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.


60: Tamed

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

Tamed by Tyree Daye I was the unbroken horse of that town, slept standing up, held on to the breeze like wildflowers. I kept caterpillars in jars, my mama let them go, I figured they just disappeared. There are moments you can hear God say things soft-spoken, the sun settling between thin pines. Collected crickets […]

59: Coming Out

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

Coming Out by Iliana Rocha The time to do it is yesterday, was, was, is, will. The little boy gifts me his, then he walked into a separate darkness, continually walks into, will walk, will, will. A darkness separate from mine was, is, was like this: will be. He tells, told, keeps telling,  breaks, breaks, […]

58: The Singing School

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

The Singing School by Eloise Klein Healy I saw one narrow as a blade in a man’s black suit I saw one drop her pages on the floor and walk away from the microphone like a bullfighter turning his back on a bull I saw one with generous breasts in a floral print dress shift […]

57: In Memory of Shame

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

In Memory of Shame by Karenne Wood because it was our fault and because we did nothing wrong because we spoke and because we had nothing to say because we were ignorant and because we knew too much because we neglected our children and because we wanted to because we drank and because we stopped […]

56: Name that Means Holy in Greek

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

Name that Means Holy in Greek by Kim Addonizio                         —for Aya Today I heard your name shouted by a short-order cook flipping scallion pancakes in a grease- grimed Chinese restaurant. He said it meant Wow which is the best word I know for the unutterably sublime. Wow is how I had the dumb luck […]

55: America (Peaches)

February 8, 2019 · Duration: 5:00 · Play

America (Peaches) by Kathleen Graber America, I know I could do better by you, though I stoop conscientiously three times a day to pick up my dog’s waste from the grass with black biodegradable bags. And lest you suspect that this is more pretension than allegiance, know my dog was the one at the shelter […]

54: Dancing in Buses

February 7, 2019 · Duration: 5:00 · Play

Dancing in Buses by Javier Zamora Pretend a boom box blasts over your shoulder. Raise your hands in the air. Twist them as if picking limes. Look to the right as if crossing streets. Look to the left, slowly as if balancing orange baskets. Bend as if picking cotton. Do the rump. Straighten up as […]

53: Boy in Park

February 6, 2019 · Duration: 5:00 · Play

Boy in Park by Laura Kasischke Small boy running through the center of the park, un- zipping summer straight down the middle as he runs until all the small boys come tumbling out. All the small boys pouring from the world’s fissure into the world: My father with a ball and bat. My husband with […]

52: Gizzard Song

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

Gizzard Song by Dean Young Dean, it’s Harry. No birds are nesting in my birdhouses. What could it mean? I don’t know why I answered the phone, there’s already too much going on in Nacogdoches and not even hello. Harry, you haven’t even asked about my operation. You sick? No, I had a heart transplant. […]

51: The Mystical Rose

February 4, 2019 · Duration: 5:00 · Play

The Mystical Rose by Adélia Prado The first time I became conscious of form, I said to my mother: “Dona Armanda has a basket in her kitchen where she keeps tomatoes and onions” and began fretting that even lovely things eventually spoil, until one day I wrote: “It was here in this room that my […]

50: Dear P.

February 1, 2019 · Duration: 4:59 · Play

Dear P. by Victoria Chang Someone will    love you    many will    love you    many will brother you    some of these loves will    bother you some    will leave you one might    haunt   you    hunt you in your sleep    make you    weep the tearless kind of weep the    kind of weep    that drowns your organs   slowly   there […]

49: The View

January 31, 2019 · Duration: 4:59 · Play

The View by Tim Seibles As if I’d been stolen from myself—                                 as if my Self     had somehow been subtracted— and I was left with this, this worried, balding man. I watch him: getting under my shirts, into […]

48: Elegy for Smoking

January 30, 2019 · Duration: 5:00 · Play

Elegy for Smoking by Patrick Phillips It’s not the drug I miss but all those minutes we used to steal outside the library, under restaurant awnings, out on porches, by the quiet fields. And how kind it used to make us when we’d laugh and throw our heads back and watch the dragon’s breath float […]

