Avoiding the stockade 
and bastioned gate
but inadvertently walking
over the site of the gallows,

estuary cattails pierce a lacy mimic
of the fort’s dark piked palisades. 
Red winged blackbirds harry 
a great blue heron who flies 

with a shiver of cracked 
eggshells slipping from its beak. 
Some languages 
reverse past and present, 

with sun and moon,
black lined days on the calendar, 
and the wristwatch’s ticking goad
all coiled at the root.

             First church.
             First sawmill.
             First school and lending library.
             First brace of public executions.
             First house of brick. 

Where do the great
orators keep themselves
at present? Where land 
takes its name first from 
its people then perhaps 
from the delicate mauve blooms 
of fringecup woodland stars.

Copyright © 2023 by Laura Da’. Originally published in Poem-a-Day on March 7, 2023, by the Academy of American Poets.

Praise to the obsidian sole, which kisses the glass-
coated asphalt before becoming airborne. Praise 
to the black tongue, camouflaged, yet still 
flashing a warning of give no shit. Praise to the 
magic of ones turned two-piece, left and right 
feet a pair of wingmen to all that is fair in love. 
Original uniform of the fighter, multi-mission, 
robbin’ hoodies from designer shops to redistribute 
wealth. Praise to the weave of your vamp poised 
to catch flight into ribs at night, at noon, 
whenever. Praise to the aight whatever, 
aight bet, spoken wordlessly via emblem, 
prophecy of manual dexterity, long rumored
tale of ten toes down come true. Praise to 
your run through rap charts, Nelly who sang
of your stomp and survival, to 1982
the year of your birth, your absorption of
pressure waves from apartheid bombings,
Tough, by Kurtis Blow rerouted into
the democratization of dark energy. Ode to 
your essence making up 73% of the cosmos,
the power of 310 Angola aircraft in a single heel, 
to each uptown caressing a possible president,
to a force beyond force = mass x acceleration.
Fast lil ma working behind the cash register. 
On the way home she passes home. 
Ode to what you gave her, what you give her, 
wherever she’s going.

Copyright © 2023 by Bryan Byrdlong. Originally published in Poem-a-Day on March 14, 2023, by the Academy of American Poets.

i)         The bloom—the pretty part we want—is
ii)        often how a threatened plant screams help
iii)       Venus flytraps can be sedated.  
iv)       Therefore, they can wake & be made calm.  
v)        Lice hatch ravenous for blood & claw
vi)       linoleum one foot per minute. 
vii)      Mammoth sunflowers reseeded 
viii)     from previous diseased seasons sing 
ix)       the same sickness for generations.  
x)        Pepsis wasps haul tarantulas up 
xi)       mountainsides to provide warm  
xii)      meals for larvae. Imagine children 
xiii)     dragging men across highway lanes
xiv)     to eat them alive, thigh by thigh.

Copyright © 2023 by Lisa Fay Coutley. Originally published in Poem-a-Day on March 21, 2023, by the Academy of American Poets.

Your mouth was a torment to me
           and I came within a hair
of telling you so.
           Your laughing mouth, on that
video you sent me. Specifically, your 
            delight, in a glittering wave,
singing karaoke
            Honky Tonk Woman in your truck
to your women’s ice hockey 
           team—bobbing back and forth
in your white oxford cloth button down
           and loosened red tie—
And the green dots everywhere. Your
           online engagements.
The sacral prana 
            flowing through
and over me, even
            at that distance,
on my tiny screen.

           I was next to the cement
floor of the peripeteia,
           where weeks before
my brother, visiting
            the same cousin
in silvery, wind-beaten Beaufort, 
           North Carolina,
nearly bled out at the foot
           of the bed, a jagged glass
in his right hand. Were it not  
           for the crash, Tipper
would not have found
           him till morning.

I’m not clear on why men
            like you can take me
down so completely.
            Why I think it would
be amusing.
           You’ve put me down
from the get-go. Craving
           is a hard mistress—a hard and
charismatic mother—.
           Ask my brother.

Copyright © 2023 by Dana Roeser. Originally published in Poem-a-Day on March 28, 2023, by the Academy of American Poets.