This week in the PEN Poetry Series, guest editor Heather Christle features a new poem by Anthony McCann. About McCann’s work, Christle writes: “Anthony McCann’s fourth solo poetry collection, Thing Music, which will be out from Wave Books this fall, opens with this new poem, “The Day,” an exciting doorway through which we animals descend. The poem make connections between eye and hand, between mouth and skin, sometimes letting words (the capitalized, the italicized) bang into a field of vision (loudly!), more often letting words shine in fast intervals that vibrate between waves of sound and light. They glimmer, flicker, twiddle, wiggle, and breed. Always attuned to speech’s coupled tendencies—the sensual and the cerebral—McCann makes slippery the distinction between the two. Here ideas are made physical in the bodies of reader and writer, bodies the page both hides and calls into mind. It’s a delightful, weird experience. Reading McCann’s poems is like being invited to lick the light.”

The Day 

In this coupling 
     of speech 
    where everything 
begins     where

put on my voice

and through 
    this voice

my eyes 

     I mean 

this ringing 
     in my eyes

on the day
it went away

I mean   The Day
it goes away

It is
the always
dying sound

the glimmer 
of the bell

and the trees
ringing with light

Would you 

    these breeding 

these wires 
are alive

in the silent
    of space 

   as slipping
its face turns

in the leaves

the clarity
and shade

I want to say 

but today
it is The Day

that entered
in my face

            I went there 
on a sound

was smeared

with little shapes

while air
through the chairs 


    and bones

This doorway
as the animal 

descends       It opened 

           up its 

       and landed 
       in the day

the furling 

in each cleft

It’s where
I come from   Where 
I say



grew grave 


Once a week, the PEN Poetry Series publishes work by emerging and established writers from coast to coast. Subscribe to the PEN Poetry Series mailing list and have poems delivered to your e-mail as soon as they are published (no spam, no news, just poems).