poem index

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

About this poet

Born March 28, 1976, Ada Limón is originially from Sonoma, California. As a child, she was greatly influenced by the visual arts and artists, including her mother, Stacia Brady. In 2001 she received an MFA from the Creative Writing Program at New York University.

Her first collection of poetry, Lucky Wreck (Autumn House Press, 2006), was the winner of the 2005 Autumn House Poetry Prize. She is also the author of The Carrying (Milkweed Editions, 2018); Bright Dead Things (Milkweed Editions, 2015), which was a finalist for the National Book Award; Sharks in the Rivers (Milkweed Editions, 2010); and This Big Fake World (Pearl Editions, 2006), winner of the 2005 Pearl Poetry Prize. Of Limón's work, the poet Richard Blanco writes, "Both soft and tender, enormous and resounding, her poetic gestures entrance and transfix."

A 2001-2002 fellow at the Provincetown Fine Arts Work Center, she has also received a grant from the New York Foundation for the Arts and won the Chicago Literary Award for Poetry. She splits her time between Lexington, Kentucky, and Sonoma, California.


Bibliography

The Carrying (Milkweed Editions, 2018)
Bright Dead Things (Milkweed Editions2015)
Sharks in the Rivers (Milkweed Editions, 2010)
This Big Fake World (Pearl Editions, 2006)
Lucky Wreck (Autumn House Press, 2006)

A New National Anthem

The truth is, I’ve never cared for the National
Anthem. If you think about it, it’s not a good
song. Too high for most of us with “the rockets’
red glare” and then there are the bombs.
(Always, always there is war and bombs.)
Once, I sang it at homecoming and threw
even the tenacious high school band off key.
But the song didn’t mean anything, just a call
to the field, something to get through before
the pummeling of youth. And what of the stanzas
we never sing, the third that mentions “no refuge
could save the hireling and the slave”? Perhaps
the truth is that every song of this country
has an unsung third stanza, something brutal
snaking underneath us as we blindly sing
the high notes with a beer sloshing in the stands
hoping our team wins. Don’t get me wrong, I do
like the flag, how it undulates in the wind
like water, elemental, and best when it’s humbled,
brought to its knees, clung to by someone who
has lost everything, when it’s not a weapon,
when it flickers, when it folds up so perfectly
you can keep it until it’s needed, until you can
love it again, until the song in your mouth feels
like sustenance, a song where the notes are sung
by even the ageless woods, the shortgrass plains,
the Red River Gorge, the fistful of land left
unpoisoned, that song that’s our birthright,
that’s sung in silence when it’s too hard to go on,
that sounds like someone’s rough fingers weaving
into another’s, that sounds like a match being lit
in an endless cave, the song that says my bones
are your bones, and your bones are my bones,
and isn’t that enough?

From The Carrying (Milkweed Editions, 2018) by Ada Limón. Copyright © 2018 by Ada Limón. Used with the permission of Milkweed Editions. milkweed.org.

From The Carrying (Milkweed Editions, 2018) by Ada Limón. Copyright © 2018 by Ada Limón. Used with the permission of Milkweed Editions. milkweed.org.

Ada Limón

Ada Limón

Ada Limón is the author of The Carrying (Milkweed Editions, 2018) and Bright Dead Things (Milkweed Editions, 2015), which was a finalist for the National Book Award.

by this poet

poem
We'll say unbelievable things 
to each other in the early morning— 
  
our blue coming up from our roots, 
our water rising in our extraordinary limbs. 
  
All night I dreamt of bonfires and burn piles 
and ghosts of men, and spirits 
behind those birds of flame. 
  
I cannot tell anymore when a door opens or
poem

Out here, there’s a bowing even the trees are doing.
                 Winter’s icy hand at the back of all of us.
Black bark, slick yellow leaves, a kind of stillness that feels
so mute it’s almost in another year.

I am a hearth of spiders these days: a nest of trying.

We point out the

poem

I like the lady horses best,
how they make it all look easy,
like running 40 miles per hour
is as fun as taking a nap, or grass.
I like their lady horse swagger,
after winning. Ears up, girls, ears up!
But mainly, let's be honest, I like
that they're ladies. As if this big