for Maya

We meet at a coffee shop. So much time has passed and who is time? Who is waiting by the windowsill? We make plans to go to a museum but we go to a bookshop instead. We’re leaning in, learning how to talk to each other again. I say, I’m obsessed with my grief and she says, I’m always in mourning. She laughs and it’s an extension of her body. She laughs and it moves the whole room. I say, My home is an extension of my body and she says, Most days are better with a long walk. The world moves without us—so we tend to a garden, a graveyard, a pot on the windowsill. Death is a comfort because it says, Transform but don’t hurry. There is a tenderness to growing older and we are listening for it. Steadier ways to move through the world and we are learning them. A way to touch your own body. A touch that says, Dig deeper. There, in the ground, there is our memory. I am near enough my roots. Time is my friend. Tomorrow is a place we are together.

Copyright © 2021 by Sanna Wani. Originally published in Poem-a-Day on January 15, 2021, by the Academy of American Poets.

for Papo Colo

Shall we have cocktails while slipping about the 
Edge of Catastrophe—gin and tonic for summer
Whiskey sour for fall. All is not well, yet sun
Illumines green leafed trees, soon bare   soon bare

Our eyes prowl fence edges for morning glory vines
Our ears gallop from the booming bass of pumped up cars
Our legs move as swiftly as a catamaran in dock
We mock the heavens with calls for Paradise Now.

Artist perambulating the shadowed alleys of downtown Manhattan
Memories of dream dulled in punk and rock clubs’ filthy bathrooms
How much of what was is still now in the body in the bones of the body
Calcium loss   teeth loose   wrist smaller so all bracelets     jangle  jangle

Lips call repeatedly a song whose words are traces of tenderness
Yet, sung too softly as if only whispers could make the world hear.

Copyright © 2021 by Patricia Spears Jones. Originally published in Poem-a-Day on February 3, 2021, by the Academy of American Poets.

translated from the Chinese by Florence Ayscough and Amy Lowell

The river makes a bend and encircles the village with its current.
All the long Summer, the affairs and occupations of the river village are quiet and simple.
The swallows who nest in the beams go and come as they please.
The gulls in the middle of the river enjoy one another, they crowd together and touch one another.
My old wife paints a chess-board on paper.
My little sons hammer needles to make fish-hooks.
I have many illnesses, therefore my only necessities are medicines.
Besides these, what more can so humble a man as I ask?

This poem is in the public domain. Published in Poem-a-Day on August 7, 2021, by the Academy of American Poets.

the blackberries mold again before they’re half-eaten
everyone needs toilet paper and diapers
                                                                                    dirt cheap
new washing machines are hard to come by

we/she/they have no words

assisted living
                                                                                    dragged through the dirt

my mother struggles toward the bathroom 
on camera behind her walker, soils herself
                                                                                    don’t talk dirty
she can’t help it, but she’s still ashamed
                                                                                    eat dirt

I wiped her bottom in January 
& said I’d be back in March

I am no fortune teller

                                                                                    hit the dirt

she grew up in dust storms,
stuffing rags under doors hurry-scurry, 
dirt-poor, and that’s shameful too
                                                                                    don’t air your dirty laundry in

she wants to eat chocolate all day
she wants to send hose to her grandmother
she wants to know why we stole her baby 
she wants to know when the kids are coming 
she wants to know where my father is
                                                                                    treated like dirt
she wants to know the time/the day/the month/the year

my family doesn’t know how to communicate
                                                                                    dig up dirt

when my mother said dirty she meant

Copyright © 2021 by Wendy Vardaman. Originally published in Poem-a-Day on November 15, 2021, by the Academy of American Poets.

I kept my life in a small room
with pale blue walls
and brought it back
little presents from the world

This is for you I would say
This is for you

Sometimes the gifts
died in my hands
and often I could not pay
the price of their redemption

I could never be sure
they were appreciated or how much
they wanted to be in the place
where I had brought them

The room filled with less and less
space to breathe so instead of gifts
I began to bring stories
that did not end but slipped away
around corners and over horizons

I brought premonitions
and resistance to closure and left
at the end of each day
looking for more

Copyright © 2022 by Kirk Wilson. Originally published in Poem-a-Day on April 6, 2022, by the Academy of American Poets.

His head’s a secret train-set in the attic:
quiet, straightforward, always summer.

The cattle in their fields of baize,
the postman on his bike,

the green sponge trees
by the papier-mâché tunnel, the children

forever waving their stiff handkerchiefs
at the trains that are always on time.

Copyright © 2022 by Robin Robertson. Originally published in Poem-a-Day on April 4, 2022, by the Academy of American Poets.

This thin edge of December
Wears out meagrely in the
Cold muds, rains, intolerable nauseas of the street.
Closed doors, where are your keys?
Closed hearts, does your embitteredness endure forever?
Afternoon settles on the town,
                       each hour long as a street—

In the rooms
A sombre carpet broods, stagnates beneath deliberate steps:
Here drag a foot, there a foot, drop sighs, look round for nothing, shiver.
Sunday creeps in silence
Under suspended smoke,
And curdles defiant in unreal sleep.
The gas-fire puffs, consumes, ticks out its minor chords—
And at the door
I guess the arrested knuckles of the one-time friend,
One foot on the stair delaying, that turns again.

This poem is in the public domain. Published in Poem-a-Day on December 11, 2022, by the Academy of American Poets.