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Poem of the Day: ABC for Refugees
Cherub-bee-dee how does a man
who doesn’t read English well know that cherub-bee-dum
those aren’t really words-bee-dee.
But birds.

Cherub-bee-dum, he stumbles, reading to me
by the sliding glass door cherub-bee-dee, through which I watch
my brother play in the dum-dum-yard.

Cherub-bee-dee, cherub-bee-dum, like how my father says
Fine then! Leave! My mother shouts, Stupid! Dumb!
We live in a small bee-dee-nest too, one hallway to bee-dum-slam doors.

Birds? What are birds?
Thanks to my father, reading with me, I have more feathers.

T-H-E. First word he ever taught me to pluck    ...    
It is a word used all the time. Cherub-cherub-bee-dum!

The mail. The mailbox. The school bus. The the.

He asks me to read the mail. Not birds, mail.
If you don’t read this, you will turn into birds.
And I read it to him the best I can.
The end. A feather. Two feathers. The. The end.

Mother, mother. Repeat after me.
Cherub-bee-dee, cherub-bee-dum!
We read together before bedtime.

Source: Poetry December 2017

Monica Sok

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Poem of the Day: Self-portrait
I lived between my heart and my head,
like a married couple who can't get along.

I lived between my left arm, which is swift
and sinister, and my right, which is righteous.

I lived between a laugh and a scowl,
and voted against myself, a two-party system.

My left leg dawdled or danced along,
my right cleaved to the straight and narrow.

My left shoulder was like a stripper on vacation,
my right stood upright as a Roman soldier.

Let's just say that my left side was the organ
donor and leave my private parts alone,

but as for my eyes, which are two shades
of brown, well, Dionysus, meet Apollo.

Look at Eve raising her left eyebrow
while Adam puts his right foot down.

No one expected it to survive,
but divorce seemed out of the question.

I suppose my left hand and my right hand
will be clasped over my chest in the coffin 

and I'll be reconciled at last,
I'll be whole again.

Edward Hirsch, "Self Portrait" from The Living Fire: New and Selected Poems (1975-2010). Copyright © 2010 by Edward Hirsch. Reprinted by permission of Edward Hirsch, Inc.

Source: The Living Fire(Alfred A. Knopf, 2008)

Edward Hirsch

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Poem of the Day: The Cranes, Texas January
I call my wife outdoors to have her listen,
to turn her ears upward, beyond the cloud-veiled
sky where the moon dances thin light,
to tell her, “Don’t hear the cars on the freeway—

it’s not the truck-rumble. It is and is not
the sirens.” She stands there, on deck
a rocking boat, wanting to please the captain
who would have her hear the inaudible.

Her eyes, so blue the day sky is envious,
fix blackly on me, her mouth poised on question
like a stone. But, she hears, after all.
                                                           January on the Gulf,  
warm wind washing over us, 
we stand chilled in the winter of those voices.



Poem copyright ©2011 by Mark Sanders from his most recent book of poems, Conditions of Grace: New and Selected Poems, Stephen F. Austin State University Press, 2011. Poem reprinted by permission of Mark Sanders and the publisher.

Mark Sanders

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Poem of the Day: Bread
Each night, in a space he’d make
between waking and purpose,
my grandfather donned his one
suit, in our still dark house, and drove
through Brooklyn’s deserted streets
following trolley tracks to the bakery.

There he’d change into white
linen work clothes and cap,
and in the absence of women,
his hands were both loving, well
into dawn and throughout the day—
kneading, rolling out, shaping

each astonishing moment
of yeasty predictability
in that windowless world lit
by slightly swaying naked bulbs,
where the shadows staggered, woozy
with the aromatic warmth of the work.

Then, the suit and drive, again.
At our table, graced by a loaf
that steamed when we sliced it,
softened the butter and leavened
the very air we’d breathe,
he’d count us blessed.

Poem copyright ©2012 by Richard Levine from his most recent book of poems, A Tide of a Hundred Mountains, Bright Hill Press, 2012. Reprinted by permission of Richard Levine and the publisher.

