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Poem-A-Day

Poem-a-Day is the original and only daily digital poetry series featuring over 200 new, previously unpublished poems by today's talented poets each year. On weekdays, poems are accompanied by exclusive commentary by the poets. The series highlights classic poems on weekends. Launched in 2006, Poem-a-Day is now distributed via email, web, and social media to 350,000+ readers free of charge and is available for syndication. For more information about how to syndicate Poem-a-Day, contact [email protected].

Spirits

Recorded for Poem-a-Day, July 18, 2018.
About this Poem 

“Back in the days of my MFA in Oregon, I wrote a couple of lines about picturing Felix the Cat totally drunk when I'd hear Perez Prado’s version of ‘Cherry Pink & Apple Blossom White.’ I didn’t know what to do with that image, so I shelved it away. I brought it back because I found myself thinking about my grandfather, and the fact that he was a drunk, all those drunks from my childhood asleep on the ground, on the grass or sidewalk, under a tree, in the gutter, some related to me, some not. They were not dangerous, but sad clowns. In retrospect, I’m thinking that they were symbolic of my native country of El Salvador, ridiculously somber, deteriorating while the ugliness of the civil war raged around them.”
—William Archila

Spirits

At daylight, he surrendered to the gutters’ 
thick cirrhosis, his trajectory 

half awake, half anvil from the glass to the killing floor
I was raised in, each thin thread tethered 

from the root of a nicotined tooth 
to the rusted bars of the slammer.  I couldn't tell you why 

Felix the Cat came to mind, totally inebriated, 
two Xs, bubbles popping, his gait 

a saint carried in a procession—Cherry Pink 
& Apple Blossom White, 1955—

except that my grandfather died 
with a bottle in his pocket, his Robert Mitchum

chin & pompadour distilled
from a banana republic in fire, a slow, steady 

drinker, perfect fulfillment to drown out 
his manhood. There's a certain kind of fix 

that falters precariously, 
a benediction when they allege 

one more drunk for the hood. He didn't matter 
to the dispenser nor the riffraff crowd. 

Nothing about him capsized, except his compound 
of cologne & corrosion.  All those rotguts. 

All those bums. They didn't matter 
to the nation, though they were the nation.

Copyright © 2018 by William Archila. Originally published in Poem-a-Day on July 18, 2018, by the Academy of American Poets.

Copyright © 2018 by William Archila. Originally published in Poem-a-Day on July 18, 2018, by the Academy of American Poets.

previous poems

date titlesort ascending author
June 29, 2011 Mirrors Tada Chimako
February 12, 2018 Mirror Theory Lucia LoTempio
March 27, 2016 Miracles Walt Whitman
May 16, 2016 Mind-Body Problem Wayne Miller
May 06, 2013 Mimosa Mary Ruefle
June 27, 2017 Millay’s Hair Ann Townsend
February 22, 2017 Migration Ana Božičević
September 13, 2010 Migrant Ange Mlinko
July 31, 2011 Midsummer William Cullen Bryant
April 09, 2016 Mid-Day H. D.

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