Yet the peach tree 
still rises
& falls with fruit & without
birds eat it the sparrows fight
our desert       

            burns with trash & drug
it also breathes & sprouts
vines & maguey

laws pass laws with scientific walls
detention cells   husband
                           with the son
                        the wife &
the daughter who
married a citizen   
they stay behind broken slashed

un-powdered in the apartment to
deal out the day
             & the puzzles
another law then   another
Mexican
          Indian
                      spirit exile

 

migration                     sky
the grass is mowed then blown
by a machine  sidewalks are empty
clean & the Red Shouldered Hawk
peers
down  — from
an abandoned wooden dome
                       an empty field

it is all in-between the light
every day this     changes a little

yesterday homeless &
w/o papers                  Alberto
left for Denver a Greyhound bus he said
where they don’t check you

walking working
under the silver darkness
            walking   working
with our mind
our life

Copyright © by Juan Felipe Herrera. Used with the permission of the author.

When I say first time, that implies 
there will be a second, a fourth, a ninety-ninth. 
From far away our teeth must look like Tic Tacs, 
Chiclets, moons of a faraway planet. Nocturnal 
animals can smell better at night because scent 
lingers when the air is still, and so I smell the mint 
of our mouths but also the spill of peppers 
from the salsa dropped on your shirt. The greasy 
sidewalks we walked an hour earlier. Hotel soap 
freshly bubbled and wet in the dish. When I root through 
the thicket or the brush pile, my fur turns electric striped 
and tail-tumbled. I foam at the mouth. The mask 
on my face means bandit. Turns out I love the dark. 
My little paws want to grab everything and wash it. 

Copyright © 2024 by Aimee Nezhukumatathil. Originally published in Poem-a-Day on May 6, 2024, by the Academy of American Poets. 

To every thing there is a season,
and a time to every purpose under the heaven:
A time to be born, a time to die;
a time to plant, and a time to pluck up that which is planted;
A time to kill, and a time to heal;
a time to break down, and a time to build up;
A time to weep, and a time to laugh;
a time to mourn, and a time to dance;
A time to cast away stones, and a time to gather stones together;
a time to embrace, and a time to refrain from embracing;
A time to get, and a time to lose;
a time to keep, and a time to cast away;
A time to rend, and a time to sew;
a time to keep silence, and a time to speak;
A time to love, and a time to hate;
A time of war, and a time of peace.

This poem is in the public domain.

Dedicated to the Poet Agostinho Neto,
President of The People’s Republic of Angola: 1976

1
I will no longer lightly walk behind
a one of you who fear me:
                                     Be afraid.
I plan to give you reasons for your jumpy fits
and facial tics
I will not walk politely on the pavements anymore
and this is dedicated in particular
to those who hear my footsteps
or the insubstantial rattling of my grocery
cart
then turn around
see me
and hurry on
away from this impressive terror I must be:
I plan to blossom bloody on an afternoon
surrounded by my comrades singing
terrible revenge in merciless
accelerating
rhythms
But
I have watched a blind man studying his face.
I have set the table in the evening and sat down
to eat the news.
Regularly
I have gone to sleep.
There is no one to forgive me.
The dead do not give a damn.
I live like a lover
who drops her dime into the phone
just as the subway shakes into the station
wasting her message
canceling the question of her call:
fulminating or forgetful but late
and always after the fact that could save or 
condemn me

I must become the action of my fate.

2
How many of my brothers and my sisters
will they kill
before I teach myself
retaliation?
Shall we pick a number? 
South Africa for instance:
do we agree that more than ten thousand
in less than a year but that less than
five thousand slaughtered in more than six
months will
WHAT IS THE MATTER WITH ME?

I must become a menace to my enemies.

3
And if I 
if I ever let you slide
who should be extirpated from my universe
who should be cauterized from earth
completely
(lawandorder jerkoffs of the first the
                   terrorist degree)
then let my body fail my soul
in its bedeviled lecheries

And if I 
if I ever let love go
because the hatred and the whisperings
become a phantom dictate I o-
bey in lieu of impulse and realities
(the blossoming flamingos of my
                   wild mimosa trees)
then let love freeze me
out.
I must become
I must become a menace to my enemies.

Copyright © 2017 by the June M. Jordan Literary Estate. Used with the permission of the June M. Jordan Literary Estate, www.junejordan.com.

O say, can you see, by the dawn's early light,
What so proudly we hailed at the twilight's last gleaming?
Whose broad stripes and bright stars through the perilous fight,
O'er the ramparts we watched were so gallantly streaming;
And the rocket's red glare, the bombs bursting in air,
Gave proof through the night that our flag was still there;
O say, does that star-spangled banner yet wave
O'er the land of the free, and the home of the brave?

On the shore dimly seen through the mists of the deep,
Where the foe's haughty host in dread silence reposes,
What is that which the breeze, o'er the towering steep,
As it fitfully blows, now conceals, now discloses?
Now it catches the gleam of the morning's first beam,
In full glory reflected now shines on the stream;
'Tis the star-spangled banner; O long may it wave
O'er the land of the free, and the home of the brave!

And where is that band who so vauntingly swore
That the havoc of war and the battle's confusion
A home and a country should leave us no more?
Their blood has washed out their foul footsteps' pollution.
No refuge could save the hireling and slave,
From the terror of flight and the gloom of the grave;
And the star-spangled banner in triumph doth wave
O'er the land of the free, and the home of the brave!

O! thus be it ever, when freemen shall stand
Between their loved homes and the war's desolation!
Blest with victory and peace, may the heav'n-rescued land,
Praise the power that hath made and preserved us a nation.
Then conquer we must, for our cause it is just.
And this be our motto— "In God is our trust; "
And the star-spangled banner in triumph shall wave
O'er the land of the free, and the home of the brave.

This poem is in the public domain.

Dear Mr. So-and-So with my blood on his clothes,
the Internet says a dollop of my spit
will take the stain right out.
 
I’m generous like that—I give myself away
to erase any sign that I was here.
What’s more brutal:
 
A never-ending dial tone
chewing the receptors in your brain,
or waking up in an alley with a busted face,
 
teeth red and penny-sweet, the rain
coming down clear as gin?
Wherever you are
 
with your stamp bag of winter,
your entire universe boiling
in the breast of a spoon,
 
floating in a hole in the air
in the middle of a room,
I wish I felt it in me to wish you well.
 
When goodwill tells me to be tender,
I have a trick: what I’m incapable of feeling,
I imagine as a place—
 
this throbbing in my brain
is now the sound of your rowing toward
what I pray is, if not home, then mercy.
 

From I Know Your Kind (Milkweed Editions, 2017). Copyright © 2017 by William Brewer. Used with the permission of Milkweed Editions.