Poem In Your Pocket Day 2023

Poem in Your Pocket Day is an international movement that encourages people to centre poetry within their daily interactions.

On PIYP Day, select a poem, carry it with you, and share it with others at schools, bookstores, libraries, parks, workplaces, coffee shops, street corners, and on social media using the hashtag #PocketPoem.

The 2023 Poem in Your Pocket Day Postcard collection is here!

This year’s Poem In Your Pocket Collection features poetry by: George Amabile, Manahil Bandukwala, Rae Crossman, Jannie Edwards, Y S Lee, Kyo Lee, D.A. Lockhart, Briana Lu, Anthony Purdy, Sneha Madhavan-Reese, Richard-Yves Sitoski, Michael V. Smith, Eleonore Schönmaier and Pujita Verma.

Read their poems below and share with others.

BOSRA, SYRIA 2009
    for A and E
George Amabile


	1

We’re standing in a light breeze, 
in a field of poppies, white and red, 
their heads nodding and tossing
beside the collapsed walls, broken 
columns with lengthening shadows
behind them, and the wide road, paved 
with stones, that steered ancient wheels
and hobnailed sandals back to Rome.

	2

Today we’ve climbed to the top row 
of the Roman Amphitheatre.  From here
you can see most of the town, the ruins
of the Roman baths, and the square, slender
minaret of the Al-Omari mosque.  Hushed
voices draw our attention down
to the stage, where students on a field trip
are whispering urgently to a girl
with long black hair.  She shakes her head,
backs away.  But when they continue
to plead, she relents, and begins to sing,
in Latin: Ave maria, gratia plena…
and as her pure, full voice rises, carried 
by the flawless acoustics of tiered stone, 
we hear another voice behind us,
a muezzin’s intense tenor chanting
the mid-afternoon call to prayer.

-----
 
Skywater
Manahil Bandukwala


	I am you in your jewel-domed reading room,
	I am you in your kayak skimming.
	       — Phyllis Webb


The sky was inverted. I called you in the bare yellow night.

I am you against the river of clouds,
I am you in an energy current shaking down the kitchen walls,

you in the contrapuntal stream of two trees
racing vertically away from the earth.

The sea was inverted. The sun inverted. The boulders,
electrons, all organic matter. 
I called you from the land that is now the sea. 

There is no becoming; I always was. 

Now all events are kisses, a softness
in the morning before clarity settles in. 

You in the exhalations that clear out the day’s old dust,
you, large enough to hold the sun. 

The vapour of knowing might be lost, the dream
we never woke from. You, 

I am floating in saltwater in our sea that was once land.


Originally published as “I love you, kiss me,” Plenitude, 2022

-----
 
Your Trowel
Rae Crossman


I’m using your brick trowel today
to prepare the soil
for planting begonias
along the base of your headstone

my hand on the handle
you held

the steel blade
cutting through the earth
you lie under

just as you cut
slices of mortar
from the mound on the board

then spread the mud
with a flourish
along the top course of bricks

ran a light furrow
along the centre

laid your philosophy down the row

walls always plumb
stories always on the level
corners as square as your pride

I’m using your brick trowel today

I don’t have your wrist action
or your arm’s rhythmic swing

but I have your eye for straight

spacing the begonias evenly
tapping them down
with the handle’s hard end

firmly into the ready bed of loam


-----
 
Stanza
Jannie Edwards


from Italian meaning room, stopping place 

Room through seasons. Room asleep. Room that’s shaken from the deep. Room that coughs and coughs  and coughs. Room with plenty of enough. Room with maps and gears and traction. Room left stranded  at the station. Room with extra bowls and bread. Room  that argues with the dead. Room that’s lost its mother tongue. Room that keeps becoming young. Room with tides of debt and rumour. Room with tools to measure sorrow. Wired room. Haunted. Borrowed. Room of air. Room that hunkers in despair. Ruined  room awash in moonlight. Secret room to harvest midnight. Room of mirrors. Room that simmers in between. Room that takes the shape of dreams. Room that sings through nerves of green. Room ablaze with itch and fire. Room that learns its own desire.

-----
 
When Lucy clambered into the wardrobe
Y S Lee 


I didn’t know what a wardrobe was, but I suddenly knew what a wardrobe was for. And for wardrobe, say also flame-flickered cave, attic-ladder, red ignition button. Say Soyuz rocket, solid propellant, antique compass, handheld zip line, over-wintered kindling, seven-league boots, Wright Brothers’ brainchild, a faultless Houdini. Say a Ming dynasty treasure ship laden with fireworks, lion’s roar, wind-carved water, zeal of zebras, faithful pilot light, whisper of blade on wild ice, tulip buds trembling for tomorrow, twelve-dog dogsled from Anchorage to Nome, heartbeat beacon winking at the end of the world, cloud-somersault of one hundred and eight thousand li, the line your cartwheeling heel draws upon the sky. Through cloaks and minks, I leapt again for the rapture of the fall.

-----

The Red Light Reflected
 atop Roblin Lake
D.A. Lockhart 


At night the peeperscome on strong
and the red light above Roblin reflects
as if a fresh blood drop on sheer water.
Groans from behind the distant tree
line follows the patrol of military transports.
This night rests upon this sweet water
playback of a Drizzy track pushed quietly
over a Koreatown side street. Calm.
Low love vibrations. Conceive of the right
bars to hum, drop your lines upon silence.
Whisper a percolating thanks into the night,
loft them up to all thirteen heavens, pray
that they rain down neon rays of stars
we cannot yet decipher from background noise.

Al, did you too peer into the sky and dream
of the places you've been and have never
wanted to let go of? How this life is a matter
of adventure rather than pleasing others.
Consider the scent of a lifetime of books,
the weight of dust from Gibson Road
settling upon mowed lawns, dying ash trees,
sprouted tulips. Let us walk out to the mailbox,
the wail of bagpipes behind us, toothpick clenched
between grinding bicuspids. Against a lake
that I serenade with Ovo tracks. Hold on, hold on.
How two very different men can come to find
solace, medicine in a hilltop lake and a single
red light burning rather shimmering into night.

-----
 
Fiddleheads
Anthony Purdy


Beyond the willows, twilight stills the fields.
Deer sink from view to lie on flattened beds
of crabgrass, while we settle by candlelight
to fiddleheads steamed over rust-red water
and scallops simmered in an iron pan.

You lift the ferns clear of their peaty juice,
tip them in to join the scallops, finish
quickly with a knob of butter, then, with
shaking wrists, place the cast iron skillet
there between us on a blacksmith’s trivet.

We don’t need plates, you say, just bread and forks,
as you brandish yours in time to unheard
music, bowing wildly. I swing round, laughing,
to make it real on Spotify, then catch
myself – of course, we have no signal here.

The scroll, it’s true, is purely decorative
– it makes no sound – but when we listen to
the violin, some part of what we hear
is what we see; and when we eat the fern,
its tight-sprung fronds are music on our tongues.

Originally published in Fresh Voices, 2022

-----
 
Triolet for When My Children Ask if I Believe in the Hindu Pantheon
Sneha Madhavan-Reese 


What can I say about belief?
What comes forth when myth meets history?
A logical mind like mine might come to grief.
What can I say about belief?
Entering a temple, I feel such deep relief,
comfort, belonging—it’s no mystery.
What can I say about belief?
What comes forth when myth meets history?

-----
 
Ischemic Stroke
Richard-Yves Sitoski


I have come to love
your beautiful confusions.
So tumble,

unroll yourself as a blanket on the grass.
Let meadow dew make sense
of imprecise precision.

And when you can’t talk, sing: imprint 
your words on the twinkling leaves
and let them fall in the yellow of your gentleness.

I’ll rake them into lyrical piles,
then sew them to your nightdress
to rustle as you breathe, 

to sound the stumbling darkness
and guide me,
sure-footed only in my sleep.

-----
 
Metaphor
Michael V. Smith


the cupped palm
of my grandfather

in the garden
teaching me

to curl my own
beneath the raspberry

and make my hand
a bowl


-----
 
Taiga
Eleonore Schönmaier


After the evacuation
orders ended, you returned
home to discover the
forest reduced to black

ash. This wasn’t surprising:
insurmountable flames
had reached hot and high. 
The fire crept to the very edge of

all your memories. Unexpected
were the green-gentle shoots
that grew so soon after: 

the forest already, slowly
starting to rise up, feeding
from the ash.

-----
 
Tham Luang Cave Rescue
Pujita Verma


moments my fingers hover over your
unopened messages, things I want to tell you
become my monsoon. I finally saw the film. you
know the one about the trapped soccer team
& the world that swarmed to the cave to pull honey
from the heart’s wound? that one. true story. I
was making tea when divers first discovered the bodies.
I mean, the boys
(they were found alive) & I
was licking gold syrup off my fingers.
been years since the divers
brought them back (alive, yes, but conscious?
not exactly) & I can’t stop thinking about the boys
sticking to higher ground & they
kept climbing further & you
told me how long it took, for the fields to finally forgive
the farmers, for letting them flood. (I wonder if you
know I’ve been treading water. you
are in growing season). families
were camped in the mouth of the hive & others
split. dared to step into the stomach.
you tell me years ago your father
followed the allegory, as divers
pressed between two walls & found footing
to climb further. I
think necessity paves the way for all
the strength someone
could ever have.
there’s so much I
want to tell you,
& nothing that I
need to. searching for you
might just cave inside of me.
everything always ends
with the body.

-----
 
Toulouse’s uncharacteristic heat
Kevin Andrew Heslop


brings seventy grandmothers’ begonias from the house to the balcony out of season.

-----

birdbrained 
by Briana Lu

am i the red tint window pane or am i the bird that hit it? this summer, featuring awakened glare in the synthetic typewriter and feelings of awful electronity. i think she was dead before she even made contact but all i knew was the windshield crack when she struck gold. maybe she practiced radical self love. maybe she aimed for sunfire. body and environment is an extension of the mind and maybe that was fucking ominous. i’ve got her in my hands, gloved and all as if afraid to melt into a synthesis of prophetic carnage. it’s a symptom of psychosis, really— not knowing how to wield the transhumanal ice pick despite having been raised by it. she’s weeping. maybe she doesn’t know either. cosmic infinitesimal feeling placebo in pianist hands, tickling ivories demanding to be freed. my skin is porcelain, cold to the touch and she is liminal warmth, heart beating out of chest and i’m wondering if her blood might just soar. it’s all wingless enormity in childhood shoebox crafts and prayers in secular mouthwash— encores in sewers and i think i’m going to be sick. crisis hotline sings “My Heart Will Go On”. i wash my hands and go back inside. this summer, featuring awakened glare in the synthetic typewriter and feelings of awful electronity. i think i looked up and felt her heart stop.


-----

Asian Girl 
By Kyo Lee
Inspired by Jamaica Kincaid’s “Girl” 
 

read more korean books; read more english books; memorise one hundred english words everyday; don’t bleed out your mother tongue unless you want to be some white-washed gyopo; here’s how to sculpt rice flour into crescent moons; here’s how to fold rice flour into bird eggs; always get better grades than your friends; always get better grades than my friends’ children; always get better grades because we don’t pay 
$20,000 for you to go to school here so you can be average; greet your elders by bowing your head; get double eye-lid surgery; don’t wear eyeliner, you're going to look even chinkier; here’s how to whiten your skin with a cushion; here’s how to look the same as everybody else; when you see something in the street, avoid eye contact and walk faster; remember, we don’t have the privilege of helping others; here's how to cook rice in the steam pot; here's how to cook rice in the microwave; here's how to cook rice in the rice cooker; here's how to cook rice with a kettle; here's how to cook the perfect rice; here's how to make a sandwich for school so the white kids don’t think you’re too asian; sprout like a lotus blossom: beautiful and exotic and on the verge of drowning; don’t hold your chopstick like that; here’s how to make kimchi; here’s how to make kimchi for white people; here are all the different kimchis to make in each season: summer for tender yeolmu leaves, the winter for snow-white radishes; always tap on the watermelon before you buy it; memorise the names of bts members so white people accept that you’re a korean; but what should the watermelon sound like?; don’t talk back to your elders; here’s how to stay quiet; here, store all your anger in this moon-hangari and swallow it over and over again; here’s how to complain about your husband to asian ladies; never speak well of your own life, people don’t want to hear about the good things; learn to give thanks to the bones of the turkey, we don’t get chuseok off as a holiday; here's how to say annyeonghaseyo to someone you don’t like; here's how to say annyeonghaseyo to your elders; here’s how to teach a white person how to say annyeonghaseyo; here’s how to be a model minority; stop complaining, would you rather be dark-skinned?; here’s how to carry the weight of your country on your shoulders; laugh politely when white people ask if you eat dogs; laugh politely when white people ask if you have coronavirus; laugh politely if white people ask if you’re related to kim jeong un; laugh politely when white people; always behave as if you’re representing all koreans; you don’t want white people to think koreans act asian; never use a dishwasher; never buy things unless they’re on sale; here’s how to be more white; here’s how to be more asian; sometimes be asian, sometimes be white; but which one am i supposed to be when?; you’ll know.