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Poem of the Day: Käthe Kollwitz
         1
Held between wars
my lifetime
                  among wars, the big hands of the world of death
my lifetime
listens to yours.

The faces of the sufferers
in the street, in dailiness,
their lives showing
through their bodies
a look as of music
the revolutionary look
that says    I am in the world
to change the world
my lifetime
is to love to endure to suffer the music
to set its portrait
up as a sheet of the world
the most moving the most alive
Easter and bone
and Faust walking among flowers of the world
and the child alive within the living woman, music of man,
and death holding my lifetime between great hands
the hands of enduring life
that suffers the gifts and madness of full life, on earth, in
         our time,
and through my life, through my eyes, through my arms
        and hands
may give the face of this music in portrait waiting for
the unknown person
held in the two hands, you.

         2
Woman as gates, saying:
"The process is after all like music,
like the development of a piece of music.
The fugues come back and
                                               again and again
interweave.
A theme may seem to have been put aside,
but it keeps returning—
the same thing modulated,
somewhat changed in form.
Usually richer.
And it is very good that this is so."

A woman pouring her opposites.
"After all there are happy things in life too.
Why do you show only the dark side?"
"I could not answer this. But I know—
in the beginning my impulse to know
the working life
                              had little to do with
pity or sympathy.
                               I simply felt
that the life of the workers was beautiful."

She said, "I am groping in the dark."

She said, "When the door opens, of sensuality,
then you will understand it too. The struggle begins.
Never again to be free of it,
often you will feel it to be your enemy.
Sometimes
you will almost suffocate,
such joy it brings."

Saying of her husband: "My wish
is to die after Karl.
I know no person who can love as he can,
with his whole soul.
But often too it has made me
so terribly happy."

She said: "We rowed over to Carrara at dawn,
climbed up to the marble quarries
and rowed back at night. The drops of water
fell like guttering stars
from our oars."

She said: "As a matter of fact,
I believe
                that bisexuality
is almost    a necessary factor
in artistic production; at any rate,
the tinge of masculinity within me
helped me
                  in my work."

She said: "The only technique I can still manage.
It's hardly a technique at all, lithography.
In it
        only the essentials count."

A tight-lipped man in a restaurant last night saying to me:
"Kollwitz?     She's too black-and-white."

         3
Held among wars, watching
     all of them
     all these people
     weavers,
     Carmagnole

Looking at
     all of them
     death, the children
     patients in waiting-rooms
     famine
     the street

A woman seeing
     the violent, inexorable
     movement of nakedness
     and the confession of No
     the confession of great weakness, war,
     all streaming to one son killed, Peter;
     even the son left living; repeated,
     the father, the mother; the grandson
     another Peter killed in another war; firestorm;
     dark, light, as two hands,
     this pole and that pole as the gates.

What would happen if one woman told the truth about
        her life?
     The world would split open

         4   Song : The Calling-Up
Rumor, stir of ripeness
rising within this girl
sensual blossoming
of meaning, its light and form.

The birth-cry summoning
out of the male, the father
from the warm woman
a mother in response.

The word of death
calls up the fight with stone
wrestle with grief with time
from the material make
an art harder than bronze.

         5   Self-Portrait 
Mouth looking directly at you
eyes in their inwardness looking
directly at you
half light    half darkness
woman, strong, German, young artist
flows into
wide sensual mouth meditating
looking right at you
eyes shadowed with brave hand
looking deep at you
flows into
wounded brave mouth
grieving and hooded eyes
alive, German, in her first War
flows into
strength of the worn face
a skein of lines
broods, flows into
mothers among the war graves
bent over death
facing the father
stubborn upon the field
flows into
the marks of her knowing—
Nie Wieder Krieg
repeated in the eyes
flows into
"Seedcorn must not be ground"
and the grooved cheek
lips drawn fine
the down-drawn grief
face of our age
flows into
Pieta, mother and
between her knees
life as her son in death
pouring from the sky of
one more war
flows into
face almost obliterated
hand over the mouth forever
hand over one eye now
the other great eye
closed

Muriel Rukeyser, "Käthe Kollwitz" from The Collected Poems of Muriel Rukeyser. Copyright © 2006 by Muriel Rukeyser. Reprinted by permission of International Creative Management.

Source: The Collected Poems of Muriel Rukeyser(University of Pittsburgh Press, 2006)

Muriel Rukeyser

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Poem of the Day: Spring Snow
A kind of counter-
blossoming, diversionary,

doomed, and like
the needle with its drop

of blood a little
too transparently in

love with doom, takes
issue with the season: Not

(the serviceberry bright
with explanation) not

(the redbud unspooling
its silks) I know I've read

the book but not (the lilac,
the larch) quite yet, I still

have one more card to
play. Behold

a six-hour wonder: six
new inches bedecking the

railing, the bench, the top
of the circular table like

a risen cake. The saplings
made (who little thought

what beauty weighs) to bow
before their elders.

