Self-care is a radical act in a world that values production over people. Reading, reciting, and writing are ways to reconnect authentically with oneself and to challenge the status quo.

Reading: Find poems in our anthology that speak to your experience, that widen your world, or that create connections across time and place.

Reciting: Voice the beauty and the truth that needs to be heard. Find a poem that can be a daily affirmation.


The river is famous to the fish.


The loud voice is famous to silence,

which knew it would inherit the earth

before anybody said so.


The cat sleeping on the fence is famous to the birds

watching him from the birdhouse.


The tear is famous, briefly, to the cheek.


The idea you carry close to your bosom

is famous to your bosom.


The boot is famous to the earth,

more famous than the dress shoe,

which is famous only to floors.


That feeling of my soul getting yanked

That feeling of my soul getting yanked

I wonder where my soul hides when I’m sick

My heart feels as if it’s getting beat up

Is it because the restless ocean is clumping up?

My heart beats regardless of the pain

It beats spewing out red thread like a red spider

A sinkful of red thread gets submerged in water

My heart beats like a girl marathon runner who only had ramen to eat


Maybe the soul of the bald girl in a hospital gown hanging by the


What did I know, what did I know

of love’s austere and lonely offices?

— Robert Hayden



Weekends too my father roofed poor neighborhoods,

at prices only his back could carry


into profit.  In the name of labor’s

virtue—or was it another bill collector’s callous


calling again?—my brother and I became

his two-boy cleanup crew.  During those hard,


gloved hours under the sun’s weight, I studied

my father, from the ground—the distance he kept



To Windrim or sycamore

           rustle cicada or bark and to Wayne

           to rustle and psoas and psoas to Belmont and Germantown hills

hills as to nearer Plateau as to Central and whisper wall Indian

summer to sleeves or the sleeveless groin as to forward

and dog shit and Cliveden to Wieland the whispering creek

as to Windrim

or mounting as Chestnut to backslid

the Juniper Schuylkill

           to boulder the pound to clover mite

vernal or rake as to tendon

exhaust of to Windrim and spare Wissahickon

Poem of Failed Amends (Amor fati)

I’ve put the oats in a jar,

with yogourt and seeds,

left it in the fridge

overnight. The fruit on top

will thaw, dripping


into the rest.

I want to remember

I’ve done this

for myself in the morning,

because I’ve been surprised

by my own innocence:

I cried silent and easy

when my amends were


I was expecting to know


As I was crying,

I made a note

about what I have to do

the next day.

I could do this.

From all you can is the best you can

i once shoved my foot through glass

getting to know my own anger


its patches of stupid

bloody love


stress is just a socially acceptable

word for fear


i’m ashamed of feeling too much


river edges like a cut

of laughter


left too long in the sun, a bloated

syringe of time between our kneecaps


i know you want

the piece of the story


that is clandestine

but i won’t give it to you


A Thin Plea



Our national bird ­– for years – was – as A M Klein said –

the rocking chair


I don’t know what our national bird is now – but my totem bird is

the killdeer


Its names – odd mannerisms – & cry – explain bits about me – in



My daily writing self at 57 has accrued the usual odd habits &

noises – there are awful names I know myself by – lie-dances I



Between Strangers

Stranger, who can measure the distance between us?

Distance is the rumor of a never-before-seen sea.

Distance the width of a layer of dust.

Maybe we need only strike a match

for my world to flicker in your sky,

Visible finally, and eye-to-eye.

Breachable, finally, the border between us.

What if we touched? What then?

Would something in us hum an old familiar song? 

Maybe then our feet would wear a path back and forth

between our lives, like houses in neighboring lots.


Before you know what kindness really is

you must lose things,

feel the future dissolve in a moment

like salt in a weakened broth.

What you held in your hand,

what you counted and carefully saved,

all this must go so you know

how desolate the landscape can be

between the regions of kindness.

How you ride and ride

thinking the bus will never stop,

the passengers eating maize and chicken

will stare out the window forever.


Not the Music

Not the music.

It is this other thing

I keep from all of them

that matters, inviolable.


I scratch in my journals,

a mouse rummaging through cupboards,

nibbling on a crust of bread, apple skins,

chewing the edges of photographs, the small

details of a life. I hoard and save,

place one thing inside another

inside the next.


Start with the prairie, then Horizon

and inside it our house,

the kitchen, the table where I sit

with my journal, and inside it

Start here: