poem index

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

occasions

About this Poem 

“One day I unpacked a globe out of a cardboard box and looked at different locations on our planet. When I saw ‘Coral Sea,’ I stopped and thought of the Battle of the Coral Sea. The poem sprang out of that moment.”
Arthur Sze

Unpacking a Globe

I gaze at the Pacific and don’t expect
to ever see the heads on Easter Island,

though I guess at sunlight rippling
the yellow grasses sloping to shore;

yesterday a doe ate grass in the orchard:
it lifted its ears and stopped eating

when it sensed us watching from
a glass hallway—in his sleep, a veteran

sweats, defusing a land mine.
On the globe, I mark the Battle of

the Coral Sea—no one frets at that now.
A poem can never be too dark,

I nod and, staring at the Kenai, hear
ice breaking up along an inlet;

yesterday a coyote trotted across
my headlights and turned his head

but didn’t break stride; that’s how
I want to live on this planet:

alive to a rabbit at a glass door—
and flower where there is no flower.
 

Copyright © 2015 by Arthur Sze. Originally published in Poem-a-Day on April 10, 2015, by the Academy of American Poets.

Copyright © 2015 by Arthur Sze. Originally published in Poem-a-Day on April 10, 2015, by the Academy of American Poets.

Arthur Sze

Arthur Sze

Born in New York City in 1950, Arthur Sze is the author of nine books of poetry, including Compass Rose (Copper Canyon Press, 2014). He served as a Chancellor of the Academy of American Poets from 2012 to 2017.

by this poet

poem

                —walking along a ridge of white sand—
                                                      it’s cooler below the surface—

                we stop and, gazing at an expanse
                             of dunes to the west,
                                         watch a yellow

2
poem

Faucets drip, and the night plunges to minus
     fifteen degrees. Today you stared at a map
of Africa on a school wall and shook your head
     at “Yugoslavia” written along the Adriatic
coast near the top—how many times
     are lines drawn and redrawn, and to what end?

This ebony

2
poem

 

Click the icon above to listen to this audio poem.

2