47: The Emperor’s Deer

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

The Emperor’s Deer by Kamilah Aisha Moon I. Their noises make you think they are crying or suffering. They have learned to bow. Even the fawns bow, centuries of bowing in their blood. They are not considered wild. Precious pests litter parks with dung, take over the roads. Sweet nuisance worth saving, thinning these herds […]

46: Origin Stories

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

Origin Stories by Safia Elhillo 1 i was made out of clay        out of time        the quran says we began as a single clot of blood      & i keep digging the wound it’s warm inside some things you lose to mark the time        yes men of course but […]

45: Self-Portrait with Sylvia Plath’s Braid

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

Self-Portrait with Sylvia Plath’s Braid by Diane Seuss Some women make a pilgrimage to visit it in the Indiana library charged to keep it safe. I didn’t drive to it; I dreamed it, the thick braid roped over my hands, heavier than lead. My own hair was long for years. Then I became obsessed with […]

44: Swatting Flies

January 24, 2019 · Duration: 5:00 · Play

Swatting Flies by Austin Smith You think of yourself now as having been A sweet boy, the kind of kid Who wouldn’t hurt a fly, But let us not forget that In summer you kept a swatter nearby. You liked the feel of the wire Handle in your hand, How easy it was To wield, […]

43: Black is Beautiful

January 23, 2019 · Duration: 5:00 · Play

Black is Beautiful by Monica A. Hand Me and D in our crushed-velvet jackets blue-jeans high heels. We are going to New York City to see Nina Simone at the Apollo. We’re taking the path train across the river then the subway uptown. D knows her way around. She goes to FIT. I’ve been to […]

42: Flesh

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

Flesh by Yi Lei I’m a deep cave Starved for your wild blaze. A daylit cloud spread high above your lowlands. My legs are nimble as a climbing vine. My breasts, as lucent as lilies. The breeze off a billowing osmanthus is my face, My dark hair rippling. The dew from my eyes Drenches your […]

41: Sweeping the States

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

Sweeping the States by Jacob Saenz they move in swift on the Swift Plants in six states & sift through the faces to separate the dark from the light like meat & seat them in the back of vans packed tight like the product they pack & who’s to pick up the slack the black […]

40: Kettling

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

Kettling by January Gill O’Neil The low winter sun made driving difficult. To look down the black asphalt blurred my eyes. So for a few moments I looked away, studying the rock ridges and cliffs carved out of cragged earth, the marshy fields of phragmites their silken heads standing swordlike in the steady wind. Above, […]

39: Walking Home

January 17, 2019 ·

Walking Home by Jay Udall I walked as if I went alone a world unto myself, a globe balanced on two strange sticks, but with each step the steady- seeming earth held my dreaming weight and carried me along. With each unmindful breath air came to greet my grateful lungs and fed the blood that […]

38: Ode to the Pager

January 16, 2019 · Duration: 5:00 · Play

Ode to the Pager by Marcus Jackson Your earliest versions beeped like microwaves or retreating trucks or hospital monitors. When cell phones cost more than mortgages, you clipped to our belt loops, our pocket lips, our bookbag straps. Fueled on Energizer alkaline, your skinny screen delivered numbers of souls hankering for a word with us. […]

37: To My Twenty-Four-Year-Old Self

January 15, 2019 ·

To My Twenty-Four-Year-Old Self by Brenda Shaughnessy You wouldn’t know me, If I came to you in a dream. You’d be sleeping It off, you’d be naked And cute, but you think You’re a kind of monster And maybe you are, Just not an ugly one. That whole business Will come later. You’d pass me […]

36: Quiet Places

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

Quiet Places by Lemn Sissay Some people on bus seats shake at the shoulders, Stoned Elvises trying to dance after the gig. Some walk into the rain and look like they’re smiling, Running mascara writes sad bitter letters on their faces. Some drive their cars into lay-bys or park edges And cradle the steering-wheel looking […]