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.

EPISODES


98: stunt

April 10, 2019 · Duration: 5:00 · Play

stunt by Monique Ferrell I want to cross over now   it should be a simple thing to do wake up  become self-aware   significant and allknowing every single good and   halfway decent  futuristic sci-fi movie  ensures the computers  will get there one day know better than their masters so when is it my turn I have […]


96: The Sun Rising

April 8, 2019 · Duration: 5:00 · Play

The Sun Rising by John Donne Busy old fool, unruly sun,               Why dost thou thus, Through windows, and through curtains call on us? Must to thy motions lovers’ seasons run?               Saucy pedantic wretch, go chide               Late school boys and sour prentices,         Go tell court huntsmen that the king will ride,         Call country ants to harvest […]


95: A Very Good Dog

April 5, 2019 · Duration: 5:00 · Play

A Very Good Dog by Matthew Dickman I must have looked so handsome because she said you look so handsome and I must have been eight years old because she said       I can’t believe you are already eight years old and it must have been a dark and romantic Italian restaurant because it was dark […]


94: Anna May Wong on Silent Films

April 4, 2019 · Duration: 5:00 · Play

Anna May Wong on Silent Films by Sally Wen Mao It is natural to live in an era         when no one uttered⏤ and silence was glamour so I could cast one glance westward         and you’d know what I was going to kill. Murder in my gaze, treachery in my movements:         if I bared the grooves […]


93: Purple Bathing Suit

April 3, 2019 · Duration: 5:00 · Play

Purple Bathing Suit by Louise Glück I like watching you garden with your back to me in your purple bathing suit: your back is my favorite part of you, the part furthest away from your mouth. You might give some thought to that mouth. Also to the way you weed, breaking the grass off at […]


92: Always Alone

April 2, 2019 · Duration: 5:00 · Play

Always Alone by Linda Gregg There was a place. It was not important. A narrow street next to the sea in the town where I waited for the bus to take me back up to my house on top of the mountain. I would buy a bottle of water and sit on a step across […]


91: Consider Me

April 1, 2019 · Duration: 5:00 · Play

Consider Me by Langston Hughes Consider me, A colored boy, Once sixteen, Once five, once three, Once nobody, Now me. Before me Papa, mama, Grandpa, grandma, So on back To original Pa.     (A capital letter there,     He     Being Mystery.) Consider me, Colored boy, Downtown at eight, Sometimes working late, Overtime pay, To […]


90: Villanelle of the Suicide’s Mother

March 29, 2019 · Duration: 5:00 · Play

The National Suicide Prevention Lifeline provides 24/7, free and confidential support. If you or someone you know needs help, call 1-800-273-8255. Villanelle of the Suicide’s Mother by C.K. Williams Sometimes I almost go hours without crying, Then I feel if I don’t, I’ll go insane. It can seem her whole life was her dying. She […]


89: Crowning

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

Crowning by Kevin Young Now that knowing means nothing, now that you are more born than being, more awake than awaited, since I’ve seen your hair deep inside mother, a glimpse, grass in late winter, early spring, watching your mother’s pursed, throbbing, purpled power, her pushing you for one whole hour, two, almost three, almost […]


88: Ars Poetica #28: African Leave-Taking Disorder

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

Ars Poetica #28: African Leave-Taking Disorder by Elizabeth Alexander The talk is good. The two friends linger at the door. Urban crickets sing with them. There is no after the supper and talk. The talk is good. These two friends linger at the door, half in, half out, ’til one decides to walk the other […]


87: The Space Between Skins Is Called A Wound

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

The Space Between Skins Is Called A Wound by Julian Randall So I guess that’s my name now I am progress in the way a scab is progress this is what it is to be biracial conceived as a thin peace the body’s fragile truce To each well intentioned finger my body is just a […]


86: Black cricket in the doorway, on the ceiling, in

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

Black cricket in the doorway, on the ceiling, in the air. Black cricket on the lip of the honey jar. Black cricket like backwash up through the drains. Black cricket the longest length of a finger, the pistons of its cocked legs like stringed instruments bleating. Black cricket there when I open the window, black […]


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 […]