Poem of the Day: David Dodd Lee




There are poems about bluegills. There are poems
about trout. The bluegill doesn’t give a shit.
It’ll eat a bare hook but would rather not hear
about your childhood. The bluegill’s thick headed.
It hunkers down in the weeds, thinking. The trout’s like a young girl
in a wedding gown. Touch it and it dies.
You can pull a bluegill out a pike’s ass, it might
still swim away. I’m not talking about pumpkinseeds,
those little flecks of tinsel. The bluegill’s
the stud of all panfish. People catch pumpkinseeds
thinking they’re bluegills. A pumpkinseed shivers;
it thinks it’s going to convince you it’s cold.
Bluegills are fatalists. A slab in your hand may jerk its head
twice. Once hooked it goes for the mud. By the time
it’s resting on a flotation device it’s willing to die.
It doesn’t grope like a rock bass, swallowing air,
the bluegill’s a realist. It knows it’s just a wedge of painted flesh,
heavy enough to pull you half out of the boat.
If you’ve got a big white bucket of panfish
sitting on top of the ice, the bluegill’s the one still living,
thinking, its head like a stapler, mulling things over.


—from David Dodd Lee’s Downsides of Fish Culture, New Issues Poetry and Prose (1997)




Poem of the Day: Jody Rambo




I will make of my mind a scrape nest for your absence. Clear a swale
for silences. Hollow it deep. Let it wild be with sorrow.
Let it small psalm home again. And when it becomes difficult
to imagine nothing as solid as a mother’s arms, I will keep on moving
through the grasses in search of smallness, seeds & husks blowing
in the paper air of your voice as I remember it—a quiet abyss.
For this parting takes muscle unnatural. Lift me
into the sun again. I hardly have hands to touch
my sutures. Even the clouds coldly sway. My wrists—
pale fish—move through the surfaces of winter ponds.
Edges, I hover. Every hill becomes a ruin.
Beneath my nails—dredged earth of heaven, black moon-slivers
in shades of hair. And I wonder, in this un-day of your leaving, why all
you send me is a bird? Hungry, wing-fluttered, jawing for a song.


—previously appeared on Verse Daily



Poem of the Day: Naoko Fujimoto



                      After the Tsunami in Japan


You have no father,
my mother said & wiped
my neck with a long
towel; I smelled the lavender
soap: bubbles on her
cheeks: the outline of her
lipstick: dark
purple around her lips;
they were unlike mine; I wanted
hers; I hated the garden
scent; no
lavenders please, I said;
just muddy
on blue vinyl sheets
at the flower
shop; sand & pebbles filled
my mother’s mouth; I bit
my lip: tasted blood.


—previously appeared on Unshod Quills



What They Did Yesterday Afternoon




they set my aunts house on fire

i cried the way women on tv do

folding at the middle

like a five pound note.

i called the boy who use to love me

tried to ‘okay’ my voice

i said hello

he said warsan, what’s wrong, what’s happened?


i’ve been praying,

and these are what my prayers look like;

dear god

i come from two countries

one is thirsty

the other is on fire

both need water.


later that night

i held an atlas in my lap

ran my fingers across the whole world

and whispered

where does it hurt?


it answered





—written by Warsan Shire, previously appeared on Riot Pieces


Paris, Baghdad, Beruit

Paris, Baghdad, Beruit

Paris, Baghdad, Beruit



Poem of the Day: John Rybicki




I wheel my bed into the yard,
stand it upright, braced on all sides
by ropes. I am too small to house skies,
bat-winged angels drunk on tar,
dogs scraping their tongues
against pavement. My veins
finger through cement
until they find grass, Irish fields
of winter wheat.

What a strange curse to be God,
stuffed with blood and poked
with so many holes.
I need no priest.
I roll my long hands out
to the rag people whose fingers
lace up through sewer lids,
spines hunched in a room
below ground.

I want to let go of it,
believe me.
My bones are too small to arch around it.
But it is morning and I am featherless,
black-lunged from a night in long tunnels.
The light has me by the hands,
is dragging me into its fire.


—from John Rybicki’s Traveling at High Speeds, New Issues Poetry and Prose (2003)



Poem of the Day: Julie Moulds




I say my prayers upside down, the wind
blowing me like a clothespinned robe,
my little bat hands curled together. I look for God

in a school of fish. I look for God in Mammoth Cave.
I look for God in an air balloon. If Jesus’
hot coal head is the sun rising, where does

He hide his body? Or does the body merely
flatten black like a shadow, then disappear in sun?
An unravelling ghost, round as a coin, tells me

of Judas, how he still benedict arnolds
through the meadow bought with ruddy silver:
his neck choking in an argentine knot, his entrails

snaking out like squirrel tails. In His dressing room
like Al Jolson, God masquerades as Night.
He blackens His paint-pink hands. He blackfaces

His clown-white countenance, while a goat
drinks Christ’s blood and sprouts fur wings.
A frog drinks Christ’s blood and becomes

a green bat. Made of fire, a crackle man jumps
in a thorny bush. He blows me a gas-blue kiss,
then cries, I am God and you are my new Moses.

Take a dip? I say, and hopscotch over heat-
baked sand. He pulls up the charred bush
like a tutu, follows me into meringue white waves.


—from Julie Moulds’ The Woman with a Cubed Head, New Issues Poetry and Prose (1998)



Poem of the Day: Cynthia Cruz




In the rooms of a rundown palace
You said, Ruined. You said, Princess.

You said nothing to me
For three long weeks.

The color of that room
Is eel-black.

When I was a girl and still
German, I stood alone

At the end of the sea.
You may have loved me then

I sent a message through the cages
Of a great whale’s teeth.

For three weeks, I did not sleep.
I set jars of sweet milk and baskets

Of bright berries and red
Marmalade outside your door

In the dream
Where you come to me

I kiss your mouth
Tasting the secret

Letters of your history.
I swear

Somewhere in Siberia
A godly ocean of bison

Still roam free.
You, kneeling before me,

In this,
The last and final room.


—previously appeared in the Academy of American Poets



Poem of the Day: Daneen Wardrop




After the storm, my daughter runs
                                                            from deck to wading pool and back, many times,
                                                                                        investigates a dragonfly,

runs an agreement with gravity—
to keep it happy
                                                            that it can have a say—

At what rip in the gravity do we enter?

There are no places yet where her body resists itself
                                                                                  and that is a truth—

and the netted bow of dragonfly wings

and the shaled light on water-surface

and the lilac bush a thousand years from the deck—


—previously appeared in AGNI



Poem of the Day: William Stafford




Grass that was moving found all shades of brown,
moved them along, flowed autumn away
galloping southward where summer had gone.
And that was the morning someone’s heart stopped
and all became still. A girl said, “Forever?”
And the grass. “Yes. Forever.” While the sky —
The sky — the sky — the sky.


—from William Stafford’s The Way It Is, Graywolf Press (1999)



Poem of the Day: Beckian Fritz Goldberg




I wanted to stay in the earth:
There, I needed no skin—the dark
body was all around me.
I had no tongue. Above me, sleep,
a heaven of snow. Years,
years. Then the split,

the blue heart lifted almost
out—who was coming to save me?
How would I know myself, outside

And then the sky. The you.
The first terrifying eye of a bird
coming down to me, a kiss
forced open. When I was buried

I did not need to forget. You
are what I need to forget
but not now—
not with everything in the air,
not with these lips
so designed to fail…


—from Beckian Fritz Goldberg’s Reliquary Fever: New and Selected Poems, New Issues Poetry and Prose (2010)