The wound on her lip goes white
before returning red.
The virus erupts the lines between chin and
lip, between lip and philtrum.
A sore across two continents of skin, a
bridge of lava.
She will feel healed when the flesh
color returns. The variation
is the aberration. Blood courses to
deliver a clot. Vessels
bouquet under the scalp or in the
womb, in places where we
heal fastest. Cells scramble
a lean-to scab, a mortar of new skin.
The body wants to draw its
But Jesus hangs before the
wounded, eternally weeping
from his gashes.
How to open hers without nails or
thorns? How to measure
heartbeats without seeing blood
heave out its rhythms?
A gush slows under pressure
even as the pulse
goes on. Our lesions take air, our
infections seek sunlight. How to
resist our unwilled mechanisms to
We push through the same tear in the
world and leave it sore.
When we come, we come open.
Pick a wound slow to bleed and
slower to seal. We cream
the scar to fade our atlas of living—what
itched its way to a silver road,
what shadow constellation of pox. The
convert counts Jesus’ wounds.
If you count both hands and both feet, all
lashes and piercings
and the forsaken cry, the number is
higher and lower than anyone’s.
Copyright © 2019 by Melody S. Gee. Originally published in Poem-a-Day on September 5, 2019, by the Academy of American Poets.
I beg for invisible fire.
Every night I pray to love,
please invent yourself.
I imagine a place after this place
and I laugh quietly to no one
as the hair on my chin
weeds through old makeup.
When I go to sleep
I am vinegar inside clouded glass.
The world comes to an end
when I wake up and wonder
who will be next to me.
Police sirens and coyote howls
blend together in morning’s net.
Once, I walked out past the cars
and stood on a natural rock formation
that seemed placed there to be stood on.
I felt something like kinship.
It was the first time.
Once, I believed god
was a blanket of energy
stretched out around
our most vulnerable
she’s the sound
of a promise
Copyright © 2020 by Joshua Jennifer Espinoza. Originally published in Poem-a-Day on October 14, 2020, by the Academy of American Poets.
once, while on a coke binge,
and away from my mother,
my father drove his car
across the sand
and into the pacific ocean.
before he had done that,
he had given away
all of his possessions,
a steak dinner.
he was able
to torture us
with his aristocratic ascetic drama
for years to come.
you can take a pisces
and all it will do
is challenge them
to cry more than the sky;
i say this with admiration.
how would it serve me
to make this up.
like my father,
i sometimes threaten
to succumb to wounds
and don the trappings
disguised as needs.
you may know them:
the sensible shoe;
the classical beauty;
the manicured hand
offered in neoliberal compromise.
i once told konrad
about how i successfully destroy
my attraction to strangers.
i imagine them standing above me,
as i lay prone
before them in their bed,
watching as they try
to get themselves
hard and or wet.
then i imagine
the hovering echo
of their mother,
the amount of humidity
in their bedroom,
if they put music on,
how their underwear
tucks in and around
around this time,
i’ve lost all
interest in them—
“that is so virgo of you,”
konrad said, admiringly.
“that is 1,000 percent virgo.”
virgo could be
my gender, or
it could be
virgo in narrative lust;
virgo in high fantasy;
virgo in unhappy ending.
i don’t know
what i like more:
the desire, or
the agonizing pleasure
i like girls, but
don’t seem to like me;
In That Way, at least.
i love women
i love men,
just as i love
all of g-d’s creatures;
but that doesn’t mean
that i want them,
or to be wanted by them.
hotly spayed virgin
in heat that i am,
i don’t think that
i have a gender,
but i can now
certainly have an orgasm.
on my way
to the slaughterhouse;
i wouldn’t say
that the struggle
masculine and feminine.
that i’m attached to,
i assure you.
i pluck the sinew,
and hold the cup
marked by my lipstick
up to the cloud’s mouth.
i acquire the fear
that i don’t hear
because i don't have
i would say
that the struggle
indecision and not caring.
like all good
poor people and aristocrats,
i know how to have a good time.
why i refuse to
is my own problem.
like all good
leftists of a certain region,
i have never read marx
or the bible.
i know the gossip
to kneel and resist.
i was content enough
to be a corpse eater
among the lotus eaters,
and then a lotus eater
among the petroleuses.
i’m a petroleuse
among the corpse eaters.
