poem index

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

occasions

Recorded for Poem-a-Day, June 15, 2016.
About this Poem 

“Was there ever a place that you found—a city block, an empty beach, or where you simply stood next to someone—and later tried to find again but couldn’t figure out how? This poem is trying to figure out how. I guess most of mine are.”

—Mark Bibbins

Whether by Drowning or by Stars

When everyone was granted their childhood
wish for invisibility, it turned out

to be less erotically useful than we all
had imagined. Since then the first

legitimately wild idea I had I tamed
and named Thom Yorke, after a pony

who’d clomped among the precincts
of my visible youth, refusing

to be rode, my use of the word first
also proving to have been based

on an unfounded sense of possibility
that ill-defines my generation still.

Hidden message: we cannot measure
the corruption of our age

but we can make the heat of it
ever hotter by leaping onto the pyre.

On hearing the kvetching of coyotes
in an August night, my doppelganger

climbs up out of the lake
and into a constellation—when light

and death both want you,
one of them might not get its way.

I’ve given names to a dozen other ideas
and deleted those names

because who could they ever have saved.
Impossibly sweet and recalcitrant

old Thom Yorke though,
best pony anybody knew.
 

Copyright © 2016 by Mark Bibbins. Originally published in Poem-a-Day on June 15, 2016, by the Academy of American Poets.

Copyright © 2016 by Mark Bibbins. Originally published in Poem-a-Day on June 15, 2016, by the Academy of American Poets.

Mark Bibbins

Mark Bibbins, born in Albany, New York, in 1968, received his BA at Hunter College and his MFA at The New School in Manhattan, where he has lived since 1991.

Bibbins is the author of three books of poetry: They Don’t Kill You Because They’re Hungry, They Kill You Because They’re Full (Copper Canyon Press, 2014); The Dance of No Hard Feelings (Copper Canyon Press, 2009); and Sky Lounge (Graywolf Press, 2003), winner of a Lambda Literary Award.

by this poet

poem
Someone waits at my door. Because he is
    dead he has time but I have my secrets--

    this is what separates us from the dead.
See, I could order take-out or climb down

the fire escape, so it's not as though he
    is keeping me from anything I need.

    While this may sound like something I made up,
it is
poem

A bag of thank-you notes fell
on me and that was enough
art for one day. Culturally speaking,
it was more like a year
in the floral trenches, kicked off
with a single boneless kiss.
Poor sad demon in his poor dead tree—
or is it he who pities me, cockshy
quasihero with a

poem
Your object will have made a good subject
and I should get to tell you so: the bird 
with a beak but no mouth, we hear him only

when it's night in the Dominican Republic
and Israel at the same time. Someone will 
find your marginalia useful, so try to spare

some ink. I took dictation only from you, 
for whom