Winter, friend, I get it. We are having a long talk
and have just gotten into the thick of it.
Days ago the signs were there.
I was the only thing dark and moving
through the white woods, and my leg kept leaving me
small grey commas of ice seen coming back.
This is a very long talk we’ve been having. My body already knew
and began to make an important list.
Copyright © 2017 by Jill Osier. Originally published in Poem-a-Day on December 8, 2017, by the Academy of American Poets.
Copyright © 2017 June Jordan from We’re On: A June Jordan Reader (Alice James Books, 2017). Used with permission of the publisher.
i know we exist because of what we make. my dad works at a steel mill. he worked at a steel mill my whole life. at the party, the liberal white woman tells me she voted for hillary & wishes bernie won the nomination. i stare in the mirror if i get too lonely. thirsty to see myself i once walked into the lake until i almost drowned. the white woman at the party who might be liberal but might have voted for trump smiles when she tells me how lucky i am. how many automotive components do you think my dad has made. you might drive a car that goes and stops because of something my dad makes. when i watch the news i hear my name, but never see my face. every other commercial is for taco bell. all my people fold into a $2 crunchwrap supreme. the white woman means lucky to be here and not mexico. my dad sings por tu maldito amor & i’m sure he sings to america. y yo caí en tu trampa ilusionado. the white woman at the party who may or may not have voted for trump tells me she doesn't meet too many mexicans in this part of new york city. my mouth makes an oh, but i don't make a sound. a waiter pushes his brown self through the kitchen door carrying hors d’oeuvres. a song escapes through the swinging door. selena sings pero ay como me duele & the good white woman waits for me to thank her.
Copyright © 2017 by José Olivarez. Originally published in Poem-a-Day on December 1, 2017, by the Academy of American Poets.
Every time I open my mouth my teeth reveal
more than I mean to. I can’t stop tonguing them, my teeth.
Almost giddy to know they’re still there (my mother lost hers)
but I am embarrassed nonetheless that even they aren’t
pretty. Still, I did once like my voice, the way it moved
through the gap in my teeth like birdsong in the morning,
like the slow swirl of a creek at dusk. Just yesterday
a woman closed her eyes as I read aloud, and
said she wanted to sleep in the sound of it, my voice.
I can still sing some. Early cancer didn’t stop the compulsion
to sing but
there’s gravel now. An undercurrent
that also reveals me. Time and disaster. A heavy landslide
down the mountain. When you stopped speaking to me
what you really wanted was for me to stop speaking to you. To
stifle the sound of my voice. I know.
Didn’t want the quicksilver of it in your ear.
What does it mean
to silence another? It means I ruminate on the hit
of rain against the tin roof of childhood, how I could listen
all day until the water rusted its way in. And there I was
putting a pan over here and a pot over there to catch it.
Copyright © 2017 by Vievee Francis. Originally published in Poem-a-Day on November 17, 2017, by the Academy of American Poets.
Copyright © 2017 by Catherine Barnett. Originally published in Poem-a-Day on November 16, 2017, by the Academy of American Poets.
Copyright © 2017 by Amanda Johnston. Originally published in Poem-a-Day on November 14, 2017, by the Academy of American Poets.
Copyright © 2017 by C. Dale Young. Originally published in Poem-a-Day on October 13, 2017, by the Academy of American Poets.
Copyright © 2017 by Jennifer Grotz. Originally published in Poem-a-Day on October 12, 2017, by the Academy of American Poets.
Arriving late, my clinic having run past 6 again, I realize I don’t have cancer, don’t have HIV, like them, these students who are patients, who I lead in writing exercises, reading poems. For them, this isn’t academic, it’s reality: I ask that they describe an object right in front of them, to make it come alive, and one writes about death, her death, as if by just imagining the softness of its skin, its panting rush into her lap, that she might tame it; one observes instead the love he lost, he’s there, beside him in his gown and wheelchair, together finally again. I take a good, long breath; we’re quiet as newborns. The little conference room grows warm, and right before my eyes, I see that what I thought unspeakable was more than this, was hope.
Right to property
Right to protect property
I am so right and if I’m not
I’m gonna burn yr FB wall down
Be something for sale
Be a strategy
Last fall was tough on us
Ask after me
Ask after me again
Small business owners
There are said to be 7000
bodies buried under
If we write, it’s identity
If they write, it’s Reflections
on American Legacy
Those aren’t just letters
Punk a bunch of coffins
Copyright © 2017 by Jillian Weise. Originally published in Poem-a-Day on June 19, 2017, by the Academy of American Poets.
The average mother loses 700 hours of sleep in the first year of her child’s life; or, what that first year taught me about America.
Most of us favor one side when we walk. As we tire,
we lean into that side and stop moving in a straight line—
so it takes longer to get anywhere,
let alone home.
In wilderness conditions,
where people don’t know the terrain,
a tired person might end up leaning so far into one side
they’ll walk in a circle rather than straight ahead.
It can kill you, such leaning
—and it can get you killed.
I told my husband,
I walked in a circle in my mind but you came out okay.
Initially, he asked me to clarify,
but then he let it go.
Who wrote that first If You Lived Here You’d Be Home by Now sign?
It seems I’m going to have to move.
I am tired and also sick
of helping other people in lieu of helping myself.
It's really not that bad: we’re in the home stretch.
That’s the mind of a parent.
Relentless optimism in the face of sheer panic
Copyright © 2018 by Camille T. Dungy. Originally published in Poem-a-Day on May 28, 2018, by the Academy of American Poets.
These days, I refuse to let you see me
the way I see myself.
I wake up in the morning not knowing
whether I will make it through the day;
reminding myself of the small, small things
I’ve forgotten to marvel in;
these trees, blood-free and bone-dry
have come to rescue me more than once,
but my saving often requires hiding
yet they stand so tall, so slim and gluttonous
refusing to contain me; even baobab trees
will split open at my command, and
carve out fleshless wombs to welcome me.
I must fall out of love of the world
without me in it, but my loves have
long gone, and left me in a foreign land
where once I was made of bone,
now water, now nothing.
Copyright © 2019 by Mahtem Shifferaw. Originally published in Poem-a-Day on June 6, 2019, by the Academy of American Poets.