maggie and milly and molly and may
went down to the beach(to play one day)

and maggie discovered a shell that sang
so sweetly she couldn't remember her troubles,and

milly befriended a stranded star
whose rays five languid fingers were;

and molly was chased by a horrible thing
which raced sideways while blowing bubbles:and

may came home with a smooth round stone
as small as a world and as large as alone.

For whatever we lose(like a you or a me)
it's always ourselves we find in the sea

Copyright © 1956, 1984, 1991 by the Trustees for the E. E. Cummings Trust from The Complete Poems: 1904-1962 by E. E. Cummings, Edited by George J. Firmage. Reprinted by permission of Liveright Publishing Corporation. All rights reserved.

Mr. Macklin takes his knife 
And carves the yellow pumpkin face: 
Three holes bring eyes and nose to life, 
The mouth has thirteen teeth in place. 
Then Mr. Macklin just for fun 
Transfers the corn-cob pipe from his 
Wry mouth to Jack’s, and everyone 
Dies laughing! O what fun it is 
Till Mr. Macklin draws the shade 
And lights the candle in Jack’s skull. 
Then all the inside dark is made 
As spooky and as horrorful 
As Halloween, and creepy crawl 
The shadows on the tool-house floor, 
With Jack’s face dancing on the wall. 
O Mr. Macklin! where's the door?

Age four— Witnessed my first mow down

Twinkling ground stars, cut by a murderous lawn mower

Feeling the blade, I fell, curled like a snail in grief


12 full moons folded into Spring — Perennial promises prevailed

Bees celebrated return of dandelions in a skirt of twirling, yellow bliss

Flowering bouffant mirrored my spiky little afro

Jagged edged “lion’s tooth” leaves paid tribute to my snag-a-tooth smile

Me and my freedom fighting flowers frolicked to survive the

scissoring, up-digging, poisoning

Warning Signs hovered like low hanging clouds:

No Blooming Allowed; Blossoms Will be Prosecuted

These brave plants grew just for me

Grew in spite of a society that favored a monochromatic landscape


1965— Mr. Brother Malcolm X was assassinated, big word for a pre-kindergartner.

I was convinced he must have been a dandelion, Reverend King too,

and the Johnson boy who lived one turn down the street, that way.

The Johnson boy was shot by the police for growing in a monochromatic landscape.


Training Wheels Off—Bike riding across insecure cement, I peddled the bumpy path

waving solidarity to each surviving, sunburst noggin,

each fulfilling the promise to ornament lawns and flourish souls with lemon drop hope


Dandelions bare art of

endurance and escape

transforming into pearl puffs

floating with ephemeral intention

carrying the spirit of the weed.


13 Full moons faded into July — “I am a proud weed!”


Yes, I declared that shocking proclamation standing in the pulpit on Youth Sunday

Vernon Chapel A.M.E. Church

I added to my speech on David and Goliath

my impromptu improvisation of Dandelion Dogma:


“We are Black Dandelions who will NEVER be destroyed.

We grow the power of goodness for generations into the future!”


I yet remember the hat framed faces of the pious, amused and mortified.

Copyright © Semaj Brown. This poem originally appeared in Bleeding Fire! Tap the Eternal Spring of Regenerative Light (Health Collectors LLC, 2019). Used with permission of the author.

There is a wolf in me … fangs pointed for tearing gashes … a red tongue for raw meat … and the hot lapping of blood—I keep this wolf because the wilderness gave it to me and the wilderness will not let it go.

There is a fox in me … a silver-gray fox … I sniff and guess … I pick things out of the wind and air … I nose in the dark night and take sleepers and eat them and hide the feathers … I circle and loop and double-cross.

There is a hog in me … a snout and a belly … a machinery for eating and grunting … a machinery for sleeping satisfied in the sun—I got this too from the wilderness and the wilderness will not let it go.

There is a fish in me … I know I came from saltblue water-gates … I scurried with shoals of herring … I blew waterspouts with porpoises … before land was … before the water went down … before Noah … before the first chapter of Genesis.

