, names its purpose,

calls it by the way it moves.
I didn’t know you had a cactus

now tattooed across your back.
I haven’t seen you naked in so long.
 

Copyright © 2016 Iris Cushing. Used with permission of the author. 

More than a hundred dollars of them.

It was pure folly. I had to find more glass things to stuff them          
       in.

Now a white and purple cloud is breathing in each corner

of the room I love. Now a mass of flowers spills down my                  
      dining table—

each fresh-faced, extending its delicately veined leaves

into the crush. Didn’t I watch

children shuffle strictly in line, cradle

candles that dribbled hot white on their fingers,

chanting Latin—just to fashion Sevilla’s Easter? Wasn’t I sad?          
      Didn’t I use to

go mucking through streambeds with the skunk cabbage raising

bursting violet spears?  —Look, the afternoon dies

as night begins in the heart of the lilies and smokes up

their fluted throats until it fills the room

and my lights have to be not switched on.

And in close darkness the aroma grows so sweet,

so strong, that it could slice me open. It does.

I know I’m not the only one whose life is a conditional clause

hanging from something to do with spring and one tall room          
      and the tremble of my phone.

I’m not the only one that love makes feel like a dozen

flapping bedsheets being ripped to prayer flags by the wind.

When I stand in full sun I feel I have been falling headfirst for          
      decades.

God, I am so transparent.

So light. 

Copyright © 2016 Noah Warren. Used with permission of the author.

Some springs, apples bloom too soon.
The trees have grown here for a hundred years, and are still quick
to trust that the frost has finished. Some springs,
pink petals turn black. Those summers, the orchards are empty
and quiet. No reason for the bees to come.

Other summers, red apples beat hearty in the trees, golden apples
glow in sheer skin. Their weight breaks branches,
the ground rolls with apples, and you fall in fruit.

You could say, I have been foolish. You could say, I have been fooled.
You could say, Some years, there are apples.

From The Always Broken Plates of Mountains by Rose McLarney. Copyright © 2012 by Rose McLarney. Reprinted with permission of Four Way Books. All rights reserved.

As a fond mother, when the day is o'er,
   Leads by the hand her little child to bed,
   Half willing, half reluctant to be led,
   And leave his broken playthings on the floor,
Still gazing at them through the open door,
   Nor wholly reassured and comforted
   By promises of others in their stead,
   Which, though more splendid, may not please him more;
So Nature deals with us, and takes away
   Our playthings one by one, and by the hand
   Leads us to rest so gently, that we go
Scarce knowing if we wish to go or stay,
   Being too full of sleep to understand
   How far the unknown transcends the what we know.

This poem is in the public domain. 

Art thou pale for weariness
Of climbing Heaven, and gazing on the earth,
   Wandering companionless
Among the stars that have a different birth,—
And ever changing, like a joyless eye
That finds no object worth its constancy?

This poem is in the public domain. 

A bird flashed by as if mistaken then it
starts.  We do not think speed of life. 
We do not think why hate Jezebel?  We
think who’s that throwing trees against
the house?  Jezebel was a  Phoenician.
Phoenician thunderstorms are dry and
frightening, they arrive one inside the
other as torqued ellipses.

Copyright © 2015 by Anne Carson. Originally published in Poem-a-Day on November 18, 2015, by the Academy of American Poets.

I went out to the hazel wood,  
Because a fire was in my head,  
And cut and peeled a hazel wand,  
And hooked a berry to a thread;  
And when white moths were on the wing,
And moth-like stars were flickering out,  
I dropped the berry in a stream  
And caught a little silver trout.  

When I had laid it on the floor  
I went to blow the fire a-flame,
But something rustled on the floor,  
And someone called me by my name:  
It had become a glimmering girl  
With apple blossom in her hair  
Who called me by my name and ran
And faded through the brightening air.  

Though I am old with wandering  
Through hollow lands and hilly lands,  
I will find out where she has gone,  
And kiss her lips and take her hands;
And walk among long dappled grass,  
And pluck till time and times are done,  
The silver apples of the moon,  
The golden apples of the sun.

This poem is in the public domain.

