Defeat, my Defeat, my solitude and my aloofness;
You are dearer to me than a thousand triumphs,
And sweeter to my heart than all world-glory.
Defeat, my Defeat, my self-knowledge and my defiance,
Through you I know that I am yet young and swift of foot
And not to be trapped by withering laurels.
And in you I have found aloneness
And the joy of being shunned and scorned.
Defeat, my Defeat, my shining sword and shield,
In your eyes I have read
That to be enthroned is to be enslaved,
And to be understood is to be leveled down,
And to be grasped is but to reach one's fullness
And like a ripe fruit to fall and be consumed.
Defeat, my Defeat, my bold companion,
You shall hear my songs and my cries and my silences,
And none but you shall speak to me of the beating of wings,
And urging of seas,
And of mountains that burn in the night,
And you alone shall climb my steep and rocky soul.
Defeat, my Defeat, my deathless courage,
You and I shall laugh together with the storm,
And together we shall dig graves for all that die in us,
And we shall stand in the sun with a will,
And we shall be dangerous.

This poem is in the public domain. 

anything over zero is zero
anything over one is itself

a bed over zero
is a funhouse mirror aimed

at a cloudy sky
a sky and its clouds over zero

a storm over one
is an infinite storm

a night over one
is a kiss over zero

and the minute hand eating its tail
is a red ear on a wet pillow

the memory of laughter
is a lamp over one

one inhales before one sighs
a lamp over zero is zero

the hole in a satin sheet
slowly ate up the yellow

till splitting the hem
the hole was unleashed

like a kiss
a long kiss over zero

Copyright © 2015 by George David Clark. Originally published in Poem-a-Day on June 6, 2015, by the Academy of American Poets.

Never give all the heart, for love
Will hardly seem worth thinking of
To passionate women if it seem
Certain, and they never dream
That it fades out from kiss to kiss;
For everything that's lovely is
But a brief, dreamy, kind delight.
O never give the heart outright,
For they, for all smooth lips can say,
Have given their hearts up to the play.
And who could play it well enough
If deaf and dumb and blind with love?
He that made this knows all the cost,
For he gave all his heart and lost.

This poem is in the public domain.

                                  it  used  to  be  that  i  would  write  to  enact  a
                                  desire  for  isolation.  it  was  a  way  to  say.   i
                                  want  to  be  left  alone.  to  my  thoughts.  with
                                  my words.  i  want you to leave me alone.  cant
                                  you see  that im trying.  im trying  to write.  im
                                  thirsty. im  writing  these  words to quench my
                                  thirst.  i  write alone in the hopes  that i  would
                                  write  myself into exhaustion.  into sleep.  i did
                                  just that. and that  was  when  you came to me.
                                  carrying   water   in   your  mouth.  you  leaned
                                  into.   you  passed  it   along   from   mouth   to
                                  mouth.  our  lips  did not touch. this was not  a
                                  kiss.  a kiss would not  have led me  here.  you
                                  woke  me  from  sleep by  quenching my  thirst.
                                  this  lasted  but  a  minute.  i  am  thirsty  again.
                                  today  im  writing.  its  usually to someone.  im
                                  writing  something. i  want  to hear it read  out
                                  loud.   i  want to see it on a page,   in a book.   i
                                  want to see you inside  these words.  where are
                                  you. i am thirsty. how are you.

Copyright © 2022 by Truong Tran. Originally published in Poem-a-Day on January 4, 2022, by the Academy of American Poets.

If you could sit with me beside the sea to-day,
And whisper with me sweetest dreamings o’er and o’er;
I think I should not find the clouds so dim and gray,
And not so loud the waves complaining at the shore.

If you could sit with me upon the shore to-day,
And hold my hand in yours as in the days of old,
I think I should not mind the chill baptismal spray,
Nor find my hand and heart and all the world so cold.

If you could walk with me upon the strand to-day,
And tell me that my longing love had won your own,
I think all my sad thoughts would then be put away,
And I could give back laughter for the Ocean’s moan!

From The Collected Poetry of Paul Laurence Dunbar (Dodd, Mead and Company, 1913) by Paul Laurence Dunbar. This poem is in the public domain. 

It’s a long way the sea-winds blow
    Over the sea-plains blue,—
But longer far has my heart to go
    Before its dreams come true.

It’s work we must, and love we must,
    And do the best we may,
And take the hope of dreams in trust
    To keep us day by day.

It’s a long way the sea-winds blow—
    But somewhere lies a shore—
Thus down the tide of Time shall flow
    My dreams forevermore.

This poem is in the public domain. Published in Poem-a-Day on August 22, 2020, by the Academy of American Poets.


Throughout the afternoon I watched them there, 
Snow-fairies falling, falling from the sky, 
Whirling fantastic in the misty air, 
Contending fierce for space supremacy. 
And they flew down a mightier force at night, 
As though in heaven there was revolt and riot, 
And they, frail things had taken panic flight 
Down to the calm earth seeking peace and quiet. 
I went to bed and rose at early dawn 
To see them huddled together in a heap, 
Each merged into the other upon the lawn, 
Worn out by the sharp struggle, fast asleep. 
The sun shone brightly on them half the day, 
By night they stealthily had stol'n away. 


And suddenly my thoughts then turned to you 
Who came to me upon a winter's night, 
When snow-sprites round my attic window flew, 
Your hair disheveled, eyes aglow with light. 
My heart was like the weather when you came, 
The wanton winds were blowing loud and long; 
But you, with joy and passion all aflame, 
You danced and sang a lilting summer song. 
I made room for you in my little bed, 
Took covers from the closet fresh and warm, 
A downful pillow for your scented head, 
And lay down with you resting in my arm. 
You went with Dawn. You left me ere the day, 
The lonely actor of a dreamy play.

This poem is in the public domain.

translated by Tess O’Dwyer

Yes, it’s true. Questions don’t change the truth. But they give it motion.
They focus my truth from another angle. And you said: we’re washing the
truth. Things must be clarified.

You don’t tell the truth and eventually your jacket comes back made of
another material, and your shoes say yes and run back to you telling my
truth. Though it’s raining now, it may not be raining inside your truth like it’s
raining outside. Though silent, you may be saying what I’m thinking when
you weren’t speaking. But don’t ignore me and then start up again saying
come when you said go. Then don’t expect me to listen when you say
come. You’ll come with your words get out and the door will open. I hear
those words and the door opens. Then you’ll come and I’ll know how to tell
you: get out.

Giannina Braschi, Asalto al tiempo, 1981. Translation Tess O’Dwyer, 2020.