Published on Academy of American Poets (


                    (from Pluck Gems from Graves: Haikus, a book in progress).

This evening’s Black sound
Walks like a cat on grass blades
Your nickname two-steps

Get back to your poems
Don’t forget to wear your mask
Main Street is empty

Can’t rock your hoodie
Your cliques of affinity
Might lead to arrest

A virus walk break
Twilight stroll to compost bin
Two rusty leaves rap

Go ‘head, bro, dance
There are no mirrors in this joint
You used to love her

Draw her some roses
The before times are ending
Lost my love letters

Pandemic fashion
The maples need to speak up
Detroit Reds all day

To live in this hour
Recall a jukebox love song—
Punk-ass church bells

Perfect ending
A red-tail rolls over the steeple
Dandelion gigs

Pull the dream catcher
A death count on the broadcast
April is chillin’

A bebop wake up
Getting my shit together
Brew some Bustelo


Copyright © 2021 by Willie Perdomo. Originally published in Poem-a-Day on February 9, 2021, by the Academy of American Poets.

About this Poem

“I started writing a collection of haikus on April 8, 2020, almost a month after New York City became a Level Four COVID zone. Writing haikus, I decided, would be like exercise, something to accompany my isometrics in the morning. One haiku per day—that was the rule. Having exhausted the lyric to the point of lushness in my last book, The Crazy Bunch, a book that arrived like fire, I decided to give myself the same challenge that Gwendolyn Brooks gave to Etheridge Knight: write haiku as a way of exercising brevity and control over my line. I was certain that routine would help me though the feeling of confinement, unfreedom, which was compounded by fear, uncertainty, dystopian threat, burnings cities, improvised morgues, deserted streets, and the end of hanging out as I knew it. I wrote these to the pandemic, to the moment, to the headline, to the fear of contagion, the wellness suggestions among the older brothers in my group chats, family preservation, the unknowing, the unfreedom, and wondering if we were about to enter the final days of love.”
Willie Perdomo


Willie Perdomo

Willie Perdomo is the author of several poetry collections and children's books.

Date Published: 2021-02-09

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