The moment bears more
than the usual signs of its own

demise, but isn't that
the bravery? Built

on nothing but the self-
same knots of air

and ice. Already
the lip of it riddled

with flaws, a sort
of vascular lesion that

betokens—what? betokens
the gathering return

to elementals. (She
was frightened

for a minute, who had
planned to be so calm.)

A dripline scoring
the edge of the walk.

The cotton batting blown
against the screen begun

to pill and molt. (Who
clothed them out of

mercy in the skins
of beasts.) And even

as the last of the
lightness continues

to fall, the seepage
underneath has gained

momentum. (So that
there must have been a

death before
the death we call the

first or what became
of them, the ones

whose skins were taken.)
Now the more-

of-casting-backward-than-of-
forward part, which must

have happened while I wasn't
looking or was looking

at the skinning knives. I think
I'll call this mercy too.



Source: Poetry November 2006

Linda Gregerson

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Poem of the Day: To the Nightingale
Exert thy voice, sweet harbinger of spring!
    This moment is thy time to sing,
    This moment I attend to praise,
And set my numbers to they lays.
    Free as thine shall be my song;
    As they music, short, or long.
Poets, wild as thee, were born,
    Pleasing best when unconfined,
    When to please is least designed,
Soothing but their cares to rest;
    Cares do still their thoughts molest,
    And still th' unhappy poet's breast,
Like thine, when best he sings, is placed against a thorn.
She begins, Let all be still!
    Muse, they promise now fulfill!
Sweet, oh! sweet, still sweeter yet
Can thy words such accents fit,
Canst thou syllables refine,
Melt a sense that shall retain
Still some spirit of the brain,
Till with sounds like these it join.
    'Twill not be! then change thy note;
    Let division shake thy throat.
Hark! Division now she tries;
Yet as far the Muse outflies.
    Cease then, prithee, cease thy tune;
    Trifler, wilt thou sing till *June*?
Till thy business all lies waste,
And the time of building's past!
    Thus we poets that have speech,                                             
Unlike what they forests teach,
    If a fluent vein be shown
    That's transcendant to our own,
Criticize, reform, or preach,
Or censure what we cannot reach.



Anne Finch, Countess of Winchilsea

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Poem of the Day: Wife’s Disaster Manual
When the forsaken city starts to burn,
after the men and children have fled,
stand still, silent as prey, and slowly turn

back. Behold the curse. Stay and mourn
the collapsing doorways, the unbroken bread
in the forsaken city starting to burn.

Don’t flinch. Don’t join in.
Resist the righteous scurry and instead
stand still, silent as prey. Slowly turn

your thoughts away from escape: the iron
gates unlatched, the responsibilities shed.
When the forsaken city starts to burn,

surrender to your calling, show concern
for those who remain. Come to a dead
standstill. Silent as prey, slowly turn

into something essential. Learn
the names of the fallen. Refuse to run ahead
when the forsaken city starts to burn.
Stand still and silent. Pray. Return.



Source: Poetry September 2012

Deborah Paredez

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Poem of the Day: Sea Grapes
That sail which leans on light,
tired of islands,
a schooner beating up the Caribbean

for home, could be Odysseus,
home-bound on the Aegean;
that father and husband's

longing, under gnarled sour grapes, is
like the adulterer hearing Nausicaa's name
in every gull's outcry.

This brings nobody peace. The ancient war
between obsession and responsibility
will never finish and has been the same

for the sea-wanderer or the one on shore
now wriggling on his sandals to walk home,
since Troy sighed its last flame,

and the blind giant's boulder heaved the trough
from whose groundswell the great hexameters come
to the conclusions of exhausted surf.

The classics can console. But not enough.



Derek Walcott, "Sea Grapes" from Poems 1965-1980. Copyright © 1992 by Derek Walcott. Used by permission of Farrar, Straus & Giroux, LLC, www.fsgbooks.com. All rights reserved.

Caution: Users are warned that this work is protected under copyright laws and downloading is strictly prohibited. The right to reproduce or transfer the work via any medium must be secured with Farrar, Straus and Giroux, LLC.

Source: Collected Poems 1948-1984(Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 1986)

Derek Walcott

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Poem of the Day: St. Patrick's Day
          1
 
Down the long library each marble bust
shines unregarded through a shower of dust
where a grim ghost paces for exercise
in wet weather: nausea, gout, ‘some days
I hardly think it worth my time to rise’.
Not even the love of friends can quite appease
the vertigo, sore ears and inner voices;
deep-draughted rain clouds, a rock lost in space,
yahoos triumphant in the marketplace,
the isle is full of intolerable noises.
 