Richard Levine

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Poem of the Day: Graduation Day
Drawn by ceremonial obligation
up from sleep I woke and stepped 
into the borrowed black robes
all ghost bureaucrats trained 
to redirect dreaming pretend 
we do not like to wear. I drove 
my black car to the stadium 
to sit on stage and be watched 
watching young expectant spirits 
one by one with dread certainty 
pass before me, clouded 
in their names. Then listened 
to no one in their speeches say 
you’re welcome for allowing 
us not to tell you it’s already 
too late to learn anything 
or defend whatever accidental 
instrument in us causes 
all these useless thoughts. 
Like if you walked for hours 
through the vast black avenues 
of those server farms all of us 
with our endless attention built,
you could almost feel the same 
peaceful disinterest as when 
your parents talking and smoking 
raised their heads for a moment 
to smile and tell you go back 
upstairs and read the book 
you love about myths that explain 
weather and death. Now it is 
almost June and they are finally 
the children they always were. 
So more precise than anyone 
has ever had to be, go forget
everything we told you
so you can fix what we kept
destroying by calling the future.
 

Matthew Zapruder, "Graduation Day." Copyright © 2017 Matthew Zapruder. Used by permission of the author for PoetryNow, a partnership between the Poetry Foundation and the WFMT Radio Network.

Source: PoetryNow(2017)

Matthew Zapruder

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Poem of the Day: A Perfect Mess
I read somewhere
that if pedestrians didn’t break traffic laws to cross
Times Square whenever and by whatever means possible,
      
the whole city
would stop, it would stop.
Cars would back up to Rhode Island,
an epic gridlock not even a cat
could thread through. It’s not law but the sprawl
of our separate wills that keeps us all flowing. Today I loved
the unprecedented gall
of the piano movers, shoving a roped-up baby grand
up Ninth Avenue before a thunderstorm.
They were a grim and hefty pair, cynical
as any day laborers. They knew what was coming,
the instrument white lacquered, the sky bulging black
as a bad water balloon and in one pinprick instant
it burst. A downpour like a fire hose.
For a few heartbeats, the whole city stalled,
paused, a heart thump, then it all went staccato.
And it was my pleasure to witness a not
insignificant miracle: in one instant every black
umbrella in Hell’s Kitchen opened on cue, everyone
still moving. It was a scene from an unwritten opera,
the sails of some vast armada.
And four old ladies interrupted their own slow progress
to accompany the piano movers.
each holding what might have once been
lace parasols over the grunting men. I passed next
the crowd of pastel ballerinas huddled
under the corner awning,
in line for an open call — stork-limbed, ankles
zigzagged with ribbon, a few passing a lit cigarette
around. The city feeds on beauty, starves
for it, breeds it. Coming home after midnight,
to my deserted block with its famously high
subway-rat count, I heard a tenor exhale pure
longing down the brick canyons, the steaming moon
opened its mouth to drink from on high ...

Source: Poetry December 2012

Mary Karr

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Poem of the Day: In Memoriam: Martin Luther...
I

honey people murder mercy U.S.A.   
the milkland turn to monsters teach   
to kill to violate pull down destroy   
the weakly freedom growing fruit   
from being born

America

tomorrow yesterday rip rape   
exacerbate despoil disfigure   
crazy running threat the   
deadly thrall
appall belief dispel
the wildlife burn the breast   
the onward tongue
the outward hand
deform the normal rainy   
riot sunshine shelter wreck
of darkness derogate
delimit blank
explode deprive
assassinate and batten up
like bullets fatten up
the raving greed
reactivate a springtime
terrorizing

death by men by more
than you or I can

STOP


       II

They sleep who know a regulated place
or pulse or tide or changing sky
according to some universal   
stage direction obvious   
like shorewashed shells

we share an afternoon of mourning   
in between no next predictable
except for wild reversal hearse rehearsal   
bleach the blacklong lunging
ritual of fright insanity and more
deplorable abortion
more and
more
June Jordan, “In Memoriam: Martin Luther King, Jr.” from Directed By Desire: The Collected Poems of June Jordan (Port Townsend, WA: Copper Canyon Press, 2005). Copyright © 2005 by The June M. Jordan Literary Trust. Reprinted with the permission of The June M. Jordan Literary Trust, www.junejordan.com.

Source: The Norton Anthology of African American Literature(1997)

June Jordan

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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: Early Cinema
According to Mister Hedges, the custodian
who called upon their parents
after young Otwiner and young Julia
were spotted at the matinee
of Rudolph Valentino in The Sheik
at the segregated Knickerbocker Theater
in the uncommon Washington December
of 1922, “Your young ladies
were misrepresenting themselves today,”
meaning, of course, that they were passing.
After coffee and no cake were finished
and Mister Hedges had buttoned his coat
against the strange evening chill,
choice words were had with Otwiner and Julia,
shame upon the family, shame upon the race.

