When we two parted
   In silence and tears,
Half broken-hearted
   To sever for years,
Pale grew thy cheek and cold,
   Colder thy kiss;
Truly that hour foretold
   Sorrow to this.

The dew of the morning
   Sunk chill on my brow— 
It felt like the warning
   Of what I feel now.
Thy vows are all broken,
   And light is thy fame;
I hear thy name spoken,
   And share in its shame.

They name thee before me,
   A knell to mine ear;
A shudder comes o'er me—
   Why wert thou so dear?
They know not I knew thee,
   Who knew thee too well—
Long, long shall I rue thee,
   Too deeply to tell.

In secret we met—
   In silence I grieve,
That thy heart could forget,
   Thy spirit deceive.
If I should meet thee
   After long years,
How should I greet thee?—
   With silence and tears.

This poem is in the public domain.

The clouds had made a crimson crown 
  About the mountains high. 
The stormy sun was going down 
  In a stormy sky. 
 
Why did you let your eyes so rest on me, 
  And hold your breath between? 
In all the ages this can never be 
  As if it had not been. 
 

This poem is in the Public Domain.

                     I paint flowers decorated with caterpillars.
                     I want to inquire into everything that exists and find
                     out how it began.
                                           —Maria Sibylla Merian
 
                                From basil, the scorpion.
                                           —Athanasius Kircher    
              
 
From pine tree resin, amber.
          From fury, hail.
From acacia’s sap, the bond.
          From raindrops, frogs.
From clay, yellow ochre.
          From dust, fleas.
From the beetle, carmine.
          From mud, the beetle.
From the murex snail, violet.
          From sea foam, the anchovy.
From the lamb, parchment.
          From the bull, the bee.
What?
          From the mouth of a slaughtered bull,
          cloaked in thyme and serpyllium,
          the bee.
From the sable, the brush tip.
          From books, the moth.
From the eagle, swan, crow, lark,
the diminishing quills.
          From fire, red snow and the west wind,
          the worm.
From the worm, the silk moth.
          From vapor, the silk moth.
What? From the spun cocoon, the silk moth.
          Yes. From steam and bluster,
          the silk moth.
From the silk moth’s mouth,
the potentate’s cloak.
          From the potentate’s horse,
          the hornet.

Copyright © 2017 by Linda Bierds. Originally published in Poem-a-Day on September 25, 2017, by the Academy of American Poets.

What had been treacherous the first time 
had become second nature, releasing 
the emergency brake, then rolling backwards 
in little bursts, braking the whole way down
the long steep drive. Back then 
we lived on the top of a hill.
 
I was leaving—the thing we both knew 
and didn’t speak of all summer. While you 
were at work, I built a brown skyline of boxes, 
sealed them with a roll of tape 
that made an incessant ripping sound.
We were cheerful at dinner and unusually kind.
At night we slept under a single sheet,
our bodies a furnace if curled together.
 
It was July. I could feel my pupils contract
when I went outside. Back then I thought only about 
how you wouldn’t come with me. 
Now I consider what it took for you to help me go. 
On that last day. When I stood
in a wrinkled dress with aching arms.
When there was only your mouth at my ear 
whispering to get in the truck, then wait 
until I was calm enough to turn the key. 
 
Only then did we know. How it felt 
to have loved to the end, and then past the very end.
 
What did you do, left up there in the empty house?
I don’t know why. I 
don’t know how we keep living 
in a world that never explains why. 
 

Copyright © 2017 by Jennifer Grotz. Originally published in Poem-a-Day on October 12, 2017, by the Academy of American Poets.

A diamond of a morning
     Waked me an hour too soon;
Dawn had taken in the stars
     And left the faint white moon.
 
O white moon, you are lonely,
     It is the same with me,
But we have the world to roam over,
     Only the lonely are free.
 

This poem is in the public domain.

Seventy-seven betrayers will stand by the road,
And those who love you will be few but stronger.

Seventy-seven betrayers, skilful and various,
But do not fear them: they are unimportant.

You must learn soon, soon, that despite Judas
The great betrayals are impersonal

(Though many would be Judas, having the will
And the capacity, but few the courage).

