Every weekday, U.S. Poet Laureate Tracy K. Smith delivers a different way to see the world – through poetry. Produced in partnership with the Library of Congress and the Poetry Foundation.


85: Night Surrender

March 22, 2019 · Duration: 4:59 · Play

Night Surrender by Leila Ortiz All of us on a stoop. Late, too late to be out. We like to squat in black and blue night. We are owls with pocket-knives. Stoop summer of Uncertainty.  Colt 45 Tastes like rain and bone. This girl Myca left alone by parents off vacationing. The Beastie Boys whine, […]

84: Storm

March 21, 2019 · Duration: 4:59 · Play

Storm by Tina Chang I summon them. Eat, children, eat. And they do. Lie down, children, lie down. Though the sounds of wolves move in the bushes, they lie down. This is the trust they live, the only one they sleep in. I falter, I do not falter. Each day I live like this. When […]

83: Spring and Fall

March 20, 2019 · Duration: 5:00 · Play

Spring and Fall by Gerard Manley Hopkins                  to a young child Margaret, are you grieving Over Goldengrove unleaving? Leaves like the things of man, you With your fresh thoughts care for, can you? Ah! As the heart grows older It will come to such sights colder By […]

82: I Watch Her Eat the Apple

March 19, 2019 · Duration: 5:00 · Play

I Watch Her Eat the Apple by Natalie Diaz She twirls it in her left hand, a small red merry-go-round. According to the white oval sticker, she holds apple #4016. I’ve read in some book or other of four thousand fifteen fruits she held before this one, each equally dizzied by the heat in the […]

81: Parable of a Firstborn

March 18, 2019 · Duration: 5:00 · Play

Parable of a Firstborn by Rebecca Morgan Frank I never left the yard, I never took            a single drop of blood or let the dog out the fence to die. Only once did I take my sister’s hand            and lead her across six lanes while she covered her ears to the horns’ sea, and even […]

80: Muse

March 15, 2019 · Duration: 5:00 · Play

Muse by Loretta Collins Klobah She always walks at the threshold of shadows under the awnings of the locked car lot, through flood lights of the war monument, past clacking pool tables of Confetti Drink Confetti and the unlit storefront of Igelsia el Cielo de Fuego, late, under rain, through night, into day. In the […]

79: Trans Is Against Nostalgia

March 14, 2019 · Duration: 5:00 · Play

Trans Is Against Nostalgia by Taylor Johnson Everyday I build the little boat, my body boat, hold for the unique one, the formless soul, the blue fire that coaxes my being into being. Yes, there was music in the woods, and I was in love with the trees, and a beautiful man grew my heartbeat […]

78: Introduction to Patriarchy

March 13, 2019 · Duration: 5:00 · Play

Introduction to Patriarchy by Chelsea Rathburn For a while we found them everywhere we looked, tucked in our brothers’ closets or slipped inside our fathers’ attachés: carousels of airbrushed women with rumpled curls wearing sweaters or raincoats or negligees or nothing but shoes. (Their feet were never bare.) Bedecked in stockings and heels as tall […]

77: Utsuroi

March 12, 2019 · Duration: 5:00 · Play

Utsuroi by Lee Ann Roripaugh Morning light sifts through the window later, more tentatively. It takes its time pooling and accumulating in hot buttery squares on the floor where the cats love to dip and roll themselves as if they were succulent pieces of lobster. Night comes shuttering down more quickly. The band of light […]

76: Listen

March 11, 2019 · Duration: 5:00 · Play

Listen by Didi Jackson Like a hundred gray ears the river stones are layered in a pile near the shed where mourning doves slow their peck and bobble to listen to a chorus of listening. Small buds on the lilac perk up. A cardinal’s torpedoed call comes in slow waves of four, round after round. […]

75: The Unwritten

March 8, 2019 · Duration: 5:00 · Play

The Unwritten by W.S. Merwin Inside this pencil crouch words that have never been written never been spoken never been taught they’re hiding they’re awake in there dark in the dark hearing us but they won’t come out not for love for time not for fire even when the dark has worn away they’ll still […]

74: Waking Up

March 7, 2019 · Duration: 5:00 · Play

Waking Up by Thomas James                        I On my right is a field of darkness. The ants are busy in the tall grass. I float on a lake of dark petals.                        II Waves of […]

