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BooksFebruary 28, 2020

The Friday Poem: i woke up and the day caught me by Kara Jackson


A poem by US National Youth Poet Laureate Kara Jackson.


i woke up and the day caught me


in its mouth like a strand of yarn

i am useful

the motivation for a scarf, maybe


some stitch started to be finished

i will make up someone’s

heat i will be a fire

so intricate it can be worn


i woke up and the day called on me

specifically, threw my name through the sky

the way children are thought up

trials pulled through the stars


i woke up and like anyone who wakes

and asks why i checked my feet,

rubbed the bones for their reality

i keep waking though i’ve asked for rest


cornered the moon in the alley,

pawned the dark to assume its place

and still i return to that burning chin

honour that persistent candle


because who will wake up if not me?

who will the day catch then

if i am not the centre of its tongue?


what of the women who keep waking?

what of my mother, who has asked for rest, too?

and her mother, tucked into an endless slumber


i woke up and the day thanked me

for coming so far. i know rest is a long

walk from the sun, i know we’ve been up

for so long, that sleep doesn’t settle

for my blood. me, daughter of the rooster’s song


but when the day calls i will answer to my name

claim it like a fire rushing toward living things

i will rise       because there is someone praying

for me to remain still




Kara Jackson appeared at the 2020 New Zealand Festival of the Arts, running from 21 February to 15 March. The full Writers programme is available here.

The Friday Poem is edited by Ashleigh Young. Submissions are welcome at

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