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.
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 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,
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
The sacral prana
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,
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
You’ve put me down
from the get-go. Craving
is a hard mistress—a hard and
Ask my brother.
Copyright © 2023 by Dana Roeser. Originally published in Poem-a-Day on March 28, 2023, by the Academy of American Poets.