poem index

sign up to receive a new poem-a-day in your inbox

Recorded for Poem-a-Day, October 23, 2017.
About this Poem 
“I wrote this poem during a time when I understood that my uncle was dying, and whether that compressed the fractious into something whole, or solidified the fragility of things, it was breath to the word, hope in the foregone.”
—Howard Altmann
 

After Hours

We were searching for 
ourselves, after logic 
for no good reason, 
jumping fires to take 
the heat for walking, 
wishing the blue night 
not to fall into the blue 
sky and darken what 
remained. We were 
holding on to music, 
playing the solemn 
string the healing horn, 
rolling back the meadow 
to give innocence one 
more tumble, waiting 
for the breeze to send
the screen door slamming 
open. We were rushing 
with the sea of people 
tiding over curb and 
sidewalk, twilight running 
out of light, a city pacing 
its expansion into the sky, 
block by block, new 
views burying the old,
thinking not thinking 
about the dead. We were 
who we never thought 
we’d be, at the corner 
of expectation and desire, 
the world kind and un-
kind, the rabbits scared 
the palace in ruins,
language failing the earth
in transition, the infinite 
sky divided the clouds 
dispersing premonitions. 
Come evening come 
shade, float us to your 
constellation, let the void 
draw us still; the radiologist 
turn off her light and go.
 

Copyright © 2017 by Howard Altmann. Originally published in Poem-a-Day on October 23, 2017, by the Academy of American Poets.

Copyright © 2017 by Howard Altmann. Originally published in Poem-a-Day on October 23, 2017, by the Academy of American Poets.

Howard Altmann

Howard Altmann

Howard Altmann is the author of In This House (Turtle Point Press, 2010). He lives in New York City.

by this poet

poem

History sits on a chair
in a room without windows.
Mornings it searches for a door,
afternoons it naps.
At the stroke of midnight,
it stretches its body and sighs.
It keeps time and loses time,
knows its place and doesn’t know its place.
Sometimes it considers the chair a

poem

That we can breathe and not forget
our dreams entirely. In the cold sun

the warmth of timelessness. There is
panic, rest assured, so much beauty

stirring, I want to touch all that
contains me. We know the questions

and the light shifts without a word.
In the clouds, a

2
poem

And I gave myself to the poem.
And the poem gave to me.
And I gave myself to the sky.
And the sky gave to me.
And I gave myself to the wind.
And the wind took what I gave
and passed it to the sky.

And I gave myself to women.
And women gave to me.
And I gave