What if to taste and see, to notice things,
to stand each is up against emptiness
for a moment or an eternity—
images collected in consciousness
like a tree alone on the horizon—
is the main reason we’re on the planet.
The food’s here of the first crow to arrive,
numbers two and three at a safe distance,
then approaching the hand-created taste
of leftover coconut macaroons.
The instant sparks in the earth’s awareness.
Copyright © 2016 by Marilyn Nelson. Originally published in Poem-a-Day on May 4, 2016, by the Academy of American Poets.
So much on the verge
In a hot
is tinder: paper, sage
feverish with bees,
hair, my hand
that glows with a thought.
or sleepless dawn,
nothing is sure
but what’s already burned—
water that’s ash, steel
that has flowed and cooled,
though in the core
of a star, they too
would fuse and rage,
and even volcanic
glass and char,
and the cold seas,
what we once were
might burn again—
or in the heart.
Copyright © 2016 by James Richardson. Originally published in Poem-a-Day on May 10, 2016, by the Academy of American Poets.
I hid my love when young till I
Couldn’t bear the buzzing of a fly;
I hid my love to my despite
Till I could not bear to look at light:
I dare not gaze upon her face
But left her memory in each place;
Where’er I saw a wild flower lie
I kissed and bade my love good-bye.
I met her in the greenest dells,
Where dewdrops pearl the wood bluebells;
The lost breeze kissed her bright blue eye,
The bee kissed and went singing by,
A sunbeam found a passage there,
A gold chain round her neck so fair;
As secret as the wild bee’s song
She lay there all the summer long.
I hid my love in field and town
Till e’en the breeze would knock me down;
The bees seemed singing ballads o’er,
The fly’s bass turned a lion’s roar;
And even silence found a tongue,
To haunt me all the summer long;
The riddle nature could not prove
Was nothing else but secret love.
This poem is in the public domain.
The great blue
song of the earth
is sung in all
the best venues—
and on this spring
day in the wetlands
a late sun,
we stand alone
and in love
with each other
and the passing day
we watch a cormorant
whose eye is ringed
in blue diamonds,
a shimmering lure,
and we love this blue
and this dark bird
and this deepening sky
that pinks and hums
in the west, and then
the bird opens his beak
and flutters his throat
and the late
the inside tissue
of his mouth
which is as blue
as his ocular jewelry,
as blue as the bluest
ocean, as blue
as the sky in all
its depth, as blue
as the back of the small
and determined beetle
who struggles to roll
his enormous dung ball
in his own breeding bid
to enchant another
small blue miracle.
Copyright © 2016 by Sidney Wade. Originally published in Poem-a-Day on May 18, 2016, by the Academy of American Poets.
to watch the hawks
glow their side
of the enclosure
eyes wet from
in the museum
park I watched Lou
rub the lit
cigarette into her arm
sun spilling over
her face, knowing
she was blind
to me sometimes
you can look
the trees the trees the black
and gold glassed-in air, museum
of monkey figurines and butterflies
gallery of important and iridescent
rocks the Jurassic spider the mastodon
marginalized birds of New York City,
taxidermied dove, sparrow & starling
a hand to stop her
open as she looked
at the scar the eye
of the hawk turning
Copyright © 2016 by J. Mae Barizo. Originally published in Poem-a-Day on May 24, 2016, by the Academy of American Poets.
A few surprising turns follow us everywhere.
I was shopping for something to replace
what I once felt. Weren’t there buildings there
where we once lived, fully furnished
and looking out on the sea? Didn’t we distill
from neighbors the necessary codes
and gestures? At the core we were all traipse
and meander, governed by fill in the blank.
But it was here, the ramshackle Cape Cod
with rattling shutters eaten away
then revived, mended and painted over.
It takes just a scent of sea spray
to bring back the once was: skimpy,
the bikini, the beach, the conversation,
the veil of summer, skimpy the engine
that chugs toward love, skimpy the cover
of the universe. Thanks to this fragrance
we can sit under our favorite cedar,
or picture the old dreaded barber shop.
Now I want my hair touched, and my cheek.
I want the salt rubbed out with a handkerchief.
Copyright © 2016 by Ira Sadoff. Originally published in Poem-a-Day on May 23, 2016, by the Academy of American Poets.
Art thou pale for weariness
Of climbing Heaven, and gazing on the earth,
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.
The dreams of the dreamer
Are life-drops that pass
The break in the heart
To the soul’s hour-glass.
The songs of the singer
Are tones that repeat
The cry of the heart
‘Till it ceases to beat.
This poem is in the public domain.
The afternotes: orange, a little frangipani,
and then something harsh and mineral:
an old jug rutted out of the ruins of a lost chapel.
But first it was like drinking spring water
lathed by rocks fatty with quartz.
No, it’s inexplicable,
even the way that drink spared our feelings.
That drink liked loneliness and appreciation, lingering appreciation.
Just thinking about that drink creates a kind of yearning
that douses you like sea spray.
I drank that drink and was convinced my body
was flying of its own accord, and why not?
The myth of Icarus is an ugly story
retold and retold and retold
by someone resentful who wasn’t able to drink
the best of the drinks we ever drank.
There was a clear sky in that glass and shaggy pines
and a bit of snowmelt doused in a fire,
and soon a blue shawl drew itself from the rim
and brimmed over us both, and something caught
inside our throats and was released—some old grief.
A grief that, possibly, didn’t even come from us. Or even from our ancestors.
Copyright © 2016 by Lee Upton. Originally published in Poem-a-Day on May 20, 2016, by the Academy of American Poets.
Fishermen out before dawn. None returned.
I asked you why they left their nets behind,
but you were looking out, across to Assos,
and maybe didn’t hear me in the wind.
We both wore the same ironic mask:
one blue eye floating upon a white sea.
On that balcony, beside the iron table,
a geranium held on for dear life.
All day we watched waves capsize in the rain.
Our shoreline here: the other shoreline’s mirror.
Those aren’t nets, you said after a long time,
but mounds of sodden jackets and lost oars.
Stray cats sheltered in the light of the café.
We didn’t know the others huddled there.
The wind changed course and tried to explain
by shaking the geranium, but words sank
in the crossing, so we heard under water.
When I opened my hands, my palms burned,
as if they’d been lashed by splintered wood.
In sleep, you told me, we have been rowing.
Truth is, no one here knows where we’re going.
I begged you not to leave, but you’d already
slung a orange scarf over your wet head.
There aren’t enough boats to carry them,
I shouted, so there’s nothing left to do.
There is, you said. I’m going down to see.
Copyright © 2016 by Christopher Bakken. Originally published in Poem-a-Day on May 19, 2016, by the Academy of American Poets.