1. I cannot freeze sound
2. or collapse phantom scaffolding
3. I open one contradiction
4. after another. They call this “erotic intelligence”
5. or emptiness
6. They abuse the powdery line
7. at once blessed and beautiful
8. and blank
9. as benign limbs
10. Where have you gone in your red dress?
11. You have done nothing wrong and you are not condemned
12. Naked as a word
13. the body’s modifications, no matter how infinitesimal
14. are all that is given

Copyright © 2016 by Julie Carr. Originally published in Poem-a-Day on May 12, 2016, by the Academy of American Poets.

let ruin end here

let him find honey
where there was once a slaughter

let him enter the lion’s cage
& find a field of lilacs

let this be the healing
& if not   let it be

From Don’t Call Us Dead (Graywolf Press, 2017). Copyright © 2017 by Danez Smith. Used by permission of The Permissions Company, Inc., on behalf of Graywolf Press, www.graywolfpress.org.

let ruin end here

let him find honey
where there was once a slaughter

let him enter the lion’s cage
& find a field of lilacs

let this be the healing
& if not   let it be

From Don’t Call Us Dead (Graywolf Press, 2017). Copyright © 2017 by Danez Smith. Used by permission of The Permissions Company, Inc., on behalf of Graywolf Press, www.graywolfpress.org.

Lord,
          when you send the rain,
          think about it, please,
          a little?
  Do
          not get carried away
          by the sound of falling water,
          the marvelous light
          on the falling water.
    I
          am beneath that water.
          It falls with great force
          and the light
Blinds
          me to the light.

From Jimmy’s Blues and Other Poems by James Baldwin (Beacon Press, 2014).  Copyright © 2014 The James Baldwin Estate. Used by permission of Beacon Press.

I’m curled into a ball
like a dog
that is cold.

Who will tell me
why I was born,
why this monstrosity
called life.

The telephone rings. I have to give
a poetry reading.

I enter.
A hundred people, a hundred pairs of eyes.
They look, they wait.
I know for what.

I am supposed to tell them
why they were born,
why there is
this monstrosity called life.

From Talking to My Body, translated by Czeslaw Milosz and Leonard Nathan. Copyright © 1996 Czeslaw Milosz and Leonard Nathan. Used by permission of Copper Canyon Press.

It is nice to be without answers
at the end of summer.
Wind lifting leaves from branches.

The moment laid down like something
in childhood and forgotten, until later,
when stumbled upon, we think:
this is where it was lost.

The sadness isn't their sadness.
The sadness is the way

they will never unpack the rucksack
of happiness again.

They'll never surface as divers rising
through leagues of joy, through sun
willowing through the bottom half of waves.

They'll never surface again.
Again and again,

they will never surface.

Copyright © 2013 by Carl Adamshick. Used with permission of the author. This poem appeared in Poem-A-Day on July 10, 2013. Browse the Poem-A-Day archive.

Nature’s first green is gold,
Her hardest hue to hold.
Her early leaf’s a flower;
But only so an hour.
Then leaf subsides to leaf.
So Eden sank to grief,
So dawn goes down to day.
Nothing gold can stay.

From The Poetry of Robert Frost edited by Edward Connery Lathem. Copyright © 1923, 1947, 1969 by Henry Holt and Company, copyright © 1942, 1951 by Robert Frost, copyright © 1970, 1975 by Lesley Frost Ballantine. Reprinted by permission of Henry Holt and Company, LLC.