Copyright © 2020 by Tatiana Luboviski-Acosta. Originally published in Poem-a-Day on October 15, 2020, by the Academy of American Poets.
Ask me about the time
my brother ran towards the sun
arms outstretched. His shadow chased him
from corner store to church
where he offered himself in pieces.
Ask me about the time
my brother disappeared. At 16,
tossed his heartstrings over telephone wire,
dangling for all the rez dogs to feed on.
Bit by bit. The world took chunks of
my brother’s flesh.
Ask me about the first time
we drowned in history. 8 years old
during communion we ate the body of Christ
with palms wide open, not expecting wine to be
poured into our mouths. The bitterness
buried itself in my tongue and my brother
never quite lost his thirst for blood or vanishing
for more days than a shadow could hold.
Ask me if I’ve ever had to use
bottle caps as breadcrumbs to help
my brother find his way back home.
He never could tell the taste between
a scar and its wounding, an angel or demon.
Ask me if I can still hear his
exhaled prayers: I am still waiting to be found.
To be found, tell me why there is nothing
more holy than becoming a ghost.
Copyright © 2020 by Tanaya Winder. Originally published in Poem-a-Day on November 17, 2020, by the Academy of American Poets.
The night air is filled
with the scent of apples,
and the moon is nearly full.
In the next room, Jim
is reading; a small cat sleeps
in the crook of his arm.
The night singers are loud,
every evening until they run
out of nights and die in
the cold, or burrow down into
the mud to dream away the winter.
My office is awash in books
and photographs, and the sepia/pink
sunset stains all its light touches.
I’ve never been a good traveler,
but there are days, like this one,
when I’d pay anything to be in
another country, or standing on
the cold, grey moon, staring back
at the disaster we call our world.
We crave change, but
turn away from it.
We drown in contradictions.
Tonight, I’ll sleep
blanketed in moonlight.
In my dreams, I’ll have
nothing to say about anything
important. I’ll simply live my life,
and let the night singers live theirs,
until all of us are gone.
I won’t say a word, and let
silence speak in my stead.
Copyright © 2020 by William Reichard. Originally published in Poem-a-Day on November 19, 2020, by the Academy of American Poets.
My family never stopped migrating. We fight
so hard. With each other and ourselves. Don’t
talk about that. Not now. There is never
a good time and I learn that songs are the only
moments that last forever. But my mother
always brings me the instant coffee my
dede drank before he died. She wraps it
so carefully in a plastic bag from the market
that we go to when Caddebostan feels unreachable.
We don’t talk about that. Or the grief.
Or my short hair. I want to know what
dede would have said. I want to know that he
can feel the warm wind too if he tried.
We fight so hard. We open the tops of
each other’s heads and watch the birds
fly out. We still don’t talk about my dede.
Copyright © 2021 by beyza ozer. Originally published in Poem-a-Day on January 6, 2021, by the Academy of American Poets.
When my soul touches yours a great chord sings!
How shall I tune it then to other things?
O! That some spot in darkness could be found
That does not vibrate when’er your depth sound.
But everything that touches you and me
Welds us as played strings sound one melody.
Where is the instrument whence the sounds flow?
And whose the master-hand that holds the bow?
O! Sweet song—
This poem is in the public domain. Published in Poem-a-Day on April 4, 2021, by the Academy of American Poets.
