I will hide my soul and its mighty love
In the bosom of this rose,
And its dispensing breath will take
My love wherever it goes.
And perhaps she’ll pluck this very rose,
And, quick as blushes start,
Will breathe my hidden secret in
Her unsuspecting heart.
And there I will live in her embrace
And the realm of sweetness there,
Enamored with an ecstasy,
Of bliss beyond compare.
This poem is in the public domain. Published in Poem-a-Day on February 13, 2021, by the Academy of American Poets.
An odor in the breeze—spruce; palosanto; silver dust
of a hard freeze. This isn’t love-love, I say back. But
what do I know—except
I’ve gotten close enough to too far
enough times to know
it is possible to pull back, and for that thrill
to be enough. But what damage that moment does, the having of it
—the halving of it—again and again in the mind,
I cannot say. How leaves,
no matter how long they soak in the river,
will never turn truly black—though how could I be sure of this, either,
without staying the weeks to watch.
As the day drains
out the window, I become more and more
the focus of my own gaze. Light leaches from every
silvered feather; every bone-bright twig
now grey as silt—the great equity
of darkness coming down.
How you can find that what you believed was singular, and needed
to be, is not—
This, too, a trick of light or distance—
the burst cattail no cattail at all, but a stalk
of lush grass weighted with snow.
This, too—how could you.
Copyright © 2022 by Emily Pittinos. Originally published in Poem-a-Day on March 14, 2022, by the Academy of American Poets.
The impermanence of lei
On dark altars of stone
A dream of lei kukui
Placed on the kuahu
Coils of lush green leaves
Fragrant leaf stems neatly knotted
Plaited along a backspine
Joined one to the other
Bound by a fast symmetry
The spectral presences
Of our gods
We seek your permission,
That you will hear
Our importunate prayers
Our songs through the far forests
And as with birds
Contemn their dark silences with light;
We seek your companionship,
On our right shoulders and left
Above us and below
The surround of your playful
And somber accompaniments
Your presences in our gardens
Your residencies on our altars;
We seek wakefulness,
That we long slumbering
Will become luminous
As leaves on brightened paths;
We seek your acceptance,
That the hidden canopies
Will reveal themselves
Each bright leaf
Giving itself of its own accord;
We seek resonance,
From the tops of our heads
To the bottoms of our feet
From the center of our chests
To the leaf tips of our hands
We seek all of these things—
A purer correspondence
With the radiance of leaves.
Copyright © 2022 by Mahealani Perez-Wendt. Originally published in Poem-a-Day on May 16, 2022, by the Academy of American Poets.
after C. P. Cavafy
You tell me: I’m going to another country,
another city, another body.
Perhaps my heart will stay uncertain,
and I will destroy my history but I am leaving.
Even if on every street, I find the ruins of our bodies,
I’ll roam like a restless soul anyway.
I tell you: you won’t find a new country,
new city, new body. You’ll return to roam
the same ruins, same streets, same quartiere,
return to complain in the same room
of the same house, return to the memory of our intertwined bodies.
You will always end up in Roma: I will always remain in you.
And maybe late, you’ll see, that what you destroyed
is worth more than all the worlds you wasted your time in.
Copyright © 2022 by Nathalie Handal. Originally published in Poem-a-Day on April 22, 2022, by the Academy of American Poets.
I peer at the ridges of your palm
rested along the crevice of mine,
while tracing your jagged vasculature
with a delicate press of my finger,
and I explore every uneven wrinkle,
every pronounced callus, every rounded
mole like it is the hilly, stone-ridden
backyard of my childhood home in Mongmong.
I know this place. I have been here
before. I read the swirls inscribed
into your firm dark skin, sound out
each node and connecting branch,
sew syllables into words that spell
out gima’: home.
I raise your hand transposed against
the evening sky, clear of clouds, and I
can find the constellations within you.
Did you know our forefathers did this at sea—
placed their arm to the heavens to translate
the stars? Master navigators of the open ocean,
yet you, my love, are more than a map; I dare
not fold nor decipher your complexity. You
are the beloved, longed-for destination at the end
of the journey, the place that our ancestors craved
return, the reason for the expedition—refuge,
promise, hope. You are home.
Copyright © 2022 by Haʻåni Lucia Falo San Nicolas. Originally published in Poem-a-Day on May 25, 2022, by the Academy of American Poets.
