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Poem of the Day: A Dog Has Died
My dog has died.
I buried him in the garden
next to a rusted old machine.

Some day I'll join him right there,
but now he's gone with his shaggy coat,
his bad manners and his cold nose,
and I, the materialist, who never believed
in any promised heaven in the sky
for any human being,
I believe in a heaven I'll never enter.
Yes, I believe in a heaven for all dogdom
where my dog waits for my arrival
waving his fan-like tail in friendship.

Ai, I'll not speak of sadness here on earth,
of having lost a companion
who was never servile.
His friendship for me, like that of a porcupine
withholding its authority,
was the friendship of a star, aloof,
with no more intimacy than was called for,
with no exaggerations:
he never climbed all over my clothes
filling me full of his hair or his mange,
he never rubbed up against my knee
like other dogs obsessed with sex.

No, my dog used to gaze at me,
paying me the attention I need,
the attention required
to make a vain person like me understand
that, being a dog, he was wasting time,
but, with those eyes so much purer than mine,
he'd keep on gazing at me
with a look that reserved for me alone
all his sweet and shaggy life,
always near me, never troubling me,
and asking nothing.

Ai, how many times have I envied his tail
as we walked together on the shores of the sea
in the lonely winter of Isla Negra
where the wintering birds filled the sky
and my hairy dog was jumping about
full of the voltage of the sea's movement:
my wandering dog, sniffing away
with his golden tail held high,
face to face with the ocean's spray.

Joyful, joyful, joyful,
as only dogs know how to be happy
with only the autonomy
of their shameless spirit.

There are no good-byes for my dog who has died,
and we don't now and never did lie to each other.

So now he's gone and I buried him,
and that's all there is to it.

Source: Poetry February 1999

Pablo Neruda

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Poem of the Day: To Those Who Have Lost...
in despair
many deserts
full of hope

their empty
fists of sorrow

a bitter night
of shovels
and nails

“you’re nothing
you’re shit
your home’s

will speak
for you

will flesh
your bones

green again
among ashes
after a long fire

started in
a fantasy island
some time ago

into aliens

Francisco X. Alarcón, “To Those Who Have Lost Everything” from From the Other Side of Night/Del otro lado de la noche. Copyright © 2002 by Francisco X. Alarcón. Reprinted by permission of University of Arizona Press.

Source: From the Other Side of Night/Del otro lado de la noche(University of Arizona Press, 2002)

Francisco X. Alarcón

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Poem of the Day: End of Summer
An agitation of the air,
A perturbation of the light
Admonished me the unloved year
Would turn on its hinge that night.
I stood in the disenchanted field
Amid the stubble and the stones,
Amazed, while a small worm lisped to me
The song of my marrow-bones.
Blue poured into summer blue,
A hawk broke from his cloudless tower,
The roof of the silo blazed, and I knew
That part of my life was over.
Already the iron door of the north
Clangs open: birds, leaves, snows
Order their populations forth,
And a cruel wind blows.

Stanley Kunitz, "End of Summer" from The Collected Poems of Stanley Kunitz. Copyright © 1953 by Stanley Kunitz.  Reprinted by permission of W. W. Norton & Company, Inc.

Source: The Collected Poems of Stanley Kunitz(W. W. Norton and Company, Inc., 2002)

Stanley Kunitz

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Poem of the Day: The New Year
Not while the snow-shroud round dead earth is rolled,
And naked branches point to frozen skies.—
When orchards burn their lamps of fiery gold,
The grape glows like a jewel, and the corn
A sea of beauty and abundance lies,
Then the new year is born.

Look where the mother of the months uplifts
In the green clearness of the unsunned West,
Her ivory horn of plenty, dropping gifts,
Cool, harvest-feeding dews, fine-winnowed light;
Tired labor with fruition, joy and rest
Profusely to requite.

Blow, Israel, the sacred cornet! Call
Back to thy courts whatever faint heart throb
With thine ancestral blood, thy need craves all.
The red, dark year is dead, the year just born
Leads on from anguish wrought by priest and mob,
To what undreamed-of morn?

For never yet, since on the holy height,
The Temple’s marble walls of white and green
Carved like the sea-waves, fell, and the world’s light
Went out in darkness,—never was the year
Greater with portent and with promise seen,
Than this eve now and here.