There is a baboon in me … clambering-clawed … dog-faced … yawping a galoot’s hunger … hairy under the armpits … here are the hawk-eyed hankering men … here are the blond and blue-eyed women … here they hide curled asleep waiting … ready to snarl and kill … ready to sing and give milk … waiting—I keep the baboon because the wilderness says so.

There is an eagle in me and a mockingbird … and the eagle flies among the Rocky Mountains of my dreams and fights among the Sierra crags of what I want … and the mockingbird warbles in the early forenoon before the dew is gone, warbles in the underbrush of my Chattanoogas of hope, gushes over the blue Ozark foothills of my wishes—And I got the eagle and the mockingbird from the wilderness.

O, I got a zoo, I got a menagerie, inside my ribs, under my bony head, under my red-valve heart—and I got something else: it is a man-child heart, a woman-child heart: it is a father and mother and lover: it came from God-Knows-Where: it is going to God-Knows-Where—For I am the keeper of the zoo: I say yes and no: I sing and kill and work: I am a pal of the world: I came from the wilderness.

This poem is in the public domain.

The crunch is the thing, a certain joy in crashing through
living tissue, a memory of Neanderthal days.
   —Edward Bunyard, The Anatomy of Dessert, 1929

Teeth at the skin. Anticipation.
Then flesh. Grain on the tongue.
Eve's knees ground in the dirt
of paradise. Newton watching
gravity happen. The history
of apples in each starry core,
every papery chamber's bright
bitter seed. Woody stem
an infant tree. William Tell
and his lucky arrow. Orchards
of the Fertile Crescent. Bushels.
Fire blight. Scab and powdery mildew.
Cedar apple rust. The apple endures.
Born of the wild rose, of crab ancestors.
The first pip raised in Kazakhstan.
Snow White with poison on her lips.
The buried blades of Halloween.
Budding and grafting. John Chapman
in his tin pot hat. Oh Westward
Expansion. Apple pie. American
as. Hard cider. Winter banana.
Melt-in-the-mouth made sweet
by hives of Britain's honeybees:
white man's flies. O eat. O eat.

From The Book of Men, published by W.W. Norton. Copyright © 2011 by Dorianne Laux. Used by permission of the publisher. All rights reserved.

Usually, it’s the males. Maybe
they’ve gone out with buddies
in their leks, keeping their radar
tuned for female bees as they move
from sweet pea to mallow flower and
snapdragon, gathering pollen
in those hairy saddlebags called
corbiculae. Maybe they have
no place to return or are lost,
having gone too far from the nest.
Maybe the empty football fields
and elementary school playgrounds,
long unmowed since our common
isolation and teeming now
with yellow dandelions, proved
too much. Sweet alyssum,
phlox; wisteria cascading heavy
out of themselves. Honeysuckle
and evening-scented stock,
dianthus crowned with hint
of cinnamon and smoky clove.
Female bees will also burrow
deep inside the shade of a squash
flower: the closer to the source
of nectar, the warmer and more
quilt-like the air. In the cool
hours of morning, look closely
for the slight but tell-tale
trembling in each flower cup:
there, a body dropped mid-flight,
mid-thought. How we all retreat
behind some folded screen as work
or the world presses in too
soon, too close, too much.

Copyright © Luisa A. Igloria. This poem was originally published by Digging Press. Used with permission of the author.

I sit hard down, write down rules, an age of alg-
ebra I will not renounce for any good shake of god’s ale or angle
or some other father. Here’s my noes I mouth to no one but two flies alining,
amounting, in air clear between them is my sliver of grace, élan
for no one, the di pteron fold and again my sliver, this grass, genial
grass I’ve known my whole long life this grass, this green gee glen:

cupping my proclamations I will I will I will, lag and nag,
weren’t those the magic words when cupped, my hands glean
this earth, this earth retraced me my unlearned effort, gin of nil
it wills it wills it wills. Claimant am I who turns turns away, ail-
ing away until the edge is a place I home until I am alien,
a line at the edge of a line, a nile.

Copyright © 2022 by Lillian-Yvonne Bertram. Originally published in Poem-a-Day on July 13, 2022, by the Academy of American Poets.

