The respectable folks,—
Where dwell they?
They whisper in the oaks,
And they sigh in the hay;
Summer and winter, night and day,
Out on the meadow, there dwell they.
They never die,
Nor snivel, nor cry,
Nor ask our pity
With a wet eye.
A sound estate they ever mend,
To every asker readily lend;
To the ocean wealth,
To the meadow health,
To Time his length,
To the rocks strength,
To the stars light,
To the weary night,
To the busy day,
To the idle play;
And so their good cheer never ends,
For all are their debtors, and all their friends.
This poem is in the public domain.
Poor, impious Soul! that fixes its high hopes
In the dim distance, on a throne of clouds,
And from the morning's mist would make the ropes
To draw it up amid acclaim of crowds—
Beware! That soaring path is lined with shrouds;
And he who braves it, though of sturdy breath,
May meet, half way, the avalanche and death!
O poor young Soul!—whose year-devouring glance
Fixes in ecstasy upon a star,
Whose feverish brilliance looks a part of earth,
Yet quivers where the feet of angels are,
And seems the future crown in realms afar—
Beware! A spark thou art, and dost but see
Thine own reflection in Eternity!
This poem is in the public domain. Published in Poem-a-Day on July 27, 2019, by the Academy of American Poets.
your shape is in the robe worn or not
a roominess of you folds into its cloth
a sachet in the drawer from which the air
of the place was taken fixed of you’re here
the smell has temperature and space
the wider warmth that buttered popcorn tastes
and not you it folds into a time’s clot
a sachet in a drawer personage of its own still you
I have to wear a bus to Rikers Island with
opaque tears up to my neck to get in to see you
in your two inch thick glass robe I have to imagine
you naked under to place my hand saying
I miss you against you where I can’t touch and love
has to break across insulating space still warm
I have to stand my day in the folding up put away
given you as time with you. I smell I need you on my clothes
I smell gunfire folded in to every turn
the city’s track laps into its hands on race
then files away not guilty I smell the drawers
of the records they keep folded away from stands taken
away distance doesn’t dissipate
the space between the bullet holes in you in me folded
you are the map I have to sleep with in my pocket to be sure
I know how to get out of here
your shape is in the robe the sharp creases
of its fold when you wore it blocked into
the counterpoint around you that even
folded stood you out to me that they couldn’t
see you that one day they would shoot
always folded into the robe you wore
gun or not phone mistaken or empty handed innocent
or not there is this fold on itself we sleep in
in the fabric
of this country’s culture
Copyright © 2019 by Ed Roberson. Originally published in Poem-a-Day on August 6, 2019, by the Academy of American Poets.
Dream on, for dreams are sweet:
Do not awaken!
Dream on, and at thy feet
Pomegranates shall be shaken.
Who likeneth the youth
of life to morning?
’Tis like the night in truth,
Rose-coloured dreams adorning.
The wind is soft above,
The shadows umber.
(There is a dream called Love.)
Take thou the fullest slumber!
In Lethe’s soothing stream,
Thy thirst thou slakest.
Sleep, sleep; ’tis sweet to dream.
Oh, weep then thou awakest!
This poem is in the public domain. Published in Poem-a-Day on August 17, 2019, by the Academy of American Poets.
When I was a child I would run
through the backyard while my father
yanked dandelions, daisies, thistles, crabgrass,
mowed, rearranged the stones around the porch—
the task of men, though I didn’t know.
Blushed with cartoons and chocolate milk
one Saturday, I found a bee working
a dandelion for its treasure the way
only God’s creatures can, giving
and giving until all that is left
is the act itself—and there’s faith, too,
my mother used to say in her magnolia lilt.
It comes as it comes—there’s a road to follow.
When I swat the bee, I plea in triumph.
My father, knee-drenched in manhood,
grins and his gold tooth glistens a likely tale.
And when the bee stings my ear,
I run to him screaming as my mother
runs outside hearing her only child’s voice
peel back the wallpaper. She charms my ear
with kisses. This afternoon, I notice a bee
trapped inside the window as my mother
on the phone tries to still her voice
to say her mother has died. I wonder if he can
taste the sadness, the man on TV tells the other.
The bee is so calm. The room enlists
a fresh haunting, and the doorframe bothers.
To believe her when she says—
as the bouquet of yellow roses on the dresser
bows its head and the angles of my clay bloom
with fire—it’ll be okay, is my duty as son.
My mother sits in the hospital in San Antonio,
motherless—my mother is now a mother
without the longest love she’s ever known.
My mother who used to wake up
before the slap of sunrise with my father
to build new rooftops. My mother who wrote
“I pray you have a great day”
on stupid notes tucked in my lunchbox.
My mother who told the white woman
in Ross to apologize for bumping into me
as I knocked over a rack of pantyhose.
My mother who cried in Sea-Tac airport
as I walked through customs, yes-ing
the woman who asks, Is it his first time
moving from home? My mother who looks
at me with glinted simper when the pastor spouts
“disobedient children.” My mother who was told
at a young age she’d never give birth,
barren as she were. My mother, my mother.
What rises inside me, I imagine inside her, although
I’ve never had a mother leave this earth.
I’ve never been without love.
Copyright © 2020 by Luther Hughes. Originally published in Poem-a-Day on July 23, 2020, by the Academy of American Poets.