potd: April 27th, 2017

This month, I’m offering a Spring treat or 50 cents off your library account balance if you come in and recite the poem of the day! The poems are picked by poets.org‘s Poem-a-Day program.

Here’s the one for today!

 

Close Encounters

Marcus Wicker

I was a real cute kid. Ask anybody. My father
likes to tell a story about a modeling scout

who spotted us out midday shopping
at the Briarwood Mall. Imagine five-year-old me,

all sailor stripes & junior afro, doing a full pull-up
on the magazine kiosk: Got any Keats? No doubt

something I’d heard watching Jeopardy
with granny, but it mattered not

to the tickled pink lady. Oh, you’re just soooo
sweet! What a cutie-sweet! she decreed, handing dad

her flowery card. It wouldn’t stop there.
My 10th birthday, whole neighborhood invited,

I strutted down the stairs in a white sports coat
like, Look, folks. In case you’re wondering,

I’m the host! My mother told Mrs. Holbrook
He was born full-grown with a briefcase. As I’m sure

you will be, little sewn seed, undone. Future me.
Dear son, the defacing starts much later.

After desegregation sparks the awkward clutch
of Coach clutches on campus busses, but before

the riots in Baltimore. It started a few days before
I turned thirty, Invisibility. Home from teaching

the sons & daughters of Indiana farm hands
it’s ok to write poems, same briefcase slung

tired across wrinkled linen, you’d have thought
I accosted her—Maria—when I stooped down

to pluck my mother a pair of magenta tulips
from her own thriving garden, & she shrieked

Why are you staring at my lawn! Maria who
used to slide teen-me a twenty to occupy her

daughter in the playpen while she grabbed
a bottle of Bordeaux from the basement

before the real nanny arrived. She must have seen
straight through me, into the distant past, alternate

reality when your grandparents’ neighboring
residence would have been a servants’, & I

in that moment, for the first time, unsaw her.
As primer. A kind of manila cardstock

I’d failed to imprint. Son, sometimes this happens.
It happens in gated spaces when you look like

a lock pick. See the 44th president. Scratch that.
It happens in gated spaces, as the lone

locksmith. & if I’m being honest,
the happy way things are going between

me & E., you may well resemble him.
Don’t count yourself precious. Truth is,

too soon, you will bend down to rob a few
bright blossoms from your own land &

look away from the earth
to make certain you haven’t been ogled.

This phantom guilt applied to a nape
through the eyes of every blind Maria,

here’s the key: try not to let it die.
Now run to the closest mirror, quickly

remember how sweet the fleeting love.

 

potd: April 26th, 2017

This month, I’m offering a Spring treat or 50 cents off your library account balance if you come in and recite the poem of the day! The poems are picked by poets.org‘s Poem-a-Day program.

Here’s the one for today!

 

Promised Years

Dorothea Lasky

I would tell her
Except she wouldn’t care
I’d write him
Except he’d never write me back
There is a rat they left hanging
I’d save it
Except it’s dead
What is the force that swirls me
I asked of the wind
There was no reply
It was beyond me
And I was floating in it
Circles and circles
I’ve seen them throughout my life
I tried to answer them
They bled their mouths on me
Call me call me I begged of the moon
It did not listen
It had left me alone
So many years ago
And as the world collapsed
I mouthed the empty rhetoric of my time period
Call me call me
I begged of the wind

potd: April 25th, 2017

This month, I’m offering a Spring treat or 50 cents off your library account balance if you come in and recite the poem of the day! The poems are picked by poets.org‘s Poem-a-Day program.

Here’s the one for today!

 

American Sonnet for My Past and Future Assassin

Terrance Hayes, 1971

Any day now you will have the ability to feed the name
Of anyone into an engine & your long lost half brother
As well as whoever else possesses a version of his name
Will appear before your face in bits of pixels & data
Displaying his monikers (like Gitmo for trapping, Bang
Bang for banging, Dopamine for dope or brains),
The country he would most like to visit (Heaven),
His nine & middle finger pointing towards the arms
Of the last trill trees of Bluff Estates & the arms
Of the slim fly girls the color of trees cut down & shaped
Into something a nail penetrates. I admit, right now
Technology is insufficient, but you will find them
Flashing grins & money in the photos they took
Before they were ghosts when you click here tomorrow.

potd: April 24th, 2017

This month, I’m offering a Spring treat or 50 cents off your library account balance if you come in and recite the poem of the day! The poems are picked by poets.org‘s Poem-a-Day program.

