Every weekday morning, we send a carefully-chosen poem, along with beautiful artwork, out to eagerly awaiting inboxes around the world. We’re so convinced that the best days start with a healthy breakfast and a poem that we’ve even dared people to read a poem a day.
Sometimes people talk to us behind the scenes about the poem they received on a particular morning. Based on fan mail, here are the top ten poems from our Every Day Poems offerings in the last quarter.
Sometimes when you stare down a rabbit from the front porch
in the rain he won’t move even if you cheat and look away
a couple of times. He’ll just stay behind the tree
with the white flowers acting like as long as he doesn’t blink
you won’t see him there. And if you feel sorry for him,
knowing his little rabbit heart is pounding as fast
as a rabbit’s heart can go and move to the other side
of the porch and stop looking at him, he still won’t move.
He’ll just keep staring at you out of that one wide brown eye
on the side of his head and you’ll wonder if he’ll stay there
his whole life, die for not moving away from the tree
with the white flowers. If you go in the house
and watch through the window, he still won’t move,
even if you close the door hard so he can
be sure you’re gone. And if you go to make your tea
and come back five minutes later, he’ll still be there.
Move, damn rabbit.
So what now? The locker room at the YMCA
only took a half hour, and I’ve spied on the mohawk’d
guy I’ve followed home for the last 45 minutes
but all he’s done is listen to “Stairway to Heaven”
on repeat, scratching his belly plateau, slowly, free thumb
hovering near the shuffle button on the remote
in case his sneering housemates arrive. Am I wasting
my time? I should be saving babies, kittens, maybe
I’ll head down to the grade school, leave the back door open
for a three-legged dog. Minor mischief and misdemeanor
peeping: I’m useless. I move closer, his head is weaving
with the chorus, Marlboro smoke swirling through
the dark spikes of his hair. Up close, his face creases
with the late hours of shift work, his van
on cinderblocks. I am on his lap.
All superhero, I try to think of where my hands
might do some good, might remind him of being
seventeen in a backseat with Alexis from homeroom
popping Bubble Yum in his speakershot ears, might
make him think it’s all lewd slowdances,
it’s all Led Zeppelin in a basement with your
headphones on. The song picks up tempo
and I am magnificent and delicate like a surgeon.
He thinks it’s just the song bouncing off
scratched hardwood floors, the late afternoon
shining sweetly through the blinds.
— Erin Keane, author of The Gravity Soundtrack
I am so difficult—
the way a jar of honey
All that sweetness
gets stuck under the rim,
makes your hands shake
they have to work
— L.L. Barkat, author of The Novelist
When I was little/I was afraid of my own
heart/a fist trying to get out… — Karen G.
I was never taught to say I love you
to myself. The ten commandments
all start with “Thou shalt not.” So
I didn’t. And look how much it’s cost
me: When I was little, I was afraid
of everything. My heart, that fist,
beat me silly with the love it had
to give others. It’s taken till now to
see my rib cage as a bird cage, a jail,
to see even my teeth a fence, holding
back as much as they take in. More.
Biting and chewing carefully every
thing Mouth takes in, mulling it over,
swallowing secrets it might have told
Mirror, that reflection waiting, that
little girl grown up, now grown so old.
— Paula J. Lambert, author of The Sudden Seduction of Gravity
I wonder how much the mirror
with nothing in it.
I step away,
touch glass with fingertips.
Every day I do this,
looking at the face
with countless joys and griefs.
One day I will shave and do
the ritual not knowing
it is the last time.
Every morning I am rehearsing
saying goodbye to myself.
— Neil Carpathios, author of Beyond the Bones
In the pause between spring rain
a woman pirouettes in a field.
Her skin is a thousand mirrors.
— Sholeh Wolpé, author of Keeping Time with Blue Hyacinths
There is magic
in the way a woman hums,
sounds as soft as wet summer
nights. Soft as skin.
the village women humming
before the storm,
those first shy drops of rain
hiding in their hair,
humming the way
earth will hum like a kettledrum
after the rain.
My grandmother hummed mountains
by revival tents
fluttering like the dove in the breeze
beside the singing river.
Now the woman who calls me hers
hums softly with the wind on the porch swing,
scent of honeysuckle settled behind her eyes.
The same song
swinging softly through the years.
She hums with my head
rested like morning in her lap,
and I know that song.
— Benjamin Myers, author of Elegy for Trains
He faced the sink, one foot up
on the edge of the tub. She stood
behind him, reaching around.
In the mirror, her face rose
over his shoulder like the moon,
and like the moon she regarded him
beautifully but without feeling,
and he looked at her as he would
at the moon: How beautiful!
How distant! No smiling, no weeping,
no talking. A man and a woman
transacting their magnificent business
with the usual equanimity. The man
as a passenger walking the ship’s deck
at evening and the woman as the moon
over his shoulder oiling the ocean
with light. Deep in the ship’s belly
pistons churned and sailors fed
the boilers’ roar with coal. On deck
just the engine’s dull thrum and
a faint click as the woman sets her ring
on the cool white lip of the sink.
— Joel Brouwer, author of And So
Mother says bury
your shaming stories
deep in your liver,
take them with you
to your grave.
But a burdened liver
explodes in the pressed
quiet of the earth, poisons
the worms, the water,
the soil, the crops that push
toward the sun, that feed our children.
— Sholeh Wolpé, author of Keeping Time with Blue Hyacinths
As if my mother feared he might
regenerate we scattered him through
three states—a few handfuls among
the ash and birch along the trails he ran,
wind spitting him back into our faces—
a small box of my father strafed
from the car along an Indiana field—
then at dusk a ceremonial loosing
of him across a green bed of waves.
Last summer, drought burned the sky
to bright bone and I walked a field,
a beach, the weeded path through dry
woods, collected him in my beard, gray
ash in the creases of my face, my hands.
— David Wright, author of A Liturgy for Stones
Photo by Rennis.i. Creative Commons license via Flickr.
Buy a year of Every Day Poems, just $5.99 — Read a poem a day, become a better poet. In August we’re exploring the theme Bottled & Canned.