Even as the Prophet promised, so your tent
Hath been enlarged unto earth’s farthest rim.
To snow-capped Sierras from vast steppes ye went,
Through fire and blood and tempest-tossing wave,
For freedom to proclaim and worship Him,
Mighty to slay and save.

High above flood and fire ye held the scroll,
Out of the depths ye published still the Word.
No bodily pang had power to swerve your soul:
Ye, in a cynic age of crumbling faiths,
Lived to bear witness to the living Lord,
Or died a thousand deaths.

In two divided streams the exiles part,
One rolling homeward to its ancient source,
One rushing sunward with fresh will, new heart.
By each the truth is spread, the law unfurled,
Each separate soul contains the nation’s force,
And both embrace the world.

Kindle the silver candle’s seven rays,
Offer the first fruits of the clustered bowers,
The garnered spoil of bees. With prayer and praise
Rejoice that once more tried, once more we prove
How strength of supreme suffering still is ours
For Truth and Law and Love.

Source: Emma Lazarus: Selected Poems and Other Writings(2002)

Emma Lazarus

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Poem of the Day: September Tomatoes
The whiskey stink of rot has settled
in the garden, and a burst of fruit flies rises
when I touch the dying tomato plants.

Still, the claws of tiny yellow blossoms
flail in the air as I pull the vines up by the roots
and toss them in the compost.

It feels cruel. Something in me isn’t ready
to let go of summer so easily. To destroy
what I’ve carefully cultivated all these months.
Those pale flowers might still have time to fruit.

My great-grandmother sang with the girls of her village
as they pulled the flax. Songs so old
and so tied to the season that the very sound
seemed to turn the weather.

Poem copyright © 2013 by Karina Borowicz, whose most recent book of poems is Proof (Codhill Press, 2014). Poem first appeared in the journal ECOTONE and is reprinted by permission of Karina Borowicz and the publisher

Karina Borowicz

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Poem of the Day: One El Paso, Two El Paso
Awake in the desert to the sound of calling.
Must be the mountain, I thought.

The violent border, I assumed, though the boundary
line between the living and the dead was erased years ago.

Awake in the sand, I feared, old shoes decorated with
razor wire, a heaven of light on the peaks.

Must be time to get up, I assumed. Parked outside,
Border Patrol vehicles, I had to choose.

Awake to follow immigration shadows vanishing inside
American walls, river drownings counted as they cross,

Maria Salinas' body dragged out, her mud costume
pasted with plastic bottles and crushed beer cans,

black water flowing to bless her in her sleep.
Must be the roar of illegal death, I decided,

a way out of the current, though satellite maps never
show the brown veins of the concrete channel.

Awake in the arroyo of a mushroom cloud, I choke,
1945 explosion in the sand, eternal radioactive wind,

the end of one war mutating the border into another
that also requires fatal skills of young men because few

dream the atomic bomb gave birth in the Jornado,
historic trail behind the mountain realigned, then cut

off from El Paso, the town surrounded with barbed
wire, the new century kissing car bombs, drug cartels,

massacres across the river, hundreds shot in ambushes
and neighborhood soccer games that always score.

Wake up, I thought, look south to the last cathedral
in Juarez before its exploding bricks hurtle this way.

Make the sign of the cross, open your eyes to one town,
two cities, five centuries of praying in the beautiful dust.

Ray Gonzalez, "One El Paso, Two El Paso" from Beautiful Wall. Copyright © 2015 by Ray Gonzalez.  Reprinted by permission of BOA Editions, Ltd. .