          2
 
Go with the flow; no, going against the grain
he sits in his rocking chair with a migraine,
a light in the church all day till evensong,
the sort of day in which a man might hang.
No riding out to bubbling stream and weir,
to the moist meadow and white belvedere;
on tattling club and coffee house a pox,
a confederacy of dunces and mohocks —
scholars and saints be d-mn’d, slaves to a hard
reign and our own miniature self-regard.
 

          3
 
We emerge from hibernation to ghetto-blasters
much better than our old Sony transistors,
consensual media, permanent celebration,
share options, electronic animation,
wave motion of site-specific daffodils,
closed-circuit video in the new hotels;
for Niamh and Oisín have come to earth once more
with blinding breastplate and tempestuous hair,
new festive orthodoxy and ironic icon,
their faces lit up like the Book of Kells.
 

          4
 
Defrosting the goose-skin on Bridget’s daughters
spring sunlight sparkles among parking meters,
wizards on stilts, witches on circus bikes,
jokers and jugglers, twitching plastic snakes,
pop music of what happens, throbbing skies,
star wars, designer genes, sword sorceries.
We’ve no nostalgia for the patristic croziers,
fridges and tumble-dryers of former years,
rain-spattered cameras in O’Connell St.,
the sound mikes buffeted by wind and sleet —
 

         5
 
but this is your birthday and I want to recall
a first-floor balcony under a shower of hail
where our own rowdy crowd stood to review
post-Christian gays cavorting up Fifth Avenue,
wise-cracking dialogue as quick and dry
as that in The Big Sleep or The Long Goodbye;
for we too had our season in Tír na nÓg,
a Sacred Heart girl and a Protestant rogue,
chill sunshine warming us to the very bone,
our whole existence one erogenous zone.
 

          6
 
I could resign these structures and devices,
these fancy flourishes and funny voices
to a post-literate, audio-visual realm
of uncial fluorescence, song and film,
as curious symptoms of a weird transition
before we opted to be slaves of fashion —
for now, whatever the ancestral dream,
we give ourselves to a vast corporate scheme
where our true wit is devalued once again,
our solitude known only to the rain.
 

          7
 
The one reality is the perpetual flow,
chaos of complex systems. Each generation
does what it must; middle age and misanthropy,
like famine and religion, make poor copy,
and even the present vanishes like snow
off a rope, frost off a ditch, ice in the sun —
so back to the desktop and the drawing board,
prismatic natural light, slow-moving cloud,
the waves far-thundering in a life of their own,
a young woman hitching a lift on a country road. 
 

Derek Mahon, "St. Patrick’s Day" from New Collected Poems .  Copyright © 2011 by Derek Mahon.  Reprinted by permission of The Gallery Press.

Source: New Collected Poems(The Gallery Press, 2011)

Derek Mahon

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Poem of the Day: Get Rid of the X
My shadow followed me to San Diego
   silently, she never complained.
No green card, no identity pass,
   she is wedded to my fate.

The moon is a drunk and anorectic,
   constantly reeling, changing weight.
My shadow dances grotesquely,
   resentful she can't leave me.

The moon mourns his unwritten novels,
   cries naked into the trees and fades.
Tomorrow, he'll return to beat me
   blue—again, again and again.

Goodbye Moon, goodbye Shadow.
   My husband, my lover, I'm late.
The sun will plunge through the window.
   I must make my leap of faith.

Marilyn Chin, "Get Rid of the X" from Rhapsody in Plain Yellow. Copyright © 2002 by Marilyn Chin. Used by permission of the author and W. W. Norton & Company, Inc.

Source: Rhapsody in Plain Yellow(W. W. Norton & Company, Inc., 2002)

Marilyn Chin

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Poem of the Day: A Woman Without A Country
As dawn breaks he enters
A room with the odor of acid.
He lays the copper plate on the table.
And reaches for the shaft of the burin.
Dublin wakes to horses and rain.
Street hawkers call.
All the news is famine and famine.
The flat graver, the round graver,
The angle tint tool wait for him.
He bends to his work and begins.
He starts with the head, cutting in
To the line of the cheek, finding
The slope of the skull, incising
The shape of a face that becomes
A foundry of shadows, rendering —
With a deeper cut into copper —
The whole woman as a skeleton,
The rags of  her skirt, her wrist
In a bony line forever
                                        severing
Her body from its native air until
She is ready for the page,
For the street vendor, for
A new inventory which now
To loss and to laissez-faire adds
The odor of acid and the little,
Pitiless tragedy of  being imagined.
He puts his tools away,
One by one; lays them out carefully
On the deal table, his work done.