I have eaten
the plums
that were in
the icebox

and which
you were probably
for breakfast

Forgive me
they were delicious
so sweet
and so cold

Copyright © 1962 by William Carlos Williams. Used with permission of New Directions Publishing Corporation. All rights reserved. No part of this poem may be reproduced in any form without the written consent of the publisher.

According to Brueghel
when Icarus fell
it was spring

a farmer was ploughing
his field
the whole pageantry

of the year was
awake tingling

the edge of the sea
with itself

sweating in the sun
that melted
the wings' wax

off the coast
there was

a splash quite unnoticed
this was
Icarus drowning

From Collected Poems: 1939-1962, Volume II by William Carlos Williams, published by New Directions Publishing Corp. © 1962 by William Carlos Williams. Reprinted by permission of New Directions Publishing Corp.

DAILY dawns another day;
I must up, to make my way.
Though I dress and drink and eat,
Move my fingers and my feet,
Learn a little, here and there,
Weep and laugh and sweat and swear,
Hear a song, or watch a stage,
Leave some words upon a page,
Claim a foe, or hail a friend––
Bed awaits me at the end.

Though I go in pride and strength,
I’ll come back to bed at length.
Though I walk in blinded woe,
Back to bed I’m bound to go.
High my heart, or bowed my head,
All my days but lead to bed.
Up, and out, and on; and then
Ever back to bed again,
Summer, Winter, Spring, and Fall––
I’m a fool to rise at all!

From Enough Rope (Boni & Liveright, 1926) by Dorothy Parker. This poem is in the public domain.

yes, the business folk rush thru midtown.
they talk math that equates to foreclosures. 
yes, the trash has to be taken out
& dinner chewed. when i was a child, 
i saw a house on our block burn. the smoke
was a serpent coiling up getting thicker &
then it was gone. the firemen left the house a puddle,
but what about the smoke? it was easy, then, 
to forget what i couldn’t see. such is life:
the dishes keep piling up. why stop
just because there’s a warm breeze in January.
there are bills to pay and bills about to come due.
smoke thins into air, the serpent i saw as a kid 
never disappeared. it’s not even hiding. 
most folks don’t know the sound of smoke. 
though they hear it. though smoke gets mistaken 
for silence. most folks think they’re saying nothing 
when they’re saying the most.

Copyright © 2023 by José Olivarez. Originally published in Poem-a-Day on April 12, 2023, by the Academy of American Poets.

In this version, the valley
lime green after rain
rolls its tides before us.

A coyote bush shivers with seed.

We hold out our palms as if catching snow—
our villages of circular tracts
overcast with stars.

We have been moving together in sequence
for thousands of years, paralyzed
only by the question of time.

But now it is autumn under bishop pines—
the young blown down by wind feed
their lichens to the understory.

We follow the deer-path
past the ferns, to the flooded
upper reaches of the estuary.

The channel snakes through horsetails
and hemlock as the forest deepens, rises
behind us and the blue heron,
frozen in the shallows.

The shadow of her long neck ripples.

Somewhere in the rustling tulle reeds
spider is casting her threads to the light

and we spot a crimson-hooded fly agaric,
her toadstool’s gills white
as teeth as the sun
                bleeds into the Pacific.

We will walk the trail
until it turns to sand
and wait at the spit’s edge, listening
to the breakers, the seagulls
as they chatter their twilight preparations.

What we won’t understand
about the sound of the sea is no different
than the origin of planets

or the wind’s crystalline structures
irreversibly changing.

The albatross drags her parachute
over the earth’s gaping mouth.

We turn back only for the instant
the four dimensions fold
into a sandcastle—before its towers
are collapsed by waves.

The face that turns
toward the end of its world
dissolves into space—

despite us, the continuum

Copyright © 2022 by Jennifer Elise Foerster. Originally published in Poem-a-Day on December 20, 2022, by the Academy of American Poets.

                             Marco Island, Florida

There should be nothing here I don’t remember . . .