   What thoughts I have of you tonight, Walt Whitman, for I
walked down the sidestreets under the trees with a headache self-
conscious looking at the full moon.
   In my hungry fatigue, and shopping for images, I went into the
neon fruit supermarket, dreaming of your enumerations!
   What peaches and what penumbras! Whole families shopping
at night! Aisles full of husbands! Wives in the avocados, babies in
the tomatoes!—and you, García Lorca, what were you doing
down by the watermelons?

   I saw you, Walt Whitman, childless, lonely old grubber, poking
among the meats in the refrigerator and eyeing the grocery boys.
   I heard you asking questions of each: Who killed the pork
chops? What price bananas? Are you my Angel?
   I wandered in and out of the brilliant stacks of cans following
you, and followed in my imagination by the store detective.
   We strode down the open corridors together in our solitary
fancy tasting artichokes, possessing every frozen delicacy, and
never passing the cashier.

   Where are we going, Walt Whitman? The doors close in a hour.
Which way does your beard point tonight?
    (I touch your book and dream of our odyssey in the 
supermarket and feel absurd.)
   Will we walk all night through solitary streets? The trees add
shade to shade, lights out in the houses, we’ll both be lonely.
   Will we stroll dreaming of the lost America of love past blue
automobiles in driveways, home to our silent cottage?
   Ah, dear father, graybeard, lonely old courage-teacher, what
America did you have when Charon quit poling his ferry and you
got out on a smoking bank and stood watching the boat disappear
on the black waters of Lethe?

—Berkeley, 1955

From Collected Poems 1947–1980 by Allen Ginsberg, published by Harper & Row. Copyright © 1984 by Allen Ginsberg. Used with permission.

Laughing below, the unimagined room
in unimagined mouths, a turning mood
speaking itself the way a fulling should
overspilling into something's dome,

some moment's edging over into bloom.
What is a happening but conscious cloud
seeking its edge in a wound or word
pellucidity describing term

as boundary, body, violated bourne
no sounding center, circumscription turn.
Mother of mirrors, angel of the acts,

do all the sighing breathing clicking wilds
summon the same blue breadth the sense subtracts,
the star suborning in its ruptured fields.

From Nomina by Karen Volkman. Copyright © 2008 by Karen Volkman. Reprinted by permission of B.O.A. Editions. All rights reserved.

A charm a single charm is doubtful. If the red is rose and there is a gate surrounding it, if inside is let in and there places change then certainly something is upright. It is earnest. 

This poem is in the public domain. 

             Time’s going has ebbed the moorings
to the memories that make this city-kid

             part farm-boy. Until a smell close enough to
the sweet-musk of horse tunes my ears back

             to tree frogs blossoming after a country rain.
I’m back among snakes like slugs wedged

             in ankle-high grass, back inside that small
eternity spent searching for soft ground, straining

             not to spill the water-logged heft of a drowned
barn cat carried in the shallow scoop of a shovel.

             And my brother, large on the stairs, crying.
Each shift in the winds of remembering renders me

             immediate again, like ancient valleys reignited
by more lightning. If only I could settle on

             the porch of waiting and listening,
near the big maple bent by children and heat,

             just before the sweeping threat of summer
thunderstorms. We have our places for

             loneliness—that loaded asking of the body.
my mother stands beside the kitchen window, her hands

             no longer in constant motion. And my father
walks along the tired fence, watching horses

             and clouds roll down against the dying light—
I know he wants to become one or the other.

             I want to jar the tenderness of seasons,
to crawl deep into the moment. I’ve come

             to write less fear into the boy running
through the half-dark. I’ve come for the boy.


From Revising the Storm (BOA Editions, 2014) by Geffrey Davis. Copyright © 2014 by Geffrey Davis. Used with permission of the author.

From blossoms comes
this brown paper bag of peaches
we bought from the boy
at the bend in the road where we turned toward
signs painted Peaches.

From laden boughs, from hands,
from sweet fellowship in the bins,
comes nectar at the roadside, succulent
peaches we devour, dusty skin and all,
comes the familiar dust of summer, dust we eat.

O, to take what we love inside,
to carry within us an orchard, to eat
not only the skin, but the shade,
not only the sugar, but the days, to hold
the fruit in our hands, adore it, then bite into
the round jubilance of peach.

There are days we live
as if death were nowhere
in the background; from joy
to joy to joy, from wing to wing,
from blossom to blossom to
impossible blossom, to sweet impossible blossom.

