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Poem-a-Day is the original and only daily digital poetry series featuring over 200 new, previously unpublished poems by today's talented poets each year.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

Why Whales Are Back in New York City

Recorded for Poem-a-Day, October 16, 2017.
About this Poem 

“I wrote this poem to speak out as our government bullies immigrants. This poem is also a love song to my community: It’s been a century since Indian indenture was abolished, and we celebrate on the streets of a different empire that would rather see our brown faces deported. How beautiful that the whales, once threatened by a fouled environment, retreated and now come back that the waters are cleaner; we have so much work to do.”
—Rajiv Mohabir

Why Whales Are Back in New York City

After a century, humpbacks migrate
again to Queens. They left
due to sewage and white froth

banking the shores from polychlorinated-
biphenyl-dumping into the Hudson
and winnowing menhaden schools.

But now grace, dark bodies of song
return. Go to the seaside—

Hold your breath. Submerge.
A black fluke silhouetted
against the Manhattan skyline.

Now ICE beats doors
down on Liberty Avenue
to deport. I sit alone on orange

A train seats, mouth sparkling
from Singh’s, no matter how
white supremacy gathers

at the sidewalks, flows down
the streets, we still beat our drums
wild. Watch their false-god statues

prostrate to black and brown hands.
They won’t keep us out
though they send us back.

Our songs will pierce the dark
fathoms. Behold the miracle:

what was once lost
now leaps before you.

Copyright © 2017 by Rajiv Mohabir. Originally published in Poem-a-Day on October 16, 2017, by the Academy of American Poets.

Copyright © 2017 by Rajiv Mohabir. Originally published in Poem-a-Day on October 16, 2017, by the Academy of American Poets.

previous poems

datesort ascending title author
August 26, 2017 Sketch Carl Sandburg
August 25, 2017 The Symbolic Life Hayan Charara
August 24, 2017 Circus City Carol Frost
August 23, 2017 Lonely Planet Nate Klug
August 22, 2017 Daily Conscription Kyle Dargan
August 21, 2017 Hummingbird Robin Becker
August 20, 2017 On Broadway Claude McKay
August 19, 2017 Sea Iris H. D.
August 18, 2017 Epithalamium Carl Adamshick
August 17, 2017 Late Summer James Brasfield

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