Odd how you entered my house quietly,
Quietly left again.
While you stayed you ate at my table,
Slept in my bed.
There was much sweetness,
Yet little was done, little said.
After you left there was pain,
Now there is no more pain.
But the door of a certain room in my house
Will be always shut.
Your fork, your plate, the glass you drank from,
The music you played,
Are in that room
With the pillow where last your head was laid.
And there is one place in my garden
Where it’s best that I set no foot.
This poem is in the public domain. Published in Poem-a-Day on June 5, 2022, by the Academy of American Poets.
Lying hymn-barren on the dirt floor, loopy
in the leaflight, I thought I thought well of myself.
I smoked a cigarette beneath the weeping beech
we called King Tree, dreamt
a grove grown for coffinwood.
Pain journeyed from my stomach riding an armored horse.
Vines grew around my neck.
The world was worse wherever I was.
Copyright © 2022 by Chase Berggrun. Originally published in Poem-a-Day on June 8, 2022, by the Academy of American Poets.
Outside, I have never been lonesome,
Always a fence, a plank, an eyebrow in the ocean,
A baby received in a house, anything tall is a tree.
The sky rearranges itself in the desert;
The sky rearranges itself in the water;
The sky rearranges itself while I am in the sky.
How lucky I thought I was to see the street lights turn on,
Clouds like rows of planting, mistakes we make and agree to continue,
A view of the river, my rock in the glade,
Bigger, relatively, and still, until,
I pull my lover open like a zipper,
I drag a trowel through them,
I lick the paint off my own stick,
I have a cold back and wet ankles.
Later, a slow moon laboring over the hillside;
Later, the fog reflects the moon;
Later, my blood is sucked and I itch.
Will we will we ever find home?
The car calls us in the distance,
To walk the stairs, to take off my shoes, to stand
Wringing hands, scratching grass blades on toenails.
You are starting to see things we could never see before like:
You have been born,
Or how I waited a whole year for September,
A piece of fruit,
A source of fire,
An edge, an excuse on a small scrap of paper,
The woods in my mouth.
It is so hot today like yesterday and the day before.
Copyright © 2022 by Rindon Johnson. Originally published in Poem-a-Day on June 10, 2022, by the Academy of American Poets.
Being asked to move into time
To places wishes and daydreams
Into rivets and seams
Being asked to move back into categorical understandings of regrets
In order to fight against disintegration
Carrying a placeholder for liminal spectrums
Reading somersaults into lecture
Move me, unmove me
place me unto y’all’s metaphoric understanding
of the dreams which have yet been realized
Wish unto me, unfurl around, open
Gasp gasp gasp
Cry out, there are ways of understanding
that leave indelible marks onto membrane surfaces
We should all be so lucky to exist
To not function
The eyes, cease to work
The throat struggles to open
The ears seek love remarks
The skin wrinkles
to make space
for the grandchildren we wish into the future
Au Revoir, my love:
you have my best
and my sword to cut through the meat of life.
Hopefully, you have a better grip than me.
Hello long love,
I seek you out
amongst the fleshy cavernous walls where memory lies.
Copyright © 2022 by Jasmine Gibson. Originally published in Poem-a-Day on June 13, 2022, by the Academy of American Poets.
The whole time you’ve been writing and thinking ocean because it is unknown, because it’s your life. Because you have the brightest terror, like following a white feather into the street. You want it so badly. Would you call that desire? Would you call it love? When you can’t see your legs because of the dark. But did you want to see what was happening? Every life form skidded by. The human products bobbing and sinking. Was that seaweed, we always said it was. The helicopter above seemed to be going somewhere but then it just cycled around the clouds. You thought of churning butter, street crimes, richness, fame. What small dot were you to the motor in the air, only human because of your lack of grace, your head that needed to be above to live. A shape inside the shapeless. Not able to rid shape. Even when brought under, the shape stays, though flattened. The eel is the snake and the manta ray the bat. Transformations in the underworld proliferate and you are unable to stand on your head or hold your sister. Your skin wears the same dint with cosmetics. Your blink, that fear, displaced, running.
Copyright © 2022 by Jennifer Firestone. Originally published in Poem-a-Day on July 12, 2022, by the Academy of American Poets.