How they’d longed to see Rudolph Valentino,
who was swarthy like a Negro, like the finest Negro man.
In The Sheik, they’d heard, he was turbaned,
whisked damsels away in a desert cloud.
They’d heard this from Lucille and Ella
who’d put on their fine frocks and French,
claiming to be “of foreign extraction”
to sneak into the Knickerbocker Theater
past the usher who knew their parents
but did not know them.
They’d heard this from Mignon and Doris
who’d painted carmine bindis on their foreheads
braided their black hair tight down the back,
and huffed, “We’ll have to take this up with the Embassy”
to the squinting ticket taker.
Otwiner and Julia were tired of Oscar Michaux,
tired of church, tired of responsibility,
rectitude, posture, grooming, modulation,
tired of homilies each way they turned,
tired of colored right and wrong.
They wanted to be whisked away.

The morning after Mister Hedges’ visit
the paperboy cried “Extra!” and Papas
shrugged camel’s hair topcoats over pressed pajamas,
and Mamas read aloud at the breakfast table,
“No Colored Killed When Roof Caves In”
at the Knickerbocker Theater
at the evening show
from a surfeit of snow on the roof.
One hundred others dead.

It appeared that God had spoken.
There was no school that day,
no movies for months after.

Elizabeth Alexander, “Early Cinema” from Antebellum Dream Book. Copyright © 2001 by Elizabeth Alexander. Reprinted by permission of Graywolf Press.

Source: Antebellum Dream Book(Graywolf Press, 2001)

Elizabeth Alexander

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Poem of the Day: Dear Reader
You have forgotten it all.
You have forgotten your name,
where you lived, who you
loved, why.
                      I am simply
your nurse, terse and unlovely
I point to things
and remind you what they are:
chair, book, daughter, soup.
 
And when we are alone
I tell you what lies
in each direction: This way
is death, and this way, after
a longer walk, is death,
and that way is death but you
won’t see it
until it is right
in front of you.
 
              Once after
your niece had been to visit you
and I said something about
how you must love her
or she must love you
or something useless like that,
you gripped my forearm
in your terrible swift hand
and said, she is
everything—you gave
me a shake—everything
to me.
               And then you fell
back into the well. Deep
in the well of everything. And I
stand at the edge and call:
                  chair, book, daughter, soup.

Rita Mae Reese, “Dear Reader” from The Alphabet Conspiracy. Copyright © 2011 by Rita Mae Reese. Reprinted by permission of Red Hen Press.

Source: The Alphabet Conspiracy(Arktoi Books, 2011)

Rita Mae Reese

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Poem of the Day: In the Cold Country
We came so trustingly, for love, but these   
Lowlands, flatlands, near beneath the sea   
Point with their cautionary bones of sand   
To exorcize, submerge us; we stay free   
Only as mermaids glittering in the waves:   
Mermaids of the imagination, young   
A spring ago, who know our loveliness   
Banished, like fireflies at winter’s breath,   
Because none saw; these vines about our necks   
We placed in welcome once, but now as wreath   
Against the scalpel cold; still cold creeps in   
To grow like ivy over our chilling bodies   
Into our blood. Now in our diamond dress   
We wive only the sequins of the sea.   
The lowlands have rejected us. They lie   
Athwart the whispering waters like a scar   
On a mirage of glass; the dooming land,   
Where nothing can take root but frost, has won.   
And what of warmth and what of joy? They are   
Sequestered elsewhere, southward, where the sun   
Speaks. For all our mermaid vigilance   
And balance, all goes under; underneath   
The land’s gray wave we falter and fall back   
To hibernate within the caves of death.

Barbara Howes, “In the Cold Country” from In the Cold Country. Copyright 1954 by Barbara Howes. Reprinted with the permission of Grove/Atlantic, Inc.