Li-Young Lee, “From Blossoms” from Rose. Copyright © 1986 by Li-Young Lee. Used with the permission of The Permissions Company, Inc., on behalf of BOA Editions, Ltd., boaeditions.org.

It is a willow when summer is over,
a willow by the river
from which no leaf has fallen nor
bitten by the sun
turned orange or crimson.
The leaves cling and grow paler,
swing and grow paler
over the swirling waters of the river
as if loath to let go,
they are so cool, so drunk with
the swirl of the wind and of the river—
oblivious to winter,
the last to let go and fall
into the water and on the ground.

This poem is in the public domain.

Three sang of love together: one with lips
   Crimson, with cheeks and bosom in a glow,
Flushed to the yellow hair and finger tips;
   And one there sang who soft and smooth as snow
   Bloomed like a tinted hyacinth at a show;
And one was blue with famine after love,
   Who like a harpstring snapped rang harsh and low
The burden of what those were singing of.
One shamed herself in love; one temperately
   Grew gross in soulless love, a sluggish wife;
One famished died for love. Thus two of three
   Took death for love and won him after strife;
One droned in sweetness like a fattened bee:
   All on the threshold, yet all short of life.

This poem is in the public domain.

I have had enough.
I gasp for breath.

Every way ends, every road,
every foot-path leads at last
to the hill-crest—
then you retrace your steps,
or find the same slope on the other side,
precipitate.

I have had enough—
border-pinks, clove-pinks, wax-lilies,
herbs, sweet-cress.

O for some sharp swish of a branch—
there is no scent of resin
in this place,
no taste of bark, of coarse weeds,
aromatic, astringent—
only border on border of scented pinks.

Have you seen fruit under cover
that wanted light—
pears wadded in cloth,
protected from the frost,
melons, almost ripe,
smothered in straw?

Why not let the pears cling
to the empty branch?
All your coaxing will only make
a bitter fruit—
let them cling, ripen of themselves,
test their own worth,
nipped, shrivelled by the frost,
to fall at last but fair
With a russet coat.

Or the melon—
let it bleach yellow
in the winter light,
even tart to the taste—
it is better to taste of frost—
the exquisite frost—
than of wadding and of dead grass.

For this beauty,
beauty without strength,
chokes out life.
I want wind to break,
scatter these pink-stalks,
snap off their spiced heads,
fling them about with dead leaves—
spread the paths with twigs,
limbs broken off,
trail great pine branches,
hurled from some far wood
right across the melon-patch,
break pear and quince—
leave half-trees, torn, twisted
but showing the fight was valiant.

O to blot out this garden
to forget, to find a new beauty
in some terrible
wind-tortured place.

This poem is in the public domain.

in which my greater self
rose up before me
accusing me of my life
with her extra finger
whirling in a gyre of rage
at what my days had come to.
what,
i pleaded with her, could i do,
oh what could i have done?
and she twisted her wild hair
and sparked her wild eyes
and screamed as long as
i could hear her
This.  This.  This.

From The Book of Light by Lucille Clifton. Copyright © 1992 by Lucille Clifton. Reprinted with permission of Copper Canyon Press. All rights reserved.

Someone will        love you     many will      love

you         many will brother you   some of these

loves will        bother you   some   will      leave you

one might        haunt   you      hunt you in your

sleep        make you       weep the tearless kind of

weep the         kind of weep   that drowns your

organs     slowly    there are little oars  in your body      

little boats   grab onto them and row and        row

someone will tell you      no       but you won’t   know

he is    right until you have   already        wrung your  

own heart dry    your hands dripping knives    until

you have    already   reached your hands into       his       

body and put them through his        heart     love is

the only thing that       is not    an       argument

Copyright © 2017 by Victoria Chang. Originally published in Poem-a-Day on May 29, 2017, by the Academy of American Poets.

Parked in the fields
All night
So many years ago,
We saw
A lake beside us
When the moon rose.
I remember

Leaving that ancient car
Together. I remember
Standing in the white grass
Beside it. We groped
Our way together
Downhill in the bright
Incredible light

Beginning to wonder
Whether it could be lake
Or fog
We saw, our heads
Ringing under the stars we walked
To where it would have wet our feet
Had it been water

From New Collected Poems by George Oppen, copyright © 1975 by George Oppen. Reprinted by permission of New Directions Publishing Corp.

