Amanda Gorman – Chorus of the Captains

Amanda Gorman Today we honor our three captainsFor their actions and impact inA time of uncertainty and need.They’ve taken the lead,Exceeding all expectations and limitationsUplifting their communities and neighborsAs leaders, healers, and educators.James has felt the wounds of warfare,But this warrior still sharesHis home with at-risk kids.During Covid, he’s event lent a hand,Live-streaming football for …

Rita Dove – Pedestrian Crossing, Charlottesville

Rita Frances Dove (August 28, 1952 -) A gaggle of girls giggle over the bricksleading off Court Square. We brakedutifully, and wait; but there’s at leasttwenty of these knob-kneed creatures,blond and curly, still at an age that thinksimpudence is cute. Look how they dartand dither, changing flanks as they lurchalong—golden gobbets of infuriating foolishnessor pure …

Virgil Suárez – Bad Sons Anonymous

Virgil Suárez At this year’s conventionwe gather to pay homageto our fathers, responsiblemen who worked hard: laborers, stone cutters, welders,carpenters — blue collar all,men who raged, stormedtheir anger through the house, our mothers couldn’t manage,swept with brooms the debrisof broken things, in silencethey took it out on us, belts in hand, we stood there, cried,long …

Marilyn Nelson – The Children’s Moon

Marilyn Nelson (April 26, 1946 -) In my navy shirtwaist dress and three-inch heels,my pearl clip-ons and newly red-rinsed curls,I smoothed on lipstick, lipstick-marked my girls,saluted and held thumbs-up to my darling Mel,and drove myself to school for the first day.Over the schoolyard a silver lozengedissolved into the morning’s blue cauldron.Enter twenty seven-year-old white children.Look, …

David Graham – Listening for Your Name

David Graham As a father steals into his child's half-lit bedroomslowly, quietly, standing long and longcounting the breaths before finally slippingback out, taking care not to wake her,and as that night-lit child is fully awake the wholetime, with closed eyes, measured breathing,savoring a delicious blessing she couldn'tname but will remember her whole life,how often we …

Nikki Giovanni – Resignation

Yolande Cornelia Nikki Giovanni Jr (June 7, 1943) I love you            because the Earth turns round the sun            because the North wind blows north                 sometimes            because the Pope is Catholic                 and most Rabbis Jewish            because the winters flow into springs                 and the air clears after a storm            because only my love for …

Philip Bryant – Miles: Prince Of Darkness

Philip Bryant I remember my father's storiesabout him being cold, fitful,reproachful, surly, rude, cruel,unbearable, spiteful, arrogant, hateful.But then he'd playSome Day My Prince Will Comein a swirl of bright spring colorsthat come after a heavy rainmaking the world anew againand like the sometimes-tyrannical kingwho is truly repentant of his transgressionssteps out onto the balconyto greet …

Barbara Lydecker Crane – Mother And Child

Barbara Lydecker Crane Portrait painting, so long out of fashion,was all I did. Not by commission—I’d aska friend whose face was lined by life and passionto sit. Then I’d distort a bit: a maskwould simplify and heighten their emotion.This Harlem neighbor’s eyes are spelling fearas she holds her baby tightly with devotionand protection from who …

Yesika Salgado – Diaspora Writes To Her New Home

Yesika Salgado I am what comes after the civil warafter the dismembered corpsesthe burnt sugar cane fieldsthe mango tree strung with a single hanging bodythe man with his tongue in his pocketthe soldiers and the guerrillathe exodus of my grandmother’s children I arrived after the fleeing. after the bruise was named a desert.after the new …

ee cummings – humanity i love you

EE Cummings (October 14, 1894–September 3, 1962) because you would rather black the boots ofsuccess than enquire whose soul dangles from hiswatch-chain which would be embarrassing for bothparties and because youunflinchingly applaud allsongs containing the words country home andmother when sung at the old howardHumanity i love you becausewhen you’re hard up you pawn yourintelligence …

Adrienne Rich – Sending Love

Adrienne Rich (May 16, 1929 – March 27, 2012) Voicefrom the grainof the forest boughtand condemnedsketched bondin the rockmassthe earthquake soughtand threw                                *Sending love: Molly sends itIvan sends it, Kaorisends it to Brian, Irina sends iton pale green aerograms Abena sends itto Charlie and to JoséphineAnuro sends it, Naomi sends itLourdes sends it to NaoualWalter sends …