Source: Poetry April 2013

Eavan Boland

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Poem of the Day: An Old Woman’s Painting
Scrape the sun from the wall of  the sky.
Cast the great nets of  autumn over the houses.
Even the throat of  the lily is a dangerous inlet.

Let the world stand wearily on the stoop of  the jail
of  the world and the light of  the mind, that small lamp,
pearl of  shine, let the night come to it, as iron filings to a magnet,
mother.



Source: Poetry February 2008

Lynn Emanuel

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Poem of the Day: The Words Under the Words
My grandmother’s hands recognize grapes,
the damp shine of a goat’s new skin.
When I was sick they followed me,
I woke from the long fever to find them
covering my head like cool prayers.

My grandmother’s days are made of bread,
a round pat-pat and the slow baking.
She waits by the oven watching a strange car
circle the streets. Maybe it holds her son,
lost to America. More often, tourists,
who kneel and weep at mysterious shrines.
She knows how often mail arrives,
how rarely there is a letter.
When one comes, she announces it, a miracle,
listening to it read again and again
in the dim evening light.

My grandmother’s voice says nothing can surprise her.
Take her the shotgun wound and the crippled baby.
She knows the spaces we travel through,
the messages we cannot send—our voices are short
and would get lost on the journey.
Farewell to the husband’s coat,
the ones she has loved and nourished,
who fly from her like seeds into a deep sky.
They will plant themselves. We will all die.

My grandmother’s eyes say Allah is everywhere, even in death.
When she talks of the orchard and the new olive press,
when she tells the stories of Joha and his foolish wisdoms,
He is her first thought, what she really thinks of is His name.
“Answer, if you hear the words under the words—
otherwise it is just a world with a lot of rough edges,
difficult to get through, and our pockets full of stones.”


Naomi Shihab Nye, “The Words Under the Words” from Words Under the Words: Selected Poems (Portland, Oregon: Far Corner Books, 1995). Copyright © 1995 by Naomi Shihab Nye. Reprinted with the permission of the author.

Source: Words Under the Words: Selected Poems(Far Corner Books, 1995)

Naomi Shihab Nye

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Poem of the Day: Rock of My Salvation
Mighty, praised beyond compare,
Rock of my salvation,
Build again my house of prayer,
For Thy habitation!
Offering and libation, shall a ransomed nation
Joyful bring
There, and sing
Psalms of Dedication!
 
Woe was mine in Egypt-land,
(Tyrant kings enslaved me);
Till Thy mighty, out-stretched Hand
From oppression saved me.
Pharaoh, rash pursuing, vowed my swift undoing—
Soon, his host
That proud boast
’Neath the waves was rueing!
 
To Thy Holy Hill, the way
Madest Thou clear before me;
With false gods I went astray—
Foes to exile bore me.
Torn from all I cherished, almost had I perished—
Babylon fell,
   Ze-ru-ba-bel
Badest Thou to restore me!
 
Then the vengeful Haman wrought
Subtly, to betray me;
In his snare himself he caught—
He that plann’d to slay me.
(Haled from Esther’s palace; hanged on his own gallows!)
Seal and ring
Persia’s king
Gave Thy servant zealous.
 
When the brave Asmonéans broke
Javan’s chain in sunder,
Through the holy oil, Thy folk
Didst Thou show a wonder—
Ever full remained the vessel unprofanèd;
These eight days,
Lights and praise,
Therefore were ordainèd.
 
Lord, Thy Holy Arm make bare,
Speed my restoration;
Be my martyr’s blood Thy care—
Judge each guilty nation.
Long is my probation; sore my tribulation—
Bid, from Heaven,
Thy shepherds seven
Haste to my salvation!

After exhaustive efforts have been made to identify and contact a rights holder, this material is believed to be in the public domain. If you have information about rights to this work, please email us at mail@poetryfoundation.org.

Mordecai ben Isaac

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Poem of the Day: The Boatman
We were thirty-one souls all, he said, on the gray-sick of sea
in a cold rubber boat, rising and falling in our filth.
By morning this didn’t matter, no land was in sight,
all were soaked to the bone, living and dead.
We could still float, we said, from war to war.
What lay behind us but ruins of stone piled on ruins of stone?
City called “mother of the poor” surrounded by fields
of cotton and millet, city of jewelers and cloak-makers,
with the oldest church in Christendom and the Sword of Allah.
If anyone remains there now, he assures, they would be utterly alone.
There is a hotel named for it in Rome two hundred meters
from the Piazza di Spagna, where you can have breakfast under
the portraits of film stars. There the staff cannot do enough for you.
But I am talking nonsense again, as I have since that night
we fetched a child, not ours, from the sea, drifting face-
down in a life vest, its eyes taken by fish or the birds above us.
After that, Aleppo went up in smoke, and Raqqa came under a rain
of leaflets warning everyone to go. Leave, yes, but go where?
We lived through the Americans and Russians, through Americans
again, many nights of death from the clouds, mornings surprised
to be waking from the sleep of death, still unburied and alive
but with no safe place. Leave, yes, we obey the leaflets, but go where?
To the sea to be eaten, to the shores of Europe to be caged?
To camp misery and camp remain here. I ask you then, where?
You tell me you are a poet. If so, our destination is the same.
I find myself now the boatman, driving a taxi at the end of the world.
I will see that you arrive safely, my friend, I will get you there.

Source: Poetry October 2016

Carolyn Forché

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Poem of the Day: Women Whose Lives are Food,...
Mid-morning Monday she is staring
peaceful as the rain in that shallow back yard
she wears flannel bedroom slippers
she is sipping coffee
she is thinking—
                            —gazing at the weedy bumpy yard
at the faces beginning to take shape
in the wavy mud
in the linoleum
where floorboards assert themselves

Women whose lives are food
breaking eggs with care
scraping garbage from the plates
unpacking groceries hand over hand

Wednesday evening: he takes the cans out front
tough plastic with detachable lids
Thursday morning: the garbage truck whining at 7
Friday the shopping mall open till 9
bags of groceries unpacked
hand over certain hand

Men whose lives are money
time-and-a-half Saturdays
the lunchbag folded with care and brought back home
unfolded Monday morning

Women whose lives are food
because they are not punch-carded
because they are unclocked
sighing glad to be alone
staring into the yard, mid-morning
mid-week
by mid-afternoon everything is forgotten

There are long evenings
panel discussions on abortions, fashions, meaningful work
there are love scenes where people mouth passions
sprightly, handsome, silly, manic
in close-ups revealed ageless
the women whose lives are food
the men whose lives are money
fidget as these strangers embrace and weep and mis-
            understand and forgive and die and weep and embrace
and the viewers stare and fidget and sigh and
begin yawning around 10:30
never made it past midnight, even on Saturdays,
watching their braven selves perform

Where are the promised revelations?
Why have they been shown so many times?
Long-limbed children a thousand miles to the west
hitch-hiking in spring, burnt bronze in summer
thumbs nagging
eyes pleading
Give us a ride, huh? Give us a ride?

and when they return nothing is changed
the linoleum looks older
the Hawaiian Chicken is new
the girls wash their hair more often
the boys skip over the puddles
in the GM parking lot
no one eyes them with envy

their mothers stoop
the oven doors settle with a thump
the dishes are rinsed and stacked and
by mid-morning the house is quiet
it is raining out back
or not raining
the relief of emptiness rains
simple, terrible, routine
at peace



Joyce Carol Oates, "Women Whose Lives Are Food, Men Whose Lives Are Money" from Women Whose Lives Are Food, Men Whose Lives Are Money. Copyright © 1978 by Joyce Carol Oates.  Reprinted by permission of Joyce Carol Oates.

Source: Women Whose Lives Are Food, Men Whose Lives Are Money(Louisiana State University Press, 1978)

Joyce Carol Oates

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Poem of the Day: Susie Asado
Sweet sweet sweet sweet sweet tea.
       Susie Asado.
Sweet sweet sweet sweet sweet tea.
       Susie Asado.
Susie Asado which is a told tray sure.
A lean on the shoe this means slips slips hers.
When the ancient light grey is clean it is yellow, it is a silver seller.
This is a please this is a please there are the saids to jelly. These are the wets these say the sets to leave a crown to Incy.
Incy is short for incubus.
A pot. A pot is a beginning of a rare bit of trees. Trees tremble, the old vats are in bobbles, bobbles which shade and shove and render clean, render clean must.   
       Drink pups.   
Drink pups drink pups lease a sash hold, see it shine and a bobolink has pins. It shows a nail.
What is a nail. A nail is unison.
Sweet sweet sweet sweet sweet tea.

Gertrude Stein, “Susie Asado” from Selected Writings of Gertrude Stein. (New York: Peter Smith Publishing, 1992). Copyright © 1992 by Calman A. Levin, Executor of the Estate of Gertrude Stein. Reprinted with the permission of the Estate of Gertrude Stein.