Silence again. The glorious symphony
Hath need of pause and interval of peace.
Some subtle signal bids all sweet sounds cease,
Save hum of insects’ aimless industry.
Pathetic summer seeks by blazonry
Of color to conceal her swift decrease.
Weak subterfuge! Each mocking day doth fleece
A blossom, and lay bare her poverty.
Poor middle-agèd summer! Vain this show!
Whole fields of golden-rod cannot offset
One meadow with a single violet;
And well the singing thrush and lily know,
Spite of all artifice which her regret
Can deck in splendid guise, their time to go!

This poem is in the public domain. 

sound de-territorializes
weather
and my love clings to you
sings to you
in the “new weathers”
within a tragedy
of the Anthropocene

nothing
not
held hostage
by the hand
of Man

can we resist?
will we fail?
to save our world?

we dream replicas of ourselves
fragile, broken
robotic thought-bubbles

inside the shadow
a looming possibility
this new year
to wake up

could it be?

an anthropoid scared
from the forest
slow in development
now infantilized
much like us

stressed yet
perhaps
ready to resist
this scenario?

the forest made the monkey
& the cave & steppe: the human
and now
what makes us suppler
more human?

climate grief?
a fierce tenderness toward
the destruction of our world?

questions
or actions?

[my love for you
sings for you, world
I’ve got those Anthropocene….
Anthropocene….
blues…..]

Copyright © 2017 by Anne Waldman. Originally published in Poem-a-Day on February 2, 2016, by the Academy of American Poets.

A diamond of a morning
     Waked me an hour too soon;
Dawn had taken in the stars
     And left the faint white moon.
 
O white moon, you are lonely,
     It is the same with me,
But we have the world to roam over,
     Only the lonely are free.
 

This poem is in the public domain.

I went down to
mingle my breath
with the breath
of the cherry blossoms.

There were photographers:
Mothers arranging their
children against
gnarled old trees;
a couple, hugging,
asks a passerby
to snap them
like that,
so that their love
will always be caught
between two friendships:
ours & the friendship
of the cherry trees.

Oh Cherry,
why can’t my poems
be as beautiful?


A young woman in a fur-trimmed
coat sets a card table
with linens, candles,
a picnic basket & wine.
A father tips
a boy’s wheelchair back
so he can gaze
up at a branched
heaven.
                     All around us
the blossoms
flurry down
whispering,

        Be patient
you have an ancient beauty.

                                            Be patient,
                                  you have an ancient beauty.

From The Undertaker’s Daughter (University of Pittsburg Press, 2011). All rights are controlled by the University of Pittsburgh Press. Used with permission.

Dear Emily,

For poetry – I have you. One need not be a House – One need not be a Nation or a Master for that matter. Delicate and beautiful, common in rich mossy woods, in pairs, we live. We are crimson-pink, particularly in the mountains. The rough terrain is not visible to many, but somewhat green and fatigued, demilitarized! A nod from far away is hollow. True men – How shall I greet them? Nation building is kind and generous. It is common to decline it. Emily, Shall I – bloom?

Yours, Twin Flower   

From The Morning News Is Exciting (Action Books, 2010). Copyright © 2010 by Don Mee Choi. Used with the permission of the author.

Light the first light of evening, as in a room
In which we rest and, for small reason, think
The world imagined is the ultimate good.

This is, therefore, the intensest rendezvous. 
It is in that thought that we collect ourselves,
Out of all the indifferences, into one thing:

Within a single thing, a single shawl
Wrapped tightly round us, since we are poor, a warmth, 
A light, a power, the miraculous influence.

Here, now, we forget each other and ourselves.
We feel the obscurity of an order, a whole, 
A knowledge, that which arranged the rendezvous.

Within its vital boundary, in the mind.
We say God and the imagination are one... 
How high that highest candle lights the dark.

Out of this same light, out of the central mind, 
We make a dwelling in the evening air, 
In which being there together is enough.

From The Collected Poems of Wallace Stevens. Copyright © 1954 by Wallace Stevens. Used with permission of Alfred A. Knopf, Inc.

Listen…
With faint dry sound,
Like steps of passing ghosts,
The leaves, frost-crisp’d, break from the trees
And fall.

This poem is in the public domain.