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Poem of the Day: Radiance versus Ordinary Light
Meanwhile the sea moves uneasily, like a man who
suspects what the room reels with as he rises into it
is violation—his own: he touches the bruises at each
shoulder and, on his chest,
                                                  the larger bruise, star-shaped,
a flawed star, or hand, though he remembers no hands,
has tried—can't remember . . .
                                                        That kind of rhythm to it,
even to the roughest surf there's a rhythm findable,
which is why we keep coming here, to find it, or that's
what we say. We dive in and, as usual,
                                                                      the swimming
feels like that swimming the mind does in the wake
of transgression, how the instinct to panic at first
slackens that much more quickly, if you don't
look back. Regret,
                                 like pity, changes nothing really, we
say to ourselves and, less often, to each other, each time
swimming a bit farther,
                                           leaving the shore the way
the water—in its own watered, of course, version
of semaphore–keeps leaving the subject out, flashing
Why should it matter now and Why,
                                                                  why shouldn 't it,
as the waves beat harder, hard against us, until that's
how we like it, I'll break your heart, break mine.



Carl Phillips, "Radiance Versus Ordinary Light" from Riding Westward. Copyright © 2006 by Carl Phillips. 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: Riding Westward(Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 2006)

Carl Phillips

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Poem of the Day: Buffalo Dusk
The buffaloes are gone.
And those who saw the buffaloes are gone.
Those who saw the buffaloes by thousands and how they pawed the prairie sod into dust with their hoofs, their great heads down pawing on in a great pageant of dusk,
Those who saw the buffaloes are gone.
And the buffaloes are gone.



Source: The Complete Poems of Carl Sandburg(Harcourt Brace Iovanovich Inc., 1970)

Carl Sandburg

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Poem of the Day: This Is Just To Say
I have eaten
the plums
that were in
the icebox

and which
you were probably
saving
for breakfast

Forgive me
they were delicious
so sweet
and so cold

William Carlos Williams,''This Is Just to Say'' from The Collected Poems: Volume I, 1909-1939, copyright ©1938 by New Directions Publishing Corp. Reprinted by permission of New Directions Publishing Corp.



Source: The Collected Poems: Volume I, 1909-1939(New Directions Publishing Corporation, 1991)

William Carlos Williams

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Poem of the Day: This is No Case of Petty Right...
This is no case of petty right or wrong
That politicians or philosophers
Can judge. I hate not Germans, nor grow hot
With love of Englishmen, to please newspapers.
Beside my hate for one fat patriot
My hatred of the Kaiser is love true:—
A kind of god he is, banging a gong.
But I have not to choose between the two,
Or between justice and injustice. Dinned
With war and argument I read no more
Than in the storm smoking along the wind
Athwart the wood. Two witches' cauldrons roar.
From one the weather shall rise clear and gay;
Out of the other an England beautiful
And like her mother that died yesterday.
Little I know or care if, being dull,
I shall miss something that historians
Can rake out of the ashes when perchance
The phoenix broods serene above their ken.
But with the best and meanest Englishmen
I am one in crying, God save England, lest
We lose what never slaves and cattle blessed.
The ages made her that made us from dust:
She is all we know and live by, and we trust
She is good and must endure, loving her so:
And as we love ourselves we hate our foe.



More...
Poem of the Day: On the Beach at Night Alone
On the beach at night alone,
As the old mother sways her to and fro singing her husky song,
As I watch the bright stars shining, I think a thought of the clef of the universes and of the future.

A vast similitude interlocks all,
All spheres, grown, ungrown, small, large, suns, moons, planets,
All distances of place however wide,
All distances of time, all inanimate forms,
All souls, all living bodies though they be ever so different, or in different worlds,
All gaseous, watery, vegetable, mineral processes, the fishes, the brutes,
All nations, colors, barbarisms, civilizations, languages,
All identities that have existed or may exist on this globe, or any globe,
All lives and deaths, all of the past, present, future,
This vast similitude spans them, and always has spann’d,
And shall forever span them and compactly hold and enclose them.



