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Recorded for Poem-a-Day, February 5, 2016.
About this Poem 

“I grew up near Philadelphia and lived in the city for many years. One day I found myself writing a sort of ode to the rough-and-tumble urban landscape of those times. After the poem was finished, I realized I’d left out one of the most seminal elements of our teens and early twenties: music. The poem’s title is my homage.”
—Melissa Stein

Anthem

We were all in love
but didn’t know it.
We were all in love
continually. Bless
our little hearts,
smoking and drinking
and wrecking things.
Bless our shameless shame.
We were loud, invincible.
We were tough as rails.
We stole street signs
and knocked over bins.
Ripped the boards
off boarded-up stuff.
Slept in towers
filled with pigeon shit
and fluff. We kicked
beer bottles down
cobbled lanes.
Tires and chains.
Chains and wheels
and skin. The world
was always ending
and we the inventors
of everything.

Copyright © 2016 Melissa Stein. Used with permission of the author.

Copyright © 2016 Melissa Stein. Used with permission of the author.

Melissa Stein

Melissa Stein

Melissa Stein is the author of Rough Honey (Copper Canyon Press, 2010). She is a freelance editor and writer in San Francisco.

by this poet

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Dear columbine, dear engine.
Mere water will force a flower
open. Then with a touch
the beautiful intact collapses
into color filament and powder.
It’s all my fault. All hands on deck
to help collect what’s spilled.
That could be me beneath
a bridge. Torn up beside the road,

poem

Control was all
I wanted: a handle
on the day, the night
when it curved,
when it swayed,
when I could sense
the teeming stars
in light, in dark
the sun’s bare wire.
Some switch
to turn it off:
each shadow
pinned to each tree
like a radius
of some