Source: Poetry February 1949

Barbara Howes

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Poem of the Day: Democracy
When you’re cold—November, the streets icy and everyone you pass
homeless, Goodwill coats and Hefty bags torn up to make ponchos—
someone is always at the pay phone, hunched over the receiver

spewing winter’s germs, swollen lipped, face chapped, making the last
tired connection of the day. You keep walking to keep the cold
at bay, too cold to wait for the bus, too depressing the thought

of entering that blue light, the chilled eyes watching you decide
which seat to take: the man with one leg, his crutches bumping
the smudged window glass, the woman with her purse clutched

to her breasts like a dead child, the boy, pimpled, morose, his head
shorn, a swastika carved into the stubble, staring you down.
So you walk into the cold you know: the wind, indifferent blade,

familiar, the gold leaves heaped along the gutters. You have
a home, a house with gas heat, a toilet that flushes. You have
a credit card, cash. You could take a taxi if one would show up.

You can feel it now: why people become Republicans: Get that dog
off the street. Remove that spit and graffiti. Arrest those people huddled
on the steps of the church. If it weren’t for them you could believe in god,

in freedom, the bus would appear and open its doors, the driver dressed
in his tan uniform, pants legs creased, dapper hat: Hello Miss, watch
your step now. But you’re not a Republican. You’re only tired, hungry,

you want out of the cold. So you give up, walk back, step into line behind
the grubby vet who hides a bag of wine under his pea coat, holds out
his grimy 85 cents, takes each step slow as he pleases, releases his coins

into the box and waits as they chink down the chute, stakes out a seat
in the back and eases his body into the stained vinyl to dream
as the chips of shrapnel in his knee warm up and his good leg

flops into the aisle. And you’ll doze off, too, in a while, next to the girl
who can’t sit still, who listens to her Walkman and taps her boots
to a rhythm you can’t hear, but you can see it—when she bops

her head and her hands do a jive in the air—you can feel it
as the bus rolls on, stopping at each red light in a long wheeze,
jerking and idling, rumbling up and lurching off again.

Dorianne Laux, “Democracy” from Facts About The Moon. Copyright © 2007 by Dorianne Laux. Reprinted by permission of W. W. Norton & Company, Inc.

Source: Facts About The Moon(W. W. Norton and Company Inc., 2007)

Dorianne Laux

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Poem of the Day: At the Circus
At the center of the lit circle, rising
from cotton-candy calf muscles,
the White Clown ushers his
eyebrows skyward. He grates his ukulele,
opens a heart-shaped mouth, inhales—
his serenade begins.

Now's the time. From the shadows,
a blast like a trumpeting elephant:
obscene, ragged. The Auguste capers like a fawn,
darts away, pads around
with his trombone. The gold of the slide
slips into and out of the infinite.

Everything smells of panther
and piss and mint. His gaze fixed
on the clash between the welled tears
and the awful laughing shoes,
the little boy grows
ever more grave, ever more severe.

Source: Poetry December 2007

Umberto Fiori

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Poem of the Day: Peace
Now, God be thanked who has matched us with his hour,
      And caught our youth, and wakened us from sleeping!
With hand made sure, clear eye, and sharpened power,
      To turn, as swimmers into cleanness leaping,
Glad from a world grown old and cold and weary;
      Leave the sick hearts that honor could not move,
And half-men, and their dirty songs and dreary,
      And all the little emptiness of love!
Oh! we, who have known shame, we have found release there,
      Where there’s no ill, no grief, but sleep has mending,
            Naught broken save this body, lost but breath;
Nothing to shake the laughing heart’s long peace there,
      But only agony, and that has ending;
            And the worst friend and enemy is but Death.

Source: Poetry April 1915

Rupert Brooke

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Poem of the Day: Money Won’t Change It (but...
You’re rich, lady, hissed the young woman at
My mother as she bent in her garden.
Look at what you’ve got, and it was
Too much, the collards and tomatoes,
A man, however lousy, taking care
of the bills.

This was the reason for the early deaths
My mother was to find from that point on,
Turned dirt and the mock of roots,
Until finally, she gave her garden up.
You can’t have nothing, she tells us,
Is the motto of our neighborhood,
These modest houses
That won’t give an inch.
Cornelius Eady, “Money Won’t Change It (but time will take you on)” from Autobiography of a Jukebox. Copyright © 1997 by Cornelius Eady. Used by permission of Carnegie Mellon University Press.