More...
Poem of the Day: To Those of You Alive in the...
who somehow have found a sip of water,
on this day in the past four syndicated
series involving communication with the dead
were televised and in this way we resembled
our own ghosts in a world made brief with flowers.
To you, our agonies and tizzies
must appear quaint as the stiff shoulders
of someone carrying buckets from a well
or the stung beekeeper gathering honey.
Why did we bother hurrying from A to B
when we’d get no further than D, if that?
On Monday, it sleeted in Pennsylvania
while someone’s mother was scoured further
from her own mind. A son-in-law smoked
in the parking lot, exhaling white curses
torn apart by the large invisible indifference.
The general anesthetic wore off
and someone else opened her eyes to the results.
In this way our world was broken and glued.
But why did we bother shooing away the flies?
Did we think we could work our way
inside a diamond if we ground more pigment
into the paper’s tooth, tried to hold fire
on our tongues, sucked at the sugars of each other?
Many the engagement rings in the pawnshop.
Many the empties piled at the curbs.
A couple paused on a bridge to watch
chunks of ice tugged by bickering currents.
One who slept late reached out
for one who wasn’t there. Breads, heavy
and sweet, were pulled from wide infernos
of stone ovens. My name was Dean Young,
I wrote it on a leaf. Sometimes
I could still manage to get lost,
there was no guidance system wired inside me yet.
Laughter might have come from a window
lit far into the night, others were dark
and always silent.



Source: Poetry October 2009

Dean Young

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Poem of the Day: from Stone: 122
Let me be in your service
like the others
mumbling predictions,
mouth dry with jealousy.
Parched tongue
thirsting, not even for the word—
for me the dry air is empty
again without you.
 
I’m not jealous any more
but I want you.
I carry myself like a victim
to the hangman.
I will not call you
either joy or love.
All my own blood is gone.
Something strange paces there now.

Another moment
and I will tell you:
it's not joy but torture
you give me.
I'm drawn to you
as to a crime—
to your ragged mouth,
to the soft bitten cherry.

Come back to me,
I'm frightened without you.
Never had you such power
over me as now.
Everything I desire
appears to me.
I'm not jealous any more.
I'm calling you.
 

Osip Mandelstam, "from Stone #122" from Selected Poems.  Translation copyright © 1973 by Clarence Brown and W. S. Merwin.  Reprinted by permission of The Wylie Agency, Inc..

Source: Selected Poems(Atheneum Publishers, 1973)

Osip Mandelstam

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Poem of the Day: Innocence
There is nothing more innocent
than the still-unformed creature I find beneath soil,
neither of us knowing what it will become
in the abundance of the planet.
It makes a living only by remaining still
in its niche.
One day it may struggle out of its tender
pearl of blind skin
with a wing or with vision
leaving behind the transparent.

I cover it again, keep laboring,
hands in earth, myself a singular body.
Watching things grow,
wondering how
a cut blade of grass knows
how to turn sharp again at the end.

This same growing must be myself,
not aware yet of what I will become
in my own fullness
inside this simple flesh.



Linda Hogan, "Innocence" from Dark. Sweet. Copyright © 2014 by Linda Hogan.  Reprinted by permission of Coffee House Press.

Source: Dark. Sweet.(Coffee House Press, 2014)

Linda Hogan

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Poem of the Day: Morningside Heights, July
Haze. Three student violists boarding
a bus. A clatter of jackhammers.
Granular light. A film of sweat for primer
and the heat for a coat of paint.
A man and a woman on a bench:
she tells him he must be psychic,
for how else could he sense, even before she knew,
that she’d need to call it off? A bicyclist
fumes by with a coach’s whistle clamped
hard between his teeth, shrilling like a teakettle
on the boil. I never meant, she says.
But I thought, he replies. Two cabs almost
collide; someone yells fuck in Farsi.
I’m sorry, she says. The comforts
of loneliness fall in like a bad platoon.
The sky blurs—there’s a storm coming
up or down. A lank cat slinks liquidly
around a corner. How familiar
it feels to feel strange, hollower
than a bassoon. A rill of chill air
in the leaves. A car alarm. Hail.


William Matthews, “Morningside Heights, July” from After All: Last Poems. Copyright © 1998 by William Matthews. Reprinted with the permission of Houghton Mifflin Company. All rights reserved, www.houghtonmifflinbooks.com.