Source: Beautiful Wall(BOA Editions Ltd., 2015)

Ray Gonzalez

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Poem of the Day: The God Who Loves You
It must be troubling for the god who loves you   
To ponder how much happier you’d be today   
Had you been able to glimpse your many futures.
It must be painful for him to watch you on Friday evenings   
Driving home from the office, content with your week—
Three fine houses sold to deserving families—
Knowing as he does exactly what would have happened   
Had you gone to your second choice for college,   
Knowing the roommate you’d have been allotted   
Whose ardent opinions on painting and music   
Would have kindled in you a lifelong passion.   
A life thirty points above the life you’re living   
On any scale of satisfaction. And every point   
A thorn in the side of the god who loves you.   
You don’t want that, a large-souled man like you
Who tries to withhold from your wife the day’s disappointments   
So she can save her empathy for the children.   
And would you want this god to compare your wife   
With the woman you were destined to meet on the other campus?   
It hurts you to think of him ranking the conversation   
You’d have enjoyed over there higher in insight   
Than the conversation you’re used to.
And think how this loving god would feel   
Knowing that the man next in line for your wife   
Would have pleased her more than you ever will   
Even on your best days, when you really try.   
Can you sleep at night believing a god like that
Is pacing his cloudy bedroom, harassed by alternatives   
You’re spared by ignorance? The difference between what is
And what could have been will remain alive for him   
Even after you cease existing, after you catch a chill   
Running out in the snow for the morning paper,
Losing eleven years that the god who loves you   
Will feel compelled to imagine scene by scene   
Unless you come to the rescue by imagining him   
No wiser than you are, no god at all, only a friend   
No closer than the actual friend you made at college,
The one you haven’t written in months. Sit down tonight   
And write him about the life you can talk about   
With a claim to authority, the life you’ve witnessed,   
Which for all you know is the life you’ve chosen.

Carl Dennis, “The God Who Loves You” from Practical Gods. Copyright © 2001 by Carl Dennis. Reprinted with the permission of Viking Penguin, a division of Penguin Group (USA) Inc. For online information about other Penguin Group (USA) books and authors, see www.penguin.com.

Source: New and Selected Poems, 1974-2004(Penguin Books, 2004)

Carl Dennis

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Poem of the Day: Song
You shout my name
from beyond my dreams,
beyond the picture window
of this Rosarito beach house.
Rushing from bed to shore
I glimpse their backs—
volcanoes rising out of the sea.
Your back, a blue-black silhouette,
feet wet with the wash of morning waves.
Fountains spring from mammal minds,
my hands lifting a splash of sand.
I'm on my knees,
toes finding a cool prayer
beneath them, fingers pressing
sea foam to my temples,
while you open arms wide as a generation,
raise them to a compass point,
If you could reach them,
you would ride their fins
under the horizon,
then surf the crash of waves
left in their wake.
And if I could grasp
my own fear,
I'd drown it,
leave it breathless and blue
as this ocean,
as the brilliant backs
of whales
for air.

"Song" by Brenda Cárdenas, published in The Wind Shifts: New Latino Poetry by University of Arizona Press. Copyright 2007 by Brenda Cárdenas. Reprinted by permission of the author.

Source: The Wind Shifts: New Latino Poetry(The University of Arizona Press, 2007)

Brenda Cárdenas

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Poem of the Day: Subway Wind
Far down, down through the city’s great gaunt gut
      The gray train rushing bears the weary wind;
In the packed cars the fans the crowd’s breath cut,
      Leaving the sick and heavy air behind.
And pale-cheeked children seek the upper door
      To give their summer jackets to the breeze;
Their laugh is swallowed in the deafening roar
      Of captive wind that moans for fields and seas;
Seas cooling warm where native schooners drift
      Through sleepy waters, while gulls wheel and sweep,
Waiting for windy waves the keels to lift
      Lightly among the islands of the deep;
Islands of lofty palm trees blooming white
      That led their perfume to the tropic sea,
Where fields lie idle in the dew-drenched night,
      And the Trades float above them fresh and free.

Claude McKay, “Subway Wind” from Claude McKay: Complete Poems. Published by University of Illinois Press. Copyright © 2004 by Claude McKay. Courtesy of the Literary Representative for the Works of Claude McKay, Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture, The New York Public Library, Astor, Lenox and Tilden Foundations.

Source: Claude McKay: Complete Poems(University of Illinois Press, 2004)

Claude McKay

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Poem of the Day: The Darkling Thrush
I leant upon a coppice gate
      When Frost was spectre-grey,
And Winter's dregs made desolate
      The weakening eye of day.
The tangled bine-stems scored the sky
      Like strings of broken lyres,
And all mankind that haunted nigh
      Had sought their household fires.