Here’s the one for today!

My Friends

Ali Power

my friends
create the mood
by describing it
turning off all the lights
a place in our minds
wakes as in water
we dance alone and with each other
we make circles around each other
get close then step back
then get close again
my friends
the furniture is round
the furniture is covered
in bluets
there are drugs my friends
why be evasive
when you can listen to an audio book
about a biologist
on a mysterious expedition
to Area X
an area cut off from civilization
today I’ve spoken to no one
and I feel fine
but feelings aren’t facts my friends
and I’ve eaten the last of the cheese
and table water crackers
and I have no salary
but I will hold you

potd: April 21st, 2017

This month, I’m offering a Spring treat or 50 cents off your library account balance if you come in and recite the poem of the day! The poems are picked by poets.org‘s Poem-a-Day program.

Here’s the one for today!

 

Beautiful Thinking

Angie Estes

Each morning, before the sun rises

over the bay of Villefranche-sur-Mer

on the Côte d’Azur, cruise ships drop anchor

so that motor launches from shore

can nurse alongside. All afternoon we studied

les structures où nous sommes l’objet, structures

 

in which we are the object—le soleil

me dérange, le Côte d’Azur nous manque

while the pompiers angled their Bombardiers

 

down to the sea, skimming its surface

like pelicans and rising, filled

with water to drop on inland, inaccessible

 

wildfires. Once, a swimmer was found face down

in a tree like the unfledged robin I saw

flung to the ground, rowing

 

its pink shoulders as if in the middle

of the butterfly stroke, rising a moment

above water. Oiseau is the shortest word

 

in French to use all five vowels: “the soul

and tie of every word,” which Dante named

auieo. All through December, a ladybug circles

 

high around the kitchen walls looking for

spring, the way we search for a word that will hold

all vows and avowals: eunoia, Greek

 

for “beautiful thinking,” because the world’s

a magic slate, sleight of hand—now

you see it, now you don’t—not exactly

 

a slight, although in Elizabethan English, “nothing”

was pronounced “noting.” In the Bodleian Library

at Oxford, letters of the alphabet hang

 

from the ceiling like the teats

of the wolf that suckled Romulus

and Remus, but their alibi

 

keeps changing, slate gray like the sea’s

massage: You were more in me than I was

in me. . . . You remained within while I

 

went outside. Hard to say

whether it was Augustine

speaking to God or my mother

 

talking to me. Gulls ink the sky

with view, while waves throw themselves

on the mercy of the shore.

potd: April 20th, 2017

This month, I’m offering a Spring treat or 50 cents off your library account balance if you come in and recite the poem of the day! The poems are picked by poets.org‘s Poem-a-Day program.

Here’s the one for today!

 

Pomegranate

Kevin Pilkington

A woman walks by the bench I’m sitting on
with her dog that looks part Lab, part Buick,
stops and asks if I would like to dance.
I smile, tell her of course I do. We decide
on a waltz that she begins to hum.

We spin and sway across the street in between
parked cars and I can tell she realizes
she chose a man who understands the rhythm
of sand, the boundaries of thought. We glide
and Fred and Ginger might come to mind or
a breeze filled with the scent of flowers of your choice.
Coffee stops flowing as a waitress stares out the window
of a diner while I lead my partner back across the street.

When we come to the end of our dance,
we compliment each other and to repay the favor
I tell her to be careful since the world comes to an end
three blocks to the east of where we stand. Then
I remind her as long as there is a ’59 Cadillac parked
somewhere in a backyard between here and Boise
she will dance again.

As she leaves content with her dog, its tail wagging
like gossip, I am convinced now more than ever
that I once held hundreds of roses in my hands
the first time I cut open a pomegranate.

potd: April 19th, 2017

This month, I’m offering a Spring treat or 50 cents off your library account balance if you come in and recite the poem of the day! The poems are picked by poets.org‘s Poem-a-Day program.

Here’s the one for today!