Source: After All: Last Poems(1998)

William Matthews

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Poem of the Day: Bastille
You let your shirt hang down
putting on airs of cuffs
at the edge of ending night
like the end of a java with double ritournelles
or the way the canaries in the cage of still-closed mornings
were singing that it mattered little
to them that their windows were open
the stones the paving stones the door-frames the armatures
the window-frames the sheets of the bed clothes in their colors
were beating the dawn along with us
better drums than your belly
better drumsticks than my fingers
and the trees and the roofs the river and its bridges
the clear distances of the city the factories without smoke
bathed as at their birth stammered
a trial hello
that only ended however
in this word round as a doubloon
placed on the edge of that day
by a considerate friend
the sun on your arms naked against my cheeks
hello I said to you
the day of quatorz’juillet

“Bastille” from The Landscapist: Selected Poems by Pierre Martory, translated by John Ashbery. English translation copyright 1961, 1989, 1990, 1991, 1992, 1993, 1994, 1995, 1996, 2000, 2001, 2002, 2008 by John Ashbery. Reprinted by permission of Georges Borchardt, Inc., on behalf of John Ashbery. All rights reserved.

Source: Poetry October 2000

Pierre Martory

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Poem of the Day: Lines Composed a Few Miles...
Five years have past; five summers, with the length
Of five long winters! and again I hear
These waters, rolling from their mountain-springs
With a soft inland murmur.—Once again
Do I behold these steep and lofty cliffs,
That on a wild secluded scene impress
Thoughts of more deep seclusion; and connect
The landscape with the quiet of the sky.
The day is come when I again repose
Here, under this dark sycamore, and view
These plots of cottage-ground, these orchard-tufts,
Which at this season, with their unripe fruits,
Are clad in one green hue, and lose themselves
'Mid groves and copses. Once again I see
These hedge-rows, hardly hedge-rows, little lines
Of sportive wood run wild: these pastoral farms,
Green to the very door; and wreaths of smoke
Sent up, in silence, from among the trees!
With some uncertain notice, as might seem
Of vagrant dwellers in the houseless woods,
Or of some Hermit's cave, where by his fire
The Hermit sits alone.

                                              These beauteous forms,
Through a long absence, have not been to me
As is a landscape to a blind man's eye:
But oft, in lonely rooms, and 'mid the din
Of towns and cities, I have owed to them,
In hours of weariness, sensations sweet,
Felt in the blood, and felt along the heart;
And passing even into my purer mind
With tranquil restoration:—feelings too
Of unremembered pleasure: such, perhaps,
As have no slight or trivial influence
On that best portion of a good man's life,
His little, nameless, unremembered, acts
Of kindness and of love. Nor less, I trust,
To them I may have owed another gift,
Of aspect more sublime; that blessed mood,
In which the burthen of the mystery,
In which the heavy and the weary weight
Of all this unintelligible world,
Is lightened:—that serene and blessed mood,
In which the affections gently lead us on,—
Until, the breath of this corporeal frame
And even the motion of our human blood
Almost suspended, we are laid asleep
In body, and become a living soul:
While with an eye made quiet by the power
Of harmony, and the deep power of joy,
We see into the life of things.

                                                        If this
Be but a vain belief, yet, oh! how oft—
In darkness and amid the many shapes
Of joyless daylight; when the fretful stir
Unprofitable, and the fever of the world,
Have hung upon the beatings of my heart—
How oft, in spirit, have I turned to thee,
O sylvan Wye! thou wanderer thro' the woods,
         How often has my spirit turned to thee!

   And now, with gleams of half-extinguished thought,
With many recognitions dim and faint,
And somewhat of a sad perplexity,
The picture of the mind revives again:
While here I stand, not only with the sense
Of present pleasure, but with pleasing thoughts
That in this moment there is life and food
For future years. And so I dare to hope,
Though changed, no doubt, from what I was when first
I came among these hills; when like a roe
I bounded o'er the mountains, by the sides
Of the deep rivers, and the lonely streams,
Wherever nature led: more like a man
Flying from something that he dreads, than one
Who sought the thing he loved. For nature then
(The coarser pleasures of my boyish days
And their glad animal movements all gone by)
To me was all in all.—I cannot paint
What then I was. The sounding cataract
Haunted me like a passion: the tall rock,
The mountain, and the deep and gloomy wood,
Their colours and their forms, were then to me
An appetite; a feeling and a love,
That had no need of a remoter charm,
By thought supplied, not any interest
Unborrowed from the eye.—That time is past,
And all its aching joys are now no more,
And all its dizzy raptures. Not for this
Faint I, nor mourn nor murmur; other gifts
Have followed; for such loss, I would believe,
Abundant recompense. For I have learned
To look on nature, not as in the hour
Of thoughtless youth; but hearing oftentimes
The still sad music of humanity,
Nor harsh nor grating, though of ample power
To chasten and subdue.—And I have felt
A presence that disturbs me with the joy
Of elevated thoughts; a sense sublime
Of something far more deeply interfused,
Whose dwelling is the light of setting suns,
And the round ocean and the living air,
And the blue sky, and in the mind of man:
A motion and a spirit, that impels
All thinking things, all objects of all thought,
And rolls through all things. Therefore am I still
A lover of the meadows and the woods
And mountains; and of all that we behold
From this green earth; of all the mighty world
Of eye, and ear,—both what they half create,
And what perceive; well pleased to recognise
In nature and the language of the sense
The anchor of my purest thoughts, the nurse,
The guide, the guardian of my heart, and soul
Of all my moral being.