The land's sharp features seemed to be
      The Century's corpse outleant,
His crypt the cloudy canopy,
      The wind his death-lament.
The ancient pulse of germ and birth
      Was shrunken hard and dry,
And every spirit upon earth
      Seemed fervourless as I.

At once a voice arose among
      The bleak twigs overhead
In a full-hearted evensong
      Of joy illimited;
An aged thrush, frail, gaunt, and small,
      In blast-beruffled plume,
Had chosen thus to fling his soul
      Upon the growing gloom.

So little cause for carolings
      Of such ecstatic sound
Was written on terrestrial things
      Afar or nigh around,
That I could think there trembled through
      His happy good-night air
Some blessed Hope, whereof he knew
      And I was unaware.

Poem of the Day: Tonight

Where are you now? Who lies beneath your spell tonight?
Whom else from rapture’s road will you expel tonight?

Those “Fabrics of Cashmere—” “to make Me beautiful—”
“Trinket”—to gem—“Me to adorn—How tell”—tonight?

I beg for haven: Prisons, let open your gates—
A refugee from Belief seeks a cell tonight.

God’s vintage loneliness has turned to vinegar—
All the archangels—their wings frozen—fell tonight.

Lord, cried out the idols, Don’t let us be broken;
Only we can convert the infidel tonight.

Mughal ceilings, let your mirrored convexities
multiply me at once under your spell tonight.

He’s freed some fire from ice in pity for Heaven.
He’s left open—for God—the doors of Hell tonight.

In the heart’s veined temple, all statues have been smashed.
No priest in saffron’s left to toll its knell tonight.

God, limit these punishments, there’s still Judgment Day—
I’m a mere sinner, I’m no infidel tonight.

Executioners near the woman at the window.
Damn you, Elijah, I’ll bless Jezebel tonight.

The hunt is over, and I hear the Call to Prayer
fade into that of the wounded gazelle tonight.

My rivals for your love—you’ve invited them all?
This is mere insult, this is no farewell tonight.

And I, Shahid, only am escaped to tell thee
God sobs in my arms. Call me Ishmael tonight.
“Tonight" from Call Me Ishmael Tonight: A Book of Ghazals by Agha Shahid Ali. Copyright © 2003 by Agha Shahid Ali Literary Trust. Used by permission of W.W. Norton & Company, Inc.

Source: Call Me Ishmael Tonight: A Book of Ghazals(W. W. Norton and Company Inc., 2003)

Agha Shahid Ali

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Poem of the Day: Darkness Starts
A shadow in the shape of a house
slides out of a house
and loses its shape on the lawn.

Trees seek each other
as the wind within them dies.

Darkness starts inside of things
but keeps on going when the things are gone.

Barefoot careless in the farthest parts of the yard
children become their cries.

Christian Wiman, "Darkness Starts" from Hard Night. Copyright © 2005 by Christian Wiman.  Reprinted by permission of Copper Canyon Press.

Source: Hard Night(Copper Canyon Press, 2005)

Christian Wiman

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Poem of the Day: Alabanza: In Praise of Local 100
Alabanza. Praise the cook with a shaven head   
and a tattoo on his shoulder that said Oye,   
a blue-eyed Puerto Rican with people from Fajardo,   
the harbor of pirates centuries ago.   
Praise the lighthouse in Fajardo, candle   
glimmering white to worship the dark saint of the sea.   
Alabanza. Praise the cook’s yellow Pirates cap   
worn in the name of Roberto Clemente, his plane   
that flamed into the ocean loaded with cans for Nicaragua,   
for all the mouths chewing the ash of earthquakes.   
Alabanza. Praise the kitchen radio, dial clicked   
even before the dial on the oven, so that music and Spanish   
rose before bread. Praise the bread. Alabanza.

Praise Manhattan from a hundred and seven flights up,   
like Atlantis glimpsed through the windows of an ancient aquarium.   
Praise the great windows where immigrants from the kitchen   
could squint and almost see their world, hear the chant of nations:   
Ecuador, México, Republica Dominicana,   
Haiti, Yemen, Ghana, Bangladesh.   
Alabanza. Praise the kitchen in the morning,   
where the gas burned blue on every stove   
and exhaust fans fired their diminutive propellers,   
hands cracked eggs with quick thumbs   
or sliced open cartons to build an altar of cans.   
Alabanza. Praise the busboy’s music, the chime-chime
of his dishes and silverware in the tub.   

Alabanza. Praise the dish-dog, the dishwasher   
who worked that morning because another dishwasher   
could not stop coughing, or because he needed overtime   
to pile the sacks of rice and beans for a family   
floating away on some Caribbean island plagued by frogs.   
Alabanza. Praise the waitress who heard the radio in the kitchen
and sang to herself about a man gone. Alabanza.   

After the thunder wilder than thunder,   
after the shudder deep in the glass of the great windows,   
after the radio stopped singing like a tree full of terrified frogs,   
after night burst the dam of day and flooded the kitchen,   
for a time the stoves glowed in darkness like the lighthouse in Fajardo,
like a cook’s soul. Soul I say, even if the dead cannot tell us   
about the bristles of God’s beard because God has no face,   
soul I say, to name the smoke-beings flung in constellations   
across the night sky of this city and cities to come.   
Alabanza I say, even if God has no face.   

Alabanza. When the war began, from Manhattan and Kabul   
two constellations of smoke rose and drifted to each other,   
mingling in icy air, and one said with an Afghan tongue:   
Teach me to dance. We have no music here.
And the other said with a Spanish tongue:   
I will teach you. Music is all we have.
Martín Espada, “Alabanza: In Praise of Local 100” from New and Selected Poems. Copyright © 2003 by Martín Espada. Reprinted with the permission of W. W. Norton & Company, Inc. This selection may not be reproduced, stored in a retrieval system, or transmitted in any form or by any means without the prior written permission of the publisher.

Source: New and Selected Poems(W. W. Norton and Company Inc., 2003)

Martín Espada

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Poem of the Day: Autumn

What is sometimes called a   
   tongue of flame
or an arm extended burning   
   is only the long
red and orange branch of   
   a green maple
in early September   reaching
   into the greenest field
out of the green woods   at the
   edge of which the birch trees   
appear a little tattered   tired
   of sustaining delicacy
all through the hot summer   re-
   minding everyone (in   
our family) of a Russian
   song   a story
by Chekhov   or my father


What is sometimes called a   
   tongue of flame
or an arm extended   burning
   is only the long
red and orange branch of
   a green maple
in early September   reaching   
   into the greenest field
out of the green woods   at the   
   edge of which the birch trees
appear a little tattered   tired
   of sustaining delicacy
all through the hot summer   re-
   minding everyone (in   
our family) of a Russian
   song   a story by
Chekhov or my father on
   his own lawn   standing   
beside his own wood in
   the United States of   
America   saying (in Russian)
   this birch is a lovely
tree   but among the others
   somehow superficial

Grace Paley, “Autumn” from Long Walks and Intimate Talks by Grace Paley and Vera B. Williams. Copyright © 1991 by Grace Paley. Reprinted with the permission of The Feminist Press at the City University of New York, www.feministpress.org.

Source: Begin Again: The Collected Poems of Grace Paley(The Feminist Press, 1999)

Grace Paley

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Poem of the Day: September 9
It’s turneresque in twilight. The word comes at me
with its headlights on, so it’s revelation and not death.
I figure I’m halfway home though I’ve only started.
Nothing is moving but me: I’m a blackbird. The neigh-
bor’s in labor, but so am I, pushing against the road.
Physics tells us nothing is lost, but I’ve been copping
time from death and can’t relent for every job the stars
drop on my back.

Elizabeth Willis, "September 9" from Turneresque.  Copyright © 2003 by Elizabeth Willis.  Reprinted by permission of Burning Deck Press.

Source: Alive: New and Selected Poems(New York Review Books, 2015)