 

Aubade

Camille Rankine

They say brave but I don’t want it.
Who will we mourn today. Or won’t we.

Black all the windows. Lower
down the afternoon. I barricade

all my belonging. I am mostly never real
American or anything

availing. But I do take. And take
what’s given. The smell of blood.

I breathe it in. The dirt so thick with our good
fortune. And who pays for it. And what am I

but fear, but wanting. I’ll bite
the feeding hand until I’m fed

and buried. In the shining day.
All deadly good

intentions. A catalogue of virtues.
This is how I’ll disappear.

potd: April 18th, 2017

This month, I’m offering a Spring treat or 50 cents off your library account balance if you come in and recite the poem of the day! The poems are picked by poets.org‘s Poem-a-Day program.

Here’s the one for today!

 

Soave Sia Il Vento

Adrian Matejka

after Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart

In the wobbly pirouette between song
& dust, dog-nosed living room windows
& a purple couch that should have been curbed
last July: Saturday sunlight cuts it all every
time you lean into some kind of ballet pose.
Your belly & knobby elbow & leotarded knee
wavering in a slim balance. Jeté, effacé—
I don’t know what they mean & nod anyway.
You reach & spin & dog hair hangs
in the air like the start of heartfelt applause.

potd: April 17th, 2017

This month, I’m offering a Spring treat or 50 cents off your library account balance if you come in and recite the poem of the day! The poems are picked by poets.org‘s Poem-a-Day program.

Here’s the one for today!

 

The God of Nothingness

Mark Wunderlich

My father fell from the boat.
His balance had been poor for some time.
He had gone out in the boat with his dog
hunting ducks in a marsh near Trempealeau, Wisconsin.
No one else was near
save the wiry farmer scraping the gutters in the cow barn
who was deaf in one ear from years of machines—
and he was half a mile away.
My father fell from the boat
and the water pulled up around him, filled
his waders and this drew him down.
He descended into water the color of weak coffee.
The dog went into the water too,
thinking perhaps this was a game.
I must correct myself—dogs do not think as we do—
they react, and the dog reacted by swimming
around my father’s head. This is not a reassuring story
about a dog signaling for help by barking,
or, how by licking my father’s face, encouraged him
to hold on. The dog eventually tired and went ashore
to sniff through the grass, enjoy his new freedom
from the attentions of his master,
indifferent to my father’s plight.
The water was cold, I know that,
and my father has always chilled easily.
That he was cold is a certainty, though
I have never asked him about this event.
I do not know how he got out of the water.
I believe the farmer went looking for him
after my mother called in distress, and then drove
to the farm after my father did not return home.
My mother told me of this event in a hushed voice,
cupping her hand over the phone and interjecting
cheerful non sequiturs so as not to be overheard.
To admit my father’s infirmity
would bring down the wrath of the God of Nothingness
who listens for a tremulous voice and comes rushing in
to sweep away the weak with icy, unloving breath.
But that god was called years before
during which time he planted a kernel in my father’s brain
which grew, freezing his tongue,
robbing him of his equilibrium.
The god was there when he fell from the boat,
whispering from the warren of my father’s brain,
and it was there when my mother, noting the time,
knew that something was amiss. This god is a cold god,
a hungry god, selfish and with poor sight.
This god has the head of a dog.

potd: April 13th, 2017

This month, I’m offering a Spring treat or 50 cents off your library account balance if you come in and recite the poem of the day! The poems are picked by poets.org‘s Poem-a-Day program.

Here’s the one for today!

 

from “Post-Identity”

Carmen Giménez Smith

I was light from the mouth from every part of me
I was of the earth or a scar in the earth rent through
the ruins of late civilization and bubbled from it and
became a saint’s reptilian spirit and I could taste
the wheat and coal and gold like a trinity of bounty
and I was vapor like a smog that becomes a wraith
over the city then back to its animal form decompressed
and atomized into its past life as star and I was that animal
truth the spirit I had dreamt about being more cloud
and star then given I was just the density of water
a reciprocity in and out the fade of my fugitive
substance going south and the yearn for decadence
disappears in the annals yet leaves a taste in the mouth
metallic and lime the sense of dissolution and I was speed
and insistence to reset the orb of gravity I was risen from foam
necessitated by colony sired in violence exported as luxury