You are always in the middle of the poem
even at the end.
More and more you are tied by ropes,
foliage, and as you move
the bindings grow around your knees, your feet.
Again and again you pass
your own footprints on the grass, on floors,
once more you have tracked mud into the house.
Have tracked a house into the mud. Outside the poem
are sirens, fires, ocean hitting
pier. Say to yourself: does not cohere
but is subsumed
and must not, must not. Outside the poem
a little vein clicks in the forehead of a financier,
a cue called, an oboe,
truncheons, pigeons, rain
mineralizes a colonnade. 
A chorale stands up, taller than a building,
false in sense, numerically true.
You despise these techniques.
You have not got to the truth yet.
A truck downshifts on the freeway,
a shift whistle blows,
someone else’s emergency makes the poem hold.
At night, like notes pushed under doors,
sounds come in––
flypaper in an open window,
your mother rubbing lotion on her hands.
All this is with you, is you,
runs after you into the dark
like those men after Copernicus,
like a planet chased by telescopes into space.

Copyright © 2021 by Timmy Straw. Originally published in Poem-a-Day on August 5, 2021, by the Academy of American Poets.

still as a scar through the screen's glow : perhaps this is the origin
of my obsession with the color white : searching to name this shade
color like bitten bed sheets : color like a failed dove : or split lip 

when red has ceased howling its way to the surface : perhaps the color
of fog over the river bed that morning : or the color of concrete
that bleach & blood leave behind : it hangs around her like the word

faggot in the air of the locked bedroom : like drying hemorrhage suspended
between skin & cotton : sideways on the bathroom floor : it hangs around
her like a name : that once belonged only to me : & i think maybe

most of all i am jealous : for any metaphor i can put to it : the dress
is still beautiful : pale & soft & pure : & isn't this just like my poems?
dressing a violence in something pretty & telling it to dance?

Originally published in BOAAT. Copyright © 2018 by torrin a. greathouse. Used with the permission of the author.

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.

My father’s hopes travel with me

years after he died. Someday

we will learn how to live.  All of us

surviving without violence

never stop dreaming how to cure it.

What changes? Crossing a small street

in Doha Souk, nut shops shuttered,

a handkerchief lies crumpled in the street,

maroon and white, like one my father had,

from Jordan.  Perfectly placed

in his pocket under his smile, for years.

He would have given it to anyone.

How do we continue all these days?

Copyright © 2015 Naomi Shihab Nye. Used by permission of the author.

Is that Eric Garner worked
for some time for the Parks and Rec.
Horticultural Department, which means,
perhaps, that with his very large hands,
perhaps, in all likelihood,
he put gently into the earth
some plants which, most likely,
some of them, in all likelihood,
continue to grow, continue
to do what such plants do, like house
and feed small and necessary creatures,
like being pleasant to touch and smell,
like converting sunlight
into food, like making it easier
for us to breathe.

Copyright © 2015 by Ross Gay. Reprinted from Split This Rock’s The Quarry: A Social Justice Poetry Database.