You must learn soon, soon, that even love
Can be no shield against the abstract demons:

Time, cold and fire, and the law of pain,
The law of things falling, and the law of forgetting.

The messengers, of faces and names known
Or of forms familiar, are innocent.

Copyright ©️ 1987 by the Estate of Hyam Plutzik. All rights reserved.

Hold your soul open for my welcoming.
Let the quiet of your spirit bathe me
With its clear and rippled coolness,
That, loose-limbed and weary, I find rest,
Outstretched upon your peace, as on a bed of ivory.

Let the flickering flame of your soul play all about me,
That into my limbs may come the keenness of fire,
The life and joy of tongues of flame,
And, going out from you, tightly strung and in tune,
I may rouse the blear-eyed world,
And pour into it the beauty which you have begotten.

This poem is in the public domain.

dew grass a fire shine
mountain a lung
pine cone the bone
tsunami rock hawk jaw
gravity a fall all consuming
a song chirp for sunlight
spine daggers cracking
the sky an ocean paused in its crashing
creature shake trip whistle
rustle nut squirrel swish
stump thunder or thump
thump a swallowing
you beautiful urchin
you rot mound of moss. 

Copyright © 2018 by Susan Landers. Originally published in Poem-a-Day on December 27, 2017. by the Academy of American Poets.

Where the mind is without fear and the head is held high;
     Where knowledge is free;
     Where the world has not been broken up into fragments by narrow domestic walls;
     Where words come out from the depth of truth;
     Where tireless striving stretches its arms towards perfection;
     Where the clear stream of reason has not lost its way into the dreary desert sand of dead habit;
     Where the mind is led forward by thee into ever-widening thought and action— 
     Into that heaven of freedom, my Father, let my country awake.

This poem is in the public domain. 

No wind, no bird. The river flames like brass.
On either side, smitten as with a spell
Of silence, brood the fields. In the deep grass,
Edging the dusty roads, lie as they fell
Handfuls of shriveled leaves from tree and bush.
But ’long the orchard fence and at the gate,
Thrusting their saffron torches through the hush,
Wild lilies blaze, and bees hum soon and late.
Rust-colored the tall straggling briar, not one
Rose left. The spider sets its loom up there
Close to the roots, and spins out in the sun
A silken web from twig to twig. The air
Is full of hot rank scents. Upon the hill
Drifts the noon’s single cloud, white, glaring, still.

This poem is in the public domain. Published in Poem-a-Day on August 22, 2015, by the Academy of American Poets.

I gaze at the Pacific and don’t expect
to ever see the heads on Easter Island,

though I guess at sunlight rippling
the yellow grasses sloping to shore;

yesterday a doe ate grass in the orchard:
it lifted its ears and stopped eating

when it sensed us watching from
a glass hallway—in his sleep, a veteran

sweats, defusing a land mine.
On the globe, I mark the Battle of

the Coral Sea—no one frets at that now.
A poem can never be too dark,

I nod and, staring at the Kenai, hear
ice breaking up along an inlet;

yesterday a coyote trotted across
my headlights and turned his head

but didn’t break stride; that’s how
I want to live on this planet:

alive to a rabbit at a glass door—
and flower where there is no flower.

Copyright © 2015 by Arthur Sze. Originally published in Poem-a-Day on April 10, 2015, by the Academy of American Poets.

when did we become friends?
it happened so gradual i didn't notice
maybe i had to get my run out first
take a big bite of the honky world and choke on it
maybe that's what has to happen with some uppity youngsters
if it happens at all

and now
the thought stark and irrevocable
of being here without you
shakes me

beyond love, fear, regret or anger
into that realm children go
who want to care for/protect their parents
as if they could
and sometimes the lucky ones do

into the realm of making every moment
important
laughing as though laughter wards off death
each word given
received like spanish eight

treasure to bury within
against that shadow day
when it will be the only coin i possess
with which to buy peace of mind

From Heavy Daughter Blues by Wanda Coleman. Copyright © 1987 by Wanda Coleman. Reprinted by permission of Black Sparrow Press, an imprint of David R. Godine, Publisher.