Source: The Norton Anthology of Modern and Contemporary Poetry Third Edition(W. W. Norton and Company Inc., 2003)

Gertrude Stein

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Poem of the Day: Legacies
her grandmother called her from the playground   
       “yes, ma’am”
       “i want chu to learn how to make rolls” said the old   
woman proudly
but the little girl didn’t want
to learn how because she knew
even if she couldn’t say it that
that would mean when the old one died she would be less   
dependent on her spirit so
she said
       “i don’t want to know how to make no rolls”
with her lips poked out
and the old woman wiped her hands on
her apron saying “lord
       these children”
and neither of them ever
said what they meant
and i guess nobody ever does

Nikki Giovanni, “Legacies” from My House. Copyright © 1972 by NikkiGiovanni. Used with the permission of HarperCollins Publishers.

Source: The Collected Poems of Nikki Giovanni(2003)

Nikki Giovanni

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Poem of the Day: Phenomenal Woman
Pretty women wonder where my secret lies.
I’m not cute or built to suit a fashion model’s size   
But when I start to tell them,
They think I’m telling lies.
I say,
It’s in the reach of my arms,
The span of my hips,   
The stride of my step,   
The curl of my lips.   
I’m a woman
Phenomenally.
Phenomenal woman,   
That’s me.

I walk into a room
Just as cool as you please,   
And to a man,
The fellows stand or
Fall down on their knees.   
Then they swarm around me,
A hive of honey bees.   
I say,
It’s the fire in my eyes,   
And the flash of my teeth,   
The swing in my waist,   
And the joy in my feet.   
I’m a woman
Phenomenally.

Phenomenal woman,
That’s me.

Men themselves have wondered   
What they see in me.
They try so much
But they can’t touch
My inner mystery.
When I try to show them,   
They say they still can’t see.   
I say,
It’s in the arch of my back,   
The sun of my smile,
The ride of my breasts,
The grace of my style.
I’m a woman
Phenomenally.
Phenomenal woman,
That’s me.

Now you understand
Just why my head’s not bowed.   
I don’t shout or jump about
Or have to talk real loud.   
When you see me passing,
It ought to make you proud.
I say,
It’s in the click of my heels,   
The bend of my hair,   
the palm of my hand,   
The need for my care.   
’Cause I’m a woman
Phenomenally.
Phenomenal woman,
That’s me.

Maya Angelou, “Phenomenal Woman” from And Still I Rise. Copyright © 1978 by Maya Angelou. Used by permission of Random House, an imprint and division of Penguin Random House LLC. All rights reserved.

Source: The Complete Collected Poems of Maya Angelou(Random House Inc., 1994)

Maya Angelou

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Poem of the Day: Tomorrowland
Family dinner night, and we are deciding what to save:
polar bears or slipper limpets. Girls in Afghanistan

or the wolf. We can't save everything
but the kids are ready

with their banks, the season's extra, the not-
ice cream. How does the Afghan girl feel

to make our list? We bring more and more
money to the table but the list outruns it.

My mother comes in from visiting a friend in hospice,
sick from all the chemo. When I get whatever it is, she says,

I want you to do nothing. It's only May
and already they've declared a statewide drought.

Yesterday I hiked over a river that was not there.
Coral reefs, my son says, that's what I want

to save. And so we do. Whatever is happening to us
is deductible. Silence of the was-river,

was-bear. In the movies everyone is building
some kind of ark.

Megan Snyder-Camp, "Tomorrowland" from The Gunnywolf. Copyright © 2016 by Megan Snyder-Camp. Reprinted by permission of Bear Star Press..

Source: The Gunnywolf(Bear Star Press., 2016)

Megan Snyder-Camp

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Poem of the Day: Wilderness
You are the man
You are my other country
and I find it hard going

You are the prickly pear
You are the sudden violent storm

the torrent to raise the river
to float the wounded doe

Lorine Niedecker, "Wilderness" from Collected Works. Copyright © 2004 by Lorine Niedecker.  Reprinted by permission of University of California Press.

Source: Collected Works(University of California Press, 2004)

Lorine Niedecker

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Poem of the Day: A Woman Speaks
Moon marked and touched by sun   
my magic is unwritten
but when the sea turns back
it will leave my shape behind.   
I seek no favor
untouched by blood
unrelenting as the curse of love   
permanent as my errors
or my pride
I do not mix
love with pity
nor hate with scorn
and if you would know me
look into the entrails of Uranus   
where the restless oceans pound.

I do not dwell
within my birth nor my divinities   
who am ageless and half-grown   
and still seeking
my sisters
witches in Dahomey
wear me inside their coiled cloths   
as our mother did
mourning.

I have been woman
for a long time
beware my smile
I am treacherous with old magic   
and the noon's new fury
with all your wide futures   
promised
I am
woman
and not white.

