Why would I abandon the hunger-suffering 

Vulture, spread-winged in the middle of the road

Eating a rabbit while it snows? Wouldn’t you

Want to touch, watch his comrades close down the sky

And, in a black circle, eat red on the white Earth?

And when the hiss of something slithers in—

Panic un-paused—wouldn’t you watch the circle 

Break into black leaves pulled from the earth and flung

Into the falling sky? Wouldn’t you want to be

A servant of this paradise, not a God

In front of a screen, naked, lonely, asking—

No more a God than the crown of vultures

Frightened by a hiss that was a tire deflating?

Why would you trade Paradise for an argument

                                                            About Paradise?

Copyright © 2023 by Roger Reeves. Originally published in Poem-a-Day on April 19, 2023, by the Academy of American Poets.


Outside, the thunder
Shakes the prison walls; inside
My heart shakes my ears.



(For Sonia)

Snow from the mountains
Of my heart instantly melts
In your warm Blackness.



Black men with Torches
Follow the bloody tracks of
The albino beast.



Gray jets drag white tails
Across blue skies; gray rats drag
Tails across black legs.

From The Lost Etheridge Knight: The Uncollected Poems of Etheridge Knight. Copyright © 2022 by Etheridge Knight. Published by Kinchafoonee Creek Press. Reprinted by permission of the publisher.


Against the stone breakwater,
Only an ominous lapping,
While the wind whines overhead,
Coming down from the mountain,
Whistling between the arbors, the winding terraces;
A thin whine of wires, a rattling and flapping of leaves,
And the small street-lamp swinging and slamming against
	the lamp pole.

Where have the people gone?
There is one light on the mountain.


Along the sea-wall, a steady sloshing of the swell,
The waves not yet high, but even,
Coming closer and closer upon each other;
A fine fume of rain driving in from the sea,
Riddling the sand, like a wide spray of buckshot,
The wind from the sea and the wind from the mountain contending,
Flicking the foam from the whitecaps straight upward into the darkness.

A time to go home!—
And a child's dirty shift billows upward out of an alley,
A cat runs from the wind as we do,
Between the whitening trees, up Santa Lucia,
Where the heavy door unlocks,
And our breath comes more easy,—
Then a crack of thunder, and the black rain runs over us, over
The flat-roofed houses, coming down in gusts, beating
The walls, the slatted windows, driving
The last watcher indoors, moving the cardplayers closer
To their cards, their anisette.


We creep to our bed, and its straw mattress.
We wait; we listen.
The storm lulls off, then redoubles,
Bending the trees half-way down to the ground,
Shaking loose the last wizened oranges in the orchard,
Flattening the limber carnations.

A spider eases himself down from a swaying light-bulb,
Running over the coverlet, down under the iron bedstead.
The bulb goes on and off, weakly.
Water roars into the cistern.

We lie closer on the gritty pillow,
Breathing heavily, hoping—
For the great last leap of the wave over the breakwater,
The flat boom on the beach of the towering sea-swell,
The sudden shudder as the jutting sea-cliff collapses,
And the hurricane drives the dead straw into the living pine-tree.

From The Collected Poems of Theodore Roethke by Theodore Roethke, published by Anchor Books. © 1975 by Theodore Roethke. Used with permission. All rights reserved.

I remember you. You’re the one
who lifted your ancient bones
of fossil rock, pulled yourself free
of the strata like a plaster figure
rising from its own mold, became
flesh and feather, took wing,
arrested the sky.

You’re the one who, though marble,
floated as beautifully as a white
blossom on the pond all summer,
who, though skeletal and particled
like winter, glimmered as solid as a bird
of cut crystal in the icy trees.

You are redbird—sandstone
wings and agate eyes—at dusk.
You are greybird—polished granite
and pearl eyes—just before dawn,
midnight bird with a reflective
vacancy of heart like a mirror
of pure obsidian.

You’re the one who flew down
to that river from the heavens,
as if your form alone were the only
holy message needed. You were alabaster
then in the noonday sun.

Once I saw you rise without rising
from your prison pedestal
in the garden beneath the lime tree.
At that moment your ghost
in its haunting permeated every
regality of the forest with light,
reigned with disdain in thin air
above the mountain, sank in union
with the crosswinds of the sea.

I remember you. You’re the one
who entered in through my death
as if it were an open window
and you were the sound of the serenade
being sung outside for me, the words
of which, I know now, are of freedom
cast in stone forever.

Pattiann Rogers, Firekeeper: Selected Poems (Minneapolis: Milkweed Editions, 2005). Copyright © 2005 by Pattiann Rogers. Reprinted with permission from Milkweed Editions. www.milkweed.org.