Published on Academy of American Poets (

I Don’t Know What You’re Called, I’ll Call You by Your Sounds

dew grass a fire shine
mountain a lung
pine cone the bone
tsunami rock hawk jaw
gravity a fall all consuming
a song chirp for sunlight
spine daggers cracking
the sky an ocean paused in its crashing
creature shake trip whistle
rustle nut squirrel swish
stump thunder or thump
thump a swallowing
you beautiful urchin
you rot mound of moss. 


Copyright © 2018 by Susan Landers. Originally published in Poem-a-Day on December 27, 2017. by the Academy of American Poets.

About this Poem

“This poem was written during a hike I took near Ithaca, New York. Because I have lived in cities all my life, I feel a little unsettled in ‘nature.’ Part of my unease comes from not knowing the names of the living things around me—from being at a loss for words. And, for a poet (with a poor Wi-Fi connection in the middle of a forest), that can be frustrating. So, I wanted to make a poem using what I had at my disposal—my ears—and use sound as a vocabulary, to recreate a place with a sonic lexicon.”
—Susan Landers


Susan Landers

Susan Landers is the author of three books of poetry, most recently Franklinstein (Roof Books, 2016).

Date Published: 2017-12-27

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