Elizabeth Willis

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Poem of the Day: Rosa Parks
This is for the Pullman Porters who organized when people said
they couldn’t. And carried the Pittsburgh Courier and the Chicago
Defender to the Black Americans in the South so they would
know they were not alone. This is for the Pullman Porters who
helped Thurgood Marshall go south and come back north to fight
the fight that resulted in Brown v. Board of Education because
even though Kansas is west and even though Topeka is the birth-
place of Gwendolyn Brooks, who wrote the powerful “The
Chicago Defender Sends a Man to Little Rock,” it was the
Pullman Porters who whispered to the traveling men both
the Blues Men and the “Race” Men so that they both would
know what was going on. This is for the Pullman Porters who
smiled as if they were happy and laughed like they were tickled
when some folks were around and who silently rejoiced in 1954
when the Supreme Court announced its 9—0 decision that “sepa-
rate is inherently unequal.” This is for the Pullman Porters who
smiled and welcomed a fourteen-year-old boy onto their train in
1955. They noticed his slight limp that he tried to disguise with a
doo-wop walk; they noticed his stutter and probably understood
why his mother wanted him out of Chicago during the summer
when school was out. Fourteen-year-old Black boys with limps
and stutters are apt to try to prove themselves in dangerous ways
when mothers aren’t around to look after them. So this is for the
Pullman Porters who looked over that fourteen-year-old while
the train rolled the reverse of the Blues Highway from Chicago to
St. Louis to Memphis to Mississippi. This is for the men who kept
him safe; and if Emmett Till had been able to stay on a train all
summer he would have maybe grown a bit of a paunch, certainly
lost his hair, probably have worn bifocals and bounced his grand-
children on his knee telling them about his summer riding the
rails. But he had to get off the train. And ended up in Money,
Mississippi. And was horribly, brutally, inexcusably, and unac-
ceptably murdered. This is for the Pullman Porters who, when the
sheriff was trying to get the body secretly buried, got Emmett’s
body on the northbound train, got his body home to Chicago,
where his mother said: I want the world to see what they did
to my boy. And this is for all the mothers who cried. And this is
for all the people who said Never Again. And this is about Rosa
Parks whose feet were not so tired, it had been, after all, an ordi-
nary day, until the bus driver gave her the opportunity to make
history. This is about Mrs. Rosa Parks from Tuskegee, Alabama,
who was also the field secretary of the NAACP. This is about the
moment Rosa Parks shouldered her cross, put her worldly goods
aside, was willing to sacrifice her life, so that that young man in
Money, Mississippi, who had been so well protected by the
Pullman Porters, would not have died in vain. When Mrs. Parks
said “NO” a passionate movement was begun. No longer would
there be a reliance on the law; there was a higher law. When Mrs.
Parks brought that light of hers to expose the evil of the system,
the sun came and rested on her shoulders bringing the heat and
the light of truth. Others would follow Mrs. Parks. Four young
men in Greensboro, North Carolina, would also say No. Great
voices would be raised singing the praises of God and exhorting
us “to forgive those who trespass against us.” But it was the
Pullman Porters who safely got Emmett to his granduncle and it
was Mrs. Rosa Parks who could not stand that death. And in not
being able to stand it. She sat back down.
Nikki Giovanni, "Rosa Parks" from Quilting the Black-Eyed Pea.  Copyright © 2002 by Nikki Giovanni.  Reprinted by permission of HarperCollins Publishers Inc..

Source: Quilting the Black-Eyed Pea(HaperCollins Publishers, 2002)

Nikki Giovanni

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Poem of the Day: from Lessons From Television
You must laugh at yourself, laugh and laugh.
Music swells the emotions;
music exists to punctuate seeing.
Emotion, therefore, is punctuation.

Formless, freedom resembles abasement.
Abasement is as infinite as desire.
You must laugh at yourself, laugh and laugh.

Those who are not demons are saints.
You are not a demon or a saint.

Women are small and want something,
so laugh at yourself, laugh and laugh.

Bed are sites of abasement.
The news is about the news.

Faces in close-up are always in anguish.
Hair and teeth are clues to class.

Clothes are changing,
hanging up or down
And change itself is a laugh.

Cause can’t be figured
and consequence is yet to come.

You’re either awake or asleep
and that, too, is a clue to class.

Children are never with groups of children
unless they are singing in chorus.

Their mothers cannot do enough,
though there’s always room for improvement.

And improvement lies in progress,
though collapsing is good for a laugh.

Saints will turn to the worse.
Demons die if they can be found.

Nature is combat, weather is sublime.
Even weather can make you laugh.

People you don’t know are louder than you are,
but what is far away cannot harm you—

Books are objects, families are inspiring.
Animals protect their young;
the young come with the territory.

