by Carole Oles Thinking she was the gift, they began to package it early. They waxed its smile. They lowered its eyes. They tuned its ears to the telephone. They curled its hair. They straightened its teeth. They taught it to bury its wishbone. They poured honey down its throat. They made it say yes, yes, and yes. They sat on its thumbs. That box has my name on it, said the man. It’s for...
by Nicanor Parra Write as you will In whatever style you like Too much blood has run under the bridge To go on believing That only one road is right. In poetry everything is permitted. With only this condition of course, You have to improve the blank page.
by Ezra Pound See, they return; ah, see the tentative Movements, and the slow feet, The trouble in the pace and the uncertain Wavering! See, they return, one, and by one, With fear, as half-awakened; As if the snow should hesitate And murmur in the wind, and turn half back; These were the ‘Wing’d-with-Awe’, Inviolable, Gods of the wingéd shoe! With them the silver hounds,...
by Sean O’Brien You are my secret coat. You’re never dry. You wear the weight and stink of black canals. Malodorous companion, we know why It’s taken me so long to see we’re pals, To learn why my acquaintance never sniff Or send me notes to say I stink of stiff. But you don’t talk, historical bespoke. You must be worn, be intimate as skin, And though I never lived...
On Discovering a Butterfly
by Vladimir Nabokov I found it and I named it, being versed in taxonomic Latin; thus became godfather to an insect and its first describer— and I want no other fame. Wide open on its pin (though fast asleep), and safe from creeping relatives and rust, in the secluded stronghold where we keep type specimens it will transcend its dust. Dark pictures, thrones, the stones that pilgrims kiss,...
by William Carlos Williams The tree lay down on the garage roof and stretched, You have your heaven, it said, go to it.
Then Wouldst Thou Know?
by Kate Chopin If some day I, with casual, wanton glance Should for a moment’s space thine eyes ensnare; Or more, if I should dare To rest my finger tips upon thy sleeve, Or, grown more bold, upon thy swarthy cheek; If further I should seek With honey–trick of tone thy name to call, Breathing it soft, in meaning whisper low, Then wouldst thou know? Is there no subtler sense, that holds...
by Carl Adamschick I always thought death would be like traveling in a car, moving through the desert, the earth a little darker than sky at the horizon, that your life would settle like the end of a day and you would think of everyone you ever met, that you would be the invisible passenger, quiet in the car, moving through the night, forever, with the beautiful thought of home.
An August Night
by Seamus Heaney His hands were warm and small and knowledgeable. When I saw them again last night, they were two ferrets, Playing all by themselves in a moonlit field.
by Ted Hughes Where was it, in the Strand? A display Of news items, in photographs. For some reason I noticed it. A picture of that year’s intake Of Fulbright Scholars. Just arriving— Or arrived. Or some of them. Were you among them? I studied it, Not too minutely, wondering Which of them I might meet. I remember that thought. Not Your face. No doubt I scanned particularly The girls. Maybe I...
Much of My Faith
by Petra Magno & Gian Lao Much of my faith, I put in high places. Heaven notwithstanding. I loved, once, a tall girl. Would tiptoe, at times, to see her better from afar. To kiss her was a world-record feat: I’d get light-headed at the altitude. She loved me too, I think. The way God touches all of us with his smallest finger. We’re grateful, even, just to be acknowledged by the Higher Being....
by Herman Melville Hanging from the beam, Slowly swaying (such the law), Gaunt the shadow on your green, Shenandoah! The cut is on the crown (Lo, John Brown), And the stabs shall heal no more. Hidden in the cap Is the anguish none can draw; So your future veils its face, Shenandoah! But the streaming beard is shown (Weird John Brown), The meteor of the war.
by Hendrik Doeff Lend me your arms, fast as thunderbolts, for a pillow on my journey.
Battle Hymn of the Republic
by Julia Ward Howe Mine eyes have seen the glory of the coming of the Lord; He is trampling out the vintage where the grapes of wrath are stored. He has loosed the fateful lightening of His terrible swift sword; His truth is marching on. Glory! Glory! Hallelujah! Glory! Glory! Hallelujah! Glory! Glory! Hallelujah! His truth is marching on. I have seen Him in the watch-fires of a hundred...