Please tell me that I was a good child
And that I did everything right
And that the atmosphere was exactly certain
I want you to love me
In ways that you never have
So that I become a forgotten world
With rainbow sunrises over dark green trees
And the cooling of the day
Becomes normal again
We will sit and watch the body of water
That we once called a sort of death
You know even in my dreams
You say I’ll never get it right
This is not a dream
We are burning here with no escape
But no matter how many times
They talk about the moon
It does not take a poet
To know that the moon
Is still only an illusion
Only an illusion
The moon calls out to all of us
Come back, it says
But we don’t hear it
Already on our way
Copyright © 2023 by Dorothea Lasky. Originally published in Poem-a-Day on January 31, 2023, by the Academy of American Poets.
Full knee-deep lies the winter snow,
And the winter winds are wearily sighing:
Toll ye the church bell sad and slow,
And tread softly and speak low,
For the old year lies a-dying.
Old year you must not die;
You came to us so readily,
You lived with us so steadily,
Old year, you shall not die.
He lieth still: he doth not move:
He will not see the dawn of day.
He hath no other life above.
He gave me a friend and a true truelove
And the New-year will take ’em away.
Old year you must not go;
So long you have been with us,
Such joy as you have seen with us,
Old year, you shall not go.
He froth’d his bumpers to the brim;
A jollier year we shall not see.
But tho’ his eyes are waxing dim,
And tho’ his foes speak ill of him,
He was a friend to me.
Old year, you shall not die;
We did so laugh and cry with you,
I’ve half a mind to die with you,
Old year, if you must die.
He was full of joke and jest,
But all his merry quips are o’er.
To see him die across the waste
His son and heir doth ride post-haste,
But he’ll be dead before.
Every one for his own.
The night is starry and cold, my friend,
And the New-year blithe and bold, my friend,
Comes up to take his own.
How hard he breathes! over the snow
I heard just now the crowing cock.
The shadows flicker to and fro:
The cricket chirps: the light burns low:
’Tis nearly twelve o’clock.
Shake hands, before you die.
Old year, we’ll dearly rue for you:
What is it we can do for you?
Speak out before you die.
His face is growing sharp and thin.
Alack! our friend is gone,
Close up his eyes: tie up his chin:
Step from the corpse, and let him in
That standeth there alone,
And waiteth at the door.
There’s a new foot on the floor, my friend,
And a new face at the door, my friend,
A new face at the door.
This poem is in the public domain. Published in Poem-a-Day on December 31, 2022, by the Academy of American Poets
Slight as thou art, thou art enough to hide,
Like all created things, secrets from me,
And stand a barrier to eternity.
And I, how can I praise thee well and wide
From where I dwell—upon the hither side?
Thou little veil for so great mystery,
When shall I penetrate all things and thee,
And then look back? For this I must abide,
Till thou shalt grow and fold and be unfurled
Literally between me and the world.
Then shall I drink from in beneath a spring,
And from a poet’s side shall read his book.
O daisy mine, what will it be to look
From God’s side even of such a simple thing?
This poem is in the public domain. Published in Poem-a-Day on March 25, 2023, by the Academy of American Poets.
It’s autumn, and we’re getting rid
of books, getting ready to retire,
to move some place smaller, more
manageable. We’re living in reverse,
age-proofing the new house, nothing
on the floors to trip over, no hindrances
to the slowed mechanisms of our bodies,
a small table for two. Our world is
shrinking, our closets mostly empty,
gone the tight skirts and dancing shoes,
the bells and whistles. Now, when
someone comes to visit and admires
our complete works of Shakespeare,
the hawk feather in the open dictionary,
the iron angel on a shelf, we say
take them. This is the most important
time of all, the age of divestment,
knowing what we leave behind is
like the fragrance of blossoming trees
that grows stronger after
you’ve passed them, breathing
them in for a moment before
breathing them out. An ordinary
Tuesday when one of you says
I dare you, and the other one
Copyright © 2023 by Dorianne Laux. Originally published in Poem-a-Day on April 4, 2023, by the Academy of American Poets.