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Patricia Spears Jones
Patricia Spears Jones

Defiant

Recorded for Poem-a-Day, May 22, 2018.
About this Poem 

“We are seeing strong men across the globe rise up, take resources, refuse to leave. Sooner or later (usually later) the citizenry demands change, as recently happened in Zimbabwe. Watching Robert Mugabe ‘perform’ a ritual of defiance in the wake of demands for his resignation was the catalyst for this poem. Fortunately, the defiance of the people—the same people he had imperiled—outmatched his. Defiance of authority, resistance to dictatorship is a fact of our lives around this globe.”
—Patricia Spears Jones

Defiant

Fruit from one vine tangles with another
Making a mess of the intended harvest, yet
the lack of calculation is welcome
 
that accident that shifts bodies from shadows
into a locus of light midday bright & caustic
wounds un-healed   newsreel cameras trap
 
this old & angry man in a bespoke suit lifting
white pages & refusing to read them, mumbles
unwelcome threats & thanks the nation
 
the nation kicks him out—finally defiant
after years of misrule, disruption, murder
and the choked voice youth terrorized
 
he wants more blood on his hands so that
when he enters his version of paradise
all will be red.

Copyright © 2018 by Patricia Spears Jones. Originally published in Poem-a-Day on May 22, 2018, by the Academy of American Poets.

Copyright © 2018 by Patricia Spears Jones. Originally published in Poem-a-Day on May 22, 2018, by the Academy of American Poets.

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collection

Classic Books of American Poetry

This collection of books showcases the masterpieces of American poetry that have influenced—or promise to influence—generations of poets. Take a look.

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To Live in the Zombie Apocalypse

The moon will shine for God
knows how long.
As if it still matters. As if someone

is trying to recall a dream.
Believe the brain is a cage of light
& rage. When it shuts off,

something else switches on.
There’s no better reason than now
to lock the doors, the windows.

Turn off the sprinklers
& porch light. Save the books
for fire. In darkness,

we learn to read
what moves along the horizon,
across the periphery of a gun scope—

the flicker of shadows,
the rustling of trash in the body
of cities long emptied.

Not a soul lives
in this house &
this house & this

house. Go on, stiffen
the heart, quicken
the blood. To live

in a world of flesh
& teeth, you must
learn to kill

what you love,
& love what can die.
 

Burlee Vang
2016
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The Iraqi Nights

In Iraq,

after a thousand and one nights,

someone will talk to someone else.

Markets will open

for regular customers.

Small feet will tickle

the giant feet of the Tigris.

Gulls will spread their wings

and no one will fire at them.

Women will walk the streets

without looking back in fear.

Men will give their real names

without putting their lives at risk.

Children will go to school

and come home again.

Chickens in the villages

won’t peck at human flesh

on the grass.

Disputes will take place

without any explosives.

A cloud will pass over cars

heading to work as usual.

A hand will wave

to someone leaving

or returning.

The sunrise will be the same

for those who wake

and those who never will.

And every moment

something ordinary

will happen

under the sun.

Dunya Mikhail
2016
Glacier National Park
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Things We Carry on the Sea

We carry tears in our eyes: good-bye father, good-bye mother

We carry soil in small bags: may home never fade in our hearts

We carry names, stories, memories of our villages, fields, boats

We carry scars from proxy wars of greed

We carry carnage of mining, droughts, floods, genocides

We carry dust of our families and neighbors incinerated in mushroom clouds

We carry our islands sinking under the sea

We carry our hands, feet, bones, hearts and best minds for a new life

We carry diplomas: medicine, engineer, nurse, education, math, poetry, even if they mean nothing to the other shore

We carry railroads, plantations, laundromats, bodegas, taco trucks, farms, factories, nursing homes, hospitals, schools, temples…built on our ancestors’ backs

We carry old homes along the spine, new dreams in our chests

We carry yesterday, today and tomorrow

We’re orphans of the wars forced upon us

We’re refugees of the sea rising from industrial wastes

And we carry our mother tongues
爱(ai),حب  (hubb), ליבע (libe), amor, love

平安 (ping’an), سلام ( salaam), shalom, paz, peace 

希望(xi’wang), أمل (’amal), hofenung, esperanza, hope, hope, hope

As we drift…in our rubber boats…from shore…to shore…to shore…

Wang Ping
2018
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Lesson Plans for Asian/Pacific American Heritage Month

As part of your celebration of Asian/Pacific American Heritage Month in May—and all year round—take a look at this collection of lesson plans featuring poems by Asian American and Pacific American poets.

AASL Best Website for Teaching & Learning
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How Alone Barbie Chang's Mother

How alone Barbie Chang’s mother
     must have felt doing
 
nothing but dying her mother actually
     stopped dying her hair
 
in January stopped being an actuary
     for her money she
 
must have known her time was limited
     did the diseased birch
 
tree know they were going to cut it down
     how quickly the air
 
around it filled in the space it does no
     good to know a mother’s
 
face who would have known that a 
     mother’s face could
 
be erased too at some point we are all
     eliminated from this
 
earth at some point most of us give birth
     at some point we lose
 
a mother at some point we are all
     disappointments who
 
can’t possibly care for others when
     our mothers die we
 
are all lost and there are no words for
     it some want to
 
name us as grieving others wrongly
     name us heroes
 
Victoria Chang
2017
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Teach This Poem: The Classics

Teach This Poem is a weekly series featuring a poem from our online poetry collection, accompanied by interdisciplinary resources and activities designed to help K-12 teachers quickly and easily bring poetry into the classroom. The following lesson plans from this series feature poems by classic poets, including Emily Dickinson, Walt Whitman, and more.

 

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A Poet's Glossary

Read about poetic terms and forms from Edward Hirsch's A Poet's Glossary (Harcourt, 2014), a book ten years in the making that defines the art form of poetry.  

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Duet

            Night time is the right time . . .
                  —Ray Charles and Margie Hendricks

She had me in the car. I came forward like a song.
We did it before temple, after temple, between prayers.
The windows echoed her mantras, our cries warmed the air.
Two peaks merged, then sank below the clouds.

We did it before temple, after temple, between prayers.
Her stomach began to show and people asked us not to come.
Two peaks merged, then sank below the clouds.
Night and day, everything was changing.

. . . . .

Her stomach began to show and people asked her not to come.
My mother was all alone when I was born.
Night and day. Everything was changing.
The radio started playing rhythm and blues.

My mother was all alone when I was born—
The windows echoed her mantras, our cries warmed the air,
The radio started playing rhythm and blues.
She had me in a car. I came forward like a song.
Duy Doan
2018
Spring–Summer 2018 issue of American Poets