Source: The Autobiography of a Jukebox(Carnegie Mellon University Press, 1997)

Cornelius Eady

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Poem of the Day: Age Appropriate
Sometimes,
mystified by the behavior
of one of my sons,
my wife will point out
if   it’s age-appropriate,
making me wonder why
I still shout at ballplayers on tv
and argue with the dead.
Last week, my oldest son,
with a wild pitch, turned
my left ankle into an eggplant.
I didn’t yell at the doctors
who refused my insurance,
or get angry with a friend
who told me to soak it
in bourbon and garlic. No,
I read Montaigne who said
self-revelation is the purpose
of discourse, which, in his day,
meant knowing whether
to be flattered if a friend
didn’t use a food-taster,
or amused if a witch cast a spell
of   weeping on an in-law.
Blaise Monluc, the king’s
lieutenant general during
the civil wars, Montaigne says,
threw so many hanged Protestants
down a well you could reach in
and touch the top one’s head. Yes,
Monluc, who was fond of saying
“When the scaffolds are full, use trees,”
knew what was appropriate.
On occasion I’ll run into a lobby
to avoid greeting a friend,
not because my mind vanishes
and I can’t remember his name,
which is true, but because I
must flee what is darkest in me.
In other words, when evicted from
a strange lobby into a stranger street,
where every scaffold is full
and bodies dangle in the long
blue sorrow of the afternoon,
without context, explanation, or sympathy,
it’s good to know, even momentarily,
how to live, among the relevant,
the passionate, and the confused.

Source: Poetry July/August 2013

Philip Schultz

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Poem of the Day: The Bridge
I love. Wouldn't we all like to start
a poem with "I love . . ."? I would.
I mean, I love the fact there are parallel lines
in the word "parallel," love how

words sometimes mirror what they mean.
I love mirrors and that stupid tale
about Narcissus. I suppose
there is some Narcissism in that.

You know, Narcissism, what you
remind me to avoid almost all the time. 
Yeah, I love Narcissism. I do. 
But what I really love is ice cream. 

Remember how I told you
no amount of ice cream can survive
a week in my freezer. You didn't believe me,
did you? No, you didn't. But you know now

how true that is. I love
that you know my Achilles heel
is none other than ice cream—
so chilly, so common.

And I love fountain pens. I mean
I just love them. Cleaning them, 
filling them with ink, fills me
with a kind of joy, even if joy 

is so 1950. I know, no one talks about
joy anymore. It is even more taboo 
than love. And so, of course, I love joy. 
I love the way joy sounds as it exits

your mouth. You know, the word joy.
How joyous is that. It makes me think
of bubbles, chandeliers, dandelions.
I love the way the mind runs

that pathway from bubbles to dandelions.
Yes, I love a lot. And right here,
walking down this street, 
I love the way we make

a bridge, a suspension bridge
—almost as beautiful as the
Golden Gate Bridge—swaying
as we walk hand in hand. 
 

C. Dale Young, "The Bridge" from Torn. Copyright © 2011 by C.  Dale Young.  Reprinted by permission of Four Way Books.

Source: Torn(Four Way Books, 2011)

C. Dale Young

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Poem of the Day: Gravity
Mildest of all the powers of earth: no lightnings
For her—maniacal in the clouds. No need for
Signs with their skull and crossbones, chain-link gates:
Danger! Keep Out! High Gravity! she’s friendlier.
Won’t nurse—unlike the magnetic powers—repugnance;
Would reconcile, draw close: her passion’s love.

No terrors lurking in her depths, like those
Bound in that buzzing strongbox of the atom,
Terrors that, lossened, turn the hills vesuvian,
Trace in cremation where the cities were.

No, she’s our quiet mother, sensible.
But therefore down-to-earth, not suffering
Fools who play fast and loose among the mountains,
Who fly in her face, or, drunken, clown on cornices.

She taught our ways of walking. Her affection
Adjusted the morning grass, the sands of summer
Until our soles fit snug in each, walk easy.
Holding her hand, we’re safe. Should that hand fail,
The atmosphere we breathe would turn hysterical,
Hiss with tornadoes, spinning us from earth
Into the cold unbreathable desolations.

Yet there—in fields of space—is where she shines,
Ring-mistress of the circus of the stars,
Their prancing carousels, their ferris wheels
Lit brilliant in celebration. Thanks to her
All’s gala in the galaxy.

