this is what the words were meant to prophesy

Dear Readers,

Happy National Poetry Month! For the first time in the decade (!) since I started this blog, I am taking a hiatus from daily April posting. I will still post as much as I can, but in the meantime, I hope you all find ways to explore and enjoy verse this month—and every month of the year. And heartfelt thanks to all of you who have reached out to tell me how much the poems have meant to you–I have maintained my blog after all this time in part because of your collective encouragement.

If you still want that regular poem in your inbox this April, I recommend signing up for daily poems from places like:


In the meantime, I will leave you with this poem from the incredible W.S. Merwin (1927-2019), who passed away just two weeks ago.

“Losing a Language”

A breath leaves the sentences and does not come back
yet the old still remember something that they could say

but they know now that such things are no longer believed
and the young have fewer words

many of the things the words were about
no longer exist

the noun for standing in mist by a haunted tree
the verb for I

the children will not repeat
the phrases their parents speak

somebody has persuaded them
that it is better to say everything differently

so that they can be admired somewhere
farther and farther away

where nothing that is here is known
we have little to say to each other

we are wrong and dark
in the eyes of the new owners

the radio is incomprehensible
the day is glass

when there is a voice at the door it is foreign
everywhere instead of a name there is a lie

nobody has seen it happening
nobody remembers

this is what the words were made
to prophesy

here are the extinct feathers
here is the rain we saw

And this is where the abyss begins

For this year’s World Poetry Day, I share with you the haunting words of Argentinian poet Roberto Juarroz (1925-1995). It seems especially fitting on this day to remember how vital it is for all of us to think of, and write about, each other…and how essential poetry is to imagining–and saving–the untold selves inhabiting this universe.


from First Vertical Poetry (1958)

I think that at this moment
maybe nobody in the universe is thinking about me,
I’m the only one who’s thinking me,
and if I were to die now
nobody, not even I, would think me.

And this is where the abyss begins,
as when I go to sleep.
I’m my own support and I take it away from me.
I help to curtain everything with absence.

That may be why
when you think of someone
it’s like saving them.

translated by W.S. Merwin

we go on saying thank you thank you

A beautiful and necessary reminder from W.S. Merwin.


with the night falling we are saying thank you
we are stopping on the bridges to bow from the railings
we are running out of the glass rooms
with our mouths full of food to look at the sky
and say thank you
we are standing by the water thanking it
smiling by the windows looking out
in our directions

back from a series of hospitals back from a mugging
after funerals we are saying thank you
after the news of the dead
whether or not we knew them we are saying thank you

over telephones we are saying thank you
in doorways and in the backs of cars and in elevators
remembering wars and the police at the door
and the beatings on stairs we are saying thank you
in the banks we are saying thank you
in the faces of the officials and the rich
and of all who will never change
we go on saying thank you thank you

with the animals dying around us
our lost feelings we are saying thank you
with the forests falling faster than the minutes
of our lives we are saying thank you
with the words going out like cells of a brain
with the cities growing over us
we are saying thank you faster and faster
with nobody listening we are saying thank you
we are saying thank you and waving
dark though it is