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Poem-a-Day

Poem-a-Day is the original and only daily digital poetry series featuring over 250 new, previously unpublished poems by today's talented poets each year. On weekdays, poems are accompanied by exclusive commentary and audio 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 500,000+ readers free of charge and is available for syndication. For more information about how to syndicate Poem-a-Day, contact [email protected]. The series is curated by twelve poets from across the country who have wide-ranging expertise and editorial perspectives. Learn more about our 2018 guest editors and read the poems they curated.

Things Haunt

Recorded for Poem-a-Day, December 11, 2018.
About this Poem 

“This piece was inspired by being out on tour with Sister Spit, a revolving, long-running collective of queer writers. I was thinking about our interactions with one another, the community we found sharing our work together, and how even as this world tries to kill us, we persist—if not in body, then in spirit, in the words we give as offerings.”
—Joshua Jennifer Espinoza

Things Haunt

California is a desert and I am a woman inside it.
The road ahead bends sideways and I lurch within myself. 
I’m full of ugly feelings, awful thoughts, bad dreams 
of doom, and so much love left unspoken. 

Is mercury in retrograde? someone asks. 
Someone answers, No, it’s something else 
like that though. Something else like that.
That should be my name.

When you ask me am I really a woman, a human being,
a coherent identity, I’ll say No, I’m something else 
like that though. 
 
A true citizen of planet earth closes their eyes 
and says what they are before the mirror. 
A good person gives and asks for nothing in return. 
I give and I ask for only one thing—
 
Hear me. Hear me. Hear me. Hear me. Hear me. 
Hear me. Bear the weight of my voice and don’t forget—
things haunt. Things exist long after they are killed.

Copyright © 2018 by Joshua Jennifer Espinoza. Originally published in Poem-a-Day on December 11, 2018, by the Academy of American Poets.

Copyright © 2018 by Joshua Jennifer Espinoza. Originally published in Poem-a-Day on December 11, 2018, by the Academy of American Poets.

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