When you came, you were like red wine and honey,
And the taste of you burnt my mouth with its sweetness.
Now you are like morning bread,
Smooth and pleasant.
I hardly taste you at all for I know your savour,
But I am completely nourished.
This poem is in the public domain. Published in Poem-a-Day on June 25, 2022, by the Academy of American Poets.
Every morning you'd think
all the moths would throw themselves
into the Sun.
But they wait
to consume them
in small coughs
I have stopped
listening to my moth soul.
My dear, I am done
tilting at streetlights.
My paper wings soar,
your blazing heart.
Copyright © 2006 by Matt Mason. From Things We Don’t Know We Don’t Know (The Backwaters Press, 2006). Used with the permission of the poet.
O form! O face!
Elfin face in the crowd!
Form, face, white throat,
Pale throat wound with a scarf
Pale throat wound with a poppy scarf
Gleaming out of the crowd.
Background of grey,
A rain-wet street;
Past the corner where four ways meet.
O face, O throat!
Crimson and white
Splashed on grey:
I have thought of nothing else all day.
A scarf-wound throat,
That seemed to float
Through the crowd
Like a wisp of song:
I have thought of them all day long.
From On a Grey Thread (Will Ransom, 1923) by Elsa Gidlow. This poem is in the public domain.
since feeling is first
who pays any attention
to the syntax of things
will never wholly kiss you;
wholly to be a fool
while Spring is in the world
my blood approves,
and kisses are a better fate
lady i swear by all flowers. Don’t cry
—the best gesture of my brain is less than
your eyelids’ flutter which says
we are for each other: then
laugh, leaning back in my arms
for life’s not a paragraph
And death i think is no parenthesis
This poem is in the public domain. Published in Poem-a-Day on April 16, 2022, by the Academy of American Poets.
And when, on this island on which
I love you, there is only so much land
to drive on, a few hours to encircle
in entirety, and the best of our lands
are touristed, the beaches foam-laced
with rainbowing suntan oil,
the mountains tattooed with asphalt,
pocked by telescoped domes,
hotels and luxury condos blighting
the line between ocean and sky,
I find you between the lines
of such hard edges, sitting on
the kamyo stool, a bowl of coconut,
freshly grated, at your feet.
That I hear the covert jackaling
of helicopters and jets overhead
all night through our open jalousies,
that my throat burns from the scorch
of the grenaded graves of my ancestors,
the vog that smears the Koʻolaus into a blur
of greens, that I wake to hear the grind
of you blending vegetables and fruit,
machine whirl-crunching coffee beans,
your shoulder blades channelling ocean,
a steady flux of current.
Past the guarded military testing grounds,
amphibious assault vehicles emerging
from the waves, beyond the tangles
of tarp cities lining the roads, past
the thick memory of molasses coating
the most intimate coral crevices,
by the box jellyfish congregating under
ʻOle Pau and Kāloa moons, at the park
beneath the emptied trees, I come
to find you shaking five-dollar coconuts
(because this is all we have on this island),
listening to the water to guess
its sweetness and youth.
On this island on which I love you,
something of you is in the rain rippling
through the wind that make the pipes
of Waikīkī burst open. Long brown
fingers of sewage stretch out
from the canal, and pesticided
tendrils flow from every ridge
out to sea, and so we stay inside
to bicker over how a plumeria tree
moves in the wind, let our daughters
ink lines like coarse rootlets
in our notebooks, crayon lines
into ladders on our walls
and sheets. Their first sentences
are sung, moonlit blowhole plumes
of sound that calls pebbles to couple,
caverns to be carved, ʻuala to roll
down the hillside again, and I could
choke on this gratitude for you all.
This island is alive with love,
its storms, the cough of alchemy
expelling every parasitic thing,
teaching me to love you with
the intricacies of island knowing,
to depend on the archipelagic
spelling of you lying next to me,
our blue-screen flares their own
floating islands after our daughter
has finally fallen asleep,
to trust in the shape and curve
of your hand reaching out to hold mine
making and remaking an island our own.
From When the Light of the World was Subdued, Our Songs Came Through: A Norton Anthology of Native Nations Poetry (W.W. Norton & Company, 2020). Copyright © 2020 by Brandy Nālani McDougall. Used with the permission of the poet.
The light retreats and is generous again.
No you to speak of, anywhere—neither in vicinity nor distance,
so I look at the blue water, the snowy egret, the lace of its feathers
shaking in the wind, the lake—no, I am lying.
There are no egrets here, no water. Most of the time,
my mind gnaws on such ridiculous fictions.
My phone notes littered with lines like Beauty will not save you.
Or: mouthwash, yogurt, cilantro.
A hummingbird zips past me, its luminescent plumage
disturbing my vision like a tiny dorsal fin.
But what I want does not appear. Instead, I find the redwoods and pines,
figs that have fallen and burst open on the pavement,
announcing that sickly sweet smell,
the sweetness of grief, my prayer for what is gone.
You are so dramatic, I say to the reflection on my phone,
then order the collected novels of Jean Rhys.
She, too, was humiliated by her body, that it wanted
such stupid, simple things: food and cherry wine, to touch someone.
On my daily walk, I steal Meyer lemons from my neighbors’ yard,
a small pomegranate. Instead of eating them,
I observe their casual rot on the kitchen counter,
this theatre of good things turning into something else.
Copyright © 2021 by Aria Aber. Originally published in Poem-a-Day on October 19, 2021, by the Academy of American Poets.
You’re doing a crossword.
I’m working on a puzzle.
Do you love me enough?
What’s the missing word?
Do I love you enough?
Where’s the missing piece?
Yesterday I was cross with you.
You weren’t paying enough attention.
You were cross with me.
I wasn’t paying enough attention.
Our words crossed.
Where are the missing pieces?
What are the missing words?
Yet last night we fit together like words in a crossword.
Pieces of a puzzle.
Copyright © 2012 by Lloyd Schwartz. This poem originally appeared in The New Republic, December 2012. Used with permission of the author.