Audre Lorde, “A Woman Speaks” from The Collected Poems of Audre Lorde. Copyright © 1997 by Audre Lorde. Reprinted with the permission of Charlotte Sheedy Literary Agency and W. W. Norton & Company, Inc., www.nortonpoets.com.

Source: The Collected Poems of Audre Lorde(W. W. Norton and Company Inc., 1997)

Audre Lorde

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Poem of the Day: The Last Performance
“I am playing my oldest tunes,” declared she,
      “All the old tunes I know,—
Those I learnt ever so long ago.”
—Why she should think just then she’d play them
       Silence cloaks like snow.

When I returned from the town at nightfall
      Notes continued to pour
As when I had left two hours before:
“It’s the very last time,” she said in closing;
       “From now I play no more.”

A few morns onward found her fading,
      And, as her life outflew,
I thought of her playing her tunes right through;
And I felt she had known of what was coming,
      And wondered how she knew.
 



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Poem of the Day: They shut me up in Prose –...
They shut me up in Prose –
As when a little Girl
They put me in the Closet –
Because they liked me “still”   –

Still! Could themself have peeped –
And seen my Brain – go round –
They might as wise have lodged a Bird
For Treason – in the Pound –

Himself has but to will
And easy as a Star
Look down opon Captivity –
And laugh – No more have I –

Reprinted by permission of the publishers and the Trustees of Amherst College from THE POEMS OF EMILY DICKINSON: READING EDITION, edited by Ralph W. Franklin, ed., Cambridge, Mass.: The Belknap Press of Harvard University Press, Copyright © 1998, 1999 by the President and Fellows of Harvard College. Copyright © 1951, 1955, 1979, 1983 by the President and Fellows of Harvard College.

Source: The Poems of Emily Dickinson Edited by R. W. Franklin(Harvard University Press, 1999)

Emily Dickinson

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Poem of the Day: Epilogue
Those blessèd structures, plot and rhyme—
why are they no help to me now
I want to make
something imagined, not recalled?
I hear the noise of my own voice:
The painter’s vision is not a lens,
it trembles to caress the light.
But sometimes everything I write   
with the threadbare art of my eye
seems a snapshot,
lurid, rapid, garish, grouped,
heightened from life,
yet paralyzed by fact.
All’s misalliance.
Yet why not say what happened?
Pray for the grace of accuracy
Vermeer gave to the sun’s illumination
stealing like the tide across a map
to his girl solid with yearning.
We are poor passing facts,
warned by that to give
each figure in the photograph
his living name.

Robert Lowell, “Epilogue” from Day by Day. Copyright © 1977 by Robert Lowell. Reprinted with the permission of Farrar, Straus & Giroux, LLC.

Source: Day by Day(1977)

Robert Lowell

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Poem of the Day: where our protest sound
jazz is underwater
vodou atlantis mute
aborted ultrasound
fetal fish in flood
 
haiti's first cousin
forcibly kissed
by a hurricane called
katrina. hot winds
come one fat
tuesday.
old levee leak
explodes. fixing funds gone
to homeland
security. soldiers
stationed in iraq. said,
 
jazz is underwater
days like laissez-faire
manna does not fall
saviors do not save
 
hunger prays to rage for
resilience, improvisational genius
implodes, anarchy duets
with despair.
bassist fingers loot—nimble
like a deft pianist. said, vodou
atlantis mute. the fragile
eardrums of instant orphans get
inundated with someone else's mama's
soprano saxophone screams.
 
(meanwhile televised tenor
voices report monotonous
drone to drown out)
the deafening beat
of funeral marchers
can't swim.
bloated trumpet
carcasses, a singer swallows human
sewage. her last note, a curse
on america. aborted
ultrasound. cacophonous
 
warnings scatter brains.
pedestrians hear calls to
evacuate, escape, and think, how
fast can on-foot run? the poor, the weary
just drown. abandoned elders
just drown. people
in wheelchairs just drown. the sick
in bed cannot leave. their doctors stay
behind too. new emergencies engulf
the e.r. swamped hospitals ain't
hostels, ain't shelters.
 
resources slim
like hope. nurses stay
behind too. their loyal partners
will not leave. ill-fated
rejects just drown. said, fetal fish
in flood. outside, a breaking
willow weeps like a father
on his rooftop, murmuring
his wife's last words: clutch tight
to our babies and let me
die, she had pleaded, you can't
 
hold on to us all, let me die.
she, too, like jazz, is
underwater. her love,
her certainty, will
haunt him. their children's
survival, a scar. sanity also
loses its grip, guilt-weight
like cold, wet clothes.
eighty percent of new orleans
submerged. debris lingers, disease
looms. said, days like laissez-faire.
 