                                   Down here she
Walks us just right, not like the jokey moon
Burlesquing our human stride to kangaroo hops;
Not like vast planets, whose unbearable mass
Would crush us in a bear hug to their surface
And into the surface, flattened. No: deals fairly.
Makes happy each with each: the willow bend
Just so, the acrobat land true, the keystone
Nestle in place for bridge and for cathedral.
Let us pick up—or mostly—what we need:
Rake, bucket, stone to build with, logs for warmth,
The fallen fruit, the fallen child . . . ourselves.

Instructs us too in honesty: our jointed
Limbs move awry and crisscross, gawky, thwart;
She’s all directness and makes that a grace,
All downright passion for the core of things,
For rectitude, the very ground of being:
Those eyes are leveled where the heart is set.

See, on the tennis court this August day:
How, beyond human error, she’s the one
Whose will the bright balls cherish and obey
—As if in love. She’s tireless in her courtesies
To even the klutz (knees, elbows all a-tangle),
Allowing his poky serve Euclidean whimsies,
The looniest lob its joy: serene parabolas.

John Frederick Nims, “Gravity” from The Six-Cornered Snowflake and Other Poems. Copyright © 1990 by John Frederick Nims. Reprinted by permission of New Directions Publishing Corporation.

Source: The Six-Cornered Snowflake and Other Poems(New Directions Publishing Corporation, 1990)

John Frederick Nims

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Poem of the Day: January Drought
It needn’t be tinder, this juncture of the year,   
a cigarette second guessed from car to brush.   

The woods’ parchment is given   
to cracking asunder the first puff of wind.   
Yesterday a big sycamore came across First   
and Hawthorne and is there yet.   

The papers say it has to happen,   
if just as dribs and drabs on the asbestos siding.   
But tonight is buckets of stars as hard and dry as dimes.   

A month’s supper things stacks in the sink.   
Tea brews from water stoppered in the bath   
and any thirst carried forward is quenched thinking you,   
piece by piece, an Xmas gift hidden   
and found weeks after: the ribbon, the box.   

I have reservoirs of want enough   
to freeze many nights over.

Source: Poetry March 2009

Conor O'Callaghan

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Poem of the Day: I Am Offering this Poem
I am offering this poem to you,
since I have nothing else to give.
Keep it like a warm coat
when winter comes to cover you,
or like a pair of thick socks
the cold cannot bite through,

                         I love you,

I have nothing else to give you,
so it is a pot full of yellow corn
to warm your belly in winter,
it is a scarf for your head, to wear
over your hair, to tie up around your face,

                         I love you,

Keep it, treasure this as you would
if you were lost, needing direction,
in the wilderness life becomes when mature;
and in the corner of your drawer,
tucked away like a cabin or hogan
in dense trees, come knocking,
and I will answer, give you directions,
and let you warm yourself by this fire,
rest by this fire, and make you feel safe

                         I love you,

It’s all I have to give,
and all anyone needs to live,
and to go on living inside,
when the world outside
no longer cares if you live or die;
remember,

                         I love you.

Jimmy Santiago Baca, "I Am Offering This Poem" from Immigrants in Our Own Land and Selected Early Poems. Copyright © 1990 by Jimmy Santiago Baca. Reprinted by permission of Jimmy Santiago Baca.

Source: Immigrants in Our Own Land and Selected Early Poems(New Directions Publishing Corporation, 1990)

Jimmy Santiago Baca

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Poem of the Day: New Year's Poem
The Christmas twigs crispen and needles rattle
Along the window-ledge.
             A solitary pearl
Shed from the necklace spilled at last week’s party
Lies in the suety, snow-luminous plainness
Of morning, on the window-ledge beside them.   
And all the furniture that circled stately
And hospitable when these rooms were brimmed
With perfumes, furs, and black-and-silver
Crisscross of seasonal conversation, lapses
Into its previous largeness.
             I remember   
Anne’s rose-sweet gravity, and the stiff grave
Where cold so little can contain;
I mark the queer delightful skull and crossbones
Starlings and sparrows left, taking the crust,
And the long loop of winter wind
Smoothing its arc from dark Arcturus down
To the bricked corner of the drifted courtyard,
And the still window-ledge.
             Gentle and just pleasure
It is, being human, to have won from space
This unchill, habitable interior
Which mirrors quietly the light
Of the snow, and the new year.

"New Year’s Poem" by Margaret Avison. Reprinted from Always Now: The Collected Poems (in three volumes) by Margaret Avison, by permission of the Porcupine’s Quill. © The Estate of Margaret Avison, 2003.

Source: Always Now: The Collected Poems(The Porcupine's Quill, 2003)

Margaret Avison

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Poem of the Day: on new year’s eve

       we make midnight a maquette of the year:
frostlight glinting off snow to solemnize
       the vows we offer to ourselves in near
silence: the competition shimmerwise
 
       of champagne and chandeliers to attract
laughter and cheers: the glow from the fireplace
       reflecting the burning intra-red pact
between beloveds: we cosset the space
 
       of a fey hour, anxious gods molding our
hoped-for adams with this temporal clay:
       each of us edacious for shining or
rash enough to think sacrifice will stay
 
       this fugacious time: while stillness suspends
vitality in balance, as passions
       struggle with passions for sway, the mind wends
towards what’s to come: a callithump of fashions,
 
       ersatz smiles, crowded days: a bloodless cut
that severs soul from bone: a long aching
       quiet in which we will hear nothing but
the clean crack of our promises breaking.

Evie Shockley, “on new year's eve” from the new black. Copyright © 2011 by Evie Shockley. Reprinted by permission of Wesleyan University Press.

Source: the new black

Evie Shockley

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Poem of the Day: To the New Year
With what stillness at last
you appear in the valley
your first sunlight reaching down
to touch the tips of a few
high leaves that do not stir
as though they had not noticed
and did not know you at all
then the voice of a dove calls
from far away in itself
to the hush of the morning

so this is the sound of you
here and now whether or not
anyone hears it this is
where we have come with our age
our knowledge such as it is
and our hopes such as they are
invisible before us
untouched and still possible


W. S. Merwin, “To the New Year” from Present Company (Port Townsend, Washington: Copper Canyon Press, 2005). Copyright © 2005 by W. S. Merwin. Reprinted with the permission of Copper Canyon Press, www.coppercanyonpress.org.


Source: Present Company(Zoo Press, 2005)

W. S. Merwin

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Poem of the Day: Winter Trees
All the complicated details
of the attiring and
the disattiring are completed!
A liquid moon
moves gently among
the long branches.
Thus having prepared their buds
against a sure winter
the wise trees
stand sleeping in the cold.


William Carlos Williams

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Poem of the Day: Kubla Khan
In Xanadu did Kubla Khan
A stately pleasure-dome decree:
Where Alph, the sacred river, ran
Through caverns measureless to man
   Down to a sunless sea.
So twice five miles of fertile ground
With walls and towers were girdled round;
And there were gardens bright with sinuous rills,
Where blossomed many an incense-bearing tree;
And here were forests ancient as the hills,
Enfolding sunny spots of greenery.

But oh! that deep romantic chasm which slanted
Down the green hill athwart a cedarn cover!
A savage place! as holy and enchanted
As e’er beneath a waning moon was haunted
By woman wailing for her demon-lover!
And from this chasm, with ceaseless turmoil seething,
As if this earth in fast thick pants were breathing,
A mighty fountain momently was forced:
Amid whose swift half-intermitted burst
Huge fragments vaulted like rebounding hail,
Or chaffy grain beneath the thresher’s flail:
And mid these dancing rocks at once and ever
It flung up momently the sacred river.
Five miles meandering with a mazy motion
Through wood and dale the sacred river ran,
Then reached the caverns measureless to man,
And sank in tumult to a lifeless ocean;
And ’mid this tumult Kubla heard from far
Ancestral voices prophesying war!
   The shadow of the dome of pleasure
   Floated midway on the waves;
   Where was heard the mingled measure
   From the fountain and the caves.
It was a miracle of rare device,
A sunny pleasure-dome with caves of ice!

   A damsel with a dulcimer
   In a vision once I saw:
   It was an Abyssinian maid
   And on her dulcimer she played,
   Singing of Mount Abora.
   Could I revive within me
   Her symphony and song,
   To such a deep delight ’twould win me,
That with music loud and long,
I would build that dome in air,
That sunny dome! those caves of ice!
And all who heard should see them there,
And all should cry, Beware! Beware!
His flashing eyes, his floating hair!
Weave a circle round him thrice,
And close your eyes with holy dread
For he on honey-dew hath fed,
And drunk the milk of Paradise.

Samuel Taylor Coleridge

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