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Recorded for Poem-a-Day, October 8, 2018.
About this Poem 

“In the morning I make an espresso and sit in a comfortable chair where I can see the outside. Sometimes I’m up so early I can feel the light coming. I just listen to the air. The angels are lovely creatures to talk to. Rilke also enjoyed it! Often I can’t tell the difference between my voice and theirs.”
—Toi Derricotte

The blessed angels

How much like
angels are these tall
gladiolas in a vase on my coffee
table, as if in a bunch
whispering. How slender
and artless, how scandalously
alive, each with its own
humors and pulse. Each weight-
bearing stem is the stem
of a thought through which
aspires the blood-metal of stars. Each heart
is a gift for the king. When
I was a child, my mother and aunts
would sit in the kitchen
gossiping. One would tip
her head toward me, “Little Ears,”
she’d warn, and the whole room
went silent. Now, before sunrise,
what secrets I am told!—being
quieter than blossoms and near invisible.

Copyright © 2018 by Toi Derricotte. Originally published in Poem-a-Day on October 8, 2018, by the Academy of American Poets.

Copyright © 2018 by Toi Derricotte. Originally published in Poem-a-Day on October 8, 2018, by the Academy of American Poets.

Toi Derricotte

Toi Derricotte

The author of several books of poetry, Toi Derricotte is cofounder of Cave Canem, a national poetry organization committed to cultivating the artistic and professional growth of African American poets. She served as a Chancellor of the Academy of American Poets from 2012 to 2017.

by this poet

poem

We like the houses here.
We circle the lake turning
into dark cleavages, dense-packed gleamings.
We could live here, we say.
We’re smiling, but thinking
of the houses at the last resort:
The real estate agent looked surprised
when she saw Bruce’s face; then flipped 
quickly

2
poem

 

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2
poem

Telly’s favorite artist was Alice Neel.
When he first came to my house,
I propped up her bright yellow shade with open
window & a vase of flowers (postcard size)
behind his first fish bowl. I thought
it might give him something
to look at, like the center
of a house you keep