                                            Nor perchance,
If I were not thus taught, should I the more
Suffer my genial spirits to decay:
For thou art with me here upon the banks
Of this fair river; thou my dearest Friend,
My dear, dear Friend; and in thy voice I catch
The language of my former heart, and read
My former pleasures in the shooting lights
Of thy wild eyes. Oh! yet a little while
May I behold in thee what I was once,
My dear, dear Sister! and this prayer I make,
Knowing that Nature never did betray
The heart that loved her; 'tis her privilege,
Through all the years of this our life, to lead
From joy to joy: for she can so inform
The mind that is within us, so impress
With quietness and beauty, and so feed
With lofty thoughts, that neither evil tongues,
Rash judgments, nor the sneers of selfish men,
Nor greetings where no kindness is, nor all
The dreary intercourse of daily life,
Shall e'er prevail against us, or disturb
Our cheerful faith, that all which we behold
Is full of blessings. Therefore let the moon
Shine on thee in thy solitary walk;
And let the misty mountain-winds be free
To blow against thee: and, in after years,
When these wild ecstasies shall be matured
Into a sober pleasure; when thy mind
Shall be a mansion for all lovely forms,
Thy memory be as a dwelling-place
For all sweet sounds and harmonies; oh! then,
If solitude, or fear, or pain, or grief,
Should be thy portion, with what healing thoughts
Of tender joy wilt thou remember me,
And these my exhortations! Nor, perchance—
If I should be where I no more can hear
Thy voice, nor catch from thy wild eyes these gleams
Of past existence—wilt thou then forget
That on the banks of this delightful stream
We stood together; and that I, so long
A worshipper of Nature, hither came
Unwearied in that service: rather say
With warmer love—oh! with far deeper zeal
Of holier love. Nor wilt thou then forget,
That after many wanderings, many years
Of absence, these steep woods and lofty cliffs,
And this green pastoral landscape, were to me
More dear, both for themselves and for thy sake!




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Poem of the Day: I’m thankful that my life...
I’m thankful that my life doth not deceive
Itself with a low loftiness, half height,
And think it soars when still it dip its way
Beneath the clouds on noiseless pinion
Like the crow or owl, but it doth know
The full extent of all its trivialness,
Compared with the splendid heights above.
See how it waits to watch the mail come in
While ’hind its back the sun goes out perchance.
And yet their lumbering cart brings me no word,
Not one scrawled leaf such as my neighbors get
To cheer them with the slight events forsooth,
Faint ups and downs of their far distant friends—
And now ’tis passed. What next? See the long train
Of teams wreathed in dust, their atmosphere;
Shall I attend until the last is passed?
Else why these ears that hear the leader’s bells
Or eyes that link me in procession?
But hark! the drowsy day has done its task,
Far in yon hazy field where stands a barn,
Unanxious hens improve the sultry hour
And with contented voice now brag their deed—
A new laid egg—Now let the day decline—
They’ll lay another by tomorrow’s sun.





Source: Poets of the English Language (Viking Press, 1950)

Henry David Thoreau

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Poem of the Day: La Bestia / The Beast
A large plastic bag will keep you dry
during the heavy rain storms.
In Tapachula, you have a safe place to rest; ** 
it might be your last chance to call home.
You know there are killers and thieves
who are setting their traps along the way,
and when you are riding on top of it,
watch for the wasps living in the trees.
Don’t fall asleep inside it—you might disappear.
If you are exhausted, jump off and rest.
Follow its tracks until you feel it returning.
The faster it advances, the stronger its pull is.
Don't be fooled—at first it will lure you in
with its steady prowess, but it can slit
a leg off or two, so don't be fooled by its hum.
 
