Published on Academy of American Poets (

Dear Michael (25)

If poetry is not bread

to fortify the righteous

is it because we miss

in it the savor of contest

the whisper of blessing

over a martyr's name

the light of sacral plans

to take the citadel once

and for all, or give it up?

On the original streets

lit by the sun of nineteenth-

century novels the workers

are gathering to march

for their dignity and bread.

The planters did not die

of happiness. Other exhibits

show their meadows

their horses and women

the English sunset in lands never more than a sigh

like a vowel far from home.

We ask too much when of

the little that we have.

In good health fondly yours.


Copyright @ 2014 by Mark McMorris. Used with permission of the author. This poem appeared in Poem-a-Day on June 26, 2014.

About this Poem

“A letter is a dispatch from elsewhere, from hand to hand. Moving through physical space, it presumes the possibility of arrival and exchange. This possibility might be thought of as the rational motive behind the transmission of any utterance, not the least as the motive behind the sending of lyric poetry, no matter how abstruse or particularized it seems. The series of epistolary poems ‘Letters to Michael’ collects twenty-five letters to date.”

—Mark McMorris


Mark McMorris

Mark McMorris was born in Kingston, Jamaica, in 1960. 

Date Published: 2014-06-26

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