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Poem-a-Day is the original and only daily digital poetry series featuring over 200 new, previously unpublished poems by today's talented poets each year.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 by King Features.

Downstairs in Dreams

Recorded for Poem-a-Day, February 10, 2016.
About this Poem 

“My father was a Latin teacher, so at bedtime we got the classic myths and stories from The Odyssey, including a variety of creatures half-human, half-animal. Centaurs in particular fascinated me because they were both horses (longed for) and mature male sexual beings (feared). The poem cages childhood trauma in myth and dream, which acknowledges and preserves the fact of it but keeps it safely remote and unreal.”
—Chase Twichell

Downstairs in Dreams

Chase Twichell, 1950

Trying to fall asleep,
I count down stone steps
into the dark, and there they are:
Centaurs, half in and half out
of the woods, hindquarters still trees.
Downstairs in dreams I look
directly into their man-eyes,
which are opaque, absorbent.
They don’t speak. I don’t speak
of the long yellow teeth tearing off
the little dress—just for a glimpse,
no harm done. No hands, no harm.
Their hindquarters still trees.
No words to explain or contain it.
You can’t translate something
that was never in a language
in the first place.

Copyright © 2016 Chase Twichell. Used with permission of the author.

Copyright © 2016 Chase Twichell. Used with permission of the author.

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January 15, 2016 Larrea Louise Mathias
January 14, 2016 Imaginary Morning Glory C. D. Wright
January 13, 2016 Blue Vase Cynthia Zarin
January 12, 2016 The Cry Paisley Rekdal