I could play the accordion
so I was selected for the amateur propaganda team.
It was very cold. I had to stop up the hole in my shoe.
I used the lid of a tin can.
As far as I can tell, there's nothing
trustworthy about my experience of reality.
I stand on one leg. I stand on the other leg.
I rotate my arms clockwise
and call this exercise. In the home movie
I recognize my coat. Taking my turn
with the mechanical bull at Uncle Ron’s
Wild West Saloon I hold on for as long as a minute.
So little happens on a given day,
which is why I play the accordion
until I am riddled with someone’s applause,
which is why I drive to Arthur County to see
the hay bale church and the world’s smallest courthouse.
If I was a blue jay or some kind of robin
I would fly figure-eights over the cottonwoods.
Despite the wind, I would not curse the wind.
The future is a rumor like the past.
The new anxiety supplants the old anxiety.
The continent I stand my ground on drifts,
which is why I have asked you to marry me.
I am solid gold, I say, and I am capable
of loving you until the final asteroid
hides Omaha under an ocean of ash,
but you’re unavailable.
They were on their way to the ocean
when they made their minds up to stay here.
The grass was so tall they picked wildflowers
without stepping down from their horses.
We are all so lucky. It is terrifying.
It is a blue sky day for all the freezingness.
I blink into the chasm of sunlight endlessly.
I forget my life, but then I remember my life.
Copyright © 2016 Michael Dumanis. Used with permission of the author.
the black bird stripped off their feathers they issued the jubilee of plenary indulgence in eucharistic communion expressing effects of anxieties intercessed and intersexed the black bird stripped off their feathers and threw themselves into a thicket of thorns protected by presence of viper and crown a sacramental medal of uncertain origin the poison was offered the glass was broken they issued the jubilee of plenary indulgence the black bird stripped off their feathers
Copyright © 2018 by Chip Livingston. Originally published in Poem-a-Day on June 18, 2018, by the Academy of American Poets.
I fear the vast dimensions of eternity. I fear the gap between the platform and the train. I fear the onset of a murderous campaign. I fear the palpitations caused by too much tea. I fear the drawn pistol of a rapparee. I fear the books will not survive the acid rain. I fear the ruler and the blackboard and the cane. I fear the Jabberwock, whatever it might be. I fear the bad decisions of a referee. I fear the only recourse is to plead insane. I fear the implications of a lawyer’s fee. I fear the gremlins that have colonized my brain. I fear to read the small print of the guarantee. And what else do I fear? Let me begin again.
From Selected Poems by Ciaran Carson, published by Wake Forest University Press. Copyright © 2001 by Ciaran Carson. Reprinted with permission by Wake Forest University Press. All rights reserved.
for roberto and adelaida
Once in a while joy throws little stones at my window it wants to let me know that it's waiting for me but today I'm calm I'd almost say even-tempered I'm going to keep anxiety locked up and then lie flat on my back which is an elegant and comfortable position for receiving and believing news who knows where I'll be next or when my story will be taken into account who knows what advice I still might come up with and what easy way out I'll take not to follow it don't worry, I won't gamble with an eviction I won't tattoo remembering with forgetting there are many things left to say and suppress and many grapes left to fill our mouths don't worry, I'm convinced joy doesn't need to throw any more little stones I'm coming I'm coming.
From Little Stones at My Window by Mario Benedetti. Edited and translated by Charles Hatfield. Copyright © 2003 by Curbstone Press. Distributed by Consortium. Used by permission of Curbstone Press. All rights reserved.