English is the only language.
Reading is an occasion for interruption,
and interruption is a kind of laugh.

Something is bound to get better.
And there is a pill with your name on it.

When indoors, stick with your own race—
that way you’ll feel free to laugh.

Strangers are paying attention to your smell.
A camera will light like a moth on disaster.
Pity will turn to irony.

The street is a dark and frightful place.
Fires are daily.

Your car is your face.

You must laugh at yourself, laugh and laugh.

Susan Stewart, “Lessons from Television” from Columbarium (Chicago: The University of Chicago Press, 2003). Copyright © 2003 by the University of Chicago. Reprinted with the permission of the author.

Source: Columbarium(The University of Chicago Press, 2003)

Susan Stewart

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Poem of the Day: The Poor
The poor are many
and so—
impossible to forget.

No doubt,
as day breaks,
they see the buildings
where they wish
they could live with their children.

can steady the coffin
of a constellation on their shoulders.
They can wreck
the air like furious birds,
blocking out the sun.

But not knowing these gifts,
they enter and exit through mirrors of blood,
walking and dying slowly.

And so,
one cannot forget them.

Source: Poetry March 2012

Roberto Sosa

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Poem of the Day: How to Continue
Oh there once was a woman
and she kept a shop
selling trinkets to tourists
not far from a dock
who came to see what life could be
far back on the island.

And it was always a party there
always different but very nice
New friends to give you advice
or fall in love with you which is nice
and each grew so perfectly from the other
it was a marvel of poetry
and irony

And in this unsafe quarter
much was scary and dirty
but no one seemed to mind
very much
the parties went on from house to house
There were friends and lovers galore
all around the store
There was moonshine in winter
and starshine in summer
and everybody was happy to have discovered
what they discovered

And then one day the ship sailed away
There were no more dreamers just sleepers
in heavy attitudes on the dock
moving as if they knew how
among the trinkets and the souvenirs
the random shops of modern furniture
and a gale came and said
it is time to take all of you away
from the tops of the trees to the little houses
on little paths so startled

And when it became time to go
they none of them would leave without the other
for they said we are all one here
and if one of us goes the other will not go
and the wind whispered it to the stars
the people all got up to go
and looked back on love

John Ashbery, “How to Continue” from Notes from the Air: Selected Later Poems. Copyright © 2007 by John Ashbery. Reprinted with the permission of Georges Borchardt, Inc. on behalf of the author.

Source: Notes from the Air: Selected Later Poems(The Ecco Press, 2007)

John Ashbery

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Poem of the Day: Labor Day
So I say to my friend at the day job
“We are bored sometimes, and scented like realtors
but if everyone’s equally disconsolate
under labor’s gooey caul
then nuance can be stitched more vividly
to secrets lodged inside of everyone
until it becomes your own country
with highways that carry you silently past the jetty
which, from their heavy drinking, the case managers come out to
failing to be stable and badly attempting to sing”

We’re pushing our barques past the mansions
as I say this, near the dwellings of persons
whose lives have no mooring
outside the slow fact of our passing—
huddled arrogantly under their air-conditioning
they want us to be users
moved by advertisers
enticing the constituency
to join them and sit there and weep

But we’re too busy pulling
toward centers where workers assemble.
While time for them is a melody
played at long intervals across condominiums
we who are the power
know our systems so much better
now come to this hour outside it
now give it new form on guitar

Rodney Koeneke, “Labor Day” from Etruria. Copyright © 2014 by Rodney Koeneke. Reprinted by permission of Wave Books.

Source: Etruria(Wave Books, 2014)

Rodney Koeneke

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Poem of the Day: Ships
I’m religious.
As religious as the wind or scissors.
It’s an ant, she’s religious, the flowers are red.
I don’t want to die. I don’t care if I die now.
I’m more religious than the dust in the desert.
The mouth of a child is round. My eyes are
syrup, dripping cold.
Sometimes I think I baked nettles, but
I didn’t. Sometimes I think I’m miserable, but
I’m not.
I’m religious.
I will throw a barrel into the river.
If bees rushed into my face, I’d scratch
at them with my hand and would see
I don’t get upset.
The soul presses like the crowds at the door.
When I die, oxen will graze the grass just like this.
Houses will glimmer just like this.

Translated from the Slovenian

Source: Poetry May 2015

Tomaž Šalamun

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Poem of the Day: Three a.m.
Our cabdriver tells us how Somalia is better
than here because in Islam we execute murderers.
So, fewer murders. But isn't there civil war
there now? Aren't there a lot of murders?
Yes, but in general it's better. Not
now, but most of the time. He tells us about how
smart the system is, how it's hard to bear
false witness. We nod. We're learning a lot.
I say—once we are close to the house—I say, What
about us? Two women, married to each other.
Don't be offended, he says, gravely. But a man
with a man, a woman with a woman: it would be
a public execution. We nod. A little silence along
the Southeast Corridor. Then I say, Yeah,
I love my country. This makes him laugh; we all laugh.
We aren't offended, says Josey. We love you. Sometimes
I feel like we're proselytizing, spreading the Word of Gay.
The cab is shaking with laughter, the poor man
relieved we're not mad he sort of wants us dead.
The two of us soothing him, wanting him comfortable,
wanting him to laugh. We love our country,
we tell him. And Josey tips him. She tips him well.

Jill McDonough, "Three a.m." from Where You Live. Copyright © 2012 by Jill McDonough.  Reprinted by permission of Salt Publishing.

Source: Where You Live(Salt Publishing, 2012)

Jill McDonough

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Poem of the Day: Everyone Sang
Everyone suddenly burst out singing;
And I was filled with such delight
As prisoned birds must find in freedom,
Winging wildly across the white
Orchards and dark-green fields; on - on - and out of sight.

Everyone's voice was suddenly lifted;
And beauty came like the setting sun:
My heart was shaken with tears; and horror
Drifted away ... O, but Everyone
Was a bird; and the song was wordless; the singing will never be done.

Poem of the Day: We Lived Happily During the War
And when they bombed other people’s houses, we
but not enough, we opposed them but not
enough. I was
in my bed, around my bed America
was falling: invisible house by invisible house by invisible house.
I took a chair outside and watched the sun.
In the sixth month
of a disastrous reign in the house of money
in the street of money in the city of money in the country of money,
our great country of money, we (forgive us)
lived happily during the war.

"We Lived Happily During the War" from the Poetry International website. Copyright © 2013 by Ilya Kaminsky.  Reprinted by permission of Ilya Kaminsky.

Source: Poetry International 2013(Poetry International website, 2013)

Ilya Kaminsky

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Poem of the Day: A Parking Lot in West Houston
Angels are unthinkable
in hot weather
except in some tropical locales, where
from time to time, the women catch one in their nets,
hang it dry, and fashion it into a lantern
that will burn forever on its own inexhaustible oils.
But here—shins smocked with heat rash,
the supersaturated air. We no longer believe
in energies pure enough not to carry heat,
nor in connections—the thought of someone
somewhere warming the air we breathe
that one degree more . . . .
In a packed pub during the World Cup final,
a bony redhead woman gripped my arm
too hard. I could see how a bloke might fancy you.
Like a child’s perfect outline in fast-melting snow,
her wet handprint on my skin, disappearing.
The crowd boiling over, a steam jet: Brrra-zil!
And Paris—a heroin addict
who put her hypodermic
to my throat: Je suis malade.
J’ai besoin de medicaments.
Grabbing her wrist, I saw
her forearm’s tight net sleeve of drying blood.
I don’t like to be touched.
I stand in this mammoth parking lot,
car doors open, letting the air conditioner
run for a while before getting in.
The heat presses down equally
everywhere. It wants to focus itself,
to vaporize something instantaneously,
efficiently—that shopping cart, maybe,
or that half-crushed brown-glass bottle—
but can’t quite. Asphalt softens in the sun.
Nothing’s detachable.
The silvery zigzag line
stitching the tarmac to the sky around the edges
is no breeze, just a trick of heat.
My splayed-out compact car half-sunk
in the tar pit of its own shadow—
strong-shouldered, straining
to lift its vestigial wings.

Monica Youn, “A Parking Lot in West Houston” from Barter. Copyright © 2003 by Monica Youn. Reprinted by permission of Graywolf Press, www.graywolfpress.org

Source: Barter(Graywolf Press, 2003)

Monica Youn

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