You must not think that what I have 
accomplished through you

could have been accomplished by any other means.

Each of us is to himself
indelible. I had to become that which could not

be, by time, from human memory, erased.

I had to burn my hungry, unappeasable
furious spirit

so inconsolably into you

you would without cease
write to bring me rest.

Bring us rest. Guilt is fecund. I knew

nothing I made
myself had enough steel in it to survive.

I tried: I made beautiful
paintings, beautiful poems. Fluff. Garbage.

The inextricability of love and hate?

If I had merely made you
love me you could not have saved me.

Copyright © 2018 by Frank Bidart. Originally published in Poem-a-Day on January 22, 2018, by the Academy of American Poets.

                        I

Beyond the years the answer lies,
Beyond where brood the grieving skies
        And Night drops tears.
Where Faith rod-chastened smiles to rise
        And doff its fears,
And carping Sorrow pines and dies—
        Beyond the years.

                        II

Beyond the years the prayer for rest
Shall beat no more within the breast;
        The darkness clears,
And Morn perched on the mountain's crest
        Her form uprears—
The day that is to come is best,
        Beyond the years.

                        III

Beyond the years the soul shall find
That endless peace for which it pined,
        For light appears,
And to the eyes that still were blind
        With blood and tears,
Their sight shall come all unconfined
        Beyond the years.

This poem is in the public domain.

I am less of myself and more of the sun;
The beat of life is wearing me
To an incomplete oblivion,
Yet not to the certain dignity
Of death. They cannot even die
Who have not lived.

                                The hungry jaws
Of space snap at my unlearned eye,
And time tears in my flesh like claws.

If I am not life’s, if I am not death’s,
Out of chaos I must re-reap
The burden of untasted breaths.
Who has not waked may not yet sleep.

This poem is in the public domain. Published in Poem-a-Day on February 17, 2018, by the Academy of American Poets.

When we first met, my heart pounded. They said
the shock of it was probably what broke
his heart. In search of peace, we traveled once
to Finland, tasted reindeer heart. It seemed
so heartless, how you wanted it to end.
I noticed on the nurse who took his pulse
a heart tattooed above her collarbone.
The kids played hearts all night to pass the time.
You said that at its heart rejection was
impossible to understand. “We send
our heartfelt sympathy,” was written in
the card your mother sent, in flowing script.
I tried interpreting his EKG,
which looked like knife wounds to the heart. I knew
enough to guess he wouldn’t last much longer.
As if we’d learned our lines by heart, you said,
“I can’t explain.” “Please don’t,” was my reply.
They say the heart is just a muscle. Or
the heart is where the human soul resides.
I saw myself in you; you looked so much
like him. You didn’t have the heart to say
you didn’t want me anymore. I still
can see that plastic statue: Jesus Christ,
his sacred heart aflame, held out in his
own hands. He finally let go. How grief
this great is borne, not felt. Borne in the heart.

Copyright © 2018 by Rafael Campo. Originally published in Poem-a-Day on March 8, 2018, by the Academy of American Poets.

By the stream I dream in calm delight, and watch as in a glass,
How the clouds like crowds of snowy-hued and white-robed maidens pass,
And the water into ripples breaks and sparkles as it spreads,
Like a host of armored knights with silver helmets on their heads.
And I deem the stream an emblem fit of human life may go,
For I find a mind may sparkle much and yet but shallows show,
And a soul may glow with myriad lights and wondrous mysteries,
When it only lies a dormant thing and mirrors what it sees.

This poem is in the public domain.

for Wolf Kahn

If trees fall in a wood and no one hears them,
Do they exist except as a page of lines
That words of rapture or grief are written on?
They are lines too while alive, pointing away
From the primer of damped air and leafmold
That underlie, or would if certain of them
Were not melon or maize, solferino or smoke,
Colors into which a sunset will collapse
On a high branch of broken promises.
Or they nail the late summer’s shingles of noon
Back onto the horizon’s overlap, reflecting
An emptiness visible on leaves that come and go.

How does a life flash before one’s eyes
At the end? How is there time for so much time?
You pick up the book and hold it, knowing
Long since the failed romance, the strained
Marriage, the messenger, the mistake,
Knowing it all at once, as if looking through
A lighted dormer on the dark crest of a barn.
You know who is inside, and who has always been
At the other edge of the wood. She is waiting
For no one in particular. It could be you.
If you can discover which tree she has become,
You will know whether it has all been true.

From Plundered Hearts: New and Selected Poems (Alfred A. Knopf, 2014). Copyright © 2014 by J. D. McClatchy. Used by permission of Alfred A. Knopf, an imprint of the Knopf Doubleday Publishing Group, a division of Penguin Random House LLC. All rights reserved.

Except within poetic pale
   I have not found a nightingale,
Nor hearkened in a dusky vale
   To song and silence blending;
No stock-dove have I ever heard,
Nor listened to a cuckoo-bird,
   Nor seen a lark ascending.
But I have felt a pulse-beat start
   Because a robin, spending
The utmost of his simple art
Some of his pleasure to impart
   While twilight came descending,
Has found an answer in my heart,
   A sudden comprehending. 

This poem is in the public domain.

Wither me to within me:
Welt me to weal me common again:
Withdraw to wear me weary:
Over me to hover and lover again:

Before me to form and perform me:
Round me to rill me liquid incisions:
Behind me to hunt and haunt me:
Down me to drown indecision:

Bury me to seed me: bloom me
In loam me: grind me to meal me
Knead me to rise: raise me to your mouth

Rive me to river me:
End me to unmend me:
Rend me to render me:
 

Copyright © 2015 by Philip Metres. Originally published in Poem-a-Day on May 22, 2015, by the Academy of American Poets.

Dark as a demon’s dream is one I love—
In soul—but oh, how beautiful in form!
She glows like Venus throned in joy above,
Or on the crimson couch of Evening warm
Reposing her sweet limbs, her heaving breast
Unveiled to him who lights the golden west!
Ah, me, to be by that soft hand carest,
To feel the twining of that snowy arm,
To drink that sigh with richest love opprest,
To bathe within that sunny sea of smiles,
To wander in that wilderness of wiles
And blissful blandishments—it is to thrill
With subtle poison, and to feel the will
Grow weak in that which all the veins doth fill.
Fair sorceress! I know she spreads a net
The strong, the just, the brave to snare; and yet
My soul cannot, for its own sake, forget
The fascinating glance which flings its chain
Around my quivering heart and throbbing brain,
And binds me to my painful destiny,
As bird, that soars no more on high,
Hangs trembling on the serpent’s doomful eye.

This poem is in the public domain. Published in Poem-a-Day on November 17, 2018, by the Academy of American Poets.

To my Maternal Grand-father on hearing his descent
from Chippewa ancestors misrepresented

Rise bravest chief! of the mark of the noble deer,
        	    	With eagle glance,
        	    	Resume thy lance,
And wield again thy warlike spear!
        	    	The foes of thy line,
        	    	With coward design,
Have dared with black envy to garble the truth,
And stain with a falsehood thy valorous youth.

They say when a child, thou wert ta’en from the Sioux,
        	    	And with impotent aim,
        	    	To lessen thy fame
Thy warlike lineage basely abuse;
        	    	For they know that our band,
        	    	Tread a far distant land,
And thou noble chieftain art nerveless and dead,
Thy bow all unstrung, and thy proud spirit fled.

Can the sports of thy youth, or thy deeds ever fade?
        	    	Or those e’er forget,
        	    	Who are mortal men yet,
The scenes where so bravely thou’st lifted the blade,
        	    	Who have fought by thy side,
        	    	And remember thy pride,
When rushing to battle, with valour and ire,
Thou saw’st the fell foes of thy nation expire?

Can the warrior forget how sublimely you rose?
        	    	Like a star in the west,
        	    	When the sun’s sink to rest,
That shines in bright splendour to dazzle our foes?
        	    	Thy arm and thy yell,
        	    	Once the tale could repel
Which slander invented, and minions detail,
And still shall thy actions refute the false tale.

Rest thou, noblest chief! in thy dark house of clay,
        	    	Thy deeds and thy name,
        	    	Thy child’s child shall proclaim,
And make the dark forests resound with the lay;
        	    	Though thy spirit has fled,
        	    	To the hills of the dead,
Yet thy name shall be held in my heart’s warmest core,
And cherish’d till valour and love be no more.

This poem is in the public domain. Published in Poem-a-Day on November 18, 2018, by the Academy of American Poets.

Listen
with the night falling we are saying thank you
we are stopping on the bridges to bow from the railings
we are running out of the glass rooms
with our mouths full of food to look at the sky
and say thank you
we are standing by the water thanking it
standing by the windows looking out
in our directions

back from a series of hospitals back from a mugging
after funerals we are saying thank you
after the news of the dead
whether or not we knew them we are saying thank you

over telephones we are saying thank you
in doorways and in the backs of cars and in elevators
remembering wars and the police at the door
and the beatings on stairs we are saying thank you
in the banks we are saying thank you
in the faces of the officials and the rich
and of all who will never change
we go on saying thank you thank you

with the animals dying around us
our lost feelings we are saying thank you
with the forests falling faster than the minutes
of our lives we are saying thank you
with the words going out like cells of a brain
with the cities growing over us
we are saying thank you faster and faster
with nobody listening we are saying thank you
we are saying thank you and waving
dark though it is

From Migration: New & Selected Poems (Copper Canyon Press, 2005). Copyright © 1988 by W. S. Merwin. Used by permission. All rights reserved.

To your voice, a mysterious virtue, 
to the 53 bones of one foot, the four dimensions of breathing,  

to pine, redwood, sworn-fern, peppermint,  
to hyacinth and bluebell lily,  

to the train conductor’s donkey on a rope, 
to smells of lemons, a boy pissing splendidly against the trees.  

Bless each thing on earth until it sickens,  
until each ungovernable heart admits: “I confused myself   

and yet I loved—and what I loved  
I forgot, what I forgot brought glory to my travels,  

to you I traveled as close as I dared, Lord.” 

Copyright © 2014 by Ilya Kaminsky. Used with permission of the author. This poem appeared in Poem-a-Day on March 7, 2014.

For ages long, my people have been 
     Dwellers in this land;
For ages viewed these mountains,
     Loved these mesas and these sands,
That stretch afar and glisten,
     Glimmering in the sun
As it lights the mighty canons
     Ere the weary day is done.
Shall I, a patient dweller in this
     Land of fair blue skies,
Tell something of their story while
     My shuttle swiftly flies?
As I weave I’ll trace their journey,
     Devious, rough and wandering,
Ere they reached the silent region
     Where the night stars seem to sing.
When the myriads of them glitter
     Over peak and desert waste,
Crossing which the silent runner and
     The gaunt of co-yo-tees haste.
Shall I weave the zig-zag pathway
     Whence the sacred fire was born;
And interweave the symbol of the God
     Who brought the corn—
Of the Rain-god whose fierce anger
     Was appeased by sacred meal,
And the trust that my brave people
     In him evermore shall feel?
All this perhaps I might weave
     As the woof goes to and fro,
Wafting as my shuttle passes,
     Humble hopes, and joys and care,
Weaving closely, weaving slowly,
     While I watch the pattern grow;
Showing something of my life:
     To the Spirit God a prayer.
Grateful that he brought my people
     To the land of silence vast
Taught them arts of peace and ended
     All their wanderings of the past.
Deftly now I trace the figures,
     This of joy and that of woe;
And I leave an open gate-way
     For the Dau to come and go.

This poem is in the public domain. Published in Poem-a-Day on November 25, 2018, by the Academy of American Poets.

little tree
little silent Christmas tree
you are so little
you are more like a flower

who found you in the green forest
and were you very sorry to come away?
see            i will comfort you
because you smell so sweetly

i will kiss your cool bark
and hug you safe and tight
just as your mother would,
only don’t be afraid

look           the spangles
that sleep all the year in a dark box
dreaming of being taken out and allowed to shine,
the balls the chains red and gold the fluffy threads,

put up your little arms
and i’ll give them all to you to hold.
every finger shall have its ring
and there won’t be a single place dark or unhappy

then when you’re quite dressed
you’ll stand in the window for everyone to see
and how they’ll stare!
oh but you’ll be very proud

and my little sister and i will take hands
and looking up at our beautiful tree
we’ll dance and sing
“Noel Noel”

This poem is in the public domain. Published in Poem-a-Day on December 25, 2018, by the Academy of American Poets.

Fills now my cup, and past thought is
my fulness thereof. I harden as a stone
sets hard at its heart.
Hard that I am, I know this alone:
that thou didst grow—
— — — — — and grow,
to outgrow,
as too great pain,
my heart’s reach utterly.
Now liest thou my womb athwart,
now can I not to thee again
give birth.

This poem is in the public domain. Published in Poem-a-Day on January 6, 2019, by the Academy of American Poets.

I’m few deja-vus from repeating my whole life
I need to study the shapes of things before death
Before declaring myself a better failure:
  waiting mostly for files to get uploaded or downloaded.
My movements are by the book.
I will remember history, all of it, before uttering the next sentence
And in its silence, I will navigate my headache
“something is not what it is”
And we are lost several worlds over 
Exploring the art of other civilizations
After we subjugate them 
And leave the trees behind
To carry on the sensitive task
Of clearing the air
Stop and think of the pointlessness of desire
We keep going, wasting days between orgasms
And thousands of poems
To keep the pleasantness of clothes
We are all implicated
In the father’s death,
The mother’s death etc.

Copyright © 2018 by Maged Zaher. Originally published in Poem-a-Day on January 16, 2019, by the Academy of American Poets.

My white therapist calls it my edge, I hear
Angry Black Woman. She says, Strength
of Willful Negative Focus. She says, Acerbic
Intellectual Temperament. I copy her words
onto an index card. She wants
an origin story, a stranger with his hand
inside me, or worse. I’m without
linear narrative and cannot sate her. We
perform rituals on her living room floor. I burn
letters brimming with resentments, watch
the paper ember in the fireplace, admit
I don’t want to let this go. What if anger,
my armor, is embedded in the marrow
of who I am. Who can I learn to be
without it? Wherever you go,
there you are. She asks what I will lose
if I surrender, I imagine a gutted fish,
silvery skin gleaming, emptied of itself—

Copyright © 2019 by Rage Hezekiah. Originally published in Poem-a-Day on February 1, 2019, by the Academy of American Poets.

Jonas Keene thought his lot a hard one
Because his children were all failures.
But I know of a fate more trying than that:
It is to be a failure while your children are successes.
For I raised a brood of eagles
Who flew away at last, leaving me
A crow on the abandoned bough.
Then, with the ambition to prefix Honorable to my name,
And thus to win my children’s admiration,
I ran for County Superintendent of Schools,
Spending my accumulations to win—and lost.
That fall my daughter received first prize in Paris
For her picture, entitled, “The Old Mill”—
(It was of the water mill before Henry Wilkin put in steam.)
The feeling that I was not worthy of her finished me.

This poem is in the public domain. Published in Poem-a-Day on February 9, 2019, by the Academy of American Poets.

I've been fighting a War Within Myself all my life,
Tired of the hurt, the pain, the strife.
Anger consumes me from day to day,
Cellies now walking on eggshells, unsure of what to say.
I do pray each night for the peace that I need in my heart,
I need it before I tear what friendships I have apart.
Prison has a funny way of doing some things,
Leaves me wondering what tomorrow may bring.
I'm tired of the hate, anger and pain that I feel,
I just want my heart and soul to be healed.
I want to be able to simply laugh at a joke,
I need someone to help me before I lose all hope.
My heart is almost completely hardened with what I've been through,
I need someone, anyone, maybe that someone is you.
I'm fighting a War Within Myself, and I'm so tired,
So nervous, scared, like I'm on a high tight wire.
I hope that I don't fall before someone catches me,
But then again... maybe it's my destiny.

Copyright © 2019 by Daniel K. Originally published in Poem-a-Day on February 20, 2019, by the Academy of American Poets.