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Poem-a-Day is the original and only daily digital poetry series featuring over 200 new, previously unpublished poems by today's talented poets each year.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

Huntington Beach

Recorded for Poem-a-Day, July 27, 2017.
About this Poem 

“As a person who suffers from anxiety, I often wonder how much of my anxiety about the world is self-imposed. I wonder if it’s not that at a young age I might have heard someone say something and that person got it all wrong and thus I continued living my entire life after without knowing they got it wrong until the moment arrives when I see that it’s not true. And I often wonder about what others live with and live through, others who never have the fortune and privilege to arrive at the moment where they find rest.”
—Keegan Lester

Huntington Beach

The war ships bobbing off the coast.
                         The outdated oil drills painted
so to blend into the clouds. The gold thin
                         stitched to the water’s edge. Errant dolphin.
Balled up piece of trash on PCH with the list: Eggs, whole milk, butterflies.
                         You cry like a peacock, she says,
every time you get close to being the thing you want to be. 
                         What if God is the people around us:
watching, listening? What a relief that would be. 
                         But it’s so easy to forget we’re not
only being watched by the people in front of us, but
                         also by the people in places we cannot see. What is it
to be allowed back again? On the bike path, my father
                         ahead of me, saying, look at the wind,
meaning: look at the thing doing the moving,
                         moving orange-coned flags holding on for dear life.
The salt rolling off the ocean rots everything in its jowls
                         & my skin so close to turning, I can feel
becoming the metal shard you will learn to protect yourself from,
                        capable of catching the light drawing you in.
Everything rusted is a story beginning
                        once upon a time, I was young, standing in front of the ocean,
beneath the sun without consequence or query
                        for time, just standing, looking out into the thing
unaware of its indifference. There’s something Greek in that. Did Odysseus need the monsters more
                        than they needed him? Does it matter? A kind of antiquity
in that line of thinking but also something very American. Akin to sparklers.
                        They only dance if you light them & wave. Birds do not
abandon their young merely because of human touch.
                        This & so many other myths my mother breaks
in her search for palatable colors, for mixing,
                        for making what was lost whole again. 

Copyright © 2017 by Keegan Lester. Originally published in Poem-a-Day on July 27, 2017, by the Academy of American Poets.

Copyright © 2017 by Keegan Lester. Originally published in Poem-a-Day on July 27, 2017, by the Academy of American Poets.