No more the scarlet maples flash and burn
       Their beacon-fires from hilltop and from plain;
The meadow-grasses and the woodland fern
       In the bleak woods lie withered once again.

The trees stand bare, and bare each stony scar
       Upon the cliffs; half frozen glide the rills;
The steel-blue river like a scimitar
       Lies cold and curved between the dusky hills.

Over the upland farm I take my walk,
       And miss the flaunting flocks of golden-rod;
Each autumn flower a dry and leafless stalk,
       Each mossy field a track of frozen sod.

I hear no more the robin’s summer song
       Through the gray network of the wintry woods;
Only the cawing crows that all day long
       Clamor about the windy solitudes.

Like agate stones upon earth’s frozen breast,
       The little pools of ice lie round and still;
While sullen clouds shut downward east and west
       In marble ridges stretched from hill to hill.

Come once again, O southern wind,—once more
       Come with thy wet wings flapping at my pane;
Ere snow-drifts pile their mounds about my door,
       One parting dream of summer bring again.

Ah, no! I hear the windows rattle fast;
       I see the first flakes of the gathering snow,
That dance and whirl before the northern blast.
       No countermand the march of days can know.

December drops no weak, relenting tear,
       By our fond summer sympathies ensnared;
Nor from the perfect circle of the year
       Can even winter’s crystal gems be spared.

This poem is in the public domain. Published in Poem-a-Day on December 14, 2019, by the Academy of American Poets.

In the grey tumult of these after years
    Oft silence falls; the incessant wranglers part;
And less-than-echoes of remembered tears
    Hush all the loud confusion of the heart;
And a shade, through the toss’d ranks of mirth and crying,
    Hungers, and pains, and each dull passionate mood,—
Quite lost, and all but all forgot, undying,
    Comes back the ecstasy of your quietude.

So a poor ghost, beside his misty streams,
Is haunted by strange doubts, evasive dreams,
    Hints of a pre-Lethean life, of men,
Stars, rocks, and flesh, things unintelligible,
    And light on weaving grass, he knows not when,
And feet that ran, but where, he cannot tell.

This poem is in the public domain.

                   THE POOL PLAYERS. 
                   SEVEN AT THE GOLDEN SHOVEL.

We real cool. We
Left school. We

Lurk late. We
Strike straight. We

Sing sin. We
Thin gin. We

Jazz June. We
Die soon.

From The Bean Eaters by Gwendolyn Brooks, published by Harpers. © 1960 by Gwendolyn Brooks. Used with permission. All rights reserved.


Because our kiss is as the moon to draw
The mounting waters of that red-lit sea
That circles brain with sense, and bids us be
The playthings of an elemental law,
Shall we forego the deeper touch of awe
On love's extremest pinnacle, where we,
Winging the vistas of infinity,
Gigantic on the mist our shadows saw?

Shall kinship with the dim first-moving clod
Not draw the folded pinion from the soul,
And shall we not, by spirals vision-trod,
Reach upward to some still-retreating goal,
As earth, escaping from the night's control,
Drinks at the founts of morning like a god?

This poem is in the public domain. Published in Poem-a-Day on February 17, 2019, by the Academy of American Poets.

would decry
when grasses
ever so fragile,
provide strings
stout enough for
insect moods
to glide up and down
in glissandos
of toes along wires
or finger-tips on zithers—
   the mere sounds
   be theirs, not ours—
   theirs, not ours,
   the first inspiration—
   without resolution—
would cry
being loved,
when even such tinkling
comes of the loving?

This poem is in the public domain. Published in Poem-a-Day on August 19, 2018, by the Academy of American Poets.