Published on Academy of American Poets (

Whether by Drowning or by Stars

When everyone was granted their childhood
wish for invisibility, it turned out

to be less erotically useful than we all
had imagined. Since then the first

legitimately wild idea I had I tamed
and named Thom Yorke, after a pony

who’d clomped among the precincts
of my visible youth, refusing

to be rode, my use of the word first
also proving to have been based

on an unfounded sense of possibility
that ill-defines my generation still.

Hidden message: we cannot measure
the corruption of our age

but we can make the heat of it
ever hotter by leaping onto the pyre.

On hearing the kvetching of coyotes
in an August night, my doppelganger

climbs up out of the lake
and into a constellation—when light

and death both want you,
one of them might not get its way.

I’ve given names to a dozen other ideas
and deleted those names

because who could they ever have saved.
Impossibly sweet and recalcitrant

old Thom Yorke though,
best pony anybody knew.


Copyright © 2016 by Mark Bibbins. Originally published in Poem-a-Day on June 15, 2016, by the Academy of American Poets.

About this Poem

“Was there ever a place that you found—a city block, an empty beach, or where you simply stood next to someone—and later tried to find again but couldn’t figure out how? This poem is trying to figure out how. I guess most of mine are.”

—Mark Bibbins


Mark Bibbins

Mark Bibbins is the author of four books of poetry, most recently 13th Balloon (Copper Canyon Press, 2020). He teaches in the graduate writing programs of The New School and Columbia University, and in NYU's Writers in Florence program. He lives in New York City.

Date Published: 2016-06-15

Source URL: