The moon still sends its mellow light
Through the purple blackness of the night; 
The morning star is palely bright
                    Before the dawn. 

The sun still shines just as before; 
The rose still grows beside my door, 
                    But you have gone. 

The sky is blue and the robin sings; 
The butterflies dance on rainbow wings
                   Though I am sad. 

In all the earth no joy can be; 
Happiness comes no more to me, 
                   For you are dead. 

This poem is in the public domain. 

Do not go gentle into that good night,
Old age should burn and rave at close of day;
Rage, rage against the dying of the light.

Though wise men at their end know dark is right,
Because their words had forked no lightning they
Do not go gentle into that good night.

Good men, the last wave by, crying how bright
Their frail deeds might have danced in a green bay,
Rage, rage against the dying of the light.

Wild men who caught and sang the sun in flight,
And learn, too late, they grieved it on its way,
Do not go gentle into that good night.

Grave men, near death, who see with blinding sight
Blind eyes could blaze like meteors and be gay,
Rage, rage against the dying of the light.

And you, my father, there on the sad height,
Curse, bless, me now with your fierce tears, I pray.
Do not go gentle into that good night.
Rage, rage against the dying of the light.

From The Poems of Dylan Thomas, published by New Directions. Copyright © 1952, 1953 Dylan Thomas. Copyright © 1937, 1945, 1955, 1962, 1966, 1967 the Trustees for the Copyrights of Dylan Thomas. Copyright © 1938, 1939, 1943, 1946, 1971 New Directions Publishing Corp. Used with permission.

Ask me about the time
my brother ran towards the sun
arms outstretched. His shadow chased him
from corner store to church
where he offered himself in pieces.

Ask me about the time
my brother disappeared. At 16,
tossed his heartstrings over telephone wire,
dangling for all the rez dogs to feed on.
Bit by bit. The world took chunks of
my brother’s flesh.

Ask me about the first time
we drowned in history. 8 years old
during communion we ate the body of Christ
with palms wide open, not expecting wine to be
poured into our mouths. The bitterness
buried itself in my tongue and my brother
never quite lost his thirst for blood or vanishing
for more days than a shadow could hold.

Ask me if I’ve ever had to use
bottle caps as breadcrumbs to help
my brother find his way back home.
He never could tell the taste between
a scar and its wounding, an angel or demon.

Ask me if I can still hear his
exhaled prayers: I am still waiting to be found.
To be found, tell me why there is nothing
more holy than becoming a ghost.

Copyright © 2020 by Tanaya Winder. Originally published in Poem-a-Day on November 17, 2020, by the Academy of American Poets.

I said a thoughtless word one day,
A loved one heard and went away;
I cried: “Forgive me, I was blind;
I would not wound or be unkind.”
I waited long, but all in vain,
To win my loved one back again.
Too late, alas! to weep and pray,
Death came; my loved one passed away.
Then, what a bitter fate was mine;
No language could my grief define;
Tears of deep regret could not unsay
The thoughtless word I spoke that day.

This poem is in the public domain.

I have come to the borders of sleep, 
The unfathomable deep
Forest where all must lose
Their way, however straight, 
Or winding, soon or late;
They cannot choose. 

Many a road and track
That, since the dawn's first crack,
Up to the forest brink, 
Deceived the travellers,
Suddenly now blurs,
And in they sink. 

Here love ends,
Despair, ambition ends;
All pleasure and all trouble,
Although most sweet or bitter, 
Here ends in sleep that is sweeter 
Than tasks most noble. 

There is not any book 
Or face of dearest look
That I would not turn from now 
To go into the unknown
I must enter, and leave, alone, 
I know not how. 

The tall forest towers; 
Its cloudy foliage lowers 
Ahead, shelf above shelf; 
Its silence I hear and obey 
That I may lose my way 
And myself.

This poem is in the public domain.

The cry of the cicada
Gives us no sign
That presently it will die.

 

 

                                              —Translation by William George Aston

This poem is in the public domain.

The time you won your town the race  
We chaired you through the market-place;  
Man and boy stood cheering by,  
And home we brought you shoulder-high.  

To-day, the road all runners come,    
Shoulder-high we bring you home,  
And set you at your threshold down,  
Townsman of a stiller town.  

Smart lad, to slip betimes away  
From fields where glory does not stay, 
And early though the laurel grows  
It withers quicker than the rose.  

Eyes the shady night has shut  
Cannot see the record cut,  
And silence sounds no worse than cheers 
After earth has stopped the ears:  

Now you will not swell the rout  
Of lads that wore their honours out,  
Runners whom renown outran  
And the name died before the man. 

So set, before its echoes fade,  
The fleet foot on the sill of shade,  
And hold to the low lintel up  
The still-defended challenge-cup.  

And round that early-laurelled head
Will flock to gaze the strengthless dead,  
And find unwithered on its curls  
The garland briefer than a girl's.

This poem is in the public domain.

She went from a shutter to silence

Eyes glazed over with the void of stillness.

As if illness suffocated the sight right out of her sockets.

A pocket of air emptied out of her wrinkled throat

One last hallowed gasp before she passed

and the cloak of death covered over her frigid soul.

Sheol opened its’ gluttonous grasp to swallow her whole.

Boney hands reaching around the rope noose

that choked her esophagus and

asphyxiated her malevolent being.

She felt the slow collapse of her lungs.

Life was expunged from her sturdy tyrannical body.

She swayed oddly in the gallows like a broken wind chime.

She wavered awkwardly like a kite string entangled amongst tree twigs.

She died with her heart darkened scorched by wickedness.

Her soul was as pitch, as the bottomless abyss.

Fittingly, Amelia Dyer died, in the same manner in which she had

murderously slain hundreds of innocent infants,

stricken with unfortunate circumstances.

She died unwillingly, yielding only to the restriction of air.

She died suspended in midair.

Even in her death, no one is truly aware of how many children she

carelessly killed for profit and gain.

Only the Thames River will stream confessions of her infamous name.

Its’ waters quivering from the deserted bodies she buried there,

Countless babies forever enslaved in this liquid grave.

Many going unclaimed and some were never recovered.

Their grief stricken mothers went howling, like La Llorona, to the grave

tortured with uncertainty. Amelia took no pity.

Legions of greedy spawns feasted through her intentions.

Amelia killed as many as six children in one day.

Her stern thin lipped scowl will haunt the annals of history.

No darkness can hold a candle to her flame of vile infamy.

Cruelty was personified through her sick twisted mind. She filled 5 books

with her confessions line for line. ‘Baby farming’ and murders were her

crimes. She died on June 10, 1896,

Hanging from the scaffold, she shuttered into silence.

From Sycorax's Daughters (Cedar Grove Publishing, 2017) by Andrea Sanderson. Copyright © 2017 by Andrea Sanderson. Used with the permission of the author. 

It’s the best part of the day, morning light sliding
down rooftops, treetops, the birds pulling themselves
up out of whatever stupor darkened their wings,
night still in their throats.

I never wanted to die. Even when those I loved
died around me, away from me, beyond me. 
My life was never in question, if for no other reason
than I wanted to wake up and see what happened next. 

And I continue to want to open like that, like the flowers
who lift their heavy heads as the hills outside the window
flare gold for a moment before they turn
on their sides and bare their creased backs.

Even the cut flowers in a jar of water lift
their soon to be dead heads and open
their eyes, even they want a few more sips,
to dwell here, in paradise, a few days longer.

Copyright © 2021 by Dorianne Laux. Originally published in Poem-a-Day on April 16, 2021, by the Academy of American Poets.

                                    Life

I saw the candle brightly burning in the room! 
The fringed curtains gracefully draped back, 
The windows, crystal clear! 
Upon the generous hearth
Quick Wit and bubbling Laughter
    Flashed and danced
    Sparkled and pranced,
And music to the glowing scene lent cheer.
It was a gracious sight, 
So full of life, of love, of light! 

                                    Death 

Then suddenly I saw a cloud of gloom
Take form within the room:
A blue-grey mist obscured the window-panes
And silent fell the rout!
Then from the shadows came the Dreaded Shape,—
The candle flickered out!

This poem is in the public domain. Published in Poem-a-Day on April 11, 2021, by the Academy of American Poets.