The Gulf Motel with mermaid lampposts
and ship’s wheel in the lobby should still be
rising out of the sand like a cake decoration.
My brother and I should still be pretending
we don’t know our parents, embarrassing us
as they roll the luggage cart past the front desk
loaded with our scruffy suitcases, two-dozen
loaves of Cuban bread, brown bags bulging
with enough mangos to last the entire week,
our espresso pot, the pressure cooker—and
a pork roast reeking garlic through the lobby.
All because we can’t afford to eat out, not even
on vacation, only two hours from our home
in Miami, but far enough away to be thrilled
by whiter sands on the west coast of Florida,
where I should still be for the first time watching
the sun set instead of rise over the ocean.

There should be nothing here I don’t remember . . .

My mother should still be in the kitchenette
of The Gulf Motel, her daisy sandals from Kmart
squeaking across the linoleum, still gorgeous
in her teal swimsuit and amber earrings
stirring a pot of arroz-con-pollo, adding sprinkles
of onion powder and dollops of tomato sauce.
My father should still be in a terrycloth jacket
smoking, clinking a glass of amber whiskey
in the sunset at the Gulf Motel, watching us
dive into the pool, two boys he’ll never see
grow into men who will be proud of him.

There should be nothing here I don’t remember . . .

My brother and I should still be playing Parcheesi,
my father should still be alive, slow dancing
with my mother on the sliding-glass balcony
of The Gulf Motel. No music, only the waves
keeping time, a song only their minds hear
ten-thousand nights back to their life in Cuba.
My mother’s face should still be resting against
his bare chest like the moon resting on the sea,
the stars should still be turning around them.

There should be nothing here I don’t remember . . .

My brother should still be thirteen, sneaking
rum in the bathroom, sculpting naked women
from sand. I should still be eight years old
dazzled by seashells and how many seconds
I hold my breath underwater—but I’m not.
I am thirty-eight, driving up Collier Boulevard,
looking for The Gulf Motel, for everything
that should still be, but isn’t. I want to blame
the condos, their shadows for ruining the beach
and my past, I want to chase the snowbirds away
with their tacky mansions and yachts, I want
to turn the golf courses back into mangroves,
I want to find The Gulf Motel exactly as it was
and pretend for a moment, nothing lost is lost.

From Looking for The Gulf Motel, by Richard Blanco, © 2012. All rights are controlled by the University of Pittsburgh Press, Pittsburgh, PA 15260. Used by permission of the University of Pittsburgh Press and Stuart Representation for Artists.

I love the hour before takeoff,
that stretch of no time, no home
but the gray vinyl seats linked like
unfolding paper dolls. Soon we shall
be summoned to the gate, soon enough
there’ll be the clumsy procedure of row numbers
and perforated stubs—but for now
I can look at these ragtag nuclear families
with their cooing and bickering
or the heeled bachelorette trying
to ignore a baby’s wail and the baby’s
exhausted mother waiting to be called up early
while the athlete, one monstrous hand
asleep on his duffel bag, listens,
perched like a seal trained for the plunge.
Even the lone executive
who has wandered this far into summer
with his lasered itinerary, briefcase
knocking his knees—even he
has worked for the pleasure of bearing
no more than a scrap of himself
into this hall. He’ll dine out, she’ll sleep late,
they’ll let the sun burn them happy all morning
—a little hope, a little whimsy
before the loudspeaker blurts
and we leap up to become
Flight 828, now boarding at Gate 17.

Reprinted from On the Wing, published by the University of Iowa Press.

We were lost in the plains,
beautiful and ordinary.
Sunflowers in the fields,
seeds of fallen stars,
standing tall; deeply 
rooted in this land.

I’ve admired how our flowers
shine, grasping towards the sky,
beyond the prairie grass, anchored
down to earth; mimicking the sun.

When a gardener plants the 
seeds of Helianthus, they are 
performing magic. Raising
stars out of the dust where
buzzing planets circle, half 
red moons set, and swarming 
comets float in orange comas.

I’ve always felt that late at night, 
in the bed of a truck, in a Kansas field, 
we were at the center of this universe.

And I was exactly where I should be,
amongst the flowers, not below.

From How to Hang the Moon (Spartan Press, 2017). Copyright © 2017 by Huascar Medina. Used with the permission of the poet.