manna does not fall. shock battles
suicide thoughts.
some thirsty throats cope,
manage dirges in cajun, in zydeco.
out-of-state kin can't
get through.
refugees (refugees?) remember
ruined homes.
a preacher remembers the book
of revelations. still saviors
wait to save.
 
and the living wade with the countless
dead while
a wealthy president flies
overhead
up where brown people look
up where
brown people look like
spoiled jambalaya, stewing
from a distance
in their down-there
distress, said,
 
he's free—
high up—far up—
vacation fresh—eagle up, up
and away
from the place
where our protest
sound started, still
sings. american music
gurgling cyclone litanies
man cannot prevent, the man
cannot hear.

Lenelle Moïse, "where our protest sound" from Haiti Glass. Copyright © 2014 by Lenelle Moïse.  Reprinted by permission of City Lights Books, www.citylights.com.

Source: Haiti Glass(City Lights Books, 2014)

Lenelle Moïse

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Poem of the Day: Late February
The first warm day,
and by mid-afternoon
the snow is no more
than a washing
strewn over the yards,
the bedding rolled in knots
and leaking water,
the white shirts lying
under the evergreens.
Through the heaviest drifts
rise autumn’s fallen
bicycles, small carnivals
of paint and chrome,
the Octopus
and Tilt-A-Whirl
beginning to turn
in the sun. Now children,
stiffened by winter
and dressed, somehow,
like old men, mutter
and bend to the work
of building dams.
But such a spring is brief;
by five o’clock
the chill of sundown,
darkness, the blue TVs
flashing like storms
in the picture windows,
the yards gone gray,
the wet dogs barking
at nothing. Far off
across the cornfields
staked for streets and sewers,
the body of a farmer
missing since fall
will show up
in his garden tomorrow,
as unexpected
as a tulip.




Ted Kooser, “Late February” from Sure Signs. Copyright © 1980 by Ted Kooser. All rights are controlled by the University of Pittsburgh Press, Pittsburgh, PA 15260, www.upress.pitt.edu. Used by permission of University of Pittsburgh Press.

Source: Sure Signs(University of Pittsburgh Press, 1980)

Ted Kooser

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Poem of the Day: Lonely Eagles
Being black in America
was the Original Catch,
so no one was surprised
by 22:
The segregated airstrips,
separate camps.
They did the jobs
they’d been trained to do.
 
Black ground crews kept them in the air;
black flight surgeons kept them alive;
the whole Group removed their headgear
when another pilot died.
 
They were known by their names:
“Ace” and “Lucky,”
“Sky-hawk Johnny,” “Mr. Death.”
And by their positions and planes.
Red Leader to Yellow Wing-man,
do you copy?
 
If you could find a fresh egg
you bought it and hid it
in your dopp-kit or your boot
until you could eat it alone.
On the night before a mission
you gave a buddy
your hiding-places
as solemnly
as a man dictating
his will.
There’s a chocolate bar
in my Bible;
my whiskey bottle
is inside my bedroll.
 
In beat-up Flying Tigers
that had seen action in Burma,
they shot down three German jets.
They were the only outfit
in the American Air Corps
to sink a destroyer
with fighter planes.
Fighter planes with names
like “By Request.”
Sometimes the radios
didn’t even work.
 
They called themselves
“Hell from Heaven.”
This Spookwaffe.
My father’s old friends.
 
It was always
maximum effort:
A whole squadron
of brother-men
raced across the tarmac
and mounted their planes.
 
            My tent-mate was a guy named Starks.
            The funny thing about me and Starks
            was that my air mattress leaked,
            and Starks’ didn’t.
            Every time we went up,
            I gave my mattress to Starks
            and put his on my cot.
 
            One day we were strafing a train.
            Strafing’s bad news:
            you have to fly so low and slow
            you’re a pretty clear target.
            My other wing-man and I
            exhausted our ammunition and got out.
            I recognized Starks
            by his red tail
            and his rudder’s trim-tabs.
            He couldn’t pull up his nose.
            He dived into the train
            and bought the farm.
 
            I found his chocolate,
            three eggs, and a full fifth
            of his hoarded-up whiskey.
            I used his mattress
            for the rest of my tour.
 
            It still bothers me, sometimes:
            I was sleeping
            on his breath.

Marilyn Nelson, “Lonely Eagles” from The Fields of Praise: New and Selected Poems. Copyright © 1997 by Marilyn Nelson. Reprinted by permission of Marilyn Nelson.

Source: The Fields of Praise: New and Selected Poems(Louisiana State University Press, 1997)

Marilyn Nelson

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