73: If They Come for Us

March 6, 2019 · Duration: 5:00 · Play

If They Come for Us by Fatimah Asghar these are my people & I find them on the street & shadow through any wild all wild my people my people a dance of strangers in my blood the old woman’s sari dissolving to wind bindi a new moon on her forehead I claim her my […]

72: Bat

March 5, 2019 · Duration: 5:00 · Play

Bat by D.H. Lawrence At evening, sitting on this terrace, When the sun from the west, beyond Pisa, beyond the mountains of Carrara Departs, and the world is taken by surprise… When the tired flower of Florence is in gloom beneath the glowing Brown hills surrounding… When under the arches of the Ponte Vecchio A […]

71: Naomi

March 4, 2019 · Duration: 5:00 · Play

Naomi by Tjawangwa Dema In the beginning the chickens have no cause to fear us, we are all of us far too young to worry. My sister works well at the daily chore of keeping everyone alive while I run circles around the ankles of girls who’ve bled like her, who sit and peel potatoes, […]

70: On the Death of WWE Professional Wrestler Chyna

February 28, 2019 · Duration: 5:00 · Play

On the Death of WWE Professional Wrestler Chyna by Hala Alyan The first woman I wanted to touch: topography of darting muscles and sinew, a body made for ambulances. It was Oklahoma. I was seven, my heart was broken, and you were the most beautiful woman I’d ever seen. I loved you best all rewilding: […]

69: On Days When We Both Travel

· Duration: 5:00 · Play

On Days When We Both Travel by Brenda Hillman      Everything is so stressful. Was it always like this? Air full of       bitter flecks from the fires; friends in despair over violence & money; for many, a feeling of being       unhinged, or if not unhinged, one screw taken out of the door.              You got up & […]

68: The Line-Up

February 27, 2019 · Duration: 5:00 · Play

The Line-Up by Joan Swift Each prisoner is so sad in the glare I want to be his mother tell him the white light will go down and he will sleep soon. no need to turn under eyes to shuffle    poor soldiers  boys in a play to wear numbers    obey. They have hands as limp […]

67: Out of Some Other Paradise

February 26, 2019 · Duration: 5:00 · Play

Out of Some Other Paradise by Alex Dimitrov And people walked out of churches and bars, cafés and apartments, cities, towns, photographs, someone’s Friday night party, someone they once knew or slept with. They walked out of meetings and dinners, out of lives, on each other, on love and rarely on time. Some walked out […]

66: Still Life with Little Brother

February 25, 2019 · Duration: 5:00 · Play

Still Life with Little Brother by Joshua Bennett Every time I attempt what I’m attempting right now, it ends up as some sad lyric about diagnosis & that sounds like the one kind of violence I don’t have a pretty name for. In advance, I don’t know if this poem will bring the problem onstage […]

65: Kosmos

February 22, 2019 · Duration: 5:00 · Play

Kosmos by Walt Whitman Who includes diversity and is Nature, Who is the amplitude of the earth, and the coarseness and sexuality of the        earth, and the great charity of the earth and the equilibrium also, Who has not look’d forth from the windows the eyes for nothing, or whose        brain held audience with messengers […]

64: I like to see it lap the Miles

February 21, 2019 · Duration: 5:00 · Play

I like to see it lap the Miles by Emily Dickinson I like to see it lap the Miles— And lick the Valleys up— And stop to feed itself at Tanks— And then—prodigious step Around a Pile of Mountains— And supercilious peer In Shanties—by the sides of Roads— And then a Quarry pare To fit […]

63: Wind

February 20, 2019 · Duration: 4:59 · Play

Wind by James Fenton This is the wind, the wind in a field of corn. Great crowds are fleeing from a major disaster Down the long valleys, the green swaying wadis, Down through the beautiful catastrophe of wind. Families, tribes, nations, and their livestock Have heard something, seen something. An expectation Or misunderstanding has swept […]

62: supply and demand

February 19, 2019 · Duration: 4:59 · Play

supply and demand by Evie Shockley the more black boys you have, the more you want. you act like we’re swimming in black boys. you can’t keep black boys in your pocket. if you had a million black boys, what would you do with them? do you think we’re made of black boys? your black […]

61: Europe

February 18, 2019 · Duration: 4:59 · Play

Europe by Kiki Petrosino Every night, I go back to your house behind the abandoned caserma, where once I wept in my clothes on the street. Your same window with its rolling blinds. Same diesel smell. Same birds on the roof. Every night, I go back to your house. I almost dissolved when you sank […]