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PEN American Center

PEN Poetry Series

Once a week, the PEN Poetry Series publishes work by emerging and established writers from coast to coast. Subscribe to the Poetry Series mailing list and have poems delivered to your e-mail as soon as they’re published. The series is edited by Danniel Schoonebeek, along with guest editors Robert Fernandez, Heather Christle, and Cathy Park Hong.

January 28, 15

the woodpecker’s / long tongue, forked / at the base of its throat and / wrapped over the top of its head / and around the eye socket, / squirts through the drill hole / into a gallery of / insects within / the dead cactus. Read More  »

January 21, 15

was her face moving or talking, were the words her own; was it because she was missing or because of something else; if moving how grainy, was it from a surveillance camera or a phone or a video camera; would people paint her, would the paintings...Read More  »

January 14, 15

Is it to the power of flowering / between the red / and the far-red regions, / against the gloom, / the peony, the poppy, the rose, / the broken tulip, stung- / open cardinal, the lime-lit / primulas, each owes its astringent / each Read More  »

January 7, 15

On the day of my thirty-seventh birthday I ended up involved / in murdering the president. I was in charge of watching the windows of his palace / and sending back coded reports. Read More  »

December 30, 14

I do not know. I do not know. I do not know. I do not know. I do not know. I do not know. I do not know. I do not know. I do not know. I do not know. I do not know. I do not know. I do not know. I do not know. Read More  »

December 18, 14

dear son don’t flinch / when he comes for you // singing through my brain my face // lure you wait / shadows flat under the operating lights // scissor to flower to bone Read More  »

December 10, 14

What more is there to say about tambourines / that mimic the bells on a leather saddle, strapped / to a horse you rode across the Chinese tundra / or rode over a dune into the sand sea below / the line between noise and music is inside you / like a...Read More  »

December 4, 14

I / was / delicate / as a child / lived / one too / many lives, I / loved me as myself / I was my brother Last / I entered the gun cabinet I kept / forgetting who I was, what he wanted, which side / or surface I belonged to Read More  »

December 1, 14

Shorthand that he is sacrificial pig / Soon to be dangled plunged flushed or frozen / Before slurping prognathous blob toting lurkers / Mildly curious prop destined for smithereen pile / There must be nothing left to put back together Read More  »

November 19, 14

my snake would scare away cops / if they came bothering Mama and me / when we are dancing to our records / high off something Ricky gave us Read More  »