If you jump off, don't just stand there.
And don't run beside its belly either—
No, run away from the pounding. Run like
a ceiling is falling, like people are falling on you.
As for routes, go through Matamoros
for getting into Texas, and for California,
get to Tijuana, but if you cross Nogales
into Arizona, be very careful. You will find
discarded shoes and gutted suitcases in fields.
There are graveyards without names.
No one carries an ID. For others and you,
we give offerings to our clandestino priest
who was killed during the Cristero War. ***                                 
  
Always watch out for the white vans—they
are full of policemen. They drive very slow.
It takes up to six days to cross the desert.
Always carry plenty of water. Ranchers carry guns.
Everything has thorns. At first sight, think twice
before trusting even a good omen.

Juan Delgado, "La Bestia / The Beast." Copyright © 2017 Juan Delgado. Used by permission of the author for PoetryNow, a partnership between the Poetry Foundation and the WFMT Radio Network.

Source: PoetryNow(2017)

Juan Delgado

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Poem of the Day: In the Coma
My friend was in a coma, so I dove
Deep into his brain to word him back. I tried

To sing Hallelujah, I Just Love Her So in
Ray Charles’s voice. Of course the silence grew.

I couldn’t sing the alphabet song. My voice
Couldn’t say words I knew: Because I Could
Not Stop for Death, He Kindly Stopped for Me.

I couldn’t remember the Dodgers and the Giants.

I tried to tell the stories that he and I
Studied when we were young. It was confused,
The Invisible Man was laughing at how a man
Felt History jump out of his thick fair head
And beat him half to death, as being the nightmare
Out of which Isaac Babel tried to awake.

The quiet. Next time won’t you sing with me.
Those great diminished chords: A girl I know.

The cold of the coma, lightless. The ocean floor.

I struggled to tell things back from decades gone.
The mournful American soldier testifying
About My Lai: I shot the older lady.

Viola Liuzzo, Spiro Agnew, Jim Jones.

And by the time I count from one to four
I hear her knocking. Quiet of the deep,
Our mouths are open but we cannot sing.

Source: Poetry February 2016

Robert Pinsky

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Poem of the Day: Poem for My Love
How do we come to be here next to each other   
in the night
Where are the stars that show us to our love   
inevitable
Outside the leaves flame usual in darkness   
and the rain
falls cool and blessed on the holy flesh   
the black men waiting on the corner for   
a womanly mirage
I am amazed by peace
It is this possibility of you
asleep
and breathing in the quiet air

Reprinted from Directed by Desire: the Collected Poems of June Jordan (2005), edited by Jan Heller Levi and Sara Miles. Used by permission of Copper Canyon Press, coppercanyonpress.org.

Source: Directed by Desire: The Collected Poems of June Jordan(2005)

June Jordan

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Poem of the Day: Ars Poetica
A poem should be palpable and mute   
As a globed fruit,

Dumb
As old medallions to the thumb,

Silent as the sleeve-worn stone
Of casement ledges where the moss has grown—

A poem should be wordless   
As the flight of birds.

                         *               

A poem should be motionless in time   
As the moon climbs,

Leaving, as the moon releases
Twig by twig the night-entangled trees,

Leaving, as the moon behind the winter leaves,   
Memory by memory the mind—

A poem should be motionless in time   
As the moon climbs.

                         *               

A poem should be equal to:
Not true.

For all the history of grief
An empty doorway and a maple leaf.

For love
The leaning grasses and two lights above the sea—

A poem should not mean   
But be.




Archibald MacLeish, “Ars Poetica” from Collected Poems 1917-1982. Copyright © 1985 by The Estate of Archibald MacLeish. Reprinted with the permission of Houghton Mifflin Company. All rights reserved.

Source: Poetry June 1926

Archibald MacLeish

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Poem of the Day: Being Muslim
O father bringing home crates
of apples, bushels of corn,
and skinned rabbits on ice.
 
O mother boiling lentils in a pot
while he watched fight after fight,
boxers pinned on the ropes
 
pummeling each other mercilessly.
And hung on the wall where we
ate breakfast an autographed photo
 
of Muhammad Ali. O father
who worshipped him and with
a clenched fist pretended to be:
 
Float like a butterfly, sting like a bee.
O you loved being Muslim then.
Even when you drank whiskey.
 
Even when you knocked down
my mother again and again.
O prayer. O god of sun.
 
God of moon. Of cows
and of thunder. Of women.
Of bees. Of ants and spiders,
 
poets and calamity.
God of the pen, of the fig,
of the elephant.
 
Ta’ Ha’, Ya Sin, Sad, Qaf.
God of my father, listen:
He prayed, he prayed, five times a day,
 
and he was mean.

Hayan Charara, "Being Muslim" from Something Sinister.  Copyright © 2016 by Hayan Charara.  Reprinted by permission of Carnegie Mellon University Press.

Source: Something Sinister(Carnegie Mellon University Press, 2016)

Hayan Charara

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Poem of the Day: John Lennon
The music was already turning sad,
      those fresh-faced voices singing in a round
            the lie that time could set its needle back

and play from the beginning. Had you lived
      to eighty, as you’d wished, who knows?—you might
            have broken from the circle of that past

more ours than yours. Never even sure
      which was the truest color for your hair
            (it changed with each photographer), we claimed

you for ourselves; called you John and named
      the day you left us (spun out like a reel—
            the last broadcast to prove you’d lived at all)

an end to hope itself. It isn’t true,
      and worse, does you no justice if we call
            your death the death of anything but you.


II

It put you in the headlines once again:
      years after you’d left the band, you joined
            another—of those whose lives, in breaking, link

all memory with their end. The studio
      of history can tamper with you now,
            as if there’d always been a single track

chance traveled on, and your discordant voice
      had led us to the final violence.
            Yet like the times when I, a star-crossed fan,

had catalogued your favorite foods, your views
      on monarchy and war, and gaily clipped
            your quips and daily antics from the news,

I keep a loving record of your death.
      All the evidence is in—of what,
            and to what end, it’s hard to figure out,

riddles you might have beat into a song.
      A younger face of yours, a cover shot,
            peered from all the newsstands as if proof

of some noteworthy thing you’d newly done.

Mary Jo Salter, “John Lennon” from Henry Purcell in Japan (New York: Alfred A. Knopf, 1984). Copyright © 1984 by Mary Jo Salter. Reprinted with the permission of the author.

Source: Henry Purcell in Japan(1984)

Mary Jo Salter

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Poem of the Day: Because I Will Be Silenced
Once I have the freedom to say
my tongue will lose its power.
Since my poems strive to break the walls
that cut off people’s voices,
they become drills and hammers.
 
But I will be silenced.
The starred tie around my neck
at any moment can tighten into a cobra.
 
How can I speak about coffee and flowers?
 

Ha Jin, "Because I Will be Silenced" from Between Silences.  Copyright © 1990 by Ha Jin.  Reprinted by permission of The University of Chicago Press.

Source: Between Silences(The University of Chicago Press, 1990)

Ha Jin

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Poem of the Day: Fourth of July
Freedom is a rocket,
isn’t it, bursting
orgasmically over
parkloads of hot
dog devouring
human beings
or into the cities
of our enemies
without whom we
would surely
kill ourselves
though they are
ourselves and
America I see now
is the soldier
who said I saw
something
burning on my
chest and tried
to brush it off with
my right hand
but my arm
wasn’t there—
America is no
other than this
moment, the
burning ribcage,
the hand gone
that might have
put it out, the skies
afire with our history.

John Brehm, “Fourth of July” from Help Is on the Way. Copyright © 2012 by John Brehm. Reprinted by permission of The University of Wisconsin Press.

Source: Help Is on the Way(University of Wisconsin Press, 2012)

John Brehm

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Poem of the Day: Gettysburg: July 1, 1863
The young man, hardly more
than a boy, who fired the shot
had looked at him with an air
not of anger but of concentration,
as if he were surveying a road,
or feeding a length of wood into a saw:
It had to be done just so.

The bullet passed through
his upper chest, below the collar bone.
The pain was not what he might
have feared. Strangely exhilarated
he staggered out of the pasture
and into a grove of trees.

He pressed and pressed
the wound, trying to stanch
the blood, but he could only press
what he could reach, and he could
not reach his back, where the bullet
had exited.
                     He lay on the earth
smelling the leaves and mosses,
musty and damp and cool
after the blaze of open afternoon.

How good the earth smelled,
as it had when he was a boy
hiding from his father,
who was intent of strapping him
for doing his chores
late one time too many.

A cowbird razzed from a rail fence.
It isn't mockery, he thought,
no malice in it. . . just a noise.
Stray bullets nicked the oaks
overhead. Leaves and splinters fell.

Someone near him groaned.
But it was his own voice he heard.
His fingers and feet tingled,
the roof of his mouth,
and the bridge of his nose. . . .

He became dry, dry, and thought
of Christ, who said, I thirst.
His man-smell, the smell of his hair
and skin, his sweat, the salt smell
of his cock and the little ferny hairs
that two women had known

left him, and a sharp, almost sweet
smell began to rise from his open mouth
in the warm shade of the oaks.
A streak of sun climbed the rough
trunk of a tree, but he did not
see it with his open eye.

“Gettysburg: July 1, 1863” © 2007 the Estate of Jane Kenyon. Reprinted from Collected Poems with the permission of Graywolf Press, Saint Paul, Minnesota. www.graywolfpress.org

Source: Collected Poems(Graywolf Press, 2007)

Jane Kenyon

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Poem of the Day: How to Spend a Birthday
Light a match. Watch the blue part

                                                             flare like a shocked piñata

                                            from the beating
                                            into the sky,

                                                             watch how fast thin

wood burns & turns toward the skin,

the olive-orange skin of your thumb
 
                                                             & let it burn, too.

Light a fire. Drown out the singing cats.

Let the drunken mariachis blaze their way,

streaking like crazed hyenas

over a brown hill, just underneath

a perfect birthday moon.

Lee Herrick, "How to Spend a Birthday" from The Many Miles from Desire. Copyright © 2007 by Lee Herrick, published by WordTech Communications LLC.  Reprinted by permission of Lee Herrick.

Source: The Many Miles from Desire(WordTech Communications, 2007)

Lee Herrick

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Poem of the Day: O, Chicago, O'Hare
One among the shifting mass
   of humanity intent
on countless destinations,
   one hungry stomach
 
and dry mouth among many,
   one brain dazed
by the speed and altitude
   of flights unnatural
 
to any animal, by herding,
   followed by waiting
succeeded by rushing,
   waiting, herding—
 
and more flight
   incomprehensible
to any body contained
   in this seemingly unwieldy
 
mass of metal lifting
   improbably over Chicago,
where a misty orange aura
   hovers over the city’s
 
brighter lights, as if
   its soul sought ascension
it could only attempt,
   as if the aura
 
might break free
   and follow us,
wherever we might fly,
   wheresoever we may rest—
 
one with the multitude
   of humans en route
through mystery,
   to mystery.
 

April Ossmann, "O, Chicago, O’Hare" from Event Boundaries.  Copyright © 2017 by April Ossmann.  Reprinted by permission of Four Way Books, www.fourwaybooks.com.

Source: Event Boundaries(Four Way Books, 2017)

April Ossmann

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Poem of the Day: At the Three Fountains
Here, where God lives among the trees,
   Where birds and monks the whole day sing
His praises in a pleasant ease,

O heart, might we not find a home
   Here, after all our wandering?
These gates are closed, even on Rome.

Souls of the twilight wander here;
   Here, in the garden of that death
Which was for love's sake, need we fear

How sharp with bitter joy might be
   Love's lingering, last, longed-for breath,
Shut in upon eternity?

Source: Poetry May 1917

Arthur Symons

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Poem of the Day: The Elements
You must do battle with Eros       I am
more worried about space, pressed for details
collapsed in chaos with my sword holding up the sky the
girl said. They cared not for love lying ever that they loved
But I your leader wounded in gender and bleeding
for Eros fought it away from my true beginning as now.

Always climbing that hill in several ways.
One goes past the Baptist Church and through the ugly
trees, houses I only visualize in dreams
you have no right to pursue me to my origins man
as bipolar as the one candidate, forgettable
as the other. We once lived in a postwar barracks blue
heated by a black stove of assumptions
Eros a youth admits no equal; Aphrodite the slut;
Chaos is whom I admire that keeps forgetting
love in favor of this terrible mixity I am
for example ... these poems. Out of the pre-beginning

a different beauty. They want you to confess
something like in church, that a man will
save you. But I am your leader savior and poet
I am your general out of the desert thee
most ardent void precursor of love
Eros approaches again not the man but quality
sculpted genitals arush with the words
of unreason: I will never die. Which I is I
if I can remain chaotic I’ll tell you who you are

that you’ve never anticipated, but know
the only one. Without a thing. To be is not
to have; nor to belong; nor to have been born.
You are not the child of earth. Beauty still thy name.



Source: Poetry July/August 2015

Alice Notley

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