End of Summer
by Stanley Kunitz An agitation of the air, A perturbation of the light Admonished me the unloved year Would turn on its hinge that night. I stood in the disenchanted field Amid the stubble and the stones, Amazed, while a small worm lisped to me The song of my marrow-bones. Blue poured into summer blue, A hawk broke from his cloudless tower, The roof of the silo blazed, and I knew That part of...
by Alec Binyon A 90 year old man sat on his walker in the cereal aisle an aisle so long so comically, absurdly so grotesquely long he had to rest his old American legs He was hairless possibly from cancer treatments but his eyes shined battles and wits an eternal youth of sorts like an old bull elephant I approached him because I liked him very much he was a fighter he wouldn’t be...
by Richard Brautigan It’s so nice to wake up in the morning all alone and not have to tell somebody you love them when you don’t love them anymore.
by Phillip Levine The new grass rising in the hills, the cows loitering in the morning chill, a dozen or more old browns hidden in the shadows of the cottonwoods beside the streambed. I go higher to where the road gives up and there’s only a faint path strewn with lupine between the mountain oaks. I don’t ask myself what I’m looking for. I didn’t come for answers to a...
Simmering Tea on Mount Hui
by Chieh-shih Chih-p’eng In an earthen jar at break of day I dip clean cold water, Shift it to the stone kettle, Boil it on a broken slab. Pine winds from ten thousand peaks I offer in one sip, Then gather my sleeves together, Walk by the waterside.
Backtalk from the Minotaur
by Cid Corman My head was animal. At least that was the verdict. I had no choice. The innerness of encirclement my father devised. I was gotten, they tell, by a bull. And my mother a queen! Legend pierces entracement. I had no choice. My amazement was complete. My diet was human condiment, fixed by that king of men, my father. What had I to do with a hunger kept caught among the inescapable...
From the Place Where We Are Right
by Yehuda Amichai From the place where we are right, Flowers will never grow In the spring. The place where we are right Is hard and trampled Like a yard. But doubts and loves Dig up the world Like a mole, a plow. And a whisper will be heard in the place Where the ruined House once stood.
The New Birth
by Jones Very ‘Tis a new life— thoughts move not as they did With slow, uncertain steps across my mind, In thronging haste fast pressing on they bid The portals open to the viewless wind That comes not save when in the dust is laid The crown of pride that gilds each mortal brow, And from before man’s vision melting fade The heavens and earth— their walls are falling...
Crossing the Bar
by Alfred, Lord Tennyson Sunset and evening star, And one clear call for me! And may there be no moaning of the bar, When I put out to sea, But such a tide as moving seems asleep, Too full for sound and foam, When that which drew from out the boundless deep Turns again home. Twilight and evening bell, And after that the dark! And may there be no sadness of farewell, When I embark; For...
by Derek Walcott So much rain, so much life like the swollen sky of this black August. My sister, the sun, broods in her yellow room and won’t come out. Everything goes to hell; the mountains fume like a kettle, rivers overrun; still, she will not rise and turn off the rain. She is in her room, fondling old things, my poems, turning her album. Even if thunder falls like a crash of plates...
Poem for the Young White Man Who Asked Me How I,...
by Lorna Dee Cervantes In my land there are no distinctions. The barbed wire politics of oppression have been torn down long ago. The only reminder of past battles, lost or won, is a slight rutting in the fertile fields. In my land people write poems about love, full of nothing but contented childlike syllables. Everyone reads Russian short stories and weeps. There are no boundaries. ...
by Langston Hughes I would liken you To a night without stars, Were it not for your eyes. I would liken you To a sleep without dreams, Were it not for your songs.
The Tide Rises, the Tide Falls
by Henry Wadsworth Longfellow The tide rises, the tide falls, The twilight darkens, the curlew calls; Along the sea-sands damp and brown The traveler hastens toward the town, And the tide rises, the tide falls. Darkness settles on roofs and walls, But the sea, the sea in darkness calls; The little waves, with their soft, white hands Efface the footprints in the sands, And the tide rises, the tide...
My Last Duchess
by Robert Browning That’s my last duchess painted on the wall, Looking as if she were alive. I call That piece a wonder, now: Fra Pandolf’s hands Worked busily a day, and there she stands. Will’t please you sit and look at her? I said “Fra Pandolf” by design, for never read Strangers like you that pictured countenance, The depth and passion of its earnest glance, But to myself they...
by C.P. Cavafy Body, remember not only how much you were loved, not only the beds where you lay, but also those desires for you, shining clearly in eyes and trembling in a voice—and some chance obstacle thwarted them. Now when everything is the past, it almost looks as if you gave yourself to those desires as well—how they shone— remember—in the eyes that looked at you, how they trembled for you...
by Ralph Waldo Emerson It fell in the ancient periods Which the brooding soul surveys, Or ever the wild Time coin’d itself Into calendar months and days. This was the lapse of Uriel, Which in Paradise befell. Once, among the Pleiads walking, Sayd overheard the young gods talking; And the treason, too long pent, To his ears was evident. The young deities discuss’d Laws of form, and...