Published on Academy of American Poets (

Shift #5

for Seamus Heaney 

a box of coconut water 
two cans of coconut milk 

so many looking for help 

some people care when a poet dies 

a poem is a conscience 
a report card, a confession: 

today my lies were a motor that spun the Earth 

how can you get truth from a hill 
when I am the continent that drifts? 

how can I taste what I’m mourning 
when soon everything will be salt from the sea? 

—8/30/13, Register 6 
          1 PM—5:15 p.m.


Copyright @ 2014 by Ali Liebegott. Used with permission of the author. This poem appeared in Poem-a-Day on May 6, 2014.

About this Poem

“I wanted to do a project where I wrote a poem every day for three months until I qualified for health insurance at my cashier job. The only rule was the first line of the poem had to be the first thing I rang up at the grocery co-op that day. Over the course of the project, I became incredibly invested in what the customer would put down on the conveyor belt first, because its randomness often influenced the poems on a musical and sonic level. I never feel more alive than when I’m engaged in a daily writing project.”

—Ali Liebegott


Ali Liebegott

Ali Liebegott is the author of the novels Cha-Ching! (City Lights, 2013), The IHOP Papers (Carroll & Graf, 2007), and The Beautifully Worthless (Suspect Thoughts